Segerstrom Hall: It's Nice!

But what do we know?

"It's nice," he said.

I told him that LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne had called the design safe, and that the hall's wavy glass exterior reminded him of a luxury-car showroom.

"What does he know?"

Segerstroms in the house. Photo by Jeff Dolen
Segerstroms in the house. Photo by Jeff Dolen

I told him that George Zagner, an engineer, and his wife, Ursula, both originally from Poland, had said they thought the area could do with a few trees, "something organic," that the hall was "very nice" but "too sterile" and "has no soul."

"What does he know?" Robert said.

*   *   *

Okay then, what does Robert really think about this?

"I like it, it's nice."

"That's it?"

"What do I know?"

Pain in the ass? Sure. But very cool. Robert What's-His-Name is my new role model. By the way, I'm lying about not knowing his last name. It's Graham. Robert Graham. I know this because I went to the event's PR staff and asked about his last name. One woman immediately got on the walkie-talkie and asked, "What's Anjelica Huston's husband's last name?" There was a pause, and then someone on the other end said, "Anjelica Huston's here?"

Then it was time to actually go in the hall. The concert hall itself is far more magnificent than the outside. Undulating lines, pale wood offset by red chairs, it's gorgeous. The Pacific Symphony played and was in fine form—like I would know—on their own and when playing with the evening's featured performer, Placido Domingo, who, I don't care what anyone says, can sing.

By the time the orchestra was halfway through a Mahler symphony, my stomach had begun to eat itself. I hadn't eaten since noon and it was now around 9 and I had an empty stomach because I had refused the crab puffs from the servers, with whom I made consistent eye contact and asked how they were, so now, hungry and tired, I alternated between blacking out, dozing off and hallucinating. Of the last, the only one I can remember was a rather mundane scenario involving Anjelica Huston putting on her makeup in the car on the ride over.

It was about this time that the buzzing in my head started. Low at first, but consistent and louder. I found out later that everyone could hear the omnipresent hum caused by a surge arrester that went off when workers outside the hall were powering up the equipment necessary for the post-concert festivities. Those festivities proved that rich folk get just as geeked up for fireworks as any 8-year-old kid, as they ooohed and aaahed the pyrotechnics.

So what did it all mean?

"It means we're having a wonderful time," said one lady kinda doing a little mambo all by herself.

The rich couples were now busy making their way over to the party tent or having their pictures taken in those rich-people-at-benefit poses you see. A couple walked by one photographer and his colleague. "Wait," the colleague shouted at them, pausing for effect. "I'm from Riviera."

"Ooooooh," the couple squealed and quickly got in line to have their pictures taken in front of the hall, which shone and sparkled. It looked very nice.

*   *   *

The following morning my daughter asked me where I'd been the previous night. I showed her the front page of the LA Times and its picture of a lit-up Segerstrom Hall. My daughter is extremely artistic, so I asked her what she thought.

"Mmmm," she said. "It's nice."

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