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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Our recent visit to Los Angeles coincided with the Academy Awards. We did not get an invitation from Brangelina, I swear the coincidence was completely accidental. My better half was happy though, and the children couldn't imagine us in LA in the first place, let alone anywhere near Oscar.

We had naive thoughts about trying to hang around the red carpet on Sunday, quickly dispelled when we found ourselves on Hollywood Boulevard on Saturday afternoon, thought we'd just take a peek. The place was already mobbed, and I had visions that some of the mobbees would be there for the next 24 hours, in a permanent state of gawk.

The place is less than impressive, tourists included. It didn't help that the threat of a sprinkle put plastic coverings over the proceedings (plastic on plastic on plastic?), that you could go into the Kodak Theater but briefly, just under the red staircase with its dual golden Oscars guarding the sanctum, then had to wind your way out through a maze of gray-painted corridors, that the Boulevard is hardly grand, that commerce seems to limited to pizza joints, head shops, bong emporia, tattoo parlors, and the cheaper brands of national chain stores. For this the Academy left downtown? I expect they thought it a redemptive kind of nostalgia.

Unreality hangs over the city like Dumbo's ears, both more and less impressive than you expect. Hence the disconnect. But they sure make it look nice on TV, which I watched for nearly the entire show (first time ever), except for a happily arranged and leisurely solo stroll to the local strip mall for Chinese take-out, to be consumed just in time for best supporting actress.

In case you were wondering, Dumbo (the movie) did win an Oscar, for Best Score. Best Body Parts wasn't a category yet.

The Dumbo in this photo adorns the theater in Belfast, Maine, which has few redemptive illusions left except those brought by tourists, having lost its chickens and shoes and very nearly its MBNA. It's now a very nice town.

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