LAmag.com, August 18, 2009
When you share a birthday with an Event That Defined a Generation, there’s no escaping your advancing age. It was Bryant Gumbel who first alerted me to that fact. I was on a summer trip to Boston with my parents. In our hotel room the Today show was on in the background when Gumbel announced an upcoming segment about the anniversary of Woodstock, the famed music festival that commenced 15 years ago to the day. Since at that very moment I was opening presents on my 15th birthday, I put it together pretty quickly. My parents, of course, knew about Woodstock but were about as far as you could be from Yasgur’s Farm on August 15, 1969: I was born in the decidedly hippie-free Kaiser in Panorama City. It’s something my mom was never proud of (she wanted me to be born in Hollywood, like she was), but she still can’t resist ribbing me about it whenever I get fresh (“Don’t forget, you came from Panorama City!”).
So every five years since, I’ve weathered my birthday with the inevitable Time/Newsweek/Rolling Stone anniversary package reflecting on the cultural importance of the day, my day, which I’ll never really own. I made a pilgrimage to the Woodstock site in upstate New York a few years ago but had no interest in joining the masses there this year. My husband planned a surprise day for me that would pay homage to the Age of Aquarius on a local level. So where did he take me Saturday afternoon? Topanga Canyon, naturally, and it was as perfect a day as I could have hoped for. With the sun filtering through all those beautiful majestic oaks, we watched an inspired adaptation of The Cherry Orchard at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum—a 4 p.m. showing I highly recommend. Then I was swept up to Topanga State Park for a four-mile loop hike (he told me to wear my walking shoes) to the stunning Eagle Rock boulder, where (no lie) a guy who looked like a swami was perched and preaching to a doe-eyed acolyte, with a 360-degree vista of the Santa Monica Mountains beneath us all. The sun rapidly set on our descent, and in the near darkness three deer crossed our path. Despite my certainty, my husband had not rented them for the occasion. From there it was dinner at Inn of the Seventh Ray, all incense and twinkly lights. The service was super, the food fantastic, and our table along the dry streambed a prime viewing area for the family of raccoons contemplating us from the hillside. At that moment, feeling so appreciative of living such a full life, I was proud to be from Panorama City after all.