Amoeblog

San Clemente -- The Spanish Village in OC

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 10, 2013 03:28pm | Post a Comment
INTRODUCTION

San Clemente postcard
Mid-20th century postcard from San Clemente

Until the visit that Una and I took to San Clemente this past weekend, I don’t think that I’d ever visited the place. I’m not entirely sure because nearly all of my trips south on the 5 have ended in Mexico and the stretch of freeway between South Orange County and San Diego County has blended together in my mind into white-walled, red-roofed blur. I may very well stopped in San Clemente to refill the gas tank on at least one occasion but, again, I have no recollection. Now, however, after having spent a weekend there and exploring mostly on foot (the best way to explore) I promise that I won’t confuse San Clemente for any other red-tile community.

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San Clemente is the southernmost city in South County. This is inarguable in a geographic sense and arguable in a symbolic sense as well. South Orange County is generally and night entirely inaccurately characterized as a predominantly white, politically conservative, and wealthy place.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South Orange County
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South Orange County

San Clemente is predominantly white -- 76% white (compared to 44% for the county as a whole) although to me it seemed even whiter. However, slow change is afoot and in the past thirty years, the Latino population has more than doubled whilst the Anglo population has shrunk by 14%. According to the 2010 census, the population of San Clemente is 17% Latino but that seemed to me much lower. My perception versus the facts might have to do with the fact that I stayed near North Beach and spent most of my time exploring Downtown and the area next to the ocean -- areas that are possibly much whiter than others. In two days I only heard Spanish being spoken on three occasions, including once in the kitchen of a Mexican restaurant. Asian-Americans make up just 4% of San Clemente's population, and blacks and Native Americans both make up less than 1% of the population. 

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What you neighbors know about the Dirty South? -- A South County primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 31, 2013 04:44pm | Post a Comment
YES, THE STEREOTYPES, THERE MUST BE MORE TO LIFE

Most of us know the stereotypes and are familiar with the frequent characterizations of Orange County. It’s supposedly culture-less and even somehow history-less. Anyone who’s spent any time in Los Angeles has no doubt heard the same hollow, bafflingly ignorant observations made of about that richly cultured city yet sadly, many Angelenos (who ought to no better) still nevertheless cling to the dated, and increasingly disconnected stereotypes about their neighbors to the south.


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South Orange County
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South Orange County

Of course anyone who’s spent any time in Orange County knows that the popular images of that County have as little in common with reality as the prevailing stereotypes of Los Angeles do. I'll acknowledge that there’s a degree of truth to some of them but as Orange County grows more urban, more diverse, more liberal, and more interesting, spreading them reveals more about the vastness of the spreader's ignorance than their insight or knowledge about the subject.


As of 2012 roughly 31% of Orange Countians were registered Democrats whereas 42% were registered Republicans so neither corporate political party can claim the majority (for now although the percentage of the former grows whilst the latter declines). Of all Orange Countians, 45% speak a language other than English at home. With a population that is 44% white*, 34% Latino**, 18% Asian, 2% black, and 1% Native American, there is no racial or ethnic majority. Forbes magazine recently placed Orange County above Los Angeles County in its list of the most diverse communities. Orange also has the third largest county population in California, just behind that of San Diego. But Orange’s population density is contained much higher. 1,472.3/km2 versus San Diego’s is 260/km2,making it more than five times as dense as the second biggest county in the state and therefore hardly a big, sleepy suburb.

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Laguna Beach -- a weary rover's dream

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 15, 2013 02:45pm | Post a Comment
Laguna Beach Postcard

INTRODUCTION 

Laguna Beach panorama

Laguna Beach is an quirky, affluent community in South Orange County. The city is the third oldest in Orange County, after San Juan Capistrano and Anaheim. It is widely known for its vibrant arts scene and environmental treasures.

It's long seemed to me that dated and inaccurate stereotypes of Los Angeles often get transferred by Angelenos who should know better to Orange County, particularly South County. Perhaps as a whole they apply more accurately to the overall suburban, right wing-leaning and WASPy southern end of the county but Laguna Beach is a lesson in why we should only make broad generalizations with caution (or not at all). In Laguna Beach there are more registered Democrats there than Republicans. By the largest majority in the county, Laguna Beach residents voted for marriage equality. There seems to be a consensus that Laguna Beach, especially South Laguna Beach, is Orange County's gay mecca. Its hilly neighborhoods look almost nothing like those in, say, Irvine. And even though I think that there's a lot more culture in Orange County than haters give it credit for, even the most stubborn denier would have to except Laguna Beach.

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Irvine - Orange County's City of Innovation

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 13, 2013 12:13pm | Post a Comment
INTRODUCTION

Irvine Skyline
Irvine skyline

For a while now Irvine has shared the top spot on my poll (see the end of the post to vote) but I’ve put it off because of the time required to explore such a sprawling, distant city. There was also a time when most of my blog’s non-LA fans were Irvine residents, which intrigued me. All of my business conducted there in the past involved getting lost several times and this time would prove to be no different.


Dead ends in Irvine
Irvine - the Dead End Capital of Orange County

Irvine is a large (170 km2 – the largest city in the county, area-wise), planned, suburban city near the center of Orange County but generally considered to be part of the South County region. In 2008, CNNMoney.com named Irvine the fourth best place to live in the country. It has topped the FBI’s list of safest American cities with populations of over 65,000 for the last eight years.

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