Yesterday I decided to drive around Hollywood and pretend like I was a tourist, snapping pictures of some of the many things over there that have caught my eye over the years. People say “Hollywood” when they want to talk about Los Angeles or the movie industry, but there really is a Hollywood proper, and it’s not where all of the stars live, except a few who live in the hills above it. Really, Hollywood is a mostly seedy place where there are as many people getting off Greyhound buses from America’s heartland as there are teenagers nodding on heroin lined up on the edges of its sidewalks, all of them peppered with dingy pink stars.
The truth is, even though I lived there for two years, I still feel kind of like a tourist whenever I go to Hollywood. It is a strange place. It is a place where the population is always changing but still remains mostly constant, full of people from another place, a city full of misfits who are all hoping to make it big and who will almost all amount to nothing. But one thing the people in Hollywood have always had on me and others like me is that they are people who dream big and who really go for it. There is some magic in that, especially because it is almost sure to fail.
One time I went to an AA meeting in Hollywood, and they were playing “In Da Club” by Fifty Cent as everybody walked in the door, like we were going into some kind of nightclub. And I thought, wow, I don’t belong here. But there was something about it that was fascinating to me anyway, the idea that somebody might accept their new identity as a sober person as an opportunity to make an AA meeting into an event worthy of a DJ, that arrivals were worthy of a soundtrack. It was ostentatious and totally against everything that I had come to understand about AA’s mission, and many people would have felt uncomfortable and left the meeting under the circumstances, but I stayed, fascinated by the whole spectacle for some reason. And that has been my relationship to Hollywood all along.
Can you imagine? Calling your mother, telling her about the “home” you had found in a motor hotel, just down the street from the Seventh Veil Nude Girls Girls Girls! nightclub? Hoping to get an audition for a bit part in a pilot that never gets picked up? Following one of the many, many classified ads for auditions, or paying thousands of dollars to a subpar photographer for lackluster headshots that will be thrown into dumpsters with thousands of others just like it? Keeping your head up, day after day, because maybe your story will end up being one of the lucky ones? Maybe the door will open just for you?
That, my friends, is what dreams are made of.