I was away a couple of weeks and returned just after Labor Day to discover that the season had changed even before the autumn equinox. Ah yes, I remember: off-season. Pageant and festival doors are closed and the throngs are gone. Back to school. Back to work. Back to wherever they came from. And the city belongs to the locals once again. Mostly.
You can hear the quiet. You can hear the surf again. You can park downtown and get into a restaurant. Zinc is once again a community center. There are sale signs in shop windows and fall clothing on the racks. Art banners are down and political placards scattered in yards like fallen leaves.
The most tenacious surfers are at the beach by dawn to get to school on time, so by the time I take my morning walk they are mostly gone, only the diehards left like driftwood. Even they seem liberated from the onslaught of the wannabes.
The evening entertainment of political conventions lingers only on Facebook and YouTube, and the US Open tennis tournament, which was particularly fantastic this year, survived a tornado. Sunday night football is back. Laguna Dance Festival wowed sell-out crowds and ArtWalk is once again a big block party.
Even as locals complain about the heat [trust me, you wouldn’t complain if you’d been almost anywhere else in the country this summer], evening sea breezes blow, something we lucky SoCal folks can almost always count on.
Behind closed doors, fundraisers are being planned, Lagunatics is in rehearsal, and artists are already preparing to submit their work for next year’s festivals. Council candidates are making the rounds, preparing for forums, polishing their rhetoric.
And, this year, the GOP and the Dems have set up headquarters for the big one, in close enough proximity to fire at each other across Coast Highway, filled with earnest volunteers ready for battle. With them, comes the full-court press for money and votes. Speaking of which, please make sure you are registered. This is definitely a big one. However, as important as it is to fully participate in our democracy, I think I speak for many when I say that the presidential election season, like the summer throng, can’t come and go soon enough, whatever the outcome.
Randy Kraft is a freelance writer who previously covered City Hall for the Indy and pens the OC BookBlog for www.ocinsite.com.