My father and I frequented the streets of Hollywood when I was about 4 or 5 years old. We lived within the vicinity at the time, off Fountain and Vermont, and my father was fascinated with Hollywood, having just arrived as an immigrant six years prior. My parents would take turns taking care of me — my father during the day while my mother was off to work at an office in what is now Koreatown, and my mother during the evenings when my father worked after hours as a bookkeeper at Bargain City off Fairfax.
My father marveled at the old theater facades that lined the streets Hollywood, as well as the diverse people that passed us by during our walks. He would often tell me to notice how different the buildings were, that some looked like homes or castles, but were really office buildings, theaters or clothing stores behind the facades. My father would engage in diversity discussions with me when I asked why some people of color had “Afros” while others wore many braids. “I don’t know, but isn’t it great to see that everyone here is different? Just like in the movies!”
My memories of the warm wind blowing the trash that littered the streets of Hollywood as my father and I walked up and down the sidewalks, along with my father tightly holding my hand as he whisked us away from the Hare Krishna panhandlers, paled in comparison to the distinct memory of my father gently reprimanding me for carrying out a pair of bright orange fuzzy socks from one of the storefronts because we did not pay for it. He had not noticed that I still had the pair of socks clutched in my hand until after we got home from one of our frequent window shopping adventures on Hollywood Boulevard. I felt so scared of going to jail that I insisted that we go back to the store to return the pair of socks. He reassured me that it was alright, that so long as I remembered to not take things out of stores until after they’ve been paid for, he was satisfied that I learned my lesson.
My father and I stopped taking our daily walks soon after that. Maybe it was because he got a day job that offered better pay and an opportunity to enjoy an ideal work-life balance. Maybe it was because my brother and grandmother soon came into my life from the Philippines and I was to spend the rest of my childhood with them while both parents worked. Maybe it was because I started attending Kindergarten and so my waking moments were spent learning new things at school. Maybe it was because my family bought a new home in San Gabriel Valley and moved to the other side of the county.
I was constantly reassured by my sweet Daddy that it wasn’t because of the socks.
Hollywood was a frequent destination place for me as a young adult. I have been on lackluster dinner and movie dates in Hollywood, have gone clubbing and after-hours dining with friends, and even participated in a couple of the now discouraged street cruising culture way back when.
My recent visits to Hollywood have been for more celebratory reasons. I attended a bachelorette party for one of my co-workers a few years back at one of those then newly developed high-rise towers on the Hollywood and Highland complex.
Last year, I dressed my little one in a Cinderella costume and took her to see the Cinderella film and museum galleries exhibiting film props at the El Capitan Theatre. There was even a day last summer when my friends and I decided to play tourists with our kiddies before they started school, and so we spent the day admiring the wax figures at Madame Tussaud’s.
Earlier this afternoon, my family and I began our Sunday excursion on the east side of Hollywood, over by Sunset and Cahuenga (more about it here). This post is a continuation of our Hollywood adventures, this time about the tourist destination of Hollywood & Highland.
My family and I dubbed the tail end of this family Hollywood outing as “Fantasy Hollywood Time,” because it felt like a catch-all of everything fantastical we are currently interested in — my husband and two kids were into this weekend’s special “non-event” event for the release of the Overwatch video game; my little one was elated with the saturation of anything Alice Through the Looking Glass; as for me, I was happy to be out and about town enjoying the confection, fashion and various artworks presented in a unique manner at Sweet Hollywood.
Unbeknownst to us, we visited this part of Hollywood while folks from Walt Disney Studios were preparing for tomorrow’s movie premiere of Alice Through the Looking Glass at El Capitan Theatre, so our usual go-to parking lots off Orange Street were not easily accessible. No worries! It is Sunday, so there will be ample street parking nearby. The City-mandated road closure of Hollywood Boulevard won’t deter us from coming here! After parking just south of Hollywood High School on Sunset Boulevard, we walked two blocks north, eventually finding ourselves within the midst of the fantastical chaos of Alice Through the Looking Glass. Too bad we won’t be here tomorrow during the film’s World Premiere.
We continued our Hollywood experience to where the giant sculpture of Overwatch’s Tracer character action figure was erected to see what the deal was. Apparently, it was a Big Deal. Although there were no bells and whistles by way of an unveiling of this massive structure; no personal appearances of any voice-over actors, the niche genre’s celebrity visual artists or writers; no free giveaways of Blizzard Entertainment swag; and no Overwatch cosplay by anyone, people were excitedly congregating here to pay homage to HER. I later read off one of the fan sites that workers erected Tracer within 10 hours on Hollywood Boulevard and would be on display until the 24th. More about this promotional event can be read here.
We briefly visited Graumann’s Chinese Theatre (now TCL Chinese Theatre) to show the kiddies the signatures, hand and footprints of famous celebrities of the past, but there was a cultural event happening at the time, so most of the iconic concrete blocks were temporarily inaccessible.
We decided to visit one of my favorite spots, Sweet Hollywood, a huge candy store/gift shop/gallery space that was sure to please anyone who stepped into the shop. Along the way, we ascended through the site’s motion-activated piano staircase. Imagine the FAO Schwartz giant piano keyboard from the Tom Hanks movie, Big, but longer and more challenging to play.
In addition to the usual candy offerings commonly found in supermarkets and general stores, there were specialty confections, along with complementary artwork, to be coveted:
I was pleasantly surprised to find that last summer’s RuPaul fashion exhibition was still housed here. Beautiful.
We were having a wonderful time forging family memories until the grim reality of parenthood set in for the adults. It was a school night, so it was time for us to end our day trip. The kids need a good night’s sleep! Before we left the premises, we were gifted with a brief encounter of this guy. What a treat, indeed. 🙂
El Capitan Theatre
6838 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Hollywood & Highland
6801 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90028
TCL Chinese Theatre
Hollywood & Highland
6925 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90028
6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Suite 201
Hollywood, CA 90028
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