Can you name a better West Coast beach town than Long Beach?

I’m thinking the judges at Architectural Digest need to get out more. I think they spend too much time in dimly lit offices discussing balusters, corbels, lintels and entablatures instead of hauling a beer-packed Igloo cooler, a raft of lawn chairs and umbrellas and hitting the beach. And I mean a good beach, probably in California, which is littered with fantastic beaches, from Trinidad, Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea down through Santa Barbara and Malibu and Zuma, and down to Huntington and Seal beaches and La Jolla.

But the judges at Architectural Digest, imposing on themselves the task of rating the best place to buy a beach house in the nation, chose as the Top 3 all Carolina beaches: Kitty Hawk in North Carolina and Myrtle Beach and Wilmington in South Carolina.

I don’t know. I’ve never been to an East Coast beach, but the list’s reliability comes into question when we find that the fourth-best beach town in America as judged by AD is Long Beach, Calif. More remarkably, Long Beach was deemed to be the only beach in California in the Top 10 (Seal Beach finally limps in at No. 23, followed by Huntington Beach at No. 27). Long Beach is the only beach on the entire West Coast to make it to the Top 10.

Points of methodology that helped Long Beach’s rank were the number of sunny days, a category in which Long Beach was No. 1 with 334.

But, to be somewhat fair, much of what AD considered important for a beach town to be ranked high had to do with housing costs and, while most people who live in Long Beach don’t consider the town to be affordable at all, its beachfront properties are still considered to be among the most affordable along any coastline—ironically, perhaps, because its beaches aren’t nearly as attractive as the beach towns that showed up farther down the list.

What Barack Obama and I have read this year

Your favorite former president’s always enjoyable annual book list for 2023 came out last week and of Obama’s nine recommended books, three have been recommended by me as well. Great minds and all that.

Or, rather two out of nine, with the third coming now as I’ve just finished S.A. Cosby’s  “All the Sinners Bleed,” about a Black sheriff in a small town in Virginia, where you’ll still find people who don’t like having a Black sheriff. The case he’s investigating is particularly heinous, involving the gruesome death of several people, many of whom are children.

It’s a fine look at race and religion and the behavior and beliefs of many people in a still largely-unsettled South who still cleave to the ideals of the Lost Cause.

Obama also recommends “The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder” by David Grann and “Small Mercies” by Dennis Lehane, both of which I slobbered over a bit in earlier newsletters.

See his entire list here of his favorite books and songs. You can trust him; he’s got good taste.

Watching now

I just finished the excellent second episode of “Reservation Dogs,” a groundbreaking series filmed in Oklahoma about a group of Native American teens coming of age on a reservation with their hopes set on traveling to California. It’s a often funny, always poignant show in which every writer, director and series regular is Indigenous, and it’s a little heartbreaking that the FX/Hulu series is coming to an end with its final series starting on Aug. 3.

The penultimate episode is a good one, with comedian/podcaster/actor Marc Maron taking on a guest role as the recovering addict who leads a group home.

Where Magellan and I part ways

The explorer Ferdinand Magellan knew the difference between north and south, whereas I apparently have a bit of trouble with it deciphering a compass even though I’m familiar with such geographical esoterica as the fact that the ocean in Long Beach is south and the mountains are north and the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Nevertheless, for those readers who saw my Sunday Q&A with City Manager Tom Modica, I got spun around and stated that my Plaza neighborhood in Long Beach is north of Modica’s Carson Park tract. The Plaza is, in fact, south of Carson Park, as several readers helpfully told me. So, I’m apparently closer to the beach. Profit!

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.