Like I promised at the end of yesterday’s post, I have one more moment that made me feel really good the other day – and it happened at a major Los Angeles landmark. Since I titled this post with the name of that landmark, there’s no point in building suspense… it’s the Hollywood Bowl!
For you non-Angelenos, the Hollywood Bowl is a huge amphitheater built into a hillside smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles. And by huge, I mean huge – it seats 18,000 people. The Bowl is the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and it also hosts all sorts of other concerts: Dolly Parton is there this weekend, Phish is there in August, as is a production of Hairspray – there’s always something going on at the Bowl. Last night, my friend Jen and I saw the LA Philharmonic perform pieces by Strauss, Lizst, Enescu, and Bruch.
The Hollywood Bowl is a stunning place to see a concert. It’s nestled in the Hollywood Hills, and once you get up there, it’s so easy to forget you’re in the middle of a major city. There’s mountains and trees, and the Hollywood Sign, too!
You don’t see the Hollywood Sign? It’s there, all right… here, let me help you out:
Another great thing about the Bowl is that you can bring outside food and drink with you, including alcohol, so lots of people pack picnics and wine, although Jen and I came empty-handed the other night.
The last time I was at the Bowl was two years ago, when Jen and I saw Liza Minnelli. It was a great concert – the first time I’ve seen Liza perform live. I remember when we first arrived and made it to our seats. This was the summer of 2009, a good six months before I started my weight loss adventures, so I was hovering right around 400 pounds. The row was already full, except for our two seats in the middle, so we had to squeeze by a line of people – never a fun time, especially when you’re 400 pounds, and can’t squeeze anywhere. “Excuse me, pardon me, excuse me…” and at the Bowl, in addition to shifting their knees or standing up, people have to figure out where to put their wine glass… their plate of food… the tub of hummus resting on their thigh. “Excuse me… Oh I’m sorry, was that your foot?… Pardon… mmm, something smells tasty… Excuse me…” It’s a hassle and a pain in the ass.
The section of the Bowl that we were in for Liza doesn’t have seats, it has benches, with seat numbers carved into the backs:
By the time Jen and I arrived at our seats, there was barely any room on the bench left. I think naturally people tend to spread out a little bit, especially when there’s room, and especially if you want to pass around cheese and crackers and some Reisling, but I when got to my seat, and saw how little space there was for my big body, I felt like an elephant trying to fit into a Miata, after that elephant walked down a narrow hallway lined with people munching on grapes and quiche.
I felt like every pair of eyeballs in the row were on me, and the eyeballs in the rows behind us were on me too, with people certainly thinking how lucky they were that I wasn’t the one sitting next to them.
I felt like, if there wasn’t the chatter generated from 18,000 people in one place, I’d be able to hear an endless succession of heavy sighs from everyone in my row as they put down their baguettes and meringues and shift over to make room for my fat ass.
I felt out of place, and the subject of scorn and contempt.
The other night, though, things were very different. Starting with me, of course, as I didn’t have to bring an extra 163 pounds along with me. Our seats the other night were way in the back (I took the first photo above from our seats, so that’s how far we were from the stage), in a section that also had benches, but the other night, the numbers didn’t seem quite so far apart from each other:
I fit comfortably in front of my number, and I didn’t feel like I was encroaching on Jen’s space, which is how I always used to feel in theater-type settings. As for the other people in the row… well, that was the other big difference – we had the row practically to ourselves. A few people sat down right as the concert was starting, but it was just us when I snapped this picture of Jen and I a few minutes before the concert started:
I liked that there was no one around us – I got to throw my legs over the back of the bench in front of us – but it sure felt good knowing, with complete certainty, that if I had to squeeze my way into an already-crowded row, it’d be a completely different experience than the Liza concert, and one that definitely wouldn’t end with me feeling shitty about myself.
As for the concert itself, it was wonderful. Jen bought the tickets weeks ago, and I didn’t pay attention then to what music would be performed, so when I sat down and learned that the LA Phil would be performing Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, I just about crapped my pants. That’s one of my favorite pieces of music, and one I’ve been dying to hear performed live by a full orchestra!
By the way, you’re totally familiar with Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, even if you think you’re not. It’s been used in popular culture tons of times, especially in cartoons: There have been Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry, and Mickey Mouse shorts that prominently feature it, and it’s the music that Daffy Duck and Donald Duck are playing in the dueling pianos scene of Who Framed Roger Rabbit:
“Scotch on the rocks… and I mean ice!“
You can hear the full Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 here.
One more Hollywood Bowl thought. Going to the Bowl is a workout. Jen and I took the Subway (which involves climbing down and up about 5-6 flights of stairs at each station, because I try not to take escalators anymore); then about a mile walk from the subway station to the entrance of the Bowl, and then a nice quarter-mile walk up the hill to the Bowl itself, and up tons of steps to our seats in the back. When I hang out with Jen, she never takes escalators either – I’m rubbing off on her! – but she pointed out how much I enjoy running up stairs when I can, which I hadn’t really thought about before. I just think, ‘Why not take the stairs two at a time? I’ll get them over with quicker!’ It sure feels good bounding up 4 flights of stairs in a row, after getting off the subway, without getting out of breath!
Oh, and all those stairs and all that walking the other night came after I had a great workout at the gym: 5 minutes warm-up on a treadmill, 40 minutes of weights, and 25 minutes on a stationary bike.
Keep it up, David!