Events: Oktoberfest, Miramar Air Show, 'Road to Mecca'
Maureen Cavanaugh: From the sublime to the ridiculous to the sure-fire crowd-pleaser, this weekend preview spans from what many consider Athol Fugard's finest play, and a silent cinema classic - to dogs in Halloween costumes, with the ever-popular Blue Angels flying overhead.
Barbarella Fokos is the author of the Diary of a Diva column and Your Week page at the San Diego Reader.
David Coddon is a regular columnist for San Diego.com.
This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.
Maureen Cavanaugh (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. From the sublime to the ridiculous to the sure-fire crowd pleaser, this Weekend Preview spans from what many consider to be Athol Fugard's finest play and a silent cinema classic, to dogs in Halloween costumes, with the ever popular Blue Angels flying overhead. Joining me for the ever popular Weekend Preview are my guests. Barbarella Fokos is the author of the Diary of a Diva column and Your Week page at the San Diego Reader.
BARBARELLA FOKOS (Columnist, San Diego Reader): Hi, Maureen. Thanks for having me.
CAVANAUGH: Hi. David Coddon is a regular columnist for sandiego.com. Welcome back, David.
DAVID CODDON (Columnist, sandiego.com): Thank you, Maureen. Good to see you.
CAVANAUGH: Now let’s start with you, David, and the 37th annual La Mesa Village Oktoberfest. It starts tomorrow. Tell us about this particular Oktoberfest.
CODDON: Well, Oktoberfests are ubiquitous throughout the county, throughout the country of course. And La Mesa’s is probably the biggest and best. It usually draws over the course of the three days, upward of 200,000 people. And the tradition of Oktoberfest is very much alive at this particular one, which is in the La Mesa Village. It’s very quaint. People do come from all parts of the county to this one, and in terms of ambiance, I think it really is at the top.
CAVANAUGH: Now, beer is probably the biggest draw of an Oktoberfest. What kind of beer will be served?
CODDON: Well, they do three beer gardens and this is the so-called Lowenbrau style beer garden where you basically go from one place to place, tasting.
CODDON: And you will find, obviously, traditional German brews but you will find beers from all over the world as well. I’m not particularly a beer aficionado but I know that people who go to this and other Oktoberfests swear by the beer at these beer gardens.
CAVANAUGH: So if you don’t like the beer, what’s to do at the Oktoberfest?
CODDON: Well, you can eat. I mean, if you like bratwurst…
CODDON: …this is the place to go. Also, there’s music. There’s oompah bands.
CAVANAUGH: Chicken dance.
CODDON: Chicken dance. There’s more traditional music as well. There are rides for the kids. And obviously a lot of vendors with arts and crafts, and people walking around in lederhosen.
CAVANAUGH: Well, always a wonderful sight.
CODDON: One of my favorites, yes.
FOKOS: You’re busting out your lederhosen for it, aren’t you?
CODDON: Yes, I’m – They’re at the dry cleaners right now.
CAVANAUGH: Now, La Mesa Village is rather small, as you pointed out and that’s a good thing but it also has a problem for people parking or getting there. Where should people park? Is there a trolley stop close by? And would you suggest that?
CODDON: I would, and they do, too. I wouldn’t recommend trying to drive there. I mean, if you’re close enough to walk to it, fine, but otherwise take the Orange Line trolley to the Spring Street stop and you can walk right to the Village. It’s the best way to go. It’s easy and, plus, you don’t have to worry about having a designated driver necessarily.
CAVANAUGH: Exactly. Right. Oktoberfest in La Mesa Village begins tomorrow. We move now to – what’s that overhead? The Blue Angels air show, the Miramar Air Show is this weekend, very popular event. All of San Diego knows about it. But what happens when you actually go to the air show?
FOKOS: Well, popular is right. They’re expecting 750,000 people this weekend.
FOKOS: So, yeah, the – Ooh, the power just flickered. Very, very, very popular. What happens is there’s something called static displays of aircraft, which is kind of all – basically, everything the Marine Corps has is going to be on display but what people go for is the live action, the Blue Angels doing their – zooming by and if you’ve ever driven up the 15, you know you’ve seen them zooming overhead. Plus, the Canadian Snowbirds, which is Canada’s version of the Blue Angels, not the other way around.
CAVANAUGH: Right. Right, exactly right. You got that right, Barbarella. But also, you know, we see them practicing. I think all of San Diego knows when the Blue Angels are here and the Miramar Air Show begins. Have you actually attended the airshow?
FOKOS: Not in many years, although I have driven by.
