Launched in 2007, Laguna Beach Magazine celebrates its 50th issue this December. The staff dug into the archives to find the articles that made us laugh, the restaurants that tempted our taste buds, and all the people and places that helped shape the town over the last seven years.
By Laguna Beach Magazine Staff
In summer 2007, Firebrand Media created Laguna Beach Magazine to serve residents and visitors who shared a passion for Orange County’s small coastal enclave. Over the last 49 issues, the magazine has highlighted Laguna’s beach lifestyle; arts, dining and shopping scenes; and the people who make this town—a world-renowned travel destination—such a special place.
Here, in celebration of our 50th issue, take a look back at the historic moments, trends and personalities that have made waves in Laguna and graced the magazine’s pages so far.
Laguna Beach Magazine’s onetime humor columnist returns this issue with some quick quips on celebrating 50.
When my husband turned 50, I tried to make him feel better by telling him it was the new 40. It made him feel even worse, because I threw him a surprise party for his 40th with all of my friends—none of his—and made everyone wear “I Heart Joe” T-shirts. That’s the thing with milestones—everyone celebrates them differently. The 50th issue of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition, for example, celebrated with no shirts at all, only thongs. “Imagine how awful that would have been,” I told him.
While sex sells, this magazine has never gone there (as evidenced by the conspicuously absent photo of my model-worthy mug). Instead the editors here focus on what makes this town so special on the inside … of our homes, our businesses and our hearts. So, shirts off to celebrate this commemorative issue, LBM—thongward and upward.
In our second issue, we published a story titled “Stand-up Revolution” (issue 2, fall/winter 2007), in which we explored the “new” (at the time) resurgence of stand-up paddleboarding. As we reported, Hawaiian kings practiced the sport hundreds of years ago before it was brought to mainstream attention by surfing superstar Laird Hamilton.
Since then, Laguna has become a hotbed of SUP activity—it’s a popular daily ritual for many locals, as well as a fun experience for visitors. We revisited the topic several years later in “Sharing the Waves” (issue 39, July/August 2013), noting how surfers and SUP athletes can most effectively coexist out on the water by being aware of each other’s presence.
WHY NOT IN LAGUNA?
“Why not?” It’s the rallying cry for dreamers and entrepreneurs—anyone, really, who hopes to introduce new ideas. We asked people around town what they’d like to see happen—here are a few favorite submissions:
A LOCAL ART FAIR: “Ideally, we would have what is known as a boutique [art] fair; it is smaller (50 galleries) and is juried by local art professionals who decide which galleries best exemplify the fair’s direction.” —Peter Blake, issue 29, April/May 2012
PARKING CHANGES: “Convert the open space on the corner of Laguna Canyon Road and 3rd Street and build a multi-level parking structure for 400 to 600 cars … [to] increase foot traffic at the northern aspect of the village for local businesses.” (New York, pictured above) —G. White, issue 32, September 2012
PET ADOPTION:“We need to allow and encourage a bigger [pet] rescue presence in Laguna by allowing rescues to stroll the streets without paying a fee; storefront adoption meet-and-greets; and a rotating presence at the farmers market.” —Blythe Wheaton, issue 36, March 2013
ALL-AGES MUSIC: “Laguna has embraced the visual arts, theater and design; establishing an all-age concert venue could allow the city to further prove its commitment to welcoming creative expression.” —Tess Eyrich, issue 42, December 2013
BEER GARDEN:“I envision a pop-up beer garden somewhere in Laguna where nature is at its most abundant—maybe in the canyon area, or in a seaside setting with a gorgeous view.” —Beth Fhaner, issue 46, June 2014
Athletes are a dime a dozen in Laguna, with talented youth, teens and adults who excel at sports ranging from volleyball and tennis to swimming and water polo. But we also boast a rare breed of champion—those who rise to the top thanks to a combination of talent and drive. Take a look back at six Lagunans we’ve featured for reaching the pinnacle of athletic success: the Olympics.
