Ah, Los Angeles Good Friday

Religious holidays seem to bring people out of their privacy for the benefit and detriment of society.  This Good Friday, so named because Jesus was betrayed and flogged and humiliated and nailed to a cross, the wonder of human activity was on display in the city. (okay, I know the reason it’s called good friday but, even as a four year old hearing, with incomprehension, the story of the passion of Christ, I thought the term was pushing it)

You get tickets for Leonard Cohen’s performance at the impressive Nokia Theater.  You are psyched about joining 7500 of your closest friends for an intimate evening with an amazing song writer.

You set out, giving yourself plenty of time for the vaguaries of parking.  Even though the Lakers and the Kings are playing elsewhere, you can’t count on the Staples Center, next door to the Nokia, to not host some bit of silliness.  The Clippers, maybe.  You come down from your aerie to find that your access to your egress is blocked by a penitente procession of sorrow.

If you’ve never seen a penitente procession, it’s something to behold.  Fellow citizens earnestly and devotedly acting out the via dolorosa: Roman guards beating the young man playing Jesus, blood, whipping, screaming, a heavy cross, Simon helping carry it, the thieves, Mary, Mary, John, the wailing, the gnashing of teeth.  You hope, but aren’t sure, that the blood is fake.  Regardless, it’s a sight to behold.

Once you’ve beheld the sight, you look at your dashboard clock and wonder where the police are to move traffic around the reenactment.

You don’t want to get testy with a devout crowd.  Politely, oh, so politely, you edge across four lanes of traffic, including two oncoming  now stopped by the procession and by rubbernecking, to get by the scene.  You feel sacrilegious for even wanting to go to your concert.  For wanting to use public streets.  For wanting to not gawk.

Despite hand gestures from some of the Roman guards, you get by.  On to the Nokia

If Los Angeles stands for one thing, it’s the outrageous cost of parking.  Supply and demand you tell yourself after you’ve been  gouged.  You get near the Nokia, not next to it but near it and parking costs $20.  Divine retribution for skirting the penitentes .

Once in the Nokia, you are impressed by the display of aged hipness.  The crowd is a mix of everything. It’s uniting factors are a love of Leonard Cohen and a certain chicness that went out of style for a while and has come back.

Leonard Cohen comes onstage with an amazing band, wonderful backup singers including his sometimes collaborator Sharon Robinson and a spryness and energy that belies his years which add up to about 75.  Really belies them.

Aside from loving the poetry and music, you hope that one day, you can be as agile as Leonard Cohen as he skips off and on the stage and kneels to emphasize certain parts of his songs.

The evening, despite the size of the venue, is three hours of one on one performer with audience.

You wend your way home.  At midnight, the bars haven’t let out so you fly home.  As you approach the church, which was the home of the penitente gathering, you thank them for allowing you to witness their celebration and still make it to yours.


One Response to “Ah, Los Angeles Good Friday”

  1. cortlandt Bender Says:

    I had never heard of Leonard Cohen until a segment of Fresh Air was broadcast 2 weeks ago. i was stunned by his lyrics and loved his voice. Where have I been for the past several years that I hadn’t heard this man. You confirm that even in the secular moments of life there are sacred times. Joy comes from an understanding and experience of suffering. Leonard Cohen was able to give that experience of joy because he has suffered.

    I can remember when $20 would have bought 6 months of parking, even in L.A.

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