Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hello, Dolly!

Our return from Hawai’i began with a red-eye to LA, where Neil and I parted ways (not permanently) so he could return to New York and I could embark on three days of meetings as I slowly worked my way back east.

Fortunately, though the continuation of my trip once again kept me far from home, at least I was starting out in L.A. Fabulous, wonderful, empty, soulless, looks-obsessed Los Angeles. I love L.A. It’s city-as-high-school-lunch-table and I get to feel like an attractive, bitchy insider rather than the class nerd in size 38 jeans or the theatre freak who sings TV theme songs on his way to lunch. (Best TV theme song ever: My Sister Sam or Who’s The Boss? Discuss. My Sister Sam is slightly more obscure, but gets props for having a dead actress. WTB? had an under-40 Tony Danza shirtless. It’s a toss-up. Those of you wondering about Growing Pains have clearly forgotten the Alan Thicke Exclusionary Rule.)

Where the hell was I?

Oh yeah, L.A. Ok, nothing funny happened related to work (other than the continuing suspicion I have that our CEO must have slipped a tracking device into my Diet Coke at some point, because he keeps showing up wherever I am. Five minutes after I walked into our LA office, he sauntered by, non-chalantly, and said hello. If he shaves his head or starts singing showtunes (or TV theme songs) and goes totally Single White Female on me, I’m seriously outta here.

But I can report on the new Standard Hollywood. Remember when the Downtown Standard opened? In 2002, every major design, travel and lifestyle publication covered the opening. There was a pool on the roof, with a bar and great views and landscaping. And topiaries! The Topiaries!

It was hot, hot, HOT and everyone was going to go there and it was going to ignite a renaissance in downtown LA, making it a destination for condos and hotels and great dining.

Or not.

And there’s no such thing as great dining in L.A. Every decent restaurant charges upwards of $40 for totally flavorless entrees, which is ironic because the best food comes from Taco stands along I-10, where you can stuff yourself for less than $5.

Anyway, the Standard Hollywood is actually in West Hollywood (and West Hollywood is to Hollywood what West Virginia is to Virginia; everyone seems to be unemployed, there are bitter rivalries, and it’s considered an achievement if you get out.) The Standard really branded itself right with its name. Rooms are a plain white box, the furnishings are sparse – no duvet, just a thin blanket that looks like it came off the set of M*A*S*H (and it might have) – and everything is very minimalist-chic. It is the hotel equivalent of a pair of white Keds.


You know – this is the second disappointing Standard-related experience I’ve had. Remember my review of the Standard Grill in NY – and the challenges Neil and I and our friends had there? That’s it – new rule: no more Standard.

Wednesday night, after work, I got to go out with my best pal “Carrie” (you remember her? From, like, three columns ago. ) She met me at Cecconi’s, at Melrose and Robertson, with the demented Swiss Miss, now totally decked out GORGEOUSLY, but still wearing black – including some totally rockin’ high leather boots. This is the kind of girl I’d make out with if I didn’t have that pesky extra chromosome and a husband.

So, were not there even ten minutes and only on our third drink when who should walk on in but the fabulous, legendary, reconstructed within an inch of her life, looks 45 in dim lighting, face might melt in full sunlight, Joan Rivers plastic surgery challenging, country-pop-crossover- bluegrass singing, theme-park-owning, film-starring, Grammy-winning, Academy Award nominated DOLLY PARTON. (I think I just had a wordgasm.)

Seriously, how do you eat a $26 flatbread pizza five feet away from the star of 9 to 5, Rhinestone Cowboy and Straight Talk (with James Woods…see it. It’s horrible. I love it.) Answer: You can’t. You can’t enjoy a single $14 meatball until you stand up, walk over, and say, “Hmfphlfl!"

Thank God for Swiss Miss, who got right up there and said, “Miss Parton, will you take a picture with us?”

Now, these people live in L.A., and I’m from New York. I have, at various times, seen or met Mark Burnett, Kurt Russell, Michael Douglas, Robin Roberts (you know she is SO glad to be in this sentence), that guy from the TV show “Ed,” and Paul Rudd (post-Clueless, pre-Apatow.) But other than the time I was on Oprah (in the audience, not a guest) and the time Spielberg was on Columbus Ave with Kate Capshaw – I’ve the closest I’ve come to anyone this big is 8 Cher concerts, the time my friend from middle-school, Jason Abelson’s dad married Barbara Streisand’s niece, and when my friend Matthew called me from Bloomingdale’s because Meryl Streep was buying make-up.

The moral: when you’re in the presence of royalty – you bow (and snap a photo.) Meanwhile, my friend Stephanie is dying to know if I went up to Dolly and did the impression of her I used to do in Law School, when I won the Halloween Costume Contest in my first and only drag appearance. Sadly, no, but check my Facebook page if you want the full Dolly.

Really, everything else is going to be a let-down after this story – so I’ll save my reviews of Do Hwa (Korean Barbecue!), Po (like the river in Italy), and the fabulous Sherie Rene Scott’s one woman show, Everyday Rapture, for yet another column (I’m so prolific right now; I feel like Proust. Without the talent or intellect.) Meanwhile, as for Cecconi’s. Like anyplace on the west side, it’s ridiculously expensive and the food is great by LA standards, but mediocre if you ever eaten anywhere else. Go – but do what we did: get drunk, nibble on appetizers and salads (the beet salad is pretty damn good) and starfuck.

P.S. - Why is it when I showed these pictures to my co-workers and said, "Can you guess who that is?" they all said, "Cher." ???  Why is it, with the gay guy, they always jump to Cher?  Now - it is ocmpletely true that I might come unglued if I were ever 5 feet away from Cher (we're talking total meltdown) - but CHER LOOKS NOTHING LIKE DOLLY PARTON (other than the fact that they are both made out of plastic and might, technically, be Transformers. Oooh - that would be cool.  A Transformer that turns from Dolly Parton into Cher.  I'm on it....)

1 comment:

  1. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! That is possibly the BEST celebrity siting I have ever even heard of second hand! I am so excited for you!
    Two comments:
    1) Straight Talk is TREMENDOUS! I know every word and I'm not ashamed to say I LOVE it.
    2) Gimme a Break is the best TV Theme song. In the words of Ron Burgundy, if you disagree, I
    Fight You.