By MICHAEL PERKINS
CIRCUSES ARE GONE. Carnivals are on life support. In most towns, there’s not a Chautauqua tent or traveling acting troupe to be had for love or money. Eccentricity, the wild, sharp-edged, warped neighborhood between Normalcy and Madness that used to be a part of every town the whole world ’round, appears to be shuttering. But there are still a few enclaves of the weird to be had, and celebrated. And pictures to be made of what remains.
To paraphrase Bogart, we’ll always have beach towns.
Strange little encampments near the water’s edge that are both the last chance for humans before the open sea and a natural collection point for a slew of strange energies, from craftsmen to shopkeepers to fishermen to tourists….a grand collision of urges and callings that celebrates the odd, the original and the openly quirky. Life is measured differently near the ocean. The smells and color schemes are different. The architecture is chockablock, random and loud. And the folk are charting their own course.
In such venues, you might encounter the Violin Lady, in her pert hat, her lacy blouse, and her concert-plus-art-sale gig on nearly any block. Further in from the coast, the forces of order have issued enough cautious ordinances to muffle all the lovely madness of her kind, whereas, in towns like Seal Beach, California, she’s just one more cast member. And, lest you believe that she’s “selling out” by peddling her paintings for profit, bear in mind that she’s also revealing Real Truth about “My UFO Encounter”, which makes the entire enterprise a public service, really.
Use your camera to celebrate the unique. It’s always in danger of being smothered beneath a blanket of respectability, a quality which might be morally admirable but is, sadly, pictorially stagnant. If weird is in short supply in your town, head for the beaches, and you’ll get it all back. And then some.