Well. I’ve been back in Los Angeles for a month now, and due to that inherently adaptable nature that has permitted the human race to swarm over every continent, it feels like I was never away. I don’t even having a craving for crawfish.
I rounded out New Orleans with a weekend full of tourist attractions and returned to California armed with a determination to DO STUFF. STUFF being frivolous, fun things that are either cheap or free. Not getting-your-life-in-order-and-making-something-of-yourself-stuff, obviously.
Last weekend I spent Friday and Saturday nights at the California Plaza downtown, which is a small open air amphitheatre combined with a landscaped pond and two staging areas. The top station of Angel’s Flight is housed there.
Angel’s Flight: a 50 cent tram ride that will take you from the bottom of a steep hill to the top of it, or vice versa. A short ride, over in mere seconds, it is a relic of a bygone era where LA folks still adhered to European and East Coast fashion trends and would faint whilst walking up a hill in the desert heat and many layers of petticoats, corsets, and wool. Unlike today’s unofficial SoCal uniform of shorts, loose fitting top, and a light sweater carried only to protect oneself from the arctic air-conditioning.
Throughout the summer they have live concerts every weekend that are freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. So last Friday I saw a fantastic reggae/ska band (the combination works, I promise), followed by drinks at Bernadette’s, a bar noted for it’s collection of crappy junk on the shelves. You can call it nostalgic kitsch if you want… you hoarder. The bar’s nice by the way, I’d happily go there again, I’m just not planning on moving in.
Saturday night, after a picnic in delightful Barnsdall Art Park – which has NO PUBLIC TOILETS. If the museum is open you can use the ones in there, but we all know that museum hours are capricious little buggers, and then you’re stuck with legging it down the hill, jumping in your car to zoom over to the nearby Riteaid, and finding an employee with nothing to do so they can key in the super duper secret pin number that unlocks the restroom – I pootled back to the plaza to see the Love Uninhibited Orchestra.
The concept is simple, the result is pure awesome. They are an orchestra, they play only love songs (mostly from the 70s) and the crowd has to be uninhibited because the lyrics are projected on a big screen behind the band and it’s audience participation all the way.
Our little section of the amphitheatre did seem to be particularly loud, and accompanied the orchestra not only with enthusiastic, off-key vocals, but also a chorus of clinking and sloshing. I’m not one to brag (unless I parallel park perfectly, and then I tell EVERYONE) but our rendition of Tom Jones’ ‘It’s Not Unusual’ was outstanding.
The open air free Summer concert is an integral part of LA life. I get a kick out of seeing families at them: everyone relaxes; parents’ adult beverages happily coexist with the kids’ juice boxes; there’s dancing down by the stage, and lolling about on blankets everywhere else. The highlight of the Love Uninhibited Orchestra, was actually a large group of kids of various ages (say 6 – 16) that had clearly been dragged along by their parents, and then gleefully discovered they recognized all the songs. By about the third tune, most of the audience had spied their silhouettes dancing on the opposite side of the water, making up superbly choregraphed routines incorporating synchronised ballet leaps, dabbing, flossing, some leg kicking move that I’ve seen around a lot but don’t know what it’s called, conga lines, classic kick lines, and some scary lifts and spins with the younger kids. They were brilliant, joyous, uninhibited, and, in stark contrast to their parents, completely sober.