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Don’t Worry, Be Happy

By Billy Fried

Now that we have our town back from the great unwashed, can we not agree this was our summer of epic content? No heat waves, and way less traffic—the first downward trend in many years! Why? And what’s going on with real estate? Prices are through the roof, but sales are flat as month-old seltzer.

Did Laguna finally jump the shark? Word get out that the cost of a vacation here is equivalent to college tuition? Or that visitors are unwelcome by many in our gilded ghetto? Nah, none of that would stop the wealthy from enjoying our microclimate of perfection.

It’s the economy, stupid. We’re told it’s booming, and not to worry about debt or trade wars. But the rich are holding. Because with Trump in charge, what could go right?

So, with our impending economic collapse, the climate crisis, the hostility in our daily discourse, and the impending destruction of our town by developers, let’s keep things cheery and marvel at having this little jewel of a seaside village to ourselves again.

Here’s my list of non-summer things that tickle my tummy and inoculate me against the daily diatribes of despair. In no particular order

The Pacific:Travel other parts of the world and find an ocean in peril, shrouded in litter and microplastics. But in a region of 24 million, we somehow keep it clean and refreshing, with the therapeutic smell of brine. Tell me you don’t feel most alive when swimming, snorkeling, paddling or surfing this brisk, alive, roiling sea. Autoimmune? Be gone!

Full Moon Drummingat Aliso Beach: Sure, it’s sometimes gargantuan and we often descend into sonic anarchy, but every now and again the universe aligns and we are all bound to the same unifying, glorious beat, under the stars with the waves crashing.

The Ranch: Who would have dreamed that Mark Christy could take that fallow, dank property and turn it into a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World? Probably most everyone. Harvest is a stunning room, and sitting by the first tee, listening to Jason Feddy sing at sunset, with Little Yosemite in the background is, well, foreplay!

Treasure Island: So much to love about this little gem of a beach park: the manmade berm at Goff Beach that creates a calm, protected bay for swimming and snorkeling. Public showers and bathrooms. The array of exotic succulents. And the best part—seeing the public gather, feast, do yoga, slack lines, whatever, and enjoying the same setting as the frontline homeowners.

Rooftop Bars and Restaurants:They offer splendid views above the din, and until we can widen our sidewalks or make Forest Ave a pedestrian plaza, I say more please. Especially on top of the Hotel Laguna and Laguna Cinema!

A Walkable Downtown: Even if we have no pedestrian plaza and no stores for locals, we still have calm streets, sidewalks, trees, and a lovely urban village. Now if we just had a place to sit.

The HIP District: OK, the name is pretentious, but the places are not. The Sound Spectrum, Rooftop, Laguna Books, Sapphire Pantry, Active Culture, Laguna Coffee, Seahorse Lounge (the first place with couches to park our bony butts) and of course the Dirtiest of Birds. Instead of calling it the HIP District (Historic and Interesting Places) perhaps we should rechristen it the LIP District (Local Infused Places).

Our Open Space: Lose yourself in our singular coastal ecosystem, brace for the smell of sage, the wildflowers, the rabbits, and the challenging pitches for bikers and hikers. And remind yourself every time you are there that you’re smack in the middle of a teeming megalopolis. Autoimmune? Be gone!

Heisler Park: Our own urban beach park with lawn bowling, public art, serious succulents, forever views, an amphitheater, picnic tables, yoga, and great surf. Plus you can drink beer and wine with an easy to obtain, over-the-counter permit.

Biking the Town: There are still skeptics who believe we’re not a biking town, but with electric bikes that keep pace with traffic, bike routes that never take PCH, and our most perfect climate and scenery, we just need to see more of them to change perceptions and make drivers friendly and happy to share the road.

Our Off-Season Celebrations: Art & Nature, Hospitality Night, the Aquathon, Laguna Dance Festival, Fete de la Musique, Sunset Serenades, the volleyball tournament, Halloween on Oak Street, Patriots Day Parade, Laguna Beach Live, and of course, the Brooks Street Surfing Contest—when it goes off this fall.

Our Neighborhoods: At the end of the day, there is nothing more special than our beautiful, peaceful, tree-lined and flower-laden streets, with interesting and unique architecture old and new. Especially from an electric bike!

And Finally, Sunsets over the Pacific: Seven-day-a-week free eyeball massages. If the economy won’t bring the visitors, social media will. We truly live in paradise. Pinch yourself and say thank you for the gift of Laguna.

Billy Fried hosts “Laguna Talks” on Thursday nights at 8pm on KX93.5 and can be reached at [email protected]

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