By Matt Coker
By R. Scott Moxley
By Charles Lam
By Nick Schou
By Gustavo Arellano
By Gustavo Arellano
By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
18. The ChOrizo Breakfast Burrito, which you can get at the big white-and-blue food stand opposite the Home and Hobbies Center, costs about $5, weighs about 2 pounds, and stuffs a large flour tortilla with eggs, cheese, potatoes, chorizo and chile sauce. Nothing else I ate at the fair gave me the this-is-delicious/I'm-bloated/ there's-grease-in-my-throat/I-want-to-go-the-Rest-Center succession of sensations as reliably as did the Chorizo Breakfast Burrito.
19. After Day Four of the Fair, my wife first uttered the term "Fair Belly" in my presence. As in, "You better watch it. You don't want to get a . . ."
20. I'd like to talk about Chaos now. Chaos is a theory in physics; it's what's happening to NASDAQ stocks as we speak; it was the Russians in Get Smart (though spelled differently); and it is, we can all agree, what prevailed during much of the aftermath of the French Revolution, particularly during Robespierre's bloody Terror. It is also the name of the ride—the one non-kiddie ride—that I decided to endure at the Fair for purposes of journalistic completeness. I considered the Kamikaze, but I'm not an idiot. I should say here that I have an easily upsettable stomach. As a child, I had a long history of vomiting on the Angeles Crest highway going toward Big Bear. My honeymoon—otherwise lovely: we had Paris, and we'll always have Paris—was marred by a most choppy trip across the English Channel, two godforsaken hours of which I spent throwing up bile in a stall.
Chaos is a ride in which you strap yourself into one of about 12 small compartments that are attached to the edge of a large horizontal disk that revolves, first slowly and then faster, then, still revolving, rises at an angle until it reaches about 80 degrees. As the disk angles up, each individual compartment commences to spinning on its own axis as well. When Chaos is at its height, there are two kinds of vigorous circular movements going on, random screams, violent metallic groans from the machinery and loud blasts of heavy metal (e.g., Van Halen's "Poundcake"). The lungs feel crushed and the sense of disorientation is completely and totally unfun. The thing goes on and on and on, and it was as I stumbled away from Chaos that I first conceived of the idea of the Rest Center.
21. Since there is currently no Rest Center, the next best place is probably the Wine Plaza, though post-Chaos, I wasn't in the mood for wine, and the Andean band that was playing, as good as it was, seemed a tad too sprightly. So I went into the Home and Hobbies Building. The Home and Hobbies Building is soft and serene. There is no music playing, so all you hear is the susurration of mild suburban couples appreciating the prize-winning embroidery, stuffed dolls, quilts and homemade fruit preserves on display. (First Prize for Fruit and Fruit Juice, Applesauce Division, incidentally, went to Michael Grant of Garden Grove, who used the Water Bath A-20 Method, incorporating apples, apricot brandy, brandy, apricot jam, sugar, brown sugar, allspice and cinnamon into his recipe. Despite my troubled stomach, the double brandy shot caught my interest, and I asked how I might try Mr. Grant's recipe, but the Home and Hobbies attendant couldn't tell me how to get ahold of a jar.) Everything looks pastel, including the clothes and faces of the people at the booths. The only smidgen of anxiety I noticed was from the long line of women standing outside the glass doors of the building, waiting to go to the bathroom.
22. Lina is the psychic who told me about my life one morning. She informed me that I had the choice of a palm reading ($5), a psychic reading ($10) or a full-on tarot reading ($20). I went for the middle, not knowing if the Weekly would cover me for the tarot reading. Lina sat me down and touched the back of my hand for about nine seconds, then removed her hand but kept it hovering above mine for the rest of the reading. "Whatever I tell you," she began in an absolutely no-bullshit tone that seemed utterly immune to people who use her gift for their own petty entertainment, "you must not hold it against me personally." Fair enough, I said. Then she started talking in a rush, as if the aura of my hand had burst into some kind of supernova, and within 10 seconds, I realized this woman was no hack. She knew, for instance, that my life has been "in crisis for the past six or eight months" (seven, actually, and "crisis" is the word; if I knew you better, I'd talk about it) and that the crisis, slowly ebbing, has left me in "a state of limbo" for the past two months. (Again, nailed it.) She knew that I have in my life a woman who will love me until I die. (True again.) She told me I had three kids. (Two, actually, but the woman who will love me until I die often lobbies for three.) She said that I am currently waiting for some important papers in the mail that will have some bearing on my immediate financial future. (Bingo.)