If you take the studio tour at the Warner Bros. lot you will find yourself riding on a open-sided shuttle and passing through sun-filled streets of Chicago, New York, and Big-City-and-Small-Town Anywhere, U.S.A. All fictional, of course.
Thanks to binge-watching on the internet, the demand for TV series and movies is seemingly endless and on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour you will also see street after street of huge sound stages–all busier than they have been in years. The production of entertainment is a thriving big business in Los Angeles these days.
Here is some of what you see on the Studio Tour:
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Scientology’s most famous member, Tom Cruise, no longer owns a home in Los Angeles, but when he is in town he can always stay at the Scientology Celebrity Center and its Manor Hotel on Franklin St. in Hollywood..
Built by the widow of an early Hollywood movie mogul, the Celebrity Center was originally called the Chateau Elysee and was a combination of apartments and a hotel for the international elite.
In an early photo of the building it stands grand and glorious at the edge of the Hollywood Hills. Today it is surrounded by tall fences, except at the entrance to the hotel where a guy in a casual clothes reading a newspaper turned out to be a guard.
There is another gate with a sign that reads “Welcome” and offers free classes, but you have to ring the bell for admission to what looks like a very lovely garden terrace. And I have no doubt that if you ring the bell you will be greeted almost instantly by someone who is actually a Scientology recruiter.
Two Metro stations bracket the section of Hollywood Blvd. that most visitors think of as ‘Hollywood’. Most locals think of this area as a place for tourists and where Jimmy Kimmel’s show is taped.
For me these two stations are examples of the commitment to art made when the Red and Gold Metro lines were being built twenty years ago. Sadly, the Metro no longer makes these kind of art investments. The newest stations out in the ‘burbs are quite boring.
Anyway, here are a few photos of what’s going on underneath Hollywood Blvd. To see what’s happening up on the street go to the previous post on this blog.
Before moving on to the other artworks in the Metro stations in Hollywood…
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It was something I hadn’t seen since the Sixties in North Beach–two girls in skimpy outfits dancing in a display window to lure customers inside. But there it was at the Hard Rock cafe on Hollywood Blvd. Back in the Sixties, however, the costumes were even smaller and the dancers more energetic. These young ladies looked slightly embarrassed. (You can see them below.)
Like most Angelenos I rarely ever go to to Hollywood; it’s nothing but a tourist trap. But since I’d promised to write about the art in the Red Line Metro stations I decided to go up onto Hollywood Blvd. to see the show after I photographed the art underground. So here is what I saw on a sunny Saturday afternoon in April. I will write about the Red Line Metro art in a future post.
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The current exhibition at La Luz de Jesus gallery, Boombox Creators, is a trip back in time to the 1980s and the birth of hip-hop.
What struck me most was how cerebral and geometric the boomboxes are as objects–all gray or black angles and silvery gray circular shapes. In contrast are the sounds–wild, pulsing, vibrant–they produced back when music was freed from enclosed rooms and came dancing out onto the street, the beaches and city parks.
In a video produced in conjunction with the show Arabian Prince of N.W. A. fame describes the sounds as ‘shared music’. In the same video artist Patty Astor notes that the boombox suddenly meant everyone could have their own recording studio. Actor Andre Royo also shares his thoughts about boomboxes. Take a look at the video here.
On the walls of the gallery are photos of Ice Cube and Basquiat, among others, you can buy for Christmas gifts–or for yourself. There are also prints of the original technical drawings for boomboxes for sale as well as mix-tapes created by Miles Lightwood, the driving force behind Boombox Creators.
Most Angelenos avoid Hollywood Blvd. It used to be a run down slum with a lot of tile stars embedded in the sidewalks. Most of the real film industry moved out to the San Fernando Valley decades ago. There are still a couple of studios (Paramount and Raleigh) and post-production houses around in industrial-looking buildings. But the absence of the actual world of movie-making in this area hasn’t affected the enthusiasm of the Hollywood Merchants Association. In the last few years Hollywood Blvd. has spiffied itself up and turned into a tourist trap with two underground Metro Gold Line Stations bracketing it.
Even the old office buildings that had been empty for decades are now being converted into apartment and condos.
Below ground the station at Hollywood and Vine definitely celebrates the film industry. Above ground capitalism thrives with tour buses and costumed characters. The characters, BTW, are all entrepreneurial–individuals who simply decided to earn their living wearing costumes and being photographed with tourists. The goal, of course, of all this activity is to encourage tourists to spend money at the shops that line the boulevard.
Anyway…here are some photos of Hollywood aboveground and below at the Red Line station at Hollywood and Vine.