Driving down to the Seaworld, I stopped just south of the weird double-breasted San Onofre nuke plant to take in an ocean view. As I pulled into the rest area, I saw what looked like the Partridge Family’s multi-colored bus dominating the tiny beachside lot. Unlike the Partridge’s squeaky clean pattern, each of this bus’s colored squares contained a crazy religious messages:
WHO HAS NOT MOLESTED THEIR SELF PRIVATELY? DON’T LIE TOO.
RICH PEOPLE HIDE THEIR SINS JUST LIKE HOBOS
The prophet/ driver soon appeared at the driver’s side window, shirtless under his overalls and sporting a long, slightly stained white beard. He thrust a Ritz cracker box toward me.
“Donations fer picture-takin!”
I threw a dollar in. “Thanks Precious!” he exclaimed, withdrawing into his mobile temple. I have to admit, it’s been a long time since anyone called me “precious” and perhaps the subsequent warmth I felt wasn’t simply the blinding California sun.
San Diego actually felt breezy and lovely after baking in L.A. for the last few weeks. Over 200 activists lined the streets leading to the infamous “marine park” bearing signs that mixed Anti-SeaWorld messages (LIFE IN A CONCRETE BOX IS NO LIFE AT ALL) with pleas to Stop the Taiji Dolphin Slaughter (made infamous in the movie “The Cove”, which I still can’t bear to watch). One banner read NEW WHALE MOVIE “BLACKFISH” DESERVES A HONK! An activist named Debra told me her 21-year-old daughter traded her fashion designer ambitions for a career in marine biology after having a near emotional meltdown during two screenings of “Blackfish.”
“She’s so pissed.” Debra said.
Besides a small boy who brandished a plastic killer whale head on a stick and snapped its miniature jaws at me when I came too close, most of the passing motorists offered supportive honks and smiles. Many people in the far right traffic lanes who were clearly going to Seaworld, rolled down their windows to take some literature.
We stood for about three hours holding signs and banners, passing out flyers. Towards the end of the demonstration, a woman crooned a weird song about being the voice of the voiceless, rhyming the words “Amusement” and “Confusement.” I got the gist that whales and dolphins being confined for our amusement, but confess my utter “confusement” about the rest. Granted, it’s hard to sing through a bullhorn. Maybe the lyrics got muddled.
When hostile drivers (leaving the park) honked, scowled and gave me a thumbs-down sign, I returned the gesture with a blissful smile and a thumbs-up. This pissed them off even more. Very gratifying. Maybe I should have yelled “Thank you Precious!”
The police surveyed things from the traffic island and some alleged Seaworld moles patrolled the crowd, a serious man with a thick neck and a girl in long denim 1982-style shorts and a heart-patterned shirt. Still, things remained peaceful, even slightly triumphant. I felt a sense of growing public awareness, I felt the momentum of “Blackfish,” of “The Cove.” But obviously there’s still a long way to go.
One deeply tanned woman with a PETA shirt told me she’d had a rough time yesterday at the L.A. Bacon Festival.
“We encountered a lot of hostility,” she said, her gold VEGAN necklace flashing in the sun. “And I still smell like bacon.”