A cold start for ‘summer’

Memorial Day was supposed to be, like all Memorial Days, summer’s kickoff. Though almost a month before the legal start of summer, it should still be hot on Memorial Day, maybe even blistering. There’ve been hotter Christmases—it was 83 degrees on Dec. 25 in 1972—than this year’s Memorial Day.

It should be sunny now, maybe in the low 80s. Instead it’s still practically the dead of winter, with the highs just barely reaching 70 through the middle of June, so mostly it’s big-pants weather in Long Beach.

Don’t let the photo fool you. It’s an old one. This holiday swimming was out of the question, unless you’re one of those people who swim in the bay every single morning. So, swimming to escape the heat? Don’t need it; we’re cool.

For as long as I can remember my family and my sister’s family have converged on my sister’s pool on Memorial Day, and for many years earlier, an even larger crowd filled the backyard pool for a combo celebration of my father’s birthday and Memorial Day.

The chill wave, canceling an afternoon of cannonball contests, roof-diving and pigs-in-a-blanket, gave me the opportunity to wade into some streaming and reading in pretty much equal parts.

An interview with this year’s Pulitzer Prize-winning author for his novel “Trust,” Hernan Diaz in the New York Times’ May 21 Book Review reminded me to re-read Nicholson Baker’s “The Mezzanine,” the reading of which “pulverized” Diaz, who describes the brilliant, slim novel, as “narrating a man’s journey on an escalator from the ground floor to the mezzanine. [It’s] one of the most beautiful reflections that I’ve ever encountered on how we dwell in time, on how transcendence may be found in the mundane, on how we gradually become the sum of our habits…. Stylistically, it’s perfection.”

And it’s immensely entertaining as sort of a natural history of little things, with detailed asides and ruminations on shoelaces, milk cartons, drinking straws, buttoning shirts, putting on socks, how to deal with inside-out clothes and a lot more. I know, it sounds banal and horribly boring, but it’s not.

Tell it walking

I’m  fairly addicted to driving to places in my car instead of, say, walking. In a race to work or the grocery store, I will, 100 times out of 100, smoke even the fastest pedestrian and be back in front of my fireplace with my slippers on while your walking person is still trudging toward wherever it is we’re racing to.

Still, your Long Beacher does have a slight advantage by living in a city that has, once again, made Walk Score’s 10 Most Walkable Cities list, hanging once again at the No. 10 spot, behind such well-trodden towns as San Francisco, New York and Seattle.

Long Beach achieved a walkability score of 73, meaning you can polish off most errands by hoofing it. The Post’s No. 1 cyclist, Jake Gotta may or may not be impressed by the fact that Long Beach finished at No. 7 in the nation in terms of bikeability. To determine the most walkable cities, Walk Score measures the walkability of any address by analyzing hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities. Points are awarded based on the distance to amenities in each category. Walk Score also measures pedestrian friendliness by analyzing population density and road metrics such as block length and intersection density.

Swan and semi-swan songs

I tried really hard to find something decent for you on the various streaming services and failed, save for the automatic options of the two-hanky series penultimate episode of “Ted Lasso,” on Apple TV+ and the final episode of HBO’s “Succession,” which I won’t spoil for those of you suddenly starting to binge on Season 1, other than to say the writers had apparently written themselves into a corner and given the show its only logical conclusion.

Still, it was a brilliant series marked by wholly unlikeable characters. Even so, I hate to see them go. Now all I have left are real-life politicians who aren’t at all amusing.


For those who read my Sunday newsletter interview with Dr. Demento and clicked on the link to his show’s page, I apologize for giving you the wrong one (it’s a Chinese site that’s banned from US users). The correct link to the madcap Dr. Demento’s site:  www.drdemento.com.

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.