Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


This is a true story, not just based on one.  I was walking on Hollywood Boulevard, in the section with the Walk of Fame, looking at all the unhappy tourists walking along beside and around me.  I know that tourists can be unhappy anywhere, but they always seem especially unhappy on Hollywood Boulevard,

I was walking alongside a father and his young son, maybe ten years old, and the two of them were looking at the stars in the sidewalk.  They didn’t seem very impressed.  I wouldn’t claim to be able completely to analyze the pair’s social and class markers, but I think it meant quite a lot that in an effort to enthuse his boy the father suddenly spotted a star that drew his attention and he said excitedly,   “Hey look, it’s a star for John Deere!”  That would be John Deere the 19th century blacksmith and inventor, best known in America today for being the name of a line of tractors.

Deere struck me as an unlikely candidate for having a star on the Walk of Fame, but for all I knew he might conceivably have had some odd but crucial part in the history of movie technology.   But as I looked down at the sidewalk, I heard the father groan and say sadly to his son, “Oh, it’s not John Deere, it’s John Derek.  Whoever that is.”

Ah me.  And I thought, though I didn’t say, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.”  We get a lot of that in Hollywood.

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