Graeme and I opened up on Saturday to do the early shift and field a radio interview, then it was off in the hire car.

Mulholand Drive passes right by the venue’s entrance so we swung onto this and up into the hills, round the tight curves, screeching to halt at lookout points, gawping at views of The Valley or across the city to the Ocean. At the final vantage point we hit pay-dirt, the bleachers of Hollywood Bowl directly below, in the distance the high-rise spectre of Downtown, further round, Griffith Park Observatory and ultimately, the Hollywood sign.

This place is so car orientated we manage to drive stress free to Hollywood Boulevard and find metered parking a couple of blocks away from the Chinese Theatre. I couldn’t imagine what appeal The Walk of Stars holds and still don’t. Graeme was more engaged, amused enough at seeing Kenny G ‘immortalised’ to take a photo. Exploring film star’s hand and footprints embedded in cement was predictably far more engaging. My left foot may now dance like Fred Astaire’s.

With the sun starting to sink there seemed to be no better time to cruise west along Sunset Boulevard. It’s clear when you’ve left Hollywood and hit Beverly Hills, there’s a big sign, but there are also suddenly big fences, bigger houses set further back and immaculately kept lawns all around. Swinging off Sunset through an ornate gateway into Bel Air we both laugh, wrong footed by the adrenal rush of our sudden and inappropriate proximity to immense wealth, privilege, seclusion and armed guards. The roads are narrower, the fences higher, the houses invisible way back. We felt uncomfortable enough to cut our detour short, a fame-spotting tour bus is rolling in as we’re out.

There’s a rendezvous arranged at the Getty Centre. You park your car underground and are taken up the ridge, above the freeway, on a monorail. With sharp shadows and the building’s elegant curves glowing orange in the dusk against a dark blue sky in the still cold air the place feels magical. Gazing around and down we spot Charlotte, Jo and Robin in the Cafe’s vast windows. Craig, Karen and Jake soon join us and when we’ve eaten together, the whole team walks to the far most promontory and gazes east, back over the city, mesmerized. Conurbation doesn’t cover it; this is extraordinary. The lights stretch away and away and away, grid blocks emphasise perspective and Downtown gives us depth. Up and above countless aircraft take the place of stars. Thick, unbroken bands of bright red and white light cut through it all and the whole thing swarms in a gripping slow motion.

We gaze, hypnotised by the horror and the beauty, compelled by this sight that no one should see. This extended moment will stay with me for ever.


3 thoughts on “L.A.

  1. The Kenny G reference needs some qualification here, I feel – lest any unwitting reader falls into the trap of thinking me an eficionado. On arriving at our Studio City pad last monday we immediately checked out a handful of CD’s that were stylishly fanned out near the stereogram. ‘The Romance Collection III’ featured a number from the aforementioned Mr G. We never got to the end of the track. If Kenny G is to be immortalised at all it will be through Pat Metheny’s robust defence of their ‘shared’ artform. See the link http://www.jazzoasis.com/methenyonkennyg.htm
    Read and enjoy.

  2. That extended moment is a product of peak oil – hold it hard. We were talking today about whether Leo and his children will look back on this time as a golden age, when energy was cheap and transport, production and communication were easy.

    Re Kennny G – Graeme, you are protesting just a smidge too much :).

  3. Sorry – I can’t let Kenny G go – he still clearly has that love-hate allure. Here’s the best bit of Metheny’s interview, for those who couldn’t be bothered to read it all,

    “…when Kenny G decided that it was appropriate for him to defile the music of the man who is probably the greatest jazz musician that has ever lived by spewing his lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, f**ked up playing all over one of the great Louis’s tracks, he did something that I would not have imagined possible. He, in one move, through his unbelievably pretentious and calloused musical decision to embark on this most cynical of musical paths, sh*t all over the graves of all the musicians past and present who have risked their lives by going out there on the road for years and years developing their own music inspired by the standards of grace that Louis Armstrong brought to every single note he played over an amazing lifetime as a musician.
    …Kenny G has created a new low point in modern culture – something that we all should be totally embarrassed about – and afraid of. We ignore this, “let it slide”, at our own peril.

    A cautionary tale for us all.

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