I love movies and television. I love traveling. I live a three-hour plane ride from Los Angeles. So now I'm wondering what took me so long to finally get there.
I recently made my first trip, a short one, and there's so much more I want to see and do. Go to some great theatre. Catch a taping of a television show. Visit more of the tourist landmarks like Mann's Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood sign. Go to the beach and see the Santa Monica pier. Win the lottery and actually shop on Rodeo Drive instead of pressing my nose against the windows after the stores are closed.
So that's what I didn't do and must plan for next time (especially the lottery part). What I did do was get that thrill from seeing pop cultural touchstones become actual personal memories, not just memories once removed through the collective memory of film and fiction. I walked down Rodeo Drive. OK, the shops were closed, but I was there. I saw Sunset Drive, Santa Monica Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard, the Hollywood Hills, and drove on a little slice of Route 66. All these names I've had in my head since childhood, because movies and television put them there, and now I have actual personal associations with them, too. We passed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences building â€“ it's fairly hideous, but c'mon, they're the Oscars people.
This trip brought back memories of my one-and-so-far-only trip to New York City back in 1993. That was when I learned Times Square isn't really square and, driving down from Quebec in order to get there, that Rhode Island isn't really an island (before you point the finger of stupidity at me, Americans, think for a moment about the brainiac who named the state). My friends and I arrived two days after the World Trade Center had been attacked â€“ as I have to say now: "you know, the first time" â€“ and there it stood before us like the evening news.
The Empire State Building conjured up images of King Kong and other films — and little else since fog obscured the famed view of the city. There was the Statue of Liberty, a real concrete statue, not just an image on celluloid. I was thrilled to listen to David Letterman's monologue in person even though his guests were the unimpressive-to-me Raquel Welch and Nigel Mansell. I sat in a darkened theatre watching a mediocre play and felt excited and privileged because it was Broadway. These were concepts that were more familiar to me than some cities I'd lived in because I'd seen them all so many times onscreen.