Post-90210 in Laguna Beach, CA
Our friend, surfer and Laguna Beach local Jack Manoogian shares his love for his hometown and offers an alternative description to reality television's golden child
Many imagine Southern California to be an oasis, with perfect crystal clear water and perfectly tanned kale-drinking individuals on every corner. But they don't see the June gloom, the sandy brown colored water, and the wetsuit-cold sea that truly depict this illusionary paradise. There is, however, one small little beach town left that encompasses all of what SoCal is described to be: Laguna Beach.
Now, maybe I offer a biased perspective, having lived here for 19 years of my life, but in my irrelevant and useless opinion, Laguna beach is the quintessential southern Californian beach town. It stands between the yachts, housewives, mansions, and general pretentiousness of Newport Beach, and the still, slightly grungy, San Clemente. The surf in Laguna is minimal, and most people have to drive twenty minutes north or south to find consistent waves. Despite this, the water and beaches are out of a postcard, like sheet glass, and so clear I would -- and have after a few bad wipeouts -- tasted it.
Laguna is a melting pot for all sorts of pseudo-intellectuals, from entrepreneurs to artists. It is home to the first Zinc Cafe, which just this year opened its third location in LA's up-and-coming arts district. It also houses the Laguna Beach School of Art and Design, a Whole Foods, art galleries, small shops, mouth watering restaurants, and enough juicing shops to put even Los Angeles' paleo-vegans to shame.
Many locals here say that the TV show ruined the town; a bunch of rich kids partying it up and living the "high life" is not at all the reality of Laguna Beach. This brought almost all of middle-America to this quiet, "locals only" town. They even built a five star resort and spa to accommodate all the incoming tourists. And I'll admit, after the TV show, I was a little bothered being a local native. I couldn't drive anywhere without people going 25 mph down the PCH staring romantically at the ocean as if they had never seen it before (they probably hadn't.)
But now that the town is in its post-MTV stage, it's really hitting its peak in my opinion. The kids that live here have rad style; sometimes I feel like I'm walking around in Williamsburg or the Lower East Side with all the trendy people here. And above all, they absolutely rip in the water, pulling tail-high air reverses in their warmup before a 7 am session at Creek.
The place is beautiful, the woman are incredible, and the Mexican is bomb. If you're ever out this way, do yourself a favour and come for a day or two to experience what California really is, what surf culture should be. Laguna Beach is a modern day paradise.