August 28, 2013

  • PhotoPost: Morning In Hermosa Beach

    25 photos featured in my Flickr Gallery: Morning In Hermosa Beach 8.24.13 

    There are a few places along the coast of Southern California, where I live, which haven't made it to PhotoPosts on Xanga. My old "stomping grounds" of Hermosa Beach is one of these places. I lived just south of Pacific Coast Highway at 3rd Street, roughly 15 blocks from the ocean, for three years in the early 80s. Frequently, I've gone back with the express purpose of having one of my "Photo Expeditions" but the small upscale town is usually filled with both locals and tourists during the day, especially during the summer. 


     I like to take photographs of "busy" places at times before or after they get "busy" so early mornings are a good time for an expedition. However, early mornings along the beachfront usually brings a thick "marine layer" (otherwise commonly referred to as "fog") This clouds the air, hides the sun, and sometimes makes taking clear detailed photos somewhat impossible. When I woke up Saturday morning, the air was clear, the sun was rising in the eastern sky, and the "marine layer" (which does creep in across the hills of the Palos Verdes Peninsula and has been keeping the sky clouded until after noon most days this summer, even inland where I live) was nonexistant. A good sign. So I packed up the cameras and headed for my old "hometown" of Hermosa Beach, about 10 miles up the coast. The fog wasn't that thick. The only people out and about were diehard joggers, bicyclists, dog walkers, and of course surfers. I didn't want to pay $1.25 an hour for metered parking, so I parked the car at Valley Park, along Valley Drive, roughly 6 blocks from the shore, and walked down to the strand.

    The Strand is "home" to dozens of closely packed two story beach cottages, which sell in the millions and rent for (hold your breath) $500.00 a night, $5000.00 a week, or $20,000.00 a month. (or thereabouts. Some (ahem) deals can be had. Here is "a house divided" which contains both USC and UCLA students. (I went to USC in the 70s, but I lived at home in Glendora and drove 50 miles to school each day.) A trip from Hermosa to the campus is about 15 miles up the 110 Freeway. I wanted to take photos of the living rooms and inside some of these places, which have large windows facing the sea, immediately behind me. Nobody was up yet, but I felt as if I would be "intruding."

    A surfboard themed artwork, flanked by waves, with the Hermosa Beach city logo in the center. You can see the professional volleyball "courts" in the distance, and the concrete pier runs along the beach into the ocean in the far distance.

    Here are some beachside dining and drinking establishments. I've been snockered in the Poopdeck many times in the past. Good Stuff cafe is about to open. The Mermaid is on the far corner, right on Pier Avenue, which butts up against the pier.

    I shot some photos around the volleyball "courts". Beach Volleyball tournaments are regularly held in Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Pacific Palisades, Will Rogers Beach, and in Santa Monica during the "season". Here are some bagged balls in preparation for a "match."

    A referee sits here during game time.

    This shot show the Tim Kelly Lifeguard memorial (the surfer statue), a wooden fence, and the Hermosa Pier, on which I only found a few fishermen this early in the a.m. I arrived between 6 and 7am. I shot this photo about 7:15 or thereabouts. The large building at the beginning of the pier is the Lifeguard headquarters.

    Shooting the Strand northwards from the back of the Tim Kelly memorial. Tim was a legendary lifeguard instructor for Junior Lifeguards in the city.

    A lifeguard "opens up" for the day. His familiar yellow truck is on the sand, and he's unlocking one of the wooden lifeguard stations along the Hermosa coast. I like it that we still have the old wooden stations here in Hermosa. From Pedro on south, it seems that newer more "modern" stations constructed of plastic are replacing the historic stations I love and remember.

    A shot without the "framing device". I shot both these from the pier with a telephoto lens.

    A bicyclist passes Hennessey's Bar and Grill right at the end of Pier Ave. on the Strand. The sign states: In Heaven there is no beer. That is why we drink at Hennessey's". (I've had more than one drink at Hennessey's in the past.)

    In about two hours, this place will be packed with people. Looking east toward Hermosa Blvd on Pier. This part of the street has been closed to traffic for a couple of decades now, but when I "hung out" here in the 80s, you could drive right up to the beachside establishments. I rode a motorcycle in those days, so didn't need much space to park, either.

    The mural on the side of Cantina Real restaurant. The city has commissioned public murals (a very interesting one is coming up) Hermosa, like a lot of SoCal cities, champions artistic endeavor, and a walk through the area is always a feast for the eyes.

    The older brick building in the center is the famous Lighthouse Cafe, home to many famous blues and jazz performances. The list is just too long to post in a caption. I've provided a link in the Bibliography below.

    A cop car makes it's early morning rounds. The pier is center of the photo. You can see the Lifeguard tower headquarters. I'm shooting from the patio of the Cantina Real restaurant. Hennessey's is across the street.

    The Treasure Chest gift store, and Zeppy's Pizza. Fat Face Fenner's Falloon is across the street, but I neglected to get a photo showing another historic Hermosa bar. At the top of this entry is a link to my complete gallery of over 175 photos on my Flickr account. If you have a Flickr account, you can add me as a 'contact' and get announcements when I add photo galleries. (I now have about 8500 photos online, replicating and surpassing the amount I had on the failed Webshots service, where I a was a fixture for almost a decade.) Of course I'll continue providing these detailed "walk with me" PhotoPosts here on Xanga, where I've also been a fixture for almost a decade!

