Monthly Archives: December 2013

MR. LONG BEACH: Picturing Sunsets


Here is my sixth Sunday Column.

Put away the menorah, hide the Festivus pole and say goodbye to St. Nick. It’s that time of year again – time to take pictures of sunsets. At least that’s what Mr. Long Beach’s Facebook feed is telling him.

Of the many years Mr. Long Beach has been covering the city, there has been one photographic constant – beautiful winter sunsets. Show up at Rosie’s Dog Beach or Hilltop Park in Signal Hill any afternoon around sundown and the shutterbugs are everywhere.

The sun sets every day, so why are some evenings better than others?

First, let’s get the scientific stuff out of the way. During the day, the sky appears blue because the light has a short path through the atmosphere. The selective scattering of sunlight by air molecules – yes, scatter is a scientific term – and the human eye’s ability to see certain colors give us blue sky.

The late-afternoon light has a longer journey, giving the blue more time to scatter out of the spectrum of visible light. So basically, the red and orange light travel farther than blue.

What makes a good sunset picture?

There are a couple factors that go in to a good sunset picture. Most important are people – or dogs – and clouds.

Clouds create a ceiling and give your picture depth. Because of Long Beach’s position on the West Coast, the city often misses big winter storms, but it gains the high-level clouds from the outskirts of those storms.

People in the picture will give you a personal connection and help set scale. The easiest thing to do is a silhouette. If you’re adventurous with camera gear, try using a flash to light up your subjects.

What about sunrises?

If you’re a morning person, you can get some great sunrise photos, too. Some of the same principles apply.

When Mr. Long Beach consulted his colleague, former Long Beach photographer Bruce Chambers who shoots for the Orange County Register, he says the key to great sunrise photos are thin clouds in the east and being prepared to photograph long before the sun appears.

Chambers added, “You can also improve a sunrise/sunset if you chose an interesting foreground. Shooting in a wide-open area such as hilltop, beach or river allows you to declutter the foreground.”

What else can I shoot at sunset?

Photographers call it magic hour – that time of day when, for a short while, the light is soft and warm and makes everything look pretty. It’s a great time to photograph your family.

Instead of shooting the sunset, turn around, put the giant flaming ball behind you, and watch the golden light bathe your subjects.

Most importantly, make sure you know how to use your camera in manual mode. According to Chambers, under-exposing a sunrise or sunset image tends to produce richer colors.

The light changes rapidly as the sun goes down and the more familiar you are with your camera, the better pictures you’ll make. Smartphones are a little trickier, but not impossible. Download an app that lets you control your camera settings and, most importantly – have fun!

From queries about the history of Long Beach to questions about your neighborhood, Mr. Long Beach will find the answers. Send your questions to


PHOTOS: Fuego Restaurant

A few shots from a food review at Fuego restaurant at the Maya Hotel in Long Beach.

MR. LONG BEACH: How to Live in a Bike Friendly City


Here is my fifth Sunday column and the accompanying Mystery Photo. The picture is construction of test pilings for the bridge that will replace the Gerald Desmond in the Port of Long Beach. 

A number of bike-related questions have come Mr. Long Beach’s way this week. Instead of picking just one, here’s the lowdown on bicycles in the city.

Mr. Long Beach has been covering this city for a long time – over 20 years – and if there is one thing that has popped up more then anything else in the past five of those years, it’s bikes.

There have been countless bike-themed press events, from the sharrows – shared bike lanes – on Second Street to the Vista Street bike boulevard to the Tour of Long Beach.

Long Beach bills itself as “The Most Bike Friendly City in America.” Personally, Mr. Long Beach would prefer the city work more on being “business friendly” – but that’s another column for a different Sunday.

What does “bike friendly” mean?

According to Allan Crawford, the city’s bicycle coordinator, the term “Bike Friendly” was coined by the late Mark Bixby, an avid cyclist, about five years ago.

Simply put, it means making bicycle riders a priority. Crawford said that being bike friendly means: A city where anyone from age 8 to age 80 feels comfortable riding their bike, where the courtesy of bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians counts, and where businesses encourage bicycling and walking.

Part of making the city bike friendly is providing secure places to lock bikes. In 2010 the city used federal grant money to purchase 2,000 bike racks. Some look like a slice of pizza, a coffee cup or a guitar – they are often themed to go with the adjoining business. Crawford said the city has placed about 1,500 of the racks. Any business wanting one can make a request from the city. The only stipulation is that the rack must be on public land.

What do I need to know about riding my bike in Long Beach?

Crawford said it is illegal to ride on a sidewalk in a business district, but it is perfectly fine to ride on a sidewalk in a residential neighborhood as long as you keep it under 12 mph.

When Mr. Long Beach examined the city bicycle code he found the usual government gobbledygook. Mixed in with the legal jargon were these tidbits:

The code defines a bicycle as a “device propelled by human power upon which any person may ride, having two (2) tandem wheels either of which is twenty inches (20″) or more in diameter” – so apparently unicycles and tricycles are not covered.

