Local Currents


Let’s Get Weird


By David Vanderveen

“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” Dr. Seuss



Laguna is a tolerant community with a history of supporting uniqueness. It is part of what makes such a small town so special; it’s not clogged with chain stores or restaurants.


Last week when I was at Laguna Health Club, Sid Faranof, who co-founded Z Pizza with Susie Megroz 25 years ago, told me that he had just found out that their original location, the Z Pizza store between La Sirena Grill and Albertson’s, was being forced to move to make way for a Chase Bank branch.


Progress is fine and re-organizing strip malls happens, but there are some things that are sacred and should be preserved.


Z-Pizza started more than two decades ago in the same Albertson’s strip mall where the original store stands today. From those humble beginnings, Z has expanded into 17 states, Mexico, Sandi Arabia, and Vietnam (I wrote about my surprise bumping into a Z Pizza in Hanoi last year). I don’t think this is something we want to lose.


The fact that the original McDonald’s is still standing in San Bernardino, whether you eat there or not, is significant. It’s a seminal piece of American history that most people would agree you don’t want to lose.


Best-selling author Seth Godin discusses how the idea of ‘normal’ is becoming less relevant as mass institutions become less relevant in his recently released book “We Are All Weird.” With the Internet, people can aggregate in tribes of like-mindedness.


Products or services that fall outside what is considered “normal” or mass-marketed might be considered “weird” by some people, but according to Godin that’s what makes us happiest: our own right to self-determination.


Sid started something weird 20 years ago. He started the idea of pizza made from the best, organic and now even gluten-free ingredients. A tribe formed around that idea, which has attracted fans around the world.


When a weird idea starts in Laguna, creates a following, becomes a brand and goes viral, we should preserve the DNA of that idea. Brands born from our shared culture should be preserved and celebrated. The strip mall owner, the city planners and Sid need to figure this one out. We don’t want to lose a strategic piece of Laguna’s weird history.


David Vanderveen is a Laguna Beach resident, husband, father and energy drink entrepreneur. His email is [email protected].

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