October 13, 2017

"Of all the world’s storied thoroughfares, it must be confessed that none produces quite the effect of Hollywood Boulevard."

"I have been downcast in Piccadilly, chopfallen on the Champs Elysées, and doloroso on the Via Veneto, but the avenues themselves were blameless. Hollywood Boulevard, on the contrary, creates an instant and malignant impression in the breast of the beholder. Viewed in full sunlight, its tawdriness is unspeakable; in the torrential downpour of the rainy season, as we first saw it, it inspired an anguish similar to that produced by the engravings of Piranesi."

S.J. Perelman.

48 comments:

rehajm said...

Thoroughfare of Woe

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

And the two guys sleeping full length on the sidewalk, one in a puddle of urine, didn't exactly add to the enchantment. What a shithole. Interestingly, the studios themselves look like a mash-up of a declining neighborhood and a third-rate amusement park.

Caroline Walker said...

My french cousin, who is a catholic priest, visited LA for the first time this summer. Everywhere he went in the US he found wonders and beauty, except in LA. I thought his description eminently quotable: “LA from the sky— a gray leprosy, a bloated crust. May God from his Heaven not see us like this! At night, an endless field of fallen stars. “

traditionalguy said...

An imaginary place indeed. Full of Perfect people showing off. It is a heaven on earth. The Religion Show that must go on. And there is Azuza Street to prove God visits too.

buwaya said...

If I were in that Piranesi avenue I would be going mad trying to take pictures of everything at once. Depression? No, more like instant mania.

LA not so much. Not a good place to walk around in on the whole. I would rate it with Bakersfield and Fresno for charm.

johns said...

Fake news. LA has ugly areas and incredibly beautiful areas.

Bay Area Guy said...

Hollywood BLvd is a shithole, everyone knows that.

Take a nice drive West on Sunset Blvd, and you will be happy.

William Chadwick said...

I often think of Ayn Rand's comment about Hollywood in the Forties: "The people with taste have no money, and the people with money have no taste." I wonder if that's a Sun Belt thing. I live in a southern Sun Belt city where it seems to apply.

Only a "jeu d'esprit," of course

Achilles said...

Pretty on the outside, ugly in the middle.

Wilbur said...

Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, FL is very nice. Come visit.

virgil xenophon said...

Having lived in Louisville and New Orleans for over twenty years apiece and LA (Venice & Marina del Rey during the years we were bi-coastal-2007-2013) and spent three years worth of weekends in London courtesy of the USAF, I came to quite like the city not as a "city" per se but rather as a "place" or conglomeration of places/neighborhoods, many very distinctive and interesting. Grew to quite like it tho I was prepared not to..

exiledonmainstreet said...

I think it was Truman Capote who once said that when he thought of LA, he pictured a mass of varicose veins.

robother said...

Think it's bad now? Wait till California attempts to secede. "Mad Dog" Mattis's March to the Sea will make Sherman's March look like a picnic. Gone with The Wind--The Reality Show. (I intend to volunteer for the Union Irregulars.)

Michael K said...

"LA has ugly areas and incredibly beautiful areas."

It was mostly beautiful in the 50s.

The best depiction of Hollywood Blvd in movies recently is "Pretty Woman."

Bruce Gee said...

I’ve noticed over the years that most large cities, giving them enough time, can be quite charming. Milano for example: ugly industrial city in northern Italy, but after a week there it turned out pretty secrets I had no idea about when I entered the city.

No LA I have not enough experience with. I do note that the last time my wife and I were in San Diego, I expressed to her that it would be the last time I would visit there, her home town. She actually agreed.

Michael K said...

San Diego used to be another very pretty city.

I have always thought it resembled Perth Australia.

buwaya said...

"Wait till California attempts to secede. "Mad Dog" Mattis's March to the Sea will make Sherman's March look like a picnic. "

Please don't.
Consider the vast numbers of women who will be pretending thereafter to be Scarlett O'Hara.

EDH said...

Funny, despite Ray Davies' modest introduction, I thought it was one of their better songs.

And if you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
Their names are written in concrete...


