Summertime, and the living is easy.
After the heightened excitement of the Bicentennial a year ago. Americans are once again enjoying the familiar insouciant pleasures of the season. This week in a colorful 19-page special section, we indulge in a look at this summer's simple delectations: the thrills of amusement parks and roller coasters, the escape to national parks and summer camps, the haute couture of swimsuits, the sound of bluegrass music, the pleasures of summer reading and the gustatory delights of junk food and beer.
To seek out the fun seekers, our 50 writers, correspondents and photographers joined them, traveling across the country, stopping at Tex-Mex food stands, riding hot-air balloons and Giant Dippers and taking on the great outdoors. A roller-coaster aficionado since she rode and rerode one at a county fair in her native Georgia, Staff Writer B.J. Phillips last week crisscrossed the country from New York to California, visiting six amusement parks in search of the ultimate ride. Her technique was simple: sit twice in the front car for the view, twice in the rear car for the speed and once in the middle car for the simple joy of the ride. Says Phillips: "I love it. There is a wonderful Middle American hedonism at those parks people going some place to indulge in selfconscious, safe, clean-cut fun. I say, Why not?"
Two of our writers stayed home last weekend to eat and drink. Senior Writer Stefan Kanfer, who chronicled the aesthetics of beer, imbibes neither hard liquor nor water only beer. "If they did an analysis of my blood," he says, "they'd find 10% red corpuscles, 10% white corpuscles and 80% hops and malt." Of the 187 varieties of classic beer, Kanfer has sampled about 100. Says he: "That's not over a weekend or even a year, but over a lifetime of quaffsmanship." Associate Editor Paul Gray, who wrote the junk-food story, made forays last weekend to McDonald's and Burger King, but admits that he does not have a strong visceral attachment to them. Says Gray: "They're best when you're driving and you want to eat in a familiar place where you know you won't be poisoned. They're pit stops on the highway of life."
Senior Editor Ronald Kriss, who helped coordinate the section, was converted to summer fun. "I'm a skier, I've had poison ivy for seven consecutive summers, and I hate the heat, so I've al ways looked on summer as a nuisance," he says. "But after reading about the joys of summer as detailed by our correspondents, writers and photographers, maybe I'll give it a try this year."