Yesterday, a very interesting day. I made plans to go with Nick Coviello, Denzel Whitaker, Eric Lawson, and Leslie Maryann Neal to go see what may very well have been the last appearance of Kirk Douglas at any celebrity event. His walk-of-fame star was being rededicated at 7pm and following the rededication then Grauman’s Chinese Theatre was screening Kubrick’s Spartacus at 8pm for a quarter.
Mindful of my money situation and having no gas in my truck, and aware of my friend Marie Lecrivain’s penchant for alternate transportation, I decided to buy a metro day pass ($6) and take the orange line to the redline and take the subway which would drop me off right underneath the Hollywood and Highland complex. If I had driven, parking would have cost me $22 dollars.
The day was humid and sticky so I decided to wear a “breathable” t-shirt. The day started pleasantly enough, I walked to the orange line bus stop about 2 blocks north of my apartment, got the day pass, the benches were all full so I stood close to the curb. Immediately, some scruffy guy with a bicycle stood directly behind me and began bumping me from behind. I believed that he was checking out my back pockets to see if he could pickpocket me so I walked a bit further down the curb. He then proceeded to stand directly behind some Mexican lady with bags. I took out my phone and began to take a picture but he noticed this and then took off on his bicycle.
The orange bus ride was good. The bus drops you off across the street from the redline North Hollywood Lankershim station. I crossed the street with a crowd and then took two sets of escalators down deep into the ground. The LA subway is pretty deep underground and the Lankershim station is huge and vaulted and quite impressive. This fact did not keep two British people from talking loudly about how “the underground” in London is bigger and cleaner and more efficient.
When I got to Hollywood and Highland, I had about an hour to spare. Eric and Leslie were already in the area and they told me to meet them at the Jack-in-the-box on the corner of Highland and Fountain. I checked a map on my phone and found out that Fountain is a mile south of Grauman’s so I told Eric and Leslie that I was going to eat somewhere closer to the event. They told me they were almost finished and were about to walk back anyway.
I went upstairs in the Hollywood & Highland Complex and ate at The Great Steak and Potato company. I ordered a philly cheesesteak with a diet coke. They tried charging me for fries I didn’t order and when I was trying to fix the order, suddenly the Asian man couldn’t understand a word I was saying until I threw up my hands and said, fine just cancel the order, then suddenly he understood what I was saying.
While I was eating, a very attractive brunette in a Supergirl costume with a top hat walked in and asked me and several people for a lighter or matches. Nobody eating could help her. She went outside and met a guy half-dressed as Batman and I guess he had a lighter because when I returned my tray and walked outside, they were both smoking.
Outside, and from my vantage point, I stopped and watched another spectacle on Hollywood Blvd. The Storage Wars production team had a section of the sidewalk blocked off for a promotion. From what I could tell, they had a closed cargo container on the sidewalk and if anybody in the crowd could guess the money value in the container without going over, then they would win whatever was in the container. The catch was that you had to sign up at this little table that was swamped. I took this picture.
Eric and Leslie walked up about then and we sat down for a spell before heading out to Grauman’s. Hot brunette Top Hat Supergirl left but then a lady Chucky carrying a chucky doll and a guy in a purple Spiderman costume and also a guy dressed like Super Mario all congregated with Batman and began arguing loudly about something. We thought that was funny and I got Eric to take a picture surreptitiously with my phone. If they had noticed that we took a picture then they would have come over and bugged us for money.
I took a picture of El Capitan across the street before we went over to Grauman’s.
At Grauman’s, the area where Kirk Douglas was to appear was already packed. Some Swiss tourists jostled their way in front of us and they were like 10 feet tall. Then this nice Puerto Rican family sidled next to me. They were speaking Spanish and had no idea why people were all standing around with cameras waiting. I recognized the accent and spoke to them and they were very surprised to meet another Puerto Rican in Los Angeles. They asked if I was visiting and I said I lived here. I also explained to them that Kirk Douglas was 95 years old, that he already had a stroke, and that this might be his last celebrity appearance in his life. They didn’t seem to know Kirk Douglas and I rattled off some movies he had starred in, they nodded politely but I could tell they still had no idea. This girl was standing on my other side and she distracted my camera phone temporarily.
Kirk Douglas came out and gave about a 4 minute speech. I took this video. I post it here in raw form but I might post it later with intros and outros and possibly subtitles later on youtube. As you can tell, his speech is affected by the stroke. I can’t understand a word he is saying. I might post the subtitles as “arrhgg, ummggg, gleeeep, fankuuuu.”
INSERT FUTURE LINK TO YOUTUBE VIDEO HERE (I don’t know why wordpress did not allow my video to be posted. C’est la vie.)
Nick and Denzel still had not showed up, so Eric, Leslie and I decided to go and save seats inside the movie theatre. Grauman’s seats 1000 people or more easily and this is in the main room. Grauman’s also has private balconies all around where you can pay extra to watch movies in private. I took a picture of the side walls and whatever statue is above the theatre screen. Nick and Denzel showed up before the movie started.
Spartacus is Stanley Kubrick’s second film, if I remember correctly, and Kirk Douglas himself put up the money to finish the film when Universal balked at the movie going over budget. Dalton Trumbo wrote the great screenplay. This was a risky move by Douglas, since Trumbo was blacklisted at the time because he was part of the Hollywood Ten. This is an entry full of falsehoods on Trumbo that was written in Conservapedia. Some people in this country are still rabid communist haters.
His screenplay is brilliant. These are some of my favorite lines in the movie. My memory is faulty at my age and I can’t remember the lines or the subtlety of the lines exactly but the characters said something like this:
Laurence Olivier to Tony Curtis while Curtis is helping sponge wash Olivier in a pool- “My taste includes both snails and oysters and now I want to penetrate you sexually from behind, O Catamite! My Catamite!”
Jean Simmons to Kirk Douglas the first time she tells him she loves him- “Please forbid me to never NOT make you a sandwich.”
Jean Simmons to Kirk Douglas when Douglas is timid with her because of her pregnancy- “I’m pregnant not fragile. I want you to ravage me. Hard. Really really hard. Like so hard that I scream I’m pregnant not fragile.”
Well, those lines are not verbatim but the sentiments are what I remembered from the actual lines. Peter Ustinov was also a standout in the movie. I didn’t like the ending though, which has Jean Simmons crying at the feet of a crucified Kirk Douglas and offering up their child for all to see, including about two dozen Roman soldiers staring directly at her who didn’t think that was a strange sight at all. The narrator should have ended the film with “and not a single fuck was given by a Roman soldier on that day.”
After the film finished, I had to hurry my goodbyes to catch the next to last redline train in order to return home without calling a cab. The return trip was packed, both the redline subway and the orange line bus. Almost all of the commuters looked sad and weary and looked down at the ground. I did see two black women burst into an argument at the Hollywood and Highland station, something about “don’t stare at me you fat ugly bitch” and “I’m not staring at yo ugly face you stinky ugly hoe cocksucka, I don‘t want to catch AIDS in the corneas!” There were more expletives in there, I heard something about “crackhead meth looking toothless bitch” and “yo ass so big yo turds need their own train to get out.” After that brief outburst, I think I saw some of the sad people smiling slightly.