Hollywood sign unveiled after major makeover

Updated 06 December 2012
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Hollywood sign unveiled after major makeover

The refurbished Hollywood sign was presented in all its freshly painted glory Tuesday after its biggest makeover in 35 years, in time for 90th birthday celebrations next year.
Some 360 gallons of fresh bright white paint was applied over the last two months to the Tinseltown icon, which sits atop Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills north of Los Angeles.
“It’s our Statue of Liberty, it’s our Golden Gate... but it’s more than that it’s Hollywood, which is hope,” said Tom LaBonge, LA city council member for Hollywood. “The Hollywood sign, there’s nothing like it in the world.”
“It puts a bright face on the icon of the southern California lifestyle,” added Chris Baumgart, chairman of the non-profit Hollywood Sign Trust that manages the icon, at a press conference staged below the landmark.
Over the last two months, workers have used window-cleaner style platforms to strip down the 50-foot (15-meter) tall letters, powerwash the corrugated iron and apply fresh primer and topcoat paint.
The paint job cost some $ 175,000, $1 40,000 of it paid for by the company whose paint was used. Sherwin-Williams also provides the distinctive color for the Golden Gate bridge, further up the California coast.
“The sign was scrubbed to the bone, and two tons of makeup was put on her best side. A lot was done to her backside but we’ve leaving that her secret,” quipped Baumgart. Victor Galindo, who was on the team of painters, said he felt proud of having worked on the world-famous landmark.
“It’s a privilege for a lot of us to be up here, because a lot of us grew up here in the City of Los Angeles, and we’re used to seeing this sign from far away, and now we’re so close to it, painting it,” he told AFP.
The job went more quickly than expected it, added the 37-year-old. “The hardest part was the H. After that first letter we got the hang of it, we just went fast.”
Millions of tourists come to see the icon — visible from large parts of Los Angeles, depending on the weather — but fences, warning notices and security surveillance keeps all but the most determined from the sign itself.
Access for the painters — and journalists given a close-up look at the makeover Tuesday — is via a steep slope down from behind the sign, through a locked gate and using a rope to rappel down for newcomers.
Cameras attached to the top of the huge white letters feed live video 24 hours a day to a bunker in downtown LA to alert officers to anyone trying to scramble several hundred meters (yards) up the steep slope below the sign.
Looking down the hill from just in front of the sign, ranger Patrick Joyce said: “Several times a month people make their way up here. It’s against the law, you can be arrested.
“Most of the time what they do they write on the sign, or they just want to take a picture up here and they leave,” said Joyce, 40.
The original sign was erected in 1923 to advertize a property development called Hollywoodland, but the last four letters were removed in the 1940s.
The sign’s history is not without tragedy. In 1932, British actress Peg Entwistle infamously committed suicide by throwing herself off the top of the letter H.


All eyes on Salah as Egyptians await Champions League final

Updated 27 May 2018
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All eyes on Salah as Egyptians await Champions League final

CAIRO: An owner of a Cairo coffee shop supervised last-minute arrangements for Saturday’s European Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, giving instructions to his employees as they lined up chairs and set up a bigger television set.
“Today is the big day for us. No match is more important than tonight’s, simply because Mohamed Salah is playing,” Mohamed Fathy, the owner of a cafe located in the affluent district of Maadi in southern Cairo, told Arab News.
Salah has enjoyed a record-breaking debut season with Liverpool and could cap a remarkable campaign by leading the Reds to the most-coveted European title as they face serial winners Real Madrid, who are eyeing a third successive triumph.
Nicknamed the Egyptian King, Salah has racked up a record 32 Premier League goals in a 38-game campaign and netted 10 Champions League goals to help Liverpool reach their first final since losing 2-1 to AC Milan in 2007.
He has become a national hero in Egypt, with his popularity hitting unprecedented heights. Saturday’s Champions League final is given more attention than any fixture for Cairo giants Ahly or Zamalek, who each have a huge fan base in the football-mad country.
“We raised our prices a bit because this is the probably the most important day of the football season. We expect to welcome the same number of people who came to the cafe when Egypt defeated Congo (last October) to reach the World Cup,” Fathy said.
Salah ‘gatherings’
Friends have been making plans for weeks to watch the game, choosing between a plenty of options as Cairo’s cafes and mega-malls gear up for the final.
Cairo Festival City, a mall in the upscale Fifth Settlement district, installed a huge screen for its visitors, creating a stadium-like atmosphere. Vodafone, Egypt’s leading mobile operator, launched a competition and invited customers to watch the match and have the pre-dawn Suhoormeal at Cairo’s upmarket Ritz-Carlton hotel.
Coffee shops in poorer areas also replaced their television sets with larger models, which were placed in the streets in order to accommodate as much people as possible.
Many friends are planning to come together in large gatherings at homes after the Ramadan iftar meal to watch Salah in action, but some have mixed emotions.
Spanish giants Real Madrid, the world’s most successful outfit, are popular in Egypt and favored by millions of Egyptians, who will be equally keen to see Salah lift the Champions League trophy in Kiev.
“I really don’t know who I should support now; my heart is split between Real Madrid, the club I have been supporting since I was child, and Salah who deserves to finish his season by winning such a prestigious title,” said Mahmoud Raheem, a 32-year-old fan.
But Liverpool and Salah still enjoy the unique support of their own fans. The club, England’s most successful in Europe, has an official fan club in Egypt, which includes thousands of supporters.
They plan to watch the game on a huge screen in Cairo’s Nasr City district, hoping Salah could play an instrumental role in giving them a title they have long sought.
“It will be difficult against Real because of their experience, but we still have deadly counter-attacking abilities that could help us a lot. Salah has had a great season and it would be great if he can finish the season by leading us to the trophy,” said Ahmed Maher, a 36-year-old Liverpool fan.
If Salah wins the Champions League, he will only become the second Arab to taste that glory after Algerian great Rabah Madjer, who was on target in Porto’s famous 2-1 comeback win over Bayern Munich in the 1987 European Cup final.