Magical Calamity and Amity
When we told people that we were going to be traveling cross-country, we received a lot of recommendations for which we were grateful. We kept track of our friends’ ideas and added them to a growing collection of “must see” and “best of” lists from a broad cross-section of the almost infinite online travel resource universe. In less frequented places, our research was invaluable. In Los Angeles, we were overwhelmed by the volume of places we wanted to visit.
For our last weekend in California, we settled on two especially popular places that were located in close proximity to one another: The Magic Castle Hotel and Club and The Hollywood Bowl.
The Magic Castle Hotel is rated on TripAdvisor as #1 out of 357 hotels in Los Angeles. It is neither modern, nor fancy, nor expensive. They just offer clean rooms on three levels overlooking an unremarkable pool.
It is managed, however, by geniuses. They have a Popsicle concierge! This well-dressed gentleman delivers popsicles on a silver tray with a flourish and a smile to guests of all ages when requested via their dedicated poolside Popsicle hotline. They also offer unlimited free snacks 24/7 from an extensive list of sodas, ice cream, candies and salty treats; their heated pool never closes, and they maintain an inventory of board games and a lengthy list of classic DVDs for their guests’ pleasure. They have taken an exceedingly average property in an over-saturated market glutted with hotel rooms and Airbnbs, bundled it with VERY low-cost amenities, and TA-DAH! They are always 100% occupied.
The other benefit that the hotel confers is entrance by advance reservation into the oh-so-private, you-must-be-a-member to enter, so-very-exclusive Magic Castle Club. People rave about this place online. Friends of ours have fallen over themselves to connect with colleagues who have a friend who knows a member that can get them in as a guest to dine and drink and watch magicians perform.
So Sarah, Jeffrey, Mariah and I decided to stay overnight at the hotel and then go to their Saturday brunch and magic show. We were drawn in by the club’s reputation, exclusivity, and intoxicating mystique. While I was there, I looked around and people seemed to be enjoying themselves. Personally, I was bored off my ass. For my money, the mere act of conceiving of the Popsicle concierge next door was the far more entertaining and creative trick.
Exhausted by pretending that we were enjoying ourselves at the Magic Castle brunch, Mariah and I opted to spend the rest of the afternoon napping on Sarah’s boyfriend’s couch. (I not only really like this guy; I also really like his couch.) Well-rested and restored, we headed in the twilight to the largest natural outdoor amphitheater in the United States on a day when the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. We were there to see and hear the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra perform composer John Williams’ iconic JAWS score live while Spielberg’s film was projected onto several HUGE screens in front of thousands of fans. To Sarah’s and my amazement, somehow, through a series of inexplicable circumstances, neither Mariah nor Jeffrey had ever seen the film before.
This decidedly low-tech movie that defined the very notion of a summer blockbuster remains extraordinarily entertaining. The musicians’ live performance was exquisitely amplified and perfectly synchronized with the film. An audience of all ages arrived in droves, many in shark costumes or Jaws-themed clothing, paying homage to this forty-three-year-old film.
The Hollywood Bowl audience was so quiet and well-behaved that you could hear a pin drop except for when they would burst into applause for iconic lines and defining moments or gasp and cheer in unison. It was an absolutely glorious evening. As our cross-country travel draws to an end it was the perfect punctuation point for our summer story.
It is time for us to head back to Cape Cod; fortunately, when we fly home we will not be traveling over shark-infested waters. As soon as Mariah and I have had a couple of nights to sleep in our Cape Cod beds and cuddle with our Brittany Spaniels: Braveheart, Shane, and Buttercup, we will post again with a few final thoughts.