OVERNIGHT REVIEW: Dudamel, L.A. Phil offer evening of Tango-themed music

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

Temperatures cooled off last night but the music making remained hot as Gustavo Dudamel began his final week this summer at Hollywood Bowl. A large, boisterous crowd was joined by at least one malodorous skunk in the venerable Cahuenga Pass amphiteatre. Several aerial intrusions — more than usual this summer — flew into the Bowl’s airspace (most, fortunately, at times when the orchestra was playing loudly). PBS was on hand to tape the proceedings for a future broadcast. The Bowl shell was bathed in rose and peach hues with alternating blue and green backgrounds. Nearly all of the first-chair players were back on stage. This was not your normal Bowl evening.

For the first of three programs this week infused by dance, Dudamel chose four works with the tango at their heart. The opening and closing works were by the Godfather of the Tango, Astor Piazzolla. In between were four familiar dance episodes from Estancia by Alberto Ginestera and the world premiere of a Concerto Guitar, subtitled Concierto de la Amistad (Concerto of Friendship) by Piazzolla’s friend and compatriot, Lalo Schifrin.

RomeroIn 1984 Schifrin — best known for his work in television and motion pictures — wrote a Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra, which was premiered by Angel Romero (pictured left) and the LAPO under the baton of Neal Stulberg at the Bowl. Thirty-two years later, Schifrin has written another concerto for Romero in order, as Schifrin explained in John Henken’s program notes, “to continue our musical journey together.”

Alternating touching lyricism with moments of playfulness, the 30-minute long, three-movement works is an important addition to the guitar-concerto literature, among other things, giving orchestras something besides the “standard” works by Joaquín Rodrigo to program when they’re looking for guitar music.

Romero — who turns age 70 in two weeks and was wearing a highly colorful shirt — was riveted to the score but delivered a gentle, soulful rendition of the piece, aided by Dudamel and the Phil, with standout solo work from Principal Harp Lou Anne Neill and Carolyn Hove on English horn. Schifrin was on hand to join Romero and Dudamel with joyful hugs and to receive thunderous applause from the audience.

Lush strings began the evening opening Piazzolla’s Tangazo, with the full orchestra — including Principal Flute Denis Bouriakov, Oboeist Marion Arthur Kuszyk and Principal Horn Andrew Bain — beautifully filling in the texture later on. Ginestera’s Four Dances from Estancia — a Phil and Dudamel speciality since the Venezuelan-born maestro took over the Phil — provided conductor and ensemble chances strut their collective stuff.

The evening concluded La muerte del Angel, from a series of “Angel” pieces written by Piazolla in the 1960s. This piece was written as an elegy to the composer’s father, who died in a bicycle accident in Argentina in 1959.

Seth Asarnow on the bandoneon (“button accordion”) and several dancers from Tango Buenos Aires joined Dudamel and the Phil in a spirited rendition of this four-movement work, rounding out the evening on an emphatic high note.

• Ben Gernon, who was a Dudamel Fellow during the 2013-2014 season and won the prestigious Nestlé and Salzburg Festival’s Young Conductor Award in 2013, returns to lead the Phil tomorrow night.

Continuing the week’s dance theme, the post-intermission work will be Stravinsky’s The Firebird, when Janni Younge and Jay Prather will use giant-sized puppets to reimagine the original 1910 ballet. Among other things, the setting has been shifted to contemporary South Africa and the production uses African dance forms.

Prior to intermission, Gernon leads the Phil in Debussy’s La Mer and Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from his opera, Peter Grimes. Much like Wagner’s Das Rheingold, Britten used these Interludes to allow for scene changes in his landmark opera. INFO

• On Friday and Saturday, Dudamel concludes his Bowl work for this summer by leading the annual “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” concerts. In addition to the traditional 1812 Overture with the Bowl’s marvelous fireworks by Souza, Dudamel and the orchestra will be joined by four members of the American Ballet Theatre who will perform two pas de deux from Swan Lake. INFO

(c) Copyright 2016, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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MUSIC NOTES: On Feinstein, classic movies, and “Tchaikovsky Spectaculars”

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

• IF YOU’RE A FAN of Turner Classic Movies (as I am), you may have been surprised to see the guest host of TCM’s “Summer Under the Stars” series at 5 p.m. (PDT) this month: Michael Feinstein, principal conductor of the Pasadena Pops orchestra, who introduces a different star each night (Wednesday is Bing Crosby). INFO

• FRIDAY AND SATURDAY nights mark the 48th edition of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” at the Hollywood Bowl. Actually, there have been more than 48. In 1931, Artur Rodzinski led the Phil in a program that was entitled “An All Tchaikovsky Concert.” The program back then was the Polonaise from Eugene Onegin, Symphony No. 6, Variations on a Rococo Theme, with Nicolai Ochi-Albi as soloist, and the 1812 Overture.

