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10 Years
Kerry Von Erich
Previously on Five-O
Issue Two
Swingtime Strippers
Issue One
New World Evel

Thanks to Charles Phoenix and his holiday slideshow, I now know the Hollywood Christmas Parade was cooked up in the 1950s to draw shoppers away from the fancy department stores downtown, back to the razzle dazzle of Hollywood Boulevard.

Some may say that proud old thoroughfare has changed a little bit since then. Classier boutiques moved away. Six-foot bongs, trashy tattoos and double-breasted $39 pimp suits moved in. But I'm proud to report the Hollywood Christmas Parade (HCP) is still the same loveably shameless shill it always was.

First of all, I want to tell a story about another local religious holiday tradition: the Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service. This is one of the nice things in town inherited from the Age of Mulholland — in terms of a church service it's to Hollywood what Old Faithful is to Yellowstone.

The famed Sunrise Service was founded by community leaders in 1922 as a non-profit, L.A.-wide, ecumenical service. For decades the tradition has held fast — then last year evil televangelists in bed with L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich tried to hijack the service for their particular brand of money-begging, purple-haired freakshow.

And yes, that's the same Mike Antonovich who said "to hell with Old Glory" the 400 year old oak — fancy that. Anyway, they failed. When the L.A. Times got wind of the scheme, their Enron Easter Deregulation Scheme created a media mini-tempest. You know: panicked phones calls, indignant constituents on the line unaccustomed to having local traditions dickered off to out-of-town confidence rackets and so forth. Stung by bad publicity, the TBN/Antonovich Easter-stealers punted.

Look, all I'm saying is, it's reassuring there's no such duplicity involved in the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade — because its mission statement could not possibly be any more blatant: rope in the rubes and sell out the store.

From famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard to the no-name juice stand on Vine, to the teenage delinquent feeding grounds of Carl's Jr. on Sunset — it's something to behold when the parade circuit activates in an echo chamber of hard-sell hype, nominally for a holiday that's still almost a month away.

Still, it's an unpredictable revue that's hard to resist — when you can walk to it. Where else can you feast your senses on a rolling Hall of Lame to rival this one?

By classic Cadillac or cheesy car-float, here come the replicant news-mannequins and Ken-doll weathermen. Here's the B-team cast-members of some Nielson-anemic TV show on an old-timey fire-wagon! And there's Helen Reddy! All flushed through the streets on a tide of marching bands full of starry-eyed Midwestern high school teens (the best part, really, along with the gussied up equestrian groups), and of course, the main course: floats for the latest DVD release — "Austin Powers in Goldmember" on DVD this Tuesday! The entire "Back to the Future" trilogy, finally on DVD this month! Thank you baby Jesus who would be crucified, dead and buried and rise again after the three-day weekend.

But just when you think you've got it figured out, there are some reactions you can't explain. Kids, unmoved by the sight of Corey Haim or even Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, suddenly go berserk at the sight of a large waving Sonic the Hedgehog in a bitchin' '32 Ford. Judging by the shockwaves of high-pitched adoration, Sonic, the videogame Menudo, has been dosing children with mind-control rays for years now.

After an hour or so of this comes the parade marshal, lately anywhere from David Hasselhoff to Peter Fonda to Mickey Rooney: Night Rider, Easy Rider and Good God! — isn't he dead yet? Then hours later the entire affair culminates in the final float, the Money Shot, the Reindeer-Drawn Sled, the Big Santa Send-Off, the Fat Man in Red, Ho-Ho-Ho'ing his ass off like a SAG-AFTRA showbiz trooper.

At least that would the sensible endpoint for the Christmas Parade. But this is Los Angeles. Do you think the SLA shoot-out happened here by coincidence? Yes, there's more — namely the SWAT Team. Swear to God on the Bible. That year it was right after 9/11, so after Santa passes by, this whole dragoon of riot police on horseback come through, fully ready for riot combat (are the World Trade Rioters coming for Santa? No one knows); then comes the mini-fleet of white Suburbans with SWAT guys in black commando gear riding the running boards with their kill-sticks at the ready. Nice solid police state overtones. But then, when you look at their faces, these guys are cool. They look like they're enjoying the parade. Happy to have them on my side. I think.

