From: Dr. Nickelpennyl, in Ciuidad de Los Angeles
Gentlemen and Ladies of the society, I have the honor to acquiant you with the particular events of a recent public ceremony and celebration held at a natural ampitheatre quite similar to those pagan ruins of the ancient Greeks. The natives call this locale the "Hollywoode Bowle" and use it for any manner of bacchanals and public debaucheries, particularly those involving spectacles of lurid music and lewd dancing. This occasion involved several tribes or "bands" of savages assembled into groups to make music and merry - and who refer to themselves by the monkiers of "Band of Horses" (A preposterous title, as there were no horses in evidence anywhere) "Andrew Bird" (Who may well be an individual, though I suspect not related to the esteemed explorer) and "The Decembrists" (who are not, as it turns out, bolshevik revolutionaries).
The Bowle itself is savage in its splendor, I admit. There range up from a shell of sorts a series of tiers that reflect not just proximity to the celebration, but also a rigid social hierarchy which is enforced by formally clad attendants who inspect the chits-of-passage that attendees must present upon arrival. Those of the very highest social strata are located immediately next to the proscenium, while the hoi-polloi are relegated to the extreme outlying sections. Those members of the local quality who are afforded admittance to the more desirable strata are even provided with a box-like barrier which separates them from other social groups. The boxes contain seats as well as cleverly fashioned folding tables. By careful arrangement, one can manage to quaff down some of the local spirits and consume various victual treats prior to the commencement of the ceremonies. In our case, we were fed upon raw fish caked in rice and dipped in a sort of spoilt soy-bean byproduct, as well as treated to some fruits and vegetables, and even a fairly creditable cheese. The wine was copious - as is common in this region where the grapes grows with such fecundity, and the native so given to its juices. Before ever the celebration and savage spectacle began, the mood was quite salubrious. I should note that the weather was as perfectly warmm but mild as ever; I believe that the excitable passions of the natives has much to do with their humors being raised to a temperature more consistent with Hell, and thus sin and wickedness than the coolth and virtue of a godly Paradise. I reason, therefore, that heaven must have a climate not dissimilar to England, that earthly paradise of Reason and Virtue.
The "Band of Horses" took to the stage and performed a largely forgettable but pleasant set of aria-like pieces the natives charitably call "songs". Despite his outward appearance, the lead singer is neither an Amish, nor a Mosselman, nor, as was my theory, a Civil War re-enactor. His beard was as bristly and impressive as that of any Old Testament patriarch. In short order they were finished, and replaced on stage by another performer. I heard it said that their music was, in style, rather similar to that of many bands of the 1970's; in particular the early "Police" or "Eagles".
The next performer was the afore-mentioned Andrew Bird. The man himself was tall with a floppy hair-do. He was dressed in the sort of suit that local mandarins wear to indicate their status in the business world. He began with an eerie tremulous. rising and faling noise that I thought surely must emanate from one of Mssr. Theremin's synthesizing devices. However, it turned out to be simply his own whistling. Curiously, he demonstrated his facility for perfect pitch by whistling a note while simultaneously hammering it out on a xylophone. He managed also to play a violin and guitar, all while singing, whistling and hammering on the xylophone. He would play phrases of a song into a device that would then loop them back through a gigantic double-headed revolving gram-o-phone. The effect was unsettling and soothing all at once; stimulating a desire both to dance yet also meditate upon life's more vexing problems. Mr. Bird himself appeared to be possessed by some animating spirit not entirely under his own control; the Imp at the very least controlled his own neck and head muscles, as his cranium appeared to revolve on a gimbal not on the same frequency as the rest of his body. His thrashing was largely contained only to his head, but continued through singing, whistling, and playing the guitar. He was not so gifted as to do so while playing the violin, except on those not-infrequent bouts of playing pizzicato style. A sample of his music can be played here - and I heartily recommend to the Society that they give some attention to Mr. Bird, as he presents a higly particular and indeed, in my experience unique, sound which while at moments brings to mind Jeff Buckley in the tone of his voice, or perhaps even Lou Reed - but is otherwise wholly his own in style and timbre.
At last the headline band, the "Decembrists" took to the stage in the presence of a philharmonic orchestra. They started with a number about a Spanish princess for which the symphony's presence was well-suited indeed. Their set continued enthusiastically despite some technical difficulties on the part of the guitarist - the show soldiered on. A peculiar paroxysm came over the band whilst performing "We Both Go Down Together" which resulted in the various Decembrists (and any supernumerary Novemberists and Januaryists) falling to the ground in various states of physical disability. Never the less, they continued to saw at their instruments until such time as the song was complete. They played a short-ish set that was none the less quite satisfactory, though I admit that my hopes for "The Mariner's Revenge Song" were dashed, and it was not played - not even during the brief encore that followed the natives engaging in particularly lusty cheering and slapping together of appendages. Despite this disappointment, the show came to an orderly end, and all filed out to depart for their homes, ships, or raiding parties.
Whilst exiting, I overheard an atendee say, "Every American ought to see one show at the Hollywoode Bowle before they die." Despite its grammatical awkwardness, the sentiment was not entirely inappropriate.
I am your humble and obedient servant;
Dr. Phineas Nickelpenny