Anyone operating a bicycle on the road can’t ride more than two abreast.

No person shall operate a bicycle on a sidewalk unless it is equipped with a bell, horn or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet.

What’s new to biking in Long Beach?

Coming to the city in 2014 is Bike Share. Crawford explained it as a pay service that enables short-term use of bikes on a temporary basis. There will be multiple racks around the city. A rider can check out a bike at one rack and return it at another.

How can I stay safe on my bike?

After the city added protected bike lanes on Broadway and Third Street in Downtown the accident rate dropped by 50 percent – not just bicycle accidents, but also auto collisions. Crawford said it’s the up side to adding bike lanes – the road gets narrower and traffic slows. He added there has been a similar drop in traffic collisions along Vista Street where roundabouts have been installed.

The No. 1 cause of injury or death to bicyclists is riding against traffic on a roadway. Crawford said that if you “act like a driver and use common sense” you should be just fine.

From queries about the history of Long Beach to questions about your neighborhood, Mr. Long Beach will find the answers. Send your questions to


PHOTOS: Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool Replacement

Swimmers take wade in 85-degree water during the grand opening of the Belmont Outdoor Pool on Thursday in Long Beach. The pool is a temporary Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool which was permanently closed in February when it was found seismically and structurally unsafe.

MR. LONG BEACH: What’s up with the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool Replacement?

Here is my fourth Sunday Column.

EDITOR’S NOTE: City officials have announced the temporary pool will open on December 19 at 4 P.M. This information came in after the column went to press.

Q. When will the new outdoor stadium pool be finished? It has been a construction mess for a while. – John Futch, Belmont Heights

A. The temporary replacement for the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool is slated to open soon. City officials have not picked an exact date, but they’ve assured Mr. Long Beach it will open sometime this week.

The $4.6 million swim arena is a 50-by-25-meter Olympic-size pool – the depth varies from 3 1⁄2 feet to 6 1⁄2 feet. It features covered seating and a movable di- vider with starting blocks for racing. Swimmers will still have to use the lockers in the old building.

Long Beach residents will be able to use the new pool for almost all of the same activities as the Belmont – open swim, competition and lessons. Everything except diving.

The Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool, once known as “The Taj Ma-hal” of swim stadiums, opened in 1968 and hosted the U.S. Olym- pic Swim Trials that year, sending athletes to Mexico City for the Summer Games. The natatorium also was home to the Olympic trials in 1976 that saw

Greg Louganis competing to go to Montreal and the NCAA championships in 1974 and 1978.

The Greek modern pool facility has been used for countless commercials, TV shows and movies, includ- ing portions of the final scene of James Cameron’s “Ti- tanic.”

Mr. Long Beach has fond memories, and pictures too, of his Little Beacher swimming at the million- gallon pool.

On Jan. 10, the Belmont pool was temporarily closed after an evaluation indicated the facility was seismical- ly unsafe. In February, the city of Long Beach an- nounced “the Belmont Pool must be permanently shut- tered to ensure the safety of the community.”

The plan is to tear down the building that houses the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool and build a replacement. According to Eric Lopez, Tidelands Capital Projects program manager, the temporary pool will be reused as part of the permanent new facility; diving will be in- cluded in the building that replaces the Belmont.

The temporary pool is similar to the ones the city used when it hosted the 2004 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials for the Athens Summer Games.

Mr. Long Beach remembers photographing world- class swimmers like Michael Phelps, Amanda Beard and Aaron Peirsol as they broke world records in downtown Long Beach. Hopefully the facility that re- places the Belmont will bring the same excitement and high profile events to the Shore.

PHOTOS: Homeless in Long Beach

“I don’t like the shelter. For one thing, I don’t like sleeping on a cot. I prefer sleeping on the ground. For one thing, there’s more space. You get enough beers in you, and you don’t feel nothing.”  – WALTER BEAN

Long Beach has the fourth- highest percentage of unsheltered homeless among major U.S. cities. read the story>>

PHOTOS: Making Way for the Gerald Desmond Replacement Bridge

Workers demolish the wall of industrial buildings that stand in the way of a new bridge at the Port of Long Beach on Thursday. The demolition is needed to clear the path for a 515-foot-tall, six-lane bridge at the port that will replace the aging Gerald Desmond.. More than a dozen buildings, including those at the Port’s former maintenance yard and a former fire station, will be razed.  Check out my Gerald Desmond Project at  |  Read the story and see a video>>

MR. LONG BEACH: No pate, but special beef at Kelly’s replacement

The former site of Kelly's of Naples is undergoing a transformation to Chianina Steakhouse. The new restaurant is scheduled to open on Dec. 15.

The former site of Kelly’s of Naples is undergoing a transformation to Chianina Steakhouse. The new restaurant is scheduled to open on Dec. 15.


Here is my third Sunday column.

