Just another Friday in Hollywood

A visit to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Santa Monica and Lucy’s El Adobe…

It’s Friday morning and my son Matt has one more day in LA and then it’s back home to Kansas City.

I ask if there’s anything else on his to-do list and he mentions Grauman’s Chinese Theatre so me, him and Paul get some Starbucks and start walking that direction.

Now that Christmas is over things are back to normal on Hollywood Boulevard and we soon find out why Paul avoids it; the sidewalk is packed with people all moving at a different pace and whenever someone stops because they stepped on a star of someone they like and want to take a closer look, it’s like a 10-car pileup on the 101.

(Just re-read that sentence and realize I’ve picked up the California affectation of putting a “the” before a freeway number. Back home it’s 435, not “the” 435.

If I stay here much longer I’ll decide to take an acting class – and that reminds me of Paul and I looking at what was on offer in a nearby used book store and finding a suspiciously large selection of used books on acting which probably represent the broken dreams of a hundred of wannabe actors who sold those books on acting that didn’t do jack shit for them right before they packed up their bags and headed back to Ohio to take a job in their uncle’s tire store.

See?

Now I’m looking at used books and providing backstories…this Hollywood shit is insidious.)

Back to Hollywood Boulevard.

The people who make a living – if it can be called that – dressing in some costume and having their picture taken with tourists are out in force and some of them are way better at portraying those characters than others.

An overweight Hispanic dude is in an Incredible Hulk costume which consists of jeans, a T-shirt and dime store Halloween mask which seems like a lousy effort, but provides a rare opportunity to hear Bruce Banner’s alter-ego get in an argument with a pudgy Wonder Woman and conduct the dispute in Spanish.

I also see a Superman with a bald spot.

If you’ve made the decision to buy a costume and go down to Hollywood Boulevard and take pictures with tourists, Paul and I agree you ought to assume the identity of a suitable character and a Superman in need of Rogaine ain’t on the list.

I see several Spidermen, one of them walking down the sidewalk pushing all the stuff he owns in a shopping cart; Spiderman if Peter Parker got hooked on crack and thrown out of his apartment by his aunt, Marisa Tomei.

After a good look at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, we say the hell with Hollywood Boulevard and head to Santa Monica.

You can get there from here, but not anytime soon  

Santa Monica is 24 miles from where we are in Hollywood, but depending on when you make the trip it can take over a couple hours to cover that distance.

As we head toward the ocean, the lanes coming back the other way are bumper-to-bumper at 1:15 in the afternoon and Paul says afternoon rush hour traffic can last about 5 hours on a good day and that makes me think maybe we screwed up trying to go to Santa Monica.

Until we arrive.

After three days of stepping over bums and doing hand-to-hand combat with panhandlers, Santa Monica appears to be Shangri-La. Nobody living in tents under bridges or setting up residence on a park bench, which is nice…but makes you wonder how they do it.

If the local cops are using cattle prods to drive the homeless outside the city limits that’s awful, but after spending three days in Bum Central it’s a relief even if they employed the local version of the SS to achieve the tranquility.

It’s kinda like eating a hotdog; if you knew exactly what went into it you wouldn’t enjoy it, but ignorance is bliss so with my endless supply of ignorance, I’m blissful as hell.

The two scruffiest people I see on the beach are the ones I brought with me.

We eat rice balls for lunch and if anyone back in Kansas City can figure out how to make these things, I suggest they give it a try; sticky rice with different fillings inside.

No idea they’re called rice balls because they’re actually shaped like a triangle, but in any case, we tried beef, chicken and salmon and every one of them was awesome.

They’re wrapped in seaweed and you eat the wrapper, too, so I believe I’ve had my daily requirement of algae which up until Friday was hovering around zero.

Lucy’s El Adobe

That evening I finance dinner at Lucy’s El Adobe, a Mexican restaurant that’s been featured in multiple movies and books and after we arrive I figure out why. With a decent throwing arm you could fire a baseball across the road and hit the side of a Paramount Pictures soundstage.

Over the years all the actors and directors and cinematographers that got hungry walked across the road and got something to eat and maybe a margarita to go with it. I can report the margaritas are good, but expensive.

On the other hand, if I was working with Johnny Depp’s expense account, I’d probably think the margaritas were good, but cheap.

We sat next to a wall filled with signed pictures of the celebrities that have dined there and for a minute or two Matt and Paul thought Lucy’s had a picture of Jeffrey Epstein on the wall.

Luckily, they had somebody old enough to recognize Burt Bacharach.

How to screw up a good idea

Back to Paul’s apartment to finish off the evening by watching a documentary about the Tim Burton version of Superman that never got made.

Nicolas Cage was supposed to star in it and while that doesn’t seem like the first choice you’d make for Superman, by the time you get done watching the documentary you want to see what Burton and Cage would have done with the story.

The creative people working on Superman had some fabulous ideas and you get to see a lot of them, but the non-creative people couldn’t stop fucking around with the people who actually had talent.

One of the artists who worked on the film summed up my own life experience when he says the people in charge say they want something creative and unique, but when you give it to them it scares the hell out of them.

Unique mean different and different means taking a chance and most people in charge would rather make another version of whatever worked in the past.

Saturday morning

I’m currently writing on my laptop while my son Matt snores like a freight train in the next bed. Today we’ll go get coffee and have one last lunch before he gets on a bus to head for LAX and reality.

My mom’s 94 so I figure I’ve got some time left on the clock, but don’t know how much of it will be spent using a walker and wearing Depends so I’m gathering my rosebuds while I may, which is a really awkward way of saying, “trying to enjoy life.”

I don’t have a lot of hard-earned wisdom to dispense to my sons except this: if six beers makes you feel good, don’t make the mistake of thinking 12 beers will make you feel twice as good, which now that I think about it is damn good advice.

But I did tell them when you get on the downhill, slippery slope of life the stuff that stands out when you look back is not getting awards or a big check in the mail – although both are nice – the stuff that sticks with you is having good times with people you love.

And Friday just made my list.