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Hollywood Boulevard

The Internet is making it increasingly difficult to hide from anyone and be invisible.

Especially if you have a blog that’s been around for a while, and Google seems to like it so they give you a 4/10 ranking, which isn’t great but it’s not exactly a bucket of warm spit.

I threw up in my mouth a little just then.

Case in point – Walter sent me an email a few days ago. He found me online by doing a search for things about Hollywood, so he must have read one of my previous accounts of working as a security dispatcher at the Hollywood & Highland Center, a retail/entertainment complex on Hollywood Blvd.

Walter was one of the security guards there and I was a mid-level supervisor, meaning that any regular security guard on the team was under me, but I had about 18 bosses over me. It sure was fun.

I was a dispatcher so I’d sit in the dispatch center and watch all the craziness of Hollywood happen on a series of cameras that fed into our monitors and if something interesting went down, I’d call the security guards on the radio and tell them to go take care of it.

We had this outdoor camera that could see the corner of Hollywood and Highland. It was mounted over the Gap Store, overlooking the sidewalk, and we could pan it back and forth while zooming it in and out with a little keyboard joystick thingy, which sure was bitchin’.

Hollywood And Highland Gap Store

The Hollywood & Highland Gap Store. The security cam is just to the left
of the stoplight up at the top of the palm tree, on a white mounting bracket.

One day I noticed this odd person standing on the corner. He/she was black, but I couldn’t figure out if this was the ugliest damn woman I’d ever seen or a crazy fat black man in drag. He/she was wearing a blond wig, short skirt and jack boots that covered the lower part of a pair of horrendously hairy legs.

But what really stood out about this person was the sword he/she was brandishing at pedestrians and cars. There was a lot of yelling on his/her part as he/she swung the sword around and, as you’d expect, people walking by gave him/her a wide berth and some scurried away with frightened looks on their faces.

The first thing I did was place a 911 call. I described a “possibly mentally unbalanced person brandishing a sword on the corner of Hollywood and Highland.” I gave some other details – description, my name and position, etc. – then I put out a call on the radio to our security team..

“All officers, information only.. we have a 5150 (crazy) subject of unknown gender on the corner of Hollywood and Highland brandishing a sword in front of the Gap Store. It’s public sidewalk area and PD has been notified, all officers are advised to stay clear for safety, this is for your information only.”

We kept the camera on the person, mainly because if he/she were to hurt someone we’d have it on tape, since the cams record everything they’re seeing. A lot of people don’t like the idea of being videotaped when they’re out in public, but there you have it.

About a minute later the nut-job was still brandishing the sword and the police hadn’t arrived yet. Into the scene strolls officer Walter. I’d advised all of our team to stay away because they were not armed or trained to deal with someone like this but I guess he hadn’t heard that part, so I called him on the radio and told him to back off.

He didn’t answer.

He walked up to the nut-job and started talking to him/her. There were about five of us gathered in dispatch now, including the Watch Commander, and I just knew we were about to see Walter’s head get lopped off and go rolling down the sidewalk before coming to rest in a storm drain.

Fortunately for him, all that happened was a brief conversation. Then Walter stepped away and called me on the radio..

“Dispatch, I question that subject and he say is just a costume sword that is fake, so that is code 4 (all clear).”

Walter, being Filipino, was not a close friend of the English language. More like a casual acquaintance.

I keyed the microphone.

“Walter, get up here.. NOW.”

When Walter arrived in dispatch, the nut-job was still in the same place but he’d placed the sword in a sheath on his waistband (Walter said it was a “he” now, so at least we got that much cleared up.)

The cops were just arriving. I didn’t say anything to Walter – I just told him to watch.

Two cops approached the guy, but didn’t get closer than about 20 feet. The one in front had one hand on his holstered gun while pointing at nut-job and barking some orders, which were probably “get your hands on your head, now!” because that’s what nut-job did. Then the other cop walked up behind him and removed the sword from the sheath. Once nut-job had been separated from his sword, the one behind him took it over to the police car and put it in the trunk. The other had a conversation with nut-job and then whipped out a ticket book and wrote a citation.

