Below the Hollywood sign, under the villas on stilts, through the top layer of perpetual haze lies the world’s greatest tourist trap.
Fans, nerds, consumers from all around the world walk the stars. Monuments of the people who play their heroes, immortalized forever. The majority are trounced over, unknown to the zeitgeist. Some are walked around in respect, a few are pissed on, and everyone of them is covered in grime and chewed gum.
Tell him he can go fuck himself for one million. I won’t do it for less than three!
He yells as he shuffles down the street. His toes poking from the shell of a shoe on his left foot, a worn old sock on his right. Shorts in tatters, shirtless with a fluffy parka on. It’s 95 degrees.
If he wants me in the picture then he’s gonna have to sweeten the god-damned deal!
A suburban family jumps at the inflection behind god as they rush past him. Another been there, done that moment to tell around the barbecue. Two worlds intersecting in that small moment, a shocking memory for the kids and just another day to the Dealmaker.
Off he goes, down Hollywood boulevard, still making it big in Tinseltown.
Hollywood is just a neighborhood. A town within a city comprised of towns. All part of a paradise with such a magnetism souls flock en masse. The concrete grows quickly over the grass, baking in that warm California sun. It continues to grow, people pushing people out, farther inland toward the desert, and along the coast.
Freeways wind their way from all vectors, colliding at the shimmering heart of the city. Souls moving along arteries, stories passing stories. Some are arriving, dollar in their pocket and head in the clouds. Others are leaving for greener pastures.
But that’s all above, on the road where people are in motion. Down below, under the overpass — hidden by the interchange — there exists another experience. A life spent in the cracks of an infrastructure that was not ready for rapid expansion. In a place where paradise is promised, yet so difficult to attain the juxtaposition is extreme.
A drunk crashes his six figure car into an RV dwelling family’s home. A rooftop pool party twenty stories above a cluster of tents. Class warfare and its products. While a frat boy pisses off the balcony and cites trickle down economics, a DUI lawyer works a deal. An actress throws a plate of food at an assistant moments after a baby is born in a tent on Skid Row.
A car with Nebraska plates takes the Sunset Boulevard exit. Passing the Dealmaker, still yelling at his agent. Two stories intersecting in that brief moment. Hollywood Hopefuls, listening to that voice in their head. Reassured by those eight holy letters atop the hill, holding hope that one phone call is any day now.
The Dealmaker walks east. Nebraska turns west, a cigarette butt launching from the window. The ashes spark on the asphalt, smoke rises. Adding to the smog. The miasma that is a product of broken dreams, visualized by the brown mist in the sky.
It is an endless afternoon in the land without seasons.
In the smog, just below the villas on stilts, at the base of those eight shimmering letters.
A siren song, transmitted the world round.
Photo by Steven Pahel on Unsplash