Sunday, September 25, 2011


I have lived in LA most of my life and have driven to be near the Hollywood (formerly Hollywoodland, to advertise a local real estate development) sign twice, each time when out-of-town visitors asked to go there.  It was never simple (it is not an officially designated monument) and there are fences (depending on the approach).  But GPS has changed the ballgame.  Today's NY Times tells that story ("Stalking the Biggest Star in Hollywood: Its Sign").

Conflicting property rights always makes a good story (if you are not personally involved).  This is where people form opinions and alliances.  It is also where lawmakers and even judges eventually step in.  And even then, there are typically no happy endings.

The Times story mentions one historian who compares the sign to the Eiffel Tower.  My recollection of Y2K events on TV  brings this up.  Coverage followed the advance of the new millenium across the planet.  We got to see some of the celebrations in Sydney, Paris, London, New York -- all of which are easily photogenic.  As the Earth rotated, Y2K came to LA and I started to wonder which will be the photogenic LA icon? 

By this time, the Y2K novelty was receding.  The TV cameras revealed then-Mayor Richard Reardon and some of the local pols standing around the Hollywood sign.  Poor Reardon read the obligatory awkward statement.  Then the cameras went to a line-dancing event at a high school gym in nearby Burbank.

Places like LA and Burbank compete on their own terms. The Grand Manner city planning tradition (Kostof) has come and gone.  If we forget this, we get embarrasing TV coverage as on Y2K.  We also get another tourists-vs-residents conflict as now seen in the Hollywood hills.