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Lundi 28 Juillet 2008
818 Nostalgia
You can call that a « Californian addiction ». When I am in Paris, I am still reading the Los Angeles Times. I don’t do it every day of course but sometimes I need some « sunny news ». And when I am visiting my friends in Southern California, I rarely have the time to read it.

10 months ago, I was seating at the terrace of a Parisian cafe, drinking my second or third expresso. Well try to do that in L.A by the way: ordering one espresso after the other. The waiter will probably call an ambulance or ask you why you are so depressed.
So yes, I was drinking a strong espresso. And I had a quick look at the L.A times website on my laptop. This is clearly a bad Californian habit that I usually don’t import to Paris. This « internetholic » attitude like asking the barman if there is a wireless connection in « this dive » can be still considered as a strong personality disorder in the City of Lights.
Actually since this morning of September, I go out of my apartment without my computer to get my coffee. What I read this morning in the L.A Times was such a chock for me. Here is the title of the article (7 September 2007) : « Will proposed 747 area code fly in the Valley? ». What it can be read like: The end of the legendary “818” is near.

I used to live a couple of months in the valley of San Fernando, in Woodland hills and then in Burbank. And when I went to an AT&T store to buy a cell phone, they gave me a number with the “818” area code.
That day, without knowing every thing about the « area code » culture, I became a valley boy.

It is something very surprising for a French guy. But it can be summarized by this sentence: Tell me what is your area code number, and I will tell you who you are. 323: Hollywood. 310: Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, 212 Manhattan, 312 Downtown Central Chicago (well it is also the name of a good local beer). 818? San Fernando Valley, the other side of the Hollywood Hills.
818 is one of L.A county numbers, like the 405 freeway. I remember having an appointment in a model agency. When I gave them my phone number, I clearly hear the sound of deception. “Oh our French guy is living in the Valley!”.
Even if everybody is driving night and day to commute, for some people the Valley is a far off country. After a couple of days with my new phone number, I started to be on my guard: and when a model agency asked my number, I gave them my French one. “Oh come on sweety! I will not call in France for you!” I am telling you: cell phone communication can be Kafkaesque.

After a month with my “valley cellular phone”, I moved back to West Hollywood and I changed the number. Without going too far, I can say that my life changed with my 323 “something number”.

But since I read this article, I suffer from 818 nostalgia. Soon, (2009), people moving to the San Fernando Valley will have a new area code 747. This is tough. Just imagine a guy, giving his number to his new date:
"What is your number Bob?
Oh you know what Caroline, it is easy to remember: it’s Jumbo, 403 19…"

Yes, it will be hard. You can already find T-Shirts with the hot ‘I don’t date 818”. So, I guess next year, you will see T-Shirts with the sharp “You fly, you’re high, next time bring me a jet plane” Or more prosaic: “No coach class please”. Modern life can be tough sometimes.

I am so nostalgic that a few months ago I called Neustar the company selected by the Federal Communications Commission “to serve as the NANPA (North American Numbering Plan Administration) as they say in their press release.
In my mind, 818 were supposed to disappear.
In fact nothing like that will happen.
Since a few years, the demand for new lines (internet access, second or third line for the teenagers.) is so important, that the only solution was to double the area code.
It will always be possible to get an 818 number… when the owner of one will move to another county or state.

But it seems that one day, we will have a unique phone number. Where ever we will be living on this planet. No more area codes, no more country codes. And we will drink a 312 beer in Chicago with nostalgia.

If you don’t mind, it is time to create an area code on the moon. Modern life can be so chic sometimes. To call me on the moon, please dial, 007…


Stephan Ghreener
Rédigé par Stephan Ghreener le Lundi 28 Juillet 2008 à 14:50