California Here I Come
or: For God, For Country, and for Herbert
by John Jay, 1953

I gave my first show in the Los Angeles area in the summer of 1940 - to about 65 persons assembled on a friend's tennis court in Pasadena. It was a hot and cloudless August night, and as I remember it, a gigantic Southern California moon gave me some pretty stiff competition. During the first reel, it shone on the screen and washed out the snow scenes until they resembled a weary skier's mirage. When I reversed my field in the second reel, the moon sunk a bit lower, and now shone directly in my audience's eyes, successfully blinding nearly all of them, except for two, who were asleep. One was the operator. Most of my evening's profits were promptly consumed on a double cheeseburger after the show.

Thirteen years have now elapsed, and I am happy to report a slight improvement, thanks to various factors in and out of my control, not the least of which is that peripatetic human dynamo, Herb Schwarz, who I understand has a job with one of the leading photographic firms here during the few days each year when he is not promoting my annual shows at the Wilshire Ebell.

These have grown steadily over the years in frightening geometric progression. Each summer, Herb weeps copiously into his typewriter over the 3,000 miles that separate us, vowing that he will never fill the house and that the sheriff will foreclose the mortgage on his stationwagon and skis, and drag his innocent family off to the debtor's prison in a cloud of unpaid bills. Each winter Herb then proceeds to pack the theatre with paying customers until the local fire department screams in protest, and scalpers spring up like mushrooms outside the box office to peddle ducats at exorbitant rates. Giddy with success, he promptly books me for an additional night the following season, and shortly thereafter starts his annual dirge at the wailing wall, and the cycle begins all over again. It is an interesting experience that I look forward to with much anticipation every year...