Celebri-spiral™: Enough Already

Our culture is in a celebri-spiral. We're conflicted over our ridiculous, growing celebrity culture consumption via magazines, websites, and TV shows. In 2007, my love/hate conflict made me take to the blog-o-sphere. All writing on this site © Dave Singleton 2009.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

February 11, 2007: Celebri-spiraling Live from La La Land

I am writing this live from La La Land, specifically Urth Caffé in West Hollywood on Melrose Avenue (not to be confused with Melrose Place, my favorite TV show and the small but important lane around the corner.)

Leaving me alone in L.A. for a day when I am trying to stop celebri-spiraling is like leaving Britney next to a bottle of Jack Daniels and a pair of her backup dancer’s ripped panties

If any town can prompt you to have a celebri-spiral, it’s Los Angeles. I am really trying to limit my intake of all things celebrity, but Anna Nicole’s death has, ironically, tripped some addictive wiring in me (as Methadone and Howard K. Stern clearly did with her).

It's noon and so far today:

9:30 A.M. I'm drinking coffee and waking up at the Weho Starbucks on Sunset when Tim Allen zoomed into the parking lot and, aided by his driver, exited the back seat of the largest black SUV I have ever seen. I was expecting Eminem, 50 Cent, Lil' Kim, Ja Rule, Missy "Misdeamor" Elliott, Nas, and Jay Z to pop out like a Chinese fire drill or rehearsed response to gang attack. I was not prepared to see The Santa Clause, Mr. Home Improvement himself, strut out looking terribly rich and chic (black tailored pants, black leather jacket). No one else noticed or, if they did, they were very cool about it. I followed the New Yorker’s rule to never interrupt a celeb out in the wild, but, of course, I observed. Discreetly.

10:30 A.M. Walking with my Venti refill, I headed east on Sunset Boulevard, walking in slo-mo past the Chateau Marmont, where John Belushi died and more stars than I can mention slept, rendezvoused, and partied. In Washington, the closest thing we have to a celeb-hotel monument is the Hinckley Hilton on Connecticut Avenue, where Reagan got shot over John Hinckley's obsession for Jodie Foster-a notorious connection between the two towns in which Washington took the bullet for Hollywood.

In Los Angeles, it seems like all the major hotels have an “L.A. Confidential”-style story or two: The Roosevelt, The Mondrian, Hotel Bel Air, and others like these keep some secrets, but mostly live on lore. I passed a thirty-something man dressed in chauffeur garb walking into a side entrance with a plastic bag containing: two tacos from the stand across the street, Starbucks coffee, a gallon of water, a box of feminine hygiene product and various toiletries, and a small bag that looked like it came from a pharmacy. “Is Lindsay still at the Chateau?,” I asked. He smiled and seemed interested that anyone would want to talk to him. “$800,000 and counting,” I continued, referring the published amount she spent during her most recent stay, hanging out "on official business," researching her upcoming role as a stripper. My money is on those goodies getting delivered to, if not Lindsay, then some Lindsay-BFF-wannabe-wild-child.

How convenient, I thought as I surveyed the surrounding three blocks-a Starbucks, strip club, pharmacy, Mexican fast food joint, newsstand with the latest fashion and gossip rags, and three of the hottest bar/lounges in town, including the fabulous Sky Bar, Sunset Tower, and Standard Hotel Lounge. What else does a twenty-year-old need? She can literally fall out of her Chateau Marmont king- size bed, which sleeps ten skinny starlets, and roll down the hill to her life.

10:45 A.M. I pass The Improv, where Michael Richards lost his career in a racist rant. Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Boulevard, and Sunset Strip are so close in proximity and so full of celebrity. Last night, I drive my the Kodak Theatre where the Academy Awards are held-it's so small! Television makes the red carpet area look huge. Everywhere I go I see famous landmarks that I've seen on TV, or read/heard about.

11:00 A.M. Working out at Weho's Crunch gym, everyone looks familiar, and judging by the way they keep looking at me as they pass, maybe I do, too. Is this what happens in L.A.? In Washington, you see someone and assume they work in politics. In L.A., everyone I see looks like an extra on Desperate Housewives. Puffing away on the Spin bike, I notice a huge black man in front of me puffing away, too. He turns around and, if his Iron Mike t-shirt didn’t give him away, his grill did. All I can see are bumps, bruises and shiny gold on Mike Tyson's face. All I can think is, “gross, you ate someone’s ear.” I turn around and catch Michael McDonald, who plays the child character Stuart on MAD TV, gabbing with some cute gay guys. Looking the other way, I see an Asian man who I know was in the Karate Kid movies. “Do you know Pat Morita?,” I want to yell across the weights. But I don’t.

These are all medium-fry celeb sightings, but I reflect on the big fish spotting last Thursday. The night Anna Nicole died, I met a new friend at Marix, which turns out to be a longtime Weho hotspot for both the fashionable gay and gay-friendly, as well as “the friends” themselves, from Friends. Apparently, for two hours Courteney Cox was sitting right in front of me and I didn’t even notice her. It wasn’t until she got up to leave and the outside of Marix lit up like premiere, with blinding paparazzi flashes and crowds circling, that I saw the back of her head. I acted cool, but inside I kicked myself. How could I have missed this? Is my celeb-dar as bad as my gaydar, which misses all but the most flamboyantly obvious queens? The only way this could have been worse for me is if she’d been with Jen.

The restaurant never went back to normal. Don’t you get used to this sort of thing in L.A., I wondered? Apparently not. The cool, attractive crowd was buzzing with an almost tribal-like energy, the way people relate after surviving a hurricane or witnessing a major event.

I loved Los Angeles. The weather. The style. The ocean. As I flew home, I wondered, could I live here without getting engulfed in celebrity? Would my love/hate conflict deepen or evaporate in a childish, enthusiastic embrace?


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