Tuesday, February 23, 2010

#1 The Hills

#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
# 18 Sushi Eyaki
#17 Raymond Chandler
# 16 Jumbo's Clown Room
#15 Skooby's
#14 The Arclight
# 13 The Well
#12 Runyon Canyon
# 11 Canter's
#10 Hotel Café
#9 Body Factory
#8 The Troubadour
#7 Barney's Beanery (The Real One)
#6 Thai Food
#5 The Jukebox at Café 101
#4 The Lights
#3 Village Pizzeria
#2 Amoeba Music

#1 The Hills

And now, the time has come. I have been deliberating over this entry for a week (actually six weeks). Do I make this funny, nostalgic, whimsical, romantic? How do I draw this thing up? I feel that I'm a pretty good writer, and I could throw this blog entry down any way I want. I feel like I can take all of my emotions and put them into writing and make them ache, or I could ignore them and make a really cynical and funny list of things I will miss about the geological idiosyncrasies in Hollywood. I'm just going to start writing. This is how I will miss the Hollywood Hills.

Technically, my neighborhood was called Whitley Heights. But the Hollywood Hills, the not-so-tall, not-so-beautiful change in altitude in between Sunset and Ventura was still one of the more majestic hills I have ever crossed. Everything good about Hollywood either owes itself directly or indirectly to the eastern expanse of the Santa Monica Mountains.

The Santa Monicas are the very little baby-sister to the giant transverse ranges to the very-near north; the San Gabriels and the San Bernadinos. As they travel west towards Santa Barbara, they grow and become a little more "mountainous," but in the city they really are just a series of hills. On the north side of the hills is the San Fernando Valley, flanked by the San Gabriels to the north and the Verdugo's to the east. The Valley is the suburbs of LA, a never-ending string of strip-malls, three-star dining, and inexpensive cookie-cutter apartments. On the south side of the hill is Hollywood, and the hills never let you forget that. Resting on the south side of the hill, Griffith Observatory, Runyon Canyon, the countless lit-up dots that the millionaires call home, and nine gigantic letters, cut and pasted to the hill as a giant letterhead reminding every poor speller in town exactly how to spell H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D.


And everywhere you go in Hollywood, those hills follow. Whatever major north-south thoroughfare you pass—from Doheney to Vermont—they look over you. The lights of Hollywood, described very poorly in my previous entry, are strewn across the greenish backdrop of the Hollywood Hills and it is within that framework, that Academy Award winning lighting scheme that my Hollywood exists.

If you take all of these entries, all of my puff and romanticizing about a mythical place that only exists in my imagination, all of my love for a place known just as much for traffic, parking, and other nuisances as it is for movie stars and swimming



pools, all of my affection for the place that I made Hollywood in my head, all of that, it all goes back to those hills.

Part of me wants to go into the magic and mystique that the hills bring. Part of me wants to get into the geography of Hollywood and mention Los Feliz, Beachwood, Laurel, and Coldwater. Part of me wants to talk about the painted sky that the hills brush every evening as the sun goes down, or the names of the streets whose iconography outweighs their avenues. Part of me wants to talk about what it's like to bike north up the hills, or look down from them. But none of this really matters. You got all of this in my last twenty-nine entries. And that's the point. The point is that while I was talking about bars, and food, and hikes, and parking spots; while I was going on about lights, and homelesses and record stores, I was always talking about the fucking hills. I've already said it all.

OK, I'm going to get this out and then end this project. Hollywood really is a magical place that you can't truly understand until you embrace it. At the risk of turning this into a Travel Channel piece, I say without irony, that Hollywood is as deep and complex a city as you will ever find. It is layered and hard and very difficult to take in without and eye for subtlety, and appreciation for history and literature, and a very keen ability to experience. It can be dirty, dangerous, and pristine all at the same time, at the same intersection. People can be frightening, friendly, and crazy merely while walking by you. Everything I've mentioned in this blog has two sides to it, and I have merely chosen to appreciate the side I have chosen to experience. While I understand why people who live elsewhere choose to hate the archetype of what Hollywood represents, I resent these people for judging a place as complex and layered as Hollywood without ever truly experiencing it from the inside.

My new bedroom looks west towards the city that I have been writing about. I am high enough up, that I should be able to see about ten miles out. But I don't live in Hollywood anymore. My view is obstructed by buildings much taller than my own and my view stretches barely over six city blocks. Ironically, this is the view that I desired when moving here, it is the trump card that makes our new place, Bar 1207, great. But now, with my house, my job, and my view broken off from Hollywood in both literal and figurative ways, I am left merely to romanticize and remember the Hollywood I built in my imagination. I will always look back on the last eighteen months of my life as some of the best, I will always remember Hollywood fondly, but I will always feel as though there was more that I never got to. More fictional smoky bars, more dark and hard corners, and more crazy people that never got to open my mind. Thankfully, I've been able to chronicle exactly what created that reality in my head over the last six weeks. Thank you for taking part in remembering this adventure with me.

Now onto the next….

1 comment:

steven said...

I'm so sorry this episode has ended. I loved to read it each day. I truly hope you start another blog soon. This one was awesome!!!