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BEST BET

May 16, 1993

N o witches was my first thought when I heard of the Kids' Nature Festival and Concert from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Temescal Canyon Park in Pacific Palisades.

Or big, bad wolves either was my second thought. Everything about the event sounds disgustingly wholesome. Vicki Neville will sing. Children from infancy to age 8 will be able to see animals, snakes and tide-pool creatures, dress up in animal costumes, get their faces painted, make craft items from recycled materials and try their hands at gardening.

Admission is $6.50 for adults and $4.50 for children in advance, $8.50 and $5.50 at the door. Proceeds go to Nursery Nature Walks for disadvantaged and inner-city children. Information: (310) 998-1151.

My third thought was: If I don't do something fast, all us things that go bump in the night will be down to one working day a year: Halloween.

So I called my lobbyist in Sacramento.

"Get off your duff," I said, "and do something for the FCC for a change." That's our trade group, the Federated Covens of California. "Can't you get a law passed that requires our presence at all children's outdoor activities?"

"Might be tough if the events aren't in state parks," the lobbyist said. They call me the Queen of Darkness, but when it comes to negativity, I'm not even in the same league with this guy. "And I might as well level with you. Pete Wilson and Willie Brown have other things on their minds these days."

"Don't they care about traditional values?" I asked. "If kids lose all sense of the outdoors as wild and menacing, won't their psychic development be stunted? If they lose touch with the collective unconscious--with the mythology of wolves chasing sleighs and old crones baking gingerbread--won't it be just as much a cultural deprivation as closing libraries?"

"You're out of date," the lobbyist said. "It's the indoors that's wild now. Freddy Krueger. The Terminator. Video games. Computerized virtual reality. What's a few fairy tales next to that?"

I seethed.

"Besides," he said, "we're up against multiculturalism here. The mythology you speak of was born in the cold, dark forests of Northern Europe. How much relevance does this have in today's California--to people whose traditions stem from the Sonoran desert, jungles, rice paddies? Can we spend taxpayers' money enforcing a minority view?"

I thought of telling him how Joseph Campbell and other scholars have found variations of the same myths in cultures worldwide. But then I thought: Enough of this jawboning.

"Pots of gold," I said. "The usual procedure. I'll leave pots of gold in all the legislators' wastebaskets on the stroke of midnight before the vote."

"I dunno," the lobbyist said. "As long as that federal corruption probe drags on, they're going to be leery of doing anybody any favors."

"Fie!" I spat into the phone. "Tell them if they don't, I'll turn them all into frogs."

I had a sudden vision of our senators and assemblypeople croaking and hopping over the desks in their splendid chambers in the Capitol, and I let out my first real cackle in a week.

But the lobbyist was unimpressed.

"Yeah, you could do that," he said. "But who would tell the difference?"

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