Wed, Jul

Dear Mayor Bass: Keep the Hollywood Sign Unlit Until La-La Land Sees the Light


THE DOCTOR IS IN - Regardless of one's politics, it isn't too hard to see why resentment has grown against our movie star elites.  

Ah, yes...the Big Hollywood Elites. 

They talk about civility, but they're anything but civil. 

They talk about kindness, but they're anything but kind. 

They talk about representing and caring for their fellow Americans, but they're anything but kind or caring for their fellow Americans, and all too often are happy to besmirch and denigrate large swaths of those they expect to pay for their movies, shows, and the like. 

They talk about a love of God and humanity, but they're anything but tolerant towards religion and their fellow human beings. 

They talk about being open-minded, but they're anything but open-minded (well, they're open-minded if you agree with them!). 

Money, fame, and adulation is what Big Hollywood has become, and while  the pursuit of riches, fame, and fortune is hardly new (or even bad, in and of itself), but... 

...gone is the era when we had Jimmy Stewart drop his career, risk his life, and go to war.  

...and gone is the era where Shirley Temple Black devoted her life to the United Nations.  

And while there are no shortages of active philanthropists in Hollywood who give back, and who devote their lives with greatly diminished pay to public/political office (for all their flaws, Ronald Reagan and Al Franken did devote their lives to politics out of love of country)... 

...most of them are self-absorbed, will say and do anything to remain famous and talked about, and consider themselves higher lifeforms than you and me. 

Hence we had former Mayor Garcetti proclaim a "La La Land Day" with acrobat dancers at City Hall, while Los Angeles was spinning out of control with respect to a rich-poor divide from Hades. 

I admit to adoring the talent of that movie's actors, yet being underwhelmed with that particular movie. But even if I loved that film... 

...who paid for that acrobatic dance on City Hall while the cost of rent, food, doing business, and just enjoying 21st Century utilities/infrastructure were exploding? (You know, police and traffic and utilities for that event?) 

So no offense to Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, et al, but didn't we then, and don't we now, have bigger fish to fry? 

My negative feelings for Hollywood are VERY influenced with my former years-long efforts to create an Exposition Light Rail Line and save rapid transit for L.A., and the Friends4Expo Movement was as grassroots/volunteer as they come. 

But did Hollywood weigh in on environmentally- and ergonomically-efficient transportation? At City Hall? At Metro? At Sacramento? 

Only Jimmy Smits and Ed Begley, Jr. acknowledged our work--everyone else from the Hollywood elites just talked about how we should all focus on transit, cost-effective transportation, and the environment... 

...but ignored taking on those challenges in their personal lives while flying and driving in private planes, helicopters, and limousines. 

So now Mayor Bass just put the kibosh on Mayor Garcetti's last mayoral directive to keep the Hollywood sign lit as that sign approaches its 100-year-anniversary in 2023. 

While Mayor Bass did raise issues of legality of the directive, one cannot help but wonder if other paradigms and optics were at play: 

1) As the misery of the middle class, and the misery of those who built and preserve what is good about L.A., continues to worsen and force so many  to leave L.A., does lighting up a Hollywood sign make sense? 

In other words, is "Hollywoodland" a priority of those still smashed economically, psychologically, and socially by the COVID-19 pandemic when so many of are trying to keep body and soul together? 

2) Bright lights have all sorts of environmental, cost, and neighbor impact-related issues to contend with, and certainly Mayor Garcetti did address those concerns in his order, but Friends of Griffith Park, homeowners associations, and local residents were still concerned. 

And there is no shortage of examples in the City of the Angels where signage, light pollution, and promotion of the rich at the expense of everyone else are being imposed on those of us who want a reasonable standard of living for us all. 

So maybe it's just the timing, or maybe it's just the legality of Eric Garcetti's order, that led Karen Bass to put a hold on his directive. 

But whatever the reason, it would be nice to at least ASK the Hollywood Elites as to why they deserve any further adulation than they already have. 

Good luck, Ms. Mayor, and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!  

(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to a wonderful wife and two cherished children. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two 9-year- stints as a Board member and is also a Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach, Planning, and Transportation/Infrastructure Committees for 10 years. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition His latest project is his fictional online book entitled The Unforgotten Tales of Middle-Earth and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)

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