..[Los Angeles without a car, work permit or superpowers]

Sunday, February 27, 2011

You're Invited!™ (No, Not You)

You're Invited!™

say the 2011 Academy Award billboards; we're not, but we go anyway. At least, we go to the Kodak Theater, twenty-four hours before the event, for a little light gawping.

We could do with the exercise. On Friday, I didn't leave the house at all; first there was a hangover -- grade 'nuclear winter' -- and then there was a migraine. I lay on the sofa for several hours, unable to find the remote or otherwise escape 'Maid in Manhattan'. The cat clambered over me, dribbling. Eventually I went back to bed; Dr Strangename came home, at the end of his working day, to find me in exactly the same position as when he'd left that morning. He can be very sarcastic.

Today I'm up by ten-thirty and we manage to leave the house before two. There's just no stopping us. We get the 12 to Westwood and, in undeserved good bus karma, transfer quickly to the 302.

It's always a relief when the bus behaves itself, as, approximately once a fortnight, Dr Strangename puts his foot down, shakes his fist, and says we'll never go on the Metro again. But this Saturday it's swift and uncrowded, and Dr Strangename laughs at the potholes on Sunset that threaten to disengage your cranium from your spine and roll your head down the bus like a bowling-ball.

We pass though Beverly Hills, with its ice-cream stripes of strawberry, vanilla and mint -- bougainvillea, white-washed walls, lemon-trees and lush hedges, almost pretty enough to distract you from its purpose (keep your dirty little bus-rider eyes off my lawn).

In West Hollywood we pass everyone's favourite artificially-enhanced-sex superstore:


says a poster in its window, next to the shamrock-themed erotic outfits. I imagine the Hustler family: mom showing plenty of underboob in a sawn-off t-shirt, bending cheerfully over the (unlit, but no one notices) BBQ; dad doing some suggestive business with a foot-long; daughter eighteen yet still obliged to wear an undersized Catholic schoolgirl uniform.

Prohibition Is Over

appears in white on a sober black billboard across the road. No, thank you; after Thursday night, prohibition is back, and this time it's personal.

(I was drinking these lovely, faux-Japanese martinis, made from elderflower and lychee and gin, and they were as light and meadow-fresh as a fabric softener commercial. Friday morning, they may as well have been Clorox.)

Just as bus sickness and residual hangover are about to cause disaster, we reach Hollywood. Apart from Downtown -- where a woman directed a canary-coloured rain of junkie vomit at me -- Hollywood is the least glamorous district of LA we've seen so far. It's a particularly unappealing combination of genuine grot, tourist tat and anodyne chainstores. But everyone who visits us wants to go there, and, god, here we are again, of our own volition. You feel guilty for patronising it, as if encouraging some morally-dubious commerce that lowers us all, like a nice young man who keeps finding himself in Thai brothels.

But this weekend Hollywood is brisk and professional, full of tents and trailers and people with clipboards. Hollywood Boulevard is closed to traffic for several blocks, and we skirt alongside a screened area that is the Oscars red carpet. We can't see it, but we know it's there.

After being diverted through some battleship-grey service corridors -- it's no more than we deserve -- we find ourselves in the Kodak Theater. An Italian correspondent in a backless evening dress and a lot of panstick is making a broadcast. I take a photo of a sign saying NO ACCESS, and am reprimanded. There's more red carpet, a cinematic sweep of stairs, and some shrouded Oscar statuettes. Although the carpet is covered in polythene, we aren't allowed to step on it. I take several more photos. Even Dr Strangename is awed.

Eventually, we get to the top of the Hollywood and Highland mall, where you can look down fifty feet onto the transparent tent and red carpet walkway below. I see the public audience bleachers; I applied for a seat, but it's something like a 0.035 chance and I didn't win. Can't catch a break. This aerial shot is the closest we'll get.

We briefly consider throwing ourselves off the mall terrace onto the plastic roof, where we'd bob, waving at celebrities, for a short while, before being shot down like a couple of rogue parade balloons. But the celebrities aren't here until tomorrow, and we can't be bothered to take the bus again.    

They told me to come to Hollywood,
that it was the third biggest industry in the world.
Number one was safety razors.
Number two was sticking plasters.
Hollywood was number three. So I came.

-- Cowboy Actor

This is written on the mall's floor, along with lots of other dubious stories relating to The Road To Hollywood. Outside, we're filmed by someone getting establishing shots for The Lead-Up To The Oscars -- do look for us on Belgium TV -- and I linger outside a production van for Channel WowWowWow Japan, hoping to be discovered as a new Gaijin Tarento.

In the end, we walk south back to Sunset and wait for the Metro home. Our companions here are a guy with a guitar and gas mask, and another man who looks exactly like the reprobate who shot Sam in 'Ghost'. But on the way back through West Hollywood, I see a sign saying

Pierced People Pray Too

and resolve to be less superficial.

No comments:

Post a Comment