Friday, August 30, 2013, was Day 76 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.
Hollywood is noted for its glitz and glam, but there is a dark, seamy side as well. The stark contrast from the main entrance of the music venue on Hollywood Boulevard to the alleyway behind it (where we unloaded the band’s equipment) was staggering.
A homeless lunatic was mumbling and yelling while dumpster diving in the urine-soaked alley where he had set up a make-shift camp. There was more garbage on the pavement than in the dumpster, accompanied by the stench of human feces. (It is not uncommon to see vagrants relieving themselves on the backstreets of Hollywood.)
While we unloaded the van, a group of inebriated young people ducked into the alley to smoke something from a pipe. One of the guys was totally messed up, belligerent, cussing, and looking for a fight. He threw a beer bottle against the wall of the building and it shattered into pieces. One of his friends said, “Dude, you’re gonna get us in trouble. Let’s get out of here before the cops come.”
They needn’t have worried. There were four L.A.P.D. motorcycle cops right next door eating Shakey’s Pizza, who could’ve cared less about what was going down in that alley.
Once we unloaded the gear, my husband found a piece of cardboard that he used to sweep away the big glass shards from the broken bottle to avoid damaging the tires of our van as we backed out of the alleyway. We parked in a lot around the corner. We had an hour and a half to kill before Raiju performed, and decided to trek down the star-studded Hollywood Walk of Fame.
There were hundreds of people on the boulevard at that time of night, many stopping to take a photo of the star of a favorite celebrity. People of all ages lined up to get into restaurants and venues along the strip. Some were in shorts and tees, others were dressed to the nines. We saw scores of young women in tight dresses and stiletto heels – and actually saw three stumble and almost fall off their shoes. Based on the activity we had just seen in the alley around the corner, we wondered why any young woman would dress in clothes that would prevent her from running away, should the need arise. Apparently, fashion trumps safety.
I think many tourists visit Hollywood expecting a theme-park experience and the sanitation of Disneyland. While there is something alluring and thrilling about moving through the throng of star-searchers on the boulevard, the seedy surroundings make the entire experience surreal.