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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring San Clemente, The Spanish Village in Orange County

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

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

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

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

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

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

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California Fool's Gold -- Exporing Culver City, The Heart of Screenland

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 17, 2013 06:24pm | Post a Comment
ALL ROADS LEAD TO CULVER CITY

Culver City title image

Imagine for a moment that you are a contestant on the game show Jeopardy and you were presented with the answer, "This community's slogans have included 'The Motion Picture Capital of the World,' 'The Heart of Screenland,' and 'Where Hollywood Movies are Made?'" If you're like me you'd probably ask, "What is Hollywood?" with some confidence. If you did, however, Alex Trebek would make that slightly pained and disappointed expression and tell you that "the question we were looking for is "What is Culver City?" And again, if you're at all like me, you'd probably go, "Huh?" By the way, Jeopardy! has been filmed in Culver City since 1994.

Artwork in Culver City highlighting Hollywood
Artwork in Culver City highlighting Hollywood

Culver City is, in fact, both currently and historically a major hub in the production of mainstream American Cinema (you know, the ones usually referred to as "Hollywood" films) but for whatever reason -- and despite the best efforts of many Culverites -- it has been far less successful than the Hollywood neighborhood in connecting its name to the entertainment industry in the global public's mind. In fact, I'd wager that more tourists and Angelenos associate Burbank, North Hollywood, Studio City, and Universal City with "Hollywood" film production than they do Culver City.

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring East Pasadena

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 24, 2013 09:29pm | Post a Comment
TO SEE MY HOME IN EAST PASADENA

East Pasadena sign


This neighborhood exploration is about tiny East Pasadena. Despite its name, East Pasadena is an independent community and no more a part of the city of Pasadena than are South Pasadena or Altadena. Historically it was a much larger community but through many annexations it has shrunk to a small area that also includes the neighborhoods of Michillinda Park, a portion of Chapman Woods, and several numbered tracts.


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of East Pasadena
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of East Pasadena


South Pasadena is neighbored by Pasadena to the north and west, San Marino to the west, East San Gabriel to the south, and Arcadia to the east. Though an independent community, many of its businesses have Pasadena addresses.  East Pasadena is a small but diverse As of the 2010 census, the population was just 6,144 and 52% white, 35% Latino of any race (mostly Mexican), 23% Asian (mostly Chinese and Filipino), 3% black, and 1% Native American. Though the fastest growing population in the last ten years was Asian-American, it still has a ways to before it reaches a plurality and thus joins its neighbors in "The Far Eastside." Whatever East Pasadenans' ancestral origins, it is heavy on the American Flags... and USMC flags... and one Colombian one.

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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


Laguna Beach Postcard

INTRODUCTION 

Laguna Beach panorama

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

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

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Santa Catalina Island and Avalon

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 26, 2013 07:38pm | Post a Comment
WHERE THE SAMBA TAKES YOU OUT OF NOWHERE -- AVALON (AND SANTA CATALINA ISLAND)

Two weeks ago I made my first visit to one of California’s Channel Islands, Santa Catalina Island. For those that don’t know, Southern California is home to an archipelago of small, rugged islands off its coast. My 2012 New Year’s resolution was to visit one or more of the Channel Islands. Having failed to realize this wish by December of that year, I instead resolved to learn to tie a bow tie after being berated (jokingly, I think) for not knowing how do so despite operating a gentlemen’s shop. For the record, I accomplished this last minute resolution and wore a bow tie a few nights later New Year’s Eve that I tied all by myself. Any, since transportation via Catalina Express is free on one’s birthday, I decided to have another go at island life.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Santa Catalina Island
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Santa Catalina Island 

Accompanying me in her debut appearance was Una. In order to get as much out of our adventure as possible, we departed at some pre-dawn hour. After a hastily-devoured meal from McDonald's (which, though simple and clarified three times, managed nonetheless to be both screwed up and roof-of-the-mouth blisteringly hot) we raced down the docks and leapt aboard the boat with about two minutes to spare.

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