Wednesday, June 22, 2005


“Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss, and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents.” -Marilyn Monroe

What do you think when you hear this word? Doesn’t the word reminds of so many things at a time – movies, stars, affairs, sex, scandals, Oscars. Last Sunday I had an opportunity to be in that place which is all about movie magic.

The day started with a bus ride from our place, Torrance to Los Angeles. As I told earlier there is a daily pass which enables for unlimited travel in Metro buses & trains. So we took this daily pass along with zone pass (total 4$ ticket). After a long drive of 1 hour in Metro bus 444, me & my friend, Samrat got down at Pershing Square in Los Angeles.This area is in Los Angeles Downtown & hosts some of the most amazing looking buildings. We decided to come back later to the square.

From Pershing square we took the underground Metro train to a station called ‘Universal City”. The Metro train service is awesome with fast moving trains and picturesque underground stations. It is a treat to watch & experience. Our journey of 15 minutes in tram was spiced up by a young couple who were sitting right in front of us. From the time the train started they got involved in passionate kissing. After witnessing this ‘kuchi-kuchi’ stuff, we got down at Universal City. The kissing-couple also got down & they were so lost in their world that they continued their passion even on the escalator.

At Universal City, my roommate Prosenjit was waiting with his friend Samdarsi. As Samdarsi (Somu) had been staying in that part of LA for a while, he was naturally our local guide for the day. From Universal City, we took a train to a station “Hollywood Highland”. These trains fly so fast that before we could figure out we were in Hollywood Highland. (Do you remember the train & bus in the movie “Speed”? These are the same metro trains & stations). We emerged out of Hollywood Highland Metro Station & found ourselves in the middle of a very busy street.

Right in front of us was the “Kodak Theatre”…
Kodak Theatre
Kodak theatre is the home of Oscars, which has been hosting Oscar award ceremonies and will be hosting atleast till 2021.Along with Oscar awards; the theatre has the distinction of hosting many grand events such as American Idol finals. The theatre has a huge shopping complex which always is crowded & some or the other musical bands keep playing there.
Inside the theatre, we walked on the famous staircase where the Oscar nominees, stars & guests arrive to the Oscar ceremony.

From balcony of this complex, we saw the famous “Hollywood” sign which was there in the distant Griffith Park.

Hollywood Sign…
The Sign measures 450 feet long, its mammoth letters are 45 feet high, and it's visible from all parts of Hollywood. Erected in 1923 as an advertising sign for a real estate development in Beachwood Canyon, the Sign originally read "Hollywoodland." The last four letters were removed in 1945, after Hollywood had become the world's movie capital, and the Sign had already become a well-known landmark. (In fact, it's been officially declared "Los Angeles Cultural-Historical Monument #111.")

In 1932, during the Great Depression, one despondent young actress, Peg Entwistle, even jumped to her death from the Sign's giant letter "H." The original sign contained thousands of light bulbs, which were changed daily by a caretaker who lived in a small house behind one of the Sign's giant "L's."

We came out of Kodak theatre into the Hollywood Boulvede Street. Suddenly I realized that I was on the “Walk of Fame”.

Walk of Fame…
Designed as a publicity stunt in the late 1950s, the Walk of Fame is now the most famous stretch of cement in the world. More than 2,500 bronze-inlaid stars commemorate some of the most famous individuals in movies, radio, TV, recording and theater. A bronze star embedded in pink and charcoal terrazzo on the pathway is dedicated to selected celebrities. 20 new celebrities are honored every year during public ceremonies. Walk of Famers are nominated by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for "career achievement”.

There were sidewalk stars spread across the pathway everywhere. I was standing right on one star…I was so happy to see it was star of my favorite director Steven Spielberg. After saluting the master director, I moved across the street looking for more ‘stars’. There was Jack Nicholson, Marline Monroe, Nicole Kidman & many other celebrities all in one place that too on the street (or call it on footpath!).

