Scene and Heard in L.A.
LOS ANGELES—For most people, cemeteries do not evoke positive emotions, nor bring forth pleasant thoughts. For certain obvious reasons, cemeteries are not commonly associated with fun, much less thought of as entertainment venues. I consider myself one of the many who try to avoid cemeteries as best as I can. However, in the past several months, I have not only attended, but looked forward to attending the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, located on Melrose and Gower. Moreover, each experience was more fun than the last. Surprised? Shocked? Intrigued? Maybe a little curious?
Before you consider me crazy and reconsider reading this article, perhaps I should explain.
Those were my sentiments exactly when a friend invited me to a movie screening at, yes, the cemetery. I can almost picture you frowning, as did I, as did many of my friends to whom I tried to explain where I was going. Curiosity and the desire to try something new and different prompted me to go.
The movie to be screened was an old black-and-white film from MGM. My surprise turned to a slight discomfort when my friend said that we could bring food, drinks and whatever else we wanted to make this a sort-of “unconventional picnic under the stars.”
That Saturday night, I put my discomfort and reservations aside. What kind of free-spirited, spontaneous, adventure-loving gal would I be if I backed out of this? It could almost be a dare or sorts, I told myself.
We loaded up the car with blankets, candy, several bottles of wine and headed out. The line of cars waiting to get into the cemetery parking lot stretched for at least two blocks from both directions of Melrose Avenue. After paying $10 for every person in the car, we were instructed to follow the road as far down as we could and cross our fingers for a spot within 10-minute walking distance of the screening site.
It was quite possibly nearly as crowded as the parking lot of Magic Mountain. Hundreds of cars were parked anywhere and everywhere you could call a parking spot. Thanks to some very creative and fearless maneuvering by the driver of our car, we became one of the lucky ones. I was not prepared for what I saw next.
Hundreds of people were sprawled out on a large grassy area in front of a great white building. To say that they were prepared would be a ridiculous understatement. They had grocery bags and picnic baskets. Many were having what looked like full course meals. Blankets, sleeping bags, bean bags and chairs covered the entire area. A DJ was playing mellow House music at the front and several hippie-looking girls were peacefully frolicking about while June bugs circled curiously.
The whole scene was a cross between Woodstock, a night at the Hollywood Bowl and an Earth Day celebration somewhere in Santa Barbara. In short, everyone looked like they were having a great time. Slowly, the sun began to set and people began to settle down.
At around 8:30 p.m., when the sun had finally set, a welcome announcement was made. The irony did not escape anyone. However, several minutes after the movie started, even the first-timers looked like they had forgotten where they were and that the idea had made them uncomfortable. Thankfully, the movie shown was a comedy. Somehow, given the location, I don’t think a horror film would have gone over as well, but on that summer night in that cemetery, everything seemed peaceful, pleasant and very enjoyable.
At the end of the night, a sign-up sheet was passed out at the front, which I eagerly signed. Since then, I have been regularly receiving e-mail invitations to movies shown several times a month, and have made more than a few nights of it. I was even surprised to learn that thrillers and horror film were being shown, but I have yet to attend one of those.
For those interested, you can check out cinespia.org, and remember, don’t knock it till you try it!
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