I have, in a series of columns, let my mind and keyboard wander across some of the destinations in which I’ve experienced some situational sweetness.

Thursday nights, June through August, the city of Beverly Hills, California presents “Concerts on Canon,” from 6-8 pm.  The free shows take place on a stage under the sky in Beverly Canon Gardens. It’s a manicured, fanciful, 33,000-square-foot public courtyard beside the understated, luxurious Maybourne Hotel.

The gardens connect Canon and Beverly Drives. The water features, fountains, flowers, trees and sculptures make the space a lovely place to “hang.” Plus there is a public parking underground garage (first two hours free), restrooms and both high-end and affordable food options.

Almost daily I will see people playing chess, groups of older men playing a dice game, or people reading in the gardens. I sometimes bring my laptop computer and write amidst the plants and people.   

The architecture and lighting surrounding the gardens are both fanciful and stately. The pink, script eight-foot tall, three-dimensional “Beverly Hills Beautiful” sign at the Beverly Drive entrance, as a photo spot, is a must for anyone who comes to town.   

Elegant family fun Thursday nights at Beverly Canon Gardens
Elegant family fun Thursday nights at Beverly Canon Gardens. Photo by Harrison Shiels

The Journey to the Destination

I walked through the “Golden Triangle” of Beverly Hills. This includes Rodeo Drive, to the Beverly Canon Gardens on a partly sunny Thursday evening in early June. My aim was to enjoy whatever type of music would be performed that evening. It didn’t really matter to me who the performers were – I was there for the tunes and the fresh air. Plus exquisite, eclectic people watching.

The window shopping along my walk – which, when I looked through the big glass windows of the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire’s THE BLVD meant “people watching” – added to the entertainment. Blocks and blocks of street-front restaurants such as Wolfgang Puck’s Spago; Avra; Il Pastaio; Nate ‘n Al; Wally’s; and many more lively spots are sprinkled in the see-and-be-seen scene.

As for shopping, Gucci; Tom Ford; Prada; Hermes; House of Bijan – with its yellow Rolls Royce parked out front; and 100 designer line the blocks. Don’t confuse Jimmy Choo with Mr. Chow or the Mr. C Hotel!

The Beverly Hills Courier, published weekly in print and online, is an excellent local information source, as the Beverly Hills Experience free mobile app presented by the Beverly Hills Historical Society.

Gents gather for games.
Gents gather for games. Photo by Harrison Shiels

June Gloom Gone

Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, and all of coastal Southern California experience an annual weather condition described as “May Gray” and “June Gloom:” two months of almost never seeing the sky or sun.

I am certain I was suffering from a So Cal seasonal affective disorder on the evening in early June when I wandered over to the “Concert on Canon.”

The sunken garden sprawled out before me as I decided where to sit. Some sit along the colonnade under the balconies at tables with food and drink service. These seats are like the “luxury suites” for the concerts. Others sit on folded chairs placed on the grass in front of the stage. Some, like the woman in the red hat who chased her three small children around, unfold blankets on the grass picnic-style. Some just stand and stroll.

I chose to stretch out near the stage on the concrete steps and used the top step as a back support. It was only minutes before the concert, which turned out to be “Linda and Friends – a Ronstadt and Laurel Canyon 1970’s Rock Review,” was to begin. 

I sat in solitude and let my eyes stroll the scene – people watching the elegant and eclectic people who turned up or passed through. One of the most intriguing was striking: a smiling man in a buttoned-up trench coat and fedora hidden behind dark sunglasses. He looked like Dick Tracy and seemed harmlessly cartoonish. Nevertheless, I kept an eye on him. 

The Beverly Hills blonde between me and the stage
The Beverly Hills blonde between me and the stage. Photo by Harrison Shiels

Bucolic Bombshell

Lounging among the lavish I had my own little space on the steps surrounded by the beautiful people.

The musicians were in position. The lead singer stood on the side of the stage about to be introduced by someone I presumed to be a city official who was approaching the microphone.

But it was not the official’s voice I heard next.  

“Do you mind if we sit here, too?”

I swiveled my head and looked up to see it was a seriously beautiful blonde who had asked me the question. She had long hair, perfect makeup and was dressed nicely but appropriately in summer white. And was accompanied by what appeared to be her mother, who was also fashionable. They were the type of women seas part for.

I was taken aback because there was plenty of space along the step both beside and below me. The blonde woman did not need to ask me if she and her mother could sit there, but she did, anyway.

The gesture struck me as exceedingly polite. And maybe her way of saying hello was to ask, “Do you mind if we also sit here?”

“I would be lucky if you did” I responded with a smile.

She smiled back, and they both sat down.

There was not much else to say, especially since the pleasantries between us and on stage gave way to the music. I think it was a song by the Eagles, maybe?

Backstage from behind the band.
Backstage from behind the band. Photo by Harrison Shiels

Stage Left

The blonde was to my left, meaning that when we all looked at the stage, she and her mother were looking on an angle away from me.

But she surprised me again at the conclusion of the first song when she turned back to me.

“It’s nice music, right?”

“It’s nice music and a very nice setting,” I answered.

Our random proximity became a bit of a communal affair – we just happened to be sitting next to each other.

After the next song finished, I felt like it was my turn to say something to her.

“…Of course, I’m too young to remember any of these songs from the 1970s.”

She laughed and shrugged. I resisted any temptation to make any reference to her age – or her mother’s.

I stayed for another half an hour listening to the tunes and the set-ups by the lead singer. When she began to introduce the band members individually between two of the songs, I applauded and then decided it was time to move on.

To be courteous, I tapped the blonde lightly on the shoulder as I stood so she could see I was leaving.

“Thank you for being friendly,” I told her.

Like everyone I say that to she seemed surprised. But the truth is I never take friendliness for granted.

“Safe home,” I said, stepping away.

Her stare then caused me to pause for a beat. She gave me a very long look directly into my eyes – her expression seemed as if she were touched by my sentiment.

“You too,” she said, very warmly, but purposefully and intently.

I walked off into the twilight having enjoyed the music, the setting, the fresh air and the human connection with a woman who no doubt gets her share of head-turned attention in any room she graces.

I found her to be an angelic woman and daughter.

She was part of my “Midsummer Nights’ Dream in Beverly Hills

Read more of Michael Patrick’s work at The Travel Tattler and contact him at [email protected]

Michael Patrick Shiels

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