On the same street was another landmark “Chinese Theatre”.
Chinese Theatre..
This theatre is the most sought after place for any movie premieres. (Do you remember the ending of “Charles Angeles-Full throttle” movie involving a premiere show in Chinese theatre?). Fans flock to these premiere events to see the celebrities arrive and walk up the red carpet into the theatre. This theatre built by Grauman in 1927 was recently renovated with several earthquake retrofits.

In the foreyard of the theatre was another piece of cement which was made famous by footprints & hand impressions of celebrities. There are foot & hand impressions of John Woo, Spielberg, Stallone & so many other entertainers.

Looks like Hollywood Blvd never lacks any action and at that moment, there was a movie promotion happening right in front of Kodak & Chinese theatres. What better place than Hollywood Blvd to get publicity for the movie? The movie being promoted was “Harbie: Fully loaded”.The whole cast & crew of the movie was present. As the movie is all about the Volkswagen car, the whole street was literally filled with those cute cars.

Volkswagen Beetle 2005 model is the latest craze which is gripping the US. Popularly known as “Beetle bug”, the car has captured imagination of millions people (I confess that I’m in love with this car :)). The car looks very cuuute.The movie is hoping to cash on this new phenomenon.

After roaming around in the walk of fame, we entered into the McDonalds for lunch.While I settled for fruit-peanut salad with French fries, my friends attacked chicken stuffs. After a quick lunch, we decided to move on. There was Guinness records museum, Ripley’s Believe it or not museum & Hollywood wax museums on the same street. But due to time constraints we proceeded to next destination, Beverly Hills.

We were back in metro & got down at Veremont/Beverly. From there we took a metro bus to Beverly Hills. As soon as we got into bus, the bus driver asked us “Kya haal hai bhai?”. We were thrilled to listen to ‘Hamara Hindi’ in Beverly hill. Now that we know the driver is from India we started chatting with him.To my friends’ surprise they came to know he was also from Bengal.S o the next conversions went in Bengali till we got down.Once we got down at Beverly Hills, we walked to the Rhodeo Drive.

Rhodeo Drive..
This is called the “Holy Grail of Shopping” and supposed to be the most recognized street in the world and has been featured in movies from "Beverly Hills Cop" to "Pretty Woman". The street is famous for latest in fashion.

With no intentions of doing shopping there, our only objective was people-watching and window-shopping. It didn’t take much time to realize that most of the people were also doing the same thing like us! The whole street was full of shops for fashion accessories, apparels. There was one F-TV anchor hosting a show in front of some fashion store. The experience of walking in the street was like our Brigade-MG Road walking experience!!

Every Father's Day, Rodeo Drive hosts a vintage car show that's free and open to public. As we happened to be there on that day we got to see some antique cars & few really rich people buying some amazing cars.

After strolling the street, we got into a juice junction. I took some juice called “Vibrant-C” which was a cocktail of banana, pineapple & lemon.

We took another metro bus from there & were back to “Western” Stop. From there we moved to Wilschire Vermont where Somu got down. We continued to 7Th street, which has some seriously tall buildings. Met few doctors who had come from India for a conference.

Then after we moved to Pershing Square, the point from where our journey had begun.As soon we got out of metro tube, we found ourselves surrounded by some gigantic buildings in all directions. Really some wonderful looking architecture stuff. This has Pershing Park adjacent to the square, named after the famous World War I general. When we went to the park, the whole area was full of beggars & homeless people.

Talking of buildings, I was reminded of one of my favorite book “The Fountainhead”. I was thinking of all the architects mentioned in the book, when I was looking at those buildings which were looking like a pack of cards. I thought of Howard Roarke, the central character of the book & what he would have said about these buildings.Not to mention that I thought of all Roarke fans whom I know!!

The day came to an end with another long ride back in metro train to Torrance. As I was travelling back , I was pondering about what Marilyn Monroe said...

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