First, let us consider the beauty that is a deep-fried Snickers:
What they do here is spear the candy bar with a stick, then dip it in a thick batter that resembles liquid UPS packaging. Then they plunge the whole mess into hot oil, producing a deep-fried chocolate candy so gooey and full of calories many coroners would list it as a form of suicide.
It is easily the icon of this L.A. County Fair, though the deep-fried Twinkie comes in an impressive second. Were I to pick a fantasy team of foods, they would be my quarterback and wide receiver. For running back, I'd pick the chocolate-covered bacon.
Obviously, this fair is about fine dining. And amusement rides of NASA proportions — huge contraptions that look like something out of those "Transformers" flicks.
Which reminds me of the greatest line I've read lately, by the New Yorker's Anthony Lane, who in discussing movies, says: "I have struggled, through 57 varieties of 'Transformers,' to feel the magic of Shia LaBeouf, who has the expression of a panicking puppy and a name like an Islamic steak house."
Love that, right? In one sentence, he mocks "Transformers" and a hyper-serious young actor.
Hollywood needs more of that.
Anyway, that's where the mind goes while you wait for the kids to get off the Gallbladder-Grinding Roller Coaster of Death, the kind of ride that rearranges your DNA, which apparently is a pleasurable sensation. Seconds after experiencing their first whopping case of whiplash, the little guy and his buddy beg to go on it again.
"Sure," I say, and $12 later, they are back aboard.
Obviously, no mothers were involved in the making of this column. Cruddy food. Frightful rides. Vomit. The L.A. County Fair is what Earth would look like if there were no women.
So don't say you weren't forewarned. The fair is also stunningly expensive — apparently for that rich 1%, even as it seems to attract the people who spend all the rent money on tattoos.
It's a little like being at a Dodgers game where you cough up $300 on seats and grub, and look around to wonder how these working stiffs with five kids manage to make it pencil out financially.
Guess that's the glory of the L.A. County Fair, in its 90th year and running through September. I will admit that admission is reasonable, starting at $7 for kids and $12 for adults during the week. But once you're in the door — gotcha! Did I just sit on gum, or is that my AmEx card melting into my skin?
Getting there is a joy too, for they hold it way out in Pomona. At one point, the massive blob of late Friday traffic revved to maybe 40, at which point someone panicked, braked out of mere habit and the whole thing came to a screechy halt.
It was one of those stops where you immediately check your mirror in hopes the guy behind you is sober or at least awake, only to see the pickup swerve to the shoulder, then 10 cars later swerve back into traffic as if nothing happened. That's life in the slow lane of an L.A. freeway on a Friday afternoon. No wonder I have the yips.
The little guy is excited about this fair visit, his first. I've promised to teach him all about the wonders of L.A.'s agrarian-based economy.
"Where do sweaters come from?" I ask as we enter the farm area.
"Macy's?" he answers.
"Good," I say, and take him to meet some Macy's sheep.
This county fair bills itself as the largest in the nation. It certainly is well run. Lines are short, concessions plentiful. It also features, I might add, some of the biggest backends this side of Branson, Mo.
I'm not being judgmental, I just point that out as a heads-up in case you were thinking you might actually be able to pass the slow folks in front of you. As with the freeway, there are two speeds: slow and yikes.
In the end — deep-fried and broke — I love a good fair. It feels like America amped up and ready to have a little populist fun as another summer winds down.
Another Snickers? Sure. Can you put some sprinkles on that?
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