Observing Los Angeles

Blair's swing through town

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is swirling through California for a bunch of appearances, including the Rupert Murdoch bash in Pebble Beach. On Monday he will meet the local elite in an evening reception at Getty Villa hosted by Mayor Villaraigosa (you've been warned: avoid PCH), then on Tuesday deliver a speech at a sold-out luncheon of the World Affairs Council at the Bonaventure (ditto downtown.) The Brit correspondents in Los Angeles will either get big-footed by the traveling media pack or be all over it. Dan Glaister of the Guardian strikes early with a piece today that falls back on just about all the L.A. cliches, even the Woody Allen line about right turns on red.

Tony, some things you should know, dude. There really is very little similarity between California and the UK.

1. Dude. Never, ever go more than a few sentences without saying this word, dude. Forget all the "Comrades, and I say to you" stuff. Dude is probably the most totally awesome thing you can say while you're here.

credit2. Awesome. Dude, this is a literally awesome word, invented in California by surfer dudes (alright!) to describe anything that is literally, like, awesome.

3. Like. Like is, like, the valley mantra. If you say the word like, like every few words, you are totally telling your listeners that you are from, like, the valley.

4. The valley. This is not the valley that you, prime minister dude, know from your awesome time with Nye and the dudes. This is an altogether much flatter, less green valley, a place where rivers die, strawberries grow and strip malls proliferate.

5. Mexicans. There's a lot of them in the valley, picking fruit and shit. Many of these Mexicans are from Mexico, some are from other places that, dude, without being heavy, may as well be Mexico. Awesome.

6. The governor. Don't call him Arnie. That's way too British. In California he is known as Arnold, or The Arnold. And the addition of a comic Austrian accent always brings laughs from a sophisticated audience. Mimic his pronunciation of Kahl-ee-faw-nyah - a surefire vote winner. But remember, Arnold was once in the movies. This makes him far more important than any politician.

7. The mayor. Well, the mayors. California boasts two mayors with a national profile: Gavin Newsom in San Francisco and Antonio Villaraigosa in Los Angeles. Newsom is not the sort of politician a good Catholic like you should spend too much time on. His outspoken support for gay marriage and his bullish leadership of sin city mean that he will never meet the pope. Antonio is a different matter, the Latino Blair if you like (his first name means Tony in Spanish). Antonio has the Old Labour cred of a union past, the New Labour cred of sharp suits, a totally heavy Listerine habit and taught himself Spanish. Practise saying his name before meeting him. Or you can use the term favoured by Republican wags: Antonio Villareconquista.

There's more. Mack Reed at LA Voice has a short fuse for such outside observers, and this one almost makes him plotz. Meanwhile, Catherine Elsworth of the Daily Telegraph and Chris Ayres of the Times of London are reporting on the heat storm and Pellicano.

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