Scott Fortune: Scott, who played for the volleyball team at Laguna Beach High School (LBHS), has participated in three Olympic Games (1988, 1992 and 1996). He was part of the gold medal volleyball team in 1988 and helped the U.S. earn a bronze medal in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain.
Janet Evans: Janet, a three-time Olympic swimmer (1988, 1992 and 1996), dove back into the pool after a long hiatus from training. At age 40, the mother of two participated in the Olympic trials in 2012, but signed her retirement papers after failing to qualify for the team.
Lindsay Davenport: A former top-ranked tennis player recently elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Lindsay took the gold medal in the 1996 Olympics.
Dain Blanton: A two-time Olympian and an LBHS alum, Dain got his start playing beach volleyball in town. He took home the gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and represented the U.S. again in the 2004 games in Athens, Greece.
Annika Dries: The LBHS alumna joined the U.S. water polo team in 2012, contributing to a gold medal win in London.
Ashley Wagner: Laguna’s latest superstar, the German-born figure skater was the national media darling this year at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. She helped the U.S. earn a bronze medal in the team event, and placed seventh in women’s skating.
An estimated 200 nonprofits in Laguna Beach are registered with the Internal Revenue Service—per capita, that’s more even than in LA. It’s a town that loves to give. Here are just a few acts of kindness and major milestones we’ve had the privilege of covering in the last 50 issues:
When Orange County beaches saw a record-breaking number of sea lions stranded ashore in 2013—more than 370—the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in the canyon filled its facility to capacity and took in an estimated 167 (at one time) that were malnourished or injured. In March 2014, we reported that the PMMC was receiving a much-needed upgrade to its rehabilitation center to include a revamped intensive care unit and an observation deck, among other changes.
The Friendship Shelter celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013, providing food, housing and rehabilitation to more than 6,000 homeless individuals.
Glennwood House opened its doors in summer 2013, providing a residential sanctuary for 50 adults with developmental disabilities and other special needs.
The Laguna Beach Community Foundation was launched in May 2009 to assist local charities. From 2010 to early 2014, the foundation says it delivered more than $2.7 million in grants to local and national nonprofits.
LAGUNA’S RESTAURANT GRAVEYARD
Over the years, we’ve paid a fond farewell to some of the city’s favorite dining destinations. Relive the epicurean memories with this look back.
Replaced by: House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer
Now: Big Fish Tavern
The Beach House
Closed: October 2013
Now: Driftwood Kitchen
Closed: April 2012
Closed: April 2012
Cedar Creek Inn
Closed: Early 2008
Closed: December 2012
Now: Urth Caffe (2015)
Closed: Late 2010
Now: Broadway by Amar Santana
French 75 Bistro
Closed: December 2012
Now: Selanne Steak Tavern
Closed: August 2010
Replaced by: Katsuya
Now: Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar
Closed: Early 2008, moved to Crystal Cove Shopping Center
Replaced by: Asada
Now: Tortilla Republic
Laguna Culinary Arts
Closed: February 2014, moved to Costa Mesa
Closed: Spring 2011
Now: Umami Burger
Closed: Early 2014
Now: Ivory Restaurant & Lounge
Rick’s Partners Bistro
Closed: Early 2008
Closed: Late 2014
Closed: April 2012
Closed: August 2011
Now: Three Seventy Common Kitchen & Drink
Closed: October 2013
Ti Amo Ristorante
Closed: Late 2013
Then: Renowned surfer and musician Donavon Frankenreiter, the cover story for Laguna Beach Magazine’s inaugural issue, was already capturing attention back in 2007 at the age of 34 when he was touring the U.S. and traveling to European festivals. His eponymous solo debut album came out in 2004, launching him into the national spotlight.
Now: Donavon’s most recent album—“Start Livin’ ”—hit shelves in 2012 and features nine folk-infused songs. He shares that this album was one of the most fun to make, incorporating a range of instruments from a toy piano to banjos and a lap steel guitar.
Coming soon: With six studio albums and two EPs to his name, he is now writing and working on a new album that will be recorded live on the Internet in May 2015. This December has the musician touring from San Juan Capistrano to Santa Barbara, with special guest Tom Curren. Donavon and his wife Petra also are developing an online store, thebarn808.com, featuring lifestyle products, one-of-a-kind collaborations with various brands and other items picked up from their travels around the world.
