Amoeblog

California Fool's Gold -- A Hollywood Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 26, 2012 09:42pm | Post a Comment
HOLLYWOOD SWINGING


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. 

CAUTION: FLAMMABLE!

Posted by Job O Brother, November 18, 2008 11:37am | Post a Comment

The view from my window. That store in the middle is Linda Thai - they have great food.

*Cough, cough!*

Hello! Greetings from *cough* Hollywood!

Sorry about the grey ash everywhere. It’s from the fires. And the heat. Strange, isn’t it? To be in the middle of November and planning your day around which businesses have air conditioning? (Amoeba Music, by the way, has air conditioning.) This is how we do winter in LA: pretend the blazing heat is an Arctic chill and those flakes of ash falling from the sky are snowflakes.

Also, that fat man laughing loudly on Sunset Boulevard is Santa. Nevermind that you’ve never seen Santa throw-up in the gutter and scream that the government put wires in his cereal. This is how we do winter in LA.

*Cough, cough* Word.

I must admit, I kind of like the way the air smells when Los Angeles is consumed in hell-fire. Kind of like everything’s hickory smoked. Kind of delicious, and reminds me of Christmas gifts of Hickory Farms, like you might find a smoked and dried Pasadena nestled in a box of fake grass, next to some strawberry candy. Sounds good, right? Who wouldn’t want to spread a little smoked Pasadena on a poppy-seed cracker? Maybe add a sprig of dill. Mmm!
The last seven days – we’ll call it a week for short – have been packed with all sorts of activities. Let’s start with the most improbable of them:

I, Job O Brother, have finally succumbed to that quintessential of LA subcultures; I have started taking yoga. I came to this by way of helpful suggestion from my boyfriend Corey. And by helpful suggestion I mean an incessant, high-pressure sale, wherein which yoga was presented as the cure-all for anything I didn’t like in life…

JOB: My back hurts.

COREY: Yoga would take care of that. You should take yoga.

JOB: Why is my eye always irritated?

COREY: Probably circulation. You should take yoga. It would help that.

JOB: Are we out of beer? Dammit!

COREY: Yoga would help take care of your craving.

JOB: That was my Mom on the phone. My Aunt Lois has died.

COREY: See? You should’ve taken yoga.

Etcetera…

It’s inevitable that, when Corey reads this blog post (in a few months from now when he has nothing to do at work) he will object and claim that I am exaggerating his approach, but I will have my final revenge. When he complains, I’ll simply remind him that yoga will soothe his sense of injustice.

Ultimately, it is he who is vindicated, because I am loving yoga. Honestly, it wasn’t the act of yoga that intimidated me – it was the idea of being in a classroom environment. I realize that I’m no longer a kid and I can’t be forced to do homework or go to anyone’s office, but I’ve always said that the best thing about being an adult is that I never, ever, ever have to go to school again.

I believe I’ve said this before, but I HATE SCHOOL.

Which reminds me, I’ve discovered that actor Wilson Cruz, who played Rickie on My So-Called Life is living in my apartment building. That’s kind of cool.

I’m not taking him any housewarming gifts, however. I hate knowing my neighbors, so I assume they feel the same.

I hate knowing my neighbors because once you’ve reached a point where you’re chit-chatting, it makes it impossible to pass them quietly in the halls when you’re finally home from work. I’ve been on my feet dealing with people for eight hours and I’m only five yards from peace and quiet, but yes, I would LOVE to spend the next 15 minutes talking to you about how hot it is right now and yes, PLEASE tell me about taking your dog to the vet. Heavenly! And they’ll knock on your door asking for sugar! Yeah, I have sugar. I keep it at the grocery store down the street. Help yourself.

This makes me sound hostile, which is unfair. I am hostile, but more than hostile I’m a warm and sensitive sex machine. Don’t let the negative eclipse the positive, mon ami.

Where are we? I sometimes lift my head up from blogging and discover I have no idea how I got where I am, and my original intent seems very far away. Let’s review the first few paragraphs and maybe start again from there…

Hmm… Lots of flippant remarks about the devastating LA fires… Gross tangent about Hickory Farms gift boxes… (Who reads this blog?) The state of winter in LA… Ah, yes! My eventful week.

Friday night, Corey and I went to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, located in Franklin Village (or, as I like to call it, Hipsteropolis), for a midnight No-on-8 comedy show.

(Yes, we realize the 2008 elections are over, but the term No-on-8 has carried over and is no longer just campaigning, but a stand for marriage equality.)

One of the kerjillion ways Prop 8 sucks is that it hijacked my favorite number. I’ve had a crush on 8 since I first learned to count, and now I find myself saying “no” to 8 all the time. I hope, in four years, that the next Prop 8 will be for something I really want. Like, a “yes” vote for Prop 8 will mean every dude in his 30’s will get free massages and a Christmas gift-box from Hickory Farms. YES WE CAN!
 

It's not the photo - she's really this blurry in person.

Anyway, the performances at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre were hilarious. A long roster of performers, both famous and otherwise, did sketches and monologues in support of gay marriage. Highlights were Janeane Garofalo’s monologue, in which she somehow made her rant against men wearing sandals a strong argument in favor of marriage equality; a disorganized but nevertheless chuckle-inducing monologue by funnyman Steve Agee, whose role (as Steve) on the Sarah Silverman Program has unwittingly made him a poster-boy for the bear community...

...Also I loved a sketch by two young women who, with the idea that they would see what it would be like to be married to each other, basically screamed at one another with flawless timing (I don’t remember their names, unfortunately – anyone who does should say so in the comments below).

As a bitchy side-note, the barista who was working the Bourgeois Pig – some high-strung, fey dude – was awful, and caused me to leave before I could order. He spent almost 10 minutes filling the order of the two ladies in front of us (I timed it, yes) because he kept joking and performing for them. When it finally came time for Corey to order, he found that they didn’t have the flavor of tea he wanted. Faced with a last minute decision and an inability to easily see what teas were available (this café is lit with blue and red lights and no tea menu – just display boxes) Corey asked the barista what flavors they had, to which the barista snottily replied that he was too busy to read them, to read the boxes “yourself” and proceeded to help the next person in line! HEY JERKFACE! YOU ARE BUSY! BUSY HELPING THE CUSTOMER WHO JUST WAITED 10 MINUTES TO ORDER SOME TEA!

I’m really sorry about that last paragraph. I realize how indulgent it is to use my blog as a vehicle to rant about poor customer service, but it made me crazy. Ordering tea should never be a stressful experience. And it’s not like I want the guy to get fired. Just, y’know, assassinated a little bit.

Then, a few days ago, I had a phone interview with one of my idols, Sandra Bernhard. I’ll post a link once that’s up.

Yes, a full week. And mostly rad. I hope yours was as well, mon ami, and that the coming week is even better. Cheers.

*Cough!*