Nothing like a good night’s sleep. I feel like a million bucks! Well actually I didn’t sleep that much so I’m feeling like $54.50 plus tax and tip. Anyway. Here’s a guide to those photos up there.
The Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Florida used to be a funeral home. The green room, where actors prepare to go on stage, was most recently an embalming room. So in one way or another people have been getting prepared in there for some time. The Culture Center is also home to an art show focused around BMX, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. The colorful bikes were a pleasure to look at in a new context (mounted on the walls, for example) and the space was cleverly manipulated to resemble a skate park – not someplace most people are comfortable walking around without feeling like they’re going to be smashed into by an unruly youth. Also, several pieces made sidelong glances at Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, and I’m a big fan of Duchamp, so +10 points right off the bat.
This is the Aikido studio where I met Steve, the triple black belt uchideshi (“life student”) who smokes cigarettes and drinks beer in the street. Steve is pretty great. He told me about his adolescent son, his life at the dojo (seriously: he lives at the dojo),and what aikido means to him. Steve likes being able to defend himself without physically harming his attacker. He seemed more focused on aikido philosophically, though, describing at some length his prodigious talent in “verbal aikido,” i.e. his ability to defuse dangerous situations with the raw power of his words.
He knows everybody, and has been referred to as the unofficial mayor of Hollywood, FL. I made sure to mention this to Raelin Storey, Hollywood’s official director of public affairs. Raelin spends a lot of time interacting with the actual (that is to say, elected) mayor of Hollywood, but she doesn’t know Steve. Which is a shame, really.
After I left Steve, I sat down on a bench on Hollywood Boulevard next to Russell, a Ukrainian immigrant in his late sixties who had some Very Strong Opinions™ about America’s DUI penalties, fellatio and Bill Clinton (who is apparently the worst president we’ve ever had!). Not that any of those things were related. We talked for twenty minutes and while I can’t say I understood each individual point Russell was making, I can tell you with complete certainty that this is the end of this paragraph.
You know me, I can’t resist some artsy still-life bullshit.
These are old pictures of Hollywood from the Hollywood Historical Society and the city’s official historical archives, which are two distinct factions despite having very similar goals. They don’t get along. My contact at the Historical Society told me at some length how she feels the city should eliminate the archives and put the resources they’d save toward the Historical Society, since the latter has existed since the 1970′s and the former is twenty years younger.
At any rate, the photos are gorgeous, and I was excited to get a glimpse at this Hollywood’s history. The city was designed in the 1920′s with the European Beaux-Arts philosophy in mind. After a hurricane devastated the developing city in 1926, this Hollywood was on the brink of suffering the same fate as Hollywood, PA (in Jenkintown): it could have wound up a failed attempt at community-building due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Indeed, the population shrank to just 2,500 people.
Fortunately, the allure of southern Florida was enough to entice developers and families to revitalize the area after World War II. Hollywood, Florida is among the largest and most populous Hollywood I’ll be visiting on my trip, and consequently almost everyone I interview has heard of it. Talk about bouncing back.
Hollywood City Hall: Like Nowhere Else! And the official bottled water of Hollywood, Florida.
This Raggedy Ann doll was donated to the city archives years ago after surviving the 1926 hurricane that almost destroyed Hollywood. Yes: the doll you’re looking at is over 85 years old.
More of the Art and Culture Center, where I met Emily (an import from Minnesota who does roller derby in her free time, making her officially the most badass person I’ve met so far) and Susan (who has a career in arts education, which is what she studied in school, which gives me hope for the future). This place is great, and it’s a huge asset to the Hollywood community. If you’re ever in the area – and you can tear yourself off of the beach for an hour – check it out.
I don’t think this needs any explanation at all.
The best laid plans of mice and men something something something.
All afternoon I was looking forward to tapping out a post or two on my experience at the mayor’s office and the historical society this morning. But then afternoon turned into evening, and evening turned into night, and gradually it became clear, after eleven hours driving from southern Florida to Atlanta, GA, that a proper post was Just Not in the Cards™. What is in the cars is seven hours of blissful unconsciousness in the Atlanta home of my favorite vegan (and one of my favorite collaborators), Emma Jane Gonzalez.
In lieu of my usual florid torrent of verbiage, feast your eyes upon these photos from Florida, upon which I shall expound at some length in the very near future. It’s a veritable feast for the eyes!
Oh, did I say that already? I did? Yikes. Goodnight, Internet.