For a long time, memories of my native North Country appeared blurry. Hollywood can be a challenging place for a Minnesota kid. Not the Hollywood as depicted in the movies, but the piss-drenched Hollywood where drunks sleep in Dorothy & Benjamin Smith Park, and where pre-social media 20-somethings search for the right crowd. Here’s your story as decided by us. Oh, thank you, patronizing prophets, tell me more.
In the mid to late 2000s, before online personas became a thing, I came to appreciate Hollywood’s backhanded compliments and smiley criticism. After all, I’m from the Upper Midwest, where passive-aggressive “Minnesota Nice” can sometimes be difficult to gauge. Is this person really pissed off or just pissed off a little? As I walked down Hollywood Boulevard to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Egyptian Theatre or even the Arclight, I often thought about my place in Young Hollywood. And I thought about Minnesota. Why am I here? I lost myself in the movies.
Cinema has always reminded me of a world outside my own. The struggles. The despair. I find happiness in depressing films, and many people close to me will never fully appreciate that (devils!). During those Hollywood years — living around the corner from the world’s most famous movie theatre — every day felt lively and fresh (at least when I could ignore the perpetual stank of the Boulevard). No snow. No more stumbling walks in the cold. Sunny hangovers replaced bitter cold hangovers (those were the days). My experience with cinema evolved (even if I didn’t). The flooded Boulevard spoke to me; the energy carried me away and directly into scared tourists. Sycamore Avenue to Grauman’s in five minutes. Yes. Maybe a stop at the Hard Rock. BOOZE. Maybe I’ll say “fuck it” and play darts all night at The Powerhouse. Decisions. Or, maybe I’ll zip over to Larry Edmunds Bookshop and think about how François Truffaut used to frequent the same location. La Nouvelle Vague. Or… OR… maybe I’ll just hike Runyon Canyon and take in the Hollywood horizon. Vague Visages? Hmm. Back then, I wrote to myself daily about images and experiences — memories that I wanted to hold onto. In the process, I lost focus of my original connection to cinema (and people).
Today, Fargo’s 42nd Street South has replaced Hollywood Boulevard. I can still walk to a movie theatre (on 42nd Street), at least during the spring, summer and fall when it’s not frozen snot cold. In the opposite direction, there’s nothing but open land. New South Fargo. That’s where I live these days. I look across the horizon and see the cinematic Fargo, but I also see my Fargo. And I imagine the inevitable changes that will transpire over the next few years. There’s both isolation and beauty; loneliness and sunshine. It reminds me of Ingmar Bergman films and the inspirational depression that I love. It’s where I think closely about my relationship with the North Country, Cinema and personal imperfections. It’s where I think about the future and changing horizons.
Q.V. Hough (@qvhough) is a freelance writer and the Founding Editor of Vague Visages. In 2004, he graduated from Concordia College (Moorhead, MN) with bachelor degrees in Communication-Mass Media and History. From 2006 to 2012, Quinn lived in Hollywood, California and now resides in Fargo, North Dakota.