I grew up in a working-class neighborhood of Los Angeles just east of Hollywood but close enough that I attended Hollywood High School. Some days I'd walk home along Hollywood Boulevard. Eyes down, I could read the names on the stars along the Walk of Fame. But it wasn't the entertainment industry I was interested in. It was the street entertainment that fascinated me, and that required keeping my eyes up.
In 1970, Hollywood Boulevard was rundown -- some called it derelict -- and losing its movie-related businesses to other parts of town. But I loved the boulevard and watching the characters that crowded its sidewalks: chanting Hare Krishnas in saffron robes; transvestites and prostitutes flaunting their . . . well, flaunting; Socialists and Communists and members of the John Birch Society shouting and waving their pamphlets and competing with members of religious cults for the attention of passersby.
My family and friends turn up their noses when I mention Hollywood Boulevard. ''It's so shabby, so seamy,'' they say. So I usually make my pilgrimages alone.
The Hollywood and Highland complex, which opened in 2001 and includes the Kodak Theater, where the Academy Awards ceremony is held, brought an element of the movie business back to Hollywood and sparked some nearby revitalization. But parts of Hollywood Boulevard still have a tawdry air and it still draws characters, although they are far outnumbered by tourists. For me, it all still feels like home.
This is the 50th and last in a series of postcards by Marjie Lambert, assistant Travel editor, who has been to all 50 states. Read all her postcards at www.MiamiHerald.com/travel.