I told Walter to go back on duty. After they were done with nut-job, the two cops came into the dispatch center and told me the sword was indeed quite real. They’d confiscated it but they didn’t arrest nut-job because they hadn’t seen the brandishing part, and they felt that since nobody was hurt and the sword had been taken away, there was no need to go to all that trouble.

Then they went downstairs to Starbucks and had some coffee.

Starbucks at Hollywood and Highland

Later, I told Walter about the sword being real and how he could have ended up with his head in a storm drain. We both agreed, as did the Watch Commander who was present and being all frowny-faced, that he’d need to be more careful in the future and listen to what dispatch tells him.

So he emailed me the other day. It’s been like, seven years, and out-of-the-blue I get an email from officer Walter, who is no longer a security officer but is now back in the Philippines..

Hi, mr rhodes remember walter of hollywood security? well hope you still remember me. the reason why im writing you is, i red you write up during our fun days in hollywoodland  mall kodak theater, I really feel good when i red it  first i was wondering who wrote it until i realize that it was you the dispatch boss. well im back here in philippines and hoping to be out here for canada by 2010. Just you to know that im so glad  that i saw your writing in you rhodester good luck and God Bless.

Isn’t that nice? I wrote him back..

Hi Walter,

Of course I remember you! I’ll never forget the great “disarming of the Hollywood Blvd drag queen by the hero security officer Walter” incident of 2002. I’ll bet small children in the Philippines love hearing that story told again and again in your native tongue.

My wife and I are in Palm Springs, which is in the desert, yet there are hundreds of lush golf courses everywhere. I don’t play golf but I hear it’s fun. There are Filipino people here too, most of whom are caddies, valets, bartenders and waiters. They make killer tips and buy nice homes with 30-year mortgages. I’m not making that up. They do quite well up here.

I write now. Like this – http://rhodester.net – I know! Sad, huh? I was thinking of getting a job as a security guy again but I’m not THAT desperate.. just a little.

If you’re ever around these parts, give me some warning notice and I’ll choose that time to take my European vacation. Just kidding. We’ll go golfing, I hear it’s fun.

Cheers, and best of luck to you too!

The truth is, I miss Walter and I’m glad he got in touch. We have a few drag queens here in Palm Springs, but none of which I’ve seen carrying swords. If one pops up though, I know who not to call.

Nikki from "Hello Nikki"

Of course, it was much more fun to watch pretty girls
on Hollywood Blvd, like blogger Nikki
Desuasido
from “Hello Nikki,” shown here in front of
the Hollywood & Highland Center

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Confessions of a Superhero

by RhodesTer on April 6, 2009

Okay, so I guess I took a week off from blogging without really meaning too. Don’t feel slighted if you weren’t told.. I wasn’t told either.

It’s just that the old ball-n-chain is still out of town, so I’ve been playing. Which basically consists of eating more than I should while drinking more beer that I usually do and watching stuff on HULU.COM.

Yeah, I’m getting old.

BUT.. I ran across something that kind of sort of blew me away, so I sat and watched this with such rapt attention that my beer went flat and my pizza got cold.

I was mesmerized.

confessions-of-a-super-hero

From the internet movie database..
“Confessions of a Superhero” chronicles the lives of four mortal men and women who work as characters on the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard. This feature length documentary explores the fascination, obsession, and allure of fame through the eyes of these very unique people struggling to make it in Tinseltown.

The reason I watched with rapt attention is because the guy lying on the green sofa in a Superman outfit is our old next-door-neighbor, Chris Dennis.

Coffeesister, aka Dorian, and I lived and worked in Hollywood from 2000-2004. I did background acting in film & TV while also working as a security dispatcher at the Hollywood & Highland complex, which happens to be next to the famed Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

We’d seen the Hollywood Boulevard Superman on occasion while living over on LaBrea somewhere, and like everyone else we thought, “Geez that guy looks like Christopher Reeve.” But it wasn’t until we moved into this building on Orchid right behind the Kodak Theatre that we got to know him.

