November 29, 2004

Hollywood: My Hometown

Of course it’s not like the postcards say it is. It’s not glamour everywhere you look. I should know. I live here. This is my town.

Peter Appleton

The Majestic starring Jim Carrey

The Majestic (Quicktime Movie, 4.3 MB)

I was born in Hollywood. And I have a love/hate relationship with the city.

When, at 18, I left LA for first time everyone at my Midwest college wanted to know what the hell I was doing there. “When you’re 18 everyone’s home is a prison,” I would reply in my teenage proto-philosopher persona. Everyone knew LA. But I knew nothing about the rest of the world.

It’s been exactly twenty years since I left the last time. And, while I make pilgrimages back, it can never be the same. How could it? The city is in a constant state of flux.

There is history in Los Angeles. But something twenty years old is “historic.” You have to look hard to see real history. You have to want to look to really find it. The world’s vision of my hometown has been formed from our television and films. It’s unreal, of course. It’s not my history and not true on the whole. But I see vestiges of my life every now and then up on that silver screen.

Last week I tivo’ed The Majestic —a “Capraesque” film staring Jim Carrey as Peter Appleton, a blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter in the early 1950s. Not surprisingly, I’m attracted to movies that take place in Southern California just before and during the time I grew up. Chinatown, L.A. Confidential, Mulholland Drive, and Blade Runner (not quite childhood memories but it’s becoming more realistic with every passing year): these portrayals mix with my past to form my memories.

As the opening credits began to roll my interest peaked as I began to see vintage postcards of the city gently fall down the screen. Wouldn’t it be great if one of them was the one I had used on my Web site? Just as I finished that thought there it was!

Click on the image above to see the opening title sequence from The Majestic. “My” postcard is the fifth one.

…the movies. Everybody loves the movies. Which makes Hollywood everybody’s town.

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