FOKOS: And I prefer to see them practice. It’s not as crowded. But I’ve watched a lot of it online and I went as a child, but it’s going to be – it’s going to be crazy to get out there. Also, I should say, that the Marine Air Ground Task Force demonstration, they’re going to be doing the jumping lines out of helicopters and doing entire demonstrations of their equipment.
CAVANAUGH: And, David, have you been to the air show?
CODDON: I certainly have heard it many times. You can’t miss it. Yes, I’ve been to the air show. I still have the crick in the back of my neck from looking up.
CAVANAUGH: Right, exactly, that’s what I was going to say.
FOKOS: While driving?
CAVANAUGH: All afternoon, looking, yeah.
CODDON: When – right, looking through my sunroof. Yes, I have been. Like you, Barbarella, it’s been a while since I have gone but it really is pretty spectacular and you always see something that the next day you’re telling people I can’t believe I saw this, but you did at the air show.
CAVANAUGH: Now, what about any tips for listeners who want to go there and perhaps don’t want to get stuck on the 15 forever. Any times about leaving or parking?
FOKOS: Well, there are several parking lots. There are 30 parking lots but it will be difficult with that kind of crowd. And when I asked about is there public transportation, I was kind of told not really. There will be shuttles to various locations. And there’s a lot of information on Miramarairshow.com with the frequently asked questions and tons of info. If you pay a premium price, you can get VIP tickets which allow you closer parking but that won’t stop you from getting in line. What they recommend is get there early but the gates don’t open until 8:00 so I imagine there’ll be people waiting.
CAVANAUGH: Right. I would imagine there’ll be people waiting, yes, and just…
FOKOS: Yeah, you’re standing outside the fence and looking…
CAVANAUGH: …and just look up.
CAVANAUGH: The Miramar Air Show begins this Friday morning. “The Road to Mecca” at the San Diego Rep, David, is a play by Athol Fugard. It opens this weekend. What’s it about?
CODDON: This is the story of a widow, Miss Helen, who lives in a Calvinist community and she has a vision and it inspires her to, among other things, build in her garden these little sculptures of wise men and animals in a very spiritual setting, all of them facing east toward Mecca. And basically what happens is that the community, this Calvinist community, and her church ostracize her, believing that she’s doing something that a heretic would do. And to tell you more would probably be giving away too much of…
CODDON: …the story but it’s a really powerful and yet gentle piece.
CAVANAUGH: Yeah, the – Time magazine calls this play by Athol Fugard his most nearly universal play. Why is that, do you think?
CODDON: I think for a couple of reasons. One is it really is a story about the battle for a soul and I believe everyone can relate to that. And then there’s the whole question of artistic freedom as well as religious freedom, and those people who think that too much of his work is political can relate to this on a very human level, and I think that’s probably why it has the sentiment it does.
CAVANAUGH: Remind us about some of his works that are perhaps political.
CODDON: Well, the one that I think most readers and listeners will remember right away is he did a film just a few years ago that was an Oscar nominee called “Tsotsi,” T-s-o-t-s-i. I think I’m spelling that correctly. And this got him a lot of acclaim because it was so widely seen and because of the Oscar nomination. And, you know, he is championed as someone who really has fought the fight against apartheid for many, many years in his country. And it’s worth knowing, too, in case we don’t know, the listeners aren’t aware of this, is that he has a residency at the University of San Diego and has done work at the La Jolla Playhouse previous to the Rep.
CAVANAUGH: Now, it’s interesting, the – as you told us the synopsis, the brief synopsis, of “The Road to Mecca,” how it has a relationship with some of the political goings-on in our community at this time. And I’m wondering what you can tell us about this particular production?
CODDON: Well, one thing, it has a strong local tie and that is that Todd Salovey, who is one of the original founders of the San Diego Rep is directing the show. And if you go to the Rep’s website, as a matter of fact, you can hear Todd talking about his personal connection to this play and how he thinks it will resonate with San Diegans. And I think people who live in San Diego are used to reading about and hearing about and even experiencing struggles for freedom, especially with us being so close to the border. So I think that alone is connection enough for most people in the audience.
CAVANAUGH: “The Road to Mecca” is now playing at the San Diego Rep. Well, as I said, this is an eclectic Weekend Preview.
FOKOS: Jumping all around.
CAVANAUGH: Jumping all around. Paint Your Sneakers. If your plain canvas sneakers need some flair, there’s a shoe painting class happening this weekend. Barbarella, what can you tell us about that?
