- nbhd -

Hollywood holds a special place in my heart. As in, the place where I keep things I hate. Because I /hate/ Hollywood. I can confidently say that it is my least favorite part of town, and it makes me sad that a lot of people come here and think they’re in LA. Sadder that people come here, think they’ve been to LA, and hate it. But who can blame them? Hollywood and Highland is a special kind of hell that truly no one asked for. The crazies on Hollywood Blvd, combined with the disenchanted tourists, the overly enthusiastic tour guides promising a glimpse at Hollywood glitz and glam in their natural habitat. Oh, and on top of everything else, the #$%@$ Scientology building in the midst of it all, luring in potential recruits.

Have I said enough? Do we hate Hollywood?

I mean, yes, it’s the absolute worst. But also, in a weird way, it represents the aspects of LA that I like. A mismatch of people and places and things, all strewn together in a haphazard pastiche that ends up looking like a misshapen caricature of itself. LA is, after all, best at pretending to be some place else. LA is good at building sets, mediocre at building a city. And Hollywood is the most glaring example of this.

There’s a little bit of everything, from the huge advertisements of Hollywood-the-industry’s latest, to the giant marquees from decades past. From flashy experiential pop ups, to the actually respectable institution that is the Dolby Theater. From reminders of Hollywood’s history like the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, to nostalgic structures still in use today, like Cinerama Dome. From outposts of the trendiest new restaurants to the terrible Times Square-esque fast food tourist traps along the Walk of Fame.

LA is the kind of place where you can be driving east on Hollywood Blvd, look to your left and see a beautiful modern plaza with clean facades for NeueHouse and Sweetgreen, but look to your right and you’ll be presented with what can only be described as a “Wild West” strip mall, with gaudy signage that recalls dated movie-set versions of the Wild West. It’s the kind of place where the same street can be filled with fake Captain Sparrows and Spider-Mans by day, and be graced by the most famous people in the world by night. Where at the end of the day, business is entertainment, and entertainment is business.

There may only be one studio lot actually in Hollywood, but despite all the insanity it comes with, Hollywood-the-neighborhood still in a way is an anchor for everything in its orbit. And either way, if you’re trying to get from Central LA to the Valley, you really can’t avoid driving through it.

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