Suite 700 View, 2012
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We started our California trip with a few days in Santa Monica. My patience with Los Angeles runs a little thin. But Santa Monica and the neighboring Venice Beach offer just the right mix of sun, surf, good food, eclectic bohemia and some just plain crazy shit.
We stayed in a stylish hotel across from the beach. It was suggested by a friend who spent some time there earlier in the year. He’s more of a celebrity than I am. A little Googling tells me that Madonna and Sean Penn also used to hang out at this hotel. But I don’t think there was any intersection between my friend and Madonna. He’s not that famous.
The hotel describes itself as “a striking beacon of Art Deco elegance, a chronicle of Old-Hollywood glamour, and a quintessential nexus of culture.” I don’t know if all that’s true. But you could see that the place could have once had the kind of raffish charm that led Madonna and Sean Penn believe they could misbehave there.
These days the place is freshly renovated with all the modern amenities you’d expect from a stylish beach hotel. The building itself is white and has curves where there would normally be corners. All in all, it has the look and feel of an ocean liner one might have boarded in the 1930s for a relaxed cruise to Havana.
The View from 416, 2012
One of the amenities of the hotel is a rooftop bar with a terrace overlooking the Pacific. If you have to endure a West Coast sunset, this is not a bad place to endure it. The indoor part of the bar is all streamline moderne, with lots of chrome and mirrors.
The first night we went up there the place was crawling with a smart crowd of young creative types, dressed in a seemingly insouciant style that was in all likelihood anything but insouciant. The girls looked either like Tina Fey or super models. The guys looked like they'd just stepped out of the summer issue of GQ. These young people were not only stylish, but had the appearance, good manners and wicked humor reflective of good educations and worldly exposure. Listen for a little while and you could easily imagine any one of them having been the editor of the Lampoon or president of the Hasty Pudding Club. In short, they’re the kind of young people from whom you’d expect a lot of smart stuff.
This is why it was a bit of a shock as we got to know them and learned that they all work for a media company just up the street that produces reality television shows. I’m not talking about smart reality shows, as if there is such a thing. Rather, I’m talking about shows like Wife Swap, Celebrity Wife Swap—apparently there’s no limit to extensions of the wife swapping franchise—Hard Core Pawn and Lizard Lick Towing.
All in all, though, they were a nice bunch of kids. When we all moved outside to watch the sun set they were as awestruck by the view as anyone and we were all one congenial crowd as our giant deco ocean liner sailed into the night.
Like a Deco Ocean Liner, 2012