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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Laguna Beach

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 15, 2013 02:45pm | Post a Comment
A WEARY ROVER'S DREAM




INTRODUCTION 


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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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Irvine, Orange County's City of Innovation

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


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.



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.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South County


When I told people that I was writing about Irvine, most people expressed the view that -- because it's a planned community -- it's an awful, boring place. Now some of the world’s great (or at least interesting) cities are planned communities: Brasília, Islamabad, Kyoto, New Delhi, and Washington, DC. I’m not going to suggest that Irvine is on the same level as those cities but there’s something uniquely attractive and Utopian about planned cities (I know I attempted many ambitious ones whilst playing Sim City). At the same time, there's a lot that's inhuman about them – which can be attractive to if you’re into artifice. But even if one considers Irvine to be the blandest, most sterile place on earth, where there are people there is life or, as a girl from Tustin recently said when we were discussing Irvine, "Well, people like me come from places like that."


  
                      Irvine planners                                                                Aerial view of West Irvine



GEOGRAPHY and LOCATION

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Irvine

Irvine is neighbored by Tustin to the north, Santa Ana to the northwest, Costa Mesa to the west, Newport Beach to the southwest, Laguna Hills onto the southeast, and Lake Forest to the east. San Diego Creek is the city’s primary watercourse and its largest tributary is Peters Canyon Wash. Most of Irvine is situated on a broad, flat valley between Loma Ridge in the north and the San Joaquin Hills in the south although the northern annexations of previously unincorporated Orange County is characterized by its hills, plateaus and canyons.

While Irvine is undoubtedly safe, its completely planned character and restrictions seem to have effectively stifled most unofficial, unsanctioned expressions of culture and individuality. Every neighborhood (subdivisions euphemistically referred to as villages) has its chosen, specific character and the same sorts of strip malls, commercial centers, churches, schools, and parks designed to make them self-contained and cut down on unnecessary commuting. People have come up with joking mottoes for the city including "Irvine: We Have 62 Different Words for Beige," "Where Bland is in Demand," "Sixteen Zip Codes, Six Floor Plans," "Sorry, I Thought This Was My House," and "City by the Beige." It's widely referred to as "The Bubble." In 2011, the OC Register ran a story titled, "Breaking News: Non-beige homes approved in Irvine."

A side effect of this is that it’s hard for the casual explorer. How to prioritize visiting one neighborhood over another? The overall effect is very samey (in spite of the attempts at varied village identities) and center-less. Few buildings rise above two stories and from the street I continually couldn't see much besides trees, walls, and rooftops. Few things caught me eye and piqued my interest.


View of Irvine from jet pack


Since it’s so spread out and mostly flat, the best way of exploring Irvine might be by bicycle -- or jet pack. There are 454 km (282 miles) of bike lanes and 71.6 km (44.5 miles) of off-road bike trails. The city is also served by Metrolink’s Orange County Line. Additionally, since 2008, Irvine has offered four bus lines as part of its appley, sorry, aptly-named iShuttle bus service.


Irvine's iShuttle (image source: So Cal Metro)

IRVINE SKYLINE

There are a few taller buildings. The tallest building in Irvine (and third tallest building in Orange County) is the 20-story Park Place Tower, completed in 2007. The previously tallest building in Irvine, the 19-story Jamboree Center, was completed in 1990. The third tallest skyscraper is the 14-story Opus Center Irvine II, completed in 2002. The fourth tallest structure is the 17-story Waterfield Tower, completed in 1987. The Irvine Marriott is also 17-stories and the 2600 Michelson is 16 stories.


As with everywhere, there is culture in Irvine, though it seems to occur in a controlled manner in pre-determined locations. Finding it was a challenge but one I relished undertaking. After all, when the OC Weekly trots out its annual “Best of OC” lists, Irvine always takes a lot -- maybe most -- of the honors.

