Category Archives: Hollywood

About Hollywood

Ilene Wendy Silk

West LA resident and expert/lover of Los Angeles!
http://www.thedblogger.com/

Latest posts by Ilene Wendy Silk (see all)

WHERE is Hollywood?

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Briefly its own city, Hollywood merged with the municipality of Los Angeles in 1910 and has a remained a business and residential district within LA since then. You can think of Hollywood as situated between Downtown Los Angeles (east), the “Valley” particularly North Hollywood/Burbank/Studio City (north), West Hollywood and Beverly Hills (west) and just above Hancock Park and the Fairfax district.  Three well-known boulevards are fascinating and ever-evolving attractions to Hollywood: Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Boulevard and Melrose Avenue.

 

WHAT characterizes Hollywood?

Hollywood is an essential part of the Los Angeles experience. As the cradle of American cinema, Hollywood became synonymous with the film industry, and with it the glamour, fanfare and star power.  Later, television studios moved to Hollywood adding more allure and worldwide recognition to the area. In the late 20th century, when the entertainment business spread beyond the literal boundaries of Hollywood, much of Hollywood’s glitz and appeal began to fade. But not for long! Hollywood has been breeding new music, musical stars, elaborate attractions and massive renovation bringing it back to a new heyday.  Tourists, as well as residents, are back in droves discovering Hollywood’s vibrancy and eclectic offerings.

Mann's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard

Mann’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard

One of the landmarks etched in the minds of tourists is the TCL Chinese Theater, formerly known as Grauman’s or Mann’s Chinese Theater, and having its official name-changing in January 2013. The iconic theater, recently renovated, resembles a giant red Chinese pagoda with fantastic detailing on its façade. The overwhelming steady lure to the theater was less about its architecture than an accident that occurred in 1927, when a footprint, presumably Mary Pickford’s, was embedded in the wet concrete in front of the new building. Today, there are over 200 Hollywood celebrity handprints, footprints, and autographs in the concrete of the theater’s forecourt. In September 2013, an amazing state-of-the-art IMAX theater opened within the Chinese Theater premiering an IMAX 3D version of The Wizard of Oz assuring its place as more than a historical monument.

The area surrounding The TCL Chinese Theater, mostly on Hollywood Boulevard, is rife with tourist attractions and revitalization.   The Walk of Fame consists of over 2000 star plaques with the names of old and new celebrities.  Grauman’s Egyptian Theater and the El Capitan Theater hold Hollywood history too and still fill to capacity. The Hollywood Wax Museum is the longest running Wax Museum in the United States, and nearby, the Ripley’s Believe it or Not is well, what it is!

Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood Boulevard

For many modern decades, shopping in the area consisted of an endless array of souvenir shops and the ever-famous Frederick’s of Hollywood for Tinseltown’s homage to glamorous lingerie.  Then in 2001, the Hollywood and Highland Center opened, further elevating the status of the Chinese Theater and housing chic stores, top restaurants, fabulous nightclubs and the Loews Hotel.  Many of my local friends and I began revisiting Hollywood for ourselves, not just to traipse around our visiting relatives!

And for all of the approachable symbols of Hollywood, none could ever compare to the unapproachable Hollywood Sign!  The 45-foot-tall, 350-foot-long world-famous sign is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. I venture to say that the famed Hollywood Sign garners more affection from Angelenos than any of its landmarks combined.

To the outside world, Hollywood may be mostly known for all of

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

its symbols and its relationship to the magic of movies. But residents know Hollywood as a district beyond kitsch.  The Griffith Park Observatory reopened in 2006 with extensive science exhibits. Thousands of local students and residents visit yearly.  And especially popular with Angelenos is Runyon Canyon Park.  Super-fit 20-and-30-somethings (and okay, older too?) jog to the top almost daily for mesmerizing panoramic views of the city. Not to name drop, but how many times have I seen Jake Gyllenhaal running down?  Too many to count!  Runyon is an off-leash dog park too and one of LA’s best-kept secrets.  Oops.

