I am from Maryland on the East Coast of the United States.
I moved reluctantly to California (true) in 2000. When we could no longer deny God's calling, we moved here to serve here with The Jesus Film Project in what turned out to be an extraordinary run.
Within six months of moving here, I was a convert. Who needs seasons? I love the 380 days of sunshine a year, access to the beach and the mountains (ok, we're not mountain people) and the moderate climate.
One of the unexpected benefits of being here is the occasional celebrity sighting. We live behind what Angelenos call the Orange Curtain in the OC. This means that unless you live in Laguna Beach, you are not likely to have a celebrity sighting (unless you count Rick Warren).
In our first five years here, I might have run into one or two C-level celebrities in the Los Angeles airport (anyone remember Bucky from season five of American Idol?).
In the last nine years, the number of sightings has spiked dramatically because...
1. We spend more time in Los Angeles
2. Our kids have gotten old enough to do their own LA trips
3. Our son Quinn became a student at Pepperdine University in Malibu.
Here is a partial list of our "in the wild" celebrity sightings…
Larry King. You can pretty much be sure to see him if you have breakfast at Nate N' Als on Sunday morning in Beverly Hills. We have seen him there twice. On the second occasion, it became super awkward when we saw him in the restaurant and outside the restaurant two more times. This has now become the famous "Stalking Larry King Live" story in Taber lore.
Snoop Dogg/Lion (whatever). Shirin and our daughter were at LAX picking up a friend when Snoop Dogg came down the escalator and was met by his entourage. Shirin was sure that he was checking her out.
Jeremy Piven (Entourage). We were in the Ralphs supermarket in Malibu (the only supermarket in all of Malibu) visiting Shirin's brother during his MBA program. Her brother had to point out Jeremy. I was clueless (I don't watch TV).
Gloria Alred (celebrity lawyer). Again, Ralph's supermarket in Malibu. Now Quinn was a freshman. Again, I was clueless (I still didn't watch TV). Shirin had to point out Gloria.
Mel Gibson. At the end of Quinn's freshman year, guess where we were going? Yep. Ralphs. We had to pick up food for his room. By now, I had noticed a pattern so I got everyone in the van expecting to see a celebrity when we went into Ralphs, but admonished them to stay calm (the Jeremy Piven citing would not be described as "calm"). I missed the turn and had to go behind the shopping plaza to circle back. Just as we are about to turn around, Shirin yells "there's Mel Gibson!" Sure enough, there was an unmistakable Mel crossing the street. To our shame, the next two minutes were anything but calm inside the van.
Psy (Gangnam style guy). Guess where we were? Close. We were visiting Quinn but we weren't in Ralphs. There is a little open-air plaza surrounded by shops and eateries across the street from Ralphs. We were eating sandwiches and I had made several false claims about people that loosely resembled celebrities around us. A friend of my daughter claimed there was a guy that look like Psy ("Gagnum Style"). The girls debated for a while, but finally realized the powder-blue sweater and the white alligator shoes were give-aways. There were other young people also starting to hover outside the boutique store he had just entered. So my girls followed some other teens into the store. Only Elena was bold enough to get a picture with him. She towered over him.
Keegan Allan (Pretty Little Liars). Elena, 17, was perusing albums (vinyl is back) at a hipster record store on Sunset Boulevard with a friend. Her friend started to hyperventilate when she saw Keegan a few feet away looking through albums. Elena didn't know who he was so she stayed calm while the friend asked him for a photo. He asked Elena about the albums she was buying and Keegan ended up spending 15 minutes with them taking them through the store to show them some of his favorite music (Grateful Dead Europe '72, Bob Dylan Desire, Pink Floyd, etc). She posted the photo on Instagram, got 235 likes, and had one girl comment "you just pretty much accomplished all my life goals."
Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation). Elena left for the record store with her friend to go to the parking garage and happened to be parked next to Adam. Elena does watch Parks and Recreation, so now she started to hyperventilate. She waved at him and he was obliged to wave back. He was gracious enough to get out of the car to take pictures with them even though he was leaving.
Russell Crowe. Quinn and a fraternity brother were sitting in traffic on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. Glancing to his right, Quinn happened to be looking straight at Russell Crowe in a convertible. The light turned and off went Russell.
This kind of stuff just doesn't happen where I grew up in Fallston, Maryland.