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Summer Splash | SANDY BANKS

The Deal of the Season

Summer 2000 is too darned hot: hot with things to do all over Southern California. Here and on pages 4 and 5, Times columnists help pare down the choices.

May 25, 2000|SANDY BANKS | Sandy Banks is a columnist for Southern California Living

The countdown to the season of freedom has begun in our house. But this year, it's not how long until the official start of summer, or how many more days until school ends.

The red-letter day on my daughters' calendar--the day that will probably stand as the high point of an entire summer's worth of fun--is June 9 . . . the day 'N Sync comes to town.

We passed on the group's local tour last year. Second grade seemed a little early to carry a child to a rock concert . . . no matter how in love with Lance that second-grader was. (For the uninitiated, Lance Bass is one-fifth of the best-selling boy band . . . and, hands-down, the cutest, my daughters say.)

But that second-grader is in third grade now and still desperately, dreamily, in love with Lance. "Please, Mommy, please . . ." she begged this time around. "I'll do anything if we can see 'N Sync in person."

So we made the deal that will land us--me and my three star-struck daughters, ages 9, 11 and 15--among the hordes of fans at the Rose Bowl next month:

I spend $200 (which gets me four tickets in Row XXX, near the rear of the giant stadium), put up with a night of teeny-bopper bedlam and make my three girls excruciatingly happy . . . and I get a free pass for the rest of the summer to follow my grown-up heart's desires.

That means you won't find us in the audience this year for "Sleeping Beauty," playing at the Glendale Centre Theatre, beginning July 8. Ditto "Cinderella" (June 30 to Aug. 27) at the Santa Monica Playhouse. There will be no "Blue's Clues Live Tour" (San Diego Civic Center, June 7-11; Orange County Performing Arts Center, June 21-25) or "Harry Potter Day" (Storyopolis, Aug. 26) on my family's summer slate.

Frankly, I think I got off easy. Maybe it's because I've stared into their eyes for so long (the dozen posters on my daughters' walls) and listened to their music so much (only every time we're in the car) that I've fallen under their spell. But I've grown rather fond of Justin, Joey, Chris, J.C. and Lance. They're cute, their voices are pleasant, and they don't hold their crotches onstage when they sing.

It could have been worse. My girls could have asked to see Ricky Martin (July 20 at Arrowhead Pond) or Britney Spears (July 29 at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre and Aug. 5 at Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion). Even the lure of a summer of freedom could not have drawn me to those concerts.

To my children, summer is less a season than a state of mind, remarkable not for what we do, but for what we no longer have to do.

It's goodbye to school-year drudgery: No more homework orcarpools, paper-bag lunches or ugly uniforms. In their place are late nights in the pool and long mornings in bed, afternoon cartoons and evening bike rides.

Still, in the name of cultural enlightenment, I approach each summer with the best of intentions . . . with plans to make plans, a mental "to-do" list of events that might meet our educational needs.

Perhaps we'll join the Juneteenth celebration at the Autry Museum on June 17; visit the "Life in a Gold Rush Camp" exhibit at the Huntington Library on July 15-16; take in the "African Funk Sensations With Dancers" at the Hollywood Bowl's World Festival 2000 on Aug. 6.

Or perhaps not.

After nine months of schedules and deadlines and early wake-up calls, there is something seductive for us all about the prospect of a long string of unstructured, unencumbered days. And we are lucky that the beauty of this region lies in its rich summer repertoire, which rewards even the most spontaneous--or unorganized--among us with a dizzying array of choices.

Almost every weekend, there's a free concert at some Southern California park, from San Dimas to Woodland Hills, Culver City to East Los Angeles, Pasadena to Pacoima.

And never mind those folks who say Los Angeles has no sense of community. Virtually every pocket of the city sponsors some sort of neighborhood fair, complete with rickety carnival rides, smelly petting zoos and vendors peddling homemade kitsch.

If you're in the mood for culture or art, you can choose from the highbrow to the hi-larious . . . from the Bolshoi Ballet (June 21-25 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion) to the World's Largest Chalk Festival (Pasadena, July 8 and 9), where artists create "sidewalk masterpieces."

For the culinarily inspired, our town goes beyond those pedestrian "Taste of Whatever" food fetes and honors individual vegetables with their own fairs.

There is, for example, the June 4 Festival de Maiz, "celebrating corn through art exhibits, food and entertainment" at Arroyo Seco Park in L.A. Or Chilivisions XIV, a combination film festival-chili cook-off, featuring competition among "a select group of Asian American chili chefs" Aug. 19 in Little Tokyo.

I plan to skip those, but I might haul my kids to the L.A. Tofu Festival (Aug. 12 and 13 in Little Tokyo), to acquaint them with the joys of soybean curd.

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