View from Runyon Canyon

View from Runyon Canyon

Nightlife flourishes in Hollywood.  From the magnificent Hollywood Bowl for the finest acoustics to the ever-popular Lucky Strike Bowling Lanes, going out in Hollywood has it all!  Despite the health fanatics running up Runyon Canyon in the mornings, Hollywood attracts more partying singles at night than any other area. Big clubs have doormen and lines seven nights a week. Dive bars, funky bars and old school ones have their regulars and newbies.  Large and small music venues bring young and old. Restaurants highlighting every conceivable cuisine are hopping throughout Hollywood. The Pantages Theater on Hollywood Boulevard brings huge splashy national touring companies of Broadway productions and draws audiences of all ages from every corner of Southern California.

Hotels abound in Hollywood and many with recent renovations.  So, too, are residences popping up all over the area’s landscape.  A recent drive through Hollywood’s streets had me quite agape at the amount of huge condo edifices under construction in the heart of Hollywood.  Old estates remain in the hills and still-fabulous houses are dotted throughout the sloping streets above Melrose.  The gentrification of Hollywood is in full-effect.

 

WHO is in Hollywood?

Hollywood HomesIt is fair to say that Hollywood as a residence does not have a large draw for raising families.  Hollywood attracts urbanites.  There is so much to do on foot and public transportation options are aplenty.  The culture of residents is widely diverse and perhaps surprisingly so is the age range.  Statistically, there are more single men than women living in Hollywood.  More and more, pre-middle-age to middle age singles with upper scale incomes have discovered the charms of Hollywood and may be able to get more bang for their bucks than in neighboring districts to the west.

DINE AT THE TOP:

Hatfield’s
Katsuya
Littlefork
Osteria Mozza
Providence

DINE IN THE MID (range):

Ammo
Hungry Cat
Jitlada Thai
Loteria Grill
Pizzeria Mozza

DINE ON A BUDGET:

Grub
In-N-Out Burger
Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles
Stella Barra Pizza
Umami Burger

DRINK RESPONSIBLY AT:

Library Bar and The Spare Room (both at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel)
The Pikey
Wood and Vine
The Writer’s Room
Velvet Margarita Cantina

SHOP TIL YOU DROP:

(Divided by shopping areas not individual stores)
Hollywood and Highland Center
Hollywood Boulevard – sidewalk stores for souvenirs, kitsch and miscellaneous
La Brea Ave. – particularly for home design
Melrose Ave. (east of Fairfax = hipster, west of Fairfax  = upscale)
Universal CityWalk
A classic store worth noting is the world-famous Amoeba Music on Sunset Boulevard, the country’s largest independent music store.

LIVE (and thrive) HERE:

Condos average (coming soon)

Single Family Residences (coming soon)

A one-bedroom apartment averages (coming soon)

Hollywood Boulevard Red Carpet Night at the Oscars

Hollywood Boulevard Red Carpet Night at the Oscars

Hollywood landed on everyone’s mental map because of its association with the illustrious entertainment industry.  It has stayed there because of much more.   Though billions of people all over the world still tune in for the annual Academy Awards Show televised live from Hollywood, we locals are tuning into Hollywood for its new trends too. I’d be lying to say that I don’t turn my head every time I see a new red carpet installation preparing for that night’s movie premiere staged on Hollywood Boulevard.  The excitement is still palpable even for many of us too cool to admit it.

How To Fall (and Stay) In Love with Los Angeles – Volume 2

Ilene Wendy Silk

West LA resident and expert/lover of Los Angeles!
http://www.thedblogger.com/

Latest posts by Ilene Wendy Silk (see all)

Relationships take work.  Love affairs are dynamic relationships that challenge us more than, let’s say, friendships.  Best sung by Motown’s Four Tops, one of my favorite old-school songs titled “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” concludes with this refrain:

Los Angeles At Night“If we can try with every day to make it better as it goes
With any luck then I suppose
The music never ends.”

The love affair I began with Los Angeles in 1991 has gotten better because of will, effort and intention.  I’m committed to my relationship and I believe that Los Angeles loves me back. It is my hope that even if you’ve begun your LA divorce proceedings, you can reconsider and rekindle the fire!

