Opinion: Musings on the Coast


You Can’t Make This Up

Finally its open again, I thought to myself as I settled on my usual stool at The Lumberyard bar. It was Saturday night, and before I knew it, Jean the gorgeous bartender whisked over my usual martini, said hello, and we chatted for a few moments.

Then I looked at the entrance, and damn, in walked Petra the Hot Blond bot (who exists only in ones imagination). Petra wasnt wearing her usual slip of a dress; she was wearing loose jogging pants, a hoodie, and sneakers. No matter, she sashayed over to her usual seat next to me, and Jean served up Petras usual drink too, but looked at me and mouthed the word, What?”

I got it. A jogging suit on Saturday night? Petra gave me her usual look of irritated contempt (shes always angry) and stated, Laguna people never dress up. They look like slobs, so I dressed like a slob too.”

So why are you angry this time?”

I just visited the newly re-opened Hotel Laguna. The place is popping and people are dressed to the nines.”

Dressed up?”

Yeah, like they were at a fancy in-placewith a dress code—men in nice pants, formal shirts, coats, even polished shoes; and women in party dresses, spiked heels, hair all perfect. And then there was me, looking like this.” She gestured down at her outfit. I also attended the hotels Grand Opening and most of em dressed like this.” She again gestured at her jogging suit. But its like a giant sea change since then. The word obviously went out: finally, there is a place you can dress up. And people want it.”

I thought about that, then, So you cant be mad at that. Whats really wrong?”

Ill get to that,” She tossed back the rest of her cocktail and ordered another.

Hey, go easy there.”

Nah, Im a bot, I cant get drunk. Only humans like you can get drunk and you hardly drink anymore”

Well,” I replied, have that cocktail and tell me whats on your mind.”

Petra fumed while letting her obvious fury increase, then jammed her finger into the air. Ok,” she said, I told you I went to the Grand Opening of Hotel Laguna. It was packed and you got free Hors doeuvrs and drinks. It was fun. People were celebrating.  Maybe the rooms arent open yet, but the lobby areas with the restaurants, bars and outdoor dining sure were. There even was a ribbon-cutting by the Mayor and speeches.”

Petra,” I said, I already know that, and I know the drinks were really strong. A couple of friends got smashed.”

She waved her hands, You dont get it, you idiot. Toni Iseman and George Weiss were there and Weiss even wanted to cut the ribbon.”

My brow rose, So what? Theyre on the City Council.  ts part of what they do. You know, attend openings, right?”

You still dont get it. Those two did everything they could to stop the reopening. Just like all the folks in Village Laguna. They didnt want it. They placed obstacle after obstacle to stop it. Weiss even went so far he was censured by the City Council. You get in now?”

Well hell, theyre politicians. What else should they do?”

Petra shot back Show some class, thats what. They opposed it and now theyre trying to take credit. Seriously?”

She grumbled on, then threw back her head and laughed like crazy, Laguna Beach. Oh man, you cant make this up.”

Michael is a Laguna Beach resident and principal officer of Laguna Forward PAC.

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  1. Michael Ray’s attempt at being clever falls flat to persons that understand the twenty first century culture. Perhaps this type of sexist blather would have been acceptable 30 years ago and maybe that is why he thinks it is still an appropriate way to make a point and and may explain his acolyte‘s (Blake) actions. However the theses of his argument is, again, not borne out by the facts. Much as he would like to to have it so neither Toni or George were against the remodelling of the Hotel Laguna. No one that I know was against it as well. What many of us were against was the way hat it was done. Giving special privileges to oligarchs while we residents have to obey the rules is what we are against. It seems that Ray and the other self appointed “we know what’s best for Laguna residents” crowd aka Liberate Laguna/Forward are fearful that the LRF ballot initiative will give us a more equal playing field and perhaps diminish this growing crony capitalism that has become entrenched in Laguna Beach. And if anyone disputes the fact that we have crony capitalism then demand that the city government update the analysis done by John Thomas et al in 2018 where they concluded that the net COST from tourists in Laguna was $20,000,000 annually. And how is this this $20 million shortfall made up? Certainly not from from commercial building owners, new development fees or paid by tourists. It comes from us residents who are apparently seen by both the city government and the developer crowd as cash cows that should be silent and let the oligarchs and their hand picked city government run the city.

    We the residents have to live with the consequences while the developers and the commercial real estate groups profit at our monetary expense as well as the degradation of our quality of life. So shouldn’t we have a voice?

  2. Poor Chris, having to “obey the rules” while our city strived mightily to finally get our blighted landmark hotel opened for the benefit of all. Our property values nearly doubled in the last year living in such a tourist infected cesspool. We are not only cash cows. We are whales. And Thomas’s report was based on the debunked fallacy that we have 6 million annual visitors. Stop complaining and love on Laguna a little. it’s tedious listening to you people week after week casting gloom and doom.

  3. Mr. Catsimanes certainly enjoys throwing around the usual Village Laguna lies about “self-appointed” folks who deem “they know best.” After all, only Village Laguna “knows best” and what he really resents is that their forty-year monopoly on their power over Laguna has been broken.


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