SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA: The Three Things I Like Best About That City

My favorite image of the town I grew up in and lived for 22 years….


Everybody has a hometown.

Technically, I have two…

Riverside, CA, fifty miles east of Los Angeles, where I was born, spent the first nine years of my life, and have idyllic memories of as I lived with loving grandparents in a rural community outside of that city.

The other place I consider my hometown?

Santa Monica, CA, fifteen miles west of downtown Los Angeles, a town famous for its beach and pier.

It’s in Santa Monica where I lived for 22 and a half years, eighteen in one house.

It’s in Santa Monica where I spent my pubescence, adolescence, and young adulthood.

And it’s in Santa Monica where I did the milestone/rites of passage; play little league,  get my first  (unrequited) crushes on girls,  graduate high school, work at my first jobs, things like that.

Though it’s approaching twenty years since I lived there, moving to Culver City at the end of 1998, there are three things about that seaside town that provide fond memories.

I won’t waste any time with listing those three things:



Being that it borders the Pacific Ocean (or technically, Santa Monica Bay), Santa Monicans have been blessed with what I call God’s air conditioning, as starting at roughly 3:00 p.m. winds from the ocean cool that city – and neighboring ones like Venice, Pacific Palisades, and Marina Del Rey – and make it very desirable while starting at between five to ten miles inland the temperature significantly rises.

On hot days, that means that while people in Santa Monica and other beach cities are reveling in those cool breezes, folks living inland are suffering.

Why else does the beach in Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu, and other places get crowded with wall-to-wall people during heat waves?



A VERY nice view of the Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu, and Point Dume at sunset. Photo courtesy of



On a clear day, particularly after it rains, I always loved looking north and viewing the Santa Monica Mountains and various places like Pacific Palisades, Malibu, and Point Dume.

The views of those area is especially spectacular from the Santa Monica Pier, which I took some time to do on Christmas morning in 1998, just a few days before I moved away as I wanted to set my eyes on that incredible view one last time.

I unfortunately haven’t been able to see that sight due to the pier being crowded with tourists and life’s obligations in general, but rest assured that view is something about Santa Monica that I’ve always appreciated.



My all-time favorite place to eat – sorry that the picture is so small! Photo courtesy of



There has been no other place where I’ve preferred to eat in my lifetime.

Since age eight, I have been enjoying the tacos, nachos, and burritos from what was originally called Las Palmas until it was renamed Campos around the late 1970s.

Having lived two blocks from Campos for 18 years, I have had a long history with that place…

I remember taking field trips with my junior high school Spanish class to that Mexican eatery for lunch, taking dares to drink the hot green salsa.

Though I was a bit too much of a goody-goody to do so, many of my friends have ditched school to enjoy Campos food.

I can recall taking dates there during my early 20’s.

And my latest enjoyable memory of Campos?

Going there on my 50th birthday to buy avocado burritos, which incredibly enough I had never tried as I always preferred ground beef tacos in my youth and chicken tacos and burritos in later years.

I don’t have to tell you the waves of nostalgia that passed through me that day.

In fact, if someone asked me what my number one memory of living in Santa Monica is, Campos would be it.

I thank God that there’s a branch about a block and a half from where I live in Culver City; their tacos was the first meal I had upon moving there.

I’m quite proud and blessed that I’ve been eating and enjoying Campos food for over forty years, and will continue to.


So there they are – my three fondest memories of my twenty-two and a half years in Santa Monica.

Hopefully these descriptions make anyone from that town who may be reading this smile.



The inside of the Original Campos on 20th & Pico in Santa Monica, which is so successful there are several branches all over Los Angeles’ Westside. Photo courtesy of










I like this picture, as it explains what those on the Autism Spectrum Disorder often go through. Photo courtesy of




For the first few years of me writing and blogging online, I wrote articles about my personal struggles with that high-functioning form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome.

I wrote about being thought of by many as a little strange at best and an insensitive, annoying dork who doesn’t realize that he is at worst, consequently being bullied and shunned during my formative years.

