Monday, January 26, 2015

The two sides of Hollywood Blvd

by Sofia Squittieri, Writing Intern (with Germar Derron)

From Wikipedia - Diliff
Each walk down Hollywood Boulevard amazes me. The variety of characters adds to the experience, but I don't mean Jack Sparrow or Tinkerbell. It’s a life lesson learned in a mile. I call it “The Holly Mile”.

On one side of the street, Johnny Depp poses at the Mortdecai premiere--his latest Holly Mile movie. Beautiful actresses surround him, including a glowing Gwyneth Paltrow. Lights blind. Curious pedestrians stop to watch. Expensive dresses, seductive perfumes, smooth skins. Depp hosts an after party--excellent wine and exquisite small bites will be served. The building has high ceilings and ornate lamps. The music will be live, or a celebrity DJ spinning the latest hits plus some old songs that bring nostalgia and warmth. Depp will probably get drunk and fall asleep in his rented limo.

On the other side of the boulevard, a homeless man watches. He lives there. He lived there 22 years ago--this is his spot.  He’s a legend. He talks--on and on--about all the changes on the Holly Mile. The Hollywood Suits Outlet was a shoe store owned by a now famous musician. The half destroyed building on Wilcox Street was once a popular movie theater. And many more stories that may or may not be true. Here, the atmosphere is dark. People walk by fast, afraid of being hurt by a beggar. His clothes are ripped, old, and dirty. The odor combines sweat, urine, and cheap wine. No partying here. No small bites. The only music plays from the cars racing down the boulevard. This man will also likely get drunk and fall asleep. But he doesn't have a home to drive back to.

It only takes ten steps to transition from one world into the other. Ten steps separate the nobodies and the biggest stars in the world.  How is it possible that these two worlds, so different, are so connected? Welcome to Hollywood, where everything is extremely extreme.

There is little middle ground here. The almosts and could've beens face a harsh reality. They see their dreams, playout in bubbles they can’t pierce, just feet away. And between these two groups, another group works hard long hours making the stars look great.  Here, everyone but the brightest of the bubbled are invisible.

Walking the “Holly Mile” teaches an invaluable lesson. Do it. Take pics of the marble stars and celebrity names. Walk across them and try to ignore the stench of urine, vomit, and feces from the invisible--the almost stars. Somehow, the connection and contradiction between the two worlds is charming and extremely enticing. It’s not too hard to imagine existing just outside of, and constantly reaching for, that bubble--for 22 years.
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