Hollywood Underground at the Metro stations

palm trees red line Hollywood
‘Palm trees’ are part of the art in the Hollywood and Vine Metro Red Line station. They definitely are a symbol that says ‘Welcome to Hollywood’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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Working After Retirement coverBefore moving on to the other artworks in the Metro stations in Hollywood…

My guide to ‘Working After Retirement’ is on sale on Kindle, Nook and iTunes right now. (Mid-April 2016) For a short time you can get this best-seller for only 99 cents!

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star material tile Hollywood and Vine Metro station
A series of tile cartoons line the walls of the Red Line Metro station at Hollywood and Vine. This one is entitled ‘Star Material’ and is for all those young dreamers who come to L.A. hoping to be discovered.
Not in Kansas tile artwork Red Line Metro
This tile artwork is entitled ‘Not in Kansas Anymore’ which is so true!
Hollywood and Highland Metro station
The art in the Hollywood and Highland Metro station is more subdued than at the previous stop at Hollywood and Vine. Upstairs on Hollywood Blvd. however, the street scene is astonishing. See the previous post for more.
ARtist Colette Miller was commissioned to take portraits of Angelenos standing in front of a pair of papier mache wings.  This is Mayor Garcetti's portraits.
Artist Colette Miller was commissioned to take portraits of Angelenos standing in front of a pair of papier mache wings. She said that the wings symbolize ‘the goodness that each of us has to contribute to Los Angeles.’  This is Mayor Garcetti’s portrait hanging on the wall of the Hollywood and Highland Metro station.
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Hard Rock dancing girls, Chewbacca, Shrek and Superheros — just another sunny day on Hollywood Blvd.

Superheros having fun Hollywood blvd
Costumed characters are a big feature on the boulevard. They want you to pay to take a picture with them. Interestingly enough, some actually make good money doing this.

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.)

Posintg by Britney Spears start
Posing with the stars that honor famous people in the entertainment world is a popular activity on Hollywood Blvd. This is Britney Spears star.

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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New Vampire in Town coverOne other thing: FREE for Kindle Unlimited members. ‘New Vampire in Town’ is the tale of a young Hollywood make-up artist who, in desperation, becomes a vampire.  Before long she’s on the run. You can get it for FREE on Kindle right now.

 

 

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dancers in window at Hard Rock cafe
Two young women dancing in the window at the front of the Hard Rock cafe in Hollywood. (Sorry about all the reflections.)
Posing with Shreck
Posing with the Shrek statue outside Madame Tussauds. Unlike other characters along the boulevard this Shrek won’t ask you to pay to pose with him.
Jimmy Kimmel Live building
Kimmel’s show is taped right across the street from the Chinese Theater. The El Capitan, another old and glorious movie theater, is next door. Los Angeles has amazing old theaters and you can tour them downtown.
Roy Rogers hand and foot prints Chinese Theater
Roy Rogers didn’t stop with hand and foot prints. He also included a gun and Trigger’s horseshoes in the sidewalk outside the Chinese Theater.
Humphrey Bogart hand foot prints
Humphrey Bogart’s hand and footprints outside the Chinese theater. The ‘Sid’ mentioned is Sid Grauman who built the Chinese Theater.
Chewbacca outside Chinese theater
Star Wars storm troopers show up at many fairs around Los Angeles, but there were none on Hollywood Blvd. on Saturday. But Chewbacca was there. It was close to 80 degrees so he must have been melting inside that heavy costume!

 

Micky and Minnie Mouse Hollywood Blvd.
Micky and Minnie Mouse on Hollywood Boulevard. I wonder if they are licensed by Disney. Disney is very rigorous about enforcing licensing of their characters.
Sightseeing bus Hollywood Blvd.
And if you get bored you can always hop on a tour bus to see other sites around Los Angeles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boomboxes, Basquiat, Ice Cube for Christmas in East Hollywood

Boombox Creators show
At the Boombox Creators show are photos for sale of Basquiat and Ice Cube as well as original artwork of N.W.A.

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.

Here are some photos of the exhibition:

Boombox Creators show at La Luz de Jesus
Prints of the original technical drawings and photographs of celebrities are in the Boombox Creators show..
fantasy boombox
A boombox with color!
Boombox with original packaging
Not all boomboxes were large geomtric objects. One shown here comes with its original packing, which we all have learned from ‘Antique Roadshow’ makes an object more valuable. I love the little yellow and green boombox. It probably does not produce the intense sounds that ghetto-blasters do.
Mobiles at Boombox Creators show
La Luz de Jesus gallery is located in the back of the Wacko store on Hollywood Blvd. in East Hollywood. Mobiles for sale hang from the ceiling. I’ll show more of this wild store in my next post.

 

Underground Hollywood: stars on the walls, stars on the sidewalks and tourists by the thousands

Star Material tile Hollywood and Viine station
‘Star Material’ is the name of this tile on the wall of the Hollywood and Vine station. So many young people come to L.A. dreaming of stardom. 6 months later they’re gone.

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.

W Hotel on Hollywood Blvd.
The very posh W hotel is a sign of Hollywood turning the corner and escaping its slummy past.

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.

This tile in the Red Line station tells the truth: 'Not in Kansas'.
This tile in the Red Line station tells the truth: ‘Not in Kansas Anymore’.
Stars home tile  Hollywood and Vine Red Line station
This tile is about bus tours of homes that maybe once upon a time were owned by movie stars. Or maybe not.
Spongebob on Hollywood Blvd.
Bet you never thought of Spongebob as a capitalist!  Entrepreneurs–that’s what all the characters are that walk along Hollywood Blvd. getting their photos taken with tourists.
Britney Spears star on Hollywood Blvd.
The stars embedded in the sidewalks of Hollywood Blvd. are a very smart marketing move. Here 2 people have their photo taken by the Britney Spears star.  Local businesmen hope they will also spend some money in nearby shops.

