Lolligagging in Laguna Beach

ticket stub

Pageant time

Last week my friends and I made our now annual pilgrimmage to Laguna Beach for the Pageant of the Masters and restorative lazing about.

The theme for this year's pageant was Portrait of the Artist. One could be forgiven for jumping to the conclusion that the show would prominently feature self-portraits, but they probably couldn't find anyone to play Van Gogh! (What with the ear and all.) Rather, the idea was more that works of art offer insight into the artist, and the show "celebrates the works, lives and often larger-than-life personalities of some of the world's most unforgettable and original visionaries."

This year's show was quite stunning. In addition to the traditional tableaux vivants, there were performance segments, like the ballet corps that segued into the bronze of Nijinski and Ida Rubenstein. There was also interaction between the tableaux and "live actors" on the stage, as when the femme fatale in the movie poster "came to life" and shot her trench-coated pursuer.

Laguna Beach, looking north

This is the obligatory snap of Laguna beach itself, taken from the deck at the Laguna Village Bistro, our first stop after checking in to our B&B. (Eiler's Inn is the subject of a separate article.) This place serves the best hamburgers in Laguna Beach, although the burgers at Hennessey's Tavern aren't half-bad.

Paul Angela Jim and Ray study the menu
Paul, Jim, Angela, and Ray about to select our burgers

Laguna Beach apparently has a history of eccentrics who acted as quasi-official "greeters" for the village, Eiler Larsen being the most famous:

Jim and Ray posing with the statue of Eiler Larsen, greeter of Laguna Beach
Jim and Ray with Eiler Larsen's statue
For years Laguna Beach had an official welcoming committee — a committee of one, that is. "The Greeter" as he was affectionately known around these parts, was a old gentleman by the name of Eiler Larsen, a Dane with hair below his shoulders and a great, gray beard. He usually stood around the corner of Forest Ave and PCH, waving to everyone as they zipped past along the highway. Eventually, the city council proclaimed Larsen as the Official Greeter. He is gone, but not forgotten, as he is now immortalized in two statues, one at the Greeter's Restaurant, another in front of the Pottery Shack. The Greeter symbolizes welcome feeling that people sense when they come to Laguna Beach. A new greeter, Mr. Number One Archer, has been welcoming folks to Laguna Beach since 1981 in the same spot as Larsen. He always has a kind word for people who walk or motor by, and says he's just carrying on the tradition.

In the tradition of last year's Pageant of the Morons, Jim and Ray show their stuff. Top marks have to go to Ray, for he has every detail just right: the hand, the position of the head, and especially the legs.

Strolling on the boardwalk
Ray, Jim, and Angela stroll on the boardwalk

Here we see Ray, Jim, and Angela strolling along the beach boardwalk. Now we see how Ray was able to portray Eiler's legs just right.

flip flops abandoned on the sidewalk
There must be a story behind these flip-flops

A pair of abandonned flip-flops caught my eye as we meandered along the sidewalk. Someone placed them with such precision. Does the owner intends to come back and just step into them again? Or was a passerby simply concerned that the sidewalk not look cluttered? And what curious foot requires a triangular notch at the heel? Achilles, wherefore art thou?

Bob checks his 'email'
Bob checks his "email" - this message has "attachments"

When I visited Bob and Carolyn during their cat-sit in Hawaii, we shared an inside-joke based on the observation that almost every internet cafe in Kona also serves ice cream. Checking email became a handy euphemism for "let's go have ice cream," that sounds so self-indulgent and gluttonous. Here Bob checks his email in Laguna — and this "message" has "attachments"!

Note the gate suspended high above the sidewalk. The saying painted on the gate reads, "This gate hangs well and hinders none, refresh and rest, then travel on." A fine sentiment, indeed.

Glassblower's protective mitt
Protective mitt of the glassblower at the Sawdust Festival

Laguna is known for its art — studios, museums, galleries, festivals. The Sawdust Festival is a more family oriented festival, with live entertainment and activities for children. One outstanding feature is a glass-blowing demonstration. It's fascinating to watch the transformation from blob of molten glass to work of art or whimsy.

The blower left his protective mitt lying on a shelf just inside the wire "cage" where he works. The condition of the mitt leaves no doubt that the glass is, indeed, hot.