Jewish World Review Dec. 16, 2002 / 11 Teves, 5763

Greg Crosby

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Stream of Consciousness All Over The Place | Please excuse my column this week if you find that it reads like complete stream of consciousness, but that's the mode in which my head has been operating in lately -- a continuous, flowing series of images and ideas running through my brain like airplanes circling the sky searching for a landing strip. So I'll land a few thoughts down on you, if you don't mind.

Why is it that everything happens at once? And it seems to occur at the busiest time of the year. Months go by without work, then suddenly I have loads of it and it all needs to be done in a week! And with freelance work, the client never gives you enough time to do it right in the first place -- but get this -- there's always plenty of time to REDO it later. Go figure. Such is the life of the freelancer.

It's getting to the point now that anywhere you go you hear piped in music -- whether you want it or not. I like background music in a movie -- but I don't want it in my own life, especially if I have no say as to what type of music is being played. Once was a time that you only heard it in elevators, now supermarkets, all stores, shopping malls, parking lots, gas stations, doctors, dentists, barber shops, just about everywhere you go you have music played at you.

Now long ago I visited my father's grave and, believe it or not, music was piped into the mausoleum. I haven't heard it in hospitals yet, but give 'em time. Then you have the workmen playing their music. Guys painting a building or on a construction site have their own boom boxes blasting their music, considerately sharing their noise with the rest of the neighborhood. Even workmen coming into your home will attempt to play their portable radios as they work. Can't anyone work without a background of noise anymore? It wouldn't surprise me to find out that surgeons play music while they operate. Probably something like "All of Me, Why Not Take All of Me."

Did anyone see the "Blockbuster Hollywood Spectacular," as the old Hollywood Christmas parade was called this year? The 21/2 hour parade was not broadcast live, as it had been for over fifty years, instead NBC bought the rights to run it a week or so later in an edited version to fit in a one hour time slot. What a pathetic joke. I understand that if it weren't for the Blockbuster sponsorship, the parade might not have happened at all.

When I was a kid, the "Hollywood Christmas Parade" was called "The Santa Claus Lane Parade" and it was broadcast live on every local channel in Los Angeles (many showed it without commercials). Gene Autry's famous song, "Here Comes Santa Claus Right Down Santa Claus Lane" was written specifically about the Hollywood parade.

The grand marshal was always a big name movie star and other stars rode in convertibles bundled up with their families, waving to the crowd as they motored down the street. Before the parade started, the grand marshal would "throw the switch" which would light up the rows of huge electric turning Christmas trees that lined both sides of the street on Hollywood Boulevard. It was pure magic.

What was really exciting to me as a kid, was that "The Santa Claus Lane Parade" was traditionally scheduled the night before Thanksgiving -- signaling the start of the holiday season. Hollywood kicked it off and the New York's Macy's Parade continued it the following morning. I don't know why this town, the center of show biz, can't maintain this wonderful tradition. Seeing the stars with their real families waving to the cameras and wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving and stressing the importance of family togetherness on Thanksgiving was such a warm, positive way to begin the season.

If I were king of Hollywood, the first thing I would do is line up the biggest established stars I could for next year. I'm talking BIG stars. Stars like Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, Morgan Freeman, Ben Affleck, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard, Halle Berry and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Throw in a mix of the older biggies like Paul Newman, Janet Leigh, Bill Cosby, Kirk Douglas, Warren Beatty, Shirley MacLaine, Sean Connery, Angie Dickinson, Clint Eastwood, Jane Powell, James Garner, Debbie Reynolds, Jack Palance, and Sidney Poitier. Stay away from celebrities with attitude and negative contributions (Madonna, Emenem, gangsta rappers, etc.) and aim for the family audience.

The next thing I'd do, is change the name back to "The Hollywood Santa Claus Lane Parade" and I'd run it in its old time slot -- the night before Thanksgiving. I'd bring back those marvelous turning electric Christmas trees and I'd make sure it was broadcast live -- all of it. That's what I'd do if I were king of Hollywood. Anyone want to nominate me?

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2001 Greg Crosby