By Garrison Frost
Some people in Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach are stuck. They're caught, jammed, hemmed, caged, trapped. Sure, they like where they live love the beach, the good schools, high property values and ready proximity to chain coffee shops but perhaps a bit too much. They rarely go anywhere further north than Los Angeles International Airport, further east than the South Bay Galleria or further south than Palos Verdes (but not into Palos Verdes, mind you, no, never).
They're in The Bubble, the invisible, yet seemingly impenetrable, barrier that keeps some people from ever leaving the beach cities.
Wanna come with us to this great street fair in San Pedro? Let's all go to this cool restaurant in Hollywood. Have you ever been to the Huntington Library? Let's go look at art in Santa Monica.
Say something like this to a Manhattan Beach Bubble-victim and be prepared for blank stares and some mumbled excuse such as, :I have to be back before Thursday." Really, it's as if these people don't realize that 20 minutes will take them to some of the most amazing places in Los Angeles. San Pedro? They're not sure where that is. Hollywood? Isn't that dangerous? Pasadena? That's on overnight trip. Santa Monica? Why would I go to another beach town when I live in one already?
This behavior is particularly strange given that most people in the beach cities affect a style that screams adventure. They dress like they're in the X Games, brag about how outdoorsy they are and drive vehicles that could easily ford a river or whisk them through Fallujah unharmed. And yet these people squirm if anyone suggests crossing Hawthorne Boulevard. They're more likely to go to Paris than hop in a car and see some jazz in Culver City.
There are lifelong residents of the beach cities who have never been to Long Beach, couldn't point in the direction of Claremont and probably think of the Valley as a flat place (where people talk funny, no doubt) somewhere between where they live and San Francisco. Even those who haven't lived in the beach cities their whole lives people who migrated just five years ago from northern California, Colorado, the East Coast, Arizona or Indiana have forgotten that there's a world beyond the 405.
The question we should be asking is how did The Bubble form, how did an entire community become encased safe, but isolated not unlike one of those futuristic undersea cities in science fiction movies. Easy answers aren't available. Perhaps it's just human nature, that odd habit people have of falling in love with a place and then convincing themselves that it's the only place on earth.
(September, 20, 2004)
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