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Happy quasquicentennial, Orange County!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 11, 2014 03:00pm | Post a Comment
On this day in 1889, Orange County, California was born, making it 125 years young today. 


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Orange County

In early 1889, Pemberton Medicine Company (later Coca-Cola) incorporated in Atlanta, Colombia Phonograph (later Columbia Records) launched, Japan adopted the Meiji Constitution and the Eiffel Tower opened in Paris. Meanwhile in Southern California, the communities on Coyote Creek's left bank seceded those on the right bank and incorporated as the County of Orange. More precisely, on 11 March a bill was signed into law which allowed for voters to vote whether or not to approve the motion to incorporate -- which they did (2,509 to 500) on 4 June, 1889. But today's date is the one that is observed by most of Orange County's friends and family as its birthday.

It wasn't the first time county borders within California had changed. In the first half century after the US invaded and conquered Alta California from Mexico, the county borders have changed several times; San Bernardino County split from Los Angeles County in 1853, parts of Los Angeles County became Kern County in 1866, and in 1893 Riverside County was formed out of what had been parts of San Bernardino and San Diego counties. Several attempts were made and failed to establish Orange County in the 1870s and '80s.




Today Orange County includes the incorporated communities of Aliso Viejo, Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Dana Point, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, La Palma, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster, and Yorba Linda


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of North Orange County

Orange County's unincorporated communities include Coto de Caza, Cowan Heights, Emerald Bay, Ladera Ranch, Las Flores, Lemon Heights, Midway City, Modjeska Canyon, North Tustin, Orange Park Acres, Rancho Mission Viejo, Red Hill, Rossmoor, Silverado, and Trabuco Canyon.


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South County

Unlike Los Angeles County, which is usually viewed as comprising about twenty regions (unless you're one of those unfortunate bipolar "Eastside vs Westside" types), Orange County is usually just divided into two -- North County and South County -- and the dividing line between the two is considered by most to be California State Route 55.


DIVERSE ORANGE COUNTY 

Most peoples' ideas about Orange County probably owe more to television series like The OC (primarily filmed in Los Angeles's South Bay) and quasi-scripted "reality" series like Real Housewives of Orange County and Laguna Beach... or perhaps to films like Gleaming the Cube, Suburbia, Brick than they do to firsthand experience. Of course any sensible person knows better than to trust Hollywood when it comes to depicting the reality of Southern California so set aside our preconceptions and consider some facts. 

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Forbes
recently named Orange County one of the country's most diverse places (placing it above even Los Angeles County). There is no ethnic or racial majority in Orange County (or Los Angeles County, for that matter).  Roughly 44% of Orange Countians are non-Latino white, 34% are Latino of any race, 18% are Asian, 2% are black, and 1% are Native American. It's home to the largest Vietnamese-American community in the world and three widely recognized ethnic enclaves: Little SeoulLittle Arabia, and Little Saigon Additionally there are large populations of Armenian, Chinese, English, Filipino, German, Irish, Jewish, Lebanese, Mexican, Persian, Salvadoran, Scottish, and Taiwanese-Americans. 30% of Orange County's residents were born in another country and 45% speak a language other than English at home. Roughly 31% of Orange County voters are registered as Democrats (the same as the national average) and 42% are registered Republicans -- meaning of course that there's no political majority. 

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LITTLE SEOUL


Garden Grove's Little Seoul is indeed quite little although it's nonetheless the second largest Korean-American community on the West Coast, after Koreatown in Los Angeles. Although it emerged in the 1980s, at just three kilometers long, Little Seoul is still more of a Korean commercial corridor than residential enclave -- Buena Park, Fullerton, and Irvine are all home to much more of North County's Korean-American population, the county's second largest Asian-American population after Vietnamese-Americans. Little Seoul is home to offices of Korea Times; various Korean-American community services; an annual Korean Festival; and many Korean markets, BBQ, cafés, lounges, noodle houses, churches, plazas, and seafood restaurants.


LITTLE ARABIA 

Little Arabia, in Anaheim, is by some estimates the second largest Arab enclave in the country after the one in Dearborn, Michigan. It's also sometimes referred to as Little Gaza on account of the fact that many of its Arabs have roots in Palestine (as well as Palestine's neighbors Egypt and Syria) and that the neighborhood's original designation is Garza Island. There are numerous bakeries, beauty salons, halal butchers, hookah cafés, markets, restaurants and jewelry stores in the neighborhood today that reflect the Arabic community's presence, which began to flourish in the 1990s


LITTLE SAIGON


Orange County's Little Saigon is the largest Vietnamese-American enclave in the country. The neighborhood is also colloquially known as Bolsa, after the main thoroughfare (Bolsa Avenue) of the neighborhood's original borders, which contained a small overlapping area of Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and Westminster. Much as with Koreatown in Los Angeles, the Vietnamese-American population and character has since massively expanded since the original borders were officially designated in 1988 and now parts of Huntington Beach, Midway City, and Stanton also have a strong Vietnamese character. As of the 2010 census, Westminster's population was nearly 48% Asian-American (mostly Vietnamese) and Garden Grove's Vietnamese-American population exceeded 54,000. This translates to vibrant annual Tết Nguyên Đán festivities; more than 500 Vietnamese restaurants (time to move beyond phở and bánh mì); Euro-disco/Vietnamese New Wave; "ethnic" malls; lingerie cafés; and Vietnamese-language television stations, radio stations, and newspapers.


Of course "diversity" extends beyond humanity and Orange County is not just culturally diverse but extremely biodiverse, geographically diverse, and diverse in other ways too. Exploring its corners I've found faux-Spanish seaside villages (San Clemente), faux-Bavarian villages (Old World Village), faux-Utopian futurist villages (Irvine), Eichler tractsItalo-disco performers, great vegetarian Vietnamese food (Bo De Tinh Tam Chay and Au Lac), Isamu Noguchi's California Scenario, Pao Fa Temple, the Crystal CathedralDisneylandKnott's Berry Farmthe largest freestanding wooden structures on the planet (Tustin's WWII-era blimp hangars), Asian Garden Mall (Phước Lộc Thọ), Mission San Juan Capistrano, forests, city centers, parks, mysterious business parks, beaches, red-tile tract house tracts, chaparral-covered mountains, master-planned madness, and biker bars. 




URBAN ORANGE


Costa Mesa skyline

As with Los Angeles, Orange County is usually mischaracterized as a vast, sprawling, and completely flat collection of suburbs. However, thanks to nature (which such mischaracterizations conveniently ignore), Orange County actually rises rather dramatically from sea level at the coast to 1,337 meters high at Santiago Peak -- which positively dwarves cities more often characterized as vertical such as Hong Kong, New York, and Shanghai.


Newport Beach with the Santa Ana Mountains behind

Orange County's skyscrapers may provide no competition for height with the Santa Ana Mountains but there are more than of the towering structures in the region than the dated stereotypes suggest. Currently there are at least 27 skyscrapers rising above a height of thirty meters located in Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Garden GroveHuntington Beach, IrvineNewport Beach, Orange, and Santa Ana. What's perhaps more surprising is that according to the most recent census, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area is the most densely populated region in the country. Orange County is also the sixth most populous county in the country (after Los Angeles, Cook County (Illinois), Harris County (Texas), Maricopa County (Arizona), and San Diego County).


ORANGE COUNTY ARTS


Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Orange County has a thriving and diverse art scene reflected in the presence of its many museums, art festivals, art centers, and art galleries. In addition there are numerous theaters, cultural festivals, culinary festivals, opera, and Segerstrom Center for the Arts. I'm sure that there are a lot more but off the top of my head I can think of several talented Orange County born-and-bred musical acts such as Social Distortion, Emily's Sassy Lime, Agent Orange, The K-nobsThe VandalsThe Adolescents, Jeff Buckley, Giant Drag.

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EXPLORING ORANGE COUNTY 


Orange County is home to one of the Southland's three international airports; John Wayne Airport (the other two are LA/Ontario International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport) which makes getting to it convenient. 



Once on the ground, exploring Orange County is becoming increasingly easy due to an expanding network of public transit options. The workhorse of the region is the Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA), which has existed since 1975 and currently operates 78 lines. Smaller local bus and shuttle companies include Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART), Irvine's iShuttle, and Laguna Beach Transit's trolley buses. 