Fast forward to 1969 when Zubin Mehta led the first Bowl concert to be termed a “Tchaikovsky Spectacular.” The program was Marche Slave, Opus 31, the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture, Piano Concerto No. 1, with Mischa Dichter as soloist, and — of course — the 1812 Overture, with the 562nd California Air National Guard Band.

This year’s program — to be led by current LAPO Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel — features the Capriccio Italien, orchestral selections and two dance sequences fron Swan Lake, and the 1812, with the USC Trojan Marching Band joining forces with the Phil. One thing hasn’t changed in 48 years: the firework pyrotechnics are by the same firm, now called Souza.

BTW: This is the third program this week that relies on dance, following Tuesday night’s “Tango” program and Thursday’s concert featuring Stravinsky’s The Firebird. These are also Dudamel’s last Bowl programs for the season. INFO

(c) Copyright 2016, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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OVERNIGHT REVIEW: Michael Feinstein reprises “Sinatra Project” at L.A. Arboretum

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

FesinsteinMichael Feinstein performing the music of Frank Sinatra would seem to be a perfect fit. After all, Feinstein has made a career of curating, promoting and performing “The Great American Songbook” and no one belongs in that genre more than “Ol’ Blue Eyes.”

For the second consecutive year it was a perfect fit as Feinstein and the Pasadena Pops, led by its resident conductor, Larry Blank, presented “The Sinatra Project, Vol. 2” last night at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.

For the second consecutive year it also was boffo box office as a sold-out audience packed the tables and sprawled on the The Giant Lawn of the Arcadia facility.

As usual, Feinstein, the orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, mixed Sinatra favorites with pieces that had been unperformed for decades — or at all. Feinstein provided his typically erudite commentary, which was compact enough that the entire program clocked in at slightly more than just two hours, even allowing for CEO Laura Unger’s gushing thanks to the evening’s sponsors and a lugubrious rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner, led by Concertmaster Aimee Kreston.

One thread to the evening was Feinstein’s use of arrangers indelibly linked to Sinatra, including Nelson Riddle and Ruby Bloom. Blank also offered a couple of his arrangements and led the Pops as it played well both as an orchestra and a ’30s-style jazz band.

As is typical of Feinstein programs, he offered a couple of “discoveries”: Blank’s arrangement of Orange, and a complete performance of Three Coins in the Fountain (Sinatra recorded the title song for the 1954 movie but what was used wasn’t the complete version that Sammy Cahn and Julie Styne created).

Throughout the evening Feinstein played every role but conductor: singing some of the songs (such as Something’s to Give) accompanied by the orchestra, some (e.g., I’ve Got a Crush on You) from the piano, and Birth of the Blues, where Feinstein offered a spiffy piano solo.

Perhaps the most poignant piece was If I Loved You, from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s movie Carousel. Feinstein preceded this by noting the familiar story about why Sinatra elected not to appear as Billy Bigelow in the movie — he didn’t want to have to record each scene twice, once in standard format and the other in widescreen, which was necessary in those days.

However, Feinstein offered a different version, courtesy of Shirley Jones (the female star), who said Sinatra was afraid that his wife, Ava Gardner, would have an affair with Humphrey Bogart while they were overseas making a movie, so Sinatra withdrew to join her. It was a typical Feinstein historical note.

The evening concluded with a medley of Sinatra songs, a reprise from the conclusion of last year’s Sinatra Project. If there is to be a Volume 3 it won’t be next year. Instead, Feinstein is slated to sing an evening of Swing Music on July 29 as the third concert in the 2017 summer season.

