I'll only be posting a fraction of the images I took whilst in LA, but you can click this pic to access all of them, if you wish. Also, the original size pics are only a click away from the pics I posted here, so get that mouse to moving!
Our only two forays into Touristville was our trip to the La Brea Tar Pits museum (the Mother Unit and I went to the pits last year, but did not go into the museum.). I don't think I've ever been in the presence of so many bones and fossils. It was awesome.
Then Andy needed to go to the Harley store to get his sister-in-law a shot glass that said Los Angeles on it, so we found ourselves battling the cast of thousands on the streets, who oblivious to nothing but the stars embedded in the sidewalk, and legendary locales like Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. I stayed in the car while Andy ran his Harley errand. I would only have slowed him down, and the clock was beginning to tick by then.
After escaping the tourist traps, it was off to House of Pies. This is a great hang-out place, and my biggest regret is not actually getting a piece of actual flipping pie from there! There’s always a next time, and a slice of blueberry cheesecake with my name on it, trust me.
Now, I was under the impression we were meeting only Paul, because Richard was in Las Vegas. When I got a text on the way to the restaurant informing us that we were on for 3 PM, I thought it was Paul. Andy and I got there a little early to get us a booth and, shortly thereafter, Paul showed up. I was taken aback a little, because I had forgotten he’d shaved, so I was expecting the furry edition of the beleaguered Jack Cucchiaio. We gleefully chatted for a few minutes and Paul and Andy got acquainted, when Richard Gale showed up, which surprised the fuck out of me. I figured we wouldn’t have a chance to meet him, because he was out of town, and all. He even brought me a Ginosaji spoon, which is the last thing I expected, because I contributed without requesting any perks. The perk for me is to see this film come to fruition. If I had my way, the people with the real talent, in my opinion, which is the only one that matters, would have endless funds for their projects, frighteningly organised promotional work, everything they need at their fingertips, and 100% creative control of their own work. It was the only way to change the music business, which we’ve seen on almost every level, and I believe that’s how it’s going to end up in what we still call “Hollywood.” Anyone with any shred of talent, and imagination, and a Tribe that will back them up no matter what will eventually own the world. Jeff Lynne found that out initially at Hyde Park. He’s still being shocked by it all. It couldn’t happen to a better person, except people like Barry Andrews and Richard Gale.
The Spoon of the Ginosaji has found a place of honour next to my baby dancing Groot. Behold the oddest couple in fandom!
Our early dinner lasted longer than expected. We talked movies, film-making, music, and general tomfoolery until it almost ran Paul and Richard late. I thanked them for being two of about ten people on this planet to make me genuinely happy and laugh since 2011. That means more than most everyone can possibly realise.
Richard introduced Andy to the wonders of Uber, which saved our butts as far as getting to the Hollywood Bowl in time, we took an awesome picture, courtesy of the kind cashier at House of Pies, and reluctantly parted ways, promising to do it again soon.
Both Paul and Richard are funny, talented, delightful souls, filled with stories about what it’s like to live and work in Los Angeles. It was deeply insightful, none of which I’m sharing here, because I haven’t asked permission to share, and there are some things that just shouldn’t be public without the consent of the persons to whom it happened.
I will say that the Ginosaji movie is progressing nicely and is beginning to live up to its description as epic on a level that’s hard to imagine. Impressed doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel about the project. I can’t wait for it to all be a reality.
Before heading back to the apartment, Andy wanted to go get the tee with the space cat invaders, so we hied down to the shop to find it. Whilst there, I found a shirt that was so anti-this trip, I knew I had to have it. I’m not one to buy frivolous stuff for myself, but I knew this would always conjure the memory of the grooviest birthday I’ve had so far whilst incarcerated in this current veil of tears, and it was only $10, so I took my chances, in more ways than one. They only had the one shirt, and it was a woman’s medium. Since I’m still having problems figuring out what can and can’t fit me, I decided to go for it anyway. Luckily, it fit perfectly, so I wore it with my galaxy pants, because you can’t go to an ELO concert without having the cosmos nearby for their spaceship to have a place along which to triumphantly coast.
Jumping into our Uber with a tad of time to spare (we would have been woefully late, had it not been for Richard’s suggestion. Thank you for that!), Andy and I were on our way to what I believed would be a defining Life Moment, and Andy was keen on a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. He specifically said that he wasn’t tingly like I probably was.* Since I tend to try to keep my emotions in check, my tingle factor was definitely present, but I did my level best to keep it together as we hunted for our seats, which was relatively. The folks who work at the Hollywood Bowl are quite courteous and helpful. They’ll also read you the riot act and not give you entrance if you have a camera that even vaguely looks professional. Mine does not, but I didn’t want to take the chance of losing my camera, so I took my iPhone, which has a very good camera, so I wasn’t too very lower-lippy about leaving the camera at Brian’s apartment.
Andy’s phone had very little charge and he was responsible for the Uber ride back from Hollywood Bowl, so it was up to me to get as many decent pictures as I possibly could. I even managed to get part of All Over the World, which was personally important, since it was Xanadu that officially introduced me to the Electric Light Orchestra.
The concert began with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, conducted by unspeakably cool Thomas Wilkins, playing pieces from English composers, like the lush Nimrod by Edward Elgar, which thrilled Andy no end, considering it’s one of his favourite pieces and and he can play it on organ. I wish I had that kind of talent.
