By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

Somewhere throughout the land there are probably a handful of old men who can claim the title connected to this Hollywood icon.

On the east coast in New York City every New Year’s Eve since 1907 the ball has dropped in Times Square. People come from great distances to be there and be part of the action.

3000 miles to the west however, we have the holy grail of locations—Hollywood and Vine. Famous the world around. If Hal had a dollar for every time he drove through this intersection he would have more money than Bill Gates.

I think I can say without contradiction that Hollywood has more strange, unusual, weird and bizarre characters than any place else in the city. If that is not enough thousands more are imported for New Year’s Eve. 

Hollywood and Vine circa 1952

Without having specific instructions, the new comers and maybe some locals too, are largely engaged as follows:

They are required to drink tremendous amounts of alcohol (mostly beer), to wander aimlessly in small groups or herds, to argue at the tops of their lungs with anyone and everyone, to challenge all comers to fight, “You want a piece of me buddy, come on.”

And then either lose interest or forget what they were doing, usually throwing up on anyone within range or themselves, and last but not least to fall down and sometimes fall asleep.

The following is true, so help me. I once saw one of our coppers walking while pulling on a piece of rope, holding on to the rope were 4 or 5 real, real drunks. He said with a straight face that he was taking them to get coffee and if they didn’t have the rope, they would fall down.

I swear.