Monthly Archives: June 2012

Hollywoodland

Apparently things that you expect to happen in Hollywood actually do happen. Like movie premieres. The 18th of June just happened to be the world premiere of the new Pixar film “Brave,” which won’t be released nationally in America until the 22nd, so I can’t tell you much about it except that it’s animated, set in Scotland, and features a rebellious princess with great hair.

Slap bang in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard.

As if it happens every other week, which I suppose it probably does, they closed down half of Hollywood Boulevard and proceeded to lay out a green carpet and put up a stack load of posters and signs and lights and fences. It all took place in the Kodak Theatre, renamed the Dolby Theatre last week, clearly just to confuse the hell out of all the tourists. The Kodak Theatre is the location for the Academy Awards, and although there weren’t nearly so many people as I imagine there are for that, there was a good crowd happening.

Most people were just wandering around gaping and being shoved out of the way by people trying to get to the front of the fence. I was definitely a wanderer/gaper, until I realised that due to the shopping centre around the outside of the theatre you can actually get “inside.” There were a few people smugly glancing around as they sat on seats they’d claimed an hour earlier or so, but there was plenty of space close up to the fences.

See how great my spot was? Go me.

I discovered that there is a lot of waiting that happens at movie premieres. If you’re just standing there on the off chance you might see a celebrity. I’m sure that the guests were all having a spiffing time, though.

There were a lot of people dressed in kilts, and a marching band that was very bagpipe heavy, just in case you’d missed memo about it being set in Scotland. There seemed to be more people with cameras than people to take photos of, although from where I was, it was hard to know what was going on where the limos were pulling up.

Finally, the celebrities began arriving. Or so we thought. And then realised it was more likely people who knew people who’d somehow got them and their six children tickets. People approached the red carpet (or green in this case) in one of three ways:

1)   They were hurrying down it the wrong way, clearly meant to be giving a note to someone, or drag someone else off to somewhere more important.

2)   They pretended it was just a normal street and carried on their conversations (or in some cases dragging their children along), as if the lines of people pressed up against the railings were there because the carpet was such a great colour.

3)   They were ushered along it by someone else, giving a few brief waves as they hurried down towards the step.

Or, if you were really lucky, you scored a fourth approach, which was when the celebrity actually listened to the people calling their name, and took the time to sign things, and smile, and have photos with their fans.

I did leave my position for about forty minutes or so, and I don’t know whether it was due to that or not, but the number of people I recognised walking along the carpet I’d so faithfully staked out was exactly zero.

I took some photos of celebrities other people recognised though. Does that count?

Anyone know who this is? Cause I don’t.

Advertisements

The beach, the sign, and the Getty

Los Angeles, someone told me on Saturday, is a lot like that cool kid in high school. You might not like them, you might even enjoy not liking them, but ultimately that cool kid is the one who lets the rest of the school know the right clothes to wear and the right television shows to be watched every evening. They’re the person who sets the trends.

The problem with L.A. is that within the city itself there is the same high school hierarchy. From the upper echelon of Beverley Hills to the up and coming in Hollywood, everyone seems to know where they fit in.

And then you have Santa Monica. Living in its own little world, I got the impression that people from Santa Monica consider themselves firstly as Santa Monicans, and then as from Los Angeles.

Santa Monica, L.A.

It’s an area where you can walk around without having to pause every few minutes as whoever’s in front of you stops to take a photo. It’s an area teeming with bikini clad girls, but also chock-a-block with young families taking in the entertainment at the Santa Monica pier. There are bars and restaurants lining every street, but the chain stores on the Third Street Promenade stay open late and provide a backdrop to the buskers and street performers. It’s an area where you can shop with the rich, and possibly famous, along Montana Avenue, where you can strip off and sunbake all day by the shore, where you can hire a bike and make a day of it as you ride to Malibu, or where you can choose to stroll down to the craziness of the stalls lining Venice Beach.

Santa Monica is beach life at it’s best, and were it not for the traffic on the freeway, and the daytrippers sporting Six Flags t-shirts, you might even forget that not that far away the Hollywood sign is holding dominion over the rest of L.A.

