It’s been a while now since I last posted, what with summer and its myriad events taking up much of the Miller family’s time and all, but now that it’s mid-September I guess I really haven’t much of an excuse any more. Try as I might to put it off indefinitely, I’m afraid there’s no use fighting the inevitable much longer. It’s time to do some catching up.
As alluded to above Long Beach, in the summer, can’t seem to let anybody settle down for a weekend of mere leisure. I swear that from May through September there is on every single weekend some sort of festival celebrating a specific style of food, music, culture – you name it, there’s a festival for it. There’s a Crawfish Festival, Bayou Festival, Blues Festival, Jazz Festival, Funk Festival, Lobster Festival, a Sea Festival, Greek Festival, the E Hula Mau Hula dancing Festival and Competition, and more. There’s Seal Beach’s Fish Fry, what’s called “Taste of the Coast,” (wherein local restaurants peddle their food from booths on the Long Beach Pier), and of course the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
This last event we generally avoid at all costs, being the blue-state, hybrid driving, solar oven using socialist elites that we are, but fortunately for us we can hear the damned cars all weekend, even from many miles away. So we got that going for us.
The extracurricular activities aren’t limited to weekends, either: there are several “Stroll and Savor” weeknights (same concept as “Taste of the Coast;” here though the restaurants along Second Street serve their food to passersby from the sidewalk outside their location), Thursday night Concerts in the Park, and a Wednesday evening Farmer’s Market that has not only the requisite local produce on display but also provides music, crafts, and booths serving everything from ribs, Asian chicken, Spaghetti and New England style fried seafood to sweet crepes.
Of course we still haven’t figured out how to check out a calender of events before the summer starts, so our routine usually involved dilly-dallying around with Sarah for the first half of a Saturday before finding out, purely by accident, that one of the aforementioned festivals was starting oh my god TODAY! Then we’d run around feverishly tossing stuff in the backpack, thinking “What luck! If we hadn’t happened to have passed Rainbow Lagoon on our way to rushing Sarah to the emergency room with most of a tube of Mentos stuck up her nose, we’d never have noticed that the Incan Quechuas festival was in town! Screw the hospital – we’re dancing to charango and wooden flute renditions of classic rock songs today!”
Which Sarah would be fine with, of course, even with the Mentos, because like all kids she loves anything with lots of singing and dancing. Her favorite, so far, is the Crawfish Festival, which has tons of Cajun, Zydeco and New Orleans style music, a neat dance area, and more boiled crawfish than anyone has ever seen outside of Louisiana. We went last year, as well, but never got around to sampling the food due to the nearly two hour – yes, two hour – wait in line for the salty red critters. That, along with poorly marked entrances and some god-awful parking, led to much grumbling among the festival-goers and, consequently, a lot of bad reviews on Yelp. Ouch. As we all know, if there’s one thing that’ll make you take a good hard look at yourself and reevaluate your place on this earth, it’s a bad review on Yelp.
Not that we minded, having gone pretty much just for the music (Sarah being only two at the time), but this year the organizers seemed to have taken the poor reviews to heart and worked out many of the bugs. We had a great time dancing to the live music, watching all the older, purple-clad and parasol-wielding ladies and gents parading around to “When The Saints Come Marching In,” and yes, dining on mounds of steaming red crawfish with corn and boiled potatoes.
Which, to be honest, wasn’t much to write home about. We’re from New England, dammit, and we grew up on lobsters – like, whole lobsters, some weighing even more than two pounds. Crawfish, it turns out, are so tiny that in order to get anything resembling meat out of them you have to chew and suck on the body in a disgusting and primitive manner, looking not unlike one of those monkeys one sees at the zoo always making short work of some nut or tropical fruit. It’s embarrassing, of course, but the humiliation of exhibiting oneself this way pales in comparison to the revulsion one experiences upon witnessing the masses around you doing the same. I had a roommate a long time ago who similarly tucked into his roasted chicken legs. It’s damned unnerving, it is, and it nearly puts you off your own food.
But we still enjoyed it, and that includes Sarah, who attacked her crawfish with aplomb. She’s got a good palate, that one, which I have to admit makes me particularly proud, though nothing could prepare me for my surprise on a subsequent weekend when, while visiting the aforementioned “Taste of the Coast” on the pier, she downed – happily – three beautiful, briny, recently executed oysters on the half shell. I kept waiting for her to, y’know, gag as she chewed up the unfortunate bivalves, but it never happened – in fact, she even asked for more. A month or so later she and I were having lunch by the marina after a nice ferry ride, and she had a couple oysters then, too, so it’s not, at least for now, just a fluke.
So yes, the festival experience has been enjoyable, but this being southern California, we also found time to visit all the beaches: Long, Seal, Huntington, and Santa Monica, Pier included. Throw in two trips to see family (One to Hawaii and one to N.E. – both sans me), a couple of days in San Diego and, of course, Disneyland, and it’s been a busy summer. I for one am glad that it’s over, if only so that my skin color can return to it’s natural, corpse-like hue. Now we have fall to look forward to, which, after we slog through September, will bring all sorts of other opportunities for weekend fun.
Pumpkin Patch, here we come!