Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
San Bernardino Arms. Hollywood rooming house in which Hackett resides. Given the garishness Hackett finds all about him, this is a rather unprepossessing place: three stories of unpainted stucco and unadorned windows. The rooms are small and dirty, but Hackett tolerates the place because of his fascination with Faye and her restless aspirations. Like his rooms, Hackett does not draw much attention to himself; he would rather observe and record the world about him than actively participate in it.
Jennings house. Residence of Hollywood’s most distinguished madam, Mrs. Jennings. Her house is an elaborate affair with a careful, tricolor decorating scheme, expensive furniture, and a private screening room. Jennings has pretensions to cultured aristocracy, entertaining only the wealthy and influential and reserving her girls for sophisticated clients. These people stand in marked contrast to those Hackett finds on the street, figures in ill-fitting clothing who hunger for titillation and cheap excitement. Their aspirations and achievements are mundane and unoriginal; their houses are cheaper imitations of Jennings’s opulence.
Simpson cottage. Humble house in Pinyon Canyon, outside Los Angeles. Homer Simpson’s cottage acts as a fitting example of how Hollywood’s other half live. The place is inexpensive and oddly constructed. Its parts are faux versions of something else–shingles that appear to be a thatched roof and a gumwood door painted to look like oak. Simpson’s house becomes a model for all the other garish architecture that Hackett finds: Mexican ranch houses, Samoan huts, Mediterranean villas, Egyptian and Japanese temples, Swiss chalets, and Tudor cottages. These monstrosities further underscore the theme of Hollywood’s illusoriness and the related contrast between essence and appearance which lies at the heart of social scrutiny.
Hollywood churches. Houses of worship of a variety of cults. Hackett quickly concludes that California is where the nation comes to die from boredom with their miserable lives and demeaning jobs. In their desire for excitement and a heightened sense of significance, they are prey to the machinations of imposter religions, which combine dietary practices, superstition, and folklore. One of these, the Tabernacle of the Third Coming, is a direct parody of Aimee Semple McPherson’s Angelus Temple.
Kahn’s Persian Palace Theatre. Elaborate movie theater that hosts a film premiere. With huge neon signs, elaborate architecture, and spiraling search lights, the theater draws a huge crowd. Here is the destination of the bored, here is the sanctuary of illusion, and here Hackett’s prophetic painting finally is realized. Nathaniel West clearly draws on the practice in 1930’s Los Angeles of creating elaborate theaters and giving them exaggerated names, such as the Cathedral of the Motion Picture and the Sanctuary of the Cinema. By locating the riot in front of a theater, West suggests that America’s diet of illusory satisfaction will produce a volatile dissatisfaction that will erupt in gruesome violence. Theaters, as the venues of those illusions, are symbols of the culture’s emptiness and instability.