Celluloid Heros

...Everybody's a dreamer and everybody's a star
And everybody's in show biz, it doesn't matter who you are
And those who are successful
Be always on your guard
Success walks hand in hand with failure
Along Hollywood Boulevard

I wish my life was non-stop Hollywood movie show
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die
You can see all the stars as you walk along...
You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
Some that you recognize, some that you've hardly even heard of
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain

buwaya said...

More re a Shermans March on LA -

Worse, consider the vast numbers of men who will be pretending thereafter to be Scarlett O'Hara.

Bill said...

And yet, transcendent beauty can be had even there.

Static Ping said...

"Breast" is an apt word for the day.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Bay Area Guy said...

Take a nice drive West on Sunset Blvd, and you will be happy.

Drive west on Sunset
To the sea
Turn that jungle music down
Just until we're out of town
This is no one night stand
It's a real occasion
Close your eyes and you'll be there
It's everything they say
The end of a perfect day
Distant lights from across the bay - Donald Fagen

Michael K said...

The novels of Raymond Chandler, like "The Big Sleep" describe Los Angeles back in th 1930s when it was a desirable place.

Chandler was the writer who best described LA, like Dashiell Hammett described 1929 San Francisco.

Los Angeles has changed more but some locations can still be found if you know the old history.

It has been a slum east of the 405 since 1980;

Ken B said...

This a cafe?
Was a post, about Oliver Stone, taken down?

Howard said...

Ya gotta remember the Hollywood people and most of the lefties are carpet-baggers. People from the northeastern seaboard and Chicago have taken over the town and the state killing common sense with their flat-lander attitudes. If you are into hunting, fishing, sailing, scuba diving, surfing, swimming, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, motocross, skiing, etc., LA is a central hub to all of those activities which are still epic and enjoyed today by native Angelenos.

FullMoon said...

Ken B said...

This a cafe?
Was a post, about Oliver Stone, taken down?
10/13/17, 4:07 PM


Yep. Weird, huh? Cannot remember that ever happening here before.

Ann Althouse said...

@Ken

I mishandled a window and reverted to draft but it’s back up now, with all the comments. Sorry for the confusion.

richard mcenroe said...

Yeah, well, the Stone thing disappearing, Harvey still has SOME clout...

Oso Negro said...

I once took acid and went to see "Song of the South" at the Mann Chinese Theater. I was singing "Zip a Dee Doo Dah" for weeks afterward.

Lydia said...

Los Angeles can look mighty beautiful if you're coming there from an ice-bound February Boston.

johns said...

Michael Connelly is my favorite LA descriptive author these days. Not Raymond Chandler but he doesn’t have to be.

Unknown said...

Has there ever been a better depiction than this?

Grant said...

I first went to LA in 1994, and I was captivated by it then and have been many times since. That’s partly because I “knew” so much about it from years of watching TV and movies, and visiting allowed me to connect the actual places to all those mental images I’d retained. But I was captivated at least as much—and possibly more—because it’s a fascinating city in its own right, with a geography and a climate that really has to be experienced to be appreciated. For anyone who wants to learn more about LA pre-Polanski (i.e., Chinatown, an excellent film about a very serious LA issue that has nothing to do with Asia and everything to do with climate and geography), I recommend reading Richard Dana’s “Two Years Before the Mast.” Not only will you learn about the life of a sailor on a 19th century merchant ship, you’ll read first-hand descriptions of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco before the Yankees arrived. California made so much more sense to me afterward.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

Yes, so much varied and fascinating history and geography to explore, which I immersed myself in for decades living there. Many incredible experiences and discoveries along the way. The problem now is that L.A. is a victim of her own success with too many people expecting too much from her as they always have, although some of us did find it for a time. She can't handle all the love as wave after wave of new groups move in to experience what once was, but that thing is gone now, buried, neglected and over-deployed. Still, I gained so much from her, and I'm grateful for it. Now, she's just not the girl I remember back when I was in love with her. Still very beautiful at times, but a whore at her core.

EDH said...

Ken B said...
Was a post, about Oliver Stone, taken down?
FullMoon said...
Yep. Weird, huh? Cannot remember that ever happening here before.

Ann Althouse said...
@Ken, I mishandled a window and reverted to draft but it’s back up now, with all the comments. Sorry for the confusion.


Sure, Althouse, we believe you... just an accident, a coincidence, move on, nothing to see here...

