Hollywood: you’re either cynical or uninformed

I used to be a nicer person...

Apparently, one of the ploys for bumming a cigarette on Hollywood Boulevard is to ask to borrow someone’s lighter.

That implies the person doing the bumming already has a cigarette.

But then after you let someone use your lighter they’ll ask: “Can I borrow a cigarette?” That implies that someday soon they’ll have cigarettes of their own and they’ll be more than happy to return the one they borrowed even though a blizzard in Malibu is more likely.

A very small con, performed countless times a day along Hollywood Boulevard.

My son Paul has said he now knows how hot girls feel; he can look a block ahead and see someone loitering aimlessly while gazing in his direction and know he’s going to get hit on, even though it’s for nicotine, not sex.

On the other hand, this is Hollywood Boulevard so it could be both.

Do you have the time?

Another more serious con is someone asking you what time it is and if you check the time using your phone and the phone is nice enough, having it snatched out of your hand and being forced to chase a bum down Hollywood Boulevard to get your phone back.

Not only will you lose your phone, but you’ll find out homeless people in LA are living a healthier lifestyle than you are when that bum with zero-percent body fat keeps on running while your fat, Midwestern, corn-fed ass has you wheezing after a block and a half and you decide it’s easier to buy a new iPhone than have that coronary you felt coming on just as you passed the shop selling novelty sex toys.

The friends that know me best also know I’m perfectly safe because my phone is a piece of crap.

I bought a less expensive phone because I had no plans to use it to film a snowball fight (and if you watch enough TV you know what I mean), but sometimes being cheap works in your favor and if some future competitor in the Bum Olympics runs off with my phone I’ll just watch him go.

Avoiding being hustled is one of the reasons Paul avoids Hollywood Boulevard. I asked him at what point does he finally trust somebody out here and he said never.

Everybody’s on the hustle.

The price of fame

When I first read that some people had multiple stars on the Walk of Fame I was impressed; imagine being so talented that you got honored with a star for your work in TV, movies, music and radio.

Pretty sure I’ve stepped on Dick Powell in at least two separate locations.

Then I read that each of those stars cost the people honored $40,000; if I’m here another week I expect the opportunity to buy one of my own. The Walk of Fame is a hustle that takes advantage of the stars honored and the people that come to Hollywood to see them.

BTW: This morning we were walking along and just as we passed James Brown’s star a black family stopped to take a picture of their mom kneeling next to a star and being a stereotypical white male I wondered what star she found worth a picture: Lena Horne, Sidney Poitier, Stevie Wonder?

Turns out it was Angela Lansbury.

As she stood up the mom said, “I just love Murder She Wrote” and made me feel like a damn racist.

My bad and I’ll try to learn my lesson.

Clearly, people of all races, creeds and colors can have horseshit taste in entertainment and I say that as a white man who watched Die Hard on Christmas Eve, thought it was a great movie all over again, then got overly enthusiastic and forced my sons to watch Die Hard 2 on Christmas Day and realized it was a flaming piece of dog poop.

More on that experience soon because it explains a lot about Hollywood.

Those Gold Records

So anyway…

I walk into Paul’s apartment and ask where he keeps his Gold Records.

Paul explained that while he has earned four Gold Records (500,000 sales) and one Platinum Record (1,000,000 sales) if you want something to hang on your wall the Gold Record people charge you for that and those Gold Records aren’t cheap.

Nevertheless, people buy those Gold Record plaques because they’re a status symbol and in Hollywood everything is about image so they want those Gold Records hanging on their office wall.

Paul does not have an office, so he made a wise decision when he decided to invest his money in a really nice TV instead.

Since I’ve been in LA we’ve watched two movies and a Lakers-Clippers game and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have spent eight hours staring at some wall plaques.

The Achilles Heel of Niceness

Paul says that Midwestern niceness thing is real and something you have to get over if you’re going to survive in Hollywood. The water is filled with barracuda and they’ll eat the goldfish that stop long enough to lend a cigarette or tell someone the time of day.

However big a jerk I was back in Kansas City I’m a bigger one now and I’ve only been in LA for 48 hours. By the time I leave here, I’ll be able to give Heinrich Himmler a run for his money.

With my sunglasses on I can now walk right by someone who’s engulfed in flames because I know if I stop to ask if I can help I’m going to end up without a cellphone and at least one less cigarette, even though I don’t smoke.

So what have we learned from this holiday experience?

If I was Jimmy Stewart it would be that I ought to treasure what I have and the young Donna Reed was smoking hot. But it’s me so I’ve learned to never make eye contact with someone pushing a homemade robot down the street while having an argument with himself and Die Hard 2 sucks.

It’s a Christmas Miracle.