Metrolink train to the sea -- source: AmtrakCal462

Orange County is additionally served by several commuter rail lines including Metrolink's 91, Orange County, and Inland Emp-Orange Co lines as well as Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner (which connects San Luis Obispo and San Diego). In the future (hopefully), Metro's 30 kilometer, planned West Santa Ana Transit Corridor will connect Santa Ana to Norwalk in Southeast Los Angeles County via light rail.


Ferries serving Orange County (from Santa Catalina Island) include Catalina Flyer, which connects with Newport Beach, and Catalina Express, which connects with Dana Point. There are also about 1,600 kilometers of bikeways in Orange County. Most of Orange County is also easily walkable although there sadly hasn't always been a lot of apparent thought given to pedestrians and frequently long stretches of unshaded sidewalk pass by commercial spaces constructed without walkers in mind. Hopefully that too will change as more and more people turn away from car-dependency for every single errand, which will make Orange County an even more vibrant place. 


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BLOGGING ORANGE COUNTY

In 2010 I expanded my blogs about local neighborhoods and cities to Orange County and ever since they've fairly dominated the poll. As I write this, Los Angeles's Glassell Park is in first place followed by the Orange County city of Anaheim in second and Yorba Linda in third. In Orange County I've so far explored and written about Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Orange, San Clemente, Santa Ana, and Tustin. To vote for more Orange County communities for me to explore and write about, click here


California Fool's Gold -- A North Orange County Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 5, 2012 07:00pm | Post a Comment
SHE HAD ORANGE RIBBONS IN HER HAIR -- NORTH ORANGE COUNTY



It comes as something of a dismaying surprise to me how casually many seemingly intelligent Angelenos freely dismiss Orange County. Iv'e grown used to (if still somewhat surprised by) the out-dated chauvinistic attitude of New Yorkers and San Franciscans. But while those widely and rightly shrugged off by knowing Angelenos, many of those same sorts of hollow, outdated mis-characterizations tend to be freely expressed about regions like LA’s Westside and Orange County without apparent irony. This blog entry, then, will focus on the communities of North Orange County with the hopeful aim of introducing readers to some of what makes it a region worthy of reexamination and exploration.



Jim Morrison - "Orange County Suite"



DIVERSITY IN ORANGE COUNTY


Orange County Panorama - source: Yashar Sahaleh


Although often stereotyped as a uniformly white suburb, Orange County – especially North Orange County – is in fact highly diverse. There are large numbers of Armenian, Chinese, English, Egyptian, FilipinoGerman, Irish, Jewish, Korean, Lebanese, Mexican, Palestinian, Persian, Salvadoran, Scottish, Syrian, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese-Americans, to name a few. Orange County is home to the largest community of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam. North Orange County is home to several ethnic enclaves, including Little Arabia, Little Saigon, and Little Seoul. In fact, 45% of Orange Countians 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. In fact, last month Forbes magazine published “America's Most Diverse Neighborhoods And Metros” placed Orange County in their 7th spot – above Los Angeles County.


NORTH AND SOUTH ORANGE COUNTY


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of North Orange County


Whereas Los Angeles County is often separated into numerous smaller regions (the Eastside, Hollywood, the Harbor, Midtown, the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley, the South Bay, the Verdugos, &c), Orange County (being much smaller) most often tends to divide into just two – North Orange County and South Orange County. Some South Orange Countians portray North Orange County as a lawless border region where illegal immigrant members of Mexican drug cartels and Vietnamese home-invaders terrorize “real Americans” as society crumbles around them (and a bald eagle cries). Their Birth of a Nation-esque views are often voiced in the comment sections for the OC Weekly and OC Register and are virtually indistinguishable from those of your garden variety internet trolls.


Costa Mesa skyline at dusk


There are real distinctions between North and South Orange County. The north is more crowded, urban and developed. It bustles where the south seems to relax. It’s the area that I’m much more familiar with  both because most of what brings me to Orange County (friends, food, entertainment, &c) is located in the north… and readers of this blog have consistently voted more heavily for North Orange County communities to be covered over those in South Orange County.

Of all communities in the Southland, right now Anaheim in North OC and Irvine in South OC are tied for first place (leading all LA County communities). To vote vote for Orange County neighborhoods and communities, vote here. To vote for other Los Angeles County communities to be covered on the blog, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, vote here


HISTORY OF NORTH ORANGE COUNTY

For thousands of years before the Spanish Conquest, what’s now North Orange County was home to the Acagchemem and Payomkowishum nations. It was also home to the Chumash and Tongva people – two seafaring people who, some evidence suggests, may’ve had dealings with Pacific Islanders All spoke languages in the Takic family and likely, therefore, migrated to the region from the Sonoran Desert.

All of California was claimed for Spain in 1769. In 1822, it became part of the newly-independent country of Mexico. Two years after the USA defeated Mexico in 1848, California became a state and what’s now Orange County was made part of Los Angeles County. On 11 March, 1889, Orange County seceded from LA County. In 1900 there were only 19.696 residents of the then-new, mostly agricultural county. The 1920s saw significant growth and the region’s population first surpassed 100,000. In the 1950s and ‘60s Orange County’s grew incredibly quickly. Since then, every decade has seen further growth although it has slowed considerably.


POLITICS IN NORTH ORANGE COUNTY




Although Orange County has long been characterized as a stronghold of Republican and Right Wing politics, today a mere plurality of 44% of registered voters are registered with the GOP whilst 32% are registered Democrats. Additionally, though still one of the most conservative regions in Southern California, Republicans in Orange County often have more in common with Libertarians than the far right, science and equal rights-denying neo-Con variety. North tends to grow increasingly Democratic with that passage of time. Nowadays, among what most people consider to be North Orange County, Yorba Linda and Villa Park are only incorporated communities with overwhelmingly Republican constituencies.


CULTURE IN ORANGE COUNTY


Segerstrom Center for the Arts


Many people scoff at the suggestion that there’s culture in Orange County (just as they do about Los Angeles). It’s never been clear to me what either camp of haters means by “culture” since there are numerous art galleries, botanical gardens, cultural events, historic sites, live music venues, museums, performing arts centers, a variety of restaurants, revival movie theaters, &c in both regions – some of which I will touch upon below. So without further ado…the communities of North Orange County.


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ANAHEIM



Anaheim is the largest city in Orange County (population-wise). To all but those that think that Disneyland is in Los Angeles, the city of Anaheim is largely synonymouse (sic) with that theme park. Less well-known but equally amusement park is the tantalizingly-named Adventure City.

Anaheim was founded by Bavarian immigrant winemakers in 1857 and incorporated in 1870 – making it the second oldest city in (then) Los Angeles County. “Heim” is German for “home” and “ana” refers to the Santa Ana River. As of 2010 Anaheim’s population was 53% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 28% non-Latino white, 15% Asian (mostly Vietnamese and Filipino), 3% black, and 1% Native American.

A large number of the white population are Arab (primarily Egyptian, Lebanese, Palestinian, and Syrian) and the city is home to Little Arabia aka Little Gaza Strip. Other Anaheim neighborhoods include Anaheim Hills, Anaheim Resort, Downtown Anaheim, East Anaheim, the Platinum Triangle, and West Anaheim. The so-called “Platinum Triangle” was, according to the Orange County Business Register in 2010, the fastest growing region in the county. To read more about Anaheim, click here!





Anaheim is the birthplace of musicians Don Davis, Eden Espinosa, Jeff Buckley, Jennifer Warnes, Marcus Mumford, No Doubt, and Tairrie B. as well as actors Alli Mauzy, Alyson Reed, Austin Butler, Connie Needham, Lisa Tucker, Milo Ventimiglia, Moon Bloodgood, and Rosalind Chao.


BREA



The city of Brea includes the neighborhood of Olinda, named after the former Olinda Village which was incorporated as part of Brea in 1911. The city is known for its public art program which, since 1975, has placed over 140 artworks throughout the community. Brea, which means “tar” in Spanish, is a reference to the town’s early and close relationship with the petroleum industry. The Brea-Olinda Oil Field was discovered in 1898. Eventually, oil gave way to citrus groves which in turn gave way to industrial parks and suburban residences. The population of Brea today is about 67% white, 25% Latino,18% Asian, and 1% black. Brea is the birthplace of actress Stephanie J. Block.