LAGUNA BEACH MAGAZINE: BY THE NUMBERS
Views of the most-read story on lagunabeachmagazine.com, “The Hottest Happy Hours in Town,” published in the September 2012 issue
Pages produced to date
Copies printed to date
Years the magazine has won a Western Publishing Association Maggie Award for top City & Metropolitan/Consumer publication (in 2010 and 2012)
Art has helped put Laguna on the map, from the thriving summer festivals to the acclaimed college, museum, playhouse and dozens of galleries participating in First Thursdays Art Walk—and Laguna Beach Magazine was here to mark the special occasions of these institutions in its pages.
Laguna Playhouse celebrated its 90th anniversary in our June/July 2010 issue. What started in 1920 as the town’s first Community Dramatic Club, a reading group that met in private homes and storefronts, eventually became Laguna Playhouse—the oldest continuously operating theater on the West Coast.
In the September/October 2011 issue, we featured Laguna College of Art & Design in honor of its golden anniversary, showcasing the campus’ evolution from its founding in 1961 as a joint venture of the Festival of Arts and Laguna Beach Art Association (which became Laguna Art Museum) to the installment of longtime dean Jonathan Burke as president in 2011.
In honor of the Festival of Arts’ 80th anniversary in 2012, we compiled colorful stories for the June issue: Among other controversies, in 1979, some artists got into an ideological tussle with festival board members over their social statement works; an artist refused to remove her work and chained herself to her booth for two-and-a-half days.
Pageant of the Masters, the acclaimed production of “tableaux vivants” (living pictures), toasted eight decades in 2013. We took readers behind-the-scenes to see how technology has evolved from trees strung with lights to lasers and radio-controlled dragons in recent years.
With an eye on the horizon, be on the lookout for coverage of 50-year milestone seasons for Sawdust Art Festival, which broke away from the Festival of Arts in 1965, as well as Art-A-Fair, which began in 1966.
LAGUNA’S CAST OF CHARACTERS
In a place as unashamedly quirky as Laguna Beach, we’re home to our fair share of characters who keep our town just a little left of center—and that’s just the way we want it. Throughout our 50 issues, we’ve highlighted many of the people and places that give the city its unique charm, including …
The brave firefighters here in Laguna Beach have been known to get a little help from friends of the four-legged variety. As we wrote in “Meet the Bleatles” (issue 16, August 2010), since the early 1990s, the city has employed the help of a herd of goats in an attempt to keep vegetation in check and cut down on the occurrence of brush fires.
Beloved by psychics for its energy and residents’ open-mindedness, Laguna has become somewhat of a mecca for those in touch with their third eye. George Lauricella, a metaphysical consultant at the Chakra Shack that we interviewed for our story, “The Second Sight” (issue 43, February 2014), even recounted how his psychic abilities may have saved him from the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
The “Dirty Bird”
A Laguna Beach institution for the last 70 years, the Sandpiper Lounge—affectionately known as the “Dirty Bird”—has served Laguna’s late night crowd for generations. Not much has changed since our feature, “Tales from the Dirty Bird” (issue 32, September 2012): As co-owner Chuck Harrell put it then, “The early bird gets the worm, but the Dirty Bird gets the cougar.”
LBM GOES DIGITAL
Even print media has a place in the social media sphere. Laguna Beach Magazine’s digital efforts include Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—and we love interacting with our followers.
Some of our most popular Facebook posts include our recent coverage of the Aquathon and a story on the best hikes in Laguna, each reaching thousands of people from all around the world. Check out our pages next time you need a little more Laguna in your life.
IN POP CULTURE
It’s not a surprise that a town as beautiful as Laguna has been the setting for numerous films, television shows and books—from the golden years of Hollywood in the 1930s to today.
In our feature “Laguna on Film” (issue 24, September/October 2011), we chronicled the evolution of the city’s film scene, from the silent films that were shot on our shores in the 1930s to the big name stars (like Bette Davis, Judy Garland and Diane Keaton) who have called the seaside town home.
