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Tag Archives: Los Angeles

The Artists’ Wall

There is a wall on a building on Highland Ave and someone or somebodies put up art. It changes all the time as the owners of the building tear it down, paint over it and otherwise destroy it. I like to photograph it while there’s time. Here are a couple of examples. I hope you love them as much as I do. If you know where the PowerHouse bar is, then you know what I’m talking about. There’s a terrible Chinese restaurant there too. MSG WARNING! See? Lots of little useful tidbits here on the Hollyblog! See!

© Russell Smith, 2011

© Russell Smith

VIDEO VAULT – RED LINE AND CROSSROADS OF THE WORLD OOOH

More adventures on L.A.’s subways

This time it’s the Gold Line

The whole thing started when this kid was playing music from his “device” very loudly so that it filled the whole train. I approached him very politely. I said, “Sir,” and he tossed me a baleful glance. “Sir,” I repeated and then I continued with “could you please turn your music down.” I did not react. I got closer to him and said, “I guess you didn’t realize I was talking to you. Could you please turn your music down?” Still he ignored me. I reminded him that playing your music loudly will garner you a $250 fine. He responded with, “What are you? The police?” I told him no, but I was a passenger on the train and his behavior was unacceptable. He ignored me. So then I sat down and recorded his handsome mug to share with the rest of you!

If you listen to people on the train, when the camera is down, he wields his plastic three-wheeled skateboard at me like he is going to hit me with it. You can hear and see some of the people on the train react with horror. “Put that away!” One man cries out in a tone that seems to mean business. I’m not the only one who is getting sick of these obnoxious fellow humans. It’s hard to conceptualize that the adolescent brain is shrinking, cutting synapses that are redundant, under utilized, what have you. Just like I was the first t.v. generation, these kids are the first X-box generation. They’ve been exposed to graphic violence, neglected by their parents, etc. It doesn’t lessen their responsibility for their behavior! I am radically pissed.

Look at this doofus punk. As soon as I turned off the camera, the doors to the train opened. Like a cowardly punk-ass bitch (as we say at our garden tea parties) he hits me with his plastic contraption. I forget that many other people have been raised by wolves. This S.O.B. drew blood when he hit me. That is unacceptable. Well, watch the video and enjoy! Remember the face. Beware. This kid is dangerous and crazy. Do not approach unless you are an officer of the law.

defensive wound

It baffles the mind how unsafe the subway system is. That would never happen in Washington, D.C. where I come from. Why? Because … I don’t know why, honestly. Part of the issue is me. I try to stamp out ASSHOLE-ISM where ever it may be. I’m not afraid of people younger than me, or older than me, or of any race or gender. Asshole-ism crosses every strata of society. I know I have an anger management problem, but it irks me that people sit silently and put up with the asshole-ism of the few. If decent folk stick together, then these arrogant, mean, stupid people won’t have the clout that their rotten behavior affords them.

R.I.P. Elizabeth Taylor

It is a sad day indeed here in Hollywood. An icon of epic proportions just died. I am speaking of Elizabeth Taylor. I heard the news on the Washington Post’s web site. It appears she left her body some time around 11 a.m. Pacific time. The cause of death is listed as complications of congestive heart failure. She’d been in hospital for a couple of weeks at Cedars Sinai, celebrating her birthday there on February 27. Her four children were with her when she died according to IMDB. As the peons and praises pour in, let my add my weak voice to the chorus. An Oscar laureate two times over, she never really garnered the acclaim as an actress that she deserved. She was accused of dragging down Richard Burton, ruining his career and making him a lap poodle. Let’s remember that Sir Richard was an alcoholic of raging proportions, that he remarried her just for the sadistic pleasure of leaving her again.

Why should we care about the passing of Liz Taylor? Because it marks the end of an era. A child actress, she made her fame in Lassie (the movie) and National Velvet. As an adult, her list of credits is endless. She worked hard for the money, yet according to all reports, she was a gracious lady to all comers, hence the Larry Fortensky fiasco. With Ms. Taylor’s passing, gone is a woman who turned all heads, world round, not just with her beauty but also her very public private life. She is one of the last of a dying breed- a real actor who put herself into a role without losing herself in that role. An actor who took her work more seriously than public persona. We could use more Liz Taylor’s and less Angelina Jolie’s in the movie business, that’s for sure. Despite her strange proclivities, such as her friendship with Michael Jackson, she did her best to leave the world a better place than when she found it, especially her groundbreaking work on the part of victims of AIDS. She’s probably done more single-handedly to humanize the plight of these people, and to encourage research and development of therapies to treat HIV/AIDS. God Bless her. She will be missed by generations of fans.

