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Ali Davis

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Hollywood the neighborhood, not Hollywood the industry [Apr. 16th, 2007|02:42 am]
Ali Davis
I've been reading Raymond Chandler recently, and, just by chance, a few other authors who set their fictional stories in very real neighborhoods in L.A. Chandler's characters actually spent a fair amount of time knocking around in my neck of the desert, and I'm trying to figure out if I'm geekball enough to drive around and figure out what's still there and, you know, go look at it. Honestly, it's a tossup.

Chandler loved the city, darkness and all, and I'm beginning to understand that more and more. I wonder if removing the darkness would make the city less lovable. Would it be intolerable if only the sherbety parts were left?

I was thinking about that because I was walking along Hollywood Boulevard on Saturday night. Natives and long-time residents are always quick to tell me that Hollywood is way less crazy and way, way less sleazy than it used to be. And I believe them, but there is plenty of sleazy and crazy left to go around.

And I love it. I love the whacked-out people and the dangerous people and the fact that all of them can be there and the street sill manages to draw and retain enough tourists to keep the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum and the wax museum open. I love the elaborate wig stores and the souvenirs-and-bongs shops and the terrible, terrible pizza joints.*

OK, I sometimes don't like the people waiting in line to get into Star Shoes.

But I do love the 4,000 Scient*l*gy Centers and the baffling inventory in the convenience stores and even the people outside of Hollywood and Highland who are dressed up as delightful fun movie characters, with the only difference being that if you try to take their picture without paying them, they will kill you.

And somehow, it all fits. It all belongs.

With one notable exception:

Why the hell won't the breakdancers actually learn to breakdance?

There are always breakdancers outside of Hollywood and Highland. There are different groups of them at different times, but I have never seen them not suck.

They all do the same thing: They sit or lie on the sidewalk, blasting old-fashioned boomboxes while they wait for a crowd to gather. They will wait for ten minutes at a time. You can walk past them lying there, have a slice of wretchedly bad pizza, and buy a bong, a green French Revolution wig, and a fake Oscar, and then walk back the other way, and they will STILL be lying there. Smugly - ARROGANTLY - waiting for more crowd because this one isn't big enough.

And then, finally, the crowd is huge and the mood is right. They pick the right song and crank the box a few notches higher... A few warmup moves to get people pumped, and then finally, FINALLY, one of them leaps forward to make his move.

And completely fails to do even the basic moves that Boogaloo Shrimp and Shabba Doo once demonstrated in People Magazine for your mom to try. Seriously, it is the worst breakdancing I have ever seen. Worse than the breakdancing at your school talent show. Worse than the breakdancing people do at parties when they are drunk and kidding, worse than the breakdancing people do at parties when they are drunk, old and kidding. There is neither popping nor locking. Occasionally you will see a guy who is strong enough to do a handstand or acrobatic move, but this guy is invariably devoid of rhythm. Usually the handstand guy of the group won't even try to string moves together, just do a handstand, get down, and look around like he just discovered penicillin and can't figure out why no one's applauding.

And the ones who do try to dance? Are worse.

I don't approve of heckling in any situation, so I have to walk past them very quickly. If the crowd is too hard to pass though, I start to get panicky. I'm afraid I'll shout out "INVEST IN A SIDE OF CARDBOARD AND PRACTICE, YOU ASSHOLES!"

But so far I haven't. I always make it through, because even the biggest out-of-town rubes can tell that they suck almost immediately. The crowd disperses, the breakers stop dancing, and it all starts over again.

And, secretly, I love it.


*I am only referring to terrible pizza joints that are actually on Hollywood Boulevard. Asparagus pizza, off of Hollywood, is not terrible. To an east coaster, it is manna from heaven with tomato sauce of the Gods and cheese on top.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: faymar
2007-04-16 05:21 pm (UTC)
Hee! You make me homesick. And I've been hearing about Hollywood being "cleaned up" too -- glad to hear the crazies are still about.

Can we have a review of Venice Beach next? :)
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[User Picture]From: blindfrog
2007-04-17 02:32 pm (UTC)

Franklin and Whitley

I lived and Franklin and Whitley and would often walk down to H&H for sigthseeing (more like people wathcing) and would go to the Egyptian on Saturday mornings to watch what the American Cinematheque had prgrammed. I miss that about LA (going to a theater to see a classic film the way it was intended- and then there's the weather. I am glad you love it- best
tina
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From: pencilfairy
2007-04-17 07:46 pm (UTC)

if you enjoy Chandler...

you might also like Walter Mosely (Mosley?)'s Easy Rawlins novels, one of which, _Devil in a Blue Dress_, has been made into a movie. LA in the late 40s, early 50s, but largely set within the black community.
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