Friday, November 16, 2012

Sand castles? Hardly

Meet motorcycle safety guy, I followed him for about forty minutes. He never got any closer than fifty yard to the car in front of him, despite the fact that glaciers were passing us. Because the gap was so large, dozens of cars had pulled in front of him, making the pace even slower. His pipes weren't loud, so he was being extra cautious.

It was carefully planned, sort of. The sand sculpting annual event was occurring at the big public beach, and I had never seen one. By planning, I meant I had pushed off going out there thinking on a Sunday, late in the day, things would have died down a bit. Boy did I screw up. I left the house at 3:30, made a quick stop at Office Depot, and headed out. I live 4.2 miles from the beach. I thought it couldn't take more than twenty minutes. If it was any other day, 15 minutes would have meant I caught every single light.

It took almost an hour to go the short distance, and finally get a parking space. I hadn't quite mentally connected that besides the sand sculpting event, other things were going on.

I'm not a big fan of going to the beach. I get enough sun on a daily basis, with out bending over backward to encourage solar driven skin cell mutation. Coconut oil laden young ladies flirting with lifeguards. Overweight tourists from elsewhere wear speedos to remind you can't "unsee" things once you have seen them. People with no body fat jogging, and snow white specular sand that blinds you. Add too much sweat, kids peeing in the water, sharks, red tide, and frisbee attacks. You get the picture.

As if things weren't bad enough there were endless buses shuttling people out to the beach. Hordes of pasty white people were disgorged ready to experience their first major sunburn, and the subsequent molting of their epidermis.
It's ten of five. I flash my press card, and ask if I can go in and take pics. Sure the guy said, "If you pay me five bucks, you can go in and take pics. You got ten minutes before you have to clear out. I give up a Lincoln.

I really didn't know what to expect, except that if it was on the public beach, I thought it would be free, but the whole area had been roped off.

The first thing you see is a huge mountain of sculpted advertising, leaving no one out. Local TV stations, condos, Budweiser beer, developers, and even the local airport was in on the act. Okay, art has to be paid for, I guess.

I think I just didn't have a frame of reference. I was expecting, I don't know, maybe mermaids, something to do with the beach,  or maybe even a sand castle.

I should have looked at a brochure about it first. It appeared to me the theme was large heads eating, or throwing up people and or other things.

I can just imagine the "Theme" planning meeting for the event. "How about we use sand castles as the theme, kids would like it?" "Nah, that's way too prosaic for Sarasota, it's an artsy community you know." "I got it, let's make the theme about the environment, you know Flipper caught in a fishing net, or that sort of thing." "Come on now, this is a red state, and a red county to boot, we can't sell anything like that to our advertisers." "Okay, I just had a brain storm, and I'd like to run this up the flag pole, and see if anyone will salute it. Two words for you, "Big Heads." "Say, that's a great idea, the're big and round, and I bet the sculptors will like the idea. All in favor say aye. Good it's settled. Now how much can we charge, we have to save some sea turtles when the dust settles?"

But fortunately some artist had removed sand from a pile, and found a Volks Rex in it. Very cool, and with that rear end traction, I'm sure it would never get stuck. It was the winner.

Speaking of prosaic, nothing says sand sculpting like Frosty the Snowman. The medium of sand is ideal for Frosty, and I really get the existential viewpoint of the porpoise that is frozen into the snow drift behind Frosty.

There are other things going on. A volley ball tournament is allowing young Misty May proteges to get some practice in front of an audience. Vendors are hawking their tourist orientated wares from a village of ten by ten tents. Jimmy Buffet style music is wafting through the air from some unknown location.
Ah yes, I have saved the best for last. The Sunday evening Drum Circle is starting up. This is a must see event. You can smell the essential oil imbued crystals as you near this neopaganism celebration. The repetitive drum beat is mind numbing, but I have more than enough strength to resist the desire to vacuously sway.

Dancers are wildly gyrating to a different drummer only they can hear. A thirty something dude is on his own planet dancing with a hula hoop. You could only hope the police would quickly come and take his man card away, and give him a temporary kid card. My retinas are seared by the vision of a middle aged Gaia earth mother with huge gold wings prancing around. I'm going to have nightmares for weeks about having her trying to force feed me boiled chickpeas and tofu for my own good.

I took some video footage I will put up to provide others with this eclectic visual feast, complete with sound track. So in the end, all I can say about late afternoon excursion is, "Other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?" Below is an image that is more evocative of my childhood on the beach. I really didn't like it much then as I recollect. Sheesh, never again.

This is the video of the Drum Circle. Sorry, you can't unsee it after you have seen it. Giant moth women will stay with you.

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