The word humility rarely appears in a sentence with Hollywood, in fact, having just returned from my trip there, I can reaffirm that there are very few humble souls there. It's just that my trip there taught me some humility. Begining with the car rental. I didn't have the credit, so I took cabs and buses or walked from my lovely hotel on Marina del Rey, to wherever I went. Then, I took lovely photos of all I did on my new digital camera, which malfunctioned and deleted everything off the card, so I have almost no proof that I was even there. Except my daughter's lovely tan, and these stories.
So, aside from the headiness having been invited to a movie premiere on the Fox studio lot, with a reception in the studio commissary, I have been humbled in Hollywood. It gives you a good Lenten perspective with which to view sin city.
The sin is so in your face, that it even shocked this wizened New Yorker. Flesh, sex, racism, anarchism, drugs, piercings, tattoos, and attitude were so in your face on Venice Beach, that I cut our walk short there, and escaped to the beauty of the canal walk. We enjoyed finding the little arched bridge where, in the new "Little Rascals" movie Alfalfa whispered sweet nothings to Darla in a rowboat while the gang eavesdropped above with the traditional tin can and string. Contented cats watched us as we peered into secret gardens overflowing with bougainvillea and orange trees. We helped felt a peace descend with the dusk, and walked home along the strand of elegant hotels.
At Gladstones, a tremendously popular restaurant in Malibu, I reconnected with a high school friend for three hours while we watched the sun set where the mountains meet the Pacific Ocean. No, I didn't bump into Mel Gibson, though I did look out for him, and his 12 passenger van. With seven children, what else could he fit them all in?
We spent the our Hollywood tour navigating our way on public transport(proud of us AlGore?). We caught a fleeting glimpse of the Hollywood sign, and breathlessly got off the bus on Hollywood Boulevard, expecting stars at every turn. We did see the Walk of Fame, most of whose stars Gaby had never known. It was strangely like a graveyard, to see the footprints of the stars and read their remarks at Graumann's Chinese Theatre. The most popular stars(Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland) had their footprints nearly erased by tourist's touching them. I wondered how many of them made it to Heaven, "for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?" Mark 8:36 has special meaning as you look at the footprints of those stars who have passed away.
The tourist shops on the Boulevard had so much objectionable merchandise, that I started to screen them before I let Gaby walk in, and the clothing shops were reminiscent of old Times Square sleaze. New York, however, wised up and realized that they were losing valuable tourism by permitting these establishments there. Now it's more family-friendly and thus busier than ever. I hope this happens in Hollywood. They were setting up for a premiere of Sandra Bullock's new thriller, "Premonition" as we passed by which we saw later that evening on TV.
We again were worn out from trying to avoid being offended, and left for Beverly Hills. We took the 'servants express' as I called it, the direct bus full of uniformed service workers to wait upon the privileged. Having seen Palm Beach, East Hampton, London, Florence and Manhattan, I was not expecting anything much different in Rodeo Drive. We were impressed with the lushness of Ralph Lauren (you pass through a cool, jasmine-scented garden to enter the store) and the quiet of Rodeo Drive. It almost seemed a posh corner of DisneyWorld, so immaculately groomed, elegant and hushed were the streets. After feeling like Lucy and Ethel in the stores we couldn't afford, we happily found a cute discount shop and bought Gaby her Beverly Hills skirt a block away. Since the Chinese lunch didn't sit well with me (more humility!) we sat sipping iced coffee in Starbucks where surprised servers happily supplied the bus routes back to the hotel. The heat was 97 degrees that day!
On the bus home, we passed elegant Houston's where on Friday we had mingled with "Mr. Blue Sky" cast and producer Tom Lee, who hails from Long Island. Why weren't we surprised to find that many of the actors' roots led to Brooklyn?
Our tour of Hollywood made one thing abundantly clear; with a depraved culture like this, no wonder clear-thinking Christians are needed to consult with the studios on family filmaking! Hollywood, though visited from people from all over the world, such as the Finns, and Australians we met at our hotel pool, is culturally insular. It's residents constantly try to shock as a means of being noticed. Just like the TV and movies that constantly push the envelope of decency, to challenge convention.
"Mr Blue Sky" challenges conventual norms, but in a positive way. It's producer and supporters want to expand the horizons of possibility for individuals with Down Syndrome, to include marriage, acting in films where their presence is not unusual, and from this to general acceptance of their role in society.Gail Williamson of the DSALA said it best when she stated at the question and answer session after the premier that what "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" did for acceptance of black Americans, "Mr. Blue Sky" will do for acceptance of Down Syndrome.No one asks why a black actor is in a film anymore. Someday, there may come a time when a person with Down Syndrome will be just another actor in the film, without necessarily being the lead. These changes happen first in film, then in society.
Now that's radical!