The places and things we’re most looking forward to seeing and doing again

Let’s just get one thing straight. We are not saying that we want these places open today. We are aware why these places have been closed and why they might not be so fast to open. We are not complaining or bellyaching. All we are saying is that we missed this stuff, these things and these places and with the city slowly opening up again, we wanted to talk about our excitement of going back to the places and things that we’ve missed most and look forward to frequenting again.

When it’s appropriate and healthy and right and good.

Still, we miss them. Got that? We’re pining, not whining.

DIVE BAR SHOWS

Kimi Recor of Los Angeles based synth punk trio band, Kevin play at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach during Happy Sundays. Sunday, August 25, 2019. Photo by Sarahi Apaez.

I’m feeling a little depressed, writing about how I can’t wait until concerts are a thing again, because at this point, it feels so far away. Large public gatherings in dense spaces are likely to be the last of the places to reopen, but as a self-proclaimed concert junkie, the moment Alex’s Bar or Que Sera books their next live gig—I don’t care the band—I’m there.

Long Beach’s live music landscape is dominated by bar shows. In the past I’ve lamented about the lack of concert venues in the city, mostly because those kinds of venues, ones that operate with live entertainment as its singular purpose, are the kinds of places the city needed to make Long Beach a stronger touring destination, ultimately bringing more music to the city long term.

But now, without even the dive bars to cling to, the city feels dull. I miss the dim rooms, the 1 a.m. sticky beer film on the floor, the less-than-ideal stage lighting that made me want to give up on shooting concert photography. I miss the slight regret I would feel forgetting to bring earplugs, resigning myself to the hour-long ringing in my ears I’d suffer through later.

I miss discovering a band I’d likely never give the time of day to online but fell in love with live. And I miss talking with them after the show and buying their $5 EP.

I’ve reserved myself to the notion that when these shows do finally reappear, it won’t be the same; lower capacities, face masks, all that stuff. But by that same token, it may not be all that different either—when’s the last time you went to a local dive bar show where more than 20 people actually packed themselves around the stage? Yeah, exactly. (Cheantay Jensen)

EATING FRESH FOOD THE WAY THE CHEF INTENDED

Chef Jeff Paletz preps vegan food as part of Primal Alchemy Catering’s operations. Photo by Brian Addison.

Personally speaking, I am unsure of when I will feel comfortable dining out. It won’t be this weekend or really anytime soon, but that is not what I am here to harp on.

The food of any good chef has been significantly altered during these times. Having to adjust their creations to weather the length of delivery times, the presentation limited by the limitations of the to-go box, while recreating an entirely new menu because their staples aren’t designed to take a 30-minute trip from the kitchen to your home, the food we are experiencing in delivery is not as the food was intended.

When the time comes—whether you are more hesitant like me or you are outright itching to get out now—I can promise you that if you’re even a remote appreciator of food, a plate for which you do not have to wash later (or worse, throw away because it’s made of biodegradable parcelboard), finely decorated with a freshly concocted arrangement of edibles, that moment will be warming and transcendent. Even better, when you look up to savor the first bite, when your eyes open, you won’t be looking at the same walls you’ve been looking at for two months.

Hell, you might even be looking down what used to be a street filled with cars, now filled with people. More on that later. (Brian Addison)

FIRST FRIDAYS BIXBY KNOLLS

Over the past two months, First Fridays has sent out a newsletter, or “virtual First Fridays” as a way to continue to promote the bands, businesses and artists that make up the popular, monthly event. But what a newsletter can’t capture are the social dynamics of The Allery, the alley turned outdoor gallery space off Atlantic Avenue that local arts aficionado Ronnie De Leon of the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association seems to enjoy curating, even giving the likes of Steve Lowery and I a place to set up and promote the Hi-lo.

You may have said hi to us or unknowingly observed us sitting at our inconspicuous little set up with our tiny table and Hi-lo pink paraphernalia, likely shouting at each other. We quickly learned that unless you have free stickers, pens, or something to offer, no one is that enthusiastic to walk up to two strangers to chat about who-knows-what, especially if they’re already arguing about something arts-related or Steve’s hair (it comes up, a lot) or preoccupied with petting all the adorable dogs that pass by. We really miss the dogs and horses (above).