First a bit of history…

*****

ANTIQUITY TO THE MEXICAN ERA


Ranchos of Orange County, California


Archaeological evidence suggests that the area now occupied by  Irvine has been inhabited for between 12,000 – 18,000 years. Around 2,000 years ago the Tongva arrived from the Sonoran Desert to the east. Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolà arrived in 1769 and claimed the land for Spain. In 1821, Mexico gained independence from Spain and secularized the Spanish ranchos. Portions of three of the ranches – Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, Rancho San Joaquin and Rancho Lomas de Santiago – would later become Irvine Ranch.


Map showing Irvine Ranch


EARLY AMERICAN ERA

In 1848, the Mexican-American War ended with Mexico’s defeat and California was admitted to the Union in 1850. In 1864, a calamitous drought convinced Rancho San Joaquin’s owner, the extravagant Jose Andres Sepulveda, to sell 200 km2 to Benjamin and Thomas Flint, Llewellyn Bixby, and Irish immigrant James Irvine (whose portion was by far the largest). In 1866, the group purchased the 190 km2 Rancho Lomas de Santiago. In 1868, lands of Ranch Santiago de Santa Ana were divided among the group, which founded Irvine Ranch as a sheep operation. Irvine Ranch’s lands included those of modern day Irvine as well as most of Newport Beach (aside from Newport Bay), Crystal Cove and Laguna Coast wildernesses, and more surrounding land.


James Irvine house, built in 1868 (image source: Irvine Historical Society)

Irvine commissioned a home to be built in 1868. It was ultimately demolished in 1961. Today, the oldest building on Irvine Ranch (built around 1877) is home to the Irvine Historical Museum and the Irvine Historical Society (established in 1977). Today the building is the oldest wooden home between Anaheim and San Diego

In 1876, after another devastating drought, James Irvine bought his partners’ interests. Irvine died in 1886. In 1887, the Santa Fe Railroad (actually the San Bernardino and San Diego Railroad subsidiary) extended its line south to Fallbrook Junction and a station was added on Irvine Ranch. In 1888, Orange County split from Los Angeles County. Irvine’s son, James Irvine, Jr, incorporated his father’s holdings as The Irvine Company when he inherited it on his 25th birthday, in 1892. He later began shifting the ranching focus from sheep to cattle. He also oversaw the diversification of the ranch's agriculture by planting olives, citrus crops, and lima beans. Irvine also began subdividing some of the land and allowing tenant farmers to work it.



THE VILLAGE OF MYFORD 


Irvine Service Station (source: First American)


Around 1909 a town arose around the new stop named Myford (“Irvine” was already taken by a stop and town in Calaveras County, named after another Irvine in the family), after Irvine’s son when houses began to appear. A blacksmith’s had been built in 1888. In 1889 a barely warehouse was constructed, as was Myford’s first school. The Irvine General Store was added in 1912 after proprietor Kate Munger finally convinced Irvine to allow her to do so over his objections that working was unladylike. In 1913, the Irvine Hotel was built behind the general store. 



The Irvine Hotel (source: First American)



TOMATO SPRINGS BANDIT

In 1912, a drifter named Joe Matlock asked Irvine Ranch resident William Cook for work and was told that there was none. He later returned and tied up Cook's thirteen-year-old daughter and attacked his sixteen-year-old daughter. He then retreated to Tomato Springs (now Portola Springs) and a posse was formed to pursue him. The next morning he forced a rancher at gun point to feed him. When the posse caught up with him, Matlock killed deputy sheriff Robert Squire after shooting him six times. Three other deputies were shot and wounded before Matlock was felled, most likely by his own hand. Unrecognized, his corpse was paraded around Santa Ana before his identity was discovered. It turned out he was son of a onetime Eugene, Oregon mayor. He was buried as Ira Jones to save his father from embarrassment.



EARLY IRVINE


Railroad passing through Irvine with bean packing plant (source: Dissent the Blog)

In 1914, after the death of William Irvine (the Irvine that the Irvine in Calaveras County was named after), that town was renamed Carson Hill. Soon after, the residents of Myford renamed their town Irvine. By the 1920s, the Venta Spur of the railroad shipped citrus from the many then-new processing plants in what’s now Northwood to the rest of the county. (The plants began to close in the 1970s and the line was finally abandoned in 1985 and converted to a bike trail in 1999. Another railroad spur, the Irvine Industrial Spur, is also currently being considered for conversion to bike path.) A second school was built in 1929 and the original school became a community hall. The second school was later destroyed by arson.


