I didn't know Loretta Palazzo personally back in her L.A. days, but I knew who she was. Most of us on the commercial acting circuit probably did, when your day job is casting director, a lot of Beer Chicks, Gen-Y Geeks and Gap-Casual Moms tend to know your name. But Loretta was memorable even in our world, and not just because she stood out in a sartorial sense. Putting aside her cat's-eye glasses, red-red lipstick and fantabulous retro-cool wardrobe (which, seemingly, held no duplication of outfits), Loretta was Loretta in spades. I have no idea how happy or unhappy she was with her life here, but she seemed centered in herself in a way that 99.99% of the people you meet here in Hollywood do not. And as far as I'm concerned, that puts you ahead of the game no matter where you're parking your carcass.
So I guess I wasn't especially surprised when I cracked open my new-favorite magazine, Budget Living, and saw Loretta's new life far, far from Hollywood splashed across its pages. There's a lot of churn here in The Place That Isn't A Place; most of us who come out here to pursue some Hollywood-y type of activity end up getting out sooner or later, and the high-tailing-it is pretty evenly distributed across the zero - to - medium-high success levels (although if you ever have the misfortune of screening a film with an auditorium full of SAG members, you'd think that every scraggly-ass background freakazoid who never worked was still living here).
Still, I was impressed by the manifestation of the life which Loretta and her now-husband, Matt Maranian (former character actor and co-author of the excellent off-kilter guide, L.A. Bizarro), dreamed up for themselves. It's aesthetically pleasing, yes (frankly, I'm ready to move in if the happy couple will have me) but what really knocks me out is the way their energy crackles off the page, both in the text and the photos. Clearly, these two remarkable people will settle for nothing less than exactly what they want, albeit in a quiet, self-assured way.
Compare that to the lives of not-so-quiet desperation led by so many of the denizens of La-La, and you start to see how radical Loretta and Matt and their bohemian, Vermonter lifestyle really are. They are in clear and firm possession of their own truth, it would appear, and were even before they piled their stuff in a truck and headed East.
I'm sensitive to this, you see; for a proponent of change, I'm often woefully slow to embrace it. It took me ten years to leave a business I knew I loathed after the first six months; similarly, I've overstayed my welcome in too many relationships out of a fear that to do otherwise would be an admission of weakness. Or maybe just out of fear, period.
Of course, the universe loves to use the ego-driven as its own, personal punching bags. After a series of blows to the head, heart and guts, I'd like to think I've taken the note, as we say in the trade.
But just to be on the safe side, I'm clipping these fine pages and slipping them into my 3-ring Super-Virgo binder of reminders. And if I ever feel myself forgetting the importance of checking in to see where I really and truly am (not to mention the magnificence of what can happen if I'm brave enough to be true to it) I can flip to those pages for a little reminder.
Hopefully, as the saying so wryly goes, I'll hurry up and get some.
PHOTOS: Douglas Friedman