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An exploration of life, death and hope in modern-day Los Angeles, this novel by acclaimed and controversial author James Frey follows many of the seekers who flock there searching for their American Dreams — and exposes the lengths they will go to in pursuit of their desires. An excerpt from “Bright Shiny Morning.”

Every city can be fun, and every city has certain elements, or facts, about it that are fun. Learning fun facts is really an enjoyable, and sometimes enlightening process. And, of course, it’s fun too!!! Here is Fun Facts Los Angeles, Volume 1.

After serving as a fighter pilot for the navy in World War II, George Herbert Walker Bush, the forty-third vice president of the United States, and the forty-first president of the United States, was a drill-bit salesman in Los Angeles during the late 1940s.

It is illegal to manufacture pickles in the industrial zone of downtown Los Angeles.

A small portion of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes are enshrined at the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine Temple in Pacific Palisades. They are the only portion of Gandhi’s remains that are kept anywhere outside of India.

The economy of the County of Los Angeles is larger than that of forty-six of the fifty states in the United States of America.

The City of Los Angeles moves approximately one-quarter of an inch to the east every year.

It is illegal to lick a toad within the city limits of Los Angeles.

Herding flocks of more than 2,000 sheep on Hollywood Boulevard is illegal; flocks less than 2,000 are legal as long as the owner has a permit.

It is legal for human beings to marry rocks in the City of Los Angeles.

The first such marriage occurred in 1950, when a secretary at an auto parts factory named Jannene Swift married a large piece of granite.

The Port of Los Angeles handles almost 200 million tons of cargo every year.

For some reason that, despite extensive scientific research, remains unknown, potato chips weigh more in Los Angeles than in any other part of America.

There are sixty-five people in Los Angeles who have the legal name Jesus Christ.

There is more pornography produced in Los Angeles than in the rest of the world combined.

Every year, approximately 100,000 women in Los Angeles County have their breasts enhanced.

Fun fun fun, everyone knows that facts like these are tons and tons and tons of fun.

Every year, approximately 75,000 people undergo rhinoplasty procedures in Los Angeles (rhinoplasty is the fancy word for a nose job).

The Safely Surrendered Baby Law of Los Angeles County states that parents are permitted to bring any baby within three days of birth to any designated hospital or fire station and give the baby up without fear of arrest or prosecution.

Fifty-four percent of the citizens of Los Angeles County take vitamins on a daily basis, compared with twenty-two percent of the citizens in the rest of the country.

In 1886, the official slogan of the Los Angeles Travel Bureau was — Los Angeles is the Chicago of California!

The largest concrete donut in the world, which is 40 feet high and weighs 25 tons, is in Los Angeles.

It is illegal in the City of Los Angeles to provide or administer snuff to children under the age of sixteen.

There are four times more hamburgers eaten in Los Angeles County than in the rest of California combined.

In 1976 the physicians at all of the public hospitals in Los Angeles County went on strike and the average number of daily fatalities fell by 20 percent.

In 1955 the complete skeleton of an 80-foot-long, 120-ton blue whale was found buried in East Los Angeles, approximately thirty-five miles from the Pacific Ocean.

It is illegal within the city limits of Los Angeles to place two children under the age of two in a bathtub at the same time.

A little more fun, and then it’s time to go! But don’t worry, there will be at least one more, and possibly two or three more, volumes of Los Angeles Fun Facts!!!!!!!!

The average citizen of Los Angeles consumes 250 tacos a year.

The average citizen of Los Angeles consumes 80 gallons of carbonated, caffeinated cola every year.

Los Angeles is the only major city in the world with an active population of wild mountain lions. An average of three people each year within the city limits are killed and eaten by the mountain lions.

The average citizen of Los Angeles eats 28 pounds of fried chicken, 50 pounds of French fries, 22 gallons of ice cream, 12 pounds of tortilla chips and drinks 325 bottles of beer every year.

A contest was held in 1993 to rename the Los Angeles Convention and Exhibition Center after an extensive renovation and expansion. The winning name, chosen from over ten thousand entries, was the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins. Copyright 2008 James Frey. All rights reserved.