Californian midsummer madness

At the moment we're in Santa Barbara, home of John Cleese, Oprah Winfrey and down the road from Michael Jackson's 'Neverland' ranch. Its an idyllic place, and we both love being out here. I'm working at my company's headquarters and Haley is working with collaborators at CalTech (about 100 miles further south on the coast). Its rather a pleasant place to spend a few week over the summer.

Santa Barbara is a curious place. There is the layer of American curiousness that I'm nearly used to: people you've never met (e.g. shop assistants) being very concerned with your health and overtly friendly, people you barely know at all who share intimate details of their personal lives with no embarrassment, giving a tip even when the recipient doesn't deserve one. The sort of thing that really freaks british people out.

[simage=1,400,n,left,]The extra layer of curiousness that Santa Barbara (and I might add, a fair few other places in the good ol' US of A) has, are the aged hippies. People caught in a time warp, hankering after the days when free love and tie dye was in fashion. This curious layer of people, along with their (not always enthusiastic) children, friends, pets and bits of household junk, made a parade to celebrate the summer solstice yesterday. The theme of the parade (because all pagan rituals need to have a theme) was 'carnival'. It was quite eye-opening.

There were rather a lot of synchronised dancers, only some of which  were grossly overweight and elderly. Actually many of them were rather good, and were accompanied by live music played mostly on drums (steel and otherwise). In the middle of the dancers were floats in the shape of jesters' faces, jesters' hats, rhino~s,  people dressed as dolphins with sheepish looking humans 'caught' in nets, a 'fat lady' with money stuffed in her bum, the most unattractive gypsies you've ever seen, martial arts classes defending themselves from invisible foes, Michael Jackson tributes complete with uni-manual silver gloves, and of course 2 dozen Elvis impersonators.

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Possibly the strangest of the items that we were treated to was a group of people inexplicably dressed as peacocks. I say 'dressed as' but most of them didn't look anything like birds and more like people in tie-dye with some peacock feathers slapped on their arses. One person just appeared to be pulling a massive purple fallus behind him. I suspect he just heard '-cock' and didn't worry about the 'pea'.

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I have to say that the parade was diverting and the hula-hoopers were all rather good, but it was mostly on the bizarre side of WTF. Don't forget the 3 people inside a giant balloon the shape of pineapple, gyrating to hypnotic drums. Very pagan.

Have a look at my Picasa album of the event.