One of the biggest concerns for me about this entire trip was the idea of having to drive in LA traffic. We’ve been brought up to believe that it’s the worst thing ever.
Truth to tell, it’s not any worse than that horrific 75/85 connector in Atlanta.
Here’s a picture of the sign on the side of a building on Hollywood and Vine. There’s nothing interesting about it, but I wanted to put it in to serve as a reminder that it’s important to scope out your destination as thoroughly as possible. If we had made a right hand turn here, we’d have seen the Capitol Records building. We didn’t. To rub salt in the wound, I was also completely oblivious to the fact that I drove right by the historic Pantages Theatre. Seriously. It’s is less than a block behind us.
We did end up in the Hollywood and Highland Center, which is situated right in the heart of what’s the most tourist heavy location in Los Angeles.
The Center itself is a massive shopping/dining/entertainment complex (yep, pretty much a mall). The most striking thing about it is how architecturally convoluted it is – things look pretty normal on the ground level, but the upper levels seem to be specifically arranged to make it as difficult as possible to get where you’re trying to go.
Visually, the place is bizarre. Even more so when you see what they’re going for:
Intolerance. The entire courtyard area is inspired by the Babylon scene from the movie Intolerance. Supposedly the archway and pillars are the same size as the ones that were built for the movie. This would be really something if Intolerance was widely known. I consider myself a pretty big cinephile (despite some glaring omissions on my watchlist), and I only really know Intolerance as the movie Griffith made in response to allegations that “Birth of a Nation” was racist (SPOILER – it totally was).
Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly impressive. But it also feels more than a little misguided (props to Dolby for the Close Encounters of the Third Kind billboard).
Honestly, a lot of Hollywood Boulevard walked the fine line between impressive and misguided. Is it a tourist trap? Certainly. But that distinction alone isn’t always bad.
What skeeved me out more than anything were people like this. People who dress up as characters and harass people to get pictures taken with them for money. Please understand that I’m a big fan of the Cosplay community and there is a big difference. Cosplayers do what they do out of respect and love. These guys are just hustlers.
(the opinion above obviously doesn’t apply to Bronies. No one understands them)
That’s the Blessed Sacrament Church popping up in front of the downtown cityscape.
The El Capitan Theatre is a fully restored movie palace. Owned by Disney, it’s used for a lot of their film premieres. I wish we had had time to see something there (well, something other than Monsters University, that is), as I’m told it’s quite stunning inside
Next door to the El Capitan is the El Capitan Entertainment Centre (formerly the Hollywood Masonic Temple), which is where Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show is taped.
Lots of places to eat at Hollywood and Highland. We hit up the French Crepe Company, which wasn’t nearly tasty enough to justify the prices. On the plus side, we listened to a conversation at the next table that was straight out of the “Californians” SNL sketch.
Karen poses in front of the El Capitan and WAIT – what’s that behind her?
At the time we were there, The Lone Ranger was bombing pretty hard much to the shock of no one.