Escape to L.A.

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One of the major perks of living in San Diego is the proximity to Los Angeles, the celebrity mecca of the world.  I get a little bit giddy every time I see a freeway sign reminding me that I am just a couple of hours from the homes of my favorite celebrities.  After all, the only famous people that I had access to in my hometown of Toms River, NJ were the stars of Jersey Shore.  And I’m not complaining, because Snooki is a sight to behold and I was incredibly excited to see her that one magical night at Karma.  But she is D list at best, and Los Angeles is home to the real deal, the A listers.   So when the opportunity arose to head up to L.A. this past weekend, I jumped right on it. 

For me, being in L.A. feels akin to what I imagine being on safari feels like.  My senses are heightened and I am at the ready with my iPhone, in case I need to snap a quick pic of an exotic creature.  Driving on the PCH through Malibu is my version of riding a Jeep through the Serengeti.  I am constantly on the lookout.  Every passing Range Rover is an opportunity to see Kendall or Kylie illegally text while driving.  In my mind, every Prius is potentially being steered by Leonardo DiCaprio.  (And if you’ve ever driven in southern California, you know that there are A LOT of Prii.)  I think I probably developed a case of whiplash from all of the head-turning that I had to do in order to make sure I didn’t miss any potential sightings.  Every time I see a tall blond with oversize feet, I do a double-take to see if it’s Paris Hilton.  And every time I see a tiny little man inappropriately jumping up and down, I hope that it’s Tom Cruise.  Then I realize that it’s just a 7-year-old boy on a sugar high.    

Unfortunately, I didn’t see any celebrities this time around.  But I did get to wondering… why am I so obsessed with the whole celebrity culture?  I devour the latest episode of Us Weekly in under 15 minutes.  I check Perez Hilton at least 5 times per day.  And I probably know more about what’s going on in the Kardashian family than I do about what’s going on in my own actual family.  I’m not alone in this.  I see other women perusing the tabloids in the grocery store checkout line.  And even my very successful cousin-in-law who is an M.D. finds the time to engage in text conversations about the latest khronicles of the Kardashians.  So what is it about celebrities that is just so compelling? 

Maybe following the lives of celebrities allows us to escape from our own lives.  It’s kind of like driving through the ritzy part of town and looking at the mansions, imagining what it would be like to live there and forgetting, just for a moment, that you live in an 800 square foot box where the thin walls offer no protection from the incessant barking of your neighbor’s dogs.  Watching how Jessica Alba manages to wrangle her children while still keeping up with the latest trends and looking perfectly polished out in public allows me to escape, just for a moment, from my own bleak reality of yoga pants, unwashed hair and blotchy, foundation-less skin.  I get lost in the pages of Life & Style because it’s more interesting than listening to my husband tell me about the ins and outs of the NASDAQ.  (I’m just kidding, honey.  I LOOOVVVVEEE listening to everything you say!)  When I have a rough day at work, it’s sometimes nice to just zone out and watch the Rich Kids of Beverly Hills debate about what Instagram filter to use.  Some people escape with a good book or a movie.  It’s not much different than escaping through People magazine and E! news. 

After doing some research, I found that there may also be an evolutionary explanation for our fascination with the famous.  Prestige may be a trait that has helped our species to survive.  Our caveman ancestors needed to recognize the individuals who possessed superior skills and knowledge, so that they could learn from them and/or mooch off of their successes.  It’s just like in high school when the less popular students follow and imitate the practices and rituals of the popular students so that they are more accepted and included.  It’s basically a way to survive.  So the next time my husband judges me for the amount of time I spend following Justin Bieber’s legal proceedings, I will tell him that I’m trying to save our species.

There may be a psychological or scientific reason behind our celebrity-crazed mindset.  But regardless of the science behind it, the fact remains that it’s fun.  And if I ever forget that, luckily I am just a hop, skip, a jump, and a 2-hour L.A. traffic jam away from Hollywood to get a reminder.  

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53 thoughts on “Escape to L.A.

  1. “Then I realize that it’s just a 7-year-old boy on a sugar high.”
    I lolled hard. That theory about why we’re so invested in celebrities is really interesting too.

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback! I figure there has to be a scientific explanation for why I spend so much time on gossip websites and why I can’t keep my wits about me whenever I run into a Real Housewife.

  2. I love living in San Diego as well. So nice to be able to go to LA and enjoy but come back to our beautiful San Diego city. Hopefully you will be able to go to Hollywood again soon and see a celebrity. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I agree that it’s like an escape. We daydream about the lives of the rich and famous, which I’m sure really aren’t that great and glamorous when all is said and done.

    1. It’s easy to make it look glamorous when you have a professional hair and makeup team, and you can call paparazzi to take pictures of you at your best. But no doubt, they have their normal-people problems like the rest of us.

      1. I agree…besides, I think it must be really hard to give up your privacy and live like that. It’s a high price, I think, never to be able to walk down the street without people staring or taking pictures of you. I wouldn’t want a life like that even if it came with a BIG pay check.