What are my favorite movies by Liz? You may ask. Here’s a short list: Cleopatra, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Butterfield 8 (a campy romp that landed her first Oscar). Virginia Wolfe was Oscar number 2. She did her share of stinkers- remember the Sandpipers? On the whole, her career was lengthy and full of well-deserved plaudits. She was a ground breaker in many ways. Did you know that she was the first actor to be paid a cool million for a role? That was back in 1963. Can you imagine Angelina Jolie condescending to take a role for only one million? Never!

Cropped screenshot of Richard Burton and Eliza...

Image via Wikipedia- Taylor & Burton in Cleopatra (1963)

Remember when she became the official vamp/femme fatale when she “stole” Eddie Fisher from poor little Debbie Reynolds? Nothing like that could ever happen again in this jaded world in which we live. The whole Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston affair was like a puff of smoke compared to the media explosion caused by the Reynolds-Fisher breakup and Liz’s role in it. Liz was a mirror of our society in many ways, from her mixed up marital shenanigans, to her charity and finally in her passing. According to sources, she went gently into that goodnight, to paraphrase a Welsh poet. Good bye, Liz. This is one blogger who will mourn you deeply. Speaking of bloggers, I stumbled across a great blog that has tons of beautiful pictures of the former Queen of Glamour. Please allow me to treat you to a couple.

Below is a more down to earth image of Liz, from the filming of Suddenly Last Summer, another great Taylor vehicle. When she is standing on the catwalk above the “insane” people, her facial expressions are amazing and real. Those smoldering glances and piercing eyes captured my heart when I was a little boy. I’ll never stop loving you, Liz! You will live forever in the hearts of your fans and in the body of work that you’ve left behind.

Smoldering in Suddenly Last Summer

Liz in 1964, photographed by Avedon

The Power of Images

Shall I begin with some gossip?

I saw Andy D. on my own lowbrow street about a month ago in the company of a petite young man with a pretty face. Andy and I locked eyes, and he was so, “Where do I know you from?” He’s a funny man, but deeply troubled. He’s always getting into trouble. I believe he wants to be clean and sober, but the temptations of Hollywood hold him back. If I’ve heard the story once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. Good luck, my friend. Or should I say, “Break a leg?” How do I know he was up to no good? Well, the city erected permanent road blocks along my street which is parallel with Hollywood Blvd. Does that answer your question? If you are from L.A. then that should clear everything up.

Russell gets rejected. Tries again.

Well, Beers & Lambert rejected my six submissions, but the images were shabby and poorly edited. Simple things were amiss like cropping. It’s embarrassing when I think about it now. But hey! We learn from our mistakes. I’ll never enter a contest so late. By the time they’ve reached the deadline, they’ve decided which pieces they want, and which pieces they don’t want.
But all is not lost, gentle readers! I just submitted 6 new pieces to a show right here in Los Angeles. To be exact, I submitted six pieces to LACDA; that is, the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art. I am crossing my fingers. No! Don’t wish me luck! That is bad luck. If all else fails, just tell me to “break a leg.” I entered their snap to grid show which is not a competition, but rather a fund raiser. I haven’t even picked up my suitable for framing copy of the jpeg that I sent down the pike. C’mon Russell! Here’s the image, for your aesthetic appreciation. All Rights Reserved!


ENDORSEMENT

Tom LaBonge- another hit?

I would like to endorse Stephen Box over Tom LaBonge in the upcoming city election. Mr. Box has shown a sincere commitment to “greening” Los Angeles. He is a bicycle activist which is not always a good thing, but he’s thinking about the future. Most politicians just think about lining their pockets. Go to Mr. Box’s web page and compare it to Lefty Labonge’s. You should notice that there is a lack of hucksteria on Mr. Box’s pages, while Mr. LaBonge wants to scare everybody into space suits and freeze themselves for a good one hundred years, give or take. I wonder if he includes his daughter in his diabolical scheme? Bwah ha ha ha ha! I’m sick of Tom LaBonge. He’s so in the pocket of the developers that it isn’t even worth discussing at this point, and how much of the tax payers’ money is going into putting out those semi-talented calendars that he sends out to his poor constituents every year. Why not use that money to set up a scholarship fund? That would be a nice gesture, dontcha think?

