Hiding the Hollywood Sign through Garmin 'n Google
November 24, 2014 12:20 PM   Subscribe

You're not really supposed to try to find this sign up-close in person, you're supposed to look at it from a distance. Arguments begin on how short that distance can be...

Chronologically, today's take on the issue starts with some instructions for those most ambitious tourists who really want to see the hollywood sign up close but culminates in a new [lightly buried lede alert] Gizmodo article detailing the efforts being used to cut off access to the sign.
posted by aydeejones (43 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
So that's what it takes to make Californians concerned about fire hazards.
posted by boo_radley at 12:29 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


In the nearly ten years we lived in LA, the Hollywood sign was about as good a summary of why people don't like LA as they come. Everyone--everyone--wants to go to it, and when you take them on a canyon hike that stops a great distance away from it, it doesn't make intuitive sense why that should be. "The plants and animals on this delicate area are very susceptible to damage or harm" is so out of proportion in a place like this one as to be laughable. It has much more to do with the wide array of mansions scattered near its base than it does with, like, the few animals and plants that have managed to survive LA's comfort in killing them slowly with urbanization over the last century.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:30 PM on November 24, 2014 [12 favorites]


Would anyone really give a crap if it was just taken down forever?
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 12:30 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Okay, I'm really torn, because 1) ugh, tourists and 2) ugh, NIMBYist homeowners who presumably moved there AFTER the sign was already there.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:40 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's because washed-up 90s sitcom actors keep stealing the D, and convincing everyone to just call it Hollywoo is harder than you would think.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:45 PM on November 24, 2014 [19 favorites]


So that's what it takes to make Californians concerned about fire hazards.

Except it's BS. If you put your car in a place that blocks a fire truck from responding, they move it. If moving it means "pushing it off the road", they do that -- why do you think those trucks have those bumpers? It might slow them down a couple of minutes, and they're not going to ram you at 50mph, but they will just pull up to your car, put the bumper onto your car, put the truck into low gear, and your car moves out of the way. Doesn't matter if the parking brake is on. Hell, doesn't matter if it's clamped. Far too much mass and horsepower is in play for the car to even get a vote.

Heck, if they need to put a hose through your car to get water, they do that.

In the US, it's a pretty much universal rule -- official fire departments can go over or through anything to get to a fire without liability. Private fenced off property? Fence comes down with one of several tools, fire trucks come in. Need to cut a hole in the roof? Big ass circular saw does that in less than a minute. Door locked? There's a whole book on how to get past the locked door in an amazingly short amount of time while doing the minimum amount of damage to the door.

You don't block fireman -- certainly not with something as trivial as a car. You annoy them slightly, and they have a fabulous set of tools to show you what annoying them slightly will do to you. They then ignore you and go fight the fire. Well, they annoy you. The cops have a very long chat with you about how you shouldn't annoy the firemen when they're trying to put out a fire.

So, yeah, this is a bullshit reason.
posted by eriko at 12:50 PM on November 24, 2014 [23 favorites]


Why Alissa thought that her first piece was "service journalism" is beyond me. When I lived on Beachwood, all my neighbors told tourists was "you can't get there from here."
posted by Ideefixe at 12:50 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


If moving it means "pushing it off the road", they do that -- why do you think those trucks have those bumpers?

And ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ if your car tumbles into the house on the downhill side of the street, I guess
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:53 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


As someone who's done a moderate amount of urbex, the amount of security described here really sounds like it's more about keeping the filthy poors away from mansions and out of sight of the rich people than it is about protecting some area.

some of the places i've essentially just strolled right in to or done stupid shit at(or showed up when someone else was already doing stupid shit at) that i really shouldn't have, you'd think, been able to do that so easily kind of proves this. even places that are a giant attractive nuisance like this.
posted by emptythought at 1:13 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


> Except it's BS.


im shocked shocked to find gambiling in here

> As someone who's done a moderate amount of urbex, the amount of security described here really sounds like it's more about keeping the filthy poors away from mansions and out of sight of the rich people than it is about protecting some area.

Yeah. I was thinking "if the hill's such an enormous fire hazard, surely you want to take down that giant lightning rod and proto-pyre on the hill".
posted by boo_radley at 1:18 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Even if you had the stamina to ascend the steep, slippery slope without falling, you could still fall victim to a lurking rattlesnake, be scratched by the rough brush, or be menaced by a mountain lion.

