Archive for the ‘You Go. I’ll Watch’ Category

You Go. I’ll Watch.
June 19, 2007

Maybe you saw our “About San Diego” piece debunking the story about the roller coaster at Belmont Park. As legend has it, one day the coaster flew completely off its tracks, sailed across Mission Boulevard, and sent a load of horrified passengers to an unhappy landing at The Jack In The Box across the street. The only problem, of course, is that it never happened. Things like that never really occur. They just haunt the imagination. Especially mine.

Every year at the Del Mar Fair, I manage to somehow stray into the midway zone, and always recoil in horror. Now, don’t get me wrong, if you’ve got one of those double seat electric cars that ride on a track and stiffly bang their way into a darkened room with neon skeletons, spooky music, and plumes of steam, man, I’m the first in line. Take a splash ride, no problem. But
I draw the line at anything that twirls, spins, or falls. I could give you the old “been there done that” line. Indeed, I’ve made a carrier landing and take off, accidentally fallen off a cliff, ridden a runaway bus, and had plenty of e-ticket experiences. So why not plunk down a few bucks and take whirl on the vomit vortex? Simple. I’m too scared. I keep thinking about metal fatigue. I size up the grizzled ride operator (they’re always grizzled), looking for tattoos and needle tracks. I imagine him, head-down in an orange jumpsuit, tearfully telling the court that he “only stepped away for a moment to have a smoke”, when the mechanism ran wild.

Friends mock my cowardice. I don’t care. As they scream and hurtle, and ultimately hurl, I salute them from the air-conditioned comfort of the quilting pavilion. In my years, I’ve seen many a concluded fair and festival in the “disassemble” phase. And you know what? All those rides really do come apart! Most of them load onto trucks, the jolly colors of the collapsed “Giant Zipper” looking strange and tacky, moving along in the slow lane at rush hour.

It’s all a matter of preference, of course. The things I like at the Fair would drive almost anybody else nuts. I think those pitch-people selling kitchen knives are a hoot. I love how they talk with a cigarette-and-whiskey kind of drone, even when there’s nobody there to listen.
I think it’s great that you can walk into Pat O’Brien Hall, and in a matter of minutes, buy a 35-hundred dollar oak armoire, see an amazing kitchen mop, become a Christian, and join the Democratic Party. I could spend an hour just looking at those bubbling backyard spas. Some of them are so peppered with shining jets and spigots, they were clearly never meant to be seen without water. I love the gem show, and the furniture built by students, and the curious collections people keep, and the pies and cakes, and the prize pigs in the livestock barn.

Which, by the way, is nowhere near the “Tilt A Whirl”.

* * * * * * IN OTHER NEWS * * * * * *

I’ll see you at the Fair! Sunday, June 24, from 1 to 3. We’ll have pictures and a wheel to spin for prizes. We’ll be at the NBC/Mi San Diego booth. Come on out, say “Hello”, and let’s swap some stories “About San Diego”.