Giant inflatable robots

I love Hollywood & Highland. Inside is that trippy interior courtyard with the Intolerance elephants overhead and tourists everywhere, shuffling and staring and wearing stupid tee shirts they picked up on the Boulevard. It can be surprisingly blissful in there though, and sometimes they have jazz concerts, and sometimes it’s just full of people chatting or reading or napping. Yet just a hundred or so feet away, out on Hollywood Boulevard, it is utter madness, with demented superheroes and people who will never wash their hands again after touching John Wayne’s boot prints. You never know what will be happening out there. One night a few years ago we left the courtyard after a concert and nearly walked into the path of a police chase at 5 mph. A hundred police cars with lights flashing proceeding ever so slowly down Hollywood Boulevard and the lady they were chasing ran out of gas right there and coasted to a stop right in front of the Chinese Theatre. You couldn’t imagine anything more cinematically perfect. The throng of tourists, like extras, rushed into the street to touch her car as she emerged. The cops pleaded through bullhorns for the people to stay clear of the vehicle, the suspect might be armed. But it was Day of the Locust, baby, and nothing could stop grandma from getting that selfie. The suspect emerged from her little car, unarmed and exhausted and infinitely sad. She laid down on the pavement. A zillion cell phone cameras flashed. A man in Superman get-up rushed into the street to pose in front of the scene. A Michael Jackson impersonator moonwalked past. Spiderman watched, then slunk into the shot. The cops waved him off, and he slunk away.

I’ve always wondered what ever happened to that car chase lady. It was the most pathetic car chase I ever saw. I mean you could have pushed that car faster, with all four tires punctured and running our of gas right there in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard. It was a scene from a Buster Keaton silent. Just a week before, though, in the very same spot giant inflatable robots stood for some movie premiere. Every premiere ever it seems has taken place there with crowds and limos and red carpets, but this one had giant robot balloons too. That was different. I remember we came out onto Hollywood Blvd after a one of the Tuesday night jazz gigs in the courtyard and saw them, those giant balloons, looming. Then, as we maneuvered around the premier on side streets, heading home, we came upon another giant inflatable robot balloon held in reserve, looming in an empty parking lot, just in case. Just in case what I’ll never know. As we stopped at a light I watched that extra giant robot in the rear view mirror, and it looked both spectacular and idiotic, like the coolest stupidest thing you ever saw. I can’t remember what the movie was that was premiering, it sank without a trace. But somewhere, somebody has three giant deflated robot balloons, and not a clue what to do with them.

(2012)

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