Compare the lighting of the Hollywood sign with the lighting of the Eiffel Tower. Compare the private group allowed to attend the Hollywood sign event with the crowds in Times Square. Compare the five local shows prepared by the city’s Cultural Affairs Department with the show in Mexico’s Zocalo plaza. There is no comparison. Los Angeles was outclassed by every other major city on Earth.
Mayor Richard Riordan claims that it is the citizens who let the city down (Jan. 2), but responsibility for this world-class failure begins and ends with the lack of imagination in City Hall.
* After watching the world celebrate the dawn of the year 2000 all over the globe, I waited with expectation for Los Angeles to show our stuff. Imagine my dismay and embarrassment when I saw that pathetic exhibit of nothing at the Hollywood sign. We have other venues that would have been suitable to welcome the millennium, for starters the Music Center Plaza come to mind.
Instead a bunch of amateur line dancers from Van Nuys were presented, and then came the piece d’resistance, the Hollywood sign that will be lit for 15 minutes! Mayor Riordan, what were you thinking?
* For New Year’s Eve celebration I went to the Los Angeles city-sponsored event on Grand Avenue. Parking and getting up to the staged area were easy enough. After walking around the event I became restless and rode, all for free, Angels Flight down to the Pershing Square Metro Station, and then rode the Red Line subway to the marvelous Hollywood and Vine station. I then walked along a very quiet Hollywood Boulevard, got a kick out of the searchlights at Hollywood and Vine, read the names in the sidewalk and walked back to the station. I then rode the subway back to Pershing Square and joined the growing crowd at Grand Avenue.
The event was modest, and there could have been more food service, and they must learn to turn down the volume on those bands. But I had a great time sharing a special moment with a mix of people of all ages, colors, nationalities, composed of singles to couples to families. The whole time it was exhilarating to just walk in the city and see others walking around taking in the celebration. I also felt completely safe.
* If city officials want to know why their millennium celebrations fizzled, they need to look for reasons other than the weather. Angelenos are capable of braving the elements if we are given something worthwhile. But compared to the spectacular celebrations we saw in Paris, Rio, New York, etc., Los Angeles fell far short.
It is ironic that in a town as star-struck and celebrity-obsessed as L.A., the biggest stars they could find to headline their big bash at the Van Nuys airport were B.J. Thomas and Jan-Michael Vincent. When we are given an invitation to an over-hyped “party” such as this, most of us would rather send our regrets and spend the time at home with our families.
* After hearing us Angelenos called a bunch of sissies for staying at home on New Year’s Eve, I thought I would write to ask: Who in his right mind would get behind the wheel of a car and drive 15-20 miles to attend one of the city-sponsored events, with the looming threat of traffic and parking problems, drunk drivers, police mobilizations, terrorism and the like? As a city, we deal with the first three on a daily basis.
Having just been downtown to see Bette Midler at Staples Center and enduring the parking headache and the exorbitant $20 fee charged for the privilege (not to mention the aesthetic affront of that pagan altar to commercialism that looks like a giant stationery store with an ice rink), I can assure the mayor that the last thing on my mind for the arrival of the millennium was to spend it downtown in a car looking for parking. We had a blast at home.