FOKOS: Oh, about the class, well, Lauren Becker Downey is teaching this class and she – It’s basically you bring your white sneakers—they have to be clean or else the paint’s going to stick to the dirt—and you can, what is the word for that, customize – customize your shoes, which is really popular now. Because of Etsy, everybody is doing craft and you’re customizing all of your belongings but it’s also – My nieces are really into brightly colored laces. It’s a way for kids and grownups to sort of put a little flair in their ensemble and really personalize something that they wear.
CAVANAUGH: Now what is Etsy?
FOKOS: Oh, Etsy. Etsy is a website kind of like – I think it’s sort of like eBay but it’s where people buy and sell crafts that they make, and it’s very popular. I’m sorry, should’ve explained that. But it’s hugely popular right now, not just in the hipster communities but all over the place. You know, they’re making their own bags and I have friends who make their living making crafts and necklaces and everything.
CAVANAUGH: You’re absolutely right, but I didn’t know about that website. And…
CAVANAUGH: …now the class takes place at the Bravo School of Art. What can you tell us about that Bravo School of Art?
FOKOS: Well, it’s…
CAVANAUGH: Where is it?
FOKOS: It’s located in NTC. And it was founded by the…
FOKOS: …teacher of this particular class. Yeah, love NTC promenade. But they do – there are many other teachers there. There’s one teaching for adults, which is pet collage, in which Lisa Bebi is going to teach students to reveal their pet’s true self image with copies of them. And there’s after school programs, too, something called Art Lab that’s coming up where it’s a series of four classes. So they’re for children and adults.
CAVANAUGH: Now is this sneaker painting class largely for children or can adults bring their white canvas shoes?
FOKOS: Adults are more than welcome. I think that they expected, you know, kind of kids. I would think ‘tweens would be into it, however, I went online to see a how-to just to see how it was done and it was a young male kind of east LA hip-hop style show with graffiti shirt and hat showing how to trick out his shoes. So I think anybody’s game.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. All right. Is – And how expensive is it?
FOKOS: This one, you know, for me, it’s pretty pricey but if you – It’s $48.00 to $58.00, depending when you buy your tickets. But if you consider the fact that they’re supplying all of the art materials from…
FOKOS: …from paint. The only thing they don’t supply for this class is the sneakers which could be under $20.00 at Target.
FOKOS: But for all of the other things, they provide all of the materials.
CAVANAUGH: Okay, Lauren Becker Downey hosts a class on sneaker painting tomorrow at Bravo School of Art. We move along to a classic, “The Birds” showing at Cinema Under the Stars. And, David, remind listeners what Cinema Under the Stars is.
CODDON: Cinema Under the Stars, which is pretty well established, movie buffs know it well, it’s connected to Tops Hair Salon in Mission Hills on Goldfinch Street. And it’s the backyard of Tops has been converted into a outdoor canvassed movie theater where you can sit at tables or simply at plastic chairs, it depends on when you get there. And you can sit outside and they do this year round because in San Diego we can do that. You sit outside under the stars literally…
CODDON: …and watch a classic film.
CAVANAUGH: And you’re a big fan, I know, of “The Birds.” What is it that you like about this Hitchcock film?
CODDON: I’m a huge fan of Hitchcock in general but I think “The Birds” is – doesn’t get enough credit for being as terrific a film as it is. One thing is the setting. It’s filmed up in Bodega Bay, California and it has this beautiful rocky California northern coast setting. It has very compelling actors, Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, this was her first film—it’s Melanie Griffith’s mother, of course—and a young Suzanne Pleshette. And then the fact that it’s scary as heck with the birds attacking, and what I really like about this film, Maureen…
CODDON: …this is why I bore people to death when I’m talking about “The Birds.” Hopefully, I’m not boring the audience. I love the Freudian elements of this film. Hitchcock, as you know, was a very sexually confused man and he was at his absolute Freudian best on this film. And when you watch “The Birds,” watch it for enjoyment but also look for these very Freudian elements that are part of the storytelling.
CAVANAUGH: I gotta see this movie again.
CODDON: Go see it in the…
FOKOS: I’ve been in the wrong place. What have I…?
CAVANAUGH: Now is food served at the Cinema Under the Stars? Or do you bring your own stuff to eat?
CODDON: No, you have to – if you’re hungry, you can buy it there. It’s very much like a movie theater…
CODDON: …where you can buy popcorn and candy, as you would at the movie theater and then you can buy, obviously, drinks, soda, water, soft drinks there as well. And, you know, well, it’s not cheap. It’s cheaper than going to your local mall to go to the movies.
CAVANAUGH: Now do you have to reserve seating?
