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One Shade The More: Finding a Vantage Point in LA

- Ethan F

“It’s changed. All they focus on now are different ways of getting the masses of smelly people into their shops.” Spoken by a local actor in Los Angeles, this phrase captures the essence of transformation that parts of the city have gone through, namely Hollywood Boulevard.

The sign for the wax museum, a major attraction on Hollywood Boulevard. Note the cheap t-shirts as well.

The sign for the wax museum, a major attraction on Hollywood Boulevard. Note the cheap t-shirts as well.

Whenever you see an actor get their star on the infamous walk of fame, it is on a beautifully lit and luxurious street. But in reality, the walk is in a grimy part of town. Some of the stars are covered by dirt, some are cracked, people trample over them like any other side walk in any other seedy neighborhood.

The King of Pop's star, scratched and dirty.

The King of Pop’s star, scratched and dirty.


The place is a bit of sham. No real celebrities would be caught dead there without a thick entourage–or if they’re being awarded their star, for which event they close down the street.

The attractions are all there: movie premiers at theaters lit like runways; the legendary hand-prints outside the TCL Chinese Theatre (which are awarded to actors/icons, unlike the stars on the walk which are paid for); people dressed in costumes of various superheros, the quality of costume ranging from homemade to thousand dollar replicas (I could have sworn Downey Jr. was underneath the helm of one stunning Iron Man suit). The Oscars are held down the road from a sleazy cabaret. Suspect hot-dog vendors wait outside elaborate movie premiers. I’ve learned that Los Angeles is a city of startling juxtapositions.

I visited the J. Paul Getty Museum (known as the Getty) the day before.  The Getty is one of the most visited museums in the United States, and for good reason. You park in a underground garage and take a tram up the side of the hill, rise above the cluttered highways.The grounds themselves are incredibly well kept and it sits on the hills overlooking the city. The view is spectacular, but a little distant, as if a place as elegant and preserved as this must be somewhat removed from the rest of the city. I watched the sun set over the mountains from this perch. The city was stunning…but I could see it too well like when you see someone in the glare of a bright LED, pockmarks illuminated.

The view of Los Angeles from the Getty.

The view of Los Angeles from the Getty.

The grounds of the Getty.

The grounds of the Getty.

The city may be dirty, but what city isn’t? You can find beauty everywhere, you just need to find a perspective where the dirt accentuates the gem underneath. The Canals are a wonderful trip, but feel vacated in the winter. The Pier is all the nostalgia that a Jersey boy could ever ask for ( though the Jersey Shore trumps the Venice Beach pier). My favorite view of the city was James Deans’ last.

The night I visited Hollywood Boulevard my brother took me to Mulholland Drive. Many people have had quick deaths from the long drop, their cars still stuck in the valley below. I reached the top of the drive and viewed the city from one of the many outlooks along the road. This is the city to remember, cherish, and worship. This is how you should view the city. Not by the intrusive light of the sun, but at night, when Los Angeles puts on her makeup and steps out in a black dress.





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