The front page of yesterday's USA Today featured an article on Laguna Beach, which describes how residents here feel the MTV reality show (Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County) is giving the town a bad name.
The paper's headlines read: The real Laguna Beach disdains its MTV image. In smaller print, the subtext reads: Locals say reality show "has hijacked our identity".
The featured front-page photo is taken from Heisler Park. (I was there earlier today.)
To be honest, I've never seen an entire episode. Nor has anyone I know, except for some teenagers. But .. I have lived in Laguna for nearly 10 years (having become a full-fledged Lagunatic).
The notion that Laguna Beach is somehow the *real* Orange County is absurd, cuz everybody here knows Laguna is nothing like the rest of Orange County.
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Soon as you leave Laguna, you feel like you're entering alien territory, where the people seem uptight and rigid (relatively speaking).
The light, carefree attitude that pervades life here dissolves soon as you leave the city limits, which is why most Lagunatics strive to stay in Laguna. A common statement is: "I try not to leave Laguna if I don't have to."
In fact, I'm sitting at a coffee shop right now in downtown Laguna, with the Pacific sparkling in plain sight, and where the song California Dreamin' is playing rather loudly.
Actually, if you stay in the coastal towns (like Corona del Mar and Newport Beach) it's not too bad. It's only when you venture inland that people start getting 'weird'.
Actually, I really think it's us-Lagunatics who are really the weird ones. But, having moved here, I can testify that the carefree funkiness of Laguna is part of its charm and quickly becomes part of you. I was very different before moving to Laguna. And once you get a taste of the Laguna charm, it's hard to leave.
Coming out of a hard-science background (nuclear power), I found all this eccentricity a bit peculiar. But now that I've been converted (bonified Lagunatic), I can see there's something therapeutic about Laguna's bohemian lifestyle .. plus, the place is abundant in natural beauty, dramatically so.
And yes, weirdness is relative. Like when your in-laws get together .. sometimes they each think the other group is weird. It has to do with comfort-zones, and what seems normal. Normality means different things to different people. It's relative.
Having grown up on the East Coast (Connecticut), and lived in many states before settling here on the West Coast, I've witnessed first-hand the differences in cultures around the country.
Digressing slightly, I will note that it has been my experience that people from Oregon are the nicest in the country, the easiest to get along with. Of course there are always exceptions, but I'm taking about generalities. I also think that people from Massachusetts are the funniest, with the sharpest sense of humor. They make me laugh the hardest.
You pay a price to live in Laguna. Living here doesn't come cheaply, cuz you don't get much for your money. But you quickly learn how to economize. Also, the traffic and parking here suks, especially in the summer, when folks from LA drive down and hang out.
First thing I learned after moving to Laguna was how to get around the back-streets, cuz the main streets (like Coast Hwy) are frequently congested, especially on weekends.
I'm jealous I wasn't able to grow up here. Kids here don't know how good they got it. They