A man with a stylist!

The before and after pictures of Stephen Box are courtesy of City Hall Insider.

2011- Day Two

It really is scary the way time excellerates as one gets older. I’m at that age where they really start to fly by. Hollywood was in the middle of a multi-billion dollar overhaul when the economy tanked. When I moved to Hollywood, over ten years ago that was. It looked quite different than the picture we now see. High end boutiques and trendy restaurants are elbow to elbow with the old stripper wear boutiques, head shops and tattoo parlors.

There’s a W Hotel and Apartments at Hollywood and Vine that nobody can afford. At Sunset and Vine there is a mixed use (apartments, restaurants and shops) structure that takes up an entire long block from Sunset to Selma on the west side of Vine. It’s called Sunset+Vine. How imaginative! These units looks very cheap but cost a fortune. Then at my end of Hollywood, in the heart of tourist land, Hollywood & Highland, the high-end residential stampede is finally grinding to a halt. The Jefferson Project and the McCadden Project are done.

©Russell Smith, Sunset+Vine

Above bears witness to the immense changes that Hollywood has undergone. Across from Sunset+Vine, a Trader Joe’s has just opened up.

An Interesting Holdout, Molly’s

On the NW corner of Selma and Vine

The Jefferson Project in Pictures


As you can see, the Yucca Corridor has been through a lot of changes, or should I say convulsions over the last few years? The last picture may be from the McCadden Project. It’s all ugly and overpriced. Nobody wants to rent it and it’s creepy to watch these multimillion dollar projects sit fallow. Poor city planning results in this kind of crap. And it makes me, for one, very angry. Where is the housing for the poor and middle class? We exist too. I guess this is the part where I wish everybody a Happy New Year. I wish it for the poor and the displaced. The horrible divide in wealth in this country will eventually lead to upheaval if it is not corrected.

Suffer the Children of Jesus Freaks

Or children under the control of Jesus Freaks?

Here is a photo of some underage kids “witnessing” for Christ.

Does he look filled with the spirit? (Click for larger image)

Unless someone is old enough to make adult decisions, like voting or getting married, they should not be asked to proselytize for their religion, especially not in Hollywood, for chrissakes! The only place worse would be downtown Los Angeles. There are already enough wackos, tweekers and mentally ill people who need medication in this ‘hood that makes it a tricky place to drag your child through. These people are taking kids and planting them in one spot, letting the dregs of Hollywood pass them by.

I’ve always been appalled at parents who force their children to go abortion clinics and harass the women who need help inside those doors. It is unconscionable on two levels, first, as I mentioned, they put the child at risk, and secondly they are impeding my progress home when they do that stuff in front of my subway stop, or at the corner that I need to cross. People stop and stare. People stop and argue. People stop and join in. The key word is STOP. When people stop, they muck up the sidewalk traffic; thereby, creating a bit of a public hazard. What if a strong earthquake hits, and people are thrown this way and that? I’d be trampled by the mob. For the women at the birth control clinic, they are being hindered from going to see their doctor. The First Amendment does not protect touching people, and blocking them from medical services that they desperately need.

What about this guy?

I’m pretty sure the man in leather was the person in charge of these kids.

He wants to save your child’s soul? (Click for larger image)

That document box on rollers was where I believe he was storing additional pamphlets, maybe a bible or two, or even other teachings.

Talk about an audible shudder! But even in the first picture, there are some adults standing around the children. Maybe some of them looked like minders, or watchers of the boys. Maybe some were their parents? Who knows? These kids are standing in the middle of a busy corner, holding with a ten foot tall sign that reads, in part, “Believe in Jesus and be Saved.” But the font is more like BELIEVE IN JESUS AND BE SAVED. Ask yourself, “Is this what the average teenager feels like doing on a warm Saturday afternoon?”

Now what I believe to be the scariest part is that there is a cult in Hollywood (not Scientology, okay) whose leader ran afoul of the law on a variety charges ranging from tax evasion to to child molestation. His cult is famous for leaving newspaper-like tracts under your car’s windshield wipers. That’s what makes me wonder about these poor kids. That man is dressed appropriately for any gay bar, even though his face would make a train switch to the dirt road and he’s built like an ice cream cone, of which I’m sure he’s hand more than a few.