BUENA PARK



Buena Park, whose motto is “the center of the Southland,” is home to two amusement parks, Knott's Berry Farm and its sister park, Knott's Soak City. The former was founded in 1887 by James A. Whitaker, a grocer from Chicago. It wasn’t incorporated until 1953. The so-called “E-Zone” district is home to Pirate's Dinner Adventure Show, a Medieval Times, and a Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum. The population of Buena Park is roughly is 45% white, 39% Latino, 27% Asian, 4% black, and 1% Native American.


COSTA MESA


As home to Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Orange County Fair, Isamu Noguchi Gardens, Talbert Nature Preserve, South Coast Plaza, and a couple of so-called "anti-malls,” Costa Mesa has arguably earned the nickname, “City of the arts.” I still find it amusing that the largest employer is McDonald's.

Prior to 1920 Costa Mese was known as Harper. It didn’t incorporate until 1953. Today it includes the neighborhoods of Cliff Haven, Mesa Verde, the Theater & Arts District, the Metro Center, the City Center, and Santa Ana Heights.



Musical acts from Costa Mesa include Bill Madden, Cowboy Buddha, Measles, Naked Soul, The Pressure and Xployt (aka Joe Public), and Supernova. Movies filmed there include Suburbia and In the Shadow of the Stars. To learn more about Costa Mesa, click here.


CYPRESS


Due to the preponderance of artesian wells in the area, the city of Cypress was at one time called Waterville. It incorporated in 1956 as Dairy City, in part to preserve its agricultural character from suburbanization (as did neighboring Dairy Valley (now Cerritos) and Dairyland (now La Palma). All the dairy-centric communities nonetheless suburbanized by the 1960s. Only a year after incorporation its citizens voted to change its name to Cypress, after the trees planted as a wind break next to Cypress Elementary School.




The population of Cypress, according to the 2010 census, is about 54% white, 32% Asian, 18% Latino, and 3% black. Two of its most famous sons are actor/singer/yoghurt-peddler, John Stamos and famed golfer/philanderer, Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods.


EL MODENA


Source: Orange County Archives


El Modena is a small, unincorporated community surrounded by the city of Orange. For much of its history it was a barrio set aside for Mexican-Americans. Through annexation, El Modena High School is now located within Orange although El Modena still has the El Modena Community Center and the Jones Victorian Estate (built in 1881).


FOUNTAIN VALLEY


Mile Square Park - image source: Justin Kim

Fountain Valley’s motto is “A nice place to live.” It was originally known as Gospel Swamp and later, Talbert, before its incorporation in 1957. Until the 1960s it was primarily agricultural. The population today is roughly 57% white, 34% Asian, 13% Latino, and 3% black.It’s home to an historical site, Courreges Ranch, although it’s not open to the public. Thankfully, the historic buildings in Heritage Park are.


FULLERTON


Plummer Auditorium in Fullerton, California

Fullerton is the town where Hawaiian Punch was invented in 1934. In 1949 it’s where Leo Fender invented the Fender Telecaster. It’s also the birthplace of a couple of seminal Orange County Punk bands: The Adolescents and Social Distortion – other music acts from Fullerton include Belay My Last, Coco B's, Derek Shawn O'Brie, Dusty Rhodes and the River Band, Gwen Stefani, Jay C. Easton, K-Nobs, Kid Ramos, Lit, Stacey Q, The Daisy Chain, The Illustrious Theatre Orchestra and Tui St. George Tucker. One of the town’s major cultural attractions is the Muckenthaler Cultural Center.



Fullerton also includes the neighborhoods of Downtown, Fuller Park, SoCo, and Sunny Hills. The population is 54% white, 34% Latino, 23% Asian, and 2% black. To read more about Fullerton, click here.


GARDEN GROVE


Downtown Garden Grove

Garden Grove has been a "capital of" numerous things from its early days up until the city was incorporated in 1956. Over the years it's been declared the chili-pepper capital of the world in the early 1920s, the poultry capital of the world a little later, the egg capital of the world not long after that, and the strawberry capital of the world in the late '50s.

It includes the neighborhoods of the Central Industrial District, College Park East, Colonia Manzanillo, Downtown, Little Seoul, Old Ranch, South of Katella, Uptown, West Garden Grove, and part of Little Saigon. To read more about Garden Grove, click here.


HUNTINGTON BEACH



For a city primarily associated just with surfing, Huntington Beach – aka “Surf City,” has a number of surprisingly varied attractions. There is surf culture aplenty and Main Street is sometimes referred to as “The Jersey Shore of the West” but there’s the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, a Richard Neutra-designed public library, the kitschy/charming Old World Village, beautiful Central Park, clubs with Vietnamese New Wave/Italo nights, and more.



HB also includes the neighborhoods of Huntington Harbour, Sunset Beach, Surfside (or Surfside Colony). The population of the city is 77% white, 17% Latino, 11% Asian, and 1% black. It is the birthplace of metal band Avenged Sevenfold, reggae group The Dirty Heads, rap rock group (Hed) P.E., folk singer Matt Costa, pop punk band The Offspring, power pop group Hellogoodbye, ska punk band Reel Big Fish, ska group Suburban Legends, and punk band The Vandals. To read more about Huntington Beach, click here.


LA HABRA



La Habra takes its name from Mariano Reyes Roldan’s Rancho Cañada de La Habra. Just north, in the Puente Hills of Los Angeles County is La Habra Heights. La Habra was incorporated in 1925. In that same decade, Rudolph Hass planted the Hass Avocado Mother Tree there and began producing one of the world’s most popular cultivars of the fruit. The tree ultimately died in 2002.




La Habra is the birthplace of metal band The Funeral Pyre, singer Jennifer Hanson, and musician Rusty Anderson. The population of La Habra is approximately 58% white, 57% Latino, 10% Asian, and 2% black.


LA PALMA


Miller Street in La Palma (1960) - image source: Orange County Archives


La Palma was incorporated in 1955, originally as Dairyland – an agricultural community zoned to exclude housing developments. Nonetheless, after the last of the dairies moved away in 1965, the name was changed to La Palma, after La Palma Avenue, and it was suburbanized. It is, area-wise, the smallest city in Orange County. The population today is about 48% Asian, 37% white, 16% Latino, and 5% black.


LITTLE SAIGON


Asian Garden Mall

Unlike fellow North Orange County ethnic enclaves Little Arabia and Little Seoul which are both fairly small, vast Little Saigon sprawls across parts of Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Midway City, Santa Ana, and Westminster (and, to a lesser extent, Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Irvine, and Stanton). It’s the oldest, largest and most populous Vietnamese enclave in the country. It was established in Westminster although Garden Grove is now home to about 10,000 more Vietnamese than that city.



Two business pioneers, Danh Quach and Frank Jao, established the first Vietnamese businesses along Bolsa – Little Saigon is actually often referred to as Bolsa. Around the same time, in 1978, Yen Ngoc Do began publishing Người Việt Daily News. There are now more newspapers -- The Little Saigon News and Vien Dong Daily News as well as TV and radio stations including Little Saigon TV, SBTN TV, VietFace, VNA TV, Saigon TV, Little Saigon Radio, and Radio Bolsa.

Not surprisingly, it is home to a vast number of quality Vietnamese restaurants.


LOS ALAMITOS


Not to be confused with Rancho Los Alamitos, in Long Beach, the Orange County city of Los Alamitos was incorporated in 1960. The name, “Los Alamitos,” is Spanish for “The Little Cottonwoods.” The population today is approximately 71% white, 21% Latino, 13% Asian, and 3% black.

For decades the main industry in Los Alamitos was sugar beet production. Today the top employers are Los Alamitos Medical Center, Arrowhead Products, Trend Offset Printing, SuperMedia, Pharmacy Advantage, Bloomfield Bakers, Systems Services of America, Alamitos West Health Care Center, Timken, and MDA Information.


MIDWAY CITY


Despite its name, Midway City is not an actual city. It’s a “census designated place” jointly presided over by a chamber of commerce and a homeowners’ association. The “Midway” of its name comes from its being nearly equidistant to Huntington Beach, Long Beach, and Santa Ana.


Midway City began life in 1922 when John H. Harper purchased 200 acres due to its location near a stagecoach stop and the Huntington Beach Oil Field. Harper began selling lots the following year. Over the years it’s been chipped away at with annexations by Westminster and is now made up of several small, disconnected sections.

