First Impressions of 'Maleeboo'

My friends back home think my living in Malibu is about the funniest thing they have ever heard.

It's been almost three months since I uprooted a lifetime in Bergen County and headed to Malibu, California or as my GPS calls it, "Maleeboo" with an accent on the second syllable.

It took me practically 69 years to heed the advice of Horace Greeley, who urged all, "Go west young man, go west," but it wasn't the lure of gold that brought me to the west coast but rather my two children, Kate and Isaac, both of whom live in L.A. Family has always trumped everything else. I can see my kids any time I want now, and that sure beats a six-hour plane ride.

Moving is never easy and a cross-country move is especially trying emotionally. Going from being a relatively well-known person to a life of anonymity and to a world of the unfamiliar makes me appreciate more what millions of immigrants go through.

My friends back home think my living in Malibu is about the funniest thing they have ever heard. "Burt Ross in Malibu," they laugh hysterically overcome by the humor of it all. They are actually taking bets on how long I can last here. Some friends don't even give me six months. I hope they're wrong.

My friends who really know me understand I am about as deep Jersey as anybody can be. Bruce Springsteen and Tony Soprano have nothing on me. Bergen County was home my entire life with the exception of my school years. I lived in three adjacent towns-Teaneck, Fort Lee, and Englewood, and I know them like the back of my hand. My folks are buried in Paramus.

I had my barmitzvah at the Teaneck Jewish Community Center. Jersey will always be my home and in California I might as well be a foreigner.

When the folks out here meet me they figure out my roots in a second. My accent is a dead give-away, but it's far more than that. I am a fish out of water in Malibu.

For one thing, people are far too friendly out here. Just the other day I was shopping at the supermarket and trying to find where the turkey sausages were hiding. Three store personnel rushed to my aid as if I were suffering a stroke and practically fought with one another for the honor of escorting me to the right location. This kind of unfamiliar behavior causes me to break out in a rash.

Everything is different here, even the language. Back home people might wish you a "nice day," but Californians from this neck of the woods insist on wishing me "an awesome day." Actually everything is "awesome."

I tell a neighbor I am going to the dentist and the response is (you guessed it) "awesome." I haven't a clue what is awesome about having my teeth cleaned.

The food and restaurants are different here also. First of all, there are almost no overweight people in Malibu and no morbidly obese people are allowed on the streets. I believe the town has the equivalent of a dog pound and if a citizen has too much tummy or butt they are whisked off to an unknown location until the pounds are shed.

There are no diners here. I'm not talking about some faux eating establishment with the word "diner" attached, but the real thing with a Greek standing by the cash register. I had breakfast the other day at what they call a diner, and there were no salt and pepper shakers on any of the tables. To make matters worse, the eggs came without toast. You've got to be kidding. Everything is served with fruit or vegetables and you can't get away from avocados if your life depended on it. They serve it on eggs, meat, and they'll plop it on a salmon if you allow them.

I hit my low point when I tried to find a barber. No such thing. First, we don't have barbers here. We have hair stylists. I don't have enough hair to be styled anymore. A friend recommended a hair stylist named Barry but when I called to make an appointment, I was shocked to find that Barry was a woman named Bari. She was considerably taller and more muscular than I am and, although perfectly competent, scared the living avocado out of me. Where is my Italian barber Salvatore Bagica when I need him?

I have to go right now. I will report back next week. In the meantime, I need to watch the avocados grow in my back yard, and that is awesome!