I’ll never forget stepping out the door of our new apartment to go get another load from the truck, when he came strolling up resplendent in red cape, blue leotard and boots. “Well, HI Superman!” said I, with a look on my face that must have betrayed my surprise. “Howdy! The name’s Chris.” He extended his super hand, which I was reluctant to shake knowing full well that he could easily grind my bones into dust. But he seemed kind of friendly so I took a chance.

He was going into the apartment next door.

“You live here?”

“Yep, come on in.. meet my girlfriend Bonnie.”

Okay, this was interesting.. so I went on in and  met Bonnie, and then I just had to run back into our place and grab Dorian to come over and meet Superman/Chris.

Their place was wall-to-wall Superman paraphernalia, and I mean it was EVERYWHERE. Sofa, ceiling, end-tables, lamps, you name it – everything in the place had  something about Superman on it.

We lived next to them for several years, and I’d often run across Chris as he was on his way out to the boulevard or coming back in. We’d sometimes drop in to pay a visit, surrounded by Superman lore and talking about.. guess what.. Superman.

The documentary points out that Chris is a bit obsessed, and I’d say that’s accurate. But they were a little unfair in their portrayal of him. I can’t speak for the other characters because I didn’t know them, with the exception of having met Batman/Max a few times – but Chris and Bonnie were definitely two of the most decent people I’d ever met. Call him nuts if you will, but I think we’re all kind of nuts and quirky about certain things – I know I am. I can certainly vouch for the fact that he’s a decent guy and hard worker. He helped us move out of the place in 2004 and the guy worked twice as hard and fast as I did.

“Confessions of a Superhero” was made a couple of years ago by Morgan Spurlock, the same guy who did “Super Size Me.” I’m sure it won’t hold your attention as aptly as it did mine, but hopefully you’ll find it interesting. I’ve just never experienced a film that’s hit so close to home because Chris was not only my next-door-neighbor, but my friend – we’d occasionally do things together and I’ve hung out in that Superman apartment many times. The film takes a tour of the apartment at one point and it’s all accurate, the exception being that it was obviously tidied up for the film crew.

Anecdote – I drove a Miata at the time, and I pulled up to the front of Grauman’s one day while Chris was standing out front. “Want to go for a ride?” He got in, and the top was down so he draped the Superman cape back over the rear to let it blow in the wind. We cruised down Hollywood Boulevard and hit the Sunset Strip, then jumped on the freeway and headed over to Universal, then the 101 back up into Hollywood. I swear I’d never had my picture taken so many times in my life as that hour I drove around with Superman in the passenger seat. We’d pull up to a red light and the person next to us would ask, “Hey Superman, how come you have to get around in a car?” Chris would smile and point upward.. “It’s a no-fly zone over LA.”

NOTE – There’s an older LAPD officer seen in several scenes, who talks about police involvement with these characters and the legality of what they do. This is Mike Shea, who was a liaison to our security team at Hollywood & Highland. He’d come up into our dispatch center on occasion and we’d have some nice chats about the local neighborhood, including the superhero characters on the boulevard.

I’m embedding the video in this post. If I’ve sold you on watching it, you can either see it here or go to its page at Hulu.com. People using a reader or getting this in email won’t get the embedded video, so just go here.

Outside of the US - well, if you’re REALLY interested there’s always Amazon – I’d appreciate it if you used my affiliate link below.


Not seeing the video? click here

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The weirdest directions I ever gave..

November 7, 2008

I told a kid that he had to stop skateboarding in our loading dock, and he asked me if there was a skatepark he could go to.  I told him to walk through the complex out onto Hollywood Boulevard, turn right and proceed about 100 feet to the front of the Chinese Theater, where he’d [...]

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The day I almost killed Gwyneth Paltrow

October 23, 2007
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Gwyneth jumped in beside me and extended her hand. “Hi, I’m Gwyneth,” she said.

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Gracias Tía Bee!

September 6, 2007
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Aunt Bee got me a Starbucks card!

7 comments Read the REST..