We're through the looking glass people, here in Oliver Stone Land.

"And coming in the fall of '94 experience the wonder of the 'Hall of Conspiracies' where every hour, I'll expose the fabrications of our government through the use of animatronic robots."

narciso said...

And blade runner the original telescopes chandler, into the 21st century, even though deckatd might be mire a character out of hammetts continental series.

Olive stone offends because of his authorship of scarface, a film that salvaged my paisans that served as inspiration for gangster rappers, possibly the worst accent till maximilian Schell and rod Steiner tried in the 90s.

Original Mike said...

Blogger Howard said..."Ya gotta remember the Hollywood people and most of the lefties are carpet-baggers. People from the northeastern seaboard and Chicago have taken over the town and the state killing common sense with their flat-lander attitudes."

Yeah, riiight.

Paddy O said...

Well said bagoh20, I grew up in the area, my great, great, great, great grandmother moved there in the 1870s, died there at age 102 in the 1920s, my parents grew up on farms in LA county. It's too crowded now, and yes LA is filled with those from the rest of the country who felt alienated and bring their politics with them. I miss living there sometimes but realize I miss what it was like up to the 90s.

Growing up I rarely went to LA itself. Everything to do in LA wasn't in LA LA.

rcocean said...

Before the 1960s most of LA's immigrants came from the Midwest. Which kept the place someone sane & livable. After that you had a bunch of people from New York, Chicago, etc. who wanted to change California into New York West.

And they succeeded. Of course after that, the next step was to change it into a Brazil on the Pacific.

No doubt in 20 years, California will have 50 million people, 1/2 of them from India, China, and Mexico.

Well done Democrats, moderates and Life-long Republicans! Where are you going to run off to when Texas, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and the whole USA becomes New York West?

rcommal said...

LMAO: Perfect, Althouse.

rcommal said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp7r0j4XrO8&hl=en_US&fs=1

Paul Snively said...

If you want (at least visually) a modern Noir take on Los Angeles, watch Bosch on Amazon Prime Video. (It's also a helluva good show.)

As for Hollywood Blvd., the fabled intersection of Hollywood and Vine is exactly what you'd expect: a street carnival for tourists who "come for a long weekend" thinking they're going to Universal Studios (a 45-minute drive north of Hollywood and Vine), Disneyland (an hour and a half drive south of Hollywood and Vine), Venice Beach (a 45-minute drive west of Hollywood and Vine), and maybe Death Valley (an hour and a half drive east of Hollywood and Vine). Where they end up for a three-day weekend tends to be one of the above... and/or Hollywood and Vine.

As others have said, there's plenty to do in "LA," and there is real beauty. You'll just drive an hour and a half, on average, one way, to find each instance of it. Save yourself the time and aggravation and visit The Huntington, the one thing about Los Angeles that I might actively miss.

Lucien said...

Hollywood Blvd. has never seemed much of a storied thoroughfare. A place for famous theaters, maybe. Sunset Blvd. is the real deal. Even Wilshire.

What amazes about the greater LA area is the number of areas full of ridiculously expensive homes: Naples Island in Long Beach, Hancock Park, Pasadena & San Marino, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Bel Air, Brentwood, Beverly Hills, Palos Verdes, etc.

The sheer number of such places testifies to the immense wealth of the area (how are there so many people who are wealthy enough to own these homes?). In the same way, a walk through a Whole Foods or Gelson's, or even Trader Joe's reveals the wealth of the country. Imagine what an emigre from the former Soviet empire must feel when walking through such a place.

dustbunny said...

"The ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming"

Brian McKim and/or Traci Skene said...

Took a crash course in Hollywood from 1988 to 1993, living in Burbank. Loved the weather and the palms and the sights and sounds. I saw/heard about the ugliness and the stories only occasionally, paying more attention to my (then-new) marriage and learning how to be a husband and how to cook and how to be a better standup comic. Very sad when I left. Would live there again if I could. When I visit these days, it's mostly in the beach communities south of the airport. Perelmen was at his funniest when he was annoyed.

rcommal said...

"The ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming"

Sorry: I just saw this comment, within the past five minutes.

And, dustbunny, this one's for you:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeP4FFr88SQ

r,l

rcommal said...

whichever, whatever, dustbunny you are ... .