Irvine Ranch Historic Park avocado grove



Irvine Ranch Historic Park buildings -- tenant housing?



EL TORO 



The Marine Corps Air Station El Toro circa 1947


During World War II, 4,000 acres of lima bean fields (Irvine was once the world’s largest producer of the legume) government for the establishment of the MCAS El Toro and the Tustin Marine Base. The loss of land to military bases, the loss of farmers to the war and the resultant changing tax base marked the end of Irvine’s agricultural period. James Irvine, Jr, died in 1947 aged 80. At that time, Myford assumed the presidency of the Irvine Company and began allowing for limited urban developments of select areas.


JAMBOREE ROAD


Jamboree Road


In 1953, Irvine Ranch hosted the Boy Scouts’ third National Jamboree in what’s now Newport Beach. Jamboree Road, which connects Orange to Newport Beach, was thus named in honor of the event. On 11 January 1959, Myford Irvine commit suicide by shooting himself with a .22 revolver, first in the abdomen and then the head.


UC IRVINE



After Myford’s unexpected suicide, the University of California asked The Irvine Company for 4 km2 on which to build a new campus. Most of the land was basically donated (sold for $1) and an additional 2 km2 were purchased for a larger amount. University of California Irvine (UCI) opened in 1965 and is the second newest of the University of California’s campus, after the one in Merced. The UCI campus includes many of Irvine’s most interesting attractions. There’s Aldrich Park, Anteater Recreation Center, Beall Center for Art & Technology, Bren Events Center, CAC Gallery, Irvine Arboretum, Irvine Barclay Theatre, Room Gallery, The Hill, University Art Gallery, and the University Club. In 1967, famous photographer Ansel Adams photographed the campus, designed by futurist architect William Pereira -- best known for designing LACMA and later, San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid. (Click here to see a slide show of both Adams's photos and recreations called In Ansel Adams' Footsteps).

OTHER SCHOOLS IN IRVINE

Nowadays UCI is joined in the field of academia by Brandman University, Concordia University, Irvine Valley College, the Orange County Center of the University of Southern California, and satellite campuses of Alliant International University, California State University Fullerton, University of La Verne, Chicago School of Professional Psychology-Irvine, and Pepperdine University


BIRTH OF A CITY


Ray Watson (in black hat) on the Irvine Ranch (source: Raymond L. Watson Papers) 


In the 1960s, Irvine Ranch employee Raymond Watson and the UCI’s consulting architect, William Pereira, drew up plans for a 50,000 population City of Irvine to surround the new school. The small agricultural town (formerly Myford) that had grown up around the train station and post office was re-named East Irvine. The early "villages" (again, Irvine's designation for neighborhoods) included Culverdale (now Westpark), El Camino Real, NorthwoodTurtle Rock, University Park, and Walnut. They were all incorporated along with Irvine on 28, December, 1971 with a combined population of about 10,000 people. Science-Fiction fan and idealist Pereira was quoted as saying of the planners' approach “An ounce of farsighted planning is worth a pound of urban renewal a generation hence.” 


William L. Pereira amongst renderings


OTHER IRVINE VILLAGES

Watson described each of the villages as “a series of pearls, each special in its own way.” Although obviously a booster of his planned community, the neighborhoods are all close to numerous recreational features like lakes, parks and open spaces as well as schools and shopping centers. A few, like Turtle Rock, are named after the natural features around which they are built.

