The Museum of Death was just down Hollywood Blvd from our Coral Sands Motel. When they say don't bring children, they mean it! This Museum pulls no punches: there are photos of dead people everywhere: car accident victims, murdered people, firing squad victims, autopsied bodies, you name it. And no photos allowed. There seems to be an intense fascination with serial killers and while they are incredible it's also a bit distasteful. Don't get me wrong: there is no sensationalism here, it's all straight-forward representation but we came away feeling... dirty.
There was a beautiful corner dedicated to the Day of the Dead and a cool section on the history of burials. Mom was particularly drawn to and repulsed by the video on an actual embalming (seems it was a teaching film). It drove home the ridiculousness of funeral home's practices and how they take advantage of you when you're in mourning. Take note: plan what's supposed to happen to your body ahead of time! And no one needs to be embalmed, it's a crock. Stick to your plans and don't let them push you around.
There was a whole area devoted to Charles Manson. While I knew the name, I never took the time to read about the whole case. In effect, it's because of his actions back in 1969 that changed the Hollywood landscape: the murders he committed with his "family" caused everyone to feel unsafe so up went the walls, the gates, the security. This was made even more apparent when we took the "Haunted Hollywood" bus tour later that evening.
Further down the street: The Hollywood Museum!
The Hollywood Museum was in the former Max Factor building. This didn't mean anything to us until we were inside. From the age of the silent picture, Max Factor was on hand revolutionizing movie make-up. The thick white facial make-up wasn't good enough for the evolving cameras so new compounds had to be developed, and mascara and lipsticks and on and on! Back then, it was only used for film but then it became more and more accepted in regular society.
The Museum was filled with Hollywood glamour and history, going back to the earliest TV shows and movies up to present day (although modern day films were underrepresented). The Dungeon of Doom was why we came and we got to see props and costumes from Silence of the Lambs, Dexter, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc... along with some fantasy and science fiction like Indiana Jones.
I was happy to spot a photo of my beloved Bela Lugosi.
On another day, we were on the northwest corner of Hollywood and Vine where Bela's ghost is said to sometimes appear. In life he's known to have frequented the bus bench that used to sit here...
We headed downtown with the metro and stood in awe of the grande dame of public transit: Union Station! This beautiful, huge station plays the role of the police station in one of my favorite films, "Blade Runner". Magnificent old world character!
We then headed for El Pueblo de los Angeles, the historic district with buildings dating back to 1818 and now a thriving cultural (and tourist) center. The place was abuzz with los Dia de los Muertos preparations, with 9 days of processions and every street and shop vendor offering Day of the Dead wares. Color everywhere, a liveliness in the air, the thrill of many languages coming together in one place. It was a bit chaotic with school groups going through but we visited Olvera Street, a bustling Mexican market, finding treasures and trinkets and lots of paper decorations. A quick lunch and more wandering brought us to Sepulveda House (built in 1887) and the Avila Adobe, the oldest surviving house. We found ourselves back at the Old Plaza with its beautiful gazebo/bandstand, the breeze fluttered the papel picados (paper cut banners), and we walked the circle appreciating the 9 altars set up in the Plaza, awash with color and pride. We then decided to head off to see downtown L.A.
Downtown was a bit disappointing, the Grand Market nothing in comparison to the Farmers' Market and the Angel's Flight cable car broken. The highlight was the Bradbury Building. If you've seen "Blade Runner", you've seen this elegant beauty, wrought iron, wood and marble everywhere. (Mom and I watched the film again when we got home to see just how prominent the building is and how atmospheric.)
We then zipped home by metro to eat and go out again to see what Hallowe'en would be like on Hollywood Blvd. One word: security. Every police officer and security officer was out and the scene on the street was what I'd call organized herding. Costumes weren't all that prominent, with people wearing little bits of a costume. Children paraded along but it seemed aimless like flotsam washing out with the tide... we went home early before the action probably really began, against the tide of many more costumed revelers, to sit in the motel's peaceful garden with wine and sweets. A lovely end to the day! Oh, I did get two lollipops, look familar? They're from "Trick 'r Treat", Sam's lollipop!