Monday, September 25, 2006

Friday Night on the Boulevard

In an act of almost unconscionable workplace indolence, two of my co-workers and I left the office early on Friday to catch an opening night screening of "Jackass 2" at Mann's Chinese theater. Fridays do tend to be a little more chill around the office, as that same night half the crew spent a couple of hours in the bar across the street and the other half went home early. Besides, when I went to pick up my paycheck Friday I found that none had been issued to me, so I said fuck it, let's go out into the big bad world of Hollywood Boulevard on a Friday night.

And it is quite a world. Hollywood Boulevard has undergone a renovation a la Times Square in New York, and it is no longer the strip that Jackson Browne once sang of with its prostitutes and pimps and drug addicts. Now you have to go down two blocks to Sunset to find that. Hollywood Blvd. between Vine and La Brea is a sort of Vegas-like strip, with lots of neon,
advertisting, and all kinds of tourist-trapping enterprises: Hooters, the Guiness Book of World Records Musuem, The Egyptian theater, El Capitan, Hamburger Hamlet, the Virgin Mega Store, and scads of crap shops with 3 t-shirts for $10 and Your Picture with Brad Pitt. There's a heavy Scientology presence on Hollywood Blvd., and it is a rare night when I walk down the street and am not offered a "FREE STRESS TEST!" by some new Hubbardian convert. "No thank you," I usually say. "I know I'm stressed." But last Friday the vibe seemed even crazier than normal. The second we stepped onto the street a cop car zoomed by us, flashers on, and screeched to a halt at the light, whereupon a Fast and Furious Honda pulled a quick rubber-burning 180 and beat ass in the opposite direction. The cop, being blocked in, did not manage a pursuit. But the police are present not just in their cars. At the corner of Hollywood and Highland a big new shopping/entertainment complex has risen from the ashes of the old Hollywood Blvd. (the same complex that houses the Kodak Theater, home of the Academy Awards) and as we walked by we passed ten uniformed, heavily armed cops. I asked my friend Ian, "Is that supposed to make me feel safe or paranoid?" Girls were screaming out of their cars; "Yo, those the new Jordan seven series?" and a man in a rabbit suit was offering photos for a modest donation. Quite a gauntlet (look it up, Peter) we had to run but run it we did, finally arriving at Mann's Chinese for the 12:30 a.m. screening. It was my first film at Mann's, so after stopping to check out Kevin Costner's freshly molder shoes and hands (he has small both) we ventured inside. Mann's Chinese is the definition of a Movie Palace, and the interior is plush, decadent, vaguely Eastern, and huge. There's a balcony, a chandelier, and a proscenium arch in gold leaf that borders the screen. As we sat down to watch, I tought that Jackass was actually the perfect movie to be seeing in such an environment, as these guys represent what Hollywood is all about now: young, good-looking (for the most part), and celebrities of the 15-minute order, the kind of fame that snowballs until you eventually forget why these people became famous and just accept them as celebrities. The movie is horrifying and absolutely engaging in its face-piercing, horse cum-drinking, scatalogical way. The crowd was very vocal, especially during the trailers. After a ridiculously bombastic and THX-pounding trailer for "Transformers" someone yelled "It's gonna suck!" and everyone in the audience applauded. After the film we emerged in front of the theater and there was some dude laying on the concrete, out cold, a cop straddling him, a river of blood running from his head down into Hedey Lamar's shoes. Apparently the guy started a fight and then got jumped in front of Mann's. A dark way to end the evening, but completely in keeping with the vibe of the night.


Blogger betsy said...

hello, dear. so sorry about scarlet. she was a sweetheart. sounds like things are going well for you in L.A. drop me a line sometime and i'll tell you all about the poetry bus. xoxo bets

1:37 PM  

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