The rich and famous are fleeing in droves as liberal politics and coronavirus turn the city of dreams into a cesspool plagued by junkies and violent criminals.
Gold’s Gym became synonymous with the Hollywood Dream. Set just a few hundred yards from the ocean in sun kissed Venice Beach, Los Angeles, Gold’s was the backdrop for Pumping Iron, the 1977 documentary which followed a young, unknown Austrian bodybuilder called Arnold Schwarzenegger as he prepared for the Mr. Universe contest.
The film turned him into an overnight sensation. He would go on to become a global superstar, marry a member of the Kennedy family, and become Governor of California.
Yet today, Gold’s sits amid what could only be described as a post apocalyptic scene which have consumed much of LA, turning the City of Dreams into an urban nightmare from which people are fleeing in droves. A makeshift tent city made up of flapping tarpaulins and cardboard boxes surrounds the gym on all sides.
Junkies and the homeless, many of whom are clearly mentally ill, walk the palm lined streets like zombies, all just three blocks from multi million dollar homes overlooking the pacific.
Stolen bicycles are piled high on the pavement, littered with broken syringes, TV bulletins are filled with horror stories from across the city; of women being attacked during their morning jog or residents returning home to find strangers defecating in their front yards.
Today, Los Angeles is a city on the brink. For Sale signs are vast, dotted on every suburban street as the middle classes, particularly those with families, flee for the safer suburbs, with many choosing to leave LA altogether.
Moving and Storage companies have been on a hiring frenzy for some time. Trying to keep up with the demand of those that are making the mass exodus from Hollywood. Most of this, as to be expected, has to do with politics and those that have remained in control for far to long. Liberal politics has destroyed this city, say most anyone that you speak with. The homeless encampments are legal and there’s nothing the police can do. People don’t feel safe any more.
It is now not uncommon to see the listings for multi-million dollar mansions on a daily basis. According to the moving companies in the area, 75% of the people moving have opted to leave the state entirely.
With movie studios still shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic and businesses only just starting to remove the wooden boards, only to have to put them back up again, after city wide rioting following the death of George Floyd while being arrested in Minneapolis, MN is now in the grip of a flight.
Lou Ferrigno became friends with Schwarzenegger when both worked out at Gold’s gym. While he might not be quite the household name like Schwarzenegger, Ferrigno starred in the TV series The Incredible Hulk and became one of the wealthiest bodybuilders in the world, with a fortune of $12 million. It should be noted that he was also appointed to the presidential council on fitness, sports and nutrition in 2018.
But Ferrigno, for all his impeccable connections, has become fed up with what everyone describes as the dramatic decline in LA. He and wife Carla recently sold their million dollar home in Santa Monica and moved into a mansion two hours north of LA.
Carla stated “One morning around 7am I opened the curtains in our beautiful Santa Monica home and looking up at me from our driveway were three gang members with tattoos on their faces sitting on our retaining wall. They were cat-calling me and being vulgar. I motioned I was going to call the police and they just laughed, flicking their tongues at me and showing me their guns.”
Renee Taylor, an Oscar nominated screenwriter and actress who appeared in the hit TV sitcom The Nanny, recently sold her Beverly Hills home after half a century and moved to the East Coast.
The virus only made matters worse. There are homeless encampments in some of the most instantly recognizable tourist traps. Stretches of Hollywood Boulevard, embedded with glittering stars representing those who achieved their dream of fame and fortune resemble a Third World shanty town rather than that of the heart of America’s second largest city.
Outside the Chinese Theater where Marilyn Monroe and other screen icons are immortalized by their hand-prints in concrete, the Michael Jackson and Superman lookalikes who usually pose with tourists have been replaced by vagrants begging for change. Meanwhile, the visitors snap photos of a large Black Lives Matter logo painted down the middle of the street.
Car parks beside the beach in Santa Monica, a popular tourist destination are filled with bashed-up motorhomes, each housing several people. The authorities have even put portable toilets on the streets to try to stop the homeless relieving themselves on private property.
The Westwood area of LA, home to some of the most upmarket blocks of homes in the city, has been renamed “West Hood” by locals appalled by rising crime. The city was changing before coronavirus brought this city to its knees. The homeless problem has been escalating for years, exacerbated by weak politicians making bad decisions.
Hollywood has always been the wokest of the woke, so politicians have done nothing to stop people sleeping on the streets. It’s not illegal and the weather’s nice, so they keep coming. There is insufficient housing, inadequate mental health care. Add in Covid and it’s a perfect storm.
Forty years ago, the town smelled of orange blossoms, dating back further to the 1960’s, tourist were always amazed at all of the lemon groves that span farther than the eye could see. Now the streets stink of urine. There is a beautiful park in Westwood but you can’t go there because there are people slumped on the ground and you step on a carpet of needles.
The divide between rich and poor has never been more glaring. Just yards away from Gold’s gym sits the sprawling LA headquarters of internet giant Google. The car park is housed in a building designed by architect Frank Gehry to look like a giant pair of binoculars. Private security guards wander round as a handful of employees returning after lockdown drive into the complex in their Teslas, Porsches and Range Rovers.
Charity workers have been inundated to a breaking point, ask any of them what they are doing about all of this and they will tell you “We’re overloaded. There’s more homeless and mentally ill than there is charity to provide.”
Some 70,000 people now sleep rough every night in LA, up thirteen per cent over last year. The pandemic has made many in Hollywood realize they don’t need to live in LA – or anywhere near it – to keep working. Talent managers, fashion stylist, comedians as well as actors have also opted to move far away, removing a once dream to be able to meet at the chance to be able to snag a good roll in hopes of starting their fame and fortune.
Ironically, the celebrity enclave of Malibu, home to such leading members of the woke as Leonardo DiCaprio, has cracked down hard on the homeless, bringing in local laws to prevent people parking their motorhomes along the beach overnight and the disbursement continues into the neighboring areas of Westwood and Venice. Everywhere you go, the same theme reappears “not in my back yard.”
Meanwhile, some of Hollywood’s biggest stars are developing back up plans, should the situation worsen. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson recently took Greek citizenship and have told friends they intend to spend more time in Europe. Producer Dana Brunetti, business partner of disgraced actor Kevin Spacey and producer of the Fifty Shades Of Grey films, has acquired Italian citizenship. Nicole Kidman and husband Keith Urban have have suggested to the masses that they might be moving to Nicole’s native Australia.
With the streets now looking like those of Haiti after the earthquake. It’s dirty, dangerous and work has dried up. Even when studios start to open up, people will choose to work from other places.
The most recent high profile name to quit Hollywood is Tesla billionaire Elon Musk, a darling of the show business crowd. Actor Robert Downey Jr has said it was Musk who inspired his portrayal of Tony Stark, the eccentric billionaire inventor in the Iron Man movies. As you might have guessed by now from all of the headlines in the news. Musk has recently sold his compound of four homes in Bel Air for a combined total of $62 million and is moving to Texas, where he is building Tesla’s $1 billion new factory.
Where will it all end? Ask a Californian politician if they can figure that out in the next 50 years or so and you will have your answer.