Art Can't Hurt You

There is a fair that happens in Hermosa beach every year over labor day weekend. It involves a lot of crowds and arts and crafts, kiddie rides like slides and things that spin, pink puffy cotton candy, giant sausages with grilled onions wrapped in aluminum foil. There is even a beer garden where you can see a Journey cover band that has their very own groupies- not Journey groupies, but Journey cover band groupies.

To make the weekend's festivities more exciting for me, I went down on the Thursday before to add a bit of my own happiness, my own FUNism to the masses. My mission was simple: on either side of the strand entrance, I would put a message of joy and happiness for the fair people to read, to give them a smile, to help them think happy thoughts.

I share my fluffy thoughts with crayola chalk, the stuff kids use to play hopscotch and draw daisy's and dinosaurs on their driveways. Harmless. Good clean fun. Yet somehow, every time I go out with my chalk, I get people telling me that what I am doing is wrong. They just mumble it as they walk by. No one ever tries to actually confront me or discuss my motives or rights to my face, they just mumble words like grafitti and vandalism as they pass me by. These same people would never consider asking a person to pick up garbage they saw some litterbug throw on the street or pick up a cigarette that was tossed out a car window. I wish these closet vigilantes would ask someone to scrape up gum they just spat out their mouth onto the street or sidewalk and leave me and my chalk alone.

Somehow, because I am on my knees and coloring with chalk, I look like the person they should stop, a criminal easy enough to apprehend. Until the police come and put the cuffs on my wrists all I have to say is "Hell no I won't go!" The world needs a few less Starbucks cups laying around next to the McDonald's burger wrappers and a few more chalk daisys and stick people. One more message from the grave of Dr. Seuss saying "Fun is Good" in crayola chalk isn't going to hurt anyone. Sometimes I just have the need to ask the world to smile with me, to say hello! Occasionally I go back later and observe, and most people do get a smile out of it. My soul begs me to share my art. My O.C. D. demands that I bring along handiwipes to keep the dust on my hands to a minimum.

But, this Thursday was different. This time a brave man came right up to me and started a dialog.

As I started to chalk on the strand wall, a restaurant owner came up and asked me what I was doing.
I explained I was playing with chalk.
"Why?" he asks.
"Because it makes me happy" was my reply as I smiled up at him. "Because it's FUN".
"Does it wash off?" he wants to know.
"Of course, it will fade within just a few days, its just sidewalk chalk, like children play with, haven’t you ever played with sidewalk chalk? I ask.
"NO" He says, almost offended that I would assume he could do such a thing.
"Well then, that's our problem!" I declare, as I offer him a piece of beautiful deep blue chalk. "Here-try it."
"NO!" he says loudly and recoils.
"Why?" I ask him.
"I am afraid" he replies.
"You are afraid of chalk?" I ask.
He starts to back away from me as he says in his best grown up voice; "Don't you need a permit to do this? This is city property!"
I smile at him sweetly and reply "I don't need a permit to play with chalk and if this is city property, then it belongs to me." I continued with my message of JOY and left him with his fear of it. He walked back into his restaurant and was left with this message when I walked away.

If you see someone without a smile
Give them one of yours.

More Funism here: The Fun Zone; The Center for the Study of Funism