Every year since the beginning of time, actors have flocked to Los Angeles, ready to take the industry by storm. You all show up here with a few bucks and a big dream. That's fine, but before you conquer this city, you have to understand how it works. Our little town is like no other, and there's one incredibly important fact you must learn if you want to succeed here.
Nothing in L.A. is what it appears to be.
Don't believe me? Go check out our biggest cultural icon, the Hollywood sign. It's the perfect metaphor for the entertainment industry. I say this because the most frustrating thing about the Hollywood sign is that you can't reach it. Those eight letters are way up in the hills, surrounded by gates and security cameras. So just like the success you crave, the Hollywood sign is right there, really close, but you can't actually touch it.
To make matters worse, the sign is where 24-year-old Peg Entwistle committed suicide by jumping off the letter "H." This blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman was a successful stage actor who made the move west to break into movies. Her cause of death was listed as multiple fractures to the pelvis. So much for taking the industry by storm.
The Hollywood sign also represents what L.A. is really about, and no, I'm not talking about show business. I'm talking about selling. Those letters are nothing more than a glorified billboard, constructed in 1923 as a way to advertise a housing development.
Our most famous landmark is an old commercial.
And it doesn't stop there. Take a close look at all those palm trees that line our boulevards. Aren't they gorgeous? Palm trees are an iconic part of the L.A. dream. The only problem is, none of them are native to this region. They were imported here during the '30s. In 1931 alone, the forestry division planted more than 25,000 palm trees, many of which are still swaying high above our streets.
This whole city is a massive film set.
Sometimes, when you stroll under those trees, you'll hear a gentle rustle. It sounds like the wind, but it's not. It's the rats. Actually, we call them roof rats, and they're everywhere. They live in high places, like those palm trees the city shipped in. Come to think of it, the rats aren't from here either. They arrived when European explorers discovered the coastline.
Yes, even the rats are transplants.
Now look down at the ground beneath your feet. It's hiding secrets too. They're called faults, and we have a few dozen here, in and around the metropolitan area. Some of them are capable of producing catastrophic earthquakes, powerful enough to kill millions of people.
L.A. will be destroyed by a very realistic CGI effect.
Once you understand that everything here is an illusion, you'll be in a better position to deal with the liars and thieves you'll encounter on the road to your success. Like the actor in class who's bragging about booking a pilot? It's really the first episode of his roommate's web series. Or the photographer who wants to charge you a king's ransom for some headshots? He's just some guy who flunked out of film school and picked up a cheap digital camera at a garage sale.
City of Angels? Yeah, right.
When all this reality becomes too much to handle, I suggest you take a drive up to Laurel Canyon. It's so peaceful there. The fragrant scent of eucalyptus can be very comforting. And if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the hungry coyotes that roam those woods. They spend the night searching for pets that have been left outside. I know a producer who woke up one morning, stepped outside for a swim, and slipped on the remains of his toy poodle.
Welcome to the real Hollywood.