In trying to accommodate this issue’s “architectural” theme, as you know I have hatched the hair-brained scheme to live at the famous Chateau Marmont hotel for a few days. The initial purpose of this endeavor was to soak up the hotel’s vintage history, its French-inspired style, and to chew on the current brand of wildlife they house with pride. But, as the fan turns, the shit makes its way to it eventually. How naïve of me to imagine a dimension in which they would comp a room for a journalist (especially an unknown one) but they were willing to provide a private tour of the entire hotel by two of its managers. Quickly, and by no fault of their PR woman who has been more than gracious with me, the Hotel has been quick to brand my behind with a white-hot list of guidelines that I am legally obliged to follow.
1.) Staff members cannot be quoted or interviewed (including the managers providing the tours)
2.) Guests/guest’s activities cannot be mentioned nor celebrities spotted to ensure their anonymity
3.) Photography or filming cannot take place
Corporate policies are one thing, but my god, are they keeping sensitive government secrets over there or what? The amount of fear reverberating among the hotel’s employees must be palpable from as far as the Viper Room. I have decided to not take this tour because I don’t think our readers will want to undergo such a morbid experience. I am saddened to realize that the Chateau Marmont that once prided itself on breaking the rules is dead. Long gone are the days when Howard Hughes could masturbate in the attic while peeping on young starlets lounging by the pool, or when Led Zeppelin could come tearing into the lobby on some chromed-out Harleys, or when Jim Morrison could jump out of a window for the hell of it. Marmont used to be a holy mecca for the counter-culture, a place where the outside rules were considered mere formalities, and in a time when creativity and debauchery went together like a horse and carriage. As recently as 2007, they let Lindsay Lohan, of all people, LIVE under that roof for months—which is the equivalent of letting a radioactive vampire into your house. But I suppose there is no corporate policy against radioactive vampires, now is there?
Clearly I am not a celebrity to cater to, but there is a little thing called “freedom of press” that obviously cannot penetrate the corporate fear-mongering going on at Hotels AB. Are they so afraid that a little arts & literature publication no one’s ever heard of is going to expose a shocking scandal of some kind that will drive business into the ground permanently? Or perhaps the fear centers around a hot-shot celebrity who will never know our magazine exists, reading about him or herself months later and then deciding they will try and sue the Hotel for… well, what exactly, would remain to be seen. All famously-known orgies, drug-binges, deaths and nervous-breakdowns aside, what could I possibly uncover that they have not already been more than proud to flaunt? Hell, if it weren’t for prolifically-inclined writers such as myself, one could argue that Chateau Marmont wouldn’t even be on the map today. These lurid tales of excess are precisely what have made the hotel such an icon the world over, and dare I say that if they were never publicly known, then the premiere destination for most of Hollywood’s elite would be the Best Western. Or is this beyond mere litigation, and are we now in the clandestine realm of a little thing called “prestige?” Does Marmont want to maintain a silent code of respect for its guests, sort of like La Cosa Nostra, in which pesky writers like myself are kept at bay?
Let’s make one thing abundantly clear, as I have already told the Hotel’s publicist: I never had any intention of exposing or incriminating any guests or staff members of any kind or in any way. But to offer a journalist a private tour, only to censor him from actually writing about anything he should see or hear or experience, is a slightly insulting contradiction of terms. If I want the basic facts, I can Google the damn place from the comfort of my own home. I guess the proper response here should have been “thanks but no thanks” instead of my irrational emotional meltdown reflected herein. When the PR woman apologized and asked me to continue the piece, I had to politely explain that: “The last things any artist wants to hear are the corporate rules of what they can and cannot do, much like if you were about to go to bed with someone and they listed the same—it robs the moment of any romance.”
At the end of the day, they don’t need the publicity, and we certainly don’t need an article about nothing. I know the PR woman doesn’t make the rules, so I will resist the temptation of burning the messenger at the stake, especially one with such a lovely British accent. We all have our jobs to do, this much is certain. The Publicist’s job is to be a corporate mid-wife between the entities who hire her and the public with whom they do business. Mine is to be Wile E. Coyote, the frequently destroyed but constantly persistent cartoon character who pursues his dreams against all odds. At any rate, I figure it’s only breaking corporate policy if I have the corporation’s permission; so in order to expedite this process and to free us all from this stifling responsibility, I should just visit and enjoy the Hotel, its guests and staff, all on my own in the coming weeks ahead. As a journalist, as an artist and last but not least, as an American.
In closing, if a healthy piece of journalism is akin to a sturdy building of sound design, then my attempt at zeroing-in on this issue’s theme is no different than the Leaning Tower of Pisa—best intentions, and all of that. Oh well. If anything we erect in this life should ever stand the cruel test of time, whether it be an article, a hotel, or love, then I suppose our precious time here will not have been entirely wasted.