Traveling with my father’s films as a kid often meant months living in cities far from LA. Pardon the cliche, but travel is the best form of education. Without it I would never know that I come from the only town where hometown loyalty includes a complete willingness to admit its drawbacks. For a town of plastic perfection, we’re not quiet about our flaws. At all.
Some of the most wonderful cities I’ve visited throughout my life are beloved by citizens with a fierce protectiveness I’ll never understand. It’s a painted faces in the football stadium bleachers sort of pride.
It’s simply not LA. At least not for me. I mean, we don’t even play football.
But I just read Life at the Marmont and realize that, without a doubt, this crazy town will always have my heart.
The book was first published when I was a kid, and it never came across my LA history-loving radar until now when I received a galley just before its rerelease. I have mixed feeling about the book, just like I do about LA.
You can read it two ways: as a tell-all about what happened behind the shaded palms and closed doors of the hotel, which is the sort of thing some people love, or as a memoir about what happened to the unpaved road that became the Sunset Strip and the chateau on the hill that lived to see it all, which other people will love. I prefer the latter.
Hollywood glamour is mostly smoke and mirrors. But for me, some cherished moments have taken place at the Marmont. It’s one of a handful of places that still exist, built with the stories of Hollywood embedded in their foundation. In a town that sheds its skin often, refacing the old with the new on the regular, this place is like no other.
Harry Cohn famously said, “If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.” But that trouble is free of cameras and name dropping and tabloid fodder. I love that people who deal with having their every bite of salad photographed by paparazzi don’t have to put up with that nonsense there. It’s a hotel for the non-tourist. No photos, please. Love that beyond words.
In the same way we joke that getting dressed in LA is spending 45 minutes to put together an outfit that looks like it took no time at all, the Marmont always feels effortless. There’s no fuss. Just have a drink and settle into a sofa as the sun sets – it’s as beautiful an LA story as you’ll ever find.
At some point while reading, Rilo Kiley’s Let Me Back In was playing and there I was reading an homage to my hometown, listening to a love song to my hometown, lying on a chaise in my hometown.
It was like some weird dream – Inception only with sunshine and palm trees.
The rerelease of Marmont comes as two talents I adore, Aaron Sorkin and John Krasinski, prep to make it into a miniseries for HBO. I can’t wait to see what they do with it.
On a side note, a friend posted this video of Krasinski on Jimmy Fallon the other night having a Lip Sync-Off. Made my day. Hope it does yours, too.