Nowadays other villages include College Park, Columbus Grove, Deerfield, El Camino Glen, Greentree, Harvard Square, Heritage Fields, Irvine Groves, Irvine Spectrum (yes, the big mall is a village), Laguna Altura, Lambert Ranch, Northpark, Northpark Square, Oak Creek, Old Towne Irvine, Orangetree, Orchard Hills, Park Lane, Parkside, Planning Area 40, Portola Springs, Quail Hill, Racquet Club, Rancho San Joaquin, Rosegate, Shady Canyon, Stonegate, The Colony, The Ranch, The Willows, Turtle Ridge, University Hills, University Town Center, West Irvine, Windwood, Woodbridge, Woodbury, and Woodbury East.


Grand entrance into one of Irvine's currently-under-construction villages


Entry into each village is marked by triumphal arches with unused seating areas, towers, gates, or sections of walls that monumentalize the mundane – the same way Irvine does its shopping centers. This kind of architectural practice isn't unique to Irvine. I’ve seen many mid-century apartments with Polynesian elements billed with names like “The Sleepy Lagoon” or mock Tudor complexes named things like “Cavalier Arms Manor” or what have you. I often amuse myself with the hoity-toity names of banal strip malls... but Irvine does it on an almost Disney/Vegas/Dubai scale with a lack of whimsy that suggests to me a completely straight face. 


IRVINE IN ITS SECOND DECADE


  
                                       Wild Rivers                                                                      The Marketplace - Irvine


The population of Irvine surpassed the planned 50,000 figure in its first decade of existence and surpassed 62,000 by 1980. That decade witnessed the formation of several new institutions. The Ayn Rand Institute was founded in 1985, three years after the founder of Objectivism’s death. Rand had earlier founded The Foundation for the New Intellectual but it was dissolved when the ARI was founded. A year after the ARI was established, the water park Wild Rivers opened on the site of the former Lion Country Safari, a drive-through zoo. Following the expiration of its lease with the The Irvine Company, it closed in 2011 but after a sale, is set to reopen in 2014. In 1988, the Irvine Company opened The Marketplace, a mall that straddles the border of Irvine and Tustin. It was designed by my least favorite architect (nothing personal), Ricardo Legorreta. Legorreta also designed the Camino Real Hotel in Mexico. Angelenos are probably more familiar with his brutalist/post-modern hybrid structures in Downtown's Pershing Square.


IRVINE AT THE END OF THE CENTURY

1990 saw Irvine’s population pass the 100,000 mark. A sort of downtown was constructed to serve the surging population, the Irvine Spectrum Center.

IRVINE SPECTRUM CENTER


Moroccan minaret at the mall - a muezzin makes the call to shop five times a day




Before there were similar outdoor mall/ersatz downtowns like Fairfax's The Grove, Glendale's The Americana, Monterey Park's Atlantic Times Square, or San Gabriel's The San Gabriel Square and there was The Irvine Spectrum Center. The first part of it opened in 1995, when most suburbs were still in love with indoor malls. The final phase was completed in 2006. As with Irvine's villages, different areas of the mall have different architectural themes. There's also a merry-go-round, a Ferris wheel, and in winter, an ice skating rink.





HAN TWINS MURDER CONSPIRACY


Intro to Evil Twins (including tacky "Asian" music)

The other big news of the '90s was the so-called Han Twins Murder Conspiracy. In November, 1996, Jeena Han supposedly conspired to murder her twin sister, Sunny. The Han sisters were born in South Korea and moved to Orange County when they were twelve with their mother, Boo I. Kim. Kim was a cocktail waitress and compulsive gambler who left the girls to fend for themselves sometimes for days at a time. After being sent to live with an uncle, they became co-valedictorians at their high school in Campo. After high school, however, their lives both went pear-shaped, culminating in a sensational series of events covered on an A&E documentary, Sister Against Sister: The Twin Murder Plot (1999), The Investigators episode "Evil Twin" (2001), the Snapped episode “Jeena Han” (2005), and the pilot episode of the Investigation Discovery show, Evil Twins. Meanwhile, the sisters have reconciled and many mostly Korean-Americans (including Sunny) have attempted to secure Jeena's freedom -- some apparently chalking up the whole affair to so-called "K Rage."


