05 January 2010

Santa Barbara Day 2: Hollywood and Highland

There. Now that we have the obligatory hollywood signage out of the way, let's talk about our experience in Hollywood. In one word, disappointing. Our guidebook prepared us for people dressed as famous characters, all looking for a few bucks for a photo, but it didn't prepare us for the thousands of people all wanting pictures with the Michael Jackson star, nor for the overpriced parking and trinkets sold in the stores nearby. The architecture was kind of cool (I particularly liked the Chinese theater), but not worth the fifty minutes it took us to get from Santa Monica to Highland.
A sampling of the Hollywood experience:

Hollywood was an interesting place, if only because it seemed so fake. All the decorations were focused on the TV and film -- I even saw a quote, built out of tile on the floor of the mall, attributed to a dog actor talking about how awesome it was to work in movies. Remember, the 'person' quoted was a canine. The fact that heading two minutes away from the intersection left you in some seriously seedy territory didn't help convince you that the Hollywood experience was more than a millimeter deep.
The people dressed up as famous stars were more annoying than otherwise, too. We were approached by one of them offering to get a picture, but we couldn't even figure out which star she was supposed to be. My best guess -- Alice in Wonderland -- is probably not right. Maybe she was Mary Poppins? I'm afraid Urmi rather forcefully rejected the offer, so we had no way to find out who she was supposed to be.
We did see one actual celebrity, but since Urmi and I aren't too much into the whole show business culture, we have no idea who she was. She was walking a terribly ugly (but still purse-sized!) dog, wearing about two hundred dollars worth of makeup, and followed by no less than three paparazzi, though, so I presume she was fairly important. I narrowly avoided colliding with her as I tried to get through the crowd; that probably would've ensured that I ended up on the cover of US Weekly or something. I can see the headline now: Lunatic Tourist Assaults Starlet, Story and Pictures page 11!.
The Hollywood sign was another source of entertainment. There was exactly one place in the mall where you could get a good view of the sign, and it happened to be right next to where we ended up eating lunch. We spent most of lunch watching the hundreds of shots people were trying to get with them in front of the sign -- pointing at it, framing their heads with it like a halo, and more. Our lunch mates -- a group of five people in their late teens or early twenties, sitting at the next table -- provided endless commentary on the people taking photos. Probably the highlight of our LA trip thus far.
Wanting to end our Hollywood experience on a positive note, I give you Grauman's Chinese Theater:

Eager to escape the crowds, we decided to go anywhere in LA that wasn't Hollywood and Highland. Our first stop was Mulholland Drive, a twisty road snaking through the mountains over the city.

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