Current Littourati Map

Neil Gaiman's
American Gods

Click on Image for Current Map

Littourari Cartography
  • On the Road
    On the Road
    by Jack Kerouac
  • Blue Highways: A Journey into America
    Blue Highways: A Journey into America
    by William Least Heat-Moon

Search Littourati
Enjoy Littourati? Recommend it!


Littourati is powered by
Powered by Squarespace


Get a hit of these blue crystal bath salts, created by Albuquerque's Great Face and Body, based on the smash TV series Breaking Bad.  Or learn about other Bathing Bad products.  You'll feel so dirty while you get so clean.  Guaranteed to help you get high...on life.

Go here to get Bathing Bad bath products!

Entries in Hollywood (2)


On the Road: Columbia Studios, Hollywood, California

Click on Thumbnail for MapNote: First published on Blogger on September 23, 2007

Unfolding the Map

Sal is back in Hollywood, but this time he's looking to get out of town. Join the journey by clicking on the map.

Book Quote

"Terry bought my breakfast. I had my canvas bag all packed and ready to go to New York, as soon as I picked up my money in Sabinal. I knew it was waiting there for me by now. I told Terry I was leaving. She had been thinking about it all night and was resigned to it. Emotionlessly she kissed me in the vineyard and walked off down the row. We turned at a dozen paces, for love is a duel, and looked at each other for the last time.

"I got out on the highway and hitched a ride at once. It was the fastest, whoopingest ride of my life....We made Sabinal to LA in the amazing time of four hours flat about 250 miles. He dropped me off right in front of Columbia Pictures in Hollywood."

On the Road, Chapter 13

Columbia Studios, Hollywood, California

I was listening to a story on Studio 360, a radio program distributed over the public radio networks, a few days ago. You can access the program here. The show was devoted to the concept of being On the Road, and there was a segment about a discussion/disagreement between people who were just married. I started listening in the middle of the story, so I didn't hear how it started, but it appeared that the husband counted On the Road as one of his favorite books, a book that spoke to him. The segment seemed to have been put together by his wife, who read the book for the first time, and she did not understand what appealed so much to her partner about the book. For her, the book was simply about Sal Paradise careening from place to place, looking for a questionable character (Dean), doing drugs, and displaying questionable attitudes and actions toward women throughout the journey. Not only that, she could not get into the writing -- she was only able to find one instance where the writing sort of moved her. She was on a journey to understand the book so that she could understand why her partner felt so strongly about it.

I must say that on my first reading of the book, I had much similar attitudes toward it. I was underwhelmed by the writing, and I was underwhelmed by the things that were important to Sal. I still wonder about places and people that Sal met that he did not describe to their fullest in his haste to catch up with Dean in Denver, or get to San Francisco. I wanted to know more about those things and people in between (hence me using this book as my first project on Littourati).

However, to me Sal's relationship with Terry was one of the only times in the book where he truly had more than a fleeting relationship with a woman. It feels like he truly fell in love, and that for a moment in time he planned to spend time with her. Jack uses his best writing about women and love and Sal's feelings in the book to describe this relationship. Ultimately, Sal's restlessness, the lure of the road, the less than romantic nature of the life he would have to live, and the need to get back to familiar places on the East Coast overcome what Terry has to offer. She is Mexican, after all. She has lots of family and support, hardscrabble though it may be, where she is. Sal realizes that he is not cut out for, nor is he very interested in, a life of picking cotton or trucking manure around. So he leaves. Terry does not whine or throw things at him (constant themes among the women involved in relationships with his friends). She is emotionless as she walks away. Perhaps she wasn't in love. Perhaps she knows how Sal really is -- within a day or so he'll be making moves on some other woman on a bus. I don't know. But I do know that of all Sal's relationships, this one rings most true for the multi-sided facets of Sal's (and Jack's) nature.

By the way, the woman in the radio story gains a deeper understanding of the book after a professor who teaches the book tells her what he thinks Sal's motivations are. The book may be like my experience of the Three Stooges. Men get them, like them, and laugh. Women just don't find them humorous. Perhaps On the Road is similar.

