Spending my first New Year's Eve not in N.Y.C. in 30 years felt odd, to say the least.
In the lobby of our hotel in Los Angeles, the bandleader stopped mid-set to announce: "It's fifteen minutes 'til New Year's for all the North-eastern-ers in the house!"
My girlfriend and I raced to the lounge to see Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin, handcuffed together, gearing up for the final countdown in N.Y.C.
Suddenly, there was free champagne and a small crowd of Easterners around us. When the ball dropped in Times Square, we toasted the new year with a glass of champagne and sang along with Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York!"
In N.Y.C., this is an awesome moment, like a thousand winning touchdowns. But this year when the ball dropped, cheers didn't follow it on the street. Partly because the street was filled with valet parking stands, and mostly because it was only 9 p.m.!
As I drifted into sleep with the taste of cheap champagne on my tongue (screw-top champagne: never a good thing), I wondered why I felt such a strong pull to leave warm, sunny La La Land and go back to Manhattan, where a nor'easter was about to blow in.
Every time I come to L.A., I think the same thing: fabulous weather, gorgeous people, awesome vintage cars, great shopping and delicious food.
We are not just talking great food, but food for every dietary issue you can imagine! Vegan? No problem! Paleo diet? Easy. Gluten-free? Even the Jewish deli offered me chopped liver with gluten-free toast!
For the same money that might land you a tiny studio with a view of a back wall in Manhattan, you can have a swank, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a terrace and a view of a yard filled with flowers! Real flowers, not plastic ones glued to the outside of a rat trap, like on my block!
There are cool rock clubs, even ones that Jim Morrison sang in, sublime beaches and the best people-watching spots this side of the red carpet.
Celebs are so plentiful that they start to get boring. So what if John Stamos is at the next table? He's not buying me a sixteen-dollar cocktail! That exposed butt crack stretching out next to me at the gym belongs to Neil Patrick Harris... Big whoop. It doesn't do diddly for my abs. Although, I must say, his looked rather nice.
For a week, L.A. is the best place in the universe. It generally hits me on the seventh day, when I realize that I have to get in the car to pick up a gallon of water. I go on strike and walk.
Hey! I'm a New Yorker. We would walk to Mars if we could! But walking in L.A.? Not so easy.
Walking across the street in L.A. can be a death-defying act. So what if you have the "walk" sign? We are talking about multi-taskers zipping down La Cienega Boulevard, sipping soy cappuccinos, admiring their facelifts in the rear-view mirror, texting their yoga guru and reading notes for a screenplay.
Pedestrians? What's a pedestrian?
As a blonde, I go through life feeling a touch, well... special. That is, until I get to L.A. Everyone, everyone, everyone is blonde. The dogs are blonde!
I am not kidding; I saw a blonde model in a mini-skirt and Uggs (what's with Uggs on an 80 degree day, anyway?) walking her blonde poodle!
Everyone has been botoxed, liposucked and collagened into the stratosphere. Window-shopping (who can afford, otherwise?) on Rodeo Drive is like venturing to a new planet, where everyone has Mick Jagger's lips on Joan Rivers' face.
And it's all about Hollywood. Everyone is in the biz, or dating someone in the biz, or trying to be in the biz, or pretending to be in the biz -- and they're not the least bit interested in you if you are not.
"What do you do?" they ask, sounding cheerful.
"I'm a caterer?" I answer.
"Do you have a reality show?"
"No, but I'm real."
"How nice..." they say, almost vomiting into their kale juice.
I need to get back to N.Y.C., where people wear black and walk 50 blocks a day, and don't want to have brunch with you if they don't like you, and can still crack a smile because they haven't been botoxed into a permanent sneer.
I don't want to kiss every freaking person I meet on both cheeks... twice!
I remember going to a reading by Fran Lebowitz, who can I just take a moment to say, IS A GOD, and she said: "My definition of a city is if you stick your hand in the air and a taxi pulls over; that's a city!"
Taxis! If you're not at a swank hotel, it's like you don't exist. I tried flagging one down on Sunset Strip, and the driver (who was texting and admiring his facelift), looked at me as though I was from Mars!
Hey, buddy! I am from Mars! Mars by way of the Manhattan Bridge!