Spidey sense / by laurel

Hollywood has its perks.

For one, Hollywood the destination (as in, Melrose, WeHo, NoHo and the like) is chock full of variety to pique even a jaded cynical's waning interest: Trannies and shopping and Swingers, oh my!

By the same token, 'Hollywood' the verb* carries with it the forceful cultural zeitgeist of something we'll refer fondly to in our old age when the new cultural norm has all gone to the pits.**

For me, Hollywood in all its various incarnations has lost its magic. I can trace this disenchantment with the first time I visited Hollywood as a teenager. 'Copters circled overhead. Bums hunkered down over the stars that triumphed the ingenuity of a person's ability to pretend to be someone else. The Chinese Theater was majestic, no doubt, but its majesty was somehow lessened by the gray piss-stained walls of the strip malls and strip clubs that flanked its muscular arms.

Walking down Main St. downtown around 7pm, I was only idly aware of the movie production going on around me. Suddenly emerging from the silly, cluttered Hollywood Brouhaha was a crew member, clutching a headset like it was the Hope Diamond. "You can't walk here!" He announced breathlessly.

Of course not. It's a sidewalk, after all.

Somewhere in the distance, there was a stunt double playing the actor who was playing Spiderman (or Venom, or who even knows, but the costume was black, so jot that down in your geek-books). Swathed in his black spandex, he flipped through the air, gliding on tentacle-like cables. All of this was taking place in the intersection of 4th and Main, which just happens to be one of my favorite intersections in DTLA (that's a nod to Gary Jules, if anyone is paying attention).

Here's the thing with Hollywood types. You have to speak very slowly. You see, they are nervous creatures--always one step lower on the ferocious food chain than they'd like to be, and therefore always answering to (or waiting to be eaten alive by) an over-inflated higher-up who is suffering the same evolutionary Survival of The Fittest complex. Their thoughts flitter about like space ships in a badly produced Lucas film, so you can't make any sudden movements around these Hollywood types, see, or they might die of a brain aneurysm.

"Well where can we walk? We're trying to go around the corner," I explained calmly, pointing (it's always good to use expressive hand gestures. Just don't make eye contact--they see that as a challenge).

"Oh...well...okay, but keep walking, no stopping!" And poof! like a hummingbird drunk on sugar water, he was gone (to, no doubt, wrap Spider-Venom-Stunt-Double in an emergency blanket since it was dipping into the frigid low 60's tonight).

Here's the reason 4th and Main ranks so highly in my mind. You could spend an entire evening in that one single intersection and never have to set foot anywhere near Hollywood (unless, of course, the entire festering swarm of production decides to follow you and infiltrate where you work--see the Mission Impossible III trailer--AND play).

Hence, (and you knew this was coming, didn't you? You were just waiting, tapping your little fingers together and smacking your lips in anticipation)...a list.

I'm titling this one:

How to Dodge the Proverbially Mind-Numbing Bullet of Media Influence.***

1. I've mentioned this place before (predictably on another list, in fact--am I in a rut? Does one have the wherewithal to know when they are in a rut?), but I'll raise my voice to the high heavens and sing to God Himself about this one. Pete's Cafe on the corner of 4th and Main has the most devilishly decadent and delicious death-by-heart-attack-they're-that-bad-for-you-and-yet-oh-so-good Bleu Cheese Fries. All caps. I'd e-shout about it if I didn't think e-shouting was the computer equivalent to selling your soul to the devil.

Although I might consider it if Bleu Cheese Fries were involved.

Yes, they really are that good. Start your night-o-fun at Pete's with Bleu Cheese Fries (can I call them BCF's? Can I go there? I'm going to go there). It's like eating dessert before your meal. Except this isn't dessert, it's salty and smothered in dairy-licious nectar from the gods.

Okay, enough with the celestial analogies. Get thee to Pete's, post haste! (Pete's Cafe, 400 S Main St, 90013)

2. If, after noshing on BCF's, (I know, I purposely structured that sentence so I could insert BCF's in there. Oh, look I did it again) you're not twitching from a food coma, waddle up 4th to Rocket's (The Rocket Pizza Lounge, 122 W 4th St.) and order the BBQ chicken pizza. The decor is swank and dimly lit and the place is usually empty--which means you're in for undivided attention from the waitstaff and a welcome vacation from the LA 'scene.'

3. Over the river and through the woods (or around the corner and down the alley) from Rocket's, Lost Souls Cafe awaits you. Hidden from view at the end of Harlem Place Alley, which is lit by a swag of lights traversing a zig-zag overhead. Inside is the typical coffee fare--ice blended whatevers, steamed soy hoohahs, half-and-half la-dee-dahs. There is live music most nights, or ambient noise provided by the DJ that spins in the corner, as well as plenty of couches to lounge on. (Lost Souls Cafe, 124 W. 4th Street)

4. There will be no clever transition here. I'll get straight to the point, being that scattered on the walls of the loftster-packed Bar 107 (so named for the influx of hipster Loft inhabitants from across the street) are various forms of taxidermy: deer, a moose, and maybe even a jackalope.

Already my soul has found a place to rest in the fantastically kitschy-coolness of any stuffed animal with antlers. Bask in its beady-eyed glow, I tell you! And if that doesn't tweak your inherent love of ephemera, the photobooth waiting in the dark corner of the adjacent dance floor most certainly will.

I should also mention that the DJs spin pretty good dance music here, as my coworker and I both nearly passed out from shear excitement when our current guilty-pleasure obsession blasted in the form of Madonna's "Hung Up." (more on that below)****

Lastly, I fear that perhaps I've lead you all astray in the way I ordered my list (isn't that Cardinal Sin #1 for Listmakers?). I'd probably place the chilled-out atmospheric Lost Souls at the end of the night after a few good hours of rump shaking at Bar 107.

Now that all our ducks are in a row, I trust that next time Hollywood decides to bring its mini-kingdom and superfluous kingdom-politics to your place of work or play, you'll know where to go to get away from it all.

*"That's so Hollywood." Snooty voice. Wrinkled nose. Air of self-importance. Repeat as needed to feel self-actualized.

**Funny how reminiscence basks in its own peculiarly delusional peach glow. When I think of falling down as a child, I remember the feeling of flying down the street, hellbent for an afternoon of Red Rover--and not the sting of ripped pants and flesh.

***Or, "The Fab Four" if you prefer succinctness.

****I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment of pause to laud this song's magically dance-tastic perfection. Surging from the speakers with the force of a disco-revival tidal wave, Madonna delivers what she built her empire upon, and then some: Purely perfect thumping dance-pop.

And hearing this track played in its native environment (as opposed to hearing it from my pathetically tinney ipod headphones) is like seeing a lion and realizing that you're not at the zoo but instead are standing in the middle of the Serengeti next to a limping antelope. I couldn't stop from shaking my hips and shimmying with the best of them, I admit it. My coworker admonished me at the end of the night, in fact, by telling me I'd used up my "dance minutes" and to stop bobbing my head, please.