The Thirty-Second Annual Festival of the Kite
Topic: Unusual Events
Thursdays the Los Angeles Times publishes the weekend guide to what's up out here, and on July 27 there was this -
The Thirty-Second Annual Festival of the Kite
The silly prose is from one Sondra Farrell Bazrod, - who also quotes Burt the Chimney Sweep from "Mary Poppins" - but she quotes even sillier words from Mel Hickman, who is Executive Director of the American Kitefliers Association (yes, there is such an organization) -
You don't have to be serious about kites to feel as if you have the world on a string.
Thousands for whom the airborne wonders are a flight of fancy will join scores who have made kites a lifelong passion on Sunday at the 32nd annual Festival of the Kite, with the skies around the Redondo Beach Pier promising to turn into a montage of brightly hued objects of all shapes and sizes.
Ah, world peace and universal brotherhood (or sisterhood or whatever) would be at hand if everyone just went to the beach and flew kites. Or so says this fifty-five-year-old man who heads an organization four thousand strong. One wonders what his day job is. Well, this is California.
Kites are more popular than at any time in history, and festivals are growing around the world. It's a great hobby and is inexpensive, and kites are easy to make and teach the maker about the physical world.
The best thing is that you don't care what color a person is or of what political party or gay or straight. The wind either blows for you or it doesn't, and there's nothing you can do about who you are that can change that. It's a very "communizing" factor, and so kite fliers tend to be a lot less caught up in themselves than maybe other groups. It's also a great tension reliever to stand there with a kite and watch it play with the clouds. If you're near the water when you fly your kite into a setting sun it's almost mystical.
The Redondo Beach event is a showcase for Tom Fine, a man in his mid-forties, who has owned Sunshine Kites on the pier for ten years now. Sunshine Kites sponsors the festival. Fine once built a kite twenty-five feet wide and sixteen feet tall, so you know he's serious about this kite stuff. California is full of alternative careers choices. But then Benjamin Franklin and the Wright brothers did work with kites that led to all sorts of things. Perhaps one shouldn't scoff.
Bazrod also cites clinical psychologist Sidney Walter -
For adults, kite flying is an expression of freedom from the grounded mundane life experiences. For children it's the same idea of freedom from control of their immediate environment. Kids can control with strings. All flying, especially the kite, is an expression of freedom and complete abandonment of earthly things.
For a time I dated clinical psychologist. They don't talk like that in real life. That's just how they talk to reporters from the Times.
The trip from Hollywood to the Redondo Beach Pier is a tad over twenty-one miles, but those are hard miles - either on the crazy-making 110 Freeway right through the heart of the city, or on the 405 past Los Angeles International Airport with all the befuddled travelers trying to figure out how to return their rental cars, or on surface streets though some really seedy parts of Los Angeles - but Sunday, July 30, catching a kite festival seemed to be a fine idea.
The festival site is here, and there's Mel Hickman's American Kitefliers Association and the Ventura County Kite Flyers and the Up Up & Away Kite Club down in Seal Beach. Who knew? And the Times lists five thriving kite stores - the one on the pier in Redondo Beach, and other stores in Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Seal Beach and Dana Point. It's an industry.
Here are some shots from the festival. There will by a full array in next Sunday's issue of Just Above Sunset.
Topic: Geometric Shapes
Just a little geometry - an office building at 401 Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica, Saturday morning, July 29, with a flowering tree -
This is a now a specialty textile factory at the corner of Highland and Willoughby, a building from 1928 by W. J. Saunders. One architectural writer says when the sun rakes the building at midday the effect is that of the Casa de las Conchas in Segovia. Well, maybe. This is midday. You decide. But 1928 was obviously an exuberant year in Hollywood.
Next door, at 940 North Highland Avenue, is the image shop Workbook, and the have two markets - art buyers, including creative directors, art directors, designers and corporate art departments, and then, photographers, illustrators, designers, letterers and suppliers to the graphic arts industry. And they have a surreal dog on top of their shabby half-hearted Streamline Moderne offices. There is no explanation of the dog in their literature.
On the Boulevard
Topic: Color Studies
A color study, with puppy - Hollywood Boulevard on a hot July afternoon -
On the other side of Hollywood Boulevard, someone from Hogwarts -
Paris has those stone gargoyles on the edge of the roof of Notre Dame and all that. They're real famous and everyone photographs them. But out here in Hollywood we have real gargoyles, or living ones, or something. You decide. (Cat Woman got caught in the first shot.)
This was in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater, of course. That's where these characters hang out. And Wednesday, July 26, was even stranger as they were setting up for the red carpet premier of a big summer movie, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. This is this summer's redneck anti-French comedy. Will Ferrell plays Ricky Bobby.
Summary - "NASCAR stock car racing sensation Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is a national hero because of his "win at all costs" approach. He and his loyal racing partner, childhood friend Cal Naughton Jr. (John C. Reilly), are a fearless duo - "Shake" and "Bake" to their fans for their ability to finish so many races in the #1 and #2 positions, with Cal always in second place. When flamboyant French Formula One driver Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen) challenges "Shake" and "Bake" for the supremacy of NASCAR, Ricky Bobby must face his own demons and fight Girard for the right to be known as racing's top driver." The movie's tagline: "The story of a man who could only count to #1"
Think of it as George Bush does NASCAR. Detail - "When they were at an actual racetrack to get audio clips, director Adam McKay apparently didn't need to prompt the audience for one scene. When Sacha Baron Cohen's character Jean Girard was introduced as a driver from France driving the Perrier car, the entire crowd started booing on their own."
Whatever. Hollywood Boulevard empty at noon as the began setting up -
The last installment sank into cable television oblivion, but this guy from Star Wars was out there for some reason -