Before I moved to Los Angeles when I was 18, my only perception of the city was through television and movies. I imagined the valley to be like the Brady Bunch or Adam 12. The beach communities were a hotbed of swinging singles and fern bars like Three's Company. Hollywood was a place where teenage runaways became prostitutes and got syphilis via Dawn, Portrait of a Teenage Runaway. West Hollywood was incredibly hip and the center of disco and cocaine as in Thank God It's Friday.
If you are old enough to remember drive-in theaters, Thank God It's Friday is a movie that you would see at one. I think I saw it with some older cousins at a drive-in theater on the border of Reno and Sparks. It was a double bill with Corvette Summer. The only parts of the plot I recall is Donna Summer wanting to sing, the dance floor had a giant spherical DJ Booth, and everyone was rather seedy. It all seemed very dangerous and slick.
By the time I was in college, the disco in TGIF was still there, but was a rock and roll venue. There was also a restaurant with a big whale's mouth across the street. Today, I drive through this intersection every morning. Unfortunately, a hideous Loehmann's and bizarre upscale apartment building replaced the Fish Shanty and Oskars disco.
People in New York complain that neighborhoods are too gentrified and sanitized. They miss the urban danger and grit. In Los Angeles, the gentrification has taken away something more precious: glamorous disco glitter, rows of gas guzzling rust colored Cadillacs, lines of people in sequins and parachute pants, and restaurants with hungry whale entrances.