Some of the highest profile businesses include Dakao Poultry, Baladi Poultry, and Midway City FeedStore. In 1994, Midway City became the subject of mockery when several school campuses banned the playing of POGS. As the Vietnamese population has grown, the community has become unofficially part of Little Saigon. The population today is roughly 48% Asian (mostly Vietnamese), 34% white, and 29% Latino. It was the birthplace of actress Dedee PfeifferMichelle Pfeiffer’s sister.


ORANGE


Eichler Tract in Orange

Orange is fairly unique among Orange County communities in that it preserved many of its older homes, rather than demolishing them. As a result, there are many attractive Craftsman homes near the neighborhood of Old Towne. It’s also home to three Eichler tracts, more than half of the total in Southern California. It’s motto is “a slice of old town charm.” Other neighborhoods include Olive, Orange Hills, Santiago Hills and surrounds the communities of El ModenaOrange Park Acres and Villa Park.

Prior to 1873 the community was known as Richland. That year it changed its name to Orange since there was already a Richland, California. The population in 2010 was 67% white, 38% Latino,12% Asian, and 2% black.

Orange is the birthplace of actress Amber Lynn, comedian Brad Williams, actor Jason Lee, and singer Toni Childs. To read more about Orange, click here.


ORANGE PARK ACRES



Orange Park Acres is an unincorporated community surrounded by the city of Orange. In 1894, Ferdinand Keifhaber purchased a 2,000 acre farm that was part of a Spanish land grant known as Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana. In 1911, the Kiefhaber family sold a portion of the land to C.C. Chapman, Dr. Randell, Mervin Monnette, and Frank Mead Sr. In 1928, the latter two formed the Orange Park Acres Corporation of what is today Orange Park Acres. It remains mostly residential with a pronounced rural, equestrian character.


PLACENTIA



The city of Placentia’s name is Latin for “a pleasant abode.” The population is 62% white, 36 % Latino, 15% Asian, and 2% black. It’s recognized locally as home to The Bruery, Knott’s Berry Farm Foods and some supposedly excellent Mexican restaurants. It’s also the birthplace of punk bank Agent Orange and the rap-rock group Kottonmouth Kings.





ROSSMOOR



Rossmoor is a planned community developed between 1955 and 1961 by Ross W. Cortese. Part of the design involved not one but two shopping centers -- Rossmoor Village Square and Rossmoor Business Center. The latter was annexed by neighboring Seal Beach in 1962 and renamed The Shops at Rossmoor (even though they're no longer in Rossmoor). Rossmoor is walled off from the surrounding communities by a red brick “separation barrier.” The population behind the wall is 85% white, 12% Latino, and 10% Asian.


SANTA ANA


Santa Ana has the second largest population in Orange County, after Anaheim. As with most of Orange County, it was formerly dominated by a non-Latino white population back in the mid 20th Century. As late as 1970 nearly 70% of the population was white. As of 2010, an even larger majority (78%) was Latino. The rest of the population is 11% Asian, 9% white, 2% black, and 1% Native American. This radical shift is undoubtedly the reason that online comments about the city tend to laughably compare it to Juarez or Tijuana.

In reality it’s one of the county’s primary cultural centers – home to the Bowers Museum, CSUF Grand Central Art Center, El Centro Cultural de México, Discovery Science Center, Heritage Museum of Orange County, and more. The Observatory (formerly the Galaxy Theatre) was where I was lucky enough to see a live performance by Italo/Vietnamese New Wave legend, Gazebo.

In short, it enjoys a bustling nightlife, daytime, art scene, food scene and many historic sites. To read more about it, click here.


SEAL BEACH



Seal Beach Pier - image source: Ajumma's Pad

Seal Beach is located in westernmost Orange County, adjacent to Long Beach in Los Angeles County. It also includes the neighborhoods of Leisure World and Surfside Seal Beach. It was previously known as Anaheim Landing. It later became known as Bay City but since there was already another Bay City, it was renamed Seal Beach when it was incorporated in 1915.

As of 2010 the population was 84% white, 10% Asian, 10% Latino, and 1% black. In 2011 Seal Beach witnessed Orange County’s worse mass shooting when Kenneth Caleb murdered eight people at a beauty salon. Seal Beach Councilman Gordon Shanks offended many when he remarked, "These things are not supposed to happen here. Maybe in Compton." Many were quick to point out that there had never been a mass shooting of that magnitude in Compton’s history.


STANTON


Stanton, California's Del Taco #10

Stanton grew up along the Los Angeles Interurban Railway’s Santa Ana Railway Line, which formerly connected Watts to Santa Ana beginning in 1905. It was incorporated in 1911. The fickle city then dis-incorporated in 1924. It once again incorporated in 1956. For such a small city, it is blessed with the presence of numerous, small parks.

Stanton’s largest employers are CR&R, Sam's Club, The Home Depot, Adventure City, and All Metals Processing. The population is 51% Latino, 21% white, 24% Asian, 2% black, and 1% Native American.


TONNER CANYON



Tonner Canyon is an undeveloped area in the Puente Hills just south of Rowland Heights at the southern edge of LA County’s San Gabriel Valley. Nearly all of the 5,700 acres are owned by the City of Industry. The Orange County portion was formerly owned by Brea Cañon Oil.


VILLA PARK



Villa Park is a small community completely surrounded by the city of Orange. It incorporated in 1962. Its declining population has turned it into the smallest city in the county, population-wise. The small city is mostly residential – comprised of about 2,000 single family homes. There is one shopping center with a Ralph’s grocery store, a pharmacy and more. There are zero public parks and few streets have parking lots, perhaps to dissuade visits from outsiders. Its motto is “Villa Park, the hidden jewel.”

The population is 78% white, 16% Asian, and 10% Latino. 60% of residents are registered Republicans. It’s the birthplace of no known notables in any creative field as far as my (minimal) research has turned up.


WESTMINSTER


Vietnam War Memorial - Westminster, California

Westminster was founded in 1870 by Reverend Lemuel Webber as a Presbyterian temperance colony, its name a reference to the Westminster Assembly of 1643 (which laid out the basic tenets of Presbyterianism). Its motto is “The city of progress built on pride.” Before its incorporation, Westminster (along with Barber City and Midway City) was considered to be part of “Tri-City.” Upon incorporation it annexed Barber City (Midway City remains unincorporated).

In the 1970s, it received a large influx of Vietnamese refugees. Today the population is 48% Asian (85% Vietnamese), 36% white, 24% Latino, and 1% black. Nowadays it is home to the largest concentration of Vietnamese-Americans in the world. Any visit should include checking out Asian Garden Mall (Phước Lộc Thọ) and a meal at Bo De Tinh Tam Chay (which I'm responsible for adding to Urbanspoon).

Westminster is the birthplace of documentarian Harrod Blank, professional gamer Ken Hoang, dance crew Poreotics, and the a cappella group, the Westminster Chorus.


YORBA LINDA



Yorba Linda is an Orange County community that borders the Inland Empire’s San Bernardino County and whose motto is “Land of gracious living.” It’s named after Californio rancher, Bernardo Yorba. It was primarily agricultural until the 1960s, when the population began to grow rapidly.

President Richard Nixon was born there in 1913, the year after it acquired its first post office and began receiving electricity. His home, where he lived until 1922, and the adjacent Richard Nixon Library and Museum are the city’s chief attractions. I visited the museum once but became so engrossed by Dan Quayle’s memoir, Standing firm (with its frank discussion of his beef with Murphy Brown and Potatoegate) that I never made it past the gift shop.

Yorba Linda was incorporated in 1967 and also includes the neighborhoods of Carlton and East Lake. In some ways it feels more like a typical South County city. The population is 75% white, 16% Asian, 14% Latino, and 1% black. About 57% of its inhabitants are Republicans.

It’s the birthplace of guitarist Eric Charles "Erock" Friedman (Creed and Submersed), actress Mitzi Kapture, singer Sabrina Ryan (of The Cheetah Girls), and the metalcore band, Atreyu.

So there you have it – a brief and by no means complete entry to North Orange County. Get out there and explore, vote and share your experiences!