The sign was built in 1923, and originally read “Hollywoodland.” Similar to other famous landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower, no one realised when it was erected how recognisable it would become. The Eiffel Tower started life as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, the Hollywood sign as an advertisement. You can see the sign framed perfectly from a shopping mall on Hollywood/Highland, or you can take a tour bus to get some shots obstructed by fewer buildings.

Or you can find yourself a nice local boy who offers to drive you up as close as you can go (unless you plan on hiking up through some serious scrub. Which I didn’t.) If possible, said local boy should also have been there before and be aware that there is no internet up there to discourage anyone trying to navigate using Google maps, as well as have a basic knowledge of the history of the sign, with several fun facts about how odd people L.A. really are. There is a surrealism to a lot of things I saw in L.A., but being that close to the Hollywood sign, something that is so recognisable from so many films and television shows, was the most surreal of the lot.

Le Hollywood Sign. Obviously.

And how, you may ask, do you follow up an experience like that? By going to the Getty Center, of course. Architecturally stunning, the Getty Center is home to a large collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, decorative arts, pottery, and illuminated manuscripts. It also features gardens, and amazing views over L.A.

Another confession: I’ve got sort of a thing from Impressionist paintings. Almost everything I know about the Impressionist movement I learnt from Year 9 Art, and several trips to the exhibition of Impressionist paintings that was on at the National Gallery of Victoria at that time.  The rest of my appreciation I picked up when I lived in France, visiting Arles where Van Gogh lived, seeing an incredible exhibition inside some caves in Provence where they projected Van Gogh’s paintings onto the walls, floors, and ceilings so that you were immersed in them, and of course from the Musee d’Orsay.

But somehow, despite this limited knowledge, whenever I’m looking at a painting from that period I get all emotional. I think it’s something to do with, if it’s a Van Gogh, knowing how difficult his life was, and how he would never know how important his work was going to be, but also how revolutionary the Impressionist movement was. If I get close enough, I am somewhat overcome with realising how random and broad the brushstrokes of colour seem to be, and yet when you step back, you see such a perfect rendition of all the light and shadow and colour and movement of that one moment.

Walking into the room in the Getty Center that held one of Van Gogh’s irises, one of Monet’s haystacks, and another of the Rouen cathedral, I nearly cried. Perhaps it was from being tired and jetlagged, and being a million miles from home. But I know that I was thinking about how that would likely be the only time in my life that I would see those particular paintings. And there is something rather heartbreaking about that.

Inside the Getty Center. Apparently it was necessary to come equipped with iPads, noisy children, and an annoying laugh.

I don’t know that the Getty Center is setting any trends, but sometimes it’s just as important to have a wise teacher quietly reminding you that a dab of paint on a canvas can mean more than a million dollar film or a shopping spree on Rodeo Drive.


Confession:

Have not actually read Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” But it is packed. Actually, it’s kind of unpacked now, sitting in my locker at the Santa Monica Youth Hostel. A good friend of mine (who hasn’t requested not to be named, but it totally makes this blog seem more legit) gave me a copy when she found out I was going to the States, as a kind of quintessential road trip book. I think. It was a while a go. The point is: I will read it. Even though I haven’t started just yet.

Anyhow, here we are (or here I am, and we’ll pretend this is an armchair journey and you’re here too) in Los Angeles. Imagine most of your negative stereotypes about America and/or LA: Patriotic people who have American flags outside their house, loud people, insane traffic, ridiculous amounts of smog, etc.

Most of it has proved to be true. Basically I feel like I’ve walked onto a movie set.

But I’ve also discovered that people are ridiculously friendly, and happy to go out of their way for you, wanting to tell you about the city they love, or the parts of the city they love, and the parts of the city they love to hate. I’m staying in Santa Monica, which is on the beach, and it is a beautiful beach. I walked down the Santa Monica pier yesterday evening, and the whole place was alive with tourists and locals and hot dog stands and people drawing portraits for ridiculous amounts of money.

Rather than doing the sensible thing last night, and going straight to bed after dinner, I instead went on a pub crawl organised by the hostel. You can imagine it, can’t you? A bunch of Aussies, Brits, several Swedes, and a couple of Canadians getting absolutely pissed off cheap beer and then being taken to a karoke bar. I did end up leaving early, but not before we saw an improv comedy show, and far too much of the Hooters’ waitresses’ boobs.

Off now to Venice Beach. And maybe I’ll even start Kerouac.