    If it still existed, I would have taken a photo of the restaurant at which I had breakfast most mornings (Usually a chile topped Hermosa Omelette or a guacamole topped Redondo Omelette, and I might have them mixed up). This is a view showing Pier extending up the hill. The cross street is Hermosa Ave.

    Some birdies get breakfast around this bicycle's tire. Somebody must have spilled something!

    This is the clock tower at the front of the Pier Ave. walkway. The tan building "Mexican Junkie" is the building which housed the restaurant I used to frequent, but senior memory is not allowing me to remember it's name. At least a lot of the old places are still the same. It gets difficult to find any sense of history in SoCal at times.

    This is a most interesting trompe l'oiel mural dedicated to the Lighthouse Cafe on the side of the Chamber of Commerce building on Hermosa Ave. The artist is Tim Pugh.

    A shot toward the Sea Sprite Motel showing some of the artistic front yards in town. I didn't get many shots of the ocean simply because it was pretty fogged up, but at least the town shots are clear, and you can get a feel for the place if you've never been in beautiful Hermosa Beach , California.

    A little later in the day I attempted to take another expedition to Manhattan Beach, the town to the north of Hermosa, but it had warmed up to summer temps, and the crowds were overwhelming. I couldn't even find metered parking, and all the "free" spots along Valley were taken, including all the parking spots at the park I'd parked at earlier. Well, it's almost time for me to head to the courthouse for jury duty. Gotta leave Hermosa Beach for the time being and get back to "real life."

    EDIT: 5:13p.m. Thought I'd add a couple more photos now that I'm not rushed to get to Torrance Courthouse. (I am on a jury, and hopefully the trial will be over by Tuesday. Of course I can't write about it now.) Here is a photo taken from Pier looking east. The Orange storefronts and the blue one below them used to be the "Either Or Bookstore" a great place to get a coffee and browse the books, almost like in a library, back in the 70s-90s. It closed in 1999.

    This is the Comedy and Magic Club, another Hermosa institution. Jay Leno still polishes his standup monologues for the Tonight Show on the stage. I'm not proud of the fact, but on one of my insane drunks back in the early 80s I heckled Jay while in the audience during one of his sets. (I was a real ahole at times and people didn't want to take me anywhere!)


     Hermosa Beach Official Website

    Wikipedia entry on Hermosa Beach

    Wikipedia entry on Beach Volleyball, California Beach Volleyball Association

    History of The Lighthouse Cafe

    Posted: August 28, 2013 8:44 AM 

Comments (20)

  • Beautiful photos!  They help me envision the setting of my novel series!

  • This looks like a cool place--at least when it's not crowded. The buildings seem to be from every time period since the early 20th century, which makes it interesting to look at. These are nice pictures despite the fact that the weather looks a bit dreary.

  • Love your photos, Mike! With your photos and tour-guide-ness I felt like I was actually there! What a beautiful place! The birds and bike photo, and the surf board art, are all cool! If I promise to be good...will you take me on another walk?! Looks like it was June-gloomy day that day!

  • thanks Mike-it makes me home sick-our house was in Redondo and church in Hermosa -I lived on 4th street and the Strand. and I went to school in Torrance.

  • I was at all those beach towns when I was young.  My dad used to take us places most Saturdays.  (That was after my parent's divorce.  We usually saw the things kids like.  Beaches, tide pools, piers, aquariums, Griffith Park zoo, etc.  We lived in Long Beach, 6 blocks from the beach.  The little house we lived in is still there.  Most of the rest of the neighboring houses have become apartment houses.  I enjoyed seeing your pictures.

  • arg every time I head to the beach there always seems to be a marine layer. bad luck I tell ya

  • What wonderful pictures, even with the marine layer!  The beach looks wonderful, peaceful at that time of morning.  I'd have to say that the deserted beach and artistic front lawns would be some of my favorite pics.  Thanks for sharing your morning and memories with us, Mike!  (Looking forward to hearng about jury duty.  Hope it's not too dull of a case for you...)


  • Well done. Thanks for the great visual tour.

  • Your beach-front photos are, s usual, both interesting, and well done. They graphically illustrate the differences between east-coast and west coast beaches, Our beaches here in the FL panhandle (upper Gulf Coast) as well as those up the eastern seaboard as far as NY are pretty much influenced by the Gulf Stream - a basically warm water current flowing north - all the way to Scotland! - while the west coast has, of course, the colder, south-flowing Humboldt (?) current keeping your ocean chilly and foggy. There are more accessible beaches on my side - so maybe they are not as crowded - but they also have limited to nonexistent surfing.

  • Some cool pics Mike.  That beach almost looks like the one in that lifeguard TV show a while back with them guard huts . . Baywatch, that's it.  Any chance?

  • Hi Mike!
    Unfortunately, I can't see your photos...
    I wonder why, since it seems, by the comments, everyone can see it...
    Best luck!

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