Sunday, July 08, 2007

Man About Town

My wife is visiting her parents for the weekend, so I decided to spend a rare afternoon among people, taking advantage of my proximity to tourist spots. You take it for granted when you live in Los Angeles that there is nothing to do here. In fact, people come here because they're attracted by our things to do because things to do in their town suck.

So I hopped the Orange Line across the valley. First stop Universal Citywalk. It's an open-air mall opposite the Universal Studios tour. I like taking the subway because a round trip ticket is a few dollars less than parking on top of the hill, plus you're spared the anxiety of driving. I had lunch at the Daily Grill. A gorgeous model-quality woman sat across from me with her kid, and we were all serenaded by this 17-year-old guitar hero, who performed classic rock tunes with just an effects box and backing tracks. He was note-perfect on HOTEL CALIFORNIA.

I became bored with Citywalk and decided to hoof it down the hill to the subway station. Here's where the "only in L.A." element kicks in. I took the red line to Hollywood and Highland. I heard cheering as I neared the street; sure enough the barricades were up. I had no idea why. The first thing I saw was a street performing trio - a Swedish family of two gawky teen boys and a little girl performing HOTEL CALIFORNIA. I didn't get a picture of them but the street looked like this. Why?

After a little walking around I determined that the Chinese Theatre, which is adjacent to the stop, was hosting a handprint ceremony for the young stars of the HARRY POTTER movies. My first big clue was a sign held by some kids in the bleachers that read 'RUPERT GINT IS BOOTYLICIOUS."

A few years ago I went to Boston by myself, and similarly took the subway downtown on a Sunday, and emerged into the middle of a Greek Pride parade. I felt the same way then that I did today - surrounded by people I had nothing in common with, excited for reasons that I couldn't share. But spectacle fascinates me, so I hung around the big Kodak Theatre mall. I watched people straining to catch a glimpse of (the presumably clothed) Daniel Radcliffe. Two great pictures (thanks cellphone industry, for the camera!) came out of it. Here's the first, of a couple of weary mall employees outside a yogurt shop:

On the left, Supergirl; on the right, Batgirl. There was a guy dressed as The Thing downstairs, but he wouldn't be able to enjoy ice cream until the end of his shift. That's showbiz.

And this other one, just outside the press gaggle. Actually, it's a lousy picture, but if you could see it it's great:
See that little sign in the center of the picture, taped to the barricade with tiny dark squares on it? If I had had a zoom lens, you'd be looking a pictures of the actors, with their names and character names typed beneath them. It's a crib sheet!

No, I didn't get any pictures of Harry Potter stars. That's for tourists. As a matter of fact, I noticed a sign advertising an open mike for a place called the Hollywood Pop Academy. Normally they get a lot of walk-in traffic on a Sunday and a girl named Casey tries to sell you on the idea of singing classes. However since I was the only one there and it was inside, and quiet, I cajoled her into a conversation about what it's like working when the streets are closed, and then we went into a tangent about celebrities sponsoring charities and how it can go horribly wrong. She said that as bad as a Chinese Theatre footprint ceremony can get, it's nothing compared to Academy Awards week, where the streets are closed and security does sweeps of everything

I realize now that I don't enjoy entertainment nearly as much as I enjoy stories about putting entertainment together. When I was a kid I would rather read the Mad Magazine parody of a movie than see the actual movie; it's similar to that.

Thanking Casey for a pleasant chat, I decided to make my way back to the Red Line before the Potter kids emerged and things got really ugly. On the way back I passed the Swedish family again; they were singing HOTEL CALIFORNIA again. Is this some kind of compulsory song for L.A.? Whatever. All I know is, you just can't kill the beast.

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