What saddens me as well is that these people take advantage of our First Amendment Rights to preach in my face when I want to be left alone. I’m planning on buying a bible. I will get around to it when I can. Purely for reference purposes. My parents gave me one, a King James deluxe, with leather binding and my name embossed on the front. God only knows what happened to it.

Life amongst the ruins

 

Welcome to the Yucca Street corridor!

Existence is probably a better noun to use. The word life connotes a certain joy, a spark of hope, a glimpse of a dream, and at least a shred of dignity. But for the people who live in the Concrete Garden, there is only despair. In addition, for the people around them, there are daily confrontations with fear, vulgarity, hatred, dirtiness. The dream of Hollywood is a tiny diamond amongst a whole beach of plain sand. For the majority, some kind of life is put together – acting classes, camaraderie, the occasional part in a play in one of those tiny theaters on Santa Monica Blvd., or even a part in a commercial! Then there’s the waiting of tables, or being a barísta at a she-she coffee house. One out of thousands gets a lucky break, most just end up going back to school, others find niches all of their own – after all, actors are creative people and some of them are actually talented, at acting and other things as well. It’s a tough life, but as the saying states, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” The people you will meeting in today’s post aren’t tough. They are idiots.

Some of us Hollywoodlians, I daresay, the majority don’t even think about a career in the business, as it is called here in Los Angeles. These people just call Hollywood home. They live in crappy apartments; they live in really nice apartments; a few even live in just okay apartments. I’m a bit of a snob. I like being from Hollywood, despite the reputation that it has of flop-houses and crack heads. Sometimes the reputation is well earned, and tonight was one of those nights when the reality of the dangers of Hollywood hit home, too close to home for comfort.

I call this first video, “The party begins.” Earlier in the day, cops came and rousted two young men from the abandoned lot at the northwest corner of Yucca and Las Palmas. The night before a group of six (5 males and 1 girl) slept in the lot. There are mattresses and couches that provide ample sleeping accommodations for the none-too-picky. The two who remained were late sleepers, I guess, but they were told to shove off, and off they went. This is the whole pack returning. They know I’m recording them from up above, so they move their party furniture against the western wall of the lot in hopes of avoiding my camera. Nice try, idiots.

 

 

 

 

The block of Yucca between Las Palmas and Highland has been squirming under the heal of gentrification for three years now. Potholes that look like they were torn by ice glaciers work in concert with the loud noises of construction, and inconvenience of heavy machinery blocking access to everything, to create an atmosphere of fatalism. When will it be our turn to be forced to pack up and move out? In this next video, our revelers get out of hand. The footage is shocking and I’ve given it a PG-13 rating. The rating is for violence. At first the video is a bit unclear and shaky, but be patient and stick with it. You won’t be disappointed. The woman in the foreground is being restrained by two men and in the background, three men are fighting tooth and nail. The woman apparently wants to come to the assistance of somebody, but the other two men explain to her that it’s a “man thing” and she wouldn’t understand, and mustn’t intervene. Please allow me to clarify one thing. It’s not a “man thing.” It’s an “idiot’s thing.” You have to be an idiot to understand their behavior. A drunken, violent idiot at that.

Let me end this post with a few brief words. Of course it is the responsibility of the owner of this lot to secure it in a manner that keeps the riff-raff out. It is the duty of the police, on the other hand, to secure peace and the rule of law. How did they respond to this situation? Poorly, as usual. I called the 9-1-1 dispatcher twice about this situation. The first time, the person I spoke with said that there had been other calls and that units were on the way. I waited over ten minutes then called again. The second person said that nobody else but me had called (a lie). I know she was lying because she read me information that I never gave the first dispatcher that I spoke with. She asked me if I wanted to leave my name and number. I said, “NO!” Because of the last incident, when the cops treated me threateningly, but then I said, “I know you have that information already.” With a curt, “Fine!” she disconnected our conversation. One measly unit finally showed up. It was pitch dark which necessitated the use of flashlights. It looked to me as if they took the drunkest and/or most beat up of the bunch, set him underneath a tree and called an ambulance for him. Job done! Was anybody arrested for trespassing, assault, public intoxication, or anything at all? To my war weary eyes, the answer seems, “No.”