Issue: Discover Hollywood Winter 2020

Why I Love Hollywood by Michael Feinstein

Before I quote from the most popular song about Hollywood, let me mention that there a scads of songs about this city: ‘Going Hollywood’, ‘Poor Little Hollywood Star’, ‘Hollywood Party’, ‘Hollywood At Vine’ and so on. But my favorite line is still in the classic and oft sung 1938 anthem “Hooray For Hollywood” because it is still so relevant today: “Hooray For Hollywood, where you’re terrific if you’re even good”. Johnny Mercer and Richard Whiting captured the absurd essence of a town built on hype and featherweight dreams of tinsel with delusions of grandeur. And even though Hollywood will always be a ‘company’ town, there’s a lot more to it than the entertainment industry. My New York friends evidently are honor bound to hate Hollywood, but I love it, and I do mean the physical place. Yes, I also have affection for Manhattan and, perhaps surprisingly, Carmel, Indiana where I spend a lot of time (look it up), but Hollywood remains intoxicating for the same reasons it attracted people over a century ago. There’s something magic in the air, the climate, the energy that makes me think I once lived here in another time, and while I do view a lot of it through a lens of the past, I love this present day town and the unusual offerings just under the radar.

Hollywood offers something special for everyone (even fake snow if you gotta have it) and it’s all there in plain sight if you know where to look. For example, being interested in metaphysics, I fell in love with Beachwood Canyon with its connection to Theosophy and the New Age movement. There you can still find architectural remnants of the century old Krotona of Hollywood, the model community built for seekers of higher knowledge and visit the Besant Lodge of the Gnostic Society on Beachwood Drive.

Yoga was first brought to the United States by the extraordinary Paramahansa Yogananda, and his beautiful Hollywood Temple is located on Sunset Blvd. The gardens are open to all and it’s a special place to meditate, slow down and reflect on the beauty of life, right in the heart of the busy city.

There’s a great deal of greenery here and you’ll find many places to hike and get back to nature, with stunning views of the city when you go north of Franklin Blvd into the hills. Have you explored the hidden steps through Hollywood? I regularly get my aerobics workouts using the ones leading to Griffith Park though I’m also partial to the famous “Music Box” steps, where the 1932 Oscar winning film short was photographed, starring Laurel and Hardy.

If you’re Vegan (like me) you’ll find a dizzying number of places to eat amazing food, from Veggie Grill to Café Gratitude.   

It really is all here, and I could go on and on, but one of the lessons in show biz is to always leave ‘em wanting more. So --- happy days friends, and enjoy life!