To many, Los Angeles is viewed as a cultural wasteland, but you wouldn't know it by scanning the throngs of locals teaming into the 15th annual Festival of Books at UCLA campus!
Unlike most events, the folks in attendance here, hail from many walks of life with one common interest.
A good read!
Today, thousands poured over book bins in search of literary treasures, waited patiently in lines to meet celebrated authors under the intense mid-day sun, and elbowed their way through packed concourses to attend enlightening panel discussions on a wide range of topics.
This year, the Festival excitedly launched a YA stage!
When I sauntered by around two in the afternoon, popular writers from the Vampire Horror Genre, were settling into an entertaining discussion on the topic with fans sprawled out on the lawn across a wide expanse.
Under another tent, Los Angeles Times writers were about to enter into an insightful talk on their favorite authors.
The literature was far-reaching in scope - ranging from the highly radical (Revolution Newspaper) to the spiritually-driven (beautifully bound collections on Eastern Philosophy and religion).
In fact, a Buddhist organization was handing out free copies of the teachings of various Masters with titles like "The Awakening of Compassion & Wisdom" and "Everything we do Matters."
An Islamic group was offering up translated versions of the Al-Quran for free!
I snapped up the "Bible" of the Middle-Eastern world which focuses on the teachings of Mohammed.
Now, I'd be able to fathom the controversy over the "South Park" incident, I expect.
A Trader Joe's cookbook - signed - was flying out of the kitchen at $10.00 a pop (no tax).
Excited readers were scouring bargain-basement bins for books priced at 5 bucks or less.
If you're heading to the festival tomorrow, it may be wise to wear sensible walking shoes.
Once the guests have braved their way through endless concourses and tented booths on the lower level, the adventurous, will trek up one-hundred steps (on a steep incline) to the top level where a food court, specialty booths, and the Hero Complex alley await.
A floppy hat, to shield from the intense afternoon rays, may be a good idea too.
On the subject of food, take note that the wide selection of treats, are not cheap.
I did manage to purchase 2 sweet vegetarian rolls at Panda Express for $2.50.
Although the portions were small, the finger food was scrumptious.
That was a rarity.
For the most part entrees run at $7.00 - $10.00.
And, softdrinks, are commanding prices of $3.75 (and up).
What an outrage!
On the main concourse, perky teens are flogging lemonade at $5.00 a cup.
A tip for the budget-wise?
Just off the main thoroughfare, you'll be able to locate vending machines, where a can of pineapple juice may be purchased for seventy-five cents.
Cokes and Gatorade are priced at $1.00 to $2.00.
Just across the courtyard from the Research Library, there is a spacious picnic area with a multitude of tables and chairs, where you can take lunch.
In the vending machines, there are light snacks like burritos and mini-pizzas, and a microwave to heat 'em up in a matter of seconds.
Tomorrow, you may want to take in a live performance by the Los Angeles Opera near the front entrance of UCLA Campus on the popular "etc. stage".
Check the festival website for a detailed run-down of all the artists slated to perform on a handful of stage around the festive grounds.