Thursday, July 21, 2005

Fort Wayne? Los Angeles?

Kevin Leininger writes about Brian Adams, a professional animator, sculptor, production designer, videographer and art director -- and Fort Wayne native who recently moved back from Los Angeles.

Why did Adams choose to “cast against type,” as his old Hollywood friends might say? His reasons may not be what you expect, or even want to hear. But people trying to make Fort Wayne better – and better-known – should still pay attention.

I was a bit disappointed myself, at first. When I heard about Adams’ business, I was hoping he had chosen Fort Wayne for reasons that might disprove some of the city’s often-erroneous stereotypes. An underground but thriving artistic community, or lucrative but untapped Midwestern markets for his creations.

No such luck: He’s here mostly for the same old reasons we’ve heard before: The cost of living is low. For all our complaining, Fort Wayne traffic is manageable, and its air is fresh (at least compared to Los Angeles). People here are friendly and level-headed.

And – you just knew this was coming – Fort Wayne is a great place to raise a family.

Oh, is that all?

Then it dawned on me: No, that’s everything. Instead of trying to compete with other cities’ beaches, mountains, weather and other things Fort Wayne will never have, why can’t we improve and publicize the strengths we do have – the things that brought Adams back home after spending years in supposedly more desirable cities?

Adams himself goes on to talk about the differences between Fort Wayne and Los Angeles.

“The location here is good: close to Chicago, Detroit, Ohio. In Los Angeles, I’d spend two hours in traffic when it should have taken 20 minutes. You can make money in Los Angeles but not afford anything. A two-bedroom home could cost you $400,000. A parking ticket there is $50 compared to $5 here. You think you should be dying in Los Angeles because you can see the air. …And I was stopped by the police at gunpoint because I had a shaved head and was wearing a T-shirt (an apparent gang uniform). It was pretty rough.”
As someone who splits time between both locales, I'm often asked to compare the two cities -- as in which one I like better. Here's how I usually respond: "I like both of them. You just have to remember that Fort Wayne isn't Los Angeles...and Los Angeles isn't Fort Wayne."

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