Monthly Archives: February 2011

Americana: The Hollywood Sign


The sign originally went up in 1923 to promote a real estate development, and proclaimed HOLLYWOODLAND. The Depression took care of the real estate, and finally, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce rescued the sign. Uploaded by

By 1923, the little California city of Hollywood was already synonymous with the movie industry. The lure of “Tinseltown,” with its proximity to the ocean and its warm climate, attracted people – and people need homes. So a new neighborhood sprang up in the hills, and its developer erected a huge sign to feature his investment: HOLLYWOODLAND.

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Each letter was 30 feet wide and 50 feet tall, and was originally illuminated by lights around its perimeter. At night blinked in sequence HOLLY… WOOD… LAND. Over the years the sign became neglected, however, and the Depression put an end to the real estate dream. The sign became city property in 1944. Fortunately, the Chamber of Commerce recognized what a symbol the sign had become, and revived it in 1949. It removed the “LAND”, and rebuilt the H, which had toppled, briefly leaving the area known as OLLYWOOD.

But after another generation of neglect, by the 1970s the sign had again fallen into disrepair. And this time, it had to be completely rebuilt. That took place in 1978, and today the sign is protected as a National Landmark and its own Hollywood Sign Trust. Today, the sign is 450 feet wide and is visible from all parts of Hollywood. Interestingly, the sign appears uneven because of the contours of the mountain; but looked at directly in front from the air, it’s actually completely straight. Unlike the city it represents…

Album: Born To Run


When Born to Run was released in 1975, it was the perfect counterpoint to the disco craze that had overwhelmed the music world. Springsteen showed that great rock and roll still ruled the day. Uploaded by

Like a volcano, the early albums of Bruce Springsteen caused the earth to shake, and some impressive fire to pour out. But the entire rock and roll landscape was transformed when Born to Run erupted onto the scene. At the same time that pop music was experiencing the impact of disco, Springsteen reminded everyone of what great rock and roll was all about.

If you’ve ready anything about Springsteen, you know he’s a control freak in the recording studio. Like many great artists, he had a sound in his head that he was desperately trying to capture on tape. The band obliterated the budget allotted for recording, and kept going because it still wasn’t right.  Fourteen months went into the recording, six months alone on the song “Born to Run.” Springsteen told Dave Marsh, “The album became a monster. It just ate up everyone’s life.”

Clearly, though, they got it right. Both Time and Newsweek put Springsteen on their covers, and the album received critical raves. Though it peaked at number 3 on the album chart, no question lingered about whether Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band had the chops to handle success. Look at these amazing tracks:

Side 1: “Thunder Road” * “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” * “Night” * “Backstreets”

Side 2: “Born to Run” * “She’s the One” * “Meeting Across the River” * “Jungleland”

In the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, Born to Run came in at number 18.