CODDON: You can only reserve seating just shortly before the show. Most of the screenings are 8:00 p.m., including these. If you go after 6:00 p.m., to the theater venue, you can’t exactly – you can’t reserve a space. Also, if you’re a member, and that’s someone who subscribes to the year round season of this, then you’re allowed to reserve seats over the phone but that’s the only way you can do it over the phone.
CAVANAUGH: And how much does it cost for a one-off, like just going to see “The Birds?”
CAVANAUGH: Oh. Okay.
CAVANAUGH: And I noticed in looking at what’s coming up, they’re going to have another Hitchcock on Halloween weekend.
CODDON: Yes, but I didn’t know which one it was…
CODDON: …so you better tell me.
CODDON: Oh. Yeah, pretty well known film.
FOKOS: Talk about Freudian.
CAVANAUGH: Yeah, thank you, Barbarella.
CODDON: Yeah, Freudian, yeah. It’s funny you mentioned “Psycho” because that, of course, starred Janet Leigh and, as we know, Tony Curtis passed away today.
CAVANAUGH: Exactly. We just heard that on the news. Very sad news. Well, thank you for that. “The Birds” begins playing tonight at Cinema Under the Stars. And you have another movie, Barbarella, but this one is a discovery.
FOKOS: Yeah, this is a discovery. This movie is called “Within Our Gates,” and it was made by African-American filmmaker Micheaux, Oscar Micheaux. And the discovery actually happened – it was filmed in 1920, after the 1919 race riots. It was a really controversial film about a black schoolteacher from the deep south who goes north to raise money to prevent a school for impoverished black children from closing. And there’s so much more that happens in it but that’s the overall arch. There’s lots of racial discrimination but about the film itself, it was found in 1980 in Spain, a copy of it. And they did not have the original English. It was actually in Spanish, so they had to translate that back to English, so it’s not the original but they – the Library of Congress has renovated this film and it is that film, it’s the only one left, that is being shown at UCSD.
CAVANAUGH: That’s amazing, and you’re talking about the subtitles being retranslated because…
FOKOS: They were.
CAVANAUGH: …this is a silent film.
FOKOS: Yes, it’s a silent film and it was – so the Spanish one that was found, they believe that the Spanish language that’s actually on the slides or the titles, I guess they’re called, was very functional. It wasn’t as creative, there weren’t a lot of the idioms and things like that, so translated back into English, I think a lot of that was lost. And – But at least you’ll be able to get the gist of what’s going on.
CAVANAUGH: And in reading about this film, I learned that Oscar Micheaux may have produced “Within Our Gates” as a reaction to D.W. Griffith’s monumental movie, silent film, whose name I can’t remember…
CODDON: “Birth of a Nation.”
CAVANAUGH: Oh, thank you. “Birth of A Nation”…
FOKOS: Well, you both know more than I do about silent films. I need to take a class.
CAVANAUGH: Well, in response to that because the Griffith film lionized the Ku Klux Klan and all of that, and this was his direct response to that. Now, will there be live music accompanying this particular screening?
FOKOS: Yes, there is going to be live music from the UCSD. They actually have their band there that’s going to be – here, I’m sorry. Original score by Scott Paulson is going to be performed.
CAVANAUGH: That’s – This is probably going to be an amazing night. “Within Our Gates” will show at the Geisel Arts Library at UCSD on Friday afternoon.
FOKOS: It is, and they’re also going to be giving out stamps. Last year, in 2009, there was a stamp commemorating Micheaux that is based on an illustration of him, and everybody who goes is going to get one of these commemorative stamps and there will be materials of Micheaux’s on display as well.
CAVANAUGH: Thank you for that. Now Fountains of Wayne at the Casbah, playing Casbah tonight. David, tell us more about this band.
CODDON: Fountains of Wayne is from New Jersey, need I say more?
CODDON: Yes, I better say more otherwise we’re in trouble. Yes, Fountains of Wayne’s actually been around for a long time. Most people don’t realize that they were founded in 1995, so it’s 15 years this band has been together. It’s a power pop band in the tradition of what we would now consider Brit pop band, bands that in a way evoke the pop rock of the sixties from England.
CAVANAUGH: I see. And, as you say, mainstream success has kind of eluded these guys.
CODDON: It has. In fact, they were very much under the radar until 2003 when they recorded a song called “Stacy’s Mom.” And what made this such a sensation was the video that accompanied it which starred Rachel Hunter, the model who I think at the time may have still been married to Rod Stewart or recently after their divorce. And it’s a video that you can still see on YouTube—I looked at it yesterday—about a teenage boy who’s – goes to visit his teenage girlfriend and discovers that the girl’s mother is Rachel Hunter and she’s parading around and everything. And this brought some visibility to Fountains of Wayne that they had not had before.
