How the capital of uncool got all organic and craft beery
Everyone has a path not taken, a parallel history in a place that might have been. Some imagine how life might have turned out had they taken that job in Rome or Manhattan. I’m no different: Three times in my life, I was almost from Fullerton.
How to be a rebel, O.C.-style
A guy I know used to take his Lamborghini out by night on the toll roads just to see if he could beat the sensors on the FasTrak lane. Sometimes he’d disguise his plates. Sometimes he’d floor it into the triple digits. Sometimes he’d veer into the carpool lane where supposedly there weren’t any cameras.
Why don’t more of UC Irvine’s 140,000 alums support their alma mater?
In the 1970s, I had a boyfriend who went to UC Irvine. He was a thoughtful and unconventional guy, and I’d never met anyone with such wide-ranging interests—organic chemistry, Frank Frazetta, the rock group Genesis, the Bible. When I visited him once, on his then-new campus, he took me to what I remember as one of the world’s great biology lectures, and it convinced me that California was the coolest, smartest place on the planet.
The uneasy task of turning your home over to renters
The first house we lived in when we moved to Orange County was a half-century-old rental overlooking Victoria Beach. It had a spectacular view and knotty pine walls, and the family that owned it hadn’t remodeled since the days of Ozzie and Harriet. Dreaming of bargains, we asked our landlord whether he’d considered selling.
Your butts on our beaches, and other lapses of public civility
There have been times when our children have thanked us for letting them grow up by the ocean, but April has never brought out much gratitude in them.
Never mind that it’s the perfect time to be a kid at the beach, in theory—warm, but not too warm, brisk, but not too brisk. Lively with tourists, but not so lively that Coast Highway traffic keeps you from getting to Forever 21 at Fashion Island.
Is it possible to ignore the Eden in which we live?
I know a man who used to live on a hilltop, in a house with an expansive ocean view. He’d open his drapes and visitors would go breathless. “Another day in paradise!” he’d crow. At first, he thrilled at that panorama. Over time, though, his reply took on a rote quality. Within a few years, he scarcely noticed his view unless someone else brought it to his attention
Stuff happens. And suddenly, it costs $250 a month to store it all.
Following the 1965 Watts Riots, my husband’s grandparents moved from Lynwood to Fullerton. They loved their new home, but they were pack rats. They held onto the Lynwood house and used it for storage. Dishes, pianos, model train sets, bearskin rugs, pinball machines, paintings, antique guns in Old West holsters—their stuff crammed every shed, shelf, room, nook, and closet. Plus, the house was a burglar magnet.
The slow retreat of Orange County’s adopted and imperfect celebrity
They’re burning daylight, as John Wayne would have put it, but the crowd at Newport Beach’s Balboa Bay Club lingers—beers for the tech guys, chardonnay for the blondes at the table overlooking the yachts. Blue sky, bluer water. Well- preserved grandmas in St. John knits, epaulets flashing. Some things don’t change in these parts.
Winter rain in Orange County? There’s an app for that.
My husband is a native (and therefore hopeful) Californian, and in winter he sleeps with the windows open, hoping for rain. The splash on the patio, the droplets on wet sand, even the smells of a gathering storm give him primitive comfort. He lies in bed listening to the wet sky fall on the wet town and the wet coastline beyond it, and I, lying next to him, wonder whether generations of drought have given people here an inborn fixation with water.