Bowl-ing for Love

A first date at the Hollywood Bowl launches a lifetime of love and anniversary visits.

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  • Written by
    Diane Haithman


This year marks my 20th wedding anniversary with my husband, Alan Feldstein—and his 60th birthday (yes, I have his permission to reveal this fact). The Internet says that a traditional gift for the 20th anniversary is china, and the modern gift is platinum. (I’m liking the platinum thing better.) The traditional gift for a guy’s 60th birthday is probably a red BMW convertible—but then it’s inappropriate to have a midlife crisis at 60 unless you really think you’ll live to be 120.

Although my mother-in-law always remembers our wedding anniversary (thanks, Jan!), we have a tendency to confuse the date, 8-27-95, with the lock code for our luggage and all those other sign-ons and passwords we tote around in our brains in this digital age. We remember the ones that end in five or zero, but the rest are a blur. However, we do have another anniversary we never forget: our Hollywood Bowl anniversary, August 18.

In 1992 I interviewed Alan for a story for the Los Angeles Times. He was at the time a freshly divorced single dad. We went out once after our interview, but due to the complications (reporters should avoid dating sources, and no one should date freshly-divorced single dads), it took a year to get around to anything we could call a real date.

As it happens, the following summer, Alan had two tickets to see Tony Bennett at the Bowl—but again, complications. He had recently taken a 39-foot fall in Moreno Valley while rock climbing, shattering his left ankle. He was in an air cast up to his thigh. So the deal was that I would drive and Alan would make a picnic.

I do remember the meal: broiled chicken breasts, cookies I couldn’t eat because they had nuts (an allergy I would have preferred not be mentioned until date #3) and a fabulous concoction we still call Pasta Feldstein. Although he was on crutches, Alan carried the picnic in a backpack. It worked out well, although I’m guessing if he’d known he’d be in an air cast, Alan would have bought seats that weren’t up quite so high.

Since then he and I have tried to make it to the Bowl every year on August 18 no matter what’s playing. Travel and work schedules have sometimes gotten in the way—and there were a few years when we got confused and thought we saw Bennett on the 17th instead of the 18th—but we’ve seen some great concerts including the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (1999), guitarist Arturo Sandoval (2001) and Diana Krall (2007).

The random pleasure of picking a concert by date, not by artist, also got us into the habit of saying: “Hey, let’s go to the Bowl” on summer nights and taking what comes. I highly recommend it. This year’s Bowl Anniversary concert was the Los Angeles Philharmonic performing the score from 2001: A Space Odyssey while the 1968 classic was shown on the big screen—the perfect reminder of what a long, strange trip it’s been.