The Slant


A Slice from the Good and Bad in Paradise


By: Roderick Reed
By: Roderick Reed

I was born in the summer of my 18th year. I came to Laguna Beach with my parents to tour what was then the Art Institute of Southern California now Laguna College of Art and Design. While walking the downtown my senses were filled and I fell in love with Laguna at first sight.

I got my first apartment at Club Laguna, which was in the middle of nowhere back then. The Laguna Audubon was still under construction and there was no toll road. To go the grocery store meant a long drive down a dark El Toro road to a Vons. I met lots of friends, played volleyball on Sundays, drank beer and met a girl. I rose early in those days and recall how mornings used to be my favorite, as though Laguna mornings were my secret. I walked the fire road, dirt softly crunching underfoot and sage lopping over the trail. I almost always drove with the window slightly open because I loved the smell of the sage and salt air. Now mostly my windows are up with air conditioning blasting high.

In 2015, there were a lot of things on my mind regarding the city. Struck by residents walking in the middle of the street because of minimal sidewalks had me writing, “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, about the lack of sidewalks. Later, astonished by our new grocery store, came the column “Haggen’s Price Pinch.” I wrote twice about Haggen’s prices and took some push back from Haggen corporate. It’s unfortunate but this has got to be one of the most interesting blunders in modern business. How did Haggen get it so wrong? I talked to a manager for Gelson’s this week. The Indy reported that Gelson’s will occupy the Haggen spot and plans to open in April.

More topics for my column in 2015 included a story about the selfish thieves whose un-maintained trees steal views of the sky and landscape. I was so fed up with the folks who clog progress in Laguna I went to the effort to name them Curmplainers and referenced them at least twice this year. Other news started to nuisance me. In April, I wrote about the state of journalism. The Daily Breeze in Torrance, with its seven-reporter newsroom, learned they had just won their first-ever Pulitzer Prize. Unfortunately, the lead reporter on the winning story left journalism six months ago. At 39, the career he so loved, barely paid his bills. In January I was blown away by the news in France and wrote “War on Free Speech” as evidenced by the Paris attacks earlier this year.

Had my glass, especially my Laguna glass, started to become half empty this year? Or was I really just getting to know it? Was the reality of the world starting to make me a curmplainer? It is interesting how the daily news and politics in a small town start to cloud your glasses. In my defense, I also wrote some lighter stories one of my favorite was “The Last first Day of School,” a story about my son’s first day as a senior in high school, causing me to reminisce about his youth. And mine.

Laguna Beach’s romantic beauty mixed with its weighty problems is what makes it interesting and genuine here. If it was perfect we would all be numb. In Laguna Beach you can easily reside in the difficult realities or immerse yourself in the unique memories you make here. The girl I met at Club Laguna became my wife. We will be married 23 years in 2016.

Laguna Beach is a special place. It is paradise and it has many problems. But Laguna is like pizza, even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

Roderick Reed owns REEDesign Interiors in Laguna Beach. He lives in town with his wife Kathy and two sons Mason and Jack.

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