This year’s season continues on August 20 with Feinstein conducting the Pops in music by Cole Porter (INFO) and concludes on September 10 with an evening of music from Warner Bros (INFO).

For next season, the pattern from Feinstein’s first seasons seems to be well entrenched. 2017 will open with Feinstein conducting the Pops in Broadway: the Golden Age on June 17 and continues with music from Jersey Boys and Beyond on July 15, with Blank leading the Pops and four members of the Broadway musical. After Feinstein Sings Swing on July 29 will come Gershwin and Friends on August 19 and Universal Studios Favorites on September 9, both with Feinstein conducting.

(c) Copyright 2016, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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OVERNIGHT REVIEW: Benedetti, L.A. Phil introduce Wynton Marsalis violin concerto to Hollywood Bowl

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

Wynton Marsalis might be considered the Mozart of our generation. Most people think of him as a trumpeter (both in jazz and classical music), just as many in Mozart’s era thought of him as a child pianist. However, Marsalis is also a teacher, music educator and artistic director of “Jazz at Lincoln Center” in New York City.

He is also a significant composer. His Blood on the Fields became, in 1997, the first jazz piece to win a Pulitzer Prize in Music. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, under then-Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, recorded Marsalis’ 2002 oratorio All Rise, and the LAPO gave the West Coast premiere of his 2010 Swing Symphony.

BenettiNot until last year had Marsalis written a piece for solo instrument and orchestra, but last night at Hollywood Bowl the L.A. Phil gave the West Coast premiere of his Concerto in D for violin and orchestra (the Phil was part of the commissioning team). The world premiere was in London last November. The U.S. premiere was two weeks ago at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival. The piece was written for Scottish-born violinist Nicola Benedetti (pictured left) and she was on hand last night to play it magnificently.

To say that the 38-minute work is eclectic would be to radically understate all that Marsalis has thrown into it. In an interview with Music Critic John Rhein of the Chicago Tribune, Benedetti — who turned age 29 last week — said, “Wynton is funny and quirky, and there are so many little moments of humor and color in [the piece]. I would encourage people to go along for the ride and have fun.” It was good advice.

The concerto is divided into four movements — Rhapsody, Rondo Burleske, Blues and Hootenanny — but that’s just the beginning. As John Henken explained in his program notes, the first movement is subdivided into sections called Lullabye, Habanera, Dream, Military March (Nightmare), Blues Spiritual, Morning (Wistful but Sweet) and Rustic Dance (Distant Ancestral Memories).

Moreover in the first 23 bars are the following notations: from nothing, with gravitas, angsty, with purity, genuflect, freely, become more angsty, peaceful, with optimism, sweetly, sexy and throaty — essentially one for every two bars. Believe it or not, Benedetti pulled off all of these wonderfully, not an easy task since Marsalis had her soaring into the stratosphere throughout most of the performance, in the process nearly wearing out her violin’s E string while delivering a silky, singing tone.

Despite the above notations, the work is not a jazz concerto. It draws its influences from virtually every segment of American music, so it might well be considered an American concerto. Because there is so much embedded in its pages, it’s also a work that would benefit from hearing it multiple times, so it will be interesting to see if it catches on and, in particular, whether other violinists will want to put in the sweat equity to learn and perform the piece — the soloist plays in virtually every measure.

Among the takeaways: the opening, with Benedetti beginning plaintively and then building for those aforementioned 23 bars before the orchestra enters; the goofy accompaniment in the second movement, with Benedetti’s long hair whirling in the air as she negotiated the pyrotechnic solos; the Blues section, which was the most jazz-influenced (to my ears), with its lyrical inner section leading into the Hooteanny movement, where orchestra members not otherwise engaged were clapping enthusiastically (it was so infectious that I would have joined in but wouldn’t have known when to stop.

Cristian Măcelaru provide to be an inspired choice as the evening’s guest conductor, since before turning to conducting he was a good enough violinist to earn a Master’s degree in violin performance (along with one in conducting) from Rice University; become the youngest concertmaster in the history of the Miami Symphony (he made his Carnegie Hall debut with that orchestra at the age of 19); and play in the first violin section of the Houston Symphony for two seasons. For good measure, he joined Benedetti in the U.S. premiere of Marsalis’ concerto two weeks ago at Ravinia. So it was no surprise that he accompanied Benedetti sympathetically and the orchestra took the many musical mood shifts easily in its collective stride.

