My Hollywood Adventure, Part 3 of 3 – Stuck in Customs

My Hollywood Adventure, Part 3 of 3

And now the last section of the three part story. Perhaps I have built this up too much to somewhat of a Lost Finale ending that confuses people. Maybe it has already become tiresome by now? Yes, probably… In that case, you can just enjoy the photos… !


A 3-Part Story…


And then I went inside.

Can you even take photos in here? I really doubt it! But I take some anyway…. being the “beg for forgiveness” sort of guy. Actually, that’s not true. I don’t beg for forgiveness – I feel like I have an in-born right to record my life.

Am I wrong there? No… of course not… I take photos of things with all the confidence of a man who knows how natural an in-born right can feel.

However, I do respect the privacy of things that deserve it, so I won’t be posting any photos of the inside.  Perhaps leaving it all a mystery makes it more intoxicating; it is something quite like JJ Abram’s idea of the “Black Box”. You’ve seen his wonderful TED speech about that, by the way? I have it here on my “Best TED Speeches” page.

I end up having a variety of meetings about this and that. Anything interesting? Yes. Anything I can talk about? No. Will anything actually happen? I have no idea… When anything becomes solid, I’ll be sure to share it!

The only thing announced thus far is CAA’s representation of me, and, among other things, my agents there handle speaking engagements. Look there I am in the “R’s” between Sally Jessy Raphael and RuPaul. You go girl.

By the way, the next time I am speaking is in Dallas at My friend John Poz from OneMansBlog put together a cool thing where three of my Limited Edition Prints will be given way. This is a New Series on Metal. It’s printed on high white gloss aluminum and you just gotta see them. So, besides a chance to win those, I’ll be speaking on all sorts of subjects… and be sure to come over and say hello if you see me around!

Back to my meandering story… I exit the building out the front. Many drivers & bodyguards look at me and then at one another. They must be wondering, “Why is ‘the help’ using the front doors?”

The walk back is nice, I think. I stroll along and then suddenly remember that I should go visit the Annenberg Center for Photography. It a great space in the courtyard of CAA that has different special photography events. I saw a great exhibit there early on sports photography and was excited to see whatever new event was currently happening.

But, I lament, I would have to walk through the lobby and all these drivers again, who were already quite sure I was lost. Who cares, I thought, walking back in the way I had just come five minutes earlier. I got to the Annenberg. It was closed. This meant immediately walking back out again past all the drivers. They had already established that I was lost and clueless before. Now it was just plain sad to them.

I begin capturing a few more photos as I walk. I think about “obviousness of the shot” and Clyde Aspevig, one of my painter friends. You may remember my reference to Clyde in my latest book (and my Clyde Aspevig video interview here). Here’s the thing about the obviousness problem — I’ll do my best to explain.

Once you are in a location for a while, let’s say a day or so, it all becomes quite familiar. It can reach a point of familiarity that makes everything a bit obvious, and you just don’t feel like taking a photo. Standing there, looking at the scene, it can be thought of as dull. But if you force yourself to muscle through and take the shot, forget about it, then review it again later back at the studio, there can still be magic there. It’s almost impossible to appreciate on the scene, and time will give the shot more perspective.

Clyde goes through this with his paintings. At times, he has his easel set up in a field, makes a painting, then finds it all dreadfully boring when he is done. He resolves to take it back to his studio later to give it a second look, and often sees the finished product of his original vision. This seems like a nice way to go about things… and I decide to follow the lead of Clyde once again.

I begin to wonder why I am so much more fascinated with painters than with photographers. That’s not to say that I don’t find other photography and photographers interesting — but only interesting to a point. The mystery of skilled painters is what I find most intriguing. Why is this?

In interviews, I’m often asked “Who are your favorite photographers?” I’ve got a few, sure. In fact, I have a little Tribute Page here to Edward Curtis. That guy is amazing… and then nerdy photographers have the gall to leave comments amounting to, “You know he’s a disingenuous hack, who willing clone-stamps out modern conveniences like clocks from the Indians’ tent, right?” Yes – so what? He’s incredible.

I’m also inspired by the generic, yet individual “Internet Photographer”. I have several on the “Things That Inspire Me” page. There are so many great photographers out there nowadays… after a few moments flipping through some of my favorites, I’m instantly inspired. And we have a great many of them that are regular readers of Stuck In Customs. I do enjoy it when they post links to their work, and I wish I had a better way for everyone to share. That is part of the reason that we started — but that only solves a subset of the problem of sharing.

While going down the road, I spot something I missed when going the other direction. The Church of Scientology in Beverly Hills! I should stop by to have them check my electro-levels or whatever the hell they do. This building is kind of run-down and scary-looking. I take a quick picture and move on… since I worry a little about someone in all black jumping off the roof to grab my camera.

Then there is restaurant after restaurant, each with outdoor seating filled with dynamic-looking people. I look at them all, and they don’t seem to mind. LA isn’t a place where people are surprised if you look at them. It’s a place where they expect to be closely examined. And since I like people-watching, it’s just about perfect. I take pictures here and there of people and they’re all cool about it. Of course they’re cool about it – it’s LA.

It’s getting a little later in the day by now, and the streets in and around Rodeo Drive are getting even busier. Nicer cars are rolling in and the tops are going down. I’m getting a bit tired, but I power through and keep weaving through the streets to find interesting bits.

I think fatigue becomes more and more relative compared to the day before. Hiking day after day through the mountains on a photo adventure is not too tough after a while. So, I wonder why a leisurely walk around flat LA is getting tiresome. It makes me feel even more wimpy, and I resolve to keep searching about for shots. I know that I may end up throwing out most of the shots, but I feel soft pressure from within to experiment. Sometimes I’ll feel like experimenting for fun and without any effort. Other times, I have to force myself a bit. Nothing is easy when it comes to this sort of thing.

Finally, I make it back to my hotel. Even though it’s afternoon, the lobby is fairly dark. A nice woman of indeterminate origin is behind the bar, busy lighting candles to set around various rooms. She smiles and offers me a drink. I’m too tired and graciously say no. I head back up into my room, set all my equipment down on the floor, undress and get in bed for a nice afternoon nap. I feel a bit lazy, but don’t really care after my head presses into the pillow.


After you go inside these doors, anyone caught with a camera is killed in a dramatic Hollywood action-scene.  So I won’t post any photos from the inside.


Just outside, nearby The Annenberg Space for Photography, two enormous skyscrapers shoot up into the sky. The left one is filled with lawyers. The right one is filled with attorneys.


Graffiti artists have a good time decorating the edges of Beverly Hills. And who doesn’t like seeing the shocked monocle-millionaire from Monopoly?


This place was creepy. The building was not really in the best condition, which was surprising in its high-toned location. Maybe I saw a few famous stars running in and out of this place. And maybe I didn’t. It’s all a blur after Tom Cruise glamoured me.


The street side bistros and cafes are filled with colorful sorts. I saw this guy and gave him the universal sign-language for “Is it okay to capture your awesomeness?” He gave the universal nod, meaning, “Yes, you can capture my awesomeness.”


To show you how awesome my agent is, this is not even her car. It’s the car of her assistant, Michelle. Actually, it’s her backup-car.


After a long day of apparently aimless wandering, I arrive back at my little hotel. The friendly gal at the bar is lighting candles to help make things as homey as possible.