I woke up early Saturday, September the 20th, grabbed my bag, and headed for the BART (our subway system here in the Bay Area). An hour later I was at San Francisco Airport waiting in the awesomely awesome Virgin America terminal, secretly wondering if anyone else was going to the Emmys and trying really hard to keep from screaming, "I'M GOING TO THE EMMYS!" In all honesty, I was a little miffed that random strangers weren't coming up to me saying things like, "Are you going to the Emmys? You look like a person who is going to the Emmys!" I mean, couldn't they smell it on me or something? And then I saw this lady and remembered that I don't look like a person who goes to the Emmys and I never will.
The flight was delayed and delayed, which was sad because I had chosen the morning flight so that I could get there early and explore Santa Monica a bit, having never been to LA, but whatever. As long as I was not late for the Emmys, which was at that point 30 hours away, I would be fine. I could even drive there if I had to.
I eventually got to LA around 3pm I think. I don't travel alone all that much, so I was being pretty brave and digging deep into my well of resourceful pluckiness as I hailed a cab and got myself to the hotel. Yes, I just admitted to you that hailing a cab and getting myself somewhere is terrifying to me. I am not proud. The Daily Show (cast, producers, writers, etc.) were all staying at the Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica, which is literally on the beach with a view of the pier. I'll wait here while you go look at the website, which I insist you do before I tell you anymore of this story.
Are we good? You wouldn't lie to me, right? You've looked at the rooms?
It made sense for me to stay there (or more accurately it made no sense for me to try to find a cheaper room in the vicinity), so I had booked two nights without looking at their rates, didn't discuss the potential cost with Matthew, and basically held my breath and repeated the mantra, "This is what credit cards are for, this is what credit cards are for," over and over again until I believed it. When the cab pulled up and the doorman opened my door and offered me his hand as if I were some movie princess played by Anne Hathaway and said, "Welcome Ms. Reid," I thought, "This IS what credit cards are for." I later put two and two together and ruined my fantasy that somehow fancy rich people live in a world where their presence is just sensed and communicated by ESP or something and now I know that by some slight of hand he and the other doorman had sneaked a peek at my luggage tag before getting me out of the cab, but nonetheless, I was feeling pretty fancy at this point.
The lobby of the Casa Del Mar is an interesting study in interior design. It has that initial WHOA THIS IS FANCY thing going for it, as all fancy hotels do, but upon closer inspection I was delighted to find that it was actually a little confused and out-dated with layers of odds and ends that clearly hadn't be designed to go together. I was delighted by this because 1. it made me feel like less of an impostor, 2. it gave me something to do while I waited for my room to be ready, and 3. I was pleased with my ability to not be blinded by the fancy and to do some real archeological analysis of what I was seeing. This is not to say that it wasn't supremely nice, it was. It just wasn't so out of my league nice that I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, which is great in more ways than one, no?
The woman who checked me in was incredibly warm and didn't make me feel like I had to pretend to be fancier than I am (I may have put on a little charm-filled act of Country Mouse Goes to LA for the First Time - can you blame me?). She informed me that my room had been upgraded to a sea-view so I did a little invisible victory dance inside my head and made my way up to the 5th floor.
These pictures don't do this room justice because when I saw the room and the bathroom and my terrace and the sunlight and the fabrics and the seating options I actually thought, for a very brief second, "Maybe I won't go to the Emmys and I'll just stay in here for 2 days," and that's saying something. Then I came to my senses, unpacked, texted John, and got ready to dive into what was to be a major 45 hour stretch of amazingness.
John met me at my room which was on the pool floor so we headed out to it because that was where most Daily Show people were hanging out. It was incredibly bright out (is LA sun different somehow?), I was definitely nervous, and John was sweet as could be introducing me to various cast members, writers, and producers. The first officially famous person I met was Jason Jones who was in his bathing suit in the pool. Um, hello!
(An aside: during the whole run up to the Emmys I couldn't help but wonder if John was regretting inviting me. It's one thing to be generous and give a person something you know they will enjoy, it's another thing to have to play host for a weekend amongst your peers and colleagues to someone who literally doesn't know one other person other than you. I mean, I can't say that I would do it frankly. It's an exhausting kind of work, and he would already have to be ON, like HOLLYWOOD ON, so it was hard for me to imagine that my presence would be fun for longer than the initial few moments of getting to see me freak out about celebrities. But this is where John Hodgman is a superstar; he has an uncanny ability to genuinely embody Lloyd Dobler. So I let go of my worry and decided to stop second-guessing my value there. Yes, I should be in therapy.)
