Today the Intro to Visual Culture grad class went to Hollywood Boulevard (armed with some theoretical reading, some guidebooks, some iPhones with downloaded apps, and an assortments of cameras). Not to mention a bright pink fanny pack, and variegated forms of sneakers. We clearly Passed - hustlers were continually trying to sell us tours, or bus rides, or give us sample sizes of hot chocolate. It would have made for a better anthropology field trip ...
...but we looked at The Stars, and noted the visual symbols that told us if they were theatrical, or cinematographic, or from the golden age of radio (and mused for how long a radio microphone would be a readable symbol).
We took tourist photos ourselves, of course (this is Grauman's Chinese Theater)
and posed for pictures, in the places where one's meant to,
and admired the pictures we'd taken.
We dutifully put quarters into a slot so that we could look through a telescope - visual prosthesis! - at the fact that they're painting the Hollywood sign (reference back to the class where we read a chapter of Leo Braudy's book), and we noted how the whole Hollywood and Highland tacky shopping center (complete with white elephants referencing D. W. Griffith's Intolerance) is set so the sight lines direct us straight to the sign (note the red Aids ribbon on the church tower).
We looked at (and listened to) other tourists, who weren't necessarily having as good a time as we were.
We looked at really awful Christmas ornaments (as a pun on Holly - wood, this is terrible) - they do, however, often enshrine the importance of visual culture to the associations that attach themselves to Hollwood.
Or, year-round, you can by as Oscar for your best cousin, or grandpa, or girlfriend, or - more mysteriously - accountant, or dentist.
Or you might prefer to purchase underwear - for women
or for guys. We didn't like to think what these said about the act of souvenir gift giving.
More classily (thank you, MacKenzie), we went to the Roosevelt Hotel with its swimming pool that has a David Hockney fresco at the bottom (which has fairly recently been renovated).
and we ended up outside a garden apartment complex from the 1930s on Sycamore, complete with tiles illustrating scenes from Don Quixote.
We did a lot of looking ...