Amazing art! Huge floating balls on McArthur Park lake in L.A.

Big balls floating on McArthur Park lake
It’s art! Hundreds of handpainted, inflated balls are now floating on the surface of McArthur Park lake in Los Angeles

I decided to take a break from writing my new novel (as yet unnamed) and catch the Metro to McArthur Park where new public art was being installed today. It is absolutely astonishing!  Huge inflatable balls have been handpainted, inflated, tethered together, and anchored on the 8.5 acre McArthur Park lake in Los Angeles.

canoes to carry the floating balls
Canoes are used to drag the floating balls out into the 8.5 acre lake

The organization sponsoring this is called Portraits of Hope.  According to their PR material, this installation is “a continuation of the program’s large scale national projects which have visually transformed and brightened public settings and symbols ranging from the NYC taxi fleet…to NASCAR”…to laudromats.  Remember those wildly painted lifeguard towers along the beach a couple of summers ago? These are the people responsible for them.

Okay.  Here is what I saw.  And you can see it, too; this installation will remain in place for a few weeks.

floating chain of inflated balls mcarthur park lake
A chain of floating balls tethered together in an art installation on McArthur Park lake.
how big are the floating balls
How big are those balls floating in the McArthur Park lake?
Assembling and inflating the balls for the floating art
The assembly area on a deck at the edge of the lake. Not much action at the time I took this. Everyone was going to lunch.
rocks to anchor the balls McArthur Park art installation
Rocks in net bags are used to anchor the floating balls on the lake. The balls are tethered together.
mural mcarthur park metro station
It was well over 90F when I decided to leave. On my way I snapped this shot of one of the many murals in the McArthur Park Metro station.

Wow! Dragon boat races and lion dancers at the Echo Park Lotus Festival

Dragon boats at 2015 Lotus Festival
The dragon boats approached the shore where two Buddhist monks were waiting to give their blessing. Nice to see that KhmerTV t-shirt indicating that the Cambodians were represented, too

I had read somewhere that the Lotus Festival at the Echo Park lake this year was supposed to celebrate Mongolian culture.  Well, it started off with a big bang of Chinese culture.  The dragon boats were in the lake preparing to be blessed by two Buddhist monks in brilliant orange robes.  I later learned that almost any group of eight people–4 women and 4 men–can form a team and enter the dragon boat races.  Some teams are corporate.  Some are representatives of non-profits.  All were having a very fun time.  Check with the Lotus Festival’s Facebook page if you are interested in paddling a Dragon boat next year.

The dragon boats, BTW, are simply two metal row boats that have been affixed to each other stern-to-stern.  The dragon head is attached to the prow of one boat; the dragon tail to the prow of the other boat, which is facing the opposite direction.  Oh, the boats have been painted to represent dragon ‘scales’.

Four young ladies who are candidates for Miss Young Philippines USA were in the audience watching the Lion Dancers.
Four young ladies who are candidates for Miss Young Philippines USA were in the audience watching the Lion Dancers.

The dragon boat races were continuing when I heard the familiar thrum of a drum and the clash of cymbals — the sound that announces that the Lion Dancers are starting to perform.  The crowd included 4 young ladies who are vying for the title of Miss Young Philippines USA title.

And yes.  The lotus were in bloom. So exquisitely beautiful they seem unreal.

The 2016 Lotus Festival is July 9 and 10.

Here are some photos of what I saw:

Dragon sculpture at Lotus Festival
The dragon sculpture representing the Lotus Festival this year. This event is put on by the L.A. City Parks and Recreation Department.
blessing dragon boats and paddlers
The two monks blessed the dragon boats and the paddlers with prayers and incense.
Oranges, choclates and incense for the dragon boats
After the blessing by the monks, they threw chocolates from the basket onto the boats as an additional blessing. The crowd joined in, casting as many chocolates into the water as onto the boats. The lady in the blue lifejacket is affixing incense on the dragon’s head. The oranges stayed in the basket.
start of first dragon boat race at Lotus Festival
They’re off…in the first dragon boat race of the day at the Lotus Festival.
And the drgon boat winner is
The black dragon boat won by almost a minute. They raced from one end of the lake to the other.
Lion dancers on stage at the Lotus Festival. A drum, cymbals made for lots of noise.
Lion dancers on stage at the Lotus Festival. The familiar noise of a drum and cymbals announced to the whole neighborhood that Lion Dancers had come to bring good luck to the event.
Lotus blooming at Echo Park
Lotus flowers in bloom. The story is that evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson planted the first lotus in Echo Park Lake almost a century ago. The church she founded, Angelus Temple, is across the street from the park.  The original plants died out a few years back–perhaps of old age–and have since been replanted by the city of Los Angeles.

The #Olympics may not like Roller Derby but Hershey’s Candies sure does

roller derby graphic art
Graphic art on the Derby Doll Factory wall

Yesterday the 2013 Roller Derby season at the Derby Doll Factory here in L.A. ended.  My granddaughter’s team played for the Junior championship, but ended up in second place.  Was that ever a shock!  They had come into the finals looking invincible.

In a previous post I wrote about the possibility of roller sports being included in the Olympics, but, alas, that is not going to happen.  The good news: while the Olympic Committee decided against including flat track roller derby, Hershey Candies–yes, those people who make that good chocolate stuff–have included video taken at the Derby Doll Factory in their newest TV commercial.  Look at it and you’ll see some young women in pink. They are Derby Doll players.   And what can be more wholesome and all-American than Hershey’s chocolate bars and roller derby!  (I bet more people eat Hershey bars than eat apple pie!)

The latest rumors I’ve heard are that the national roller derby association (whatever it’s official name is) is considering applying to the X Games for inclusion.  To be continued when there is more news.

Shameless self-promotion:  I am the author of New Vampire in Town, a short contemporary vampire tale, and the soon-to-be-published, New Vampire Online.

You can see images for these two vampire novels on Pinterest.

Roller Derby an Olympic Sport — maybe

Baby Dolls skating at the Doll Factory

The day the 2012 Olympics concluded my granddaughter and her two cousins announced that they were going to be in the 2020 Olympics — as roller derby Olympians.  After years of taking classes in swimming, gymnastics, and diving, then playing softball,  about a year ago the three of them went to see a friend who was in a roller derby game at the Doll Factory in Filipinotown here in Los Angeles.  It was love at first sight and within two weeks all three had become Baby Dolls, the junior version of the Derby Dolls.  (They had skated before at the Moonlight Rollaway in Glendale so they were not total skating novices.)  They joined the free classes offered on Saturday mornings sponsored by the Derby Dolls.  Girls as young a 7 are welcome.  BTW, it is not a cheap sport — the skates cost a fortune!

Quite honestly I was horrified when I heard about it.  I loved roller skating as a young girl, but had visions of that rough and ready, knock-’em-down professional roller derby televised back in the 1970s.  Roller derby is, in fact, a contact sport, but now it is more a game of strategy than brute strength.

Today roller sports are amateur — and very carefully surpervised.  Even at the Baby Doll games a doctor is in attendance and referees have eyes like hawks, watching for fouls.  There are both banked track and flat track versions of the game.  Flat track roller sport is what the Olympic Committee is considering.  The IOC will make a final decision on whether or include roller sports, such as roller derby and roller speed skating, in 2013.

For whatever it is worth, my granddaughter and her cousins go to the performing arts school ranked highest in the state of California.  I now think roller derby is a great counterpoint to their formal education.

The Doll Factory, the home of the L.A. Derby Dolls, is located at 1910 Temple Street, near Alvarado.  The Fall/Winter season has just started.  Go see it.  Tickets are at