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In Search of ''Hollywood'' 

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Photo by Christine Pelisek

Simon and Sarah Tan
Sydney, Australia

Simon: "I think it’s pretty much as I expected. People are walking down the street with their heads down, looking at the [Hollywood Walk of Fame] stars. When you think of Hollywood, you think of the big sign on the mountain, stars living everywhere. I wouldn’t make a yearly trip to see these stars."

Vicky
Brisbane, Australia

"We were told it would be dirty and horrible. This is a pleasant surprise, actually. All we heard from people was ‘Why are you going there?’ But it’s not like that at all. It’s cleaner than Sydney. I just wish there were a few more cafés along Hollywood Boulevard."

Jenny Longbottom
Yorkshire, England

"All I knew about was the Hollywood sign. I didn’t even know about [places like] Mann’s or the Walk of Fame. My husband is here on business, so I’m here sightseeing while he’s working. It’s all so huge. Huge and busy. I expected it to be a bit quieter. I suppose it’s like any other city. I would tell [my friends back home] to go on an organized tour — to find your way around as a stranger is very difficult. I lost my luggage at the airport, so it’s not the greatest impression so far."

Glen and Dorris Steed
London, England

Glen: "This is the least interesting place we’ve ever seen, without a doubt. You have an expectation of something very grand, and it’s like some town in the Outback. Just from the perspective here [in front of Mann’s], nothing seems to fit together."

Lori Pelkey
Atlanta

"I expected Hollywood to be flashy, glitzy, loud and shiny. I thought it would be cleaner, newer looking. It’s more low-key than I thought it would be. I liked the history of the stars and stuff at Mann’s. I’ve always wanted to [go to Mann’s]. I think that if they kept up the places that draw people more, it would make Hollywood more attractive."

Barb Lewis, real estate agent
Michigan

"I thought it would be a lot more glamorous and less dingy, with less repetition in the shops. It is very exciting, and it is something that we have never seen. It looks kinda old and rundown, but interesting all the same. It is something that everyone should see. People want to know what the stars experience, and that is what we are here for."

Heather Carlough
Bayonette Pointe, Florida

"Clean it up. On TV it’s clean, it sparkles. And I expected it to be like that in real life. I expected Hollywood to be ritzy things — big limos and fur coats. I wanted to come here because it looks so good on TV. It’s not all star-lit like I thought it’d be. I took off 11 days from school to come here. I’ve always wanted to come to Hollywood. All my friends thought it was cool that I was coming here. They told me to take lots of pictures."

Ben Davis, tree surgeon
Sydney, Australia

"I expected Hollywood to be a bit more like Las Vegas. I wanted to see the Hollywood Sign and the handprints. I came here because I was in San Francisco and I saw a brochure for Hollywood. I was going to be surfing in Long Beach, and I thought I’d take a look. It’s okay, but it’s not amazing. I think they should put some big rides on the main street, like they have at Universal Studios — put more of Vegas in Hollywood. If someone had shown me this and said, ‘That’s Hollywood,’ I would have said, ‘That’s it?’"

Shelton May
Atlanta

"I expected to see a lot of glamorous things — Mercedes, limos, BMWs. I think I got most of my impression of Hollywood from TV shows, movies — things like 90210, Pretty Woman. That image of Hollywood is ingrained in people’s minds — glitter, glamour, stars, prostitutes . . . Just kidding. The only bad thing so far is the traffic."

Michael Kellerman, market researcher
Cincinnati

"I expected Hollywood like you imagine in your mind. I expected glamour — neon, sparkle and clean streets. Maybe a little more like Vegas. Shows like E.T., Extra — they make Hollywood look exciting. Over the years, you build expectations. Then you see the panhandlers, the derelicts, the T-shirt shops . . . it looks really crummy, seedy. I think the Chinese Theater looks great — and they’re making a movie, that’s a bonus for me. The El Capitan looks great. But there are pockets of blight — it’s very Tijuana-like. I like the Universal Studios in Florida. I like the Hollywood there better than this one. There they re-create the fantasy. It’s better than the real thing. They should build a wall around [the real Hollywood] and charge $38 to get in to see the place. I was here about 25 years ago, and it was just starting to decline then. But I think it’s even worse now than it was then. If I would change anything about Hollywood, it would be the restaurants. I wish there were better restaurants around here.

Megan Ballman, teacher
Minnesota

Richard Thompson, U.S. Army
North Carolina

Megan: "I expected lots of homeless and trash. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. When I think of large cities, I expect that. It’s cool to see stuff like the Walk of Fame and the Hollywood sign."

Richard: "I’ve never been here before, so we just came over to be able to say we saw it."

Megan: "I like to be able to see people I consider strange. We saw a guy with . . . instead of a goatee, he had a purple-and-blue tattoo. I just wish L.A. was more user-friendly. If you don’t have someone to show you around, then you really don’t know where to go."

Sulen Kramer, architect
Sweden

"I expected Hollywood to be just like this, just what we see: people, films. I have read much about Hollywood in magazines, tour books. We are going to Tahiti, and this is our layover for three days. Otherwise we would never come just to see Hollywood. Itclean, that’s what it is. You wouldn’t see that anyplace else [pointing to a billboard for Babe across the street]. Hollywood is not like the tastes in Europe — it’s more show."

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