II. Wonder View

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        I had to take her to a place as beautiful as she, anything less would have been a disgrace. So we came to Wonder View Road, where one could witness the elaborate, rolling hills of Hollywood just touch the scum of the Pacific Ocean.  The enveloping mountains of L.A. held the valley as it met the sea, drowning in the ebb and flow of its extravagant waste, as if those undulating hills were collecting the foam of trash the ocean washed ashore, but even Mother Nature herself couldn’t produce the kind of froth that could be so indulgent, so extreme, and so excessively wasteful as Hollywood.

        The sweeping 360 degree views of L.A. were well worth the long and treacherous climb to the top of Wonder View. Tourists, locals, and soccer-mom, dog-walkers were all regulars on the hike, well, and me of course. At the top of the mountain the path split in two directions: the right, where most would choose to venture, led to the Hollywood sign; but the left, led up a rocky incline to a single, secluded tree with a small, metal box that lay retired beneath its branches, inundated in pages of emotional stories and secrets, all shoved haphazardly and left forgotten inside.  So we headed up the mountainside to that lonely tree that sat at the top and the small metal box that lay at it’s roots, cloaked in it’s shade.

        The first time I found the box, years ago, I was inspired to start writing, and with a little help from a good friend, I got my first free-lance writing job. Sometimes, I would read the letters, poems, and random thoughts for hours on end. Inside there was love, heartbreak, deception, addiction, loss, gain, greed, and beauty, a fantastical display of humanity’s dramas, but there was one thing that was not in that box: fabrication. No, nothing was fake, nothing was a façade; everything in that box was beautiful, comedic, or tragic, but genuine; it was always real.

        What was fabricated, and drew most of the people to simply walk by the small, metal box sitting under that desolate tree: the Hollywood Sign. Most people just walked right by the unassuming box without knowing the beauty it held; they overlooked organic passion for a tall, metal sign, a phony, white illusion. The Hollywood Sign looks spectacular from afar, a radiant icon of success and fame, but once you trek all the way up that mountain, pass the box and the tree, you will see the sign is just flat letters, held up by light, metal poles, and painted in plain white. No, it’s not some grand structure of fortune, it is just a phony production, a fake representation of fame. That sign is the flame that draws humans, like moths, to this city, only for the city to chew up and devour every last inch of those poor, seeking, and unsuspecting  fluttering souls.

        The metal box, the sign, and the path leading to them, are the entire city, tightly represented in the most simplest of ways: the box is Hollywood’s counter-culture, the street performers, local bands, and indie clubs; while the sign represents the majority of people who listen to the top40 fabricated, mass-produced, generic beats, with few words, strategically placed by an overpaid, under-talented engineer, all marketed to sell, deceitfully produced, and then branded and shoved at the public’s eyes. They go to packed, overhyped, mainstream clubs, wearing overpriced designer clothes, searching for any sort of recognition for their lonely unoriginal style; they, the majority, who choose to walk the path leading to the sign; they pass right by the true beauty: the small, metal box, overlooked for the fake, shallow, metal sign: the illusion. People spend their whole lives in their minds’ fictitious utopias and never find the box; they never see the genuine magnificence that quietly hides under that single, secluded, and lonely tree.

        The Hollywood Sign will forever hang over this town, like a noose, reminding most of their failures, while the privileged few get to see the narrow sight of success: that truly meaningless game that is fame.  The sign represents an utterly deceptive, counterfeit,phony reality that "anyone can make it", while the elite sell their poorly assembled, fabricated garbage that the failed masses buy with their hearts and souls and then their wallets. This city, with all of it’s vibrant, horrific wonders and stories of notoriety can still destroy even the most ambitious and resilient dreams.

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