Just my luck! I’ve been trying to get to Los Angeles ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I wanted to see the rocks the Lone Ranger rode through at the start of every television show. I wanted to ride by the Republic Studios where all those great westerns were made. I wanted to pet the MGM lion. I wanted to drive down Wilshire Boulevard and pretend I was Sergeant Joe Friday working “homicide out of day watch” searching for “just the facts, ma’am”. I finally make it…..on the exact same day that every person in America that owns an automobile decided to drive into the famed City of Angles!
People, I’m on an eight lane freeway that is completely stopped. I didn’t see any smoke up ahead. Tom Cruise wasn’t filming a chase scene as far as I could tell. There was no turned over tanker truck spewing forth toxic waste. I could believe two or three lanes on a busy day; or four lanes if there was major construction; or maybe six lanes on a Friday afternoon. But eight lanes? And none of them moving!
What kind of place is this? I’d purposely chosen mid-morning on Monday to avoid any rush. I wondered how quiet it must be in Denver, Chicago and Los Vegas with no cars on their streets. I went to studying the drivers around me. Maybe I could spot Bruce Willis or Yvonne DeCarlo.
We did inch by the John Wayne Airport. That didn’t seem right to me. You ought to name a horse ranch after the Duke; or a high mesa overlooking the town; or even an army base would be acceptable……but I don’t remember many John Wayne airport movies.
On Tuesday afternoon we made it to Sunset Boulevard and started towards downtown. I just thought I’d been in some traffic! Whew, you talk about a fish out of water. And I can’t believe how those drivers blow their horns at you. We passed Rodeo Drive without even glancing over. The last thing on earth I needed was a three hundred dollar pair of sequined jeans.
We drove right through the middle of Beverly Hills. I couldn’t see one house for all the tall hedges and high stone fences. And when I found out the “tour of the stars’ homes” didn’t include where Randolph Scott used to live, I wasn’t interested. I did ask the girl selling the tickets if she could kindly point out the Jed Clampett mansion but that didn’t even get a flicker out of her. She had a script in her hand and she was sticking to it. She allowed that she wasn’t going to be working on this tour much longer. Her acting career was just about to take off. She had a boyfriend who had a cousin who knew a guy that once worked for Steven Spielberg.
That Sunset Boulevard goes on “for a while”! I had Cathy looking out for a Cracker Barrel. There is nothing that will make you hungrier than sitting in stalled traffic all day. Sweet tea is more elusive out here than Cracker Barrels. You can get it hot. You can get it cold without sugar. You can get it with ginger and raspberry. You probably could get it with fruits and nuts…..but Cathy told me not to write that down. You just can’t get it like your mother used to make it!
We did drive by a place named “The Smokehouse Restaurant, Video Store and Laundry Mat” but we didn’t see it until it was too late. And turning around wasn’t an option! Those folks must have moved here from Tennessee, or Alabama. They would have at least heard of sweet tea!
Cathy spotted a Chick-fil-A and I crossed over two lanes and made what probably was an unlawful turn into an all night discotheque parking lot. We ran back a block and a half to get a chicken salad sandwich and some waffle fries. The nice cashier told us how to get to the Hollywood sign and also let us know right quick that she wouldn’t be “taking chicken orders” much longer. She gave us her name twice and told us to remember it. Her ex mother-in-law was dating a guy whose sister was formerly married to an executive at Orion Pictures.
I thought about asking for a job at the discotheque. That’s how much I did not want to get back into that car! Apparently Sgt. Friday and Officer Gannon filmed there street scenes in a back lot somewhere.
I did some serious soul searching and hard “life” pondering looking up at that big “Hollywood” sign spread ostentatiously across the hill side. I considered “cool” and “suave” versus “hick” and “naive”. I grew up in a small West Tennessee town. We were not chic by any stretch of the imagination. We couldn’t even spell “hip”. We were about as plain and country as we could get. No airs. No pretense. No highfalutin ideas.
But we didn’t have to put a giant, lighted sign up on the hill to remind us where we lived.
Glad To Be Home,