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You are standing on a hill. Up above you see thick smog clouding the city, suffocating its inhabitants, and you fix your gaze on nine white letters spelling out ‘Hollywood.’ These letters have become a symbol for fame and success; so many dreams are embodied in this sign. How much have these people sacrificed or what have they been willing to let go of? Is it all about fame or is it more than that? At this very moment, Los Angeles’ story is being written by all of the brave dreamers daring to cross borders and step out of their ordinary lives.
Ninety years ago, a nineteen-year-old boy named Walt Disney came to Los Angeles with hardly any money in his pockets and together with his brother went on to start their Disney adventure. His creative genius brought Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck to life, and the city itself gave him inspiration for the concept of Disneyland. His influence has left a profound imprint in the animation industry and today the world worships him for all of his works that render him immortal.
“Think, Believe, Dream, and Dare.” (Walt Disney)
In 1926, a girl named Norma Jeane Mortenson was born in a charity ward of the Los Angeles hospital, and later became one of the world’s greatest icons. Known by the name of Marilyn Monroe, she was admired for her captivating beauty and brilliant acting talent – challenging conventions of the female actor and becoming an inspiration for women around the world. Whether it was depression or fame taking its toll on her, she was found dead in her bedroom with her hand still grasping the phone and an empty bottle of pills on the side. But even fifty years later she still ‘belongs to the world’, a source of inspiration for many artists and a symbol of timeless beauty.
“I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else.” (Marilyn Monroe)
Coming from a poor family background, Michael Jackson was the eighth out of ten children, gifted with an exceptional talent. Often referred to as The King of Pop, he suffered a lot on his way to the top. His childhood was no the happiest time in his life as he was abused by his father, while later Jackson himself was accused of child abuse. His health condition was deteriorating rapidly resulting in a tragic end at his home in Los Angeles in 2009. For all of his contributions to the world of pop, he will certainly never be forgotten, his name deservedly adorning the Hollywood walk of fame.
“Look beyond yourself.” (Michael Jackson)
These are a few of the many ‘angels’ of Los Angeles; irrespective of whether they were born there or not the city is part of their story. Many artists consider Los Angeles to be a paradox- a place where dreams come true, but also nightmares. It has offered many artists a chance to redeem or lose themselves somewhere along the way, for dreams can be so easily broken, dreams are fragile and where the city will “rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another” (Roman Payne). How many of these ‘angels’ find their personal heaven, I don’t know. But there is always something tragically beautiful when one pours the divine beauty of their soul into what they are doing, turning it into an exception and something that lives forever.
Every city has a story, and Los Angeles certainly has a very special one – rooted in the lives of those who have dared to spread their wings towards the heights of glory.