Monday, January 10, 2011

The Curtain-Raiser



On a cold and rainy night a few days before Christmas I ventured across town to see a play. Because of our inclement weather, I drove to the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles with time to spare. I figured holiday traffic on a slippery highway could make me late — and when it didn't, I imagined I would enjoy a scrumptious pre-show repast at the dining facility outside the theatre.


The restaurant, however, was closed because apparently in Southern California we don't cook in the cold. I was left with the option of a tuna sandwich and hot coffee purchased at a snack cafe. Early patrons huddled in front of lobby doors waiting for entrance. I brushed rainwater off a metal table and perched on a damp chair.

My dinner was oddly delicious, in part because I was hungry but mostly because food tastes better outdoors. As I ate, a busker musician set up about five feet diagonally across from me. This gentleman, maybe in his late fifties, wore baggy faded blue jeans and a baseball cap. He opened his alto sax case and withdrew the instrument. He flexed his fingers open, closed, open, closed, and then blew a few warm-up notes.

In the olden days, theatres began an evening's entertainment with a curtain-raiser, a short play or musical act designed to perk an audience's mood and ready them for the main event. As it happened, this musician, coaxing jazz out of his sax on a rainy night with only myself as audience, was an apt curtain-raiser for the play I was about to witness.

I could hear his inhales as he sucked in chilly air and I watched his cheeks bulge as he blew. I could imagine his ribcage crushing inward on his skinny frame to lengthen a musical phrase. This was his job, rain or shine, spectators or not; he was here to play and hope a few dollars would fill his case.

I finished my sandwich, sipped the remains of my now-cold coffee, checked my watch and thanked the musician with a nod and an offering dropped into his case.

He started into a new tune and I wandered toward the theatre doors. I looked back to see that he was shadowed by a giant Christmas tree lit in red and gold. I felt a seasonal rush, but it wasn't the plaza's glitz that filled me. It was this artist's moody jazz in splashing rainfall.

Food tastes better outdoors.


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
When I grow up I want to live a life of adventure. I mostly want to go to tropical and Frosty islands that haven’t been discovered. But, that also means I'll have to be near a volcano because we all know an island starts by an under water volcano. My dream job is to become a simologest, astronomer and a actor! So I want to build a observatory to study the stars and study Simo (earthquake) activity. I will also start a Exibit and theater. Half of the exibit will the theater and part of it will be an earthquake slash/space exibit.
Oliver, 4th grade

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