Ted Vaill May 08, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Burt was well known for not taking a huge bribe from the Mafia when he was mayor of Ft. Lee, NJ. He has actually blown his cover in the FBI's witness protection program. Ted Vaill
sharon May 08, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Thank you, Burt, for sharing your life experience in a strange new place called "Maleeboo." Wonderful way to strArt my day with chuckles throughout as I read your experiences. I can completely relate to your experience, from the opposite point of view. As a lifetime Southern Californian, I relocated to the Midwest several years ago ... like you, to be near my son and granddaughters ... the experience was like moving to a whole new country, and I wondered if I was still in the good old USA. Life is so dramatically different ... I had to laugh when you noticed the weight factor. I, too, was shocked to see the difference here in OH, and had to wonder if eating was an indoor winter sport ... Yes, life is very different here, and I would dearly love to come "home," but leaving 2 beautiful granddaughters simply isn't an option, and so, I adjust to this foreign lifestyle and am grateful for the beautiful little blessings in my life. Enjoy your Malibu experience to the max. My money's on you and Malibu ... I don't think you will go back ... life in Malibu is simply too AWESOME!
Marshall Thompson May 08, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Welcome to Malibu, Burt. After your first wave of "awesomeness," look around, meet the folks. Extend your local edification by going to City Council and Malibu Township Council meetings. Meet the moms from A Safer PCH and people in Preserve Malibu. Check out the other bloggers and news on the Malibu Patch. There is a lot more going on here than "fun in the sun."
Burt Ross May 08, 2012 at 08:47 PM
My best friend lives in Santa Barbara so I agree--it's awesome there also.
ANONYMOUS May 08, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Dear Burt, There is a Malibu Barber Shop, located at 22635 Pacific Coast Highway, 310-456-7556. Congrats on your new beginning; but, please get out & about to learn everything in your new community before you start putting it down - and putting out wrong information!
Burt Ross May 08, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Thanks for the good advice which I have already started to follow.
Burt Ross May 08, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Marie, I am supposed to make you laugh, but I am doing the laughing after reading your comments.
Mary Faherty May 08, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Hey Burt! We're still awaiting your greatly anticipated appearance in my kick box class at Malibu Gym! If your friends back east are laughing at you living in Malibu, wait til they see a pic of you participating in this AWESOME class!! Mary Faherty
Jane Bellomy May 08, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Well, our friend Burt is certainly making his mark in 'Maleeboo' (our grandson calls it Malibu-bu) - looks like we may have a West coast version of Andy Rooney in our midst! What's more fun is that Phil and I get to enjoy Burt and Joan's company in person - now that's a hoot!
J. Flo May 08, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Too funny, Burt, love it! You'll find a lot of East Coast transplants out here - now wearing Uggs and sweats to dinner. Once in Malibu - you never go back.
Max May 08, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Hi Burt, Another oddity about our town ... old timers around here (long before me) used to refer to this place as "The Malibu." I think that these early settlers must have migrated West from "The Bronx." Welcome once again, Burt. The Peppers.
Burt Ross May 08, 2012 at 09:55 PM
I almost never respond to anonymous comments, but since you left your phone number you are hardly anonymous. I apologize for getting my facts wrong about there being no barber shops in Malibu. This is not the first time nor the last where my facts take a back seat to humor. To make amends I will call you in a month and if you are willing I will pay you to cut the few hairs remaining on my head.
Burt Ross May 08, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Mary, I would rather have root canal work.
Burt Ross May 08, 2012 at 10:09 PM
I can understand the pull of grandchildren even though I still don't have any. I hope to be a grandfather while I am still alive. If not, I can hear my kids telling their kids, "Grandpa Burt would have loved to see you do that."
Jessica E. Davis May 08, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Also, anonymous, please remember that this humor column is about Burt's process of discovery in Malibu, which he puts his full name behind.
Burt Ross May 08, 2012 at 10:27 PM
My bride of almost 30 years and I have been blessed to meet Jane and Phil Bellomy, both salt of the earth, but Jane, please remember Andy Rooney has passed on. If you compare, try to compare me to somebody still breathing.
Rabbi Levi Cunin May 08, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Shalom Burt! Welcome to Malibu! Where the people are awesome, the atmosphere is awesome, and the future is looking awesome:) And just to make sure you don't miss home too much, we even get snow on our canyons once in a while. A now we have a New Jersey man with an east coast sense of humor blogging on the patch and i think that's awesome!  Thanks for sharing! 
J. Flo May 08, 2012 at 11:26 PM
I was just thinking - Burt needs to meet Rabbi Levi - ! Now that's a Malibu combo!
Jessica E. Davis May 09, 2012 at 12:09 AM
You can always email Burt. Please email me at malibu@patch.com and I can help you get in touch.
Burt Ross May 09, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Rabbi, Trust me when I say I will never miss snow. Burt
Ben Marcus May 09, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Burt If you want a taste of east coast hospitality, check out Malibu Kitchen. Seinfeld loves the joint and drives there in his Porsche whenever he's in town. The owner is a transplanted New Yorker who probably hasn't used the word "awesome" in his life, unless you ask him how many entitled dingalings there are in Malibu, and he'll say, "Aaaaa. Some!" They import H and H Bagels in a private jet and have Halvah and all kinds of east coast stuff.
Lisa May 09, 2012 at 03:10 AM
This was so funny and I'm looking forward to reading more about your life in Malibu. Congratulations on making the move! I hope you and your wife will come to the Cove for breakfast (or lunch) again soon : ) Lisa
Burt Ross May 09, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Ben, If the truth be told and why not tell the truth, I have spent so much money in the past three months at Malibu Kitchen, I might have to take out a mortgage on my home. Burt
Burt Ross May 09, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Lisa, It was great meeting and laughing with you this morning and we will be back. Burt
Nancy Rosenquist May 09, 2012 at 06:23 AM
Nice article, but on behalf of the maybe 6 or so overweight people who live in Malibu, I was kind of offended by your comments, in jest or not...
Burt Ross May 09, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Nancy, It was definitely in jest. I am sure that there are many more than 6 overweight people in Malibu, and if I keep eating the way I have since I got here, I will certainly add to the number. Burt
MalibuMa May 09, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Hi Burt, Welcome to Malibu! You're going to love it (especially the winters) and I look forward to your future posts. I hope our paths cross ... I think you'd be a hoot!
Susan Tellem May 09, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Hey Burt. I left Upper Saddle River, NJ for California when I was a teen, and I never looked back. I got out of the car and my first word at the magic of where we live was "Bitchen!" That was well before awesome.
Oceanne Salon and Day Spa May 22, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Hi Burt. I enjoyed your article, so funny and so true I had to forward it to my family on the other side of the globe. BTW, there is a friendly and 'awesome' barber in Point Dume Village. His name is Mike Ryan.
Burt Ross May 22, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Thanks for the heads-up. I will try him when some of my remaining hair grows.


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