‘That stupid woman is wasting my time!’ Shocked, I stare at Spiderman disappearing from view with his friend dressed up as Apeman (Planet of the Apes?). They throw a couple of pissed-off looks over their shoulders, all because I didn’t want to take a picture with them. I also end up arguing with Superman and even get called an asshole because I’m making an overview shot of the street with my camera.
Welcome to Los Angeles. The city where everybody seems to dream of a life filled with fame, which only a few actually achieve. My journey through California starts here, the interview with the young Alec Loorz seems miles away while I play tourist for a day in LA. The cliché – everyone is an aspiring actor or singer, from the waitress to the dressed-up movie charaters on Hollywood Boulevard – seems very true. ‘Take a tour and see the mansions of all the big stars!’ a tourguide yells in my ear when I stroll along the Walk of Fame. International fame, that’s what everybody here is searching for. But in the meantime I get harassed by people who obviously hate their jobs.
‘You guys are all so angry and frustrated!’ I yell indignantly at Superman. So many people, so many dreams, but also deep frustration. It makes me remember the interview with Peter Sunde, the founder of The Pirate Bay who is currently in prison after Hollywood filed a lawsuit against him for illegally distributing films and music. He explained his mission to make sharing of ‘culture’ possible, between people all over the world. He wanted to contribute to a decentralized world with opportunities and possibilities for everyone, and I think back to the world of the future he depicted. A world in which big stars like Britney Spears and Michael Jackson belong to the past, and fame and money is no longer exclusively available for the happy few, but in which a growing number of people are able to make a living with their music and acting using new business models. The beginning of the sharing economy, illegally founded on the internet, and the end of the Hollywood reign: in spite of all the objections that you can have about his vision I think it is a beautiful thought. It offers a possibility to divide the fame and fortune among all those angry-looking actors-slash-moviecharacters-on-Hollywood-Boulevard.
Many role models I interviewed pointed out the importance of realizing your dreams. Following your passion, dreams and talents should bring you to the exact place where you are most needed for the planet. But does that also count for fame and fortune? The frustrated fortune-hunters I meet – filled with anger and feelings of being underappreciated – make me doubt this view. Will the world really be a better place when these people achieve the success and fame they are looking for? The longer I think about it, the more I think there might be a difference. On the one hand, there are the dreams that stem from the heart, which help you contribute to society (sometimes even unconsciously). These are dreams to be meaningful for yourself, and especially for others. On the other hand, there are the dreams about being successful, rich and famous. These dreams stem from the ego, not from the heart. They originated from an old way of thinking that is actually disappearing. With these dreams you will probably not end up in the place on this earth where you are most needed, but in a movie costume on Hollywood Boulevard, yelling at tourists who don’t want to take a picture with you…
Meanwhile Superman has cooled down and he gives me a ‘free hug’ to make it up with me. He kindly shows me the way to the nearest subway station, so I can escape from the touristic hot spots as soon as possible. That afternoon at a coffee bar in downtown LA I plan my upcoming journey. Tomorrow I am travelling to Ventura, a town on the Californian coast where I will interview Alec Loorz next week. Originally I planned to return to Los Angeles for my flight back to Amsterdam, but sipping my lavender tea I organize a completely ridiculous trip to North Californa, by bus, train and airplane (not having a driver’s licence in the States always makes me feel so inconvenienced). As soon as I realize that I not only have to travel all the way up there, but also back again, I almost have a heart attack, but I decide to do it anyway. That’s because I received a very special e-mail this morning: I got a last-minute and very exceptional permission to visit Luna, the age-old redwood tree in which Julia Butterfly Hill, the sixth role model of the FutureFuel quest, lived for two years to protect the forest from complete devastation by a logging company. Maybe there is a third dream category: long-cherised dreams with which you’ll probably not save the world, but come from deep within. Dreams that are not of direct use for the planet, but that mean the world you. Luna, here I come.