We decided that we were hungry and that we would walk down the beach a bit and end up at Chez Jay for a drink and to catch up (we don't get to actually see each other all that much now that we live on opposite coasts). As soon as we sat down at the bar our neighbor announced John's name and declared himself a huge fan. This had happened while I was around John before of course, but it was still bizarre and slightly jarring. Like I said before, in my head John is my friend and oh yeah maybe he's a little famous on the side, so whenever a stranger comes up to him it reminds me that he's a Famous Person. Watching him interact with someone who knows him but who he does not know is a study in grace, generosity, and firm succinctness; he is very good at it.
See how happy dude is? So sweet.
(Another aside: When we owned the cafe I would let John come in on Tuesdays, my prep day (we were officially closed), and he would sit at the bar working while I chopped stuff and hated my life. It's been years and years since then and we've rarely had time alone since, so this time at Chez Jay was somewhat special, even for old friends. Such is the way with couples - we just rarely see each other without our partners.)
It was getting close to Comedy Central Party time so we headed back to the hotel to get dressed. I wore Jessie's Kate Spade Jillian dress, Sheila's Kate Spade necklace, a ponytail, and some black pumps that I think I got at Payless. We walked across the street to the Viceroy which had a lobby full of these chairs and a bathroom covered in this wallpaper:
The first person we met after checking in was Stephen Colbert who was shorter than I expected (this will be a reoccurring theme - get used to it). Then John Oliver. Then Trey Parker walked in. And so on. I spent the evening in a cabana with some lovely Daily Show and Colbert Report writers and producers and their partners. They were not famous, they were totally normal people, able to appreciate how crazy and awesome all this was, easy to talk to, and sweet as all get out. John had a lot of people to see and talk to but he checked in and let me know where he was going to be regularly, a la Dobler. It should tell you something about me that the thing I remember most about the Viceroy was how upsetting the coffee table size was in proportion to the seating. It was almost impossible to walk around and the glass felt dangerous for the knees. I just couldn't stop thinking about how terrible it was. See? Imagine 10 people around that thing and trying to move about. Impossible! I'm still mad about it.
At some point we decided to leave and go to John's favorite place in the whole world: the Chateau Marmont. We took an Uber there I think, and this is where I was first introduced to how big LA is and how it takes you 5 hours to get anywhere you want to go. Seriously, wow, that town is unfathomably large for my little head and I am so grateful that I didn't have to drive a car once while I was there. Anyway, when I emerged from the car a small row of 3 or 4 paparazzi were lining the entrance and immediately took a couple photos, flash and all, shouting, "ARE YOU FAMOUS?" They quickly figured out that I am not and let us pass (I have no recollection if they figured out that John is - I was so humored by the experience that I couldn't absorb anything else for a moment or two). Also, those shots of my face are probably the most unflattering shots ever taken of me and I wish I could have them.
Let me pause here and ask, Does that ever work? Do celebrities actually ever say, "YES! I AM!"? Also, as a past connoisseur of celebrity magazines (I'm over it now), I am well acquainted with the idea of the paparazzi but to actually be in the presence of them gave me a whole new perspective which is: double gross times a million.
Okay, so, the Chateau. They know who John is there. Like, they all seemed to know who he is, and this is where, while he has stayed there a lot and clearly loves it, I had that feeling of the fancy rich people ESP again, only this time it wan't ESP, it was an elaborate database that tracks celebrities' visits and staff members have weekly flash card quizzes or something. Right? How on earth do they keep everyone straight in this damn town? I mean, for every recognizable celebrity there are 20 more writers and producers who are just as important, if not more important, in this town, especially if you are a young actor trying to find your break, as they all are. I'm pretty sure you have to have a demonstrable awesome memory to work as a host in places like the Chateau, at the very very least. The job interview must involve a quiz I'd love to get my eyeballs on.
You aren't supposed to take photos in the Chateau, but before I knew that I took this one of a closet door that simply said:
The Chateau is like a maze, designed to purposefully throw you off your normal orientation to time and space (this is just my opinion, but I'm usually right, about everything, so...). I usually have a good handle on both of those things but in the Chateau I had no idea where I was or how late it was (it was late, for me). We ate and talked and realized that Jessica Lange and Ryan Murphy were behind us and that was when I felt like I was really really really in Hollywood. Jessica. Lange. Wha?
The Chateau has a gated section for private bungalows and cottages, one of which is where John Belushi died, and John took me for a tour of the grounds. It was beautiful, cozy, totally secluded somehow (while being on the Sunset Strip), and pretty awesome.
By this time it was midnight or later and given that tomorrow we had the EMMYS to go to, we headed back to the hotel. I had been careful to not drink too much, stay hydrated, and eat well so that I had a decent shot at a good night's sleep but just in case I took an Ambien, crawled into that glorious bed, and slept solidly for 7 hours.
Next post: Getting Ready For The Emmys!