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:

 

1.  THE AFTERNOON SEA BREEZES

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 shuttlestock.com

 

2. THE VIEW OF MALIBU AND THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS ON A CLEAR DAY

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 camposfamousburritos.com

 

3. CAMPOS FAMOUS BURRITOS, ON 20TH STREET AND PICO BOULEVARD

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 tripadvasor.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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EIGHT ESSENTIAL SUMMER SONGS: My Personal Favorites

 

 

These are songs that I have always enjoyed this time of year – and still do, many of them going back to my childhood.

The ones from the 1970s in particular continue to bring a smile to my face and likely always will, being that they were the summer hits when I was single digit age, hence providing some very good memories of that time.

Speaking of time, I won’t waste anymore of it;

Here they are in chronological order, courtesy of YouTube – just click on the link…

 

 

1. SUMMERTIME BLUES, Eddie Cochran (1958)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ti38LFY7x1Y

 

 

2. HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME, Sly and the Family Stone (1969)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NVVe1DkVsQ

 

 

3. SATURDAY IN THE PARK, Chicago (1972)

 

 

 

4. SUMMER BREEZE, Seals & Crofts (1972)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsW8rXPcnM0

 

 

5. SUMMER, War (1976)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1ZFuPJDimE

 

 

6. CRUEL SUMMER, Bananarama (1983)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ePIZugahFc

 

 

7. SUMMERTIME, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince – who we all know today as Will Smith (1991)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kr0tTbTbmVA

 

 

8. SMOOTH, Santana featuring Rob Thomas (1999)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Whgn_iE5uc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RANDOM THOUGHTS OF SUMMER

Being that I grew up in Santa Monica, I thought it only appropriate that I posted a picture of its beach. Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com.

 

I think it just comes with the progression of life in general;

The notion of summer being one long holiday when you’re a kid, ala the end of school and that “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers…” thing.

Think about it…

Unless you screwed up in class and got bad grades during the regular school year, thus sentencing you to hard time in summer school,

Or if you’re of high school age and working at some crappy minimum wage, no benefits or basic rights, one step up from slavery type of job – or trying to get such,

Summer is three months (or two and a half today) of fun as in going to camps specializing in things you love to do, taking vacations to far off exotic places, visiting paradises like Zuma Beach in Malibu or Disneyland or whatever theme parks you may fancy, and watching spectacular fireworks displays on the evening of July 4th – and buying firecrackers and setting them off yourself.

Which you can’t do anymore in all but perhaps one or two communities in the Los Angeles area.

Not to mention hanging out at the local swimming pool and eating delicious barbecue at parties.

Or doing nothing at all, like many of us did back in the day – or at least I did as the majority of my summers were spent lazing around at my grandparents’ in Riverside, CA, not venturing outside until dusk due to the 90 + degree weather, watching TV, getting to play outside until 8:00 p.m., and essentially just vegging.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kr0tTbTbmVA

I forgot how good this song was; an essential tune of summer by Will Smith, or the Fresh Prince (& Jazzy Jeff) as he was known then when this dropped in 1991. Courtesy of YouTube – just click on the link.

 

Unfortunately, all that ends when you become an adult in society’s eyes.

Contrary to when you’re a kid, life doesn’t stop when June 21st comes around;

Rent and bills still have to be paid,

Your place of work doesn’t go on a two-or-three month hiatus as the best you can expect is two-week vacation – and that’s if you’re extremely lucky as you can’t put it past your overseers – I mean supervisors – to come up to you at the very last minute and inform you about some big project that you need to do, thus nuking your long-awaited freedom.

Personally, like more or less every other youngster I used to think that summer was the best time of year, for obvious reasons.

Now, and for pretty much my entire adulthood – I would say since my early 20s – that is not the case as I prefer Spring and Winter.

Spring? the leaves are just budding and it’s not so hot.

Winter? I like the chilliness and bundling up.

Not to mention the major holiday commemorating the birth of our Lord and Savior that anchors that season.

 

Another essential thing about summer; fireworks displays like these in Long Beach, CA every 4th day of July. Photo courtesy of timeout.com

 

Speaking of chilliness, there’s one big reason why summer doesn’t particularly hold my fancy anymore…

THE HEAT.

My body has gotten less tolerant to it as I’ve gotten older.

And the fact that it’s gotten hotter the past decade or so – we all know how temperatures have reached 120 degrees in places like Phoenix, AZ the past few days (my condolences to those folks) – hasn’t helped.

To sum it up in three words…

I HATE HOT.

And to sum up my feelings about this just-begun season…

I miss the way summer was as a kid, the way it was something to look forward to with all the fun and relaxing that often went along with it.

Now, that’s not really the case.

It’s a bit of a pity, but also inevitable as that’s part of one’s evolving as an adult, the responsibilities that don’t stop just because it’s June, July and August.

As such, for those who can afford it,

I hope your summer’s a good one.

 

I like the rainbow-like colors of these lounge chairs at this beach. Photo courtesy of the odysseyonline.com