Talks with Tim is a weekly Q&A by Tim Grobaty, who has been a columnist in Long Beach for nearly 50 years. If you’d like to suggest an interesting or influential person in Long Beach for this (unconventional) interview, reach him at [email protected].
Austin Metoyer has been the president and CEO of Downtown Long Beach Alliance since September 2022. The Poly High School and Cal State Long Beach graduate joined the DLBA in 2016 and most recently served as its economic development and policy manager.
Tim Grobaty: You go first. Ask yourself any question.
Austin Metoyer: OK. Of the first 150 Pokemon cards, which one is your favorite? My answer would be Dragonite.
Q: All right, can Dragonite beat Superman?
A: Good question. Depends on which Superman. Maybe, if it was just the original Superman who could leap tall buildings but couldn’t fly. If it’s the Superman who can fly, then no. I don’t think any of the original Pokemon characters can beat the Superman who can fly. Other anime characters can. I’m sure Goku and Beerus could.
Q: The first video game I played was Pong. What did you start with?
A: Probably the old-school Nintendo. Our family had Mario and a duck-hunting game. Then I got into it more with Sega. I’d get up in the morning to go to school and my mom and brother would be playing Sonic the Hedgehog, and then I started getting into it.
Q: My wife and I watch “Pawn Stars’” sometimes and those early Pokemon cards go for insane prices. Are they eventually going to crash like Beanie Babies did? Or baseball cards to a lesser extent?
A: I don’t think so. Pokemon has continued to stay relevant over the past 30 years. People keep buying them and they come up with new iterations. With Beanie Babies it was just a bubble; there was nothing to keep them going. And baseball cards still have collectors. My friend keeps buying them. During the pandemic when trading cards were coming back, my friend got into baseball cards. Not just real ones, but NFTs.
Q: I still can’t get my head around NFTs. I bought all the Trump ones, though.
A: Good, I can’t see any reason at all to give that guy any money.
Q: What part of town do you live in?
A: My partner and I just bought a home in Wrigley, around Magnolia and Hill. My great aunt used to live there, I was with her every other weekend in the ‘90s, so I know the neighborhood pretty well. We just bought it last year. We should have bought it in 2020 but I think a lot of people thought the prices would go down. They didn’t, but at least we bought it before interest rates got higher.
Q: Where do you hang out?
A: I like to bounce around a bit. In Downtown—I love pizza and beer—I go to Milano and the Fourth Horseman, and I like Congregational Ale and Stave. And Ambitious Ales in BIxby Knolls.
Q: Did you decide to learn Japanese because of your affinity for anime?
A: Yes. I got into anime when I was 10 when “Sailor Moon” and all those other shows came out in the ‘90s. I was fascinated by them, so I took Japanese from eighth grade through high school at Poly. Poly has a great program. At Cal State Long Beach I majored in international business and Japanese.I can write in three kinds of Japanese: Hiragana is like natural Japanese words; Katakana is for foreign words that were brought into Japanese. Kanji is the overarching writing system like the original style that came from China and into Japan. Hiragana and Katakana only have a few characters but Kanji has thousands.
Q: You’ve got a big task as head of DLBA. There are a lot of problems with Downtown. Is it in a doom loop?
A: No, I don’t think so. The next thing we need to focus on is repositioning Downtown, making it more focused on residents. Residents now make up a large portion of Downtown. Look at all the new buildings—the new 442 West Ocean, the Current, the Gateway, Volta—most are for renters and we need to connect with the residents: Family movie nights, shutting down Pine for festivals, using historic buildings for music concerts. The infrastructure is there, the assets are there.
Q: So you’re optimistic about a reemerging Downtown?
A: There’s no reason not to be. Yes we’ve gone through a pandemic and things are still uneasy, with a lack of certainty about what returning to office looks like, but going ahead, like Pokemon, we have to evolve and see what new focus is.