In Volume 1, I sent you west on Sunset Boulevard as far as the road can go.  It’s a cheap trick – that drive to the ocean at sunset is fail-safe.  Who wouldn’t, who couldn’t fall in love with that breathtaking crescendo?  Admittedly, it’s been a bit trickier to navigate that ride since road construction has threatened our “marriage” but if you stay the course and keep going west, the payoff is worth it.

Here are some other detours, chosen ones, that can lead you to more of LA’s charms.  They offer good reasons to veer off the road even if there are no roadblocks.  On a day when a schedule is not harrowing and you have the time to breathe (oh, that’s key in all of this love affair stuff – breathing), explore in and around Sunset Boulevard as you’re heading west.  Some of these divergences are as free as the ride; others will call upon your wallet.  You’ll know which is the right diversion for your particular exploration.  Keep in mind that the goal is to revive your love affair with Los Angeles or begin a new one.

Beverly Hills Hotel 1989

Beverly Hills Hotel 1989

The first stop, should you choose, is The Beverly Hills Hotel, affectionately called the Pink Palace.  I’ve done this stop many ways.  Try one on for size.  I’ve pulled up to Valet Parking bidding my friendliest greetings to the valets and doorman (I wouldn’t suggest shorts and flip flops for this version) explaining I’m meeting a friend.   And then I just wander – and sometimes just sit in the lobby.  It’s a small lobby, not particularly inviting but I just sit and breathe.  On one stop, I saw a very young, very awkward, regal sort sitting there bemused.  I began light casual conversation with him to ease his way.  Little did he know, I had no business there at all.  Long story short, he turned out to be a prince in Norway (and no jokes about the Prince of Bel Air).  No, really, a royal prince!  I’ve since seen him on the news.  His entourage and his grand limousine (let’s just say this one is not in uber’s fleet!) were at the ready to have me join him for a tour of the area.  We spoke for hours though his “people” stayed near.   He was so hungry for a person with a life in the real world with whom to communicate.  Despite his eagerness to have our friendship continue on another day, my work at my detour had ended.  Los Angeles was magical again.  “Only in LA,” it’s said. Being friendly in a royal hotel costs nothing.

Beverly Hills Hotel Pool Area

Beverly Hills Hotel Pool

I’ve also been enchanted at the Beverly Hills Hotel with lunch or snacks there on my own. (Remember these are mostly unplanned detours!) Not at the Polo Lounge where the bill will set you back some serious change.  No, the way we locals do it is to head directly to their pool and sit at the Cabana Café.  Surprisingly, you do not have to be a guest to sit in this gorgeous, albeit exclusive-feeling setting.  And lunch can be whatever you want it to be – including a cup of tea and a bagel.  And the other locals’ secret is to go downstairs from the lobby to the Fountain Coffee Shop.  Get a milkshake – or have breakfast – at the counter.  It’s an authentic old-school diner, except that it’s in the basement of a palace.  Then back to Sunset the boulevard or the rose-colored one in the sky.  By the way, Options #2 and #3, the meal ones, don’t require valet parking.

Spelling Manor

Spelling Manor

If hotels and people watching are not your thing, another alternative route off of Sunset Boulevard is to explore Holmby Hills.  I discovered this quite by accident on one of my Sunset Boulevard meanderings in the mid-90’s.  I turned left on Beverly Glen and then noticed magnificent homes and landscapes tucked on some of the streets behind Beverly Glen.  I turned again onto Charing Cross Road, then onto Mapleton. Inching my car slowly, I remember getting quite an eyeful ogling properties on Mapleton.  I had no idea that I was heading to the Spelling mansion at the time, the penultimate eyeful. What’s key about this kind of exploration is that it not trigger resentment, animosity or worse, feeling bad about your own life.  These rides are supposed to feel like receiving a bouquet of flowers unexpectedly.  Don’t make up stories about the inequality of wealth at these times; it defeats the purpose.  There is a purity of aesthetics that your new eyes can bring to the vision.  Greenery, architecture, texture, color, and surprise light your mind as you take in new things each time you explore.  Years later, I took a New York friend to see the Spelling mansion.  It was a Sunday afternoon and we slowly pulled up.  Wait, what?!  How did I not know? Purely by accident, our car kept getting guided towards a Valet Parking umbrella in front of the compound. It was Tori’s wedding day, at home. They thought my friend and I were guests and we kept smiling, okay flirting, with each of the officers directing our car.  It was such an uproarious spectacle.  We laugh.  Only in LA.  Love.

