Hollywood Boulevard in 1927 at the opening of Hells Angels at Grauman's Chinese
Hollywood is famous around the world as the one-time center of the American film industry. Although Hollywood
isn't the original home of the west coast film industry (nearby Edendale
in Echo Park
and Sycamore Grove
in Highland Park
both have stronger claims to that distinction), Hollywood
has for almost a century continued to serve as a metonym for that industry (and inspire portmanteaus like Bollywood, Dollywood, Ghallywood, Kollywood, Mollywood, Nollywood, Tollywood
, etc); even though that most of the film industry mostly long ago abandoned the neighborhood, primarily for the San Fernando Valley
. Hollywood has done an excellent job of branding though. After all, you don't have other countries referring to their film industries as "Bedendale," "Nycamore Grove", or "the Ghalley."
The Hollywood neighborhood has expertly continued to pimp its association with the American film industry that formerly called it home where the other neighborhoods did not. In Edendale, the oldest studio was torn down and is now a vacant lot where the 2 Freeway meets Glendale. The old Mack Sennet Studio
where Charlie Chaplin
and Keystone Cops
movies were made is now a public storage facility unceremoniously tucked behind a Jack in the Box. Hollywood
, on the other hand, continues to bill itself as "The Entertainment Capital of the World
" and adds industry-related tourist attractions like the Hollywood Walk of Fame
, which was installed long after the last pieces of tinsel in tinseltown had blown over the hills.
Today there are relatively few vestiges of Hollywood's cinematic past not installed merely to attract tourists -- of the film studios, only Paramount
remains. Of the major label music industry, only Capitol Records
remains. The aforementioned Walk of Fame -- to me, at least -- serves primarily as a testament to the ephemeral nature of stardom. Not to be hopelessly cynical but the first time I saw the names like Bryan Adams, Sean "Diddy" Combs
, and Paula Abdul
, I felt nothing but disinterest. However, for roughly ten million annual visitors it's presumably something terribly exciting and I honestly don't want to disparage that.
I would be very surprised, however, if much of Hollywood doesn't disappoint the celebrity or glamor-chaser because it really has little of either. Along a particularly acrid stretch Hollywood Boulevard, low-end shops hawk photos of celebrities alongside stripper-wear, I Love Lucy
lunch boxes, tacky cell phone cases, novelty license plates, T-shirts and other chintz. People dressed rather unconvincingly as superheroes
attempt to bully clueless tourists into tipping them for posing in pictures. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's saddened by the spectacle.