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Italo sensation Den Harrow returns (sort of) for New Wave 80's Memorial Weekend in Huntington Beach

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 7, 2012 12:00pm | Post a Comment
   


Den Harrow
, the Italo disco star famous for such timeless '80s classics as "Bad boy," "Charleston," "Future brain," "Mad desire" is coming to perform for his first time ever in California... sort of. Actually, Den Harrow was an invented character but the sources of the voice and music behind him, Tom Hooker and Miki Chieregato, respectively, are set to perform on Sunday, 27 May 2012 at Avec Nightclub in Huntington Beach’s New Wave 80’s Memorial WeekendDJ BPM from Keep on Music will be DJing. Tickets are $20 and the bottle special is $200 for Martell VSOP.  It'll be hosted by Truc Quynh.




More than an actual person, Den Harrow was a musical project of the aforementioned composer Miki Chieregato, fronted by Milanese model Stefano Zandri with vocals initially provided by several singers before Tom Hooker was brought in -- Chieregato's PR partner, Roberto Turatti, was another integral aspect. Together they enjoyed considerable popularity in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Sweden during the golden years of Italo-disco -- the 1980s. In the UK and US, the practice of hiring a model to lipsynch at shows and in videos was almost unheard of until the exposure of the likes of  C + C Music Factory, Technotronic (from Belgium), Boney M (from West Germany) and most notoriously, Milli Vanilli (also from West Germany). In European pop produced during the golden age of music videos, however, it was a fairly common practice. To be Den Harrow's face, Chieregato and Turatti hired Stefano Zandri and invented a perhaps needlessly but humorously complicated back-story. 

*****


According to their fictional history, Zandri’s name was Manuel Stefano Carry and he was born in Boston to an architect father. His family moved to Italy when Carry was a toddler and then, at just seven-years-old, Carry learned to play guitar and piano. His parents divorced and Manuel, his brother and sister stayed with their mother. They only spoke Italian in the home so, despite his birthplace, English presented him with some difficulty in school. Although he’d always dreamt of pursuing a career in show business, in high school, “Carry” additionally started practicing bodybuilding, break dancing and judo (as seen in the video for “Mad Desire”). Then he met Turrati, who was DJ-ing at the club, American Disaster. Turatti and his friend, Miki Chieregato gave Manuel a new stage name, "Den Harrow," meant to suggest denaro, the Italian word for money. Den Harrow then took extensive vocal lessons and recorded his first two songs, “To Meet Me” and “A Taste of Love” on Hole Records.










The voice behind the first two singles was provided by Chuck Rolando, a singer and songwriter at Durium. The singles were moderately successful in some European markets but due to Rolando’s contractual obligations, his partnership with the project ended, necessitating their recruiting a new voice.



For “Mad Desire,” released on Gong Records, Silvio “Silver” Pozzoli provided the vocals and the single was a massive success, selling over a million copies. Pozzoli’s voice was adequate but heavily-accented so the producers sought out American expat singer, Tom Hooker.
 
Tom Hooker


Thomas Beecher Hooker was a Greenwich, Connecticut native who’d moved to Europe when he was less than a year old. After living in Switzerland, in 1980 he moved to Italy where’d he’d released music with various labels first at Harmony with 1980’s “Flip over” followed by a three year stint at Full Time. After recording “Give it to me” for Sensation Records, he moved to Merak Music and released the Italo ode to football, “Real men” in 1984.




In 1985, Chieregato and Turatti bought out Hooker’s contract. Their first collaboration was 1985’s “Cry (urban remix)” b/w “Don’t forget (to buy this record)” which was simply attributed to T.H. and released on Baby Records subsidiary, For Sale (and later re-recorded and released by Den Harrow).





Chieregato, Turatti and Hooker all then moved to Baby Records, most significant for being home to Italo superstar, Gazebo hit-maker Albert One. Hooker sang vocals on Den Harrow’s next single, “Future brain,” also in 1985.




For consistency’s sake, Hooker re-recorded “Mad desire” for Den Harrow’s debut album, Overpower (1985-Baby Records).




It was a big hit in Switzerland and Sweden and spawned two more hit singles, “Bad boy” and “Charleston.”






The album, single and Den Harrow won several awards, at Festivalbar, Vota La Cove and Bravo’s Silver Ottos


In 1986, Hooker’s proper (as in attributed to Tom Hooker, not Den Harrow) debut full-length, the Claudio Donato-produced Only One, was released on Heaven Records, which also included the title track single.



That same year, using yet another alias, Lou Sern, Hooker released the cuckoo clock-sampling “Swiss boy” on Esquire which was, funnily enough, released as a “split single” with Den Harrow’s “Charleston.” Back at Baby he released “Looking for love” and “Help me” as well as the schmaltz ballad “Highway to freedom” with Maruizio Vandelli and Dario Farina under the handle, “Fahrenheit 104.”




Back recording for Den Harrow, the next single, “Catch the fox,” showed up on the full-length follow-up, Day by day (1987-Baby Records).


Den Harrow Day By Day


It was proved to be another solid collection of melodic synthpop. It produced another single, “Don’t break my heart,” which became their biggest success to date.




The album too was an even bigger success than its predecessor, reaching number one in Germany and the Top Five in Italy, Spain, Greece and Benelux. It also went gold in France, platinum in Canada, and earned a Golden Otto. Behind the scenes of the success there was some discord. Hooker had wanted to record the single under his own name but Freddy Naggiar, the head of Baby Records was reluctant to tamper with the Den Harrow cash cow. Although Hooker continued writing lyrics for Den Harrow, he stopped providing the vocals. Meanwhile, as himself, he released the single “Atlantis.”




Harrow’s next single, “Born to love” again won at Festivalbar in 1987 and appeared, in a dance version, on his album Lies (1988-Baby Records).




For the vocals, Turatti and Chieregeto employed the services of an English singer with a much higher register, Anthony James. Zandri, although he never sang, wasn’t even particularly adept at lipsynching and with another undeniable vocal shift, the true nature of Zandri’s role became one of the worst kept secrets in music – for those who cared. The album and singles “My time” and “You have a way” were less successful but nonetheless appeared in European commercials for Adidas and Coca-Cola.


 

The same year, 1988, Chieregato and Hooker recorded Hooker’s proper sophomore release, Bad reputation (1988-Baby Records), which included the singles “Feeling okay” and “No more Heaven.” Not surprisingly, the voice sounded more like the voice of Den Harrow than Den Harrow himself had on his album.








After the release of “Holiday night” and “Take me back” in 1989, Zandri decided to strike out on his own, ending his relationship with Turatti, Chieregato and Baby Records. After several years of considerably less commercial success, Zandri moved to California to take part in Aaron Spelling’s mostly-forgotten Baywatch-inspired soap opera, Sunset Beach.  


After Hooker’s 1990 single, “Living in the sunshine” he and Chieregato also ended their collaboration. 1992 was Baby’s last year (they reappeared, reorganized as Baby Records International in 1994) and Hooker’s Fighting for our love (1992-Baby Records), was recorded without Chieregato. The same year, as “TH & The Funk Guitar,” Hooker released “Sex-o-phone & funk guitar” on Pop In Baby. Hooker went on to work with other musicians, releasing music as Elastic Band, Cool Jack and Defect. After a final solo single, “Runaway,” released in 1994 by ZYX there was a long period of silence. That year Hooker moved to the US to start a family and changed his name to Thomas Barbèy (taking his mother's maiden name) so that his wife's name wouldn't be "Mrs. Hooker."







Then, in 2011, Hooker and Chieregato joined forces as Tomik Productions and released their first collaborations in about twenty years, “Change your mind,” which was released on Flashback Records and "No elevation."






And as I said in the introduction, they're finally coming to California. I'll be there but if you can't, you can watch it live streaming here!
*****

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Huntington Beach

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 9, 2011 08:00pm | Post a Comment
SHOOTING THE PIER -- HUNTINGTON BEACH


This blog entry is about Huntington Beach, a beach city in North Orange County. To Huntington Beach's southwestern edge is the Pacific Ocean. To its north are Seal Beach and Westminster. To the east is Fountain Valley. North and east is the Little Saigon area. To the southeast are the towns of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.
 
     Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Huntington Beach

It's the largest beach city in Orange County. Accompanying me on this installment was a mysterious new traveling companion and HB resident known only as Bao. As is usual, we being with a bit of history.


EARLY HISTORY OF HUNTINGTON BEACH


The area that now constitutes Huntington Beach was for thousands of years a border territory shared by the seafaring Tongva people to the north and the smaller Acagchemem nation to the south. At the time the area was an isolated mesa surrounded by a soggy expanse of bogs and shallow marshes fed by estuaries and artesian wells. At the western foot of the bluff was a large tidal lagoon.