Măcelaru also proved to be a canny programmer, surrounding the concerto with two Aaron Copland works — canny because Copland was among the many influences heard in the concerto, especially in the last movement.

The program opened with An Outdoor Overture, which featured elegant solo work from Principal Trumpet Thomas Hooten. The piece was written in 1938 for the High School for Music and Art in New York City, which obviously had a top-flight orchestra, and came at a time when Copland was developing what would be his signature musical style just as we was beginning to write his ballet music.

After intermission, came Copland’s Symphony No. 3, which was begun in 1944 and finished two years later. This might be considered the ultimate result of Copland’s musical style-change begun in 1938, and Măcelaru led a robust rendition, allowing the composer’s music to make its own statement. Even the “Fanfare for the Common Man,” which opens the final movement, was almost understated but never dull. The orchestra’s brass and percussion players highlighted the performance.

During the final movement as the flutes were softly playing, there were birds on the hillside that seemingly were singing along. It could only happen at the Bowl.

• Măcelaru — who, among his other gigs, is resident conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra — is scheduled to conduct the San Diego Symphony on January 16 and 17. The SDS is searching for a replacement for outgoing Music Director Jaha Ling, and San Diego might be a perfect spot for Măcelaru to continue his upward career ascendancy if he’s willing to relocate from Philly.
A Chorus Line plays this weekend at the Bowl. An oddity is that while the program book gives bio information on virtually everyone involved in the production, there’s not one word about the team that created the musical in the first place: Director and Choreographer Michael Bennett, Authors James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, Lyricist Edward Kleban, and composer Marvin Hamlisch, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for the score. Sic transit Gloria. INFORMATION
• L.A. Phil Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel returns to the Bowl on Tuesday, leading the orchestra in a program of Latin American music, featuring the world premiere of Concerto de la Amistad by Lalo Schifrin and dance music by Piazzolla and Ginastera. INFORMATION

(c) Copyright 2016, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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ON THE ROAD: The good, the bad and the ugly of Metro to the Bowl, with some suggestion for Metro management

“On the Road” is an occasional series on transportation — mostly public transit.

A note on my “rationale” for using public transit: If you can make a journey in the same amount of time on public transit as by driving, do so because financially it’s a steal! If the journey takes up to 50% longer on public transit, it’s still a good deal because the significant financial savings outweigh the extra time (especially for seniors). As you get closer to twice as long on public transit, the balance becomes more precarious. Anything more than twice as long will almost always send me to my car.

Two other notes:
1. The financial calculations in this post will vary significantly depending on whether you’re attending a Bowl concert as a single, couple or group. Moreover, I usually attend classical concerts on Tuesday and Thursday, when attendance is less than weekend events, but traveling to weekday concerts occurs during rush hour, which can be horrendous, especially around the Bowl. On the other hand, attendance at weekend events is often larger and travel times are impacted by the size of the crowds.
2. Virtually none of the issues discussed in this post can be assigned to the Los Angeles Philharmonic or other groups appearing in Hollywood Bowl. Virtually all of these issues are related to Metro, Los Angeles County and other governmental agencies. Indeed, the L.A. Phil seems to work very efficiently at moving people in and out of the Bowl and seems particularly attuned to folks with disabilities.

hollywood-bowl-post1Hollywood Bowl is a worldwide iconic symbol of Southern California. It’s a great place to attend a concert, especially if you bring a picnic supper to enjoy beforehand. The Bowl’s enhanced sound system, giant high-definition digital screens and the other improved have really enhanced the concert experience, no matter whether you come for classical concerts or other events. And the fireworks are awesome!

