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“Our Hollywood”
By L. Frank Baum
Author of the "Oz" Fairy Books, Playwright and Lecturer
Unknown Magazine Article -- Circa 1916

I live in Hollywood.

I’ve lived in other places, too. Once I wrote a book in Sicily; I wrote another in Algiers, and still another far up the Nile at the Second Cataract. I’m familiar with Sorrento and Capri, with Lyons and Marseilles, with Bellagio, Como and Lucerne. I know intimately most of the show places and resorts of the old world. But I live in Hollywood. Once I passed winters in Florida and at the Mexican Gulf resorts; Virginia enticed me at one time; Coronado claimed me for years as a citizen. But now I live in Hollywood.

Baum's Hollywood Home
Ozcot, L. Frank Baum's Hollywood Home

I have lived here for five years and it would prove an herculian [sic] task to get me away from here. I sometimes overhear my neighbors chortle and chuckle over such phrases as “Garden of Eden,” “World’s Beauty Spot,” “Earthly Fairyland,” “City of Enchantment,” and much rubbish of the same sort. But what’s the use? Don’t they live here? And why do they live here?

We know, we Hollywood people. We take long trips in our motorcars (or those of our friends) to other populous and beautiful sections of Southern California--sections which radiate from our home to every point of the compass--and we always come back with smiling faces and grateful hearts. You can almost surely pick Hollywood men and women wherever you find them; they have an air of supreme content, of gracious commiseration for those who inhabit the big outside world. Some of us diffident ones often wonder if we are fit companions for the generous, hospitable, open hearted, cheery and intellectual neighbors who have accepted us in kindly spirit just because we live in Hollywood. I sometimes have the same feeling I did as a boy when I crawled unobserved under a circus tent and audaciously took a seat among the throng of those rightly entitled to see the show. I have a fear that I slipped into this delightful atmosphere of cordiality without deserving so joyous a fate. If you can beat the Hollywood community, en masse, in any crack or corner of the civilized world, I’d like to know where it is. I hadn’t been here a month before I won so many good friends--loyal comrades all--that I felt like the oldest inhabitant and had to question myself earnestly to realize I had not been here since the days of the missions. No stranger can be a stranger long in Hollywood, for Hollywood people won’t let him.

I live here, thank God!

It isn’t an Eden or a fairyland. If it were, I couldn’t have gained a foothold here. I can grow beautful flowers in my garden, but I have to fight slugs and cut-worms and aphis [sic] and their like continually. I can’t sit on the front porch many summer evenings, because it grows so cold after sundown, and that meant a costly fire in the grate but a glorious sleep under blankets while my Eastern friends are sweltering in their beds from [excessive heat.] The smooth boulevards lure me into burning more gasoline than I can afford; the markets offer so many rare delicacies that I overeat; I sit up too late with merry associates who drop in for a chat or a bridge game.

Life in Hollywood isn’t utopian, by any means; it has its drawbacks. The city is overtaxed, neglected by its Los Angeles guardians, saddled with undeserved assessments, reviled by Los Angeles real estate agents and regarded with disdain by the bored and hapless denizens of ultra-rich Pasadena. Pasadenans don’t like us because we haven’t any gilded palaces back East to go to during the magnificent Hollywood summers. If we had, we’d rent them cheap to the Pasadena folks. The Hollywood people--God bless ‘em!--wouldn’t live anywhere but in Hollywood even if bribed, threatened by the Black Hand, or kidnapped by the British conscriptionists. As soon as we come here we shoot a tap-root into the earth, so to speak, and that holds us. The place has its defects, but also it has qualities of excellence that cannot be matched by any known locality. Our hills are glorious; the hours of sunrise and sunset are gorgeous beyond description; our flowers, trees and shrubs are remarkably varied and supremely beautiful; our houses are homelike, with the latchstrings always out; our climate is unsurpassed. We are an hour from the snow fields of Mt. Baldy, a half-hour from the blue Pacific, some twenty minutes from the theatres of Los Angeles.

A Fine Business District
Our shops are really wonderful for a burg of our size--or any size, for that matter. I never mingle with the crowds that are being buncoed [sic] in the big department stores of Los Angeles. I prefer to walk into a home shop where there is a carefully and intelligently selected stock of what I need--devoid of senseless “bargains” and “pick-ups” that no one really wants--and have the friendly proprietor wait on me or deal with a clerk that I know is reliable and in whose judgement and service I have confidence. The Hollywood merchants take a warm interest in Hollywood people. There isn’t a thing a Hollywood person needs or desires that can’t be purchased right here at home at a price equal to, or less, than that demanded at the overcrowded independent “take-it-or-leave-it” shops of Los Angeles. A good many of our women used to go to town and shop all day and return tired and nerve-wracked with a bundle of goods they could have secured in five minutes and at an equal price in Hollywood, but they’re growing wiser now and it is their wisdom that has given the recent boom to Hollywood merchants and induced them to enlarge their stocks to include all the novelties and assortment to be found elsewhere.

This is No Jolly, Get Wise
Don’t think I’m jollying the merchant; I'm saying this to help the citizen. We lose nothing by buying at home and building up home commerce, while every dollar we spend in Los Angeles goes to those who have no particular interest in us beyond the state of our pocketbooks. Another thing we ought to do is to bank at home. A Hollywood check is an advertisement of one’s personal prestige, for it proves he lives here. You can buy your new automobile as cheaply here as at a Los Angeles agency and secure better and more convenient service. Let us show our pride in Hollywood, but do not let us allow our residence here to render us haughty or overbearing toward those who live in less favored sections. That we find ourselves greatly blessed should tend to humility, rather than arrogance, and please remember that Heaven is the only place big enough for everyone and so on earth a good many must live outside of Hollywood.

Nevertheless, we can be glad, you and I, and praise God in our hearts.

We live in Hollywood.

Copyright © 2002 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

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