Monday, April 26, 2004


When I was a kid my parents liked to do stuff with me and my brother. I often took this for granted but as I've gotten older I remember those times gratefully, for the most part. As I got older and wanted to hang out with my friends and avoid my parent my mom had to make family day mandatory, but in those last years of adolesence when I still liked hanging with the family I remember good times. We would do stuff with other families and very often it was good cheap fun. I think that a lot of stuff we have to pay for now was free back then - like parking.

One of the best things that we did was go to Griffith Park and have a picnic dinner and then sneak up the back of the mountain that the Greek Theatre nestles in, where we would climb the trees and watch the summer concerts. It felt really voyeuristic - like we were watching the concert, but also watching the people in the audience have the concert going experience.

One of the best performers EVER! was Neil Diamond. We were lucky enough to be in attendance on one of those Hot August Nights forever commemorated on the album by the same name. Granted we were sitting in the trees, but the power of his performance came off the stage in waves and listening to the record brings back sense memories - the humid air and the smell of earth and sweat from the exertion of getting to our perches. The spilled grape Cool-aid on my shirt.

There is a reason why there are Neil Diamond tribuite bands in abundance. And it's not just the outfits, although the guy sported some pretty tricked out duds, skintight denim with the shirt unsnapped almost to the waist with embroidery and beading, the big 70s mane of hair - he was the ultimate troubador. The songs themselves are just plain fun - they're fun to listen to, they're fun to sing and one can only imagine that to stand on a stage in front of adoring fans all dancing would be the ultimate good time.

We had to stop sneaking into the Greek Theatre in the mid 70s because of increasing gang activity. We were on our way up the hill to see Al Green one warm summer night and park rangers with rifles told us that it wasn't safe and escorted us back to the car. And indeed Griffith Park became a gang haven. And Neil Diamond's brand of entertainment got real cheesy.

But I still love to listen to the Hot August Night cd while driving in the car with the windows down, singing at the top of my lungs - I'm not very cool, but I'm having a good time. And I will sneak in for free fun, even if I have the price of admission because occasionally it's just the very best kind of fun to have!

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