Conversely, getting to and from the Bowl remains the worst part of the experience, and increasing traffic will only exacerbate transit problems in the future. Essentially, there are four ways to get to and from the Bowl:

Park and Ride
There are 14 “Park and Ride” locations throughout Los Angeles County (the Bowl is a County-run facility, so “Park and Ride” isn’t extended into other counties). Prices are $7 per person round trip if purchased in advance (but service charges apply) and $12 (cash only, exact change) at each location. You park your car, get on a bus and ride directly to the Bowl where you will be dropped off near the main box office. When the concert is over, you walk down the hill and find your bus (which may be through a pedestrian tunnel). Advantages: Cost-effective (especially if you’re a single), and you don’t have to fight the traffic. Disadvantages: The online ticketing system is difficult to use. You’re stuck at the Bowl for the duration of the event. Your bus driver is fighting the same traffic as you would in a car, so the amount of time to and from the event can add up. INFORMATION

There are five shuttle lots but the two most popular are on Ventura Boulevard west of Lankershim Blvd. and at the L.A. Zoo. At each lot, you park and board a shuttle bus to the Bowl, where you will be dropped off near the main box office. When the concert is over, you walk down the hill and find your bus (which may be located by walking through a pedestrian tunnel). Cost is $6, either online or at the lot (cash only). Advantages: Cost-effective and you don’t have to fight the traffic. Disadvantages: You’re stuck at the Bowl for the duration of the event. Your bus driver is fighting the same traffic as you would in a car, so the total amount of time to and from the event can add up. The Ventura lot may be stack parked. The Union Station and Hollywood-Highland parking structures have fees in addition to the shuttle price. INFORMATION

There are three lots at the Bowl (lettered A, B, and C). Parking is limited and expensive ($18-$50). Advantages Once you get out of the lot after the concert (the main challenge), it’s easy to get on one of the freeway options. Consequently (absent something really unusual) your homebound travel time will probably be better than with any of the other options. Disadvantages The price is formidable and getting into the Bowl can be a real challenge. Because of the stack parking policy, you’re stuck at the Bowl for the duration of the event. INFORMATION

Metro Rail’s Red Line stops at the Hollywood-Highland and/or Universal City stations, from where you take a free shuttle bus to the Bowl. This means that the entire Metro system — particularly the other Metro Rail lines — provide easy connections to reach the Bowl. Advantages Cheapest way to travel to and from the Bowl, by far. See below for my experience with travel times. If you need to leave the Bowl early, you can walk down Highland and catch a Red Line train. Disadvantages Overall travel times can be a challenge, particularly if you add in the time to reach a Metro Rail station, where parking fees may (or may not) apply. See the story below for other issues. INFORMATION

On Tuesday, since I was unaccompanied, I decided to test out traveling from my home in Highland Park to and from the Bowl, after driving and parking for each of the other three concerts my wife and I have attended this summer (full disclosure: as a critic, the Phil provides free parking for me, usually in Lot B. The costs in this post are based on someone who doesn’t have that privilege).

My results are pretty typical because Metro Rail schedules are usually reliable. BTW: The closest “Park and Ride facility” from my house is in Pasadena, about a 15-minute drive each way. Also, I am somewhat mobility impaired (I walk with a cane).

In the three concerts to which I drove, it took from 55 minutes to 1:15 to drive to the Bowl, park, and reach the main ticket office plaza. Coming home, the shortest time from the plaza to our home was about 40 minutes, the longest just under an hour (the differences were getting away from the stacked parking).

Getting to the Bowl
I left my house driving at 5:18 p.m. and arrived at the Highland Park Gold Line station at 5:21. Highland Park has two municipal parking lots adjacent to the station with two hours of free parking until 6 p.m. and free parking thereafter, thus I incurred no parking fees.

I caught the Gold Line heading south at 5:24 p.m. arriving at Union Station at 5:36. I walked down downstairs and caught a Red Line train at 5:42, which arrived at Hollywood Highland and ascended to Hollywood Blvd., arriving at 6:08. That total of 44 minutes is optimal; if I had arrived on the lower platform 20 seconds later I would have missed the Red Line train, and they run 10 minutes apart at that hour. So 54 minutes is more realistic.

Why not a Hollywood Bowl Red Line station?
When Metro was planning what would become the Red Line, there was talk of putting in a station at Hollywood Bowl. I guess the powers-that-be determined that putting in a station for a season that (back then) ran just three months didn’t make financial sense, but many of us believed then and do so even more now that the decision was short sighted.

One reason public transit systems in other cities are successful is because they reach facilities where large numbers of people attend events. When I lived in Montreal, that city’s Metro had a station at Place des Arts, that city’s version of the Music Center. New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco — all of these cities have rail stops adjacent to or very close to major arts and entertainment venues.