Celebrate Day of the Dead with Johnny Ramone at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

 

Johnny Ramone memorial
Johnny Ramone’s memorial at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It’s next to a beautiful pond.

I decided to visit the Hollywood Forever Cemetery before the big annual Day of the Dead celebration –and, yes, the dead and their lives are celebrated (not necessarily mourned) on November 1st, All Saints Day. Many old movie actors from the  1930s, ’40s, and ’50s are interred there and on the Hollywood Forever website you can see a map of where some are buried.  Among the more recent stars who have found a final resting place at this cemetery is Johnny Ramone.  And the statue of him is very cool.

Just across the drive is a long reflecting pool that ends at the Fairbanks Memorial.  According to the cemetery site map, both Douglas Fairbanks and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. are buried there.

Douglas Fairbnaks memorial
Both Douglas Fairbanks and his son jr. are buried at the end of this long reflecting pool.

And just a few steps away from the Johnny Ramone memorial is an impressive tomb with the name Swayze on it.  I thought it was for Patrick Swayze but when I checked it out, I learned that his ashes had been scattered on his ranch in New Mexico.

But overall, people from the entertainment industry are a small number among all those buried at this cemetery,  As I wandered around I was struck by the large number of Armenian names on the grave markers and on some fairly impressive graves.  Other graves were marked with simple wood crosses and still others planted with rose bushes.

Armenian Man's grave at Hollywood Forever
A grand grave for an Armenian man and his wife.

Then I realized that Little Armenia, at least the ‘old’ Little Armenia was just blocks away.  (A bit of trivia: the new ‘Little Armenia’ is the city of Glendale.  There are more Armenians in Glendale than in the country of Armenia.)

Further wandering brought me to a tall grave marker for one of America’s ‘Rocketmen’, the scientists who developed the rockets that went into space back in the 1950s.  His name was Carl Bigsby.

Rocketman gravesite
The rocket marker for the grave of Carl Bigsby, one of the founding scientists of the U.S. space progam.

Not far from Bigsby’s rocket is the memorial to 33 men who died at the L.A. Times in 1933 in some kind of labor riot/fire.  It it close to the Times’ publisher’s grave which is one of the tallest obelisks in the cemetery.

Anyway, back to the Dia de los Muertos on November 1st at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  It begins at Noon and runs until midnight. Tickets are $20 at  hollywoodforever.ticketfly.com  Children under 6 and adults over 65 are free until 4 p.m.

 Featuring on the Main Stage:

Carla Morrison
La Santa Cecilia
Gaby Moreno
Los Cenzontles
Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea

 

 

Cate the Vampire has a hot new website and is making money hand over fist! How does she do it?

new vampire online cover
Cate the vampire has a new website and two pair of Louboutin stilettos.

In my new novel, New Vampire Online, Cate the vampire has just set up a hot new website, Howtolooklikeamoviestar.com   She has become “an online capitalist entrepreneur.”  Thanks to her Cuban-American boyfriend, Conrad, and her Hollywood connections, everything seems almost perfect.  Money is rolling into her bank account and she has two new pairs of red-soled Louboutin stilettos.  Then Evgeny the Zombie Vampire and his girlfriend, Tatiana the Liar, land on the terrace beside her.  And her old vampire boyfriend, Jack the Surfer, turns up again.  And then the troubles really begin!

New Vampire Online, the second in the New Vampire series, is now available on Kindle and will soon be available on Nook and iTunes.

Book one in the series, New Vampire in Town, is now priced at only .99 on Kindle, iTunes and Nook.

 

Not all L.A. cowboys wear rhinestones, but Nudie from Kiev did

Cowboy in black  (199x300)Who is this cowboy in black?  A man in a mariachi band?  Just a local North Hollywood cowboy in his fringed leather jacket?   I snapped this photo at the North Hollywood metro station plaza and my first impression was that he was a mariachi musician on his way to a gig.  But looking closer, I’m not sure.  Most mariachi outfits are a lot flashier–to match the blaring music.  Whatever his calling, he certainly stood out from the others hanging around the plaza.

Inside the North Hollywood Red Line Metro station there is, however, a tile portrait of a genuine rhinestone cowboy: Nudie Cohn.

nudie the tailor to stars
Tile portrait of Nudie Cohn, the tailor who loved rhinestones.

In fact, Nudie the Tailor (who was born in Kiev in the Ukraine) was the first to put rhinestones on cowboy clothes back in the 1930s.  And he kept on doing it until the 1980s, when he passed away.  In those 50 years he created clothing for cowboy stars like Gene Autry, Tex Ritter, and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.  He may be most famous for the $10,000 gold lame suit he created for Elvis back in the days when Elvis was still young and beautiful.  Nudie also counted the ever-flashy Elton John among his clients.  And then there were all his big Caddies with longhorn horns mounted on the hood.  Nudie definitely had a flair for self-promotion and is among those immortalized on the Red Line station walls as part of the San Fernando Valley history.

I have published two novels, one very steamy and sexy and set in San Francisco in the Sixties and the other an amusing vampire tale that starts with bald tires and newbie vampire armed with a make-up kit in Las Vegas.  To learn more click here.