21st CENTURY IRVINE


Orange County Great Park hot air balloon 


After a decline in Irvine’s growth in the 1990s, it once again increased in the 2000s. In 2003, the 19 km2 of land occupied by the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro (until 1999) was re-annexed by Irvine. It is currently being transformed into Orange County Great Park which will, when completed, be Orange County’s largest municipal park. Since 2007, visitors can visit and board a hot air balloon that climbs 500 feet into the air.


THE BIOFERM SHOOTING

High profile crime returned to Irvine in 2000 when the Biofem, Inc’s chief executive, James Patrick Riley, was shot in the face at the firm's offices by a masked gunman who sped away in a van that turned out to be owned by Dino D’Saachs. Phone records showed that D’Saachs had spoken with one of Riley’s co-workers, Larry Creed Ford, that morning. After the police questioned Ford about the crime he commit suicide at his home in the Woodbridge village. A suicide note professed his innocence but added that there were things of interest to the police in his home. Upon investigation, the authorities discovered vessels buried in his yard containing C-4 and assault rifles. His refrigerator contained 266 bottles and vials of pathogens including Clostridium tetani and Clostridum difficile. It turned out that the company were close to developing a new female contraceptive and also had ties to South Africa’s biological weapons program. Suffice to say, it was all very odd. (Read a much more in-depth account here).


NEW HOUSES OF WORSHIP


Pao Fa Temple (image source: Anita L.)


Pao Fa Temple (寶法寺), one of the largest Buddhist monasteries and temples in the US, opened in 2002. It was founded by Taiwanese abbot, Venerable Jen-Yi (真一法師), on advice he received from Venerable Master Hsuan Hua of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas back in 1990.


The Islamic Center of Irvine (source: Tashfeen B.)


The Islamic Center of Irvine was founded in 2004. It’s one of the largest Muslim congregations in California. A con man from Tustin, Craig Monteilh, claimed to have spied on the congregation on behalf of the FBI. The story was covered on PRI’s This American Life episode, “The Convert.”


IRVINE TODAY

The most recent population estimate, that of the California Department of Finance, estimates it to be 223,729. One time Irvine resident Zack De La Rocha (of Rage Against the Machine) once raged against Irvine, stating that it was "one of the most racist cities imaginable. If you were a Mexican in Irvine, you were there because you had a broom or a hammer in your hand." De La Rocha moved there in 1971, when the population was barely over 10,000 and the racial demographics were very different. Today Irvine is a fairly diverse city with a population that is roughly 45% non-Latino white, 40% Asian, 9% Latino, and 2% black.

*****

ARTS & CULTURE IN IRVINE


Performers at the Irvine Global Village Festival 


The most celebrated cultural event in Irvine is the Irvine Global Village Festival, which takes place every annually and celebrates the ethnic diversity of Irvine’s populace. It began in 1998 as the Multicultural Festival and took its current name in 2001.


Outside the Irvine Fine Arts Center


Artists' Tales - Erin Dunn exhibit


Inside the Irvine Fine Arts Center

I actually started my exploration of Irvine at the Irvine Fine Arts Center. It opened in 1980 and offers both exhibition and education spaces. On the day that I visited the exhibit was titled “Artists’ Tales” (although the sign above the entrance said “Artist’s Tales.” It was a group exhibit featuring installations, video art, drawings, paintings, mixed media pieces, dioramas, sculptures and more from Erin Dunn, Kristi Kent, Nathan Margoni, and Siobhan McClure. In a classroom, adult students were busy making their own art.


PARKS


Heritage Park 


After I left the Arts Center I strolled around Heritage Park, on which it is located. There was a multitude of Canada Geese and other species of goose as well as a large variety of ducks, and therefore an astonishing amount of guano to dodge. Heritage Park is a community park and includes the Heritage Park Community Center.


Heritage Park Community Center


The center is home to swimming pools, soccer fields, tennis courts, racquetball courts, grills, play areas, basketball courts, concession stands and (with reservation only) bounce houses.


