Escape from Hollywood

Running is probably definitely the greatest sport in the world. OK, I said it. Even if you don’t agree, you would have to agree it is certainly one of the most portable sports. All one needs is a pair of shoes (also optional for some) and a good attitude.

Well, last week I had to take a business trip to Hollywood, CA. I know some people would dig a trip to Hollywood, but unfortunately I’m not one of them.

I was in a bad mood when I got there, and I wasn’t really impressed with the scene when I got there. Here’s a mental image of Hollywood for those who haven’t had the privilege. As I look down the “Walk of Fame” on Hollywood Ave, I see block after block of tacky t-shirt shops book-ended by over-priced chain restaurants with (at best) mediocre food. The dirty busted-up sidewalks are crowded with throngs of disillusioned tourists who actually believe they might see a real Hollywood star. Little do they know the movie stars found Hollywood too depressing and moved away decades ago to other trendy L.A. neighborhoods.

The only stars I found on the “Walk of Fame,” besides those embedded in the sidewalk, were the sad folks dressed as movie stars trying to get tourists to pay for a picture. I met a sixty year old platinum-white Marilyn Monroe who was trying desperately get a broken fan to blow her dress. Behind her was an overweight Spiderman digging through a trash can for his next meal. OK, now I’m thoroughly depressed.  Other characters I saw included a six-foot tall Yoda, Samuel Jackson’s character in Pulp Fiction, no less than three Jack Sparrows from Pirates of the Caribbean, oh, and a black Charlie Chan. Half a block away, Spongebob Squarepants was getting the shit kicked out of him by two women (seriously, follow the link and watch the video).

Feeling like I’d seen way more than I really wanted, I headed back to the hotel to find escape in a pair of running shoes I wisely packed in my carry-on suitcase. I laced up my shoes and headed out the door to salvage the rest of the day.

Within minutes I was passing the Hollywood Bowl, the largest natural amphitheater in the United States where the musical acts from the Beatles to Billie Holiday have performed. Moments later I took a left up Mulholland Drive, a street rich in popular culture and also where many of the “rich and famous” live.  My pace and mood was starting to pick up. After a steep climb, I took a break at an overlook that provided great views of downtown L.A. and the Hollywood sign.

Above: Hollywood Bowl in foreground and downtown Los Angeles in the background.

Above: Griffith Park and Hollywood sign (way in the distance).

Continuing further up Mulholland Drive, my pace picked up again. It’s amazing what a short run will do to fix a rotten attitude. After a diversion through another mountain park along the road, I realized I needed to get back to the hotel. Satisfied, I turned around and retraced my steps back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel, only thirty minutes late for the cocktail schmooze-fest, I notice my reflection in a window while I’m waiting for the elevator. I’m wearing a huge smile. Man, I love running.