I just got back from LA and saw one of the spots from the novel I did the map for (Horses). (I'll admit I didn't go there only for the purpose of this class, but I'll tell you what I saw anyway...)
I drove down Melrose which is the street Robert and Gloria meet on in the beginning of the book. Specifically, I saw 5555 Melrose--the renowned Paramount Studios. The situation was SO perfect for thinking about this class and I was really upset I didn't bring my camera.
First of all, this place is ridiculous, it's a palace in the middle of a somewhat run-down neighborhood. And by palace, I actually mean like four palaces or something. I couldn't see very clearly because it's separated from the rest of the area by a tall stone wall that is (unlike many of the walls in the area) clean of graffitti.
When I went by it the first time, there was the beginning of some sort of event, perhaps the arrival of a celebrity (I could see through an arc in the wall at the entrance walk up to the building). Luckily, there was no maddening crowd like in Locust, but there was a huge red carpet with waiting spectators gathered all around. The circular driveway was just waiting for some limo to pull out (from amid public buses and run down Fords -sorry Javadizadeh-) into this magical world of pristine walls and towering architecture.
Someone in the car with me said, "do you think the people around here buy into all the commercial images and hype about celebrities? I mean they can see RIGHT HERE that it's just coming from this neighborhood no different than their own."
But, of course, they do. We all do to some extent. But next time we read about some aspiring actress trying to make it big, I will have this image of walking down a torn down street and seemingly stumbling upon this castle of lofty dreams with photographers ignoring the world around them and waiting for the one car/person/image that's different from reality. What an illusion it all is.