The Hollywood Sign’s Big Facelift, and GPS Whac-A-Mole

October 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Hollywood Sign on Sept. 21, 2012/Hope Anderson Productions

Today marks the beginning of a major renovation of the Hollywood Sign, the most extensive in the 34 years since it was rebuilt. The Sign will be stripped of paint, pressure-washed and repainted, a process that will take 10 weeks.

It needs it. When I was up there being filmed (legally!) in June*, I was struck by its weathered condition, most of it the result of graffiti and attempts to paint over it.

In other Hollywood Sign news, Hollywoodland residents have been dismayed to find that Apple Maps–for all its mistakes–directs tourists up the very streets that have been the scene of total gridlock and collisions. The situation had been getting better, thanks to the efforts of individuals and homeowners’ groups to persuade Google, Mapquest and other GPS providers to feature other, safer routes toward the Sign. Along comes the iPhone 5 and the software update for other Apple phones to undo all of that. While no one who lives near the Sign wants to deprive people of a photo opportunity, this residential neighborhood of narrow streets and blind curves is not the place for it. Having narrowly escaped several head-on collisions with cars driven by non-residents, I can only hope that Apple will respond to our pleas and do something. Our safety depends on it.


Hollywood Sign Mania: The Week in Review

March 12, 2011 § 1 Comment

A few Sundays ago, my visiting sister–after countless cars roared by the house on their way towards the Sign–remarked, “I couldn’t care less about seeing the Hollywood Sign.” If only more people felt the same way.

Since the “Hollywood Sign Scenic View” signs came down, GPS-enabled gridlock has returned to a certain Hollywoodland street. For those who haven’t seen the YouTube video from last weekend, here’s a link:  

A couple of warm days have given us a taste of the chaos to come in tourist traffic. Yesterday at about 4:30pm, I was driving up Beachwood by the Glens when a woman in pink not only ran into traffic but zig-zagged through moving cars in both lanes, shrieking and laughing as she was photographed. I hit the horn and then the brakes, but she was still running around in the street as I passed. I can only assume this is a Sign-induced variation on Stendahl Syndrome, and I pray it’s not catching.

Apres le Video/Hope Anderson Productions

Later, after finishing a hike, I came upon the following shoots wrapping up on Mulholland Highway: a music video featuring a French male singer and two female back-ups, and one featuring a guy in what appeared to be a bear suit. Except perhaps for the bear suit, none of this was unusual. Earlier in the week, as I dodged tourists at the Lake Hollywood Lookout, I nearly ran over a photographer who was in the street shooting a model in a vintage convertible. The convertible blocked Mulholland Highway at the intersection of Canyon Lake Drive, creating a very dangerous situation for cars moving in both directions. Naturally, there was no one directing traffic. As none of these people pay fees of any kind–film crews of six or fewer people are exempt from permits, and still photography doesn’t require them–shoots like these go on every day. 

Last but not least, someone is giving the Hollywood Sign the scholarly treatment–and explaining its magical powers of attraction. As three people, including one in Wisconsin, have emailed me about this lecture by Leo Braudy at the Architecture + Design Museum this afternoon, I feel compelled to attend: 

The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon
Hollywood’s famous sign, constructed of massive white block letters set into a steep hillside, is an emblem of the movie capital it looms over and an international symbol of glamour and star power.  To so many who see its image, the sign represents the earthly home of that otherwise ethereal world of fame, stardom and celebrity–the goal of American and worldwide aspiration to be in the limelight, to be, like the Hollywood sign itself, instantly recognizable.  Leo Braudy is currently University Professor and Leo S. Bing Chair in English and American Literature at the University of Southern California and was recently inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Saturday, March 12, 2011 – 5:00pm to 8:00pm

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