Saturday, 3 September 2016

Hooray for Hollywood.

I'd intended to walk to Hollywood from Silverlake and it would've only taken me an hour but as I have been the fortunate beneficiary of a TAP card (an LA Oyster) with some credit on I, instead, took the bus.

I picked up the 2 on Sunset (the locals drop Boulevard so I am too) near the Black Cat bar. Site of the nation's first LGBT civil rights demo in 1967.

My first solo bus ride in Los Angeles took me through Little Armenia and past the big blue 'church' of Scientology.

I disembarked on Sunset & Vine and made my way up to Hollywood & Vine. There are so many stars now that they utilise the streets off Hollywood Boulevard. First one I came to was Percy Faith and soon I spotted stars for Harold Lloyd, Loretta Lynn, The Cramps, James Brown, John Wayne, Michael Jackson, Bing Crosby, Pat Boone, Frank Sinatra, and Rita Hayworth.

You don't even need to be human to get one. Rin Tin Tin was represented. In fact you don't even need to be real. Witness five pointed monuments to Mickey Mouse and Snow White.

Hollywood & Vine has clearly seen better times. In its halcyon days it was the place to be spotted but it's now populated by an assortment of homeless people, crazy people, and bewildered visitors.

The highlight for me was getting to see the iconic record stack tower of the Capitol Records building.

Further on you really hit the tourist tat. Guides try to shepherd you on to buses and you can have your photo taken with people dressed up as Spiderman, Zorro, or Michael Jackson. Or, should you prefer, a real live snake.

There's some sleazy looking cabaret bars and a branch of Hooters. Zara and H&M have outlets but there must be easier places to do your high street shopping.

At 6708 the Egyptian Theater was built as an attempt to recreate the Temple of Thebes! In 1922 the very first Hollywood premiere (Robin Hood) took place there.

Its near contemporary El Capitan went up 4 years later. Baroque in design with both Moorish and South Seasons themes it's quite a mish-mash.

There was a smallish crowd gathered on the street with security guards in attendance. A raised stage and music blasting suggested an event. Hall and Oates t-shirts gave a big clue. Turned out they were to receive their Hollywood star that day.

I was too busy to hang around for the ceremony but local knowledge tells me that to get a star these days you basically pay for one. Or get your fan club to. Which makes Rin Tin Tin's star even more confusing.

Outside the Chinese Theatre I found out that my hands and feet are all exactly the same size as George Clooney's. Matt Damon's too. Gregory Peck's fingers were a bit too long and Donald Duck didn't work for me at all.

My first LA metro ride took me one stop from Hollywood/Highland to Universal City/Studio City to meet Annasivia at her glamorous place of work.

In the parking lot I saw a car with two stickers. One suggested Hillary Clinton should be incarcerated. The other boasted of NRA membership. This movie lot aren't all liberal, you know.

Thankfully my host was. She picked me up on a golf buggy and we passed film sets and studio lots new and old. It was amazing but it definitely wasn't a studio tour as that'd be against the rules. That's why I didn't take any photos. Feel free to imagine the glamorous showbiz world I was immersed in.

After eating a cheese sandwich and some crisps (the reality of the Tinsel Town dream) I was taken for a spin. In a car this time. Goodbye to the golf buggy.

Initial plans for a visit to Hollywood reservoir were vetoed as we reached Mulholland Drive. Giving that a go was a great decision. The twisting, winding, undulating road revealed swankier and more expensive houses, some protruding from the hillside, the higher we climbed.

The views were even better and the fiscal punishment for transgressions clearly calculated with the utmost precision.

Descending the Hollywood Hills we reached Beverly Hills. The houses here made what we'd seen esrlier look like a ghetto and in a city with huge numbers of homeless, shanty towns, and skid rows the immaculately manicured lawns and gated mansions are inexcusably obscene. I had no desire to buy any designer clobber on Rodeo Drive but it was instructive to take a peek at a lifestyle so incomprehensible.

Beverly Hills segues into West Hollywood. Still wealthy, if noticeably less ostentatiously so, and with a distinctly gay flavour.

Anna suggested we stop for a snack at Tendergreen's and it was yet another good call. My falafel with Yukon gold potato mash and arugula (rocket) salad was having a party in my mouth. Mint lemonade was special guest.

I was in the cubicle of the 'rest rooms' when I heard a man muttering to himself 'my ass hole is dying'. On exiting said trap the aforementioned gentleman wished me good day as he removed his roller blades in preparation of resuscitating his anus. I wish him the very best.

Next stop was back in Hollywood proper at Amoeba Records. Such a behemoth of a store it has its own parking lot. Racks and racks of vinyl and CDs stretch over several rooms.

You could buy Jerry Holmes' I'm The Man on Roulette Records for $275 but there were bargains to be had too. Anna bought vinyl. A Hailu Mergia LP and a compilation of TV themes played in a Latin easy listening style. A riot grrl paperback completed an impressive haul.

Back downtown we took a drink in Coles, a wood panelled boozer that looked transplanted from Chicago or Boston, and I tried my first Tecate in Las Perlas. A kind of Mexican dive bar banging out some good tunes.

We picked Owen up and headed out to Fred's 62 diner in Los Feliz. A neighbourhood I'm becoming fond of. I wouldn't necessarily match a grilled cheese with fries AND tomato soup but who am I to argue with the menu? It was good. I'm eating well. I need to do some exercise when I get back to London.

In the evening we popped out for a party, a few drinks really, at the Block Party in Eagle Rock. Hipsters in Dodgers shirts played shuffleboard and I chatted briefly to some of Anna and Owen's Angeleno friends. They were all, to a fault, utterly charming.

It wasn't a late, or heavy, night by any stretch but it was another good one and I've still got one more to go. Can I end it with a bang?

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