Q. My friends and I are devastated that Kelly’s in Naples is no more. Their paté at the beginning of every meal was always a highlight. We have actually carried a container of it aboard an airplane on several occasions when we traveled to Portland, Oregon to visit friends who were pining for its creamy deliciousness. Please find out if Michael will be making this Long Beach tradition part of his new steakhouse.
–Rosemary Sissons, University Park Estates

A. No, you won’t be able to get the paté you loved at the restaurant replacing Kelly’s.

Michael Dane, the new owner of the former Kelly’s in Naples Restaurant, said they will have all sorts of paté, but not the exact paté that Kelly’s served – nor will it be placed on every table like the former restaurant.

Kelly’s, which opened in 1958, closed earlier this year. The closure was wrought with “he said, she saids” that involved locks being drilled out and changed, then replaced, then drilled out again and somewhere in between, a good portion of the restaurant’s equipment was shuffled out the door. It’s a complicated story that Mr. Long Beach won’t get into here, because, well … it’s complicated.

Dane said he has nothing to do with the old troubles and he doesn’t own the rights to use the Kelly’s name. “Kelly’s was a tradition” he said, “but we are going to create a new tradition and maintain a steakhouse at that location.”

When asked about comparisons to Kelly’s, the oldest steakhouse in the city, Dane simply said his new restaurant, name Chianina, is going to be, “Long Beach’s newest steakhouse.” He added, “We are not hopeful, we are sure we will make this successful.” This will be his third restaurant on Naples Island.

Dane said he hopes to create a “gourmet food alley that not only includes my restaurants, but also Naples Sushi, the Rib Company, K.C. Branaghan’s and more.” He added, “I’d like to see an expansion of dining that’s different from the national brands on Second Street.”

Chianina, meaning white cow, is named for a 2000-year-old Italian breed of cattle that Dane is raising and breeding in Oregon specifically for this restaurant at 5716 E. 2nd St.

Michael Dane is slated to open the new steakhouse Dec. 15. His company, Michael’s Restaurant Group, also owns Michael’s on Naples and Michael’s Pizzeria.

Mr. Long Beach’s Fun Fact: During World War II, two exterior cement boxes were built on the roof of The Breakers in Downtown Long Beach for defense. The Sky Room restaurant at the top of the building became the official Airwatch Headquarters for Long Beach Harbor. One of the boxes still is atop the south side of the tower.

From queries about the history of Long Beach, to “Can my neighbor raise bees in his backyard,” Mr. Long Beach will find the answers. I am Mr. Long Beach. Send your questions to


PHOTOS: Hanukkah by the Shore

The first-ever public Hanukkah menorah lighting by Shul by the Shore in Belmont Shore.

MR. LONG BEACH: Why no football team in Long Beach?

Here is my second Sunday column. It ran with the mystery photo above.

Q. “Why aren’t there any football teams in Long Beach?”
– Little Beacher, 7

A. When Mr. Long Beach’s 7-year-old son, Little Beacher, found out he was doing this column on Sundays he said, “Daddy, I have a question for you. Why doesn’t Long Beach have a football team?” This was surprising for Mr. Long Beach because the Little Beacher isn’t the most athletic kid and his questions usually revolve around Legos, Star Wars or animals.

Mr. Long Beach explained to him that there are football teams in the city. The high schools play every Friday during football season and Long Beach City College plays on the weekends.

His response, “No, I meant a real football team” – Yikes! The kids at Poly would surely disagree with him.

Long Beach has seen its share of professional, yet short lived, sports teams: The Ice Dogs hockey team, The Barracuda and Armada baseball teams, Long Beach Stingrays basketball team and the California Surf indoor soccer team to name just a few. Even the Los Angeles Kings played part of their first season as an NHL expansion team at the Long Beach Arena in 1967.

Getting back to my Little Beacher’s question, semi-pro football flirted with Long Beach in the 1960s and 1970s when teams such as the Mustangs, the Generals and the Admirals played at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Female football had a presence in Long Beach too, albeit with a decidedly feminine name – the Los Angeles Dandelions, a professional women’s tackle football team, debuted at Vets Stadium in 1973. The team lasted seven years.

In 2004, Long Beach firefighter Gary Biggerstaff launched a website and started a personal campaign to bring the NFL to Long Beach. The team Biggerstaff dreamed of had no owner and no financial backing, but that didn’t stop him from trying to get the city of Long Beach to meet with the football league. He spent half a year and a couple thousand dollars trying to get the city to meet with the NFL. Signs reading “Bring the NFL to Long Beach” started popping up all over the Eastside.

Mr. Long Beach remembers the cold shoulder Biggerstaff got from the City Council when he urged them to entertain the idea of bringing an NFL team to the city.

Biggerstaff’s idea was to put the stadium on Boeing property north of the airport – at the time it was a ghost town of Long Beach aviation – nothing but empty buildings where great planes were once built. Biggerstaff told Mr. Long Beach: “I’m a big fan of football. I live here and work here.” He said his pursuit wasn’t just for love of the game, but that there would have been, “Layers of financial reward” for the city too.

Mr. Long Beach’s Fun Fact: More then 60 NFL players have come from Long Beach Poly – more than any other high school in the country.