Monday, November 26, 2012

I have a lot to be thankful for, including finally getting to cross seeing Peter Gabriel live in concert off my bucket list. If that wasn't good enough, he performed at the Hollywood Bowl, which means it made my epic bucket list. What was great, is that the guy next to us, who was a site manager of a remote work site way up in Canada, had flown 20 hours total to see the concert because why? Seeing Peter Gabriel in concert was on his bucket list, as well as seeing a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. I told him he beat me by one, since I'd been to the Hollywood Bowl many times. The show was sold out, and I shot this shaky video of Shannon and me during "Sledgehammer." The Canadian can be seen at the end, singing along. This video just cracks me up.

I'd bought the tickets months before when I heard he was going to be here and that the concert was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the album "So," which brought me, and just about everyone else in the audience back to a poignant time in our lives. In my case, it was college, having just arrived in New York. So many memories associated with that album, ranging from being driven down Park Avenue at breakneck speed in a Maserati by a crazy Colombian playboy as "Red Rain" blared from the Alpine speakers, to my more quiet, reflective or artistic moments. Every song on that album brings back a memory, emotion, lesson learned, realization or new experience.

Gabriel started the concert with an acoustic, eclectic mix of his as he put it, new but unfinished songs, then plugged in the electricity for his older songs, which included many of my favorites of his, "Solsbury Hill," "Shock the Monkey,"and songs from his album "Ovo." Mesmerizing and wonderful.

Solsbury Hill is so poignant to those who have taken the road less traveled, or who have suddenly realized that their lives, while comfortable, are anything but satisfactory. And, who decided not to silence, but heed that inner voice telling them to take that leap. In Peter Gabriel's case, it was when he decided to break with Genesis.

I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked right out of the machinery
My heart going boom boom boom
"Hey" he said "Grab your things
I've come to take you home."

-- Peter Gabriel, Solsbury Hill

When he played Solsbury Hill, the whole audience stood, our hearts going boom boom boom as we danced, remembering the moments when we decided to walk out of the machinery. A soul moving, profound musical experience.

Just before "In Your Eyes," which we all knew was coming because he was playing "So" in the same order as the album, John Cusack walked on stage, holding a boombox, paying homage to the iconic scene in "Say Anything." Total. Epic. Moment. You can see that below in a video shot at the concert. Of course, magnify the awesomeness of the moment and the sound quality by a thousand if you want to imagine what it was like to be there. The sound was encompassing, rich and far reaching. John Cusack was absolutely adorable, I almost cut the circulation off in poor Shannon's arm and deafened his left ear when I saw what was going on. There were big screens at the show, and during the song they cut to John Cusack dancing it up in the audience.

The energy of the whole show was inclusive, celebratory, and I'll say it, a little sacred to those of us who have so many memories tied to "So." I was inspired to see that all of us with our different treks and stories, seemed to be participating in a pilgrimage to our pasts, paying homage to someone that helped us along the way. And, I was so glad that I got to experience it with my best friend.

Excellent birds...

I had a great Thanksgiving, going to an orphan's dinner that a friend and her husband hosted. They live close by, so it was an extra bonus not to have to get on the freeways. It was a great time with about ten people there, including a darling, sweet three-year-old girl who was just an absolute joy. Fun, not shy, not demanding, just a part of everything and a tickle away from lighting up the room with her laugh. Shannon was great with her, giving her horsie rides and allowing himself to become a human jungle gym. She also was a huge fan on my meringue surprises, so much that she came over to me and said, "Thank you for making the cookies," and soon after snuck four of them in a row. It was hilarious.

Shannon baked a scrumptious pecan, chocolate chip pumpkin pie as well as a fantastic "Smokehouse" garlic bread. The host made an absolutely mouth-watering turkey, having brined it for two days. It was so tender and moist. Just delectable.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"God, I forgot how big he is."

That was the first thing my dad said upon seeing Oliver, my Maine Coon cat, when we stopped by my apartment for a bathroom break after being stuck in traffic in Hollywood. Someone had called in a bomb threat at Hollywood and Highland, and the police had a huge section of Hollywood Blvd. blocked off. It snarled up traffic so badly that I peeled off and took to the alleys to get us out of there. Once I made my move, three other cars followed me, and we snaked in and out of alleyways, working our way up parallel to the parking lot that all the surface streets had become. I was glad to have my little Volvo C30 T5R, which did marvelously in the tight turns. God, I love that car. I felt like we were in a scene from Ronin, with a Mercedes behind me and two follow cars that were counting on me to lead us out of Hollywood.

My dad came to visit in September, and Los Angeles was kind enough to provide him with 100-degree heat. However, he stays at the Hotel Amarano, a boutique hotel up the street, as my one-bedroom apartment is just too small for most visitors. The Amarano, which opened about four years ago, has been great for his visits to Los Angeles. They really offer impeccable service and filled a huge void for a luxury hotel near the studios. And, I'll add that they make a fantastic cosmo.

The day before our harrowing escape from Hollywood, we went to see the Edgar Payne exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Edgar Payne painted mostly plein air, which considering he painted in the early 20th century and the large scale of his paintings, some several feet high and wide, is a pretty darn incredible feat. Think of all the supplies, paints, oils, mineral spirits, brushes, palettes, canvases and easels that he and his band of couriers had to carry to remote locations in the Sierras and Navajo territories. He even made it to Europe to paint the Matterhorn and merchant ships in France and Italy. The work was absolutely spectacular, with robust colors mixed with subtle hues and rich textures. And his impressionist style meant that whenever you moved a few feet, you saw a different painting. The museum did an awesome job with the exhibit, really showcasing the work in a way that it could be appreciated.  My dad is an avid oil painter, with a love for painting landscapes. He heard that the exhibit would be showing in Los Angeles and timed his visit to see it.

That evening, we had dinner with Shannon at Off Vine, my first visit back since the place had been rebuilt after a fire had gutted it.They really did a stellar job recreating the original charm of the restaurant, which is inside a craftsman house. They also updated things like the restroom and upper floor for more room and convenience. And of course, dinner was delicious. It was a beautiful night and we ate outside on the patio. Though you're in Hollywood, it doesn't feel like it.

The day that had us coming home ala Ronin, we had just had brunch at the Hotel Bel Air, which was nothing short of fabulous. Stellar service, luscious grounds, delicious food and just plain wonderful. I wore a summer dress and pearls and my dad offered to make and wear a button that said, "Yes, she really is my daughter." That cracked me up. We sat under a canopy in an outdoor dining area and ate the several course meal to our heart's content. The last time my dad was here, he took me to brunch at San Ysidiro Ranch. I won't lie...I'm liking this trend a lot.