Issue: Issue Summer 2005

An Insider’s Guide to Why We Love Living in Hollywood

The Hollywood area is a great place to live. Great if you are an artist, writer, actor or in any of the creative disciplines - because Hollywood inspires. Here the creative spirit wafts through the air along with the Santa Ana winds. My Westside friends are envious that I live in Hollywood. Tamara Rawitt is the Emmy Award winning co-creator of In Living Color, “Us devout Westsiders hold ourselves hostage out here under the guise of “good air”. What good is breathing it when you’re bored to death? For most of us, going way east is an effort. But once we’re in Hollywood, we instantly feel hipper and alive. The Eastside is like a B-12 shot for our botoxed frontal lobes!” All photo art by Anita Rosenberg HOLLYWOOD HIP What is hip – tell me, tell me – what is hip? In Hollywood, cool and trendy are fickle bedfellows. They never said being a trendsetter was easy. And in Hollywood keeping up with the Joneses can be exhausting. There is a definite crowd of scene makers. First you’ve got the twenty-somethings who jumpstart the new clubs and restaurants. I witnessed this first hand at the elusive Concord on Ivar, which until recently was a gaudy strip club with plaster nudie statues out front. My cousin had a corner booth reserved for her 28th birthday. Bottles of everything pretentious and expensive were chilling on ice. I danced to music I probably would have turned off had it come on the radio. And when I was ready to leave about 11:30, the action was just beginning. I stayed to people watch and could name every teen actor from the WB. And in the harsh light of the ladies room, standing next to a ten-foot tall Amazon model, I couldn’t deny my 40-ish reality. Fortunately, for us who live in the ‘hood, Hollywood offers plenty of alternative scenes. Even though we might be older than the cast from “That 70’s Show” we still like to get our groove on! A wild night for us might consist of a delicious meal with good friends at favorite haunts. The “locals” rule of thumb is to go out on the weekdays – weekends are for tourists. Gaye Hirsch is an executive at C/W Productions and producer of features “Shattered Glass” and “Suspect Zero”. “Moving East has been an eye-opening experience. I love that people are out in the streets at all hours. I love the energy and spirit. I love that you can get food after 10pm!” A few of my favorites are: Musso and Franks which ranks up there as one of the best places to dine in Hollywood with a totally authentic vibe. Charlie Chaplin and Raymond Burr had their own tables. The oldest restaurant in Hollywood has original décor and original waiters. There are three Manuels, a Sergio, Juan and Antonio (who has been there 57 years). Paladar is Hollywood’s answer to a night in Havana. An evening there brings back all the sultry salsa memories of my recent trip to Cuba. Even Papa Hemingway would be proud. La Poubelle is the chic French bistro on the Franklin strip notorious for wild tabletop dancing after midnight. You can test your high school French with owner Jacquie and her beautiful daughter Francoise. A little slice of Parisian life awaits near Beachwood Canyon. The hot new Mexican restaurant Velvet Margareta Cantina is an homage to Latin culture with a Day of the Dead theme. My new favorite place offers a signature “velvet margarita” served up in a giant pineapple. If you are lucky enough to catch Carlos on the turntables, his eclectic taste in music is a real treat. Hollywood is the dream machine and fantasy is our playground. We are living in the land of ultra kitsch and hipishly tacky. Who can top the Tiki Ti where a foaming volcano drink is a must. This tiny bar is a throwback to when Polynesian décor dominated the California landscape and everyone was throwing backyard tiki parties. And then there’s the Chinese themed, Good Luck Bar, brainchild of kingpin of cool, Sean McPherson. Look closely enough and you might see Suzi Wong sipping a Mai Tai at the bar. It’s the end of the night and you are exhausted, but you have one more pit stop in you before bed – the Bourgoise Pig coffee house. With its black painted walls, strange art and torn couches, you will experience what Hollywood bohemia is all about. Have a decaf and a brownie and call it a night. WEEKEND HOLLYWOOD And then there are those Hollywood weekends. Working hard all week writing screenplays for episodes of “The Simpsons” (neighbor Matt Selman) or shooting your “Surreal Chef” cooking show (neighbor Bob Blumer) you need to cut lose and relax. Hollywood is packed full of fun weekend activities and at the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market you are likely to run into Forest Whitaker or Rachel Griffith from Six Feet Under. Hike up a mountain (Hollywood has plenty to choose from) or jog around Lake Hollywood. The popular hike in Runyon takes 45 minutes and the view is spectacular. Or you can step out your front door with your bipod, your pooch or a pal. According to Matt Selman, co-executive producer of “The Simpsons” and winner of 3 Emmys, “Beachwood is perhaps the perfect place to live in Hollywood. It’s near all the major studios (except the one I happen to work at), and the Sunday Farmer’s Market sells paella. The houses in Beachwood are often former 1920’s religious cult compounds and you can always run over tourists taking pictures of the Hollywood sign in the middle of the street.” CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD Hollywood of old had its movie stars, glamour and Errol Flynn’s wild parties! In the “new” Hollywood, the corner of Hollywood and Vine is just that – a corner. You might not get discovered at the new Schwab’s at Sunset and Vine, but you will get a great chocolate shake and an entirely new scene is developing at the Sunset & Vine apartments above. Nearby the Cinerama Dome is still the best theatre to watch a movie and there’s lots to choose from at the ultra modern Arclight Theatre Complex. If you know where to look, there are plenty of classic landmarks left. That’s another reason why we love living in Hollywood. The grand theatres of Hollywood are the way movies were meant to be experienced and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre is the grand daddy of all movie theatres.. Across the street is the El Capitan and further down the boulevard is the Egyptian with American Cinematheque’s vast array of eclectic film offerings. In Hollywood its easy to go see a film and get swept up in another time – another place. Looming above it all, the classic icon Hollywood Sign is rich with history. In 1932, actress Peg Entwistle got disillusioned with her movie career, threw herself off the H and for that is remembered to this day. Some might call this a perfect Hollywood ending. There is a misconception about Hollywood. Tourists stroll down the Boulevard expecting to run into Jennifer Aniston or George Clooney. I’m sorry to say, it’s just not going to happen. For, Hollywood is a “state of mind” and although they live, play and work here, the most stars you’ll see are embedded in its sidewalk. However, it’s said that the ghost of Lon Chaney (“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “The Phantom of the Opera”) was once regularly spotted sitting at a bus stop at Hollywood and Vine. It’s the local lore of Hollywood that is constantly evolving and continually being added to with each new triumph or tragedy that keeps the edge honed on this most interesting, intriguing and complex of neighboorhoods. There are lots of us who love living in Hollywood and wouldn’t have it any other way. There are plenty of things to do. There are lots of interesting and creative people to meet. From the ethnic food and eccentric characters to the movie premieres and Walk of Fame ceremonies. There are parades and Saturday night cruising. You can stay in or you can go out. So, if you come across town or across the country to visit us – be prepared to have an altered state of mind. Hollywood is being revamped and those of us who have been here for years are here to stay. I live in Hollywood and love it! Anita Rosenberg is an artist, filmmaker, author, photographer and Feng Shui consultant living and working in the Hollywood Hills. She wrote, produced and directed cult classic films, “Assault of the Killer Bimbos” and “Modern Girls”. Her late 80’s film “Modern Girls” was about her life going to nightclubs in Hollywood and looking for guys! Anita’s book, The Art of Painted Furniture and the paperback, Fanciful Furniture has made her a popular guest on home improvement TV shows. When Anita is not on an exotic trip taking photographs and making art, she is cruising to all her favorite Hollywood haunts.