---

The security system for the Sign was developed in concert with city officials, police and fire authorities, park rangers, and the Department of Homeland Security, and it includes the following features:
• A tall perimeter fence with razor wire
• 24 hour electronic surveillance by City of Los Angeles authorities
• Infrared lights and cameras that can see equally as well in the day and on a moonless night
• Monitoring microphones and bullhorns
• Web cameras
• Motion sensors
Regular patrol visits by city police
Amazing that the LAPD seem undeterred by the treacherous slopes, the deadly snakes, the rough brush and the dangerous, man-sized carnivores.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:27 PM on November 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


No remote controlled turrets? No land mines? No piranha-filled moats?
posted by entropicamericana at 1:32 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Nothing that patience, willingness to crawl, and a handful of chaff grenades can't take care of.
posted by MysticMCJ at 1:44 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


No remote controlled turrets? No land mines? No piranha-filled moats?

Give them time.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:45 PM on November 24, 2014




Eriko, that forced entry guide is absolutely fantastic.
posted by MysticMCJ at 1:55 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


My kids and I recently took a cross country trip from my native Massachusetts to Los Angeles. Of course, we took the obligatory photos in front of the sign. I remember it wasn't too easy to find that place with the best views. It looked like an old sand lot where you'd play baseball with your friends. There were tons of luxury cars with mostly obnoxious people - the kind the older folks around where I live would call 'peanut butter rich'. Some of them would even move the no parking signs and cones to park close to the sand lot so they didn't have to move their fat asses more than three feet. We were really looking forward to it, but It was the low point in the trip I think. The kids tried to pick some prickly pears and just ended up getting scratched up. I remember the houses around the area being nice Italian villa type. They must be fed up with all these obnoxious tourists.
posted by McMillan's Other Wife at 1:58 PM on November 24, 2014


That menu bar...

HOLLYWOOD SIGN TRUST     FILMING THE SIGN     TEACHING THE SIGN

...could belong to a slightly ominous cult.

CONTACT US
posted by zompist at 2:21 PM on November 24, 2014 [12 favorites]


With all the tourists wanting to see it up close, I don't understand why the Hollywood Sign People don't just install a proper way up (funicular!!!) (or, more realistically, a way down from the road that already goes to the top, which would be a pretty simple job) and charge people a ridiculous fee for admission. Armed guards and all that to prevent climbers and vandals.

They'd make a jillion dollars in the first week.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:23 PM on November 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


You don't block fireman -- certainly not with something as trivial as a car.

The other thing that happens in my experience is that they take pictures of it and show it in training slides for the next decade or so: "What to do if some dumbass parks in front of the hydrant." These are one of the few highlights of deadly boring recertification courses.

The sight of your dumbassery, and the laughter that brings will be part of many firefighter's lives for years to come, though briefly, just before they break for coffee. It's almost a public service, really.
posted by bonehead at 2:42 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


The Hollywood Sign Trust (actually, I think it's the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which then gives the money to the Trust) has also been known to make ridiculous IP demands on anyone who invokes the Sign, citing their trademarks. This has extended as far as sending a C&D to a mefite who had a tourist photo of the sign on their website.

In short, everyone involved with the sign, whether they are responsible for it or just live nearby, appear to be assholes.
posted by zachlipton at 3:08 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


You can get pretty darn close to the sign via the legit trail. (And it's a really nice trail, too!) When I was up there about a year ago, some guy was flying his quadcopter over the fence to get closer shots. Then a real copter showed up over our heads. It was fun.
posted by archagon at 3:38 PM on November 24, 2014


The Department of Homeland Security is worrying about...the Hollywood sign?
posted by bac at 3:42 PM on November 24, 2014


If someone blew it up the entertainment industry would instantly shut down. Those letters are like solar concentrators for the human psychic energy that powers the occult machinery of Hollywood. The government has to look out for our economic engines.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 3:54 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


We were really looking forward to it, but It was the low point in the trip I think.

I'm curious about what you were expecting it to be like. I mean, it's just... a place? In a city. That people live in.

Did you think there would be some kind of museum or official lookout zone or the like? A parking lot? Disneyland?

One of the best things about the Hollywood Sign is that it's just what it is. You can drive up Sunset towards Hollywood and look up, and hey, there it is! You can hike to a few different spots for especially nice photo ops. If you are lazy, some of those spots are reachable by car. It's not a theme park or a curated tourist space. It's just a sign on a hill that anybody can look at anytime they want, and that's the whole thing.
posted by Sara C. at 4:03 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


A few decades ago the sign was in bad repair, so they cut the sheet metal up and sold it to raise money for refurbishment. So it's already on its second skin. I've got a piece; it's a 1.5-inch square of dinged up metal with some white paint clinging to it. I'm looking at it now, it's just eight feet away. No need to go hiking.
posted by kinnakeet at 4:17 PM on November 24, 2014


We did the Massachusetts to LA trip this summer, too. We did our Hollywood sign viewing from the Griffith Observatory, which is home to a creepy bust of James Dean. I recommend it for all your Hollywood sign observations.
posted by Biblio at 4:21 PM on November 24, 2014


Like Sara C. says, the charm of the sign isn't getting up close to it (like a lot of things in Hollywood, it's not very impressive up close), it's just it being there.

