Remixing and the Cardiff Kook

Tomorrow my class is traveling up the hill (a mile or so) to the other school in our district to write with the older students in the other multiage class (many of whom were in our class a year or two ago).  We’re doing this to celebrate writing and the National Day on Writing and this year’s theme: write2connect.

In the spirit of connection and Jim Gray (the founder of the National Writing Project) and even the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), we will “try on” writing about the same topic in three different ways.  While the CCSS text types (narrative, informational, opinion/argument) will constitute our broad categories, students will be able to fuse and mold the writing to fit their own interests and purposes.

So…to get students started thinking about opinion/argument, this post will be my attempt to create an opinion piece focused on the Cardiff Kook.  The Cardiff Kook, a piece of public sculpture officially named “Magic Carpet Ride,” has been the center of mischief and controversy in the small coastal town where I teach.


So here I go:

Love it or hate it, the Cardiff Kook has become an iconic image in the seaside town of Cardiff-by-the-Sea.  Guerrilla artists creep up to the statue originally named “Magic Carpet Ride” in the dark of night to creatively adorn the controversial surfer in any number of theatrical props.  It has been transformed into Oprah in celebration of the last Oprah show, engulfed in the jaws of a great white shark, and carried off by a prehistoric flying creature.  I love the Cardiff Kook. It’s a great ambassador for Cardiff, bringing in tourists from all over and creating opportunities for community building within the town.


It’s fun to see the kook all dressed up.  There is never a time when I drive by the statue at the intersection of 101 and Chesterfield Drive when I don’t slow down to take a look to see if there is a new creation.  For a while, a couple of years ago, the kook was transformed regularly and extravagantly. Lately that has slowed down and most days it looks like it did today when I took the photo in this post.  I love to take out-of-town guests and family members by to take a look at the statue…always hoping that it might be dressed up in some interesting way.

I recently read that images of the kook are now copyrighted and will be licensed to fund the upkeep of a public garden across the train tracks from the statue.  I’m guessing that was the thinking behind the Cardiff Kook calendar and maybe even the annual Cardiff Kook Run. These kinds of products and events can bring a community together as we all connect through our experiences with the kook.

Mostly, though, I just think the kook is fun.  I think the point of public art is to create conversation.  Some people will like some pieces and some won’t. But the conversations and arguments and conflict make us all think and engage and pay attention.  Not liking the original surfer sculpture resulted in creative and playful ways to re-envision this piece of public art.  And most of the time it remains unadorned as the sculptor created it…but every once in a while others add their own spin to the art, remixing the original artist’s vision with their own to create something new, different, interesting…and create a new conversation.  And for me, that is much more valuable than looking at a static,  unchanging piece of art day after day, year after year.  The Cardiff Kook reminds us to be playful, to have fun…and to connect with each other.

What do you think?


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