On the drive up from a getaway weekend in San Diego Sunday, my friend Nina took me for a quick tour of her native Redondo Beach, which included a walk around the Redondo Beach Pier. After five years of living in L.A., I am embarrassed I'd never been. It's an untouched modern California miracle: crowded, diverse, full of locals (as in, kinda "gansta"), unpretentious, not chaotic, and not a tourist in sight. Venice and Santa Monica never had it so good.
The boardwalk has a Fun Factory packed with the kind of classic arcade games you only see in movies now, a "pirate" shop, and boardwalk food of major nostalgic nutritional value. We took in the view at the roundabout "crow's nest" bar at Tony's, with a martini and margarita, contemplating the scene of a long-ago melancholy vision from Patti Smith:
Everyone was singing, girl is washed up
On Redondo Beach and everyone is so sad.
I was looking for you, are you gone gone ?
Pretty little girl, everyone cried.
She was the victim of sweet suicide.
I went looking for you, are you gone gone ?
There's a book available about the history of Mexican Americans in the area. Other links are here, here, and here. Intersections will definitely be doing more exploring in the South Bay in the future.