In Los Angeles, not so much. While Staples Center, the Los Angeles Coliseum and Universal City do have Metro Rail stops located close by, venues such as Dodger Stadium, Hollywood Bowl and the Music Center are ill-served by rail transit. Instead — as with the Dodger Stadium Express and the Bowl shuttle from Hollywood/Highland — Metro and other governmental agencies rely on shuttle services to bridge the gap.

I’m all for shuttles, but if that’s the route you’re going to take, the commitment must be far more robust than it is here in Los Angeles. That means dedicated lanes for shuttle buses to run on and signal priority whenever possible. Moreover, the cost of running shuttles extrapolated over 20 to 30 years must be subtracted from the cost to build a Red Line station (and maintain it) to get an accurate picture of the true cost of building such a station.

There’s another factor in the equation. People who normally drive might — if there was a station at the Bowl — try out mass transit, especially when they realize the difficulty of driving to and parking at the Bowl. That, in turn, might encourage more of them to use transit as a viable alternative on a regular basis, to say nothing of helping to ease the gridlock around the Bowl on four to six nights a week during a summer season that now begins in early June and extends into October.

Instead, we get the following experience:

Shuttling to the Bowl
Once I arrived on Hollywood Blvd from the Red Line station, it took me seven minutes of quick walking to travel west to Orange St., north ½ block to Orange Court, and board a shuttle. That trip traverses through hundreds of people wandering Hollywood Blvd. and gawking at the footprints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (I know, it has a new name but to us old codgers, it will always be Grauman’s).

The shuttle bus left at 6:17 and took 12 minutes just to get to Hollywood and Franklin, which means it took longer to get from when I began walking on Hollywood Blvd. to reach Hollywood and Franklin than it did for the Red Line trip. Fortunately, things picked up from there and we arrived at the main box office plaza at 6:36.

Total trip time from home to box office: 1:18 (and, as noted earlier, it would have taken 1:28 if I hadn’t been lucky catching the Red Line. Total cost (assuming two people): $3.50 or $1.50 for two seniors.

By contrast, the cost to drive and park at the Bowl would have been $8.10 (15 miles times the IRS reimbursement figure of 54 cents per mile) plus $20 — at least — for parking. Using my metric above, the total elapsed transit time would have been anywhere from equal to driving or — using the fastest time — within my 50% longer factor, with a very significant cost savings.

Coming Home
I left the main box office plaza at 10:06 and walked down the hill to the shuttle, which left at 10:16 and raced down Highland Ave. stopping at the corner of Hollywood and Highland (much closer than Orange Court). I was at the Red Line platform at 10:22; however, due to typical late-night maintenance issues, trains were running with a 23-24 minute headway and the next one didn’t leave until 10:31, arriving at Union Station at 10:59. It took seven minutes to walk to the Gold Line station, where there was another seven-minute wait for a train headed north. That train arrived at Highland Park at 11:29 and I arrived home at 11:33.

Total trip from box office to home: 1:27, or just about the same as the other direction (what we gained in the short shuttle run we lost on waiting for trains). Total cost: Driving and parking for a non-senior would have been the same as going ($8.10 vs. $3.50). Costs for two seniors at night would be 70 cents!

If you want people to use Metro when they go out at night, you’ve got to find a way to run trains more often later into the night and do maintenance closer to when trains do actually shut down. If it wasn’t for the incredibly short shuttle ride down the hill, the total travel times would have exceeded my 1:2.0 ratio, that is to say, be well beyond my tolerance limit.

As is obvious, I’m a big public transit advocate but it’s easy to see why people do everything they can to avoid using it, even if driving is expensive and time consuming. Part of this — as with the case with grade-separated crossings on the Orange Line and signal prioritization on all of the light rail and express bus lines — can only be solved by public policy changes. However, some of the problems — maintenance schedules (including broken escalators, such as the one going up at Hollywood and Highland) and where stations are located are solely within Metro’s purview. The entire system can, and should, be better.

Robert D. Thomas is a freelance music writer whose work (columns, reviews, features, etc.) appears in Southern California News Group publications (Daily News, Pasadena Star-News, etc.) and on their Web sites. © Copyright 2016, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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