And there absolutely would be uproar among the locals if they tried to take it down - including from the mansions nearby, because I guarantee they never miss a chance to tell people they live right by the Hollywood sign. (I've overheard it in conversation more than once.)
posted by Lyn Never at 4:26 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the Observatory is the best if you have kids and want an easy getting-lost-proof way to get a good view of the sign with parking and bathrooms and those little coin-op binocular things.

When I had family in town recently we drove up through the hills winding our way with a combination of GPS and my spidey sense from having hiked to it. That was also fine, especially for four adults in one small car.
posted by Sara C. at 4:27 PM on November 24, 2014


like a lot of things in Hollywood, it's not very impressive up close

I actually really like L.A but this is very true some things are meant to seen at a distance, in situ. The Hollywood sign is charming when just appears around the corner at the edge of a large avenue, not large and in person.
posted by The Whelk at 5:18 PM on November 24, 2014


One of the best things about the Hollywood Sign is that it's just what it is. You can drive up Sunset towards Hollywood and look up, and hey, there it is!

That's how I feel about the Empire State Building. One second I'm trying to acclimate myself to the NYC streets after coming up out of Penn Station, and the next, hello there ESB.

I've never ever had the urge to see the Hollywood Sign in person until this post.
posted by lyssabee at 5:46 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Like Sara C. says, the charm of the sign isn't getting up close to it (like a lot of things in Hollywood, it's not very impressive up close), it's just it being there.

Our apartment has a far-off view of the sign-- well, you can see it from the living room windows if you squint a bit-- which we didn't know before signing the lease and moving in, sight unseen. I had zero fond feelings about the sign before moving in, but it is kind of nice to have it as a landmark or at least a place mark. There's nothing else that says "You Are Here" about the rest of it unless you count the palm trees, and since it lingers at the end of a lot of roads and behind billboards, it's become a reminder that this is home now.

But yeah I wouldn't walk there, driving most of the canyon roads is a remarkable nightmare and not because of the tourists.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:57 PM on November 24, 2014


Hollywood has repeatedly led me to believe that I could climb up there at any time and engage in (a) deep, meaningful, life-changing self-reflection or conversations, and/or (b) shenanigans.

What else has Hollywood lied about?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:00 PM on November 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


The most surprising thing about this is the threats that are being made to Alissa now. I've been reading her blog for years and I wouldn't have figured that walking in LA would cause that much dramaz. More fool me.

I wonder if they are genuinely going to sue her--I wouldn't be surprised if that happened. I wonder if she'll end up taking it down.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:04 PM on November 24, 2014


Where will we beat weather stations with a baseball bat ?
posted by The Whelk at 6:07 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't have figured that walking in LA would cause that much dramaz

The amount of suspicious one can engender as a pedestrian in certain areas of LA is astounding and kind of sad. What's especially great is the notion that residents who want to walk around are superior to mere tourists who want to walk around.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:43 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


eden ahbez used to live under the first 'L', while writing this. I guess that kind of thing isn't possible anymore.
posted by eye of newt at 7:30 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Eriko, that forced entry guide is absolutely fantastic

Previously (don't miss veryape's comment).
posted by jjwiseman at 7:55 PM on November 24, 2014


I read that when the sign was falling apart in the late '70's, Hugh Hefner held a fundraiser where rich celebrities sponsored letters of the sign, so it could be repaired.
Apparently Alice Cooper bought one of the "O's".
posted by chococat at 8:47 PM on November 24, 2014


Previously

Wow. I hadn't realized that it had made the blue. I'm surprised---that I'm surprised by that, actually.

(don't miss veryape's comment).

Oh, gosh, no, don't miss veryape's comment. Because, yeah, that's how the Fire Department rolls.
posted by eriko at 9:46 PM on November 24, 2014


Do not taunt Hollywood Sign.
If Hollywood Sign begins to smoke, get away.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:41 AM on November 25, 2014


eriko Heck, if they need to put a hose through your car to get water, they do that.

If FDNY needs to put a tower ladder's outrigger through a police car, they do that.
posted by mlis at 6:49 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just spent two days reading that FDNY forcible entry guide. Incredible.

I totally need to upgrade our front door. It wouldn't stand a determined shove from a teenager, much less a determined criminal.
posted by intermod at 9:17 PM on November 26, 2014


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