Friday, June 10, 2016 — Grey skies along the Huntington Beach coast, and downtown, until well past noon, but I needed a walk, so I grabbed a camera and off I went. I belong to a FaceBook group of people concerned about the city, and particularly, downtown, which includes the pier area and beaches. While we all have opinions and points-of-view, we all want our city to be a safe and inviting place to spend time. Recently, I have heard an increasing number of comments that some residents are afraid to go downtown — afraid to walk on the pier. I think it is a shame that some of my neighbors feel that way, but I also wonder if they have unreasonable expectations of what it is like to live in a city of nearly 200,000 people — and especially one that attracts millions of visitors, every year. I sort of think, that even if you put that many nuns in close proximity, there is going to be some tension, from time to time!
Secondly, I think, if there are unsavory characters on our city streets, we abdicate our rights to enjoy what our resources have to offer, if we just stay home — ceding the territory to others.
Actually, I walk Main Street and the Pier, on a regular basis. Today, I spent approximately two hours on the pier and in the downtown business district. I had two goals: #1. See if it really was scary. #2. If it wasn’t too scary, for me, then maybe, through my camera, I could show some of the others just what they are missing.
First, the ‘technical’ stuff: You will notice that there is a degree of curvature to most of the photos. That is because I was using what is known as a Zuiko 9mm Body Cap Lens. It has a field of view of 140 degrees — so nearly a fisheye. All the photos we taken between approximately noon and 2PM, again, under very overcast conditions.
I’ll not make many commentaries, except where I feel they amplify the story. Beyond that, you can judge for yourself.
The first images are from the Pier Plaza. This is at the beginning of the pier. On Friday’s it hosts an arts and crafts fair and, occasionally, a Farmer’s Market.
This is Mandy Rosen. She is one of the artists displaying her work. I first met Many, a few months ago, and wrote a story about her. You can find it, here. Who Is Mandy Rosen?
You’ll probably notice that neither the fair, the pier, or Main Street is very crowded. I assume that was because of the weather, because this area can be elbow-to-elbow on Summer days.
Leaving the Pier Plaza, I headed out onto the pier. Again, no large crowds. However, the people that were there we an eclectic bunch — families, teenagers, buskers, street performers, fishermen, older people. I was surprised by the number of elderly people in wheelchairs. Not sure why that surprised me, because the pier is a long, flat stretch of concrete. It seems perfect for caregivers to and their charges, alike.
I had a few interesting conversations. This gentlemen was interested in my camera — he thought it was an old film camera and was very surprised when I turn it around and showed him that I had just taken his picture. 🙂
This fisherman taught me something. I didn’t know that, if left to lay out for about two hours, sand sharks developed so much gas that it ruined them, for eating. He was hoping to land some corvina.
John, or “Soldier”, learned to make roses from palm leaves, in a about half an hour. He says that he grew up in Fountain Valley, spent 29 years in the Army, as a sniper, and has PTSD. Making the flowers relaxes him. He doesn’t sell them, preferring to see the smiles when he gives them away.
If you do go to the pier, Fred might really scare you — not because of what he might do to you, but for what he does to himself. Fred rives nail up his nose, with a hammer. His most famous line is: “I’m a street performer. Give me money. Help keep me on the street.”
Well, from the stranger curious about my camera, to the fisherman, the flower maker, and the guy who pounds nails up his nose, I found some interesting people, on the pier, today. None seemed threatening, or dangerous.
From the pier, I walked up Main Street to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, for a latte and some more people watching.
I wrote a separate post about E-Lux.. You can see it, here. E-Lux
Conclusion: Is downtown HB perfect? No. Is anyplace? No. Should you be afraid to walk on the pir, or Main Street? Well, maybe, at 3AM, you shouldn’t be walking anyplace, but most of the time, I see no good reason to hide in your homes, or dream about some other place that you think is so much better. This is a good place — a great place, and together, we can make it even better, if that’s what we decide to do — or you can just let it to your neighbors to do — your choice.
I hope you enjoyed the tour. Remember, if you are out walking, smile — you never know when a camera will appear. 🙂 OH, one other thing — please excuse any typos — I’m doing this at 1AM, and the fingers seem to have lost a bit of coordination.