The usual mélange of bikers and men in suits mix in the lobby/parking lot of Jumbo's Clown Room, each still holding out hope that one of the strippers will finally agree to fuck him.
Tough teens cruise little Armenia. Boys full of machismo try to impress girls who feign disinterest -- even as they pray for more attention.
Little kids pile into the Weingart Youth Center, but you can tell none of them really wants to be there - their tiny faces cry, "Shit, man, this reeks of lameness."
I move toward the Kleig light swirl in the clear night air. It creates a sense of false glamour on the seedy edge of the "new Hollywood."
At Pantages, theatre patrons spill out of "The Lion King," warily walking to their cars. "Hurry, Beulah, before one of those gang-bangers highjacks us."
Further down the street, a crazy man unleashes a beautifully choreographed assault on an unsuspecting phone booth, his high twirling kicks at least as good as some of the Lion King dancers', yet I'm sure no one will pay him for his talent.
Nearby, some poor guy IS getting paid -- minimum wage to wear an Imperial Storm Trooper costume and do the robot in front of the Hollywood Wax Museum. I'm sure he's thankful for the mask so no one can recognize him. Better than being the Subway Sandwich, though.
Down at that pantheon of wretched excess, Hollywood and Highland, dazed and confused tourists look around. I don't speak their languages, but their faces are clearly saying, "Berndt, are you sure THIS is Hollywood?" or "Ita, where's the cast of Friends?" One man is certainly wondering what the hell he did to piss off his travel agent and get sent on this boondoggle.
"Yes, poor misguided tourists," I want to holler as I drive past, "this IS Hollywood! Please let me apologize for the false advertising."
But I'm pre-empted by a street corner preacher who uses a karaoke machine for a pulpit. "Repent," he crackles. "Forgive them, God, for they know not what they do."
I wonder if he means the travel agents and promoters who lured these unsuspecting people here, the developers who created a 360,000-square foot monument to capitalism, or the people on the street who fuel the demand. In the end, I suppose, we're all in need of forgiveness.
At the legendary Mann's Chinese Theatre, a group of Krishnas - some carrying congas, others with cymbals on their fingers - thump and chant and ting back and forth across the boulevard, snarling traffic as their orange garb floats in the breeze.
A journey from the ridiculous to the sublime in a matter of a mile and half.
Just another night in Hollywood.
Margot’s a content strategist and freelance journalist. She consults with and/or writes for businesses large and small, and new and traditional media. She’s also the author of four books, including Be a Better Writer: Power Tools for Young Writers -- co-written with her husband, Steve Peha -- won the 2007 Independent Publishers Association gold medal for teen/young-adult nonfiction. She is currently working on two additional titles in the Better Writer Series, one for college students and another for corporate employees. A Southern belle and sex symbol for the intelligentsia, she was born, raised and still lives in Orange County, N.C.
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
6.11.03 @ 12:44p
I always think like this about SF - down in the Tenderloin (SF's downtown ghetto) there are all these shitty hotels. I feel bad for the tourist who sees the website with great pictures of the inside of the hotel. Then when they get there, they see the crack whore and burning El Camino outside.
6.11.03 @ 12:51p
I have a friend who lives in the Tenderloin!
6.11.03 @ 12:56p
Hey, Hollywood and Highland's not that bad! Otherwise, a pretty accurate depiction.
Only, I'd put in the addition of young disillusioned Hollywoodites clamouring from Star Shoes to Beauty Bar to Deep, underdressed and overconfident. I know it's the only reason I go down there.
6.11.03 @ 12:59p
right on. except it was too early for them...only about 8P. and you know no self-respecing scenester would be caught dead on the boulevard at that hour!
6.17.03 @ 1:50a
Hey! Give me a crack whore and burning El Camino any day of the week, just make sure the hotel room has a waterbed. I have very low priorities.
So far, Margot, you've sold me. Now all I have to do is find a nice little condo in the area and I'd feel at home. There is lots of neon, right? I've got to have neon. And mirrors or at the very least chrome.
6.17.03 @ 6:47p
Mike, why doesn't it surprise me you have a friend who lives in the Tenderloin?
Or is she really a "friend" named Candi?
6.17.03 @ 7:23p
No, he's a rich, eccentric, insane alcoholic. Strangest person I've ever met. The stories about this kid are ridiculi. RIDICULI. People don't believe it when my friends and I tell them. He has plenty of money, no need to live in the Loin. But that's the type of guy he is. INSANE.
6.17.03 @ 11:13p
great snapshot of hollywood. it reminds me so much of home, it was worth spending two minutes away from internet porn...
6.18.03 @ 12:21a
the only thing missing was you running around frolic II ripping off your underwear while some tall chick dances on the pinball machine to "you shook me". not that that kind of thing ever happens in hollywood!
6.18.03 @ 12:37a
All very true. And I think Hollywood is a beautiful place... in its own self-right.
6.18.03 @ 11:57a
At first I thought you were describing the west village. Maybe New York City isn't as bad as it's been appearing as of late ;)