  4. Unfortunately “superior skills and knowledge” doesn’t describe many of today’s celebrities, but next time someone judges me for caring about the kardashians, I now have a reason why 🙂

  5. Wow what a great article! I love your theory, it’s so interesting! I ponder that question all the time, because I too am OBSESSED with Hollywood gossip. Oh and who else loves the Richkids Of Beverly Hills?

  6. Very interesting take on the idea of celebrity and our fascination with it. The research on prestige explains a lot, and even makes me feel a new sense of respect for the famous, when you point out the survival aspect. I think it is great you are honest enough to also admit you are fascinated for the fun of, we all feel that way sometimes!

  7. I will be moving to San Diego with my husband very soon, and driving to LA is one of the things I very much look forward to for the same reason. I have a friend who bumped into Sophia Bush (of One Tree Hill) at a local grocery store, and I was so amazed by it. She even had a photo taken with her!

  8. For me it is extremely interesting to me to ponder a life with such financial stability.. However many celebrities constantly marrying, divorcing, many of them depressed, going broke, all proves that fame and money doesn’t always translate into happiness.

    1. lvlheaded, I totally agree. I think a lot of people who seek fame may be trying to fill some unmet need for overwhelming adoration and popularity. But often it seems that being in the spotlight, and being surrounded by hangers-on, just creates more problems.

  9. Howdy neighbor. A fellow San Diegan appreciating your commentary on Hollywood. Each time I am there I am amazed at the number of buses, limos, jeeps, and whatever carrying tourists in the hope of seeing a star. There is something about the intrigue that does exist. For me it is like watching most movies, I am there to be entertained as a distraction to the intensity and stresses associated with our daily lives. That is what visiting LA also does for me. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Be careful! Some of those celebrities can get pretty wild in their natural habitat. But if you toss chocolate at them, they’ll be distracted long enough for you to run away. 😉

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  11. As a current resident of Manahawkin, with hopes of migrating to the west coast, I thoroughly enjoyed this. And I’m definitely trying to live through you by reading your posts.. and watching Entourage reruns.

  12. I’m in Washington, DC, but I’m originally from L.A. (and would like to return to California). I went back to L.A. in February, and one of the striking things I noticed about the city is that all that Hollywood celebrity also translates into artistic. Everywhere was wonderful sculptures and murals and tons and tons of museums. In DC, it’s so type A that what little art that is here doesn’t have a lot of magic to it.

  13. I barged on Hollywood gossips mostly to see what dress they wear to Oscars and other film festivals. Nevertheless it’s fascinating and sometimes you do wonder what is it like to live like the rich and famous 🙂

  14. Following lives of others is way easier than to straighten out your own. Assuming you had enough money, you could look just as great and maybe even better. Plus, you wouldn’t need to be as dumb as most of those show women are.
    “Superior skills and knowledge” were not that important in the age of cavemen. Just like with animals, the strongest survived. Prestige has absolutely nothing to do with survival, with killing boredom it has.
    Just imagine what you could get done during the time you spend reading about and watching so called celebrities. You may create or discover something incredible which makes you important, famous and worth envy. Who even grades all those so called celebrities: who is and who isn’t?
    All West coast is fantastic, I mean, the drive along the ocean, and scenery, great place to be, but you probably care more what some starlet is wearing, so you won’t see that. Aren’t all magazines already full with that type of info: like outfits and houses?
    I suppose, it makes way more sense to take better care about yourself, your own family, try to live better, fuller, with higher standards on your own. Try to achieve something worthwhile for yourself because that is the only thing what matters at the end of the day.
    If getting to see somebody famous makes you happy, I cannot imagine what you’re living for. I hope you get to see some celebrity soon if that’s what makes your heart run faster.

  15. I’ve never been to Hollywood before, but can’t wait to go someday! Definitely enjoyed reading your post 🙂 I’m a complete fangirl over anything celeb lol

  16. SERIOUSLY!? Having been born and raised in Los Angeles, celebrities are a penny a dozen. They are so self-absorbed, self-important, and incredibly over-rated. Having encountered hundreds of celebrities in my lifetime, they expect being fawned over. I would never work in the “industry” because of its pretentious nature. I live in the mecca and it’s a real inconvenience. Try living down the hill from Britney Spears when she flies off her rocker and every news station helicopter is hovering over your apartment for hours on end, with their spotlights shining in your bedroom when you are trying to sleep. You too would wish people like yourself wouldn’t care so much about these imbeciles. Having lived blocks away from Vitello’s Italian Restaurant, the place where Robert Blake killed his wife (allegedly), and where he lived in the same area. Again, helicopters shaking every building in the neighborhood. Paparazzi shoving you at Coffee Bean because Miley Cyrus is in there buying an Ice Blended Mocha. Or kids flocking to the Jonas’ brothers house to trick-o-treat on Halloween. There is a HUGE downside to living around these people.

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