Monday, January 7, 2008

Hollywood Update #22: Holidays in Hollywood

December 16, 2005

I’m beginning to understand why Hollywood is the world capital of plastic surgery, and why the face of practically every seventy-year-old grandmother I see is stretched as tight as Daisy Duke’s jeans. I ran this morning under palm trees and an early morning sun that has warmed to about 70 degrees, and it occurred to me that every day in L.A. feels like the day before and the day before that and most of the days back to the dawn of time.

It’s Christmas and it feels like September 16th or May 23rd or June 6th. People here have no idea that any time has passed. It’s not like in the real world, where we can recall the windy fall of ’02 or the snowstorm of ’96 and the changing of seasons that serve as such ubiquitous reminders of the passage of time. If there’s nothing to remind you that time has gone by, isn’t it easier to believe that it hasn’t? That you’re still a size 5 and your forehead is unlined and you can stay up drinking until the ass crack of dawn?

That’s why I’m returning to Bellingham for Christmas—not for the all-night benders or reminders of my agedness, but because I’m afraid if I stay in LaLaLand, I’ll forget that every day is not exactly like the other. Seasonal change feels like progress—made it through another rainy day, another snowstorm, another long hot summer, and I’m still here despite the bad snowsuits and ugly bikinis and days when the rain frizzled my hair like Roseanne Roseannadanna.

Holidays in Hollywood are surreal for a billion other reasons. Besides the incongruity of twinkling lights on palm trees and the inflatable poolside snowmen, there’s an uncharacteristic, eerie calm. Holidays here lack the festive roar I typically associate with the season. It might be because every other person in Hollywood is Jewish, but I suspect it has more to do with the fact that everyone here is actually from somewhere else, and they’re going there for the season. Of the 17 people working at VMHQ, only 2 are from California, and one of them is going skiing in Colorado.

You’d expect that in a city of movie stars and millionaires, the decorations would be lavish and phenomenal, but that hasn’t been my experience. Besides the Christmas-Tree-of-Lights topping the Capitol Records building, the only other seasonal embellishments I’ve seen are a few faded banners spanning Hollywood Boulevard. Along the Walk of Fame, lingerie store windows feature mannequins in red velvet fake-fur-lined hot pants and bras that Santa might wear if he were a cross-dresser with abs of steel and a fabulous rack. Ho ho ho.

Oh yeah, and the L. Ron Hubbard Hollywood Winter Wonderland graces Hollywood Boulevard, too, and according the scientology website, “since December fifth has entertained an estimated twenty thousand passersby with mariachi bands, piñata parties, Korean dancers, African drums, children’s choruses, a saxophonist, and a daredevil Santa rappelling his way down an 8-story building.” I wish I were making this up, but I saw it myself. It was too early to get my photo taken with the Grand Thetan Santa, but I did pick up my red-ribboned complimentary copy of Dianetics.

There’s some holiday cheer around the office, although we don’t have a Giving Tree, Secret Santas, or any dress-up days where I get to whip out my Trinket the Elf costume. UPN sent each staff member a small token of their appreciation (yeah! another coffee mug!) and Rob bought every writer the entire three-volume compendium of Calvin and Hobbes, which is the coolest thing in the whole universe, even if it does weigh 450 pounds. Other than that, the one holiday decoration (a dancing, singing Homer Simpson doll in a Santa costume), and the giant can of flavored popcorn sent to the staff of the show that previously occupied our building, you’d never know it was Christmas at Veronica Mars.

It’s the “giving” season in the entertainment industry, which means that the major studios send members of the various guilds—writers, directors, editors, etc.—free DVDs, scripts, and movie passes. ‘Tis the season…to lobby for the Academy Awards. Those free DVDs of Crash and Cinderella Man that I got? The packaging is stamped FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION and every ten minutes, a banner scrolls across the bottom of the screen, reminding me that THIS PREVIEW COPY IS FOR CONSIDERATION ONLY. NOT TO BE SOLD, RENTED, OR OTHERWISE DISTRIBUTED. Damn. No regifting of those items. I guess everyone on my list will be getting a pony after all.

Despite the lack of festivity in L.A. and the assorted Santa sex get-ups tainting the Holly-day, I’m no Scrooge. This past year has been a drama queen’s dream, what with the getting unmarried and buying a new condo and leaving my old job and moving to a different state and starting a new job and adopting a cat and going on TV and trying to adjust to a new set of sometimes challenging personalities at work. There’s so much to be thankful for—a new nephew, Amy’s health, Stinkeee, the amazing and inspirational legacy of my aunt Mary Westcott Padden, and the incredible network of supportive, loving friends and family that surrounds me, no matter where I am. I am so very, very fortunate. I wish you all a very happy holiday season and continued joy in the new year.

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