I have also detailed how being an “aspie” has contributed to depriving me of the ability to keep a job for any significant length of time, due to my inability to work well or cooperate with co-workers who I feel interact with me in a “You’re an inferior” manner, as well as certain authority figures whose interactions with me had led me to see them as totalitarian oppressors.

It became clear many years ago that having this condition has been a struggle for me, in that milestones such as being married to a woman I love with 2.5 kids in suburbia, a four-bedroom ranch house, and a career that’s fulfilling to the point where I can’t wait to get out of bed every morning to go to work has seemingly been too difficult a goal to attain, while most of my non-autistic peers were achieving that “American Dream” with relative ease.


Surprisingly enough, it’s not my intention to write a “Poor Me” dirge as I have written enough of those over the years.

As much as having Asperger’s has not been fun from a social standpoint, I realized some time ago that there have been, and are, some benefits that I have had in having AS.

With Asperger’s manifesting itself in various ways with various people – I often like to say that people who are aspies are like something that I’ve never seen due to living in sunny Southern California all of my life; snowflakes, as no two are exactly alike – here are the ways that AS has benefitted me:


1.   At the risk of sounding arrogant, it has led me to being academically ahead of many of my schoolmates during my elementary and junior high school years. I was reading at age two, tested at an 11th grade level in grammar and reading comprehension in sixth grade, and for the majority of my K-12 years was put in gifted and advanced placement classes.

In short, I was one of those smart kids, getting more than my share of A’s for the first eight or nine years of my schooling.

2.   Like other aspies, I had a complete fixation with certain things and subjects during my early days, the subject being maps and globes in my case.

Because of that, I could tell you how to get somewhere in whichever city I lived in, as I can recall tracing street maps off of atlases and the backs of telephone books, staring at and memorizing them for hours on end.

I’m sure this aspie obsession of mine would have come in handy if my family and I got lost while traveling.

I also vividly recall, during my time as a young-un, other topics that I had a complete obsession with, on a level of about a twenty on a scale of one to ten,  Robin Hood and the Peanuts cartoon and comic strips completely holding my fancy during my single-digit age days.

Later on as an adult I became obsessed with things like college football (especially my alma mater’s team, UCLA), and Las Vegas, which I got hooked on during my first visit there in 2006.

Lately I have become fascinated with English Premier League soccer – or football, as they call it, going on different sites like to find out things about the different clubs like Manchester United, their rivals Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton.

I don’t know if this knowledge has helped me in life, but I do know that it helps when I watch TV shows like “Jeopardy”; I have been told that I ought to try out for that long-running program.

3.   During my youth and adolescence, people told me that I had an incredible memory for various facts and events.

Even today, while my short-term memory sometimes goes on the blink, I periodically find myself remembering things that happened three and four decades ago without any provocation; it would be as if it happened yesterday.

When I later found that superior rote memory is one Asperger’s trait, I understood where that uncanny ability of mine came from.

4.  In a word: Creativity.

Which is another Aspie trait that I found that I had early on, in that it was somehow relatively easy for me to imagine different things and come up with ideas and stories; more so (I reckon) than the average neurotypical kid.

For instance, when I began to get obsessed with baseball at age ten, just for the fun of it I drew baseball stadiums and imagined myself playing in them; I particularly remember making a ballpark out of red Lego blocks and using it as a toy for a while.

Of course this aspie trait, and the others mentioned, were factors in some folks seeing me in a positive light, as a bright kid who was a bit further along than other kids my age as far as cognitive learning was concerned.


I’ll say one thing for these positive points of my aspieness…

For better or for worse, they have certainly contributed to the person I am now.

I suppose that has to count for something.

And I do appreciate being thought of as a unique individual by at least some of my peers and acquaintances, which is what I consider myself and which I’m forced to admit is a heck of a lot better than being seen as boring.



What many young aspies – and older ones for that matter – often endure, being ridiculed and teased. This young lady should take heart that ten years (or so) from this pic, they’ll likely be calling her “Boss”. Photo courtesy of