Sunday, September 10, 2006

Willie Nelson @ The Bowl

This post is mainly for my Grandma, who has been the biggest Willie Nelson fan since as long as I can remember.

Last night we went to see Willie at The Hollywood Bowl. Every year we try to attend at least one Bowl event - emphasis on the word event. Going to the Hollywood Bowl is not just about seeing a concert. People get there hours early to set up picnic dinners that get quite elaborate. The Hollywood Bowl is connected with the illustrious Patina Group, so gourmet eats are on site. Even a hot dog is elevated to gourmet status. Most people, though, bring their own food, wine, and table decorations, and candles - the works!

We have had some difficulty in years past getting to The Bowl early enough to fully experience the pre-show picnicking. Arrive too late, you are often left staking out a random bench someplace, or even just throwing your blanket on the pathway leading into the concert seating area. One year we even had to eat in our seats as the show had already started, which was a major pain in the arse, considering the extent of the "gourmet" meal I try to put together for us (Patina chef, though, I am not).

This was the first year we were lucky enough to find a "real" table and chairs. Granted, these appeared to be cast-offs from the tables and chairs used for private parties, and were wobbly and covered in dirt, but with a tablecloth and some pretty flowers, who would be the wiser?

This year's meal was a little easier to put together than in years' past, just in case we ended up not being able to eat it at all (as we had vowed never to eat during the show ever again). The only thing I made was the cornbead.

I really enjoy assembling my little themed meals to take with us to the show. We have one of those picnic backpacks, which works out really nicely. This year, one bottle of wine didn't cut it, and only lasted us through the meal. So, we had to buy another bottle at the over-priced Patina Marketplace. It always feels great to pay $28 for a $9 bottle of wine. My hand was reaching for it, but somehow I resisted the $182 bottle. Next year I will be prepared, taking into account our annual increase on the booziness scale.

The show was wonderful, as true Willie fans (like you, Grandma!) could imagine. The first 8 or so songs were done with back-up by the LA Philharmonic. Then, the Family Band came out to finish the show, and perform such favorites as "Whisky River," "On the Road Again," and "Good Hearted Woman." Country is still alive and kickin' in Los Angeles, as far as I could tell

Sorry for the crappy shot. I didn't want to use the flash, and, you know, the two bottles of wine thing was kicking in.

(Gratuitous boob shot)

We had a great time. We took the train to the show (yes, Los Angeles does have public transportation). But, I do have a question for any fellow Angelenos out there - when did Hollywood Boulevard become such a freak show? For those of you not familiar with the area, for many years, Hollywood Boulevard was kind of a joke to the locals. For many tourists, their #1 destination in Los Angeles is Hollywood and Vine

You try to warn people that it will be a let down, and probably is not anything like what they are envisioning. No matter - people make the journey anyways with stars in their eyes. The reality of Hollywood Boulevard usually hit olfactorily first, with the pungent smell of urine. Then, visually, you'd see a crack whore passed out against the side of Grauman's Chinese Theater, or a bum hocking a loogie on your favorite star's star

Anyway, the place seems transformed within just a couple of years. There are some reputable shopping areas (interspersed with the existing tacky souvenir/sex toys shops), and tons of street performers. I didn't take any pictures of them, 'cause we were out of cash after our unexpected wine purchase, but we saw Jack Sparrow, Darth Vadar and Darth Maul, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis, Marge and Homer Simpson, The Money Man,
the usual Robot Man, a Hanson look and sound-alike band, a guy playing a ukelele (badly), and a guy banging out a pretty good medley on some 5-gallon buckets. There are still way better places to take out of town guests that want to see movie stars, or the glamorous side of Los Angeles, but at least it won't crush their dreams to see the present Hollywood Boulevard.

Someday we are going to have to do a tour of the art displays in the subway stations

Colette Fu

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