As I transition to the empty nest and morph into a mostly car-free Angeleno, I find myself increasingly gravitating to local treasures like the GRAMMY Museum in downtown L.A. Though the saccharine architecture and tourist-oriented bars and restaurants of LA Live are not to my liking, the GRAMMY Museum never fails to impress. And, it is practically in my backyard. From my home in the shadow of the Wiltern Theatre in KTown, the GRAMMY Museum is a painless ride away on L.A. Metro's 728 and 28 buses.
I recently paid a visit to the museum for Jim Marshall’s 1967. Organized by The San Francisco Arts Commission as a tribute to the Summer of Love on its (ouch!) fiftieth anniversary, the exhibition features 60 images by photographer Jim Marshall, one of the premier chroniclers of the era. Marshall's photos and the music from back then, which you can listen to as you browse the exhibit, offer a groovy window into the soul of 1967 San Francisco. As I took in the show, I couldn’t help but think how exciting and hopeful it must have been to be at shows in the Haight and the Fillmore and Golden Gate Park back then. San Francisco in 1967 was, at least musically, a galaxy light years ahead of the current cultural dystopia of San Francisco being gobbled up by Silicon Valley vultures and real estate speculators.
One of the lessons of the GRAMMY Museum's Jim Marshall show is how back then the Haight and neighboring Fillmore neighborhoods were transitioning from African American enclaves to more diverse communities embracing the counter culture vibe and cultural mores of the times. Today I think we’d call that gentrification.
The show's many photos capturing the audience at free concerts in the Panhandle reveal a different demographic than the one many acid rock music lovers commonly associate with the San Francisco scene of the 1960s. Catch the great exhibit and Marshall’s impeccable eye for the creative genius of the time before the show closes on May 14th.
Based on the strength of the Jim Marshall show, I was lured back tonite to the GRAMMY Museum to listen to the legendary Lou Adler interviewed by Museum Executive Director Scott Goldman. Tonite’s program was part of the opening of another instant Museum favorite, Monterey International Pop Festival: Music, Love, and Flowers, 1967. The GRAMMY Museum's Monterey Pop exhibit opens May 11th and runs through October 22nd. While the show is less visually inspiring than the exceptional Jim Marshall show, the Monterey Pop show is worth a visit in its own right.
Nor did tonite’s interview with GRAMMY award-winning producer Lou Adler disappoint. A giant in the music business, Adler spent the night spinning engaging tales of Monterey Pop and riffing off of Goldman’s thoughtful questions about the legendary music festival which went on to serve as a model for all rock festivals since then from Woodstock to Coachella to Glastonbury. My own familiarity with Adler stems from the 1965/66 Paul Simon (and Garfunkel) hit, A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert McNamara'd into Submission).
"I've been Lou Adlered, Barry Sadlered... ”
At the reception after the Q&A I asked Adler what he thinks Paul Simon meant by that line. “He was just being sarcastic,” said Adler.
Given Adler’s gifts to the world of music I don’t think that was it, but who am I to quibble with Yoda?
A few of the gems that he shared over the course of the evening, more or less verbatim:
Monterey Pop 1967 was more of a musical ride than fast food.
Where did I come from? I grew up in Boyle Heights and walked across the Sixth Street (into the music business).
Back then I worked with Herb Alpert who was a pretty good bar mitzvah trumpet player.
Otis Redding’s performance on stage at Monterey was one of the best performances of all time.
How much were ticket to Monterey? The were expensive. $6 for the good seats.
in case the Board of the GRAMMY Museum and Foundation is reading, your baby is in good hands in Scott Goldman. Goldman’s rapport with Adler revealed he’d either done his homework or knows his stuff, or both. And then of course I have a soft spot for interviewers who know how to keep the showboating audience members asking bad questions in their place.
The GRAMMY Museum is located at 800 West Olympic Blvd in DTLA. It’s worth the trip from wherever you call home.
Yours in transit,