Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The American Riviera

Call me elitist, but in California, I prefer the beaches of Malibu to any other. (If warmth was not a factor, then Baker Beach in San Francisco wins hands down.) Malibu is a real schlep from Hollywood, but easily worth the trip. The beaches are beautiful, and Zuma Beach in particular faces southwest which means that you will get more sun all day long than if it faced just west or east. Saying that it is a clean beach makes me seem somewhat girlie, but sue me if I think having to watch for hypodermic needles in the sand is tired. You get the mountains to look at and no dogs are allowed. Don’t get me wrong, I like dogs! But in LA, if everyone brought their dogs to the beach, it would get seriously noisy and I enjoy hearing the waves crash. I only found out about the dog rule a couple of days ago, when the people next to me had two extremely adorable and admittedly bitty dogs with them. These were some very cool, happy and playful dogs. Ten minutes after they had settled (which, by the way was just enough time for them to apply sunblock and get their salad lunch together and start eating. I was impressed by the fact that they were able to toss a fucking salad at the beach like it wasn’t no thang, you know…?) SO- five bites into their salad, no less than three Malibu Police Officers ride up on four-wheeled ATVs. I don’t hear what is said, but I just knew it was about the dogs. Luckily, they didn’t get a ticket, cause Malibu Cops don’t play. They pack up and leave, which is the saddest of all because unless you live in Malibu proper, Zuma isn’t close to anywhere in LA, it’s even 20 minutes from Santa Monica.

Being 20 minutes from Santa Monica is what makes Zuma different from every other LA beach. It is not the crowd than you would expect. The distance keeps a lot of people away, and the people that do come are truly beach people. Best of all, it is much more than a mix of upper class Malibu residents, it’s a good cross-section of the Los Angeles middle class in general. People of every color, shape and size all play together happily, and it’s all so friendly. People go to play in the water and leave their stuff on their blankets without the worry of theft. And when the sea gulls try to take their food, we shoo them away, even going as far as hiding the food in their beach bags. I have gone to the bathroom and asked my blanket neighbor to look after my stuff because I was alone, and packing up would have been a major waste of time.

Zuma also happens to be down the hill from Malibu High School. I cannot imagine what life would be like going to high school two blocks from one of the greatest beaches in the continental US. It is so close to the school that students often surf at lunch! Crikey! In late spring, when it’s hot enough to swim but school is still in session, this beach is a popular destination for the kids to skip class. I know that’s where I’d be. As soon as I saw the high school, I immediately felt I’d be doing my imaginary future children a disservice by not living in Malibu and sending them to school there, it’s that great.

Zuma is an old school beach, with lifeguard towers, and food shacks that are permanent structures that are architecturally the same as the lookout tower/helipad and restrooms/showers. There is something distinctly Euro about having permanent buildings where you can get real cooked food, and sit in a chair on concrete under an umbrella or awning. They even play house music from time to time! The landscape is such a chaparral, the water is so azure, that it is easy to call Malibu the American Riviera.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.


Leslie said...

Wow, you're making me miss LA. Ever been to Corona del Mar? Well worth the trek to Orange County sometime.

In other news, how the heck are ya, my friend? I just moved to the Nashville area. Lovin it so far.


NB said...

Awww man, now I am missing the "Riviera" - and I'm going to France next weekend!