Cheerful Crowds Throng Beaches
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Cheerful Crowds Throng Beaches<BR> By Marc Porter Zasada <P> MAYBE YOU COULD help me out. It-s a holiday, the kickoff to deep summer in L.A., and the Urban Man has the day off. So I-m offering you a plum journalistic assignment. <P> Head for the beach in Santa Monica and find a spot to sit and watch the bike path. If you get too close to the pier, the images may come too fast: Oiled flesh, hummer-sized coolers, wild-eyed kids. Try Ocean Park, where there-s a more gentle cascade of half-dressed Angelenos. <P> Okay, here-s the assignment: write a headline that characterizes the crowd. How hard can that be? <P> Here come an elderly mother and middle-aged daughter in matching violet camisoles. They pedal languidly and you correctly identify them as a vanishing species. Following them come a father and son on actual lowrider bikes: polished chrome, stenciled fenders, tiny flags: How seriously they take their role as cultural icons! Almost as seriously, you may note, as this willowy westside couple with the polished smiles. <P> Now for that headline. How about, -Cheerful Holiday-Makers Fill Beaches, A Half-Million Strong?- <P> But are they cheerful? What about this straggled family led by an impatient father, pulling a small wagon of sand toys, his face a Norman Rockwell study in holiday despair? He-s overtaken by a pair of young men, just twenty, shiny with muscles and graced with expressions you may describe as -insouciant.- <P> You watch the father-s face cloud with sudden memory. Will you write, -L.A. Lets It All Hang Out On Long Weekends-? <P> Or will you find thin Japanese girls, unembarrassed to be carrying -Hello Kitty- towels and write, -Multicultural L.A. Mixes Only at the Shore- ? <P> Or, -Boys In Buttondown Shirts Ride Skateboards Pulled By German Shepherds.- Or -Graying Prophet Hoists Cardboard Sign?- <P> But now, trumpets: here at last come the two proverbial tourists, a husband and wife from Wisconsin skating into view. They-re nervous but sport identical yellow caps. <P> Do the matching caps mean they-re still in love? You might write: -Holiday Crowds Find Love on the Boardwalk.- <P> Or-maybe you-ll decide that, in the metropolis, it-s gloriously impossible to characterize a crowd, be it cheerful, muliticultural or in love. <P> Jacques Cousteau taught that outer space may represent the infinitely large and atoms the infinitely small, but life - life represents infinite variety. Faced with that great truth and finding that L.A. has once again defied all generalization and the word -Angeleno- all definition - you may turn down the assignment. Like me, you may choose to take a holiday, tighten the laces on your skates, and join the infinite crowd swimming between the infinite city and the infinite sea. <P> Happy Fourth of July. <P> Copyright - 2004 by Marc Porter Zasada, all rights reserved.<P>
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