Friday, 28 December 2012

SCHOLARSHIP DAY 120: Exploring Hollywood

My dormitory bed fits comfortably in the corner of hostel room, and even though there is only one easily accessible exit out of it, I felt that I had got out on the wrong side this morning. This is not to say that I was disgruntled in mood, as is so often apparent under the flesh of many who arise from such an easeful position. And I can fortunately proclaim that nothing of any large magnitude occurred within my first few hours of consciousness on this Thursday morning. Nevertheless, it was just the slow and vexatious accumulation of petite events, most of which sparked just by my carelessness. I missed my alarm, so ultimately missed the hostel breakfast, and had to venture to a nearby cafe. I placed an order in the form of an enticing cooked waffle, accompanied by the tongue waggling accompaniment of whipped cream and bananas, though it took a small eternity to prepare and even longer to cook. When my rumbling stomach was finally settled, I made a hasty walk to the bus stop, but realised I didn't have the memory card for my camera, and consequently had to make another obnoxious trip back to retrieve the item. Fearful for another incident to stunt my morning, I re-checked my bags, and once satisfied, proceeded to the bus stop. The sky above greeted me with a divergence from normality. Such an usual formation courted with the imagination whilst I waited patiently for the next bus to Hollywood.

I don't believe that there's anybody on this planet who has not been touched in one way or another by the enterprise of Hollywood. In the recent days, I have often found myself visiting aspects of Los Angeles that have fallen short of receiving the basic levels of care and consideration; the dilapidated zone of Historic Downtown, for instance, saturated greatly in despondency. Perhaps, as I have hypothesised before, this disheartenment comes as a result of Los Angeles choosing to channel love (and obviously capital) into 'other' areas. Hollywood is one of those lucky places, in this respect, though you wouldn't know it if like me you choose to enter via the 740 line, which dispatches the weary traveller on the outskirts where the scene is very contrastive. As I departed the metro, the gentleman accompanying my exit decided that perhaps embarking into this territory wasn't a wise idea and instead attempted to reboard; he couldn't so dashed through crowds to board a bus just emerging around an intersection. With this hubbub resolved, I immediately stumbled upon an street-side argument, which thoroughly explored a rather flavoursome vocabulary. Having acknowledged the fact that this wasn't the typical 'Hollywood' alluded to in the guidebook, I turned up Vine Street and after being ushered across the road by a police officer-for no apparent reason may I interject- I found myself sauntering from the mildly horrific into the heavily prolific.

There is a tendency to suggest that Los Angeles considers quantity to take president over quality; the county is of exorbitant size yet isn't able to sustain a seamless beauty like San Francisco achieves. But by strolling through Hollywood in eager pursuit of cultural interest. it's easy to turn the other cheek. Hollywood doesn't have an extensive range of inducement, but what it does have is delivered extremely well. Take the Hollywood and Highland Centre, for example; with its accustomed abbreviation, 'H and H'. I found myself being lured up a narrow strip of red painted steps, as easily as a magnet attracts a paperclip, and soon I found myself in a broad melange; a miscellany of extended stay tourists and day excursion groups, waitresses and bartenders, residents in the local vicinity with their families rekindling their love for the area they chose to move into, and perhaps some taking one final stroll. Whether they fitted into any of these categories or not, the H and H was bubbling to overflowing with people, which although made locomotion challenging, subsequently made the speculated thrill of Hollywood that little touch more realistic.

The H and H centre provides, charitably, two access points with which to capture the most lionised signs in the world: the Hollywood sign that dwells on the flank of the hillside. It's incredible to believe that nine white capitalised letters residing in such an inaccessible area is perhaps more eulogised than some of the notable names that have once worked for the organisation. Though this maybe correct, the H and H centre doesn't commit to educating those at these viewing points about it; perhaps out of crude belief that people simply wouldn't expend valuable seconds on it.

I absorbed as much of the H and H centre as I could, sipping every last entity of thrill that it possesses, before making an exit via the Chinese Theatre. For a showcase of American cinematic talent, it's difficult to believe that the Chinese Theatre is the most famous construction in the area, but alas, it seems to be the case. An entry fee of $30.00 or more in some cases allows you to enter into the grandeur and taste what it feels like to be surrounded by a rich aroma of gift and talent; hand prints of some of the most celebrated stars find their home in this theatre too. This is something I'm told is extremely popular with a tourist's viewfinder, but my camera came away- I'm proud to admit- hand print free!

That is, until I stumbled upon Marilyn Monroe, who delights the passerby so much that they have to take a photo of her. Some struggle to find contentment in this though, and take the effort to ask who would be so nice as to take a photo of them embracing Marilyn, looking as if they were once life-long friends. I have to admit some difficulty in obtaining a photo of a solitary Miss M, but out of the several thousand attempts, this holds rank as being the finest.

Having departed the eminence of Marilyn Monroe, I abruptly found myself strolling over several more reputable names in the cinematic industry. From a distance, people walking the Walk of Fame must appear to be very melancholic, and yet looking downwards towards the stone floor, with a conceivable look of despair, is both exciting and indeed the only way to enjoy the delights of the Walk of Fame. Star-shaped golden tinted stone exposing the engraved names of some of the most celebrated characters ever to step in front of camera. Now, it has to be acknowledged that not being a enthusiast, I didn't recognise every name, but I did grin at the likes of Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, The Pointer Sisters, John Lennon, Barry Manilow, Nat King Cole, Bette Davis, Gracie Fields, Doris Day; well, you get the idea.

Apart from large gatherings around some of the most applauded, the Walk of Fame inspires a certain variance on what would just be another unnotable stretch of pavement, in yet another unidentifiable region of America. I made my way back to the bus stop, with the desire to actually view a film, which I thought was an adequate conclusion to a rather cinematically themed day. On my way, (and I can't stress the serendipitous nature enough here) I stumbled upon Christopher; a hosteler I had the great pleasure of meeting in San Francisco. In such a richly diverse country, we couldn't express our mutual astonishment in this unpremeditated happening. We exchanged contact details once more, threaded a chat together with exchanging travelling stories, and once again departed. Something tells me not for long though.

Back in Santa Monica after a commute west on a rather packed metro bus, I caught a glimpse of a spellbinding sunset, and on speedy approach, the Sun was just starting to dunk itself into the Pacific. It was mesmerising as these moments so often are. I waited until it had immersed all the way into the ocean, painting the sky in the most ravishing of gradients as a sign of farewell, and then headed to the unmistakable world of overpriced popcorn and tediously enduring trailers, to capture perhaps the true essence of what Hollywood is, and will always be, about.

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