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Hollywood Saves!

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Hipstercrite: Hollywood Saves!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hollywood Saves!

I worked in the thick of it.

Every day on the way to work, I had to wade through it all;

The tourists, the drunks dressed in shoddy Spiderman or Batman outfits, the evangelists vs. the Scientologists, the meth addicts, the guy with the swastika tattooed on his head, the hoards of manchildren coming out of Hollywood High, the tourists, the off the bus kids walking up and down Hollywood Blvd. looking for a job, the transvestites walking up and down Hollywood Blvd. looking for a job, the tourists.

All of them, come into my store and each of them want to tell their story.

It’s too much for one to handle. At the end of the day, I'd sludged back to my car that most likely had a parking ticket and sigh. After four years of being in L.A., how did I end working here? In the stinking, sweltering armpit of the city? Where at one time the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Clark Gable would get a drink at Musso and Frank’s Grill or Marilyn would stay at the Roosevelt. Now all I see are meth-faced Marilyns eating at Baja Fresh.

The only solace I found was when I noticed a pool of yellow liquid nestled in Tom Cruise's star.

And the homeless Latino man wearing a JDate t-shirt.

Hollywood Boulevard is the equivalent of New York’s Time Square, but smaller and dirtier. Quite often the street smells like cheese. Which I guess is the combination of stale urine and abandoned McDonald's meals.

The first couple of weeks working on the boulevard was intriguing. It was an excellent character study for any artist. After about a month, it became exhausting. I don't know how many pictures taken in front of the Chinese Theatre I ended up in. Or how many times I thought I was going to die.

I’m not sure which one scared me the most- the meth addict or the guy with the swastika on his head. The meth addict came in foaming at the mouth. I asked him if he needed help and he turned to me and shouted, “Why do I need to tell you my thoughts?” I politely said I was trying to offer him help and he kept repeating, “My thoughts are good and I don’t need to tell you!!!” His visit was brief, occasionally pausing in his directionless trek to remind me about his thoughts. He even did one of those shut the door, then peak his head back in to say it one more time deals which momentarily relieved the tension by seeming somewhat cartoonish.

The guy with the swastika likes to steal, so I was put to the task to watch him. As I laid the customer service on thick, he wouldn’t respond or make eye contact with me. He was obviously perturbed that I was watching him so he stood about three feet from me, swearing at the floor and not moving. From this distance I got a good glimpse of his green teeth and matching hair. As I stood there silently challenging him, I shouted right in the guy’s face for the manager to call security. My manager coward in the back as I was left to fend for myself. I was ready at any minute for this guy to charge me and bite me with his rabid teeth and therefore turning me into a mumbling, Swastika bearing skater punk as well. Security finally came and escorted the man off the property. I was ok, but what little respect I had for my manager went out with Green Teeth.

I once dated a photographer who was doing a personal project on the homeless of Hollywood Boulevard. Original? No, but it didn’t stop me from thinking he was the coolest thing since string cheese. He invited me to go on one of his nights wandering Hollywood Blvd. for potential candidates. Our first victim of artful exploitation was a nice gentlemen living on the corner of Hollywood and Cherokee. He danced for us and told us how he wanted to become famous one day. He showed us his journals and collages. Ah, a hipster artists wet dream. We moved onto a paraplegic in front of Egyptian. He seemed nice enough, he was saying something that didn’t make sense as we both stood there smiling like two idiots. Suddenly he got very quiet and he looked straight into my eyes, his voice completely different, and I believe I heard Satan that day. The photographer and I never ran so fast in our lives. I’m not sure what we thought a paraplegic was going to do to us, but I was certain he had momentarily turned into Regan MacNeil and I wasn’t curious enough to see what would have happened next.

As I stand at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland envisioning the orange groves and green fields that lived here before, I turn to the man wearing the "Jesus Saves" billboard and ask, "Do you think this town can ever be saved?"


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