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My Cross Street Rocks!

And at all hours!

© Russell Smith, 2011

Every Sunday to Thursday evening, they’re out there, pulling over scofflaws- people who run stop signs, exceed 25 mph in a residential area and drivers under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol (DUI). Hollywood, in case you haven’t heard, is a cesspool of homelessness, drugs, crime and tourists. They’ve opened up so many nightclubs that on the weekends it is DUI heaven up in here. And you can quote me on that. The cops don’t really enforce the law, so much as pick up the pieces of people who need some repairs, whether it’s their bodies, their cars or both. The sound of the ghetto birds cheers the heart all through the weekend, along with its close friend the siren-bird whose lilting dulcet sounds can be heard all over Hollywood every night of the week.

© Russell Smith, 2011


There he is, our propellor-driven friend, keeping the skies and streets of Hollywood safe.

© Russell Smith, 2011

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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

Hooray, hooray, hooray

Who needs hallucinogens when you live in a ‘hood like Hollywood?

© Russell Smith, 2011

There’s always a friendly face to greet you when you de-subway at the Hollywood & Highland stop on the demonic Red Line. It cracks me up that the guy doesn’t even mention MSNBC. This picture would thrill the pants off of Rupert Murdoch, who is busy putting out a big fire in England. Let me tell you. This guy was proud of his sign. Please forgive my unfortunate use of the word crack!

© Russell Smith, 2011

I hate Madame Tussaud’s! Their figures are not wax. They are plastic. Check out the guy getting his jollies looking at the Asian woman’s body, while she is obliviously taking a picture. (You have to click on the images to get a larger view). Busted! I love candid photography.

© Russell Smith, 2011

Hollywood is larger than life. Life is larger than life, so Hollywood is larger than itself. Sometimes I get sick of all the tourists and crackheads but it really is an amazing place to live. Where else can I buy ashtrays with the Hollywood Walk of Fame on the bottom? There’s been a multi-billion dollar renovation of the town. Hundreds of new overpriced apartment units have gone up. It seems as though the character of the place really is changing. I heard a man once say that “In ten years, Hollywood will look just like Manhattan.” The last time I was in Manhattan I saw a lot of Starbucks, GAPs, and all the rest of the homogenizing chains. But I get what he’s saying. Hollywood will be expensive, flashy with restaurants and nightclubs, goody-goody with its overpriced organic food distributors. Über-gentrification might be a good name for the process.

I am posting once a week in 2011

I’ve decided that I want to post more in 2011. For this blog, I am participating in the postaweek contest; that is, I will post one blog per week for the Hollyblog. I’ve also subscribed to the Daily Post, in the hopes that it will help me along the way. I also hope to make use of the community of other bloggers.

If you already read my blog, I appreciate comments, stars, ideas and encouragement along the way.

Signed,

Russell Smith

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. Farley Granger

Cropped screenshot of Farley Granger from the ...

Image via Wikipedia

Who will be three?

Everyone knows the adage “Bad things come in threes.” Well, poor Liz Taylor passed away just six days ago. Now Farley Granger has gone to that big movie lot in the sky. Just yesterday, Granger died at the age of 85 “from natural causes,” according to Wikipedia. Between Wikipedia and IMDB, one can put together a pretty good bio in five hundred words or less. He was born on the best coast, San José, California in 1925. Best remembered for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock: Rope (1948) and Strangers on a Train (1951).

Immediately after graduating from high school, Granger caught the eye of Sam Goldwyn. (I wonder how that worked.) He was cast in a few small roles, but then joined the Army and served his country in World War II. His longtime partner (since 1963), Robert Calhoun, collaborated with Farley on his 2007 memoir “Include Me Out: My Life from Goldwyn to Broadway“. Granger worked with many great actors and actresses during a long career that didn’t end until 2001. From David Niven to Anne Bancroft, Granger worked with a host of old timey, great performers. He also managed carve out a career in the Italian movie industry. While he never broke out into superstar status, his resumé is one that any parent would be proud of.

I don’t know if he ever weighed in on the gays in the military. The fact that I’ve never heard of Granger’s involvement in any kind of gay rights activism seems to say more about the era in which he was born and raised, rather than about him. Like Rock Hudson, he was a heart-throb whose career was dependent on something of a macho image. Unlike Hudson, Granger could act. He scored a brief career comeback with Ira Levin’s “Deathtrap,” in 1980. He is quoted as saying that he enjoyed watching movies, but didn’t like making them. That’s a sad statement. Maybe he would have been better off as a Catholic priest?

I have never felt the need to belong to any exclusive, self-defining or special group. I find it difficult to answer questions about ‘gay life’ in Hollywood when I was living and working there. There were, of course, gay cliques, but I had no close friends who belonged to any of them, and I had no desire to become involved with any of them … I was never ashamed, and I never felt the need to explain or apologize for my relationships to anyone. –Farley Granger

Arrivederci, Farley. It sounds as though you may have had a touch of self-loathing going on. I can’t say that I’m going to run to the nearest book store to buy your memoirs, but I’ve provided a link to Amazon, where you can buy a copy, if you are so inclined. I hope your passing was easy. Now we are all left with the question, “Who will be number three?” Because bad things always, always come in three’s.

Hitchcock directed Granger in two movies



Below: His star on Vine, on the east side across from the Hollywood Plaza Hotel.

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