Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hotel California

So I've spent the past couple days in LA working on casting voice roles for an upcoming project. Originally, I was just to go down there for a single day, but a couple of the actors were not available on that day, so I went down the day before and stayed overnight.

I stayed at The Standard, on Sunset Blvd, near where we were doing the recordings. Now I am so used to the steam-rollered Hyattification of our hotels that I was unprepared for the utter strangeness of a place that occupies its own sense of time and place.

The Standard is in the stretch of Sunset between the Comedy Store and the Body Shop, high enough on the hillside to overlook the city to the south. The building is a undulating concrete structure that looks like was frozen in mid-earthquake, its walls horizontal standing waves of pale blue with white trim. The rooms lacked the traditionally unused cabinets and generic art, instead boasting bare white walls save for a change between matte white and gloss white. A cactus on the desk. A silver bean bag chair. The bed low to the ground without sides, supported from below in a fashion that looks like it hovers there. It looks like a student art project gone horribly upscale.

The lobby is equally off-kilter. A silent art film plays against an empty corridor (El Gringo (2003)). Fishbowl chairs hang from the ceiling and plush coconuts (or oversize fabric plums) litter the waiting area. And behind the reception desk, a young woman is sleeping.

No, I don't mean some xombi clerk, dead on her feet, like at a Sheraton. There is a glass box with a neat, thin, colorful mattress, and a young brunette woman, tank top and bikini briefs, sleeping, or turning over, or staring at the people checking in. Sort of like an aquarium in some high-class hotel, but a bit more unnerving.

And I'll admit, after I got over the "my god, I'm, not in Kansas" feeling, it all pretty much worked. I still judged the place on the amenities - the mattress (firm), the restaurant (sushi was refrigerated, but the lasagna was top-notch), the water pressure (good) and the soundproofing (good on the window-wall overlooking the pool, less-good between the rooms. But in a world of increasing sameness, something this offbase was worth noting.

Oh yeah, one more weirdness. When I got in, the room had a flatscreen. I thumbed it on and ran through the channels. TMC was just starting out "Sunset Blvd.", which I was watching on Sunset Blvd. I shook my head, turned off the tube, and went back to my scripts, weirded out by that more than the girl in the glass box.

More later,