Excerpts from Smith's Los Angeles Times columns--lots of L.A. nostalgia, lots of good-humored defense of the city, little that travels very well outside the immediate area. Smith likes the freeways (they provide time alone to think). He likes the earthquakes (""they point up the human faculty for worrying about the wrong things""). He even likes the Getty Museum and plastic trees along the boulevards (""They won't engage publicly in sex""). He doesn't like all those anti-L.A. articles (by Jan Morris, et al.) or the fact that ""our current novelists feel almost obliged to throw in a couple of paragraphs about what a terrible place Los Angeles is."" But most of all he likes to summon up L.A.'s past, answering such questions as ""Was there really a Ptomaine Tommy, and did he invent the dish we call the 'size'?"" Or: ""Was there really a Montmartre restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard where all the stars ate out and Joan Crawford danced the Charleston?"" Or: Where was Lana Turner really discovered? (It wasn't Schwab's drugstore, folks.) Or: Did the stars really wait on tables at the Hollywood Canteen? (Alas, no.) A speck of movie-fan appeal, then--but mostly these pleasant little snippets are strictly for local consumption, full of references and jokes sure to be lost on anyone east of Burbank.