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From the Town that Invented the Cloaking Device

"Why People Keep Trying to Erase the Hollywood Sign From Google Maps" is the topic of a fascinating Gizmodo article on yet another example of what James Delingpole calls "the Drawbridge Effect." In other words, "You’ve made your money. Now the very last thing you want is for all those trashy middle class people below you to have a fair shot at getting as rich as you are." Or heck, even enjoying the same things you take for granted in your own neighborhood.

In this case, rich L.A. leftists who really don't enjoy tourists dropping by their neighborhoods to take their photo in front of the legendary Hollywood sign, or hiking up the hills to see the sign up close and personal. They're willing to go extraordinary lengths to make the sign as difficult as possible to be found for out-of-towners searching on the Internet for driving and walking directions. And Google Maps and Garmin are apparently more than willing to help build the real-life equivalents of Star Trek's Cloaking Device or 1984's Memory Hole:

No matter how you try to get directions—Google Maps, Apple Maps, Bing—they all tell you the same thing. Go to Griffith Observatory. Gaze in the direction of the dashed gray line. Do not proceed to the sign.

Don't get me wrong, the view of the sign from Griffith Observatory is quite nice. And that sure does make it easier to explain to tourists. But how could the private interests of a handful of Angelenos have persuaded mapping services to make it the primary route?

Anyone seen a Hollywood Sign around here?

To find out how this happened, I had a very nice conversation with Betsy Isroelit from the Hollywood Sign Trust, a nonprofit which protects and maintains the sign, and has become in many ways the keeper of the sign's public interests.

She admits that there was once a goal to "hide" the sign online completely, but it was deemed impossible. "At one point we were successful in getting Google to take the address down, but it appears so many other places like the city council offices and the city of LA that they put it back up."

In the end, it was Councilmember [Tom] LaBonge who found a different solution. Working closely with Google and the GPS company Garmin, he was able to convince them to change the directions to the sign. Google did not respond to my requests for comment, but Carly Hysell from Garmin confirmed to me that the change was made in their spring 2012 map release. Update: Google's Gina Scigliano confirmed to me on November 24 that although the location of the sign itself has remained the same, the driving directions were changed from directing drivers to the intersection of Ledgewood and Mulholland Hwy to the Griffith Observatory location in November of 2014.

As Alissa Walker, the article's author concludes:

So what's happening in Hollywood is a disturbing peek into the future of digital cartography. A few dozen homeowners in one of the city's wealthiest zip codes—who bought their homes knowing (I assume) about the letters hanging just outside their bedroom windows—have found a way to keep people out of their neighborhood by manipulating technology.

This is the next iteration of a gated community.

Insert reminder that Orwell didn't write 1984 to be used as a how-to guide here.

By the way, as I've mentioned before, I've been to the Hollywood sign, stopping by one weekend in 2011 after visiting PJ HQ in Los Angeles, and then driving over to see Bronson Canyon, which was used as a craggy location setting in the 1960s for episodes of Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. And every week from 1966 through 1968 it was the exterior of the Adam West-era Batcave. At the beginning of every episode of Batman, the Caped Crusader would rev-up the Batmobile's atomic batteries, then tear-bat-ass out the interior of the Batcave, a set inside a 20th Century Fox soundstage, and then via the magic of film editing, exit through here:

The Batcave

What ABC viewers never saw in the 1960s is the view that's immediately adjacent to the cave at Bronson Canyon's entrance:

Ed Goes Hollywood

Of course, if the disgruntled residents who live under the Hollywood sign want to really mess with the tourists, they should have their councilman order Google and Garmin to send them to this not-quite-as-legendary Hollywood sign:

hollywood_glen_rose_12-31-14-2

That's the sign above the parking lot at the Hollywood & Vine Restaurant on Vine Street in Glen Rose Texas, where I was standing earlier today. C'mon effete Hollywood leftists, tell the peasants to eat their cake here. I'm sure the restaurant's owners would love the additional business.

Related: "Three Former San Franciscans Explain Why They Moved to LA:"

In LA, you don't need to wear three layers of clothing and bring an emergency sweatshirt with you, just in case it happens to be 45 degrees in July. People in LA are much better looking, much more fit, and also more inclined to dress like a two-year-old allowed to select her own wardrobe.

Presumably, that last observation is meant as a...compliment?

(Thumbnail image on PJM homepage by Linda Moon / Shutterstock.com.)