There's a scene in Free and Easy where Buster Keaton's character drops off Ma and Elvira at Grauman's Chinese Theater, then proceeds to find a parking spot. Passing multiple lots that are already full, he settles for a roadside spot - in the country - next to a cow. I'm glad to say our trip to Grauman's had easier parking ($10), but was somewhat disappointing. I think it's because I have an imaginary image of Hollywood in my mind.
Let me back up a bit. Last week I had my first opportunity to visit Hollywood and Grauman's Chinese Theater. The latter has been on my list for a long time. And following Murphy's Law, this was the day LA was experiencing a ton of rain last week.
Grauman's itself is still impressive. All the prints in concrete are still there, although Cary Grant seems to be sinking. My feet seemed to be bigger than everyone's, except Donald Duck.
What disappointed me was Hollywood Blvd., the road that Grauman's graces. It's basically a tourist trap these days. Total nobodies we're standing on the public sidewalk in front of Grauman's in various superhero costumes, rotating hourly. I had to laugh when I heard the disclaimer over the PA at Grauman's: "...characters are not affiliated with the theater." I went into the McDonalds across the street for a bite (yes, not very classic Hollywood of me) and a seedy Captain America showed up for his lunch as well. At least the McDonalds had some taste: giant photos of classic and current stars, some being Hurrell photos. On one corner, a giant gift shop hocking cheap t-shirts and postcards with half naked women on the beach. On a side street, an old Max Factor building, in pink, now home to a Hollywood museum. Further down, a wax museum and Ripley's Believe it or Not. And then there was the constant bothering by folks to go on a "Homes of the Stars" tour. Bug off.
Did I mention the three-story mall next to Grauman's, which also doubles as a front for the Kodak Theatre?
There was one point where I was walking down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, noticed Irving Thalberg's star at my feet, then heard someone screaming the F word repeatedly. This wasn't the image of Hollywood in my mind.
Sure, I understand how things change with time. Luckily, the classic architecture still remaining on various buildings didn't disappoint. The good ol' Hollywood sign is still up as well.
Oh well, one more thing off of the "to do" list. Photos to come!
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