Spoiler alert: that awesome disco helmet is from New Orleans, not Hollywood Park.
You know, blame it on lack of research, but I hadn’t anticipated that so many of the Hollywoods on this trip would be suburbs. I’d tell you to go through the other posts and count the times I’ve described someplace as a “quaint suburban nook,” or a “charmingly well-lit suburb,” but I would only be embarrassed by the results.
How could I know that Hollywood Park, the small city-within-a-city in San Antonio, would be the suburb to end all suburbs? Not only is it a quaint, charmingly well-lit suburban nook, but it’s a quaint, charmingly well-lit suburban nook with its own city government! I spoke to the mayor of Hollywood Park, Bob Sartor, this morning. He doesn’t like the word “suburb,” and prefers to call his dominion a “bedroom city.” In the sense that there’s a whole city around it, but Hollywood Park is like its own little bedroom within the city.
In this analogy San Antonio is a house. OK? I’ve been driving for nine hours.
Anyway: Hollywood Park was incorporated in 1955, and since then, according to one resident who’s been there since the mid-1960′s, the most significant (only?) thing that’s happened in town is the construction of a major highway in the neighborhood’s back yard. It’s increased the level of noise pollution that Hollywood Parkians have to deal with, but in the time I spent wandering through the streets, snapping photos and chatting people up, it didn’t seem to be a problem.
And while you may be thinking, “Really? The only thing of note that’s happened is a highway?” I encourage you to remember Hollywood, South Carolina, where the major news story of the last decade was the installation of a traffic light.
The three people to whom I spoke at greatest length each had a peculiar perspective on their home city, a shared experience of Hollywood Park that seemed to be wound up with what most people expect of Hollywood, California. Travis and his wife wanted a house on a big lot of land that they could gut and rebuild according to their needs and specifications. Mickey moved from Washington, DC to be near his son in case he winds up in the hospital again (“There’s a machine in here that keeps me running,” he told me, thumping his breast harder than I would if I had a delicate piece of medical equipment installed behind my ribs). Martha’s husband had always wanted to live in Hollywood Park, she said, and though she doesn’t know exactly why, she suspects it had something to do with the mysterious power of that name, Hollywood, and all it evokes. “Unfortunately,” she told me on the phone, though there was a smile in her voice, “he’s not here anymore to tell us.”
Each of these people felt that, in their own way, they’d been following “the American dream,” and wound up in Hollywood. I’m beginning to get the impression that whatever you might be dreaming of, there’s a Hollywood out there somewhere where you can find it.