Finally as the shock troops recede, the people sweepers roll through, street sweepers, huge yellow affairs with flashing safety lights, pushing the tides of humanity away from the event, back towards their nearby bungalows or hour-long ordeals accessing the 101. At this moment the blurring of lines between ancient tradition and urban hyperspace feels complete. Denied the pageantry of ancient Egypt or imperial Rome by an accident of birth, instead I can bring you only reports of a Blade Runner Christmas at Hollywood & Vine. Substitute Spanish for Japanese and you're there.

You see, it's really a love affair between me and the HCP. In the beginning, 1996, it was love at first sight. Except that things changed. It's gotten complicated, the ups and downs of watching a three mile long commercial climaxing in a duet by Santa and the SWAT Team — I'm disgusted/I'm fascinated — it should have been over long ago. But it dragged on because of a certain morbid convenience factor.

In any case, the 2002 Hollywood Christmas Parade was to be noted for its continuity with the fashionable storm-trooping show of force from 2001. But this time, the parade started with the fireworks: namely awful overtones of riots and shoot-outs courtesy of huge sonic fireworks with booms about a hundred times louder than an M-80.

Mind you, they are an hour late in starting already, we later learn, thanks to a bomb scare at Hollywood and Highland. In the midst of the waiting around, the street lights fizzle and the whole block goes dark.

Blackout. Not part of the script.

Now more waiting around, people blowing those stupid plastic horns. Then I have to try to shake this weird guy who keeps asking me if I think he's retarded over and over again. He's like shoving this Casio little cheap digital dictionary thing at me, which has the word "retarded" punched in. "What does this mean? What does this mean?" He completely homed in on me in this crowd of ten thousand. While that's going on, motorcycle cops spins their lights and start revving around like crazy and that's when the sonic booms start going and the sirens wailing, people confused, kids crying. Not exactly the "O Holy Night" scenario I grew up with in Michigan, but hey! — this is California here.

We're having a parade? I know, let's start it with a simulated state of emergency — almost as if the parade were under terror attack at that very moment.

But what can you expect as an American anymore? There's no narrative to the ritual anymore, just a tone-deaf attempt at spectacle that inadvertently echoes some kind of horrible urban catastrophe.

Pretty soon that fireworks factory-exploding nonsense plays itself out and the parade gets going, but after a crowded hour waiting in this time of Terror War Tension, somehow looking at crappy anchormen and DVD commercials on wheels and marching bands from North of Sacramento doesn't do a damn thing for me.

Especially now that the parade planners finally got the message and bypassed the Frolic Room on the parade route to keep those cagey drunks from making their hilarious comments at jet engine volume levels only yards from their celebrity targets.

Yes, it's official. The Christmas Parade love affair is over.

But now that it's over for good, let's have a look at the place it started, retrieved from the Five-O Case Files and dated December 1st, 1996: The original Hollywood Christmas Parade report.

And yeah, it's true — next year I'll probably be back.

— Nate Diamond


I just have to say one thing. Holiday Life in metro Los Angeles is more than just one giant, burned out mattress along the roadside. Let's not forget to give thanks for the Charles Phoenix God Bless Americana Holiday Show, of course, and another event I hope will be back for many years to come: The reVamp/Lucy B. Vintage Burlesque Christmas Fashion Show. That's right, designers Annamarie Firley (outerwear) and Michelle Landry (underwear), well-loved from their , are back at Club Maxwell's at the Argyle Hotel. Let's join them inside the ballroom as these vintage-inspired superstars show their stuff. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord.

For more info:

World Poker Tour
World Poker Tour
Introducing the NASCAR
of Texas Hold-em
Tree Sitter
Tree Sitter
John Quigley
Onboard "Old Glory"
The 400-Year Old Oak
Bartok Takes A Bride
Eqyptian Theatre
All-Stars Party
with Thai Elvis
Malvin Wald
Malvin Wald
The Naked City Writer
on Al Capone and
Ronald Reagan
HEll House
Hell House
Interview with Filmmaker
George Ratliff
The Conqueror
Bow Down, Tartar Dogs!
It's John Wayne as
Genghis Khan
Film Noir
Film Noir Fest 2003
Black Lightning Strikes
at the Egyptian
Forrest J Ackerman
86th Birthday Bash for
Famous Monster
Funk Photos
The Funk Does
Charlton Heston
Omega Man
A Very Lemmy
Yuletide at the
Rainbow Room
Charles Phoenix
Charles Phoenix
Big Laughs in
Xmas Parade
The Hollywood
Christmas Parade
Unholy Spectacle of
Glitter and Filth
theron productions