CAVANAUGH: You like this band, though.
CODDON: I do. They’re very listenable. They – they’re low fi. I mean, you’re not going to see a lot of fancy musicianship but they have a very lyrical way about them and they’re definitely a style. You know, when you look at some of their videos, for example, which I encourage people to do, sometimes you’ll see them in the old Beatlesque suits, you know, not Nehru jackets, of course, but the, you know, tight little suits and the hair, and they’ve got flair and I think that that’s nice to see still in rock ‘n roll.
CAVANAUGH: Does that flair come across in live performance? Have you seen them live?
CODDON: Yes, I have seen them live. And, you know, it – they’re very different in concert. The music is the same but I think that sometimes when you see them in videos it’s very rehearsed, as it is with a lot of musicians, and to see them in concert, they really let loose a lot more. And the Casbah’s a great place to see that because, you know, the Casbah is basically a beer bar, a great one, but you’re right close to the musicians, you’re right in the thick of it and I can’t think of a better place in town to see Fountains of Wayne.
CAVANAUGH: Fountains of Wayne plays the Casbah tonight. Okay, remember that ridiculous that I was talking about?
FOKOS: Yeah, you gotta say it, though.
CAVANAUGH: I have to say it. Okay.
FOKOS: We made a bet how many times you’re going to say it.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. Here we go. Howl-O-Ween on the Wooftop.
CAVANAUGH: Howl-O-Ween on the Wooftop. Now…
CODDON: You sound like Barbara Walters.
CAVANAUGH: I do. Now, if you love to dress up your dog—and who doesn’t?—Barbarella has this event for you. Tell us about Howl-O-Ween on the Wooftop.
FOKOS: I wish I had a dog. I like to dress up other people’s dogs because I don’t have one. Well, it’s taking place at the Porto Vista Hotel and it’s on the wooftop, which is a floor up from the Glass Door. And it’s during happy hour, so you can bring your dog there in costume. There will be vendors, and dogs can win prizes for their costumes, and get a drink while you’re at it and socialize with other dog owners and see a bunch of dogs who look really funny. You notice I said ‘who’ and not ‘that.’
CAVANAUGH: I understand and thank you very much for that. Now is there any fun for the dog in all this?
FOKOS: You know, this is a really funny question. Well, I – We would like to imagine our dogs are having fun while we’re torturing them but, no, there will be treats for the dogs, and there’s actually going to be a photographer there to take pictures. That’s really for the owner, but dogs love to see other dogs, so they can get out, sniff around, have treats.
CAVANAUGH: That is true.
FOKOS: And they love to socialize.
FOKOS: And there will be a relief area for the pups on top so they don’t have to be walked down. So…
CAVANAUGH: Forward thinking.
FOKOS: Yeah, so it’s exciting and that’s the reason why the leashes – dogs were having so much fun at a past event that they required leashes…
FOKOS: …so that they can keep them just from, you know, going too crazy.
CAVANAUGH: Now, you know, I was looking at this and there is a Halloween Sexiest Dog costume.
CAVANAUGH: And that’s wrong on so many levels.
FOKOS: Yeah, I know. And there I agree with you, and I’m wrong on so many levels. The fact that I agree with you shows just how wrong that is.
CAVANAUGH: Now I know that the Porto Vista Hotel hosts a lot of other events for dogs and their owners. Are – I was just thinking aren’t they pushing Halloween just a little fast? I mean, you know, it takes place Friday night, the first of October. Or am I just slow in all this?
FOKOS: No, I think it’s because that’s when their October one is happening.
CAVANAUGH: I see.
FOKOS: They do these once a month, I believe. But – Or maybe they’re just trying to get the jump up, be the first one to see those costumes.
CAVANAUGH: Yes, yes. Okay, here it comes. Howl-O-Ween on the Wooftop takes place Friday night at the Porto Vista Hotel. I want to thank my guests Barbarella Fokos and David Coddon. Thank you so much for telling us about, as I said, the sublime and the ridiculous.
FOKOS: Oh, thank you.
CODDON: We’re happy to do it.
FOKOS: I’m a champion of the ridiculous.
CODDON: I can vouch for that.
FOKOS: Thank you.
CAVANAUGH: These Days is produced by Hank Crook, Angela Carone, Megan Burke, Pat Finn, and senior producer Natalie Walsh. Production Manager is Kurt Kohnen. Our production assistant is Hilary Andrews. Our intern is Jocelyn Maggard. I’m Maureen Cavanaugh. I want to thank you for listening. I hope you enjoy the rest of the week. And you have been listening to These Days on KPBS.