Anybody who enjoys live music in Los Angeles knows and appreciates that the outside food and drink policy at The Hollywood Bowl is the most liberal – and accessible – in the entire city. Basically, as long as you’re not making a ruckus, it is all allowed to be brought in and enjoyed at your seat. Thus, tons of restaurants offer take-away picnic options specifically designed for Bowl concerts, summer after summer. Concertgoers take advantage by bringing in bottles of booze in coolers and picnic baskets to be enjoyed and discarded on the sacred Hollywood Bowl grounds.
But if you go to The Bowl a lot – and I do, as a proud Hollywood resident – let’s just admit that sometimes we all get a bit lazy. The refusal to pay for $17 stacked parking leads to a small trek to this famous venue set against the Hollywood Hills – and sometimes I just get a little tired of all the lugging.
It’s always the people from out of town who think it’s weird there are movie screenings in a cemetery. Oh you know, those L.A. hippy folk are always up to their crazy ways, up to no good. On the other hand, if you’ve been here awhile, it’s old news or – even if it actually weren’t – you had heard about the screenings and that they were really cool so you just acted like it was old news the only way hipsters in skinny jeans could. Oh yeah, been there – done that.
I myself had the Hollywood Forever routine down. I brought my layers of blankets and sleeping bags, my food and wine – ready to lay down on a damp lawn. In true fashion, we even lined up in between velvet wood stakes and plastic tape to get in. Mozza 2 Go in tow (mortadella sandwich, burrata pizza specialÂ and butterscotch budino, thankyouverymuch)Â we set up in the same area and pretty much in the same manner as for a screening. The 1 AM arrival time, however, was a deviation. And instead of preparing to feast or snack, all entrants prepared for slumber. People set up little kumbaya circles with tea lights in the center while we crawled inside our sleeping bags and zipped up, separating ourselves from the lawn and the mist. I never got to have sleepovers like this when I was a kid. I believe it was then when I was scared of cemeteries.
We’re all grown-up now. And what happens at grown-up sleepovers, apparently, is screenings ofÂ one Wes Andersen movie andÂ one documentary (Bottle Rocket and Planet Earth) with the sound turned down a notch. DJ sets by Bon Iver came between the movies and aÂ night-long coffee bar was available a few yards away. Apparently, there are still face paintings at grown-up sleepovers. But probably the most remarkable thing that happens at grown-up sleepovers is waking in said cemetery to the chants of Buddhist monks. Since generally cranky when waking from naps, I was halfway between thinkingÂ that spirit-filled monotoneÂ was the coolest thing in the world to wanting them to shut up. I sat up a bit, groggy, and finally noticed there was a stage set up to the right of the Masonic Lodge. And then I saw a spotlight upon four dudes in the dark before the dawn -Â their complexions only fellow Wisconsinites could understand. The red-tinged hair, beards and Justin Vernon’s sweet, quaint and perfectly harmonized voice carried through the fog so serenely over subtle syncopations – nowhere else, no other time in Hollywood would I ever feel the simple beauty of the woods of Wisconsin ever again. I held on.