Sparkling new Hollywood high rises inch ever closer these days to long-cherished landmarks like the Capitol Records Building, eclipsing these beloved icons with their towering shadow. It’s the end of an era. But after living amid this upsurge of change for quite a while, I also recognize it’s the end of a long era of striving to keep the entertainment capitol of the world inside a 1950’s value system.
Oh, I must tell you that when the construction boom boomed onto the scene about 5 years ago, I was not amused. Like a swarm of bees, big rigs and cement mixers claimed dominion over the streets of Hollywood leaving local traffic ever more in the dust. But most disturbing was that all this development pushed on while unemployment and homelessness were ever growing problems. I just kept asking, “Who the fuck is going to live in all these buildings?” I feared the answer involved another swarm of influx activity that would basically push people like me out of the area permanently. And it yet may.
Unlike New York City, Hollywood has historically kept a cap on growth. Well, to be more accurate, the height of growth. Among the biggest reasons for keeping the landscape low to the ground has been the cherished Hollywood Sign. Like the multitudes who have cried out in response to Hollywood’s ever escalating skyline, I sure hated to see that symbol of the city get hidden behind stacks of apartment complexes. I’ve got to tell you though — as a resident of Hollywood and a former art director who used to create products for tourist destinations — once you check Capitol Records and the Hollywood Sign off your list of landmarks, you’ve pretty much seen it around here.
As said art director, I can’t count how many times I’ve had to scrape together all sorts of Los Angeles places into a single montage and call it “Hollywood”. So I guess, even without realizing it, for the longest time there’s been a thought in the back of my head that something needs to liven this place up.
An impromptu stroll down history lane recently showed me to what extent just such a ‘livening’ is in progress. I came upon the 1920's photo I’m sharing here of the Franklin Hills area in and around Hollywood. What caught my eye was one of the earliest structures built in the area, the Shakespeare Bridge completed in 1926. New Year’s Day of 2000 I was busy moving into a 1960’s apartment building just steps away from that enchanted bridge. This got me to thinking about those years and the incredible way I came to live not just at the Shakespeare Bridge but several other points on the map steeped in history.
Around 1994-95, after several years of meditating daily, I began asking questions during mediation and perceiving visual answers. Upon asking where it would serve me best to move, I got a vivid image of a wooden slat roof with a grove of trees peeking up from just behind it. Long, winding story short, turned out to be a loft with cathedral ceilings, a view of the Hollywood Hills, and was well below market price.
From there, it was revealed my next apartment had a patio carved out of the hillside behind it. This would prove to be the Shakespeare Bridge apartment. From there I was led to a 1930’s place at the foot of the expansive Griffith Park. And the trailblazing didn’t end there as I wound up in Monrovia, one of the earliest towns in LA County and where a series of events led my grandfather to spend his childhood before returning to the homestead in the South.
Though I am now back in Hollywood, the Monrovia leg of my journey would prove key to recognizing the haunting relevance of every place I have been guided to live. I am in the final stages of preparing a life’s work that had its physical beginnings in that Shakespeare Bridge setting. There is an almost inexplicable thread that runs through my work and these landmarks. It all smacks of past life stuff. Yet my big project has been shown to have come from a ‘future me’. There’s a connection, though. Somebody contact Albert Einstein… I’m pretty sure he'd understood the dynamics I’m talking about.
Among the photos from the past that I came upon was this one just prior to the construction of the Capitol Records Building. There’s something about these era-shifting photos that strikes a deep chord in me. I can hear the same types of outcries that are going on today as that 101 Freeway under development here began tearing through the 'Hollywoodland' township.
And then what I’m sure was considered a terrifying freeway was followed closely in 1956 by - I would venture to guess - the then ’crazy’ Capitol building, marking the end of a cherished era steeped in 1920’s thinking.
I wanted to share with you my adventures in meditating and moving because among the ideas these journeys have left me with is that there is some kind of urging to keep life moving forward. I feel I was urged to get back to some of these places that resonated with me on a deep level for the purpose of taking some kind of process even further. Call it unfinished business, call it a life mission, but whatever it is an urge to grow and advance is at the root of it all.
What I can’t help but see now when I look out upon an ever-expanding Hollywood is the very essence of life teeming to be here. Every one of us is cramming in here for important reasons. Reasons almost assuredly above and beyond what we have in mind. But whatever the reasons or the motivations, vortices like these are mighty exhilarating places to be.
Different scenarios seen from opposite ends of the spectrum every time you turn a page. You're about to be turned on to the deeper hues of life. There's even an index of topics.