Being raised on various Classical composers (like Antonín Dvorak and Johann Strauss) along with the Beatles, the Carpenters, and early Electronica like Popcorn by Hot Butter, I was eating the opening act by the orchestra up like a thirsty dude in the desert who just found a water fountain.
When Jeff Lynne and his band finally took the stage, it was nothing short of a religious experience, especially since the opening song was Tightrope, which is one of the closest songs you’ll ever get Jeff Lynne to being cynical. Even then, it turns out in the end. Yes, I admit, I got teary.
All of the songs the band played were their classics, and they were played with precisions. The only exception was the single release from the new album, Alone in the Universe, When I Was a Boy. Despite his hearing the new album prior to the concert, Andy was very deeply impressed with Jeff Lynne’s autobiographical opus.
After the concert, I said on Facebook, “No words.” Honestly, I’m still having problems putting into words the experience I had at the ELO concert. It turned me into Ellie Arroway, no doubt about it.
I had a suspicion he might do All over the World, but knew there was no hope for Xanadu or the title track from Eldorado. Jeff just doesn't consider Xanadu to be his best work, and Eldorado is just too obscure for your "basic fan", whatever that means.
There was one song that brought me by surprise, and that was Wild West Hero, which they did with the a cappella in tact. I thought I was taping that portion of the concert but, unfortunately, I screwed that up big time. Wild West Hero is my second favourite ELO song, specifically because of the a cappella portion of the piece. You can hear the breath, albeit very slightly and you need headphones, in between each phrase in the song. It makes it real. It makes it human. It makes it breathtakingly beautiful. Anyone interested in seeing the concert, along with this exceptional performance, you need only click the embedded video here, with the masterpiece in question beginning at 50:30:
As Richard and I had discussed earlier, the subtly of sound makes all the difference in anything, be it music or film. If you can’t appreciate that, you’re losing a completely vital portion of your creative process. Unless it’s a silent film or sommat, then you have to be living in the 20s or be Mel Brooks!
I must freely admit that it was during this song that I lost my shit. I never expected to hear Wild West Hero live. Ever. EVER. EVER EVER EVER. And that harks back to my initial statement that you never know what’s going to happen in this crazy existence. Ten years, I never expected to be in England meeting one of my heroes. Ten years later, I never expected to be in the presence of my first ever hero singing a song that only hardcore fans know by heart and audiophiles need a cigarette after hearing it.
Just as I’d heard from concert goers from previous concerts, there were moments Jeff would forget the lyrics. None of that mattered, though. The audience, most of us who had already forgotten what we had for breakfast that day (except for me and the Popeye’s Breakfast I’m craving like crazy right now), filled in the blanks for him. Besides, it showed that Jeff Lynne is human and aging along with his fans, both older hardcore fans, and his new generation. It shouldn’t be held against him for interchanging the occasional lyric the man wrote 40 years ago. We should all just be lucky he’s willing to get up there and sing it live for us, when none of us expected to ever see him on stage again, especially not in this capacity.
His typical banter in between songs was “Thank you so much,” with his thumbs in the air. This wasn’t surprising, coming from a man who said four words after being cornered in a studio back in 1979, that made me fall in love with him. He was ambushed by an interviewer who asked why the band were named “Electric Light Orchrstra.” Jeff’s reply, short, sweet, to the point, was, “Uhm...well… why not?” Right then and there, I wanted to be an eccentric recluse. Got my wish. Haha! What surprised me was that, even after all the concerts he’s done since Hyde Park, and the worshipful reception he’s gotten every single place he’s played, he’s still shocked and humbled that so many of us are there for him, singing with him, celebrating his life like he never expected it would be.
Paul saw the band at their lowest point in 1986. I wish he could have been there to see how drastically times have changed that ebb in their career, and see how the band was always supposed to be seen live. Even though always called Electric Light Orchestra, the orchestral part would still be lost to the electric instrumentation, despite the sound department doing the best they could with what they had to work with at the time. Technology has finally caught up with Jeff Lynne’s vision, and we who never got to see the orchestra during their supposed heyday, got to see and experience something that is unique and miraculous to our times. We got to see ELO the way Jeff Lynne always envisioned it. There were live bands, then there were bands whose light shone brightest in the studio. What Jeff Lynne finally got to do was bring his fans into his studio and let us see, at least in part, what he sees in his mind when making the music we so adore.
Prior to the concert, Andy asked me what I thought their opener and encore would be. Getting it completely wrong, I suggested Last Train to London and Mr. Blue Sky. As mentioned above, Tightrope opened and the perfect marriage of Rock and Classic closed us out with Roll over Beethoven along with perfectly-timed fireworks.
It took us a while to get out of the area, and it was such a relief to get back to the apartment and just lie there, basking in the glory I just had the honour of experiencing. Even though I was exhausted, I didn’t sleep the entire night. My inner vision was too filled with astronomical imagery, and my inner song was pure harmony. I figured I wouldn’t sleep the night of the concert, so I had it in my head to do all the laundry and perform any other duties to ensure Brian’s apartment was exactly as he had left it, or at least as close to that as possible. The problem was, I didn’t know where the washer and dryer were and couldn’t find them. Texting Brian, I revealed my intentions, but he would have none of it. So I limited my restoration to cleaning everything I could, and triple-checking everything I could think of… I haven't heard any complaints, so I'm hoping we left Brian's uber-groovy pad just as fabulicious as it was when we arrived.
*I would like to note that, by the end of the concert, Andy admitted to being more than a little tingly. HA!