Skip to main content

Elephants and Peek-a-Boo! Hollywood Features Itself

Lights, camera, action! The Hollywood sign, seen from Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles does a lousy job of preserving its heritage, and the district of Hollywood, L.A.'s prime tourist destination, is a perfect example of this failure.
Hollywood's dominant feature is a mall at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue that was opened in 2001. The shopping and entertainment center dwarfs the Roosevelt Hotel, the El Capitan Theater, Grauman's Chinese Theater — now actually TCL Chinese Theater, after the company that bought it a few months back — and whatever else may be left of the classical Hollywood. In a pile-it-on mixture of styles and forms, the complex boasts postmodern glass fronts, roof tops reminiscent of bunkers from World War II and elephant statues perched upon voluptuous columns. The site has Las Vegas feel to it. But while such eclecticism might amuse me anywhere in Nevada, I find it eerie everywhere else. I don't want L.A. to look like Vegas.
That said, last time I was in Hollywood I came across the peek-a-boo above: the iconic Hollywood sign sandwiched between the roof top of an orange city bus and a pedestrian bridge in the mall. Add to that the row of spotlights, the woman taking a picture and the five figures walking across the structure, and what we have is a movie set: Lights, camera, action! Hollywood features itself.
By the way of self-reference: after some research I learned that the elephants in the mall are a tribute to Hollywood, too. They are replicas of figures used for the movie Intolerance released in 1916. L.A., we learn, has its own way of preserving heritage.

Las Vegas or L.A.? Hollywood and Highland Center
(Photo: Gary Minnaert, Wikimedia Commons)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Visions of Editors: How Good Stories Go to Waste

Recently I stumbled upon Visions of Mary, a war story by Joseph Richardson. The book begins in a present day emergency room in Tennessee: A physician, a good guy who takes his work seriously, fights to establish the identity of a man who was found wandering about in a snow storm. The M.D.'s questions bring up memories of World War II in the disoriented patient. Thanks to the lost man's recollections we eventually learn that he is Colonel John Stone, an American war hero. The colonel tells the physician how he enlisted and became a pilot, how he married his sweetheart, Mary, and how he almost died when the Japanese shot down his plane, the "China Doll," in the last months of the war. After the attack, Stone and his men found themselves on a raft in the middle of a shark infested nowhere called the Pacific. Without food, water and radio connection their death seemed imminent. The men's fight for survival is where the book turns exciting: plunged into this crisis,

Lyman, Whitford, Reality Check: A Career in the West Wing?

On a chilly Sunday night in February two young girls in jeans and light blouses were standing in front of the artists' entrance of one of two local art theaters in Pasadena, California. The pathway beyond the barrier, an iron gate, was barely lit. It stayed empty for a long time while the girls, shifting weight from one foot to the other, chatted and giggled. After a while a figure emerged from the shadows. The girls fell silent but it was the wrong actor. When the right man, Bradley Whitford, finally appeared he was wearing a bicycle helmet pushed way up on his forehead. Whitford is best known for playing Josh Lyman in the TV series  The West Wing   but on that night he had performed in the Pasadena Playhouse's production of Yasmina Reza’s   Art.  The girls stopped the actor, told him about their social studies class and how the teacher would have them watch The West Wing.  Whitford smiled, asked, "Which school is it?" and autographed the two print-outs the girls

Solid Rock, Human Transience (The Huntington 2)

Organic blend: Chinese garden at the Huntington The Chinese garden at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino (L.A. county) is a magical place. It blends the man-made and the natural, architecture with trees, straight lines and curves, all in an organic way. Last week, as I was wandering the cobbled paths of the garden I decided to take a closer look at some of the rocks. I got to my knees, admired the shades of white and grey, the undertones of purple, green, and red; I let my hand glide over the limestone's spurs, cracks, and sharp edges, felt the coolness of the rock against my skin, its enduring solidity against my human transience - and decided to look up some facts. Spurs and cracks: 50 Chinese stone workers flew in to carve the stone Transplants in L.A.: 850 tons of rock The limestone rocks in the Huntington's Chinese garden are transplants. They were imported from Lake Tai in the Yangtze Delta in China. Acc