West Hollywood, California (2017) - Although I work in the entertainment business, most of my impressions of LA come from the childhood images I saw through TV and film, long before I ever dreamed of working at the dream factory. The TV show 'Melrose Place' is one of the big influences for my early LA image. It was the 90's primetime soap that showcased model-beautiful friends who all lived at the same apartment complex on Melrose Avenue. In the show, the palm trees were striking and emerald green, the clothes were luxurious and glamorous, the cars were fast and flashy, and the scenics were sun-kissed and shimmery.
I've since learned that Melrose Avenue is nothing like the TV show. This major east-west street is gritty and grimy and cluttered with graffiti. The street is always packed with cars, slowly moving at a snail's pace. Also, no one lives on Melrose. Instead, most of the real estate is occupied by quirky, independent retailers and restaurants. Half of them are closed during the day because Melrose's adventurous shoppers prefer tattoo and bondage stores that open in the afternoon and thrive in the late night. Melrose is the furthest thing from anything I ever saw on 'Melrose Place.' And it's great.
In many ways, Melrose is the heart-and-soul of LA. It's where budding screenwriters go for cranium-stimulating coffee, and studio executives grab a quick bite at the original Johnny Rockets, and directors watch wannabe SNL stars perform at the Groundlings, and where actors audition at Paramount Studios. Every block is plastered with posters and billboards for the next TV show or film, providing an ego-boost for the stars and envy from the seekers. The richest of the rich shop there; and the everyday middle class and poor work there. It's a study of contrasts, and it's all-LA.