Touko’s letter to Hely, 27 January 1978

Los Angeles, 27 January ‘78

Hey – or ‘hi’ as they say here!

It feels great as it’s warm, and I can see palm trees beyond the window, and orange trees full of fruit of the same colour. It’s just like the height of summer in Finland or, better still, in the Mediterranean countries. Even the landscape looks more Mediterranean. It is impossibly beautiful, and the standard of living is almost terrifyingly high. But people are not arrogant; quite the opposite. I’ve been spoiled, and my schedule is really full. It didn’t start well because the trip took 20 hours. The plane from Copenhagen was out of order and so we were crammed into a flight to New York and then here, so I was delayed by more than three hours.

My writing may be hard to read as I’m writing this on the bed. This house I’m staying in is in Hollywood, which is a neighbourhood in the city, just like Eira or Meilahti in Helsinki. This is a Mexican-style house, like most of the houses here; a real dream, albeit quite old and a little shabby in places. But out in the garden, camellias are in bloom and bananas grow wild, and there are oranges, lemons, palm trees and cacti and everything else imaginable. There’s also quite a view down to the city from the huge arched window in the living room. It all feels unreal. I’ll send you some photos of this place.

People walk the streets without a shirt on and sit in street cafés. Prices are much cheaper than in Finland or in Europe in general; a packet of cigarettes, for example, is two marks but 4.50 in Finland, and the price will be even higher from the start of February. I wouldn’t mind living here, but I’d need a car as the city is insanely large. This is because it’s mostly detached houses, and the reason for that is that they’d be afraid to build taller houses because of the massive earthquakes. But there are also some skyscrapers on the main streets. If you think about it, with 7.5 million people living in detached houses, you realise that they need a huge area.

Life is quite different here, from what I have managed to observe in the few days I’ve been here now. For example, the nearest supermarket, which is surrounded by palm trees, is open 24 hours a day.

Tomorrow I’ll be taken to Palm Springs for the weekend to watch the rodeo. It’s a couple of hours away. I guess it’s going to be an authentic American weekend. I’m not going to Disneyland. That was the first offer but I said that Finnish people can’t go there, what with Donald Duck and Daisy Duck living together and not even being married, and their outfits are obscene as they don’t wear trousers. The people here couldn’t stop laughing. They couldn’t believe that it is actually banned in Finland.

I’ll get a lift to San Francisco on Monday morning. The locals say that it’s an even better place. So I’m doing pretty well.

We’ve had preliminary discussions about work, and it all sounds very promising. There’ll be all kinds of freelance jobs on offer. As soon as things settle down a little I’ll start working, and I’m sure I’ll get the trip paid for. They’ve already arranged a studio for me.

The sunshine feels irresistible on my skin so I think that I’ll go for a little walk on the nearby hills since I’ve a few hours to spare.

Greetings from the heat. Touko