Perry Batchelor stood in the gutter with old candy wrappers and cigarette butts.
"Hollywood used to be a glamorous place," said Batchelor, 18, as he bent to shovel trash into a plastic bag. "It needs to be cleaned up. This is gunk. You have to start with gunk."
And so he joined an army of volunteers last weekend to launch a three-week assault on the streets of Hollywood. Armed with brooms, shovels and paintbrushes, workers moved from block to block sweeping gutters and sidewalks, bagging trash and covering over graffiti.
The cleanup, dubbed "Give Hollywood a Birthday Bath," may seem a puny effort when contrasted with the city's $922-million project to redevelop Hollywood. But Councilman Michael Woo, who organized the effort to get people to "put some elbow grease into their commitment to Hollywood," was able to draw about 100 volunteers Saturday from neighborhoods, businesses and community groups in the area. The work crews will return Sunday and Oct. 10.
Teen Canteen, a home for the homeless and runaways, sent Batchelor and other youths to prowl the streets below the Hollywood Hills. The Tree People, a nonprofit organization based in the Santa Monica Mountains, tended to greenery along the avenues south of Hollywood Boulevard.
"There is lots of garbage around here, but a lot of the trees are pretty good," said Mary Greenstein. "We're just pruning branches and trimming sucker growth."
At the Bob Hope Hollywood USO, servicemen on leave spent part of their Saturday painting over graffiti.
"Since we're military, we hate to see what they've done" to Hollywood, said Joan Jones, executive director at the USO, a freshly painted building that would pass any military inspection, unlike some of the neighboring, decaying storefronts.
The City of Los Angeles provided paint and brushes. It also sent a street sweeper and dump truck to assist volunteers.
Two Hollywood hardware stores donated the brooms and shovels. A local restaurant served coffee to workers and a doughnut shop sent over several dozen of its products, glazed and chocolate.
Of course, you can't so much as lift a shovel in Hollywood without someone filming it. So, television news crews were on hand as Woo and Hollywood's honorary mayor, Johnny Grant, swept the sidewalk.
Up the street, Johnny Pompa and his 12-year-old brother, Daniel, sat on the curb listening to a transistor radio.
"People from all over the country come here. They come to take pictures of Hollywood and it's filthy and dirty," Pompa, 22, said. "This place needs a lot of cleaning."