Santa Monica
number sixty seven

I was almost surprised when the nephews (aged 16 and 18) announced that they wanted to go to Hollywood.  They have never been before!  I wondered how you could live in Southern California and never visit Hollywood; this would be like living in the Paris suburbs and never visiting the Eifel Tower.  I haven’t been to Hollywood in over 15 years so I was curious to see if it had changed much.

We got off the 10 Freeway and headed north past the Beverly Center.  I can remember carrying out $500,000 to $700,000 worth of cash out of that mall on a single hall back when I worked for Brinks as an armored car guard.  It was a dangerous job but it was exciting and (more importantly) it had a flexible schedule  that worked around my Uni schedule.  We passed Melrose and then made a drive down Sunset.  We passed the House of Blues, the Whisky A Go-Go, the Viper Room and some of Hollywood’s most famous bars and I was surprised to see that each club a queue out front.  As we drove around Hollywood we saw that every night club had a line of patrons waiting to get inside – and on a Monday night!  I shot a photo outside one of the clubs that had a line forming (below) and I wondered how crazy this place must be on a Saturday night.

As expected, we saw some “crazies,” including homeless people, hookers, pimps and this guy who was making some psychedelic music with his keyboard.  He seemed to be in a happy groove just playing his music on the sidewalk.  On any corner there was a pimp watching over his prostitutes and I made sure to point out to Josh and Jake that the hookers in real life look nothing like those in the movies; these women were clearly on drugs and suffered from all sorts of lesions, malnourishment and looked like they were 25  going on 55.  One pimp was yelling into his phone and I joked with my brother, “He’s probably yelling at one of his girls,” and sure enough, we heard him yell, “Bitch, you better bring me my money!”  You couldn’t have written it in a movie script any better than we saw it – it was truly an experience that you would have to see first hand to believe.

The nightlife – even for a Monday night – was quite busy; we saw a news crew (below), large crowds of tourists from all over the world and enough police to fight a war.  It was nice to see such a strong police presence as Los Angeles can be a rough city (as we found out during the riots in the early 90’s).  As we drove around Hollywood we made sure to NOT stray too far from the Hollywood Strip as some of the neighborhoods to the east.  We parked the car near Man’s Chinese Theater and began walking the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  We saw Bruce Lee’s star, Judge Judy and many many others.  When we arrived at Man’s we looked at all of the hand and footprints that have been left by actors through the years.  We saw a lot of really old footprints from the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and many other famous actors.  I enjoyed watching the boys’ reactions to seeing this bit of history.

We walked up and down the Walk of Fame for an hour or two looking at each of the stars and seeing if we recognized them.  Some of the stars were old and we didn’t recognize them but we probably could identify at least half of them.  When we came to Ozzy’s star we decided that it would make a great pic and I posed the brother and nephews:

We had a lot of fun roaming around checking out the sites.  We came across a tattoo parlor and we saw a girl getting a tattoo on her stomach.  I tried to be discreet when I shot a photo (below) and if you look through all the “junk” in the window you can see her in the tattoo chair.  We also saw a news team doing an interview (2nd photo below), chatted with some local business owners, talked to other tourists and looked through the windows of some of the shops that sold everything from Hookah pipes to L. Ron Hubbard Scientology books.  Hollywood is an interesting and sometimes strange place but never boring – if you ever make it to Los Angeles, be sure to get over to Sunset and Hollywood and see the Walk of Fame and the Hollywood Strip.  Ideally, get into one of the nightclubs and have a real Hollywood party experience.


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Santa Monica
number sixty seven

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