National Guitar

We were close, very close to the Hollywood Bowl and moving very slowly, a couple of car lengths every five minutes. Mostly we were not moving at all. The last mile took longer than the initial part of the drive from Woodland Hills. Finally a traffic cop told me that I could make a right and pay for preferred parking.

Thirty dollars later our car was jammed in a solid block of stacked parking. Attendants ushered us up the hill to the last security line as if they were doing us a favor, imparting a wise tip to save us time. It was already past 8:00, the concert seemed to be waiting for us.

The line was long. It went further up the hill, then snaked back toward the security checkpoint. After twenty minutes we were at the front of the line, watching a man take beer bottles out of his backpack, one at a time. Then the sound of Paul Simon singing “America” reached us.

“Let us be lovers,
we’ll marry our fortunes

It was about 8:30. Ten minutes later we were high up in the “K” isle. Looking for our seats, Pam said, “These were the best seats I could get!” The seating was tight. I sat and turned right, my face just inches from a young lady that reminded me of Virginia Madsen when she was in the Prairie Home Companion movie. We said “Hi” at the same time . Her boyfriend was less social. He didn’t remind me of anybody.

Soon we were all in Graceland and the angst of the journey was behind us.

Albert Einstein died at the age of Seventy Six. Paul Simon is selling out concerts and performing for two hours with emotion, energy and skill at that same age. He is a senior, working on his final large venue tour. From our seats up high he could have been twenty six.

His ensemble was amazing. The clear sweet sound, the rhythms and melodies, mostly familiar, filled the canyon and it was good.

At the end of the encore they played “The Boxer.” This is Simon’s favorite song, of his own, if he had to choose. It’s my favorite too.

Paul Simon recommended an author, Edward O. Wilson, whose book Half Earth inspired him. The main idea of the book is that half the Earth could or should be set aside to be free of human activity, to ensure biodiversity and the survival of our way of life on this big beautiful planet.

Then Simon said “Since we are not mountains we will meet again.”

Having descended from our hard bench perches we joined the human flood out of the Bowl. Pam jumped into the car from the passenger side. The current was stronger on the driver’s side. I stepped back to wait for an opening. Then a pretty brunette smiled and asked if I thought I’d be boxed in, as she floated by with her friends. Her head turned back to look at me, waiting for an answer. I smiled, shrugged and gave her the sound of silence.


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