Playboy Mansion

Playboy Mansion

By the way, Charing Cross Rd., on the other side, will lead you to the Playboy Mansion.  That is a horse (pardon the reference) of a different color.  And driving up and thinking about what has gone on and for how long may just amuse you. Or not.  It doesn’t pull my chain (pardon the reference).  Seriously, there is lore, not necessarily lure, and American history there and it’s right in our L.A. backyard.

Volume 2 ends there with two forks in the road – the right turn into the hotel or the left turn into Holmby Hills. When we continue, we will be turning right, into what look like private gates, the gates of Bel Air.  It’s an elegant twilight zone.  Can’t wait to continue…  til next time.

How To Fall In Love with Los Angeles – Volume 1

Ilene Wendy Silk

West LA resident and expert/lover of Los Angeles!
http://www.thedblogger.com/

Latest posts by Ilene Wendy Silk (see all)

I am in love.  It began before I moved here in 1995.  In fact, one could make a case that it started in Philadelphia when I was four years old.  It was then that I spun my fable to my Hollywoodneighborhood pals that my doll had been hired to play a baby in a Hollywood movie and I would have to move there to be with her.  I will save the genesis of that tall tale for another time (think prequel).  I didn’t actually get to visit Los Angeles until the mid 80’s and truthfully, my boyfriend and I were not really attuned to where it all happens in LA though we thought we were super-uber-cool.  We rented an oh-so-fab furnished condo in Marina Del Rey feeling like Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley, when in actuality, we were more like Saturday Night Live versions of them.

Four Seasons Beverly Hills

Four Seasons Beverly Hills

In 1991, the full-on love affair with Los Angeles that has never waned began when I visited a close girlfriend who came here to follow her dreams. I spent the first six months of that year socking dollars away to visit Victoria in the summer of 1991.  No expense would be spared for our first girls-only trip together through LA.  I rented a shiny new convertible at the airport, then pulled up to the Four Seasons Hotel of Beverly Hills (though a rarely accepted truth, it’s on the LA side of Doheny and not in BH) and parked myself for 10 days of the summer.  We put glamour on steroids, turned nightlife outings here into Olympic sport and dined at the trendiest and (ouch) most expensive restaurant offerings the city had.  Then shampoo, rinse, repeat in 1992, 1993 and 1994.  When I said goodbye to Victoria at the end of the summer of ’94, I told her that my next visit would be to move here. And it was.

I told her I wanted my life there to replicate our visits, that if I could live at the Four Seasons, I would.  Unfortunately, my budget called for a monthly rent that was approximately 3-nights of staying there.  I did the next best thing and lived near the Four Seasons, where 18 years later I still reside.  And no one’s carrying my shopping bags in, no one’s parking my car, and I am my own concierge. So might one think that when reality hit, my love affair faded?  Think again.  This is a city that if you choose to, you can fall in love with every day, all over again.  I wake up 300 out of 365 days every year thinking, “Pinch Me!”  And the other 65, I’m well aware that I’ve found my soul’s home mate.

Los Angeles SunsetFor those of you contemplating a move or those of you living in Los Angeles who have a love/hate relationship with this complex city, or worse, an abusive one, help is on the way.  Ilene’s psychologically and spiritually sound guide to loving LA is on the way in several volumes. And since I’ve already alliterated with the “S” sound, I will leave you with our first volume’s tip: Sunset.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to get in a car on a Saturday or Sunday at approximately 5:00 PM and ride west on Sunset Boulevard beginning at La Cienega Boulevard and not stopping until you hit the Pacific Coast Highway – and stay there until sunset.

Let’s talk about it in our next session.  Until then. . . .