Manhattan Beach Sunset

 

 There is a place on the planet where time stands still, where the inhabitants stand aloof and indifferent as the wrinkles in their skin show their many years spent baking on the beach under a sunny blue sky that shines in every season.

There are words that cease to have meaning in this place.  Well, it’s not the words.  It’s the concepts or virtues that these particular words have come to define for us:  Loyalty, integrity, passion, philosophy, Art all cease to have any significance.

It’s the place that resembles the “Eloi” people in H.G. Wells’ Time Machine movie (from 1960.)

It’s the only place I know where you talk to a 22 year old guy and he tells you,

“Wow, Bro, last weekend was crazy man.
 We started drinking at 1 in the afternoon,
 kept it going til 3 am,
 So wasted man… ended up at John’s house,
 next think I knew I woke at noon the next day
 on the couch with no pants on… crazy…
 then we had breakfast and
 started drinking again…
hey, you going to the party this coming Fri..?”

 

And you figure, “hey, he is 22 years old, going through his partying College Phase.” 

Then you talk to a guy who is 45 years old, AND he has the exact same mindset, and tells you the exact same story.

This place is called the “South Bay” area of Los Angeles.  It describes cities Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance and vicinity.

This is an amazing place.  If you visit Los Angeles, and you’re interested in seeing a complete vaccuum of anything that resembles any culture, then you have to spend a few days there.  You won’t completely grasp the local culture until you attend a few house parties and mingle with the locals.

If you’re a perpetual frat-boy, you’ll love this place and you won’t want to leave.  They’ll have to drag you away by your hair…   If you have any depth to your character, you’ll feel like you’re in some surreal land where outside of the normal time/space continuum.  A place that may nauseate you worse than the massive alcohol consumption ever could.

 Somehow these people have found a way to create “high-school forever.”  The same principles apply.  The king and the queen of prom have been replaced by the popular guy who throws the most “kick-ass” parties close to the beach.  The “Prom King and Queen” have tried hard to capture and recreate their glory years of highschool past.

 It’s not that everyone who lives in the South Bay is this way.  There are people of character, especially if you delve further into Torrance and such.  However, the area within a  mile radius to the beach is densely populated by the frat boys and the wannabe high school girls that have recreated high-school forever.

 It’s a love/hate relationships for me.  On the one hand,  I basically grew up out there (since middle of High School) and have met some of my closest friends here, have had some good times, and love the beach area.   (Note: my close friends are not part of the hollow crowd.)  There is something uncanny for having a stroll by the beach in the late afternoon on a warm sunny day in the middle of the winter.  At times, this place can feel like paradise.  Beautiful beaches, hills in the background, low humidity, and weather that revolves around 75 degrees (24C) every day of the year. 

 In many ways, that’s the draw of the area.  You have beautiful scenery, and warm enough weather that allows you to talk around in a T-Shirt in the middle of winter while the rest of the world is fighting frostbites and blizzards.  But then that’s what draws the party crowd.  

A few nights ago, the movie “The Beach” was playing on HBO, and though I am not a real fan of this movie, I caught 10 min of it.   A fortuitous coincidence as it happened to be the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio goes back to the mainland to purchase supplies and he sees the masses of drunken idiots.  In disgust, he utters about how “Cancers and Parasites of society” dwell here.  In some ways, it’s very reminiscent to the South Bay.  

 Yet, it ought to be mentioned that these are not evil people.  They don’t have bad intentions, and there is no malice involved.  In fact, if they see you at a bar, they may offer to buy a drink and if you go to their parties, they’ll provide cocktails free of charge.  It’s just that they care about nothing.  Artistic expressions (Be it Music, Paintings, Film), Philosophy, literature, culture, history have all been rendered obsolete here.  So have values such as loyalty, integrity and a sense of responsibility to anything or anyone. All that matters are parties, cocktails, getting wasted, drinking more, talking about the following weekend and conversations about being drunk and parties past, and present.  They really are the Eloi people of “Time Machine.”

 There are probably plenty of places in America (and Europe) where 21 year old spend a good chunk of their time partying. Then, at some point, those people are past that stage.  This usually takes place some point in their mid to late 20s.  They don’t stop having fun, but they discover a few other passions and hobbies in life.

 Not in the South Bay. You could meet people nearing 50 who’d make 22 year-old blush in shame.  It’s essentially a bubble of empty tin cans walking around.  The land of the Hollow people devoid of any soul, and yet these exists a scientific anomaly.  A science phenomenon where life-form composites of elemental oxygen, carbon and hydrogen atoms seems to gravitationally pull massive quantities of the alcohol molecule from miles around. 