If you want to know more about Columbia Studios, or more about the relationship that Sal's relationship with Terry was based on

Jack Kerouac and Bea Franco: an excerpt from Jack Kerouac: A Biography by Michael Dittman
Jan Kerouac (Jack's daughter) reading her poem about Jack Kerouac (on Studio 360)

On how Jack's relationship with Bea Franco was emblematic of Beat fascination with Mexican culture

Old Columbia Studios: Sunset and Gower
Wikipedia: Columbia Studios

Next up: Indio, California


On the Road: Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, California

Click on Thumbnail for MapNote: First published on Blogger on May 1, 2007

Unfolding the Map

Sal is still hanging around the stars in Hollywood. He even catches a glimpse of one or two. But, Hollywood's siren song doesn't bring him much fame, fortune, or even food money. Click on the map for the latest in our LA journey.

Book Quote

"Hollywood Boulevard was a great, screaming frenzy of cars; there were minor accidents at least once a minute; everybody was rushing off toward the farthest palm -- and beyond that was the desert and nothingness. Hollywood Sams stood in front of swank restaurants, arguing exactly the same way Broadway Sams argue at Jacob's Beach, New York, only here they wore light-weight suits and their talk was cornier. Tall, cadaverous preachers shuddered by. Fat screaming women ran across the boulevard to get in line for the quiz shows. I saw Jerry Colonna buying a car at Buick Motors; he was inside the vast plate-glass window, fingering his mustachio."

On the Road, Chapter 13

Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California

Two or three things stand out to me in Sal's quote. First, anyone who has been to Los Angeles knows that nowhere in the general vicinity of LA can you find desert and nothingness beyond the farthest palm. Beyond the farthest palm is more city or suburb, more concrete roadways and whatever housing fits in the area. If indeed this is what Sal sees, then 1940s era LA must have been more compact, and perhaps even some of the various communities in the LA area were separated by open space at the time. That certainly isn't the case today. When you speak of the LA area now, you speak of one unbroken stretch of city where communities bleed into one another and people pass by on the freeways barely noticing them.

Second, I notice that Sal makes a comparison between LA and New York City as he talks about the "Hollywood Sams" arguing. Who exactly they are and what exactly they argue about I'm not sure -- I'm guessing that they are local know-it-alls and their arguments have something to do with the quality of entertainment, the latest stars, and the opportunities available in the movie business. However, his allusions are more than just this. Hollywood Boulevard is a screaming frenzy of cars, much like I imagine Broadway was and still is. Even in the fantasyland of the west coast, there are certain similarities between cities that just don't go away. This includes all the characters that Sal sees. The preachers, the fat ladies running to the quiz shows, the Hollywood Sams, and even Jerry Colonna with a huge mustachio. Who is Jerry Colonna? It is interesting that Jack included him in this scene. He was a zany Italian-American, mustached comedian who appeared many times with Bob Hope and was known for playing nit-witted characters, according to Wikipedia. The interesting thing about his inclusion in this scene is the ironic juxtaposition -- Jerry Colonna is doing something mundane and non-zany, buying a car at Buick, while the zaniness and craziness and all the strange characters are the rest of America roaming around outside the car dealership.

This leads to an interesting question to ponder. Is America that crazy, that weird, that strange that they can make professional actors whose job is to play strange characters seem remarkably tame? Are actors really looking at us and saying "Now THAT's strange -- I'll use it for my next performance!" Are places like Hollywood just manifestations of the real strangeness and idiocy that we barely hold in? Did Jack really see through all this?

Am I just play-acting the English major, aping what I see true literary critics doing, but not realizing that I too am part of the general strangeness and idiocy that is America?

By the way, Hollywood Boulevard is the home of the "Walk of Fame" that you hear about every so often when some actor gets his or her star set into the concrete.

If you want to know more about Hollywood Boulevard, the Walk of Fame or Jerry Colonna

Hollywood Boulevard - The Virtual Tour
Hollywood Chamber of Commerce
Hollywood Walk of Fame
IMDB: Jerry Colonna Hollywood Boulevard
Wikipedia: Hollywood Walk of Fame
Wikipedia: Jerry Colonna

Next up: Downtown Los Angeles