Stargazing in L.A. | AspenTimes.com
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Stargazing in L.A.

A few weeks ago I made an emergency visit to Southern California for my grandmother’s funeral. While there, I thought: “You know what my grandmother would have really wanted? For me to take a tour of the stars’ homes and then tell others how they can do the same!”First, you’ll need a map. These can be purchased for $11.50 from any number of locations along Sunset Boulevard – look for the signs reading “STAR HOMES MAPS HERE” next to the very bored person in the lounge chair with a handful of maps. But don’t buy from just anyone. Selling star maps is a time-honored tradition, and recently there’ve been a rash of counterfeiters on the scene. Ask to see the credentials of the person who’s selling the maps. They’ll probably be reluctant, but with a little perseverance on your part they’ll eventually show you that they have a gun. Quickly pay them for the map and leave.After you return to your hotel and begin poring over your rather expensive map (chances are the guy with the gun didn’t offer you change for your $20), certain themes will begin to appear. For example, you’ll probably see that Carol Burnett is listed in the index, so you’ll instinctively glance down to the C’s to find that Tim Conway is there, too, with Vikki Carr right above him. You’ll become very excited at the possibility of a complete “Carol Burnett Show” tour, until a quick check reveals that Harvey Korman is not listed. But before you can fret, your eyes have already spotted Erik Estrada’s name, so you begin to search for other members of the “CHiPS” cast, except that you can’t remember anyone else. But during your search you find that both Lee Majors (“The Six Million Dollar Man”) and Lindsey Wagner (His Equally Expensive, Yet Laughably Affordable By Today’s Standards Girlfriend) are listed!You’ll start to have visions of creating an impressive slide show when you get home, until you notice the parentheses at the bottom of the page: (present or former homes).You’ll also notice that about 75 percent of the celebrity names have an asterisk next to them, which, according to the map’s legend, means that they’re dead. Don’t be put off by this. Death is an inevitable part of living in an expensive house, and as long as you maintain your humble dwellings it probably won’t happen to you.You’ll want to plot your route for maximum home viewage. The Beverly Hills-Bel Air loop has by far the highest concentration of homes, except that, as mentioned, the homes are of people who are dead (Marlon Brando), people who may be dead (Abe Vigoda) or were popular so long ago that you only have a vague notion of who they are (Van Johnson).Of course, the really cool people are not listed on this map. I was not, for example, able to find the addresses of Tom Waits or Henry Rollins. However, it took less than 10 seconds to find the address of the former home of Jim Nabors. When it’s time to start driving, you’ll want to bring a navigator along. The roads are curvy and can be confusing, especially since the map you’re using was printed more than 20 years ago.A quick left on St. Cloud Road in Bel Air will take you to the neighborhood of both Ronald Reagan* and Jerry Lewis. Both homes are protected by large gates and completely obscured by foliage – in fact, that will be the case with every house you find. This is really a tour of the stars’ (former) hedges, but that sort of announcement doesn’t sell maps.After a few wrong turns you’ll be hopelessly lost in the labyrinth of celebrity dwellings. Take lots of pictures. Have your navigator call out names of people who may possibly live behind the hedge you’ve just passed. (Note to navigators: Just call out random names of famous people, like Nanette Fabray or Agnes Moorehead. After all, this is pretty much what the map-makers do.)Once you’ve found your way back to your hotel, exhausted and mildly car sick with nothing to show for your efforts but enough digital pictures of gates and hedges to fill an additional hard drive, you need to reward yourself. I recommend a nice sushi smoothie – you are in L.A., after all. And if you’re still depressed at your wasted day, look on the bright side: At least you didn’t go to Disneyland.


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