Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Will Smith Day

Dateline: December 10th, 2007 - Hollywood, CA

With a tense excitement, hundreds of people line Hollywood Boulevard to pay homage to one of the greats. We now have confirmation of his greatness because today Will Smith's hands and feet will be immortalized in the cement sidewalk of Grauman's Chinese Theater.

Only the Hollywood A-list is allowed in the near proximity of the honoree, so I waited with the masses along the opposite side of the street. All's quiet on the southern front before Mr. Smith arrives. Each position this side of the barricade is guarded carefully for the view it affords. But at the moment there's nothing much to see--no stars here.

Then someone in the crowd starts yelling, "Tom! Tom! Tom!" The vocalist is joined by a handful of others, all shouting in choreographed unison. Following brief confusion, the pedestrian crowd realizes they are yelling toward Tom Cruise who has matriculated into the crowd across the street. As you can see from the 12-times zoomed pictures, these starry-eyed observers have a finely honed skill for picking out a celebrity at 500 paces. But never once did they succeed in getting Mr. Cruise to acknowledge their bellows.

Excitement peaked as a large, black SUV pulled up in the reserved space along the curb. No limo for this modest actor. The crowd cheers. Everyone is leaning over the strangers next to them to see around the vehicle and glimpse their first sight of the star. The deep amplified voice of the MC says nothing important, but in just the right ways to make everyone even more excited. The door opens, the crowd cheers, and out comes a small dog. The SUV drives away.

No one is really quite sure what happened, but disappointment is unanimous. Was this a joke? That Will Smith--he's such a kidder. But wait, here comes an identical SUV: sleek, black and oh-so-LA. Again the MC states the obvious with that professionally honed, booming voice. In mindless Hollywood fashion, the screaming continues. This time, it's for good reason. Will Smith rockets out of the car.

Taking incredibly large steps, Mr. Smith strides across the red carpet in Olympic time. He shook a couple hands but it didn't slow him down. Greeting a few particular people before taking the stage, Will kindly acknowledges the gathered crowds with an in-character hand to the ear. Then even before saying "thank you" or anything of the sort, he cups the mic close and begins a beat box, bouncing to the rhythm and pointed a craned arm in classic rapper style. Some things never change.

The crowd is completely under the spell of this classy entertainer as he speaks. The best actors in this town gain fame in their field by talent and luck. Today Will Smith is honored for not only rising to the top of the big-screen names, but his acclaim stretches across the music industry and TV screen as well. So the MC and self proclaimed mayor of Hollywood has it easy as he lauds the praises of this honored guest.

Following a non-literary, somewhat rambling, idealistic speech where he said that he wanted to use his fame and position to "change the world," Will set foot on the wet cement. Once finished, the MC again praises Mr. Smith, but this time for his penmanship and lack of errors in signing his name. (Apparently, they set the bar pretty low for Hollywood stars.) Continuing the gratuitous adulation, the "Mayor of Hollywood" declares this the best message any star has ever left in the cement in all the history of Grauman's Chinese theater: "Change the world."

For his final act as honorary mayor of Hollywood, the MC declares that "today is Will Smith Day throughout all Hollywood." The crowds cheer and Will poses for pictures with family, friends, and other honored guests. After losing sight of the star in the crowd of now semi-ordinary people across the street, I turn and walk down the walk of fame to spend this holiday in much the usual way.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Did you know you can open a Champagne bottle with a sword? Or in the absence of the real thing, even a small kitchen knife will work. Watch where you point that thing!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Paying Attention

Walking home one rainy night in Hollywood, I took this sad picture on the front steps of a local church...

The very next night, I took this picture...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Hooray for Hollywood

Hollywood is quaint in ways all its own. I'm staying with an "actress" who lives right in the heart of all the action in Hollywood: just off of Hollywood Blvd. So this morning was like every other morning...

After waking up at noon (because we were out until 4am again last night), I wanted some coffee. A stone's throw out the front door and I'm walking with all the tourists along the Walk of Fame. The first Starbucks I found was way too busy, so on to the next one.

Along the way, I walk by the famous Grauman's Chinese Theater where only the most famous of Hollywood stars' handprints are set in concrete by the entrance. Next up: the Kodak Theater where many of the "Best Actor/Actress" Oscar winners have their stars. The fun thing about this little stretch is that at every hour of the day or night, you can find street performers dressed as Superheros or movies stars or some other character. This morning, Batman decided to walk with me for a bit. Yeah... we're tight. In this town, it's all about who you know.

Of course, it's often hard to tell who the real street performers are and who the crazy people are. There are many! And they can be found in much the same places: talking to no one on the streets, sneaking up behind you in line, or in Starbucks--but the street performers are usually on the other side of the counter.

So here I sit, sipping my coffee at a corner Starbucks. Across one street, the Children line up in front of a faux winter wonderland for the chance to sit on L. Ron Hubbard's lap and tell him what they want for Christmas and how much their parents are willing to donate to "the cause" for them to get it.

Across the other street is a Frederick's of Hollywood store--actually in Hollywood. Lingerie shops can be found in abundance here. This town is amazing because in Hollywood, even the store manikins have breast implants. Gotta admit: they know their market.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hollywood To-Do List

Tourist things to do while in Hollywood:
- See the famous Hollywood sign
- Photograph a movie star against their will
- Tour a movie studio
- Write a screenplay
- Go on strike
- Get plastic surgery
- Buy some REALLY big sunglasses
- Carve my name into a blank star on the Walk of Fame
- Flake on plans with friends
- Hand prints in cement
- Buy a white Bronco; Drive it down the freeway
- Witness and/or participate in a drive-by
- Buy a house; watch it burn
- Go insane; cuss at the wind incessantly
- Convert to Scientology