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Arts and Entertainment

Patton Oswalt On Why Christmas In Los Angeles Is 'Beautiful'

Patton Oswalt performing in 2014. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for The New Yorker)
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Have a good memory about spending Christmas in Los Angeles? Patton Oswalt has a pretty good one about that time he drunkenly saw Jerry Maguire on Christmas Eve.

"Los Angeles at Christmas time is beautiful," Patton begins as he recounts his "second favorite Christmas memory," on the track "The Best Comedy I've Ever Seen" from his 2011 album Finest Hour. (His favorite Christmas memory, if you remember, was slowing down his Alvin and the Chipmunks record so it sounded like this.)

"You know why?," he continues. "Everybody leaves."

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Indeed. This year especially, a record number of Southern Californians are heading out of town. Good luck, by the way, if you are flying out of LAX.

"The city just empties out. There's no traffic, it's quiet. It's like I Am Legend but you can get a sandwich. It's perfect."

He goes on to talk about Christmas Eve 1996, when he and his brother were drinking at a bar in Hollywood when they decided to go see Jerry Maguire at the dearly departed Galaxy 6 theater. "The crappiest theater in L.A.," Oswalt calls it, where you can see a movie in a theater filled with the aroma of "meth addicts' popcorn farts" and "where the glamour of Hollywood gets peed on nightly."

The site of what used to be the Galaxy 6 wasn't always a blight on Hollywood. In fact, it used to be home to Tinseltown's brightest. The famed Garden Court Apartments once stood at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard. Designed by Frank S. Meline in the Beaux-Arts style, the apartment complex opened in 1917 and housed a who's who of early Hollywood: Louis B. Mayer, Mack Sennett, Mae Murray, Laurel and Hardy, and "It" Girl Clara Bow. According to the history website L.A. Daily Mirror, an early ad for the building called it "the Most Modern in the West."


Hollywood's Garden Court Apartments in 1924. (via the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Archive)
However, as Hollywood Boulevard began to decline through the decades, so did the fortunes of the Garden Court. Plans through the years for a movie museum at the site fell through, and eventually the abandoned site became a home for drifters, earning the nickname "Hotel Hell."

Despite a last-minute effort to see the site designated a historic-cultural monument, it was torn down in 1984 and eventually became a commercial retail center. In 1991, the Galaxy 6 Theater opened at that complex, where Oswalt and his brother would see Jerry Maguire with eight other lonely souls on Christmas Eve.

Both Mann's Chinese Theatre and Disney's El Capitan were only a block away. "With all the historic and famous cinemas nearby, we must offer something special, too," wrote the Galaxy 6's senior projectionist in remembering the theater. To compete with the more historic theaters down the street, the Galaxy had the state-of-the-art THX sound system and projected 70mm prints.

Unfortunately the days were not long for the Galaxy and it closed in 2003. Today the site is now a CVS and an L.A Fitness.

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Hollywood's Galaxy 6 at night. (Photo by Ken Roe via Cinema Treasures)