Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Hollywood in My Mind

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!


Kate Gabrielle said...

That's so disappointing! I think I always imagine places I haven't been to still look the way they do in movies.

VP81955 said...

Is this the first time you've been to Hollywood Boulevard? If so, I'vwe got news for you -- it's been like this for some time. However, I would sense today it's probably better than it was 20 years ago, when the area was really rundown and tawdry. I last visited in 2000, when the area seemed to have improved somewhat, thanks in part to the arrival of Metrorail; I'm certain things are better now. Is it Disneyfied? Sure, but it's probably better than it had been, just as today's Times Square is superior to its 1979 self.

Raquelle said...

I've always been worried about visiting Hollywood and having just your experience. I almost rather visit Hollywood in my mind.

I'm looking forward to your pictures!

Carrie said...

Ohboy, I'll prob. get the Hollywood tourism folks after me!

Yes, this was my first trip there. It's Disneyfied to a bit: the El Capitan theater is Disney now and it looks like all they show is Disney flicks.

Tom said...

Oh! I know what you mean about the "freaks" in various costumes (Elvis, Superman, King Kong) outside the Kodak and Grauman's. I was there for first time last year; I guess it's to be expected, though. But there are so many stars on the walk of fame, even Franklin Pangborn has a star. So seeing some of these names was a really emotional experience for me, realizing all the celebrities that walked up and down these streets over the years.

Carrie said...

Hi Tom: Yeah, I consider myself to be somewhat of an 'oddball', but I certainly was outclassed there!

Tom said...