Hollywood: Beauty and the Beast

 As mentioned in previous blogs, I live in the “land of shallow” aka Los Angeles, to include Hollywood – Hollywood, where everything is glitter, sparkle, superficial, and loud.

It so happens that a couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to experience Hollywood at its best and worst.

In Hollywood there’s a gem: The Hollywood Bowl! But before I tell you about a night of magic at the Bowl, let me tell you how we got there.

Rather than picnicking at the Bowl, this time we decided to eat dinner in Hollywood at “25 Degrees”, the retro restaurant at the Roosevelt Hotel.

From there, we would take shuttle-bus to the concert.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Hollywood, and by that, I mean the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, which is a circus of sorts – the sort of circus that we humans create. And with no admission fee!

Tourists and locals; cameras galore; souvenir stores with hungry sellers; crowded streets full of energy, the kind of energy that leaves you empty unless you’re excited about taking a picture next to a wax replica of Marilyn Monroe. She still gets around.

Vendors hawking street food, trinkets, t-shirts and souvenirs, all made in China. Emotional drunkenness of pure adrenaline; everyone with glazed eyes absent any happiness, but alive with giddiness. Visual triggers and loud noises abounding; people talking, shouting; cars honking; sirens blasting; an announcement by a bull-horn wielding 19-year-old about some upcoming and bizarre show.

The world is shouting in your ears, blasting … and your head is moving in all directions just trying to absorb some of this draining stimulation.

This then, is the scene getting to – and leaving dinner for the Bowl itself …

And leaving all this cacophony and getting to the Bowl is just a matter of minutes. A couple of miles and yet a world apart.

To those who are not from LA, let me explain that this is an outdoor amphitheater that holds 18,000 people. Yes, that’s not a typo – 18,000(!) folks come to sell-out concerts.

During the summer there are concerts almost every day, to include a big concert finale with fireworks and a whole lot of hoopla. The Bowl is in Hollywood Hills. People come bringing food and wine, and picnic outdoors before the concert. But this is Hollywood after all, and at a substantial price you can have a box seat with food from a fancy restaurant, and you will be served like royalty.

 However, the rest of us (ahem) sit on wood benches and enjoy the music.

 The bowl deserves a place in those advice-columns so common in a time of recession – i.e. “What to do on a Budget”; so I’m actually going to mention the price. For $37 I had the pleasure of being with friends and listening to the LA Philharmonic, led by Gustavo Dudamel AND Placido Domingo, who brought the house down. What a treat.

For that price you can be there with your family, and – if you were a Spanish speaker, you would have enjoyed Dudamel, Domingo and (soprano) Ana Maria Martinez speaking your language; and singing in your language. Yes, while they also performed in English and Italian intermittently,  they focused on Spanish compositions, operas, operettas and famous Spanish songs such as Granada, and all under the guise of a series called “America and Americans”, which made me think of Christopher Columbus, who came from Spain, after all…


And, while enjoying the music and reveling in this intoxicating opportunity to enjoy life’s pleasures, together with 17,999 other people who came to listen to my friend Placido – I reflected on the last couple of hours on Hollywood Blvd when I was surrounded by the deafening sounds of nothingness. I was wondering about us, about me, about humanity, while sitting in this beautiful natural amphitheater surrounded by people who could not get enough of the heavenly voices of Placido and Martinez; enveloped by the stars, which were gazing down upon us, humming along with us humans, the same humanity that was walking down Hollywood Blvd.

We the people have all these parts – shallow and deep, primitive and ethereal, simple and complex. We are voyeurs and participants, and we are the audience and the singers.

And here I go, alongside Placido:

  • Granada,Manola cantada en coplas preciosas
    No tengo ontro cosa que darte un ramo de rosas
    De rosas de suave fragancia
    Que le dieron marco a la virgen morena
    Granada, tu tierra está llena
    De lindas mujeres, de sangre why del sol


What a glorious moment in time!



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About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
This entry was posted in Hollywood, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Hollywood: Beauty and the Beast

  1. Peter G says:

    Excellent. Poetic! It was like I was there.

  2. Jim Palmer says:

    I would have loved to see a live performnce by Placido Domingo, but you can have the rest of it…..Could be you think to much,, Just go with the flow :-))

  3. Margot says:


  4. Mort says:

    Damn, girl, you’re doing some mighty fine writing here–love the kaleidoscopic portrait of Hollywood.

  5. Jay says:

    We are lucky enough to be going to the Bowl for dinner and the concert this evening – as I like to say, a quintessential Southern California evening. (Un)fortunately, we’ll probably miss Marilyn, but no doubt will see the fellow singing along wit his old dog puppet! See you there?

  6. Martha Carr says:

    You’ve beautifully captured the true Hollywood experience! Love the Bowl! Sitting in the boxes is delightful, sitting up in the wood seats can be a blast (especially during a rock or pop concert!) Audience is super friendly – a real party!

  7. rachel bar says:

    My son wanted to remind me that he didn’t spend his years in school just partying! Here’s his correction re: Columbus-
    Christopher Columbus (Italian: Cristoforo Colombo; Spanish: Cristóbal Colón; before 31 October 1451 – 20 May 1506) was an explorer, navigator, and colonizer, born in the Republic of Genoa, in what is today northwestern Italy.

  8. ShimonZ says:

    Sounds like a fun evening. I was in Hollywood many years ago, and it was very different. More relaxed, a small town, really, in the middle of a big city. But the Hollywood Bowl was probably just as beautiful as it is today…

    • rachel bar says:

      I’m glad that you were in the Hollywood Bowl. This was not only a fun evening, but an exquisite one, because the music was transporting. It’s etched in my memory. Thanks for visiting.

  9. Love the new photo of you for starters. Very elegant/friendly. Your well-written travelogue makes me want to hop a plane. I have such mixed feelings about LA. I’m always a fish out of water tehre but the history lures me since there’s so much of it. Sounds like you had a great time which is what’s most important. You write really well Rachel. I don’t read many posts, too busy, but I make it a point to check to see if you have anything new up. Thanks.

    • rachel bar says:

      That’s a blast! No one ever called me elegant before!

      Thanks so much for your kind words. Being that English is not my first language, it’s great to hear that you like my writing, as I consider you a natural.

      How can anyone be a fish out of water in LA? There’s hardly anyone who’s born here (except my husband), and if you talk the the average Angelino, you will hear that they feel like a fish out of water. You’re in good company. A car is a necessity though. Most fish can’t drive…

  10. backonmyown says:

    The picture of Marilyn brings back memories. When I was about thirteen and fourteen I thought that one day my boobs would look like hers. I was a dreamer.

    It’s been many years since I’ve been to LA. I’ve never been to the Hollywood Bowl but if ever I should have the opportunity to go I would love to hear Placido Domingo there. Sounds like a fun time.

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