Tuesday, January 26, 2010

#19 The People

#30 Hollywood Walk of Fame
#29 Yamashiro
#28 Hollywood Billiards
#27 Genghis Cohen
#26 Piano Bar
#25 Shmutzville
# 24 Loteria
# 23 The Griddle
# 22 Proximity
# 21 Hollywood Freeway
#20 Kitchen 24

# 19 The People

We've reached the Bernie Kosar round here. I'm going to try to be as polite about this one as I can, but I've been waiting to do a little West Side bashing, and this is the entry I get to do so on. So if you live in Santa Monica, and you don't want to hate me, you may want to skip to the Anthony Parker round. This could be ugly.

I grew up in the suburbs. But my suburbs were somewhat different than what many people think of when they think of jewey suburb. In my neighborhood, we had people of all races and socio-economic backgrounds. And not just a few token members of each, but a pretty good chunk of our school was rich jews, and a pretty good chunk was rich black people, and a pretty good chunk was people without money. One great thing is that we were all friends. Sure, we usually didn't hang out in the ghet, we were usually at Brown's house or something, but the point is, I grew up around diversity.

I couldn't live somewhere without diversity. Hollywood is not quite as economically and racially diverse as other nearby neighborhoods, but it certainly doesn't lack. Juxtaposed to the city in which I work, a city completely absent of black people, authenticity, and a soul, Hollywood might as well be Bed-Sty. And that is the reality in which I live. Half of my time is spent in the uber-white, anti-other, gated community of a false but perceived "safety" and a lack of anything to do other than shop at overpriced boutiques and dine at overpriced fast food. The other half is spent here, in this zoo.

This place truly is crazy. On a given walk down to the corner, I could run into a guy dressed as Zorro (for no money or logical reason) chatting with a Spiderman. We have the weirdest, most creative homeless I've ever seen, like the lady by my corner who looks like the witch from Snow White, and sports a grown up cat on her shoulder while begging for change. If you go to the right bars, you'll see old men, who have been drinking at the same place for forty years, you'll see the future cast of every TV show on earth, you'll see B-level celebrities every single day who have us reaching for our blackberries trying to figure out what we know them from. We have poor people and rich people eating at the same taco stands.

When my close friend Z visited me last year he was flabbergasted. This is someone who lives in Brooklyn, and not in Park Slope either, in real Brooklyn. One time while at his house, we heard a guy get shot outside. He rides the NYC subway. And he spent his time in this neighborhood in awe. It is a fucking zoo, and I, for one, love it. To be fair, only our little corner of Hollywood is this crazy. The further from Hollywood and Highland one gets, the more normal and down to earth people get, but even those people are awesome.

I have never had such a great kinship with all of the strangers I encounter since I left Orange. Though Hollywood is quite neighborhoody, unlike the suburbs that I work in, it is most certainly urban. There are Bentleys parked behind 89 Escorts on every block. There are writers, and lawyers, and dishwashers, and actors, and bus drivers everywhere.

And here's where I get a little honest and revealing. Santa Monica isn't THAT bad. It's really not. But I always feel out of place there. I feel it is where the cool kids hang out, and I have never been, nor desired to be a cool kid. Whenever I'm in Santa Monica (which is VERY OFTEN), I feel a lack of independent thought, objectivity, and diversity. These are big problems for me, the person, not the society. Hollywood embraces me. It has taken me in, given me everything I have wanted from a neighborhood, and given me the urban experience I need. I will miss the crazies but mostly I will miss being one of a group, even if that group is large, and amorphous, and maybe even a little harsh. When I drive to Santa Monica now, and instantly feel like everything I care for and value in the world is wrong, so I will continue to resent the west side and always have a place in my heart for Hollywood.

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