The Road to Nowhere begins at Ford Park* in Fullerton, California. The inaugural foot parade started with a small but mighty, plucky group of 20 or so of Fullerton locals, artists, journalists and even a bonafide ancient parade historian. The rag tag group met organizer Tim Johnson (of Fullerton’s infamous Fourth of July bike parade fame–“Hi Kevin Malone!”) in the parking lot of Ford Park off Wilshire Avenue in Fullerton on the evening of the Summer Solstice, aka the longest day of the year, aka Fête du Musique, a.k.a. Day of Music Fullerton.
The Road to Nowhere revelers, celebrating the annual festival which takes over locations in the downtown district of Fullerton each June 21 in conjunction with cities around the world celebrating the international “Make Music Day”, gathered around the back of an SUV in the park’s parking lot as organizers handed out boomboxes to anyone interested in joining the parade. The portable radios were all tuned in and dialed to 88.9 FM, which would soon be broadcasting the gospel of David Byrne. From a small local transmitter, each radio in the narrow vicinity tuned in would spew out “Road to Nowhere” by Talking Heads. The radio dials were tuned in, turned on and we were ready to drop out.
Just before sundown on the longest day of the year, we embarked on our quest. The quiet sleepy neighborhood park came to life with the loud sounds of over a dozen radios blaring the 1985 tune. A church choir-like introduction of singer David Byrne and company kicked us off with the introduction:
“Well we know where we’re going
But we don’t know where we’ve been
And we know what we’re knowing
But we can’t say what we’ve seen
And we’re not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out.”
We were on the road to nowhere and we knew where we were going. We left the parking lot and took over Wilshire Avenue on foot, heading eastbound toward the music festival’s city center: the courtyard next to the Fullerton museum a few blocks away. Boomboxes held over our heads doing our best John Cusack in “Say Anything” impression, the small but mighty parade jumped and bobbed and overtook the street.
A Lyft SUV stopped in front of us just as we got started and who disembarked but Miss Fullerton herself: Corky Nepomuceno! The face of arts and culture in Fuller-town herself hopped out in an orange boa with an oversized pinwheel and was accompanied by local photographer Brian Feinzimer in a festive music note decorated poncho and local writer Charisma Mandarang–the trio exited their ride like a group of clowns exiting a VW Beetle and excitedly joined our circus.
We picked up speed and energy as we neared the anchor street of Harbor Boulevard; folks hanging out on their historic home porches and drinking beer on their apartment balconies overlooking Wilshire Avenue hooted and hollered and cheered us on, raising their beverages in our general direction.
We marched straight through the Harbor and Wilshire intersection when the stoplight allowed, past the church on the left and through a row of vendors peddling wares as part of the Day of Music festivities. Uncle Glenn Georgieff, (the Director of Day of Music Fullerton and the man who conceived the idea for the parade in the first place), ran up to us, sporting his sweet park ranger style hat, with pup dog on a leash in tow, and joined in on the parade as well.
Fullerton local Kari Thune ran up to us and hurriedly and enthusiastically ushered us through the large crowd amassed in the town square around the amphitheater where a live band, Skapeche Mode was playing. I began to worry the sound of our boomboxes would be drowned out by the loud PA system and that we’d be interrupting the band’s set.
But I soon learned, there’s nothing to worry about when you’re in a parade. As our parade snaked through the crowd we all filled in the area in front of the stage that has water “fountains” in the ground for folks to play in on sunny days. Just as I began to worry about the cacophonous clash of sounds, the seemingly separate sounds seamlessly merged into one: The band launched into their own cover of “Road to Nowhere”! The Boombox Parade and Skapeche Mode had merged into one to make sweet music and a live interactive experience for the audience. Isn’t that what making music is all about?
You can watch the full experience in the video below, as captured by the intrepid Jesse La Tour for the Fullerton Observer (used with permission). Take it away, Mr. La Tour!
(*The author had a parade high hangover and originally reported the Road to Nowhere begins at Hunt Park. It, in fact, begins at Ford Park. The Weekly regrets this error.)
When not running the OCWeekly.com and OC Weekly’s social media sites, Taylor “Hellcat” Hamby can be found partying like it’s 1899.