I truly miss being surrounded by artists, their hustle in selling their works every month, their creative set-ups and the joy they share with others in promoting their work. It’s one thing to know the arts community generally has a thriving presence on social media, but to see it in person is not the next, but the first best thing to experience. (Asia Morris)

NOT DIVE BAR SHOWS

Photo courtesy of Yelp!

Don’t get us wrong, we like dive bar shows and we will be right there with Cheantay hitting Alex’s and Que Sera and The Prospector and DiPiazza’s when they become available. Then again, maybe it’s the rings around our trunk but we also find ourselves looking forward to sitting in some lovely restaurant or lounge listening to some local singer-songwriter performing the hell out of their and/or other people’s material. You know, relaxed, comfortable, nice.

There’s a lot of local places that fit that description and there is so much local talent it borders on the ridiculous and sad, i.e. “Man, what are you doing here?” But the place that comes most immediately to mind is being on the patio of Boathouse on the Bay. To put a finer point upon that, being on the patio of The Boathouse on the Bay, a bit before sunset, enjoying a drink and some conversation while someone performs a very personal take on a breakup or their version of “Take It Easy,” all of it conspiring to bathe everything in soft light and warm smiles.

And, yeah, I had one of the worst online dates of my life there with a person who may have been chemically altered and those chemicals may have been responsible for them talking so loud that they were drowning out “Take It Easy” and everyone looked at me like I could do something about it, and what can I do about it, I’ve known this person as long as you have, Bub.

But do I blame the Boathouse for that? I do not. (Steve Lowery)

The Boathouse on the Bay is located at 190 N. Marina Drive.

RETURNING TO OLD SPACES THAT HAVE BEEN REIMAGINED

I know this one seems somewhat like a cop-out but it’s genuinely true: I cannot wait to see how the places that used to be something else—a parking spot, a parking lot, a stretch of road solely for cars—have been turned into something new to be used by the public and small businesses.

I’m talking spots in Downtown, Bixby Knolls and more.

This is what a parklet in front of Michael’s on Naples could look like. Rendering courtesy of Choura Events.

As an urbanerd, the reimagining of public spaces always fascinates me, but this is different: temporary, off-the-cuff and being done quickly, the sole point of this effort is to shift public space in the age of social distancing and limited capacities.

What will this look like? Well, definitely more parklets—which are dining areas that extend out into parking spaces on roads, like the one being designed for Michael’s on Naples right now—along with full street closures similar to what it already does with its Beach Streets events, in which major thoroughfares are shut down for a few hours for non-vehicular traffic.

Some areas of the city may have partial closures or flex zones, where one side of the street is closed entirely to vehicular traffic while the other remains open. These areas provide temporary infrastructure similar to a parklet, but in a lighter, quicker, more cost-effective manner.

Either way, they will show us the power of public space, and allow us to eat al fresco in a way that didn’t exist before. (BA)

LB ART WALK

Attendees of a Long Beach Art Walk In October 2017 outside of Hops & Vines soon after Michael Mosselli and Marty Meier of Brushtrokes & Beverages took over leadership. Courtesy Facebook/Long Beach Art Walk.

I’m unsure when, how or if this will be implemented back into Downtown’s East Village, but I look forward to being able to go to an LB Art Walk again, as well as a Bixby Knolls First Fridays for that matter, or a Monday Night Market Under the Stars, or a Fourth Fridays on 4th Street, or the farmers market in Bixby Park, or, or, or, any type of regular occurrence where you can see, meet and just hear the sounds of the Long Beach community milling about, generally happy to be able to see each other’s faces and the artists, vendors, shop and restaurant owners, musicians and street performers that make up the threads of our city’s rich cultural fabric. (AM)

HAIRCUTS

Chris and Margeaux Hamrock, brother and sister co-owners of Salon Wireare reflected with mirrors throughout their temporarily closed shop in Long Beach Thursday, May 7, 2020. The Hamrock’s had to close the salon due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Split ends look like fault lines; the fades have, well, faded and it’s getting hard to not feel embarrassed when looking in a mirror. We get it. But now that hair salons and barbershops have gotten the glorious green-light, the nightmare is over.

It’s likely most places won’t be offering walk-in service, though, so make sure to book an appointment, the sooner the better—there are likely too many people looking to trim away the damage of their in-home haircuts.

Well, here’s to all the scalp massages, gossip and all-too-relevant life advice you’re soon to be in store for. (CJ)

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