THE SPANISH & MEXICAN RANCHO ERAS 


After the Spanish Conquest, European settlement in the area began in 1784, when veteran Spanish soldier Manuel Nieto was granted the large 1,200 km2 Rancho Los Nietos. The main route through the ranch was a cattle trail that's now Beach Boulevard. After Mexico achieved independence from Spain in 1822, the ranchos were secularized and subdivided, including into Rancho Los Alamitos and Rancho Las Bolsas where Huntington Beach now is.. American immigrants began arriving. Two years after the US declared war against Mexico (in 1846), ownership of California was transferred and more Americans arrived in the area.


THE AMERICAN ERA & PACIFIC CITY

A trader named Able Sterns acquired Rancho Los Alamitos and then the Rancho Las Bolsas. In 1862 Sterns sold the ranchos to The Los Angeles and San Bernardino Land Company, an agency for which Sterns acted as realtor. The large ranches were then subdivided and sold in smaller parcels and sold to farmers. In 1894, Colonel Robert J. Northam (then-manager of the Stearns Ranchos Company) acquired seven parcels. Much of the area was drained and seeded with barley, alfalfa and later, celery. A small succession of communities arose in the area of modern-day Huntington Beach including Shell Beach, Smeltzer, Gospel Swamp (a tent city community of Methodists pilgrims from Long Beach), Fairview and Pacific City.


Pacific City pier scene in the 1980s

Pacific City was envisioned as a west coast rival to New Jersey's Atlantic City by Philip A. Stanton and Colonel H. S. Finley who in 1901 formed The West Coast Land and Water Company through which they acquired 1,500 acres.


To give Pacific City some legitimacy, several structures were moved there from nearby Newport Beach. Stanton sold his interest the following year to a group headed by J. V. Vickers. Vickers wooed railway owner Henry E. Huntington with enticements in exchange for an extension of the Long Beach line to Pacific City. Perhaps chief among the inducements was the proposed change of name from Pacific City to Huntington Beach. Huntington changed the name of his company from West Coast Land and Water Company to The Huntington Beach Company and agreed.



EARLY HUNTINGTON BEACH

Huntington Beach was dedicated July 4, 1904 and the crowd of 50,000 witnessed the arrival of the first Pacific Red Car. The boom quickly died and by 1905, with the $126 purchase of an Encyclopedia Americana set, free parcels of land were given away. By then, celery and sugar beet cultivation dominated the economy. In 1906, the first school was built, Huntington Beach High School. The city of Huntington Beach was incorporated on February 17, 1909, under mayor Ed Manning.


Huntington Beach c. 1910


HUNTINGTON BEACH FLOWS AND GROWS


The original pier c. 1910

The original, wooden pier was destroyed in 1912. In 1914, the pier was replaced with a concrete one, primarily to support fishing. From 1910 to 1920 the small population of 815 more than doubled to 1,687. However, when Col. Northam dug a well to irrigate his alfalfa and struck oil in the Holly-Seacliff area, the economy of the sleepy seaside resort shifted focus.


Holly Sugar converted from processing beet sugar to oil refining. The Huntington Beach High School team changed their team name to The Oilers. The oil reserves were quickly depleted for the most part but numerous oil rigs still rhythmically bob (and there are several offshore rigs too). The last oil strike occurred in 1953. Growth came to an almost complete halt during the Great Depression.


In 1933, the Long Beach Earthquake struck - its epicenter was underneath Huntington Beach. 115 people were killed and $40 million worth of damage was done. In 1939, the Huntington Beach Pier was again destroyed and subsequently rebuilt. 


In the 1940s, growth in Huntington Beach resumed at a measured pace in the 1940s, with much of the city's land still devoted to oil production. The Huntington Beach Airport began operation in the mid-1940s, using as a runway a deposit of sediments left by the Flood of '38. It was still standing but had ceased operation by 1955. 
The East Long Beach Airport (later Sunset Beach Airport and finally Meadowlark Airport) was opened in 1947 by a nissei named Yukio "Dick" Nerio. It went public in the 1950s and continued operation until 1989. 
In 1957, Huntington Beach annexed a great deal of land between the original city and the proposed San Diego Freeway and the population growth reached a new peek during the decade.

 
In the 1960s the population increased almost tenfold, exploding from 11,492 to 115,960.


HB TERRORIZED IN THE 1970s

  
1970s serial killing creeps now rightfully rotting in prison

With most of the city by-then developed, population was slowed since the 1970s. During the decade, Huntington Beach (and nearby areas) were terrorized by a serial killer from Long Beach, Randy Steven Kraft, a pro-Vietnam War activist/Barry Goldwater-supporter and bartender at a Huntington Beach gay bar. In 1968 he joined the Air Force but was discharged the following year for being gay and he resumed bar tending. In 1970, Kraft gained the trust of a thirteen-year-old runaway he met on the Huntington Beach pier. After Kraft took him home, drugged and raped him, he went to work and the victim escaped. The victim led the cops to the apartment who found drugs and the victim's shoes… but since the search was conducted with a warrant, Kraft wasn't charged. In 1971, Kraft found work at a bottled water plant in HB. That year police found a decomposing body next to the freeway, believed to have been Kraft's first murder victim. For the next eleven years, dozens of men were murdered, mainly in North Orange County and The Harbor. After his arrest, police recovered a "death list" that claimed 67 victims, 22 of them not found. 

Huntington Beach was again rocked by violence when Rodney Alcala kidnapped and murdered a Huntington Beach twelve year old on her way to ballet class in 1979.


NATIVE ACTIVISM



In the 1970s, Native activists began fighting for preservation of sites of historical importance, especially the Bolsa Chica Wetlands (near the dump site, coincidentally, of one Kraft's teenage victims). In the 2000s, the developers of the Brightwater Hearthside Homes subdivision began churning up bones and artifacts dating back up to 8,500 years. In 2006 the state approved continued reconstruction as long as the disturbed human remains were reinterred somewhere else. In 2008, the remains of 174 Tongva bodies uncovered by workers who've apparently never watched Poltergeist!

HB IN THE 1980s


OP Pro Riot

The 1980s seem to have ushered in even more lawless age in Hungtington Beach.  In 1980, half-sisters Gina Narano, 15, and Cynthia Chandler, 16, disappeared from Huntington Beach and were found the next day on the roadside, shot to death and raped by a former Navy admiral, Douglas Clark. The same year, an 18-year police veteran was jailed in HB after molesting numerous children. In 1981, Tommy Gomez was arrested on two counts for a gang rape of a Huntington Beach woman. In 1984, Elizabeth Hoffschneider was brutally raped, beaten and murdered in a case that took over two decades to solve. On Labor Day, in 1986, a massive disturbance happened downtown and near the pier which came to be known as the OP Pro Riot. In the late 1980s, there was a push from law enforcement and for redevelopment. The first obvious sign of a new age was the rebuilding of the pier in January, 1988. 
HB IN THE 1990s 

The 1990s began innocently enough. Tthe first notable local news item came when HB resident Gary Stewart set a new world record for pogo jumping in May, 1990, continuously bouncing for twenty hours and twenty minutes. However, the dark ages continued into the early 1990s.
Wayne Ichija Yoshisato of Huntington Beach was charged with murder in the July, 1990, for fatal beating of his girlfriend's 14- month old daughter which he committed after raping the mother. In August of the same year, 15-year old Tri Tue Thanh Kha murdered a gang rival at the Huntington Beach Boys and Girls Club. In 1991, however, a poll of Huntington Beach found that 98% of residents viewed their city favorably, despite pollution, traffic and crime. 
Though plagued by a troubling level of racially motivated violence (usually against blacks, Asians and Latinos), Huntington Beach seems to have regained peace from truly grisly crime during the latter part of the 1990s. There remain, of course, exceptions. In the 2000s, there was the case of Ian W. Allen, a 23 year-old self-professed Satanist who conspired with his teenage girlfriend to kill her mother by stabbing her over fifty times, stuffing her in a box and dumping it in Newport Harbor. Aside from that case, and still not-infrequent hate crimes and harassment, Huntington Beach has, like most of America, improved since the festering 1980s and early 1990s and remains lower than the national average. Today, the population of Huntington Beach is 77% white, 17% Asian/Pacific Islander and 17% Latino of any race. The top employers are Boeing, Quiksilver and Cambro


THE MARSHES


A large, beautiful marsh, the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, lies between Downtown Huntington Beach and Huntington Harbour and remains largely undisturbed. A $110 million restoration of the wetlands was completed in 2006. There is a small, free parking lot that should not be confused with the adjacent beach parking, which costs $15. Also, there is no crosswalk between the two. The flora and especially fauna change with the seasons and on the early summer day we visited there were pelicans, least terns, clapper rails, two black-necked stillts and maybe some western snowy plovers.