Many locals have read Don Winslow’s “Savages” or seen the subsequent Oliver Stone movie adaptation starring Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Blake Lively, which was filmed in town and debuted in 2012. We even suggested the prequel, “The Kings of Cool” (also set in Laguna), as one of our hot summer reads in 2012.
We once again explored the world of filmmaking in Laguna Beach with “Lights, Camera, Laguna!” (issue 39, July/Aug 2013). In this story, we highlighted more contemporary films that had used the city and its surrounding beaches as backdrops, as well as directors and documentary filmmakers—like father-son duo Shaun and Greg MacGillivray, and marine conservationist and artist Wyland—who have made a home in Laguna.
AN ICON OF THE SURF AND SEA
Laguna Beach Magazine paid tribute earlier this year to Hobie Alter, the pioneer of foam-core surfboard production who died in March at 80 years old.
The surfing and sailing legend began shaping boards as a teenager in the garage of his Laguna Beach summer home. Hobie cut costs and production time through his manufacturing innovations and by embracing breakthrough synthetic materials. His contributions made an indelible mark that will live on for generations—we celebrated his life and legacy in the July/August 2014 issue.
LUCKY IN LOVE OR STILL LOOKING?
In 2012, we set out to find Laguna’s most eligible bachelors and bachelorettes. Two years later, we caught up with some of the town’s lovely ladies and strapping gents to get an update on how the dating scene has treated them.
Niki Smart: A recent LA transplant, this former Laguna lady is “happily smitten” with a man she met after moving earlier this year. “Come on up to LA, single ladies—I’ll hook you up,” she jokes.
Jeffrey Briar: After our article ran, the laughter yoga disciple received an offer to run a paid personal ad in a San Francisco magazine. He politely declined—with a smile on his face, we’re sure—and is still on the hunt for that special someone who can appreciate his sense of humor. (Check out his original interview from 2012 using LB Mag Plus.)
DID YOU KNOW …
⎝… that the Brooks Street Classic, started in 1955, is [arguably] the oldest surfing competition in the entire country? The East Coast Surfing Championship also claims to hold the title, but we all know who the real winner is. (“Surfing Brooks,” issue 23, August 2011)
⎝… the sport of skimboarding is said to have originated in Laguna Beach in the 1920s? The city is now home to Victoria Skimboards and The Vic, one of the world’s most famed skimboarding competitions. (“Skimming the Future,” issue 31, July/August 2012)
⎝… the brown pelicans that can be seen soaring along the coast daily were on the brink of extinction 30 year ago? They were finally removed from the endangered species list in 2009. (issue 24, September/October 2011)
TIME TO GET HAPPY
Laguna Beach Magazine’s most-read online article, “The Hottest Happy Hours in Town,” proves just now much the city loves its beer and bars. The story, which appeared in the September 2012 issue and debuted online shortly thereafter—with 4,748 page views to date—offered an insider’s look at the best after-work watering holes.
At the time, K’ya Bistro Bar at La Casa del Camino grabbed the prize for best deal with its $5 food and drink specials and impressive small plate menu. The restaurant still tops our list with similar $5 specials on appetizers like coconut-breaded shrimp and smoked salmon bruschetta.
Rock’n Fish captured the beer category in 2012—along with House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer—offering $6 draft beers, select cocktails and martinis from 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday. (Rock’n Fish recently closed in late 2014.)
For cocktails, Mozambique was the clear winner with nearly half-priced exotic libations, and still draws crowds in 2014 with happy hour seven days a week and $5 margaritas, mojitos and well drinks.
Making menu magic, Sundried Tomato Café (now closed) caught our writer’s attention with $6 appetizers, and Starfish impressed with stellar Asian-inspired $5 items. While Sundried Tomato has since shuttered, Starfish still shines with $6 pork dumplings and crispy spring rolls every day from 3-6 p.m.
Whether your favorite deals from our 2012 list are still on the menu or you’ve found a new favorite, there’s no shortage of places in Laguna to celebrate the happiest hour of the day.