Hooray for Hollywood (Boulevard)
Hollywood Boulevard is nearby. We walk on its sidewalks almost every day, often to access the subway, which serves our neighborhood with a Hollywood & Highland stop. If you’ve not been to Hollywood & Highland, picture a summer-stock version of Times Square, with fewer lights, people and energy, but the same frantically commercial vibe, the same “souvenirs are mandatory” ethos.
The “Walk of Fame,” a sidewalk with inlaid pentagrams and the name of someone famous or formerly so, has a high weirdness-to-cheesiness ratio. But at certain spots, such as where Stevie Wonder’s star touches Miles Davis’s – right near that venerable Hollywood landmark Buffalo Wild Wings – you’d swear universal harmonic convergences are possible.
Mostly, though, the trek from Hollywood & La Brea to Hollywood & Highland, is growing more dismal by the week. There are plenty of world famous attractions in this stretch: the Chinese Theater, the Dolby (nee Kodak) Theater, the El Capitan theater next door to the Jimmy Kimmel Show, as well as the compulsory wax museum and Hard Rock Café. There are plenty of happy tourists, with cameras and money and some very funny misconceptions about what actually happens in Hollywood.
Unfortunately, there are also hordes of opportunists on the prowl, hoping to engage with the tourists’ cameras and money. These folks aren’t pickpockets or swindlers. They’re merely hustlers trying to do the Hollywood hustle.
We’ve got a message for them, every single one of them who works Hollywood Boulevard: Ya’ll need to step up your game. Big time. You’re making us residents of Hollywood look bad to the Australians and Germans and Japanese of the world. Here’s our unsolicited counsel…
CHARACTER IMPERSONATORS: We understand. For the right kind of person, getting to stand around all day in a complete Batman outfit is its own reward; snagging a buck or two from tourists in exchange for snapshot posing is just an added bonus. That’s cool. But, please, superhero portrayers, we beseech you: exercise regularly, eat well, and cut your body fat in half – then put on the tights and cape. If you’re a Catwoman or Supergirl, same request; also, please do not wear outfits that emphasize your lack of voluptuousness or excess of belly flab. And do we really need three of everything? Three Johnny Depps, OK, we get that. But three spidermen? All balanced on trash bins and light poles? You’re confusing the children. Speaking of which, Tickle Me Elmo man: time to find a new hero.
MUSICAL BUSKERS: Scratching out three guitar chords is a start. But you’re performing on the sidewalk only steps away from where they broadcast the American Idol final. This is Hollywood, Jack. If you can’t really sing and can’t really play your instrument, please don’t bring down the world’s image of us. Make way for those who are genuinely committed to their craft, like the Jimi Hendrix impersonator guy.
SNAKE & BIRD GUY: Why? This is the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Imprisoned parrots don’t fit into the whole glamour of showbiz thing. Return your animals to the wild, put on a superhero cape and get busy.
“RECORDING ARTISTS”: We appreciate the determination and moxie it must take to home-burn copies of your jam onto Staples re-writables and attempt to “sell” them to confused foreigners by placing CDs in their hands. You’re go-getters, and proud we are of all of you. But no matter what Tim Sweeney or some other creative marketing guru taught you, extorting strangers is not a winning strategy for a long-term music career.
$5 SALE ARMY: Nice sign-twirling. Nice purple shirts. Nice sense of urgency – which we assume comes organically, from a genuine sense of excitement about the big sale! All the merchandise in your store is half-off today! We’ll make you a deal, $5 Army, we’ll gladly visit the $10 Boutique’s fabulous menagerie of made-in-China mementos when someone can answer two questions: When did the 50%-off sale begin, and when will it end? Exactly. Never and never. When you change the store’s name to the $5 Boutique, we’ll talk.