The waters are home to grey smoothound sharks, round stingrays but, most terrifying were the massive, revolting, capitvating slug-like California Sea Hares. There were also many birders snapping pictures. One was accompanied by his young son who carried a small bow and said, "ah juh shi! ah juh shi!" to me.  I've heard that before but was unsure of the meaning. South of Downtown are more, smaller marshes; the Talbert, Newland Brookhurst and Magnolia Marshes, which lie behind Huntington State Beach.


HUNTINGTON BEACH'S BEACHES 

The northern and southernmost beaches, Bolsa Chica State Beach and Huntington State Beach, respectively, are state parks and only Huntington City Beach is maintained by the town. Camping and RVs are permitted and popular at Bolsa Chica, which is a sandbar separating the Bolsa Chica wetlands from the ocean. A portion known as "the cliffs" is home to a dog beach. Sunset Beach is maintained by Orange County and lies between the ocean and the city's marinas.


Huntington City Beach is popular with sand volleyball players, surfers and huge crowds of others. It also boasts the pier, which provides lovely views of the city, the oil rigs, the aquamarine-colored waves and the smokestacks in the distance. Huntington State Beach borders the southern marshes and ends at the mouth of the Santa Ana River.


SURFING SURF CITY

With four beaches and a consistent surf, Huntington Beach has long been popular with practitioners of the sport. The first road large redwood board in the 1920s. In 1955, Gordon Duane opened the city's first surf shop, Gordie Surfboards.

 

In 1959, the first West Coast Surfing Championships were held in Huntington Beach. The Huntington Beach Surf Club was established in 1963 with over seventy members. Huntington Beach, in fact, has trademarked the nickname "Surf City." The U.S. Open of Surfing and Beach Games are held in Huntington Beach.




Huntington Beach is also home to the International Surfing Museum, which features the Surfers' Hall of Fame, surf-related exhibits and, on Sundays, the back lot hosts surf bands.


Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku


On the day of our visit, we were treated to the sounds of Tower 21 and 3 Balls of Fire.


 
Statue of Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku


Bao and the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame

Outside the museum is the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame honoring those who've contributed to surf culture.


MAIN STREET 


By the 1980s, Main Street Huntington Beach had acquire a reputation as a haven for drug-dealing, prostitution and violent crime. In 1983, the city approved a redevelopment plan and condos and businesses began popping up in the years that followed. Tourists and locals descended on the revived district and in April of 2011, the LA Times reported that revenue for the area was by then twenty times what it had been in 1988.

The area is the site of many of Huntington Beach's local events. Every Tuesday, Surf City Nights includes food booths and live, free entertainment. In March, the Beachcruiser Meet showcases hundreds of classic cars in the Main and Pier parking lot. Miracle on Main Street is the name for the Main Street Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. The third Wednesday of every month there's the Huntington Beach Art Walk. Chili at the Beach is a chili cook-off which benefits the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and occurs during the Fathers' Day Weekend.


However, when the sun goes down the families go home and a three-block stretch of Main Street takes on a different character, that of the "Jersey Shore of the West." Although the alcohol sales help fuel the economy, Huntington Beach is ranked No. 1 in victims killed and injured in alcohol-involved traffic accidents among cities its size in the state. Even though the sun was still up on the day of my visit, I did witness an SUV packed with young men pumping their fists to trance, presumably in anticipation of the night's drunken debauchery (e.g. beer pong, more fist pumping, public urination). The cops even have a special code for drunks breaking into someone else's house to pass out because it's so common, a "Downtown 459."


THE HUNTINGTON BEACH PIER


Main street ends (or continues) onto the Huntington Beach Pier, the longest municipal concrete pier in California. It's another popular site for Huntington Beach events. Every year in May, the Sunset Wine Tasting at the Pier features wines from around California and raises money to benefit AltaMed's Huntington Beach Community Clinic, which serves thousands of uninsured and medically underserved patients. The following two days, the Annual Duck-a-thon is held in the water off the pier, a rubber ducky race.


On the day of our visit, the DJs in a booth representing KIIS FM hyped the crowd of four children.



At the mouth of the pier, Pier Plaza, street performers wowed the crowds and drum circle-types pounded away.


PARKS - THE OTHER ATTRACTIONS


Huntington Beach was a very large, beautiful Central Park. The parking lot is landscaped with attractive xeric plants (nice!) and there are fairly developed forests with large Blue Gum Eucalyptus.


It's also the location of the Richard Neutra and Dion Neutra-designed Huntington Beach Public Library (which was closed on the day of our visit). A Concours d'Elegance (a prestigious car show) is held at Central Park in June and benefits the public library. On the other side of the street is the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center.



On the day we visited there was a large crowd gathered for live music under an inflatable band shell.


HB EVENTS





In addition to the aforementioned events, Huntington Beach hosts a biathlon in July. A Fourth of July parade has been held annually since 1904. The Cruise of Lights Boat Tour is held in the Huntington Harbour neighborhood. The annual Kite Festival is held in late February. An informal "Donut Derelicts" car show occurs every Saturday morning at the intersection of Adams and Magnolia Street. Huntington Beach also hosts the National Professional Paintball League Super 7 Paintball Championships in March


THE SHOPPING

There are two major shopping areas in Huntington Beach, Bella Terra and Old World Village. Bella Terra is a large, outdoor shopping center. In its amphitheater, live music is performed regularly. There are also regularly-held special events for kids. It opened in 1996 and was built on the ruins of the old, indoor mall, the Huntington Beach Center.


In the shadow of the Towers at Bella Terra, a group of tall business complexes, is the Old World Village… a much older outdoor mall with a German theme (that can feel, during slow times, like a Bavarian ghost town). The 50 buildings were built, I believe, in 1978.


It's just the sort of fading, charming simulacrum that I like. It hosts numerous events including Dachshund Races, classic car shows, RICO's Comedy Revival Show!, the Plum Festival, German Heritage Day and, biggest of all, Oktoberfest.


As I wondered the winding, shady streets I saw only one other soul… sitting still as stone on a bench… kind of creepy in an abandoned-theme-park kind of way ...and a total HB gem! Read my Block By Block post, Kitsch and Kultur: Exploring SoCal Bavaria, for more. 


HB EATS

For a city it's size, Huntington Beach has an insane amount of places to eat. The people love to eat and, not surprisingly, it hosts the annual  Taste of Huntington BeachPerhaps the most celebrated joint was the Golden Bear, which opened in 1929 and became a popular nightclub in 1963. It hosted the likes of BB King, Janis Joplin, Steve Martin, Charles Bukowski and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Unfortunately it was demolished in 1986.Especially well-represented are Italian, Mexican and sandwich joints seem to be especially well-represented but in the HB, eating, drinking, music, TV all seem to go hand in hand so here's a let of eateries and drinkeries of different stripes. We, nonetheless, ate at Bodhi Tree, a nice, tasteful and tasty Vietnamese joint.