Northwood Community Park soccer fields


Whatever criticisms one might have of Irvine, it is decidedly not park-poor. In addition to Heritage Park there is Alton Athletic Park, Colonel Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park, Deerfield Community Park (which includes a nine-hole Frisbee golf course), Harvard Athletic Park, Harvard Skatepark, Hicks Canyon Park, Jeffrey Open Space Trail, Lakeview Senior Center, Las Lomas Community Park, Lower Peters Canyon Community Park, Northwood Community Park, Oak Creek Community Park, Portola Springs Community Park, Quail Hill Community Park, Rancho Senior Center, Turtle Rock Community Park, University Community Park, Windrow Community Park, Woodbridge Community Park, and Woodbury Community Park.


Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial


Northwood Park includes the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial – the first war memorial erected in the country before the wars in question were over. In 2010 it listed the names of over 5,700 Americans who’ve died in the current military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s updated with the names of more deceased soldiers yearly and I stopped by. Other public spaces not part of Irvine’s parks department include the aforementioned Aldritch Park in the UC Irvine campus, the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, and William R. Mason Regional Park.

There are also, by design, neighborhood parks (as opposed to the aforementioned public, community parks) for the various villages including Alderwood Park, Blue Gum Park, Brywood Park, Canyon Park, Carrotwood Park, Chaparral Park, Citrusglen Park, College Park, Comstock Park, Coralwood Park, Creekview Park, Dovecreek Park, Flagstone Park, Hoeptner Park, Homestead Park, Knollcrest Park, Meadowood Park, Orchard Park, Pepperwood Park, Pinewood Park, Plaza Park, Presley Park, Racquet Club Park, Ranch Park, San Carlo Park, San Leandro Park, San Marco Park, Settler's Park, Silkwood Park, Sweet Shade Park, Sycamore Park, Trailwood Park, Valencia Park, Valley Oak Park, Willows Park, and Woodside.


LIBRARIES

Irvine has three public libraries: Heritage Park Regional Library (the collection of which is largely focused on business), University Park Library (the collection of which includes a substantial Chinese collection), and Katie Wheeler Library. Most of UCI’s libraries are open to the public as well.


Katie Wheeler Library


On the day of my visit I checked out the latter. Katie Wheeler was the granddaughter of James Irvine and the library is a replica of the home in which she grew up. I tried to glean what I could from the book Irvine Ranch – different by design: images 1960 – 2000 but couldn’t dally because I still had much ground to cover and the December day was short.


PERFORMING ARTS


The marquee of the Irvine Improv


There aren’t many proper music venues for a city of Irvine’s size. There’s the whimsically-named Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre (opened as Irvine Meadows in 1981) and performers sometimes pop in at Bacchus' Secret Cellar Wine Shoppe and Bar but that seems to be about it. Irvine Barclay Theatre & Cheng Hall and Irvine Valley College Performing Arts Center both feature a wider array of performing arts. As far as proper theater there’s New Swan Theater. As far as dinner theater, there’s the annual Madrigal Dinner at UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts. For comedy there's the Irvine Improv.



Emily Sassy Lime from Sadie Shaw on Vimeo.

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


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Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography art opening at 1650 Gallery

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 19, 2012 02:16pm | Post a Comment

In a recent poll of Americans conducted by Public Policy Polling, only 33% of respondents said that they view Los Angeles favorably whereas 40% view it negatively. 27% stated that they’re not sure. Of America’s largest five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia), LA is the only one with a higher negative response than positive. As someone who lives in and loves Southern California, this disappoints but doesn’t surprise me.

  

Growing up in other parts of the country, pop culture sculpted and skewed my perception of the Southland more than anything else. Living here I consider it to be the most misrepresented too. I’ve never been to Philadelphia but my experiences in other large American cities haven’t produced the same sort of glaring dissonance between my expectations and experience that LA has. And with LA the center of America’s pop culture machine, I have to wonder why the city doesn’t do a better job of showcasing its positive attributes instead of its negative – mainly conspicuous consumption, movie stardom and gang culture.

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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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