 The South Bay also serves as a good barometer for measuring someone’s character.  If you take someone down there and they’re in love with the place, you probably want to chalk that one up as a superficial friendship that will never have substance.  On the other hand, if they’re repulsed on some level, chances are that person has a bit of depth to their character. 

 The “South Bay” people will party with you, invite you to their home, and even treat you to cocktails and alcoholic beverages of your choice.  This is all fine and dandy as long as you realize that you can never count on them to help you for anything in life, that the conversations will never have any depth and that if you bring a girl you’re dating to a party, the many meatheads who spent lots of time in the gym (who are also your pals) will hit on her.  That’s all par for the course.  If you get that going in, then you won’t be in for any surprises. 

 Collectively, they pride themselves that they’re not superficial because they don’t care about what kind of car you drive or how much money you make.  Yet, they’re just as shallow in judging everyone based on how “Cool” they are.  This is high school.  I actually have many acquaintances who live in the area and I have partied with them as well. They don’t read blogs.  They don’t read anything, actually.  And really, if somehow through a cosmic coincidence one of them read this Blog-post, he’d reply, “Bro, you’re too intense.  Chill out.  You need a cocktail!!”  And while I know that they accept me, (because I am fit and can shit-talk with the best of them), I also know that they would not be accepting of some of my friends who are not socially cool or physically fit.

After 20 years of living there, I finally moved out. Perhaps the greatest phrase to capture the essence of the South Bay came from an East Coast girl I was dating for a while.  It encapsulated my thoughts on this region of the world in a one sentence: 

  • “The South Bay and Hermosa Beach, Where Frat Boys go to Retire.”

           ————————————————————

Frat Boys Forever, yeah, yeah, yeah.........

 

As always, I want this BLOG to give you practical tips while entertaining you on some level.  So here are some social guidelines and pointers for “Getting in” with this type of crowd, regardless of whether you’re in the South Bay or not.  (Party people fit into the same archetype worldwide, so these tips apply everywhere.)

  • **Make sure to start sentences with the word “Hey Brooo…” 
      
  • **Talk about how you’re new to the area… Do some name-dropping about cool places you’ve partied at, “Monaco, Greek Islands, Other European places,  And/Or South America/Brazil,” etc….  It’s not important you know anything about the people or culture of these places.
     
  •  **In fact, it’s better if you don’t know anything about them.  Intellectual conversations about the cultural differences and tendencies of the people of these vastly different cultures can make you lose points very quickly.

**PS.  No Mention Of Culture.  Please!  While abroad, do not mention having made an attempt to go to museums, learn their history, or understand their customs.  These are signs of weakness.  You only partied, damn it!!!

  • **Do remember it’s key to talk about how much alcohol you consumed, and perhaps the drugs you took.  Debauchery is what scores points here.
     
  • **Be sure to show up with a six-pack or two of beer if you go to a party. 
     
  • **At a house party, Compliment people on their ability to make tasty cocktails.  Say something warm and fuzzy like, “Hey Bro…. I’ve had A LOT of peach Martinis in my partying days, but bro….. this is something else.  You gotta tell me how you make this stuff.” 
     
  • **Be Charming:   “Bro, next time I see you at the bar downtown, I am buying you shots until you spill the beans on what you put that in Martini/Margarita/fancy cocktail…….”
     
  • **When in a group of men, discuss the eloquent topic of how you “Banged” some girl, didn’t call her, and how she started stalking you.  One of the guys may even say, “Whoa, was that Lindsey??  She did that to me too.”  (And don’t worry, the women in that scene are just as shallow as the dudes, so it all works out.)
     
  • **Talk about how the people at the party are such free spirited, have a great attitude towards life and are so easy going. 
     
  • **Use keywords, “Chill, chill vibe, easy going, kick-back, kick-ass,” in your vocabulary.  (Note: these words relevant circa early 2008.  If you somehow stumble upon this blog in 5 years, update your “Cool” jargon catchphrases. In 2008, these words apply.)
     
  • **Oh, and compliment on how they’re NOT superficial.   If you’re in the South Bay, talk about how “Hollywood people” are all about “The Industry” and how the South Bay is so “kick-back.”
       
  • **Discuss some gym-related stuff!  Something about a new workout routine you’ve discovered that can help add a half-inch to their biceps.  They will think you’re awesome.  (OK, you gotta look like you work out yourself!)  Unfortunately, if you are not good looking or if you’re fat, the hollow people won’t accept you very well, unless you throw great parties, or are connected.  So be prepared going in.  Challenging them on the notion that you can outdrink them may win you some respect. 

Use the above tips above to make pals quickly in party situations, be it in college, small town, big town, or with some 47 year old dude in the South Bay donning an Affliction shirt. 

They will benefit you, should you find yourself in such an environment looking to party for 1 or 2 weeks.