Other options include: Adami, Alberto's, Aloha Grill, Aloha Hawaiian BBQ, An's Restaurant, Avila's El Ranchito, Aztecas, Bagelmania & Coffee House, Baci, Baci di Roma Trattoria, Baja Sharkeez, Basilico's Pasta e Vino, BBQ Bistro, Beach Burgers, Beach Pit BBQ, Beachfront 301, Bella Roma, Bhodi Tree Cafe, Black Bull Chop House, Big Chopsticks, Buffalo Wings 'N Things, Bukhara, Bun & Burger, Buon Gusto, Burtucci's New York Pizza, Cafe Enchante, Caffe Gazelle, Cancun,

Capones Italian Cucina, Casa Jimenez, Catalina Fish Kitchen, Catch of the Day, Cavallino Ristorante, Centerfield Sports Bar, Champa, Cherry On Top, Chicago Ribs, China Kitchen, Charo Chicken, Chronic Tacos, Coach's Deli, Coache's Mediterranean Grill, Cobantigua Cafe, Corner Bakery, Crabby's Boat House, Crivello Ristorante Italiano, Cucina Alessa, Daimon, Daphne's California Greek, De Simone Bakery & Delicatessen, Deli-licious, Deville, Digg's, Don Jose's Mexican Restaurant,

Don the Beachcomber, Don Ramon's, Dukes
Dwight's Beach Concession, East Winds Asian Cuisine, Eat at Joe's, El Chavito, Eggroll King, Endless Food & Fun, Esther's Place, Euro Market Bakery & Deli, Fiesta Grill & Catering, Fiesta Grill 2, Fish Camp, Fitzgerald's Pub, Five Guys Burger and Fries, Frank's Big O Pizza, Fred's Mexican Cafe, Fresca's, Fritzankotters, Fuji's Famous Burger, Gallagher's Pub & Grill, George's, Golden Chopsticks, Gong's Chinese Food, Good Day Cafe, Great Wok,

Green Rice Kabob, Hank's West Pizza, Harry's Cafe, Harvey's Steakhouse, Hashigo Sushi, Hero's Pub, Himalayan Grill, Honeybaked Ham Co, Hot and Spicy Thai, Hot Off the Grill, House of Brews, Huckleberry's Famous Sandwiches, Huntington Beach Beer Company & Restaurant
 Hurricane's Bar & Grill, In-N-Out Burger, Inca Gourmet, Irassae, Islands, Jan's Health Bar, Jersey Mike's Subs, Joe's Sushi, John's Philly Grille, Johnny's Saloon, Jon's Coffee Shop, Joy Sushi, Ka Shabu,

Kathy May's Restaurant, Kelly's Donuts and Burgers, Kiku Restaurant, Killarney Pub & Grill, King's Fish House, King's Pizza, Kirby's Surf City PizzaLa Brique Steakhouse, La Choza Restaurant, La Fontana Ristorante, LaRocco's Pizzeria, Lamppost Pizza, Las Barcas, La Capilla, La Casita, La Petite Baquette, Lee's Lucky Wok, Linda's Mexican Restaurant, Lino's Pizzeria, Longboard, Los Primos Cantina, Lotus Chinese Eatery, Lou's Oak Oven Barbecue, Lucci's Deli, Luggatti's,
 Luigi's

Malibu Fish Grill, Mama's on 39, Mangia-Mangia, Mangiamo Gelato Caffe, Mario's, Mario's Fiesta Maya, Market Broiler, Marlin Bar and Grill, Massimo's Pizza, Matsu Restaurant, Mazara Trattoria, Mike Thai Bros Bistro, Minimex Everywhere, Mitasie 3, Molcajete Grill, Mona Lisa Italian Cucina, Monkey House Cafe, Mother's Market & Kitchen, Mr P's Espresso Italiano Caffe, My Place, Niya, No Ka Oi, Nonna Lucci's, Norm's, Normita's Surf City Taco, O'Connell's, OC Juice N Gyro, Ocean Pacific Market,

Oceans Sushi & Oyster Lounge, Oggi's Pizza & Brewing Company, Olive Pit, Old World German Restaurant, Pacific Coast Hot Dogs, Pacific Crust Sandwiches, Pancho Frijoles, Panda Palace, Park Bench Café, Pee Wee's Famous Hot Dogs and Hamburgers, Peet's Coffee & Tea, Pei Wei, Pelican Isle, Perq's, Perry's Pizza, Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken, Pete's Sunset Grille, Photastic!, Phuket Thai Restaurant, Pick Up Stix,
 Pizza D'oro, Pizzarito, Polly's Pies, Porky's PizzaRA Sushi Bar, Randazzo,

Rathskeller, Red Chair Lounge, Robek's Juice, Rockin' Baja Coastal Cantina, Rockin' Crepes, Rodrigo's, Sakura Shabu Shabu, Sakurai, Sammy's, Sancho's Tacos, Sandy's Beach Grill, Sango Sushi, Sea Siam, Sebastiani's Italian Bistro, 2nd Floor Food ART Drinks, Secret Spot, Shades, Shima, Shogun, Shooters Sports Bar and Grill, Silk Thai Cuisine, Slapfish Truck, Slow Fish, Soya, Spark Woodfire Grill, St George Pizza, Suds Surf City Sports Grill, Sugar Shack Cafe, Sullivan,

Sunny's Waffle House, Super Mex, Sushi on Fire, Suhsi Top, Sushi Ya, Sweet Elle Café
Sweet O Donuts, T'Kila, Tacone Flavor Grill, Tacos Jerez, Tacos el Chavito, Tacos Jerez, Taqueria Don Victor, Taste of France, Thai Gulf, Thai Pepper, Thai Wave, The Bread Crumb, The Californian, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, The Corner, The Donuttery, The Firepit, The Gourmet Crepe Company, The Loft, The Orange Dog, The Seafood Zone, Three Monkies Japanese Kitchen, TK Burgers, Todai, Tokyo Deli,

The Wok Experience, Tower 15 Pizzeria, Tsunami, Tumbleweeds, Tuna Town, 25 Degrees
, Two Brothers Pizza, Valentino's, Vittorio's, Waba Grill, Wahoo's Fish Taco, Whata Lotta Pizza, Woody's Diner, Z Pizza, Zimzala and Zubies Dry Dock.



NIGHTLIFE 

With booze, karaoke and food mixing so readily, perhaps it should come as less of a surprise that there are far fewer clubs than bar & grills vying for nigh owls. There's the gay Ibiza Bar & Nightclub, the strip club Simply Seductive and, my favorite, the mostly Asian crowd-attracting Avec Nightclub, where Vietnamese New Wave is often played and danced to.


THE HUNTINGTON BEAT



For a city as associated with surfing, it may come as a bit of a surprise that the surf music of the 1950s and '60s didn't produce any major acts that I'm aware of. It was mentioned, however, in "Surfer Joe" by The Surfaris as well as "Surfin' Safari" by The Beach Boys. Oh, and Ashlee Simpson's music video for "La La" was filmed in Huntington Beach. HB did produce a number of famous punk bands, however, including The Vandals, The Offspring and Reel Big Fish. There are also bands that drew upon punk as well as other genres including bands like The Dirty Heads, Hellogoodbye and Avenged Sevenfold. Huntington Beach-born musicians include Matt Costa and Keri Kelli. Other Huntington Beach bands include Millionaires and smaller acts. DJ Culture is Huntington Beach's primary electronic music store and Vinyl Solution is the main punk store.


FILM(ED) IN HB


The Surf Theatre was a famous and beloved theater located near the pier that showed independent surf films including Endless Summer and Fiver Summer Stories. It was owned and operated by Hugh Larry Thomas from 1961 until it was demolished in 1989.

Today, the SoCal Independent Film Festival takes place every September. The Southland's PBS station, KOCE-TV, is broadcast from the city's Golden West College Campus. HB was the subject of the TruTV series Ocean Force - Huntington Beach.

It's also served as a filming location for All that I Need, BoardRoom, Children of the X-Files, Convict, Frost/Nixon, Hallowed, Kate So Far, Lava Lounge, Locked In, Marmaduke, 90210, Pink Lemonade, Raspberry & Lavender, Rats & Bullies, Route 66, Slasher, Starsky & Hutch, Surf Nazis Must Die, The Born Losers, The Hog, The Legends of Nethiah, The Living Curl, The OC, The Plotters, Triangle Square and Waterworld.

HB is also the birthplace of actresses Amy Grabow and Bridgette Monet (born Dana Kunath Height).


WEIRDO CHRISTIANS

One last note about my day in HB. When I returned to the CARDIS, someone had written in the dust on the rear window, "Jesus loves u... doubt it", "wash me" and "the power of Christ compels you." Huntington Beach has a history of "Jesus freaks" too. In 1968, when his mother died, her son David Berg took control of her tiny Christian and Missionary Alliance congregation and began recruiting hippie Teens for Jesus. In 1969, he changed the name to The Children of God and left Huntington Beach. By 1970, the Children of God were receiving guidance (via Berg) from Abrahim, a 13th century Bulgarian king. In the early 1970s, Berg started pimping female followers for Christ in a practice called "Flirty Fishing." They've since called themselves The Family of Love, The Family and now, The Family International… could this have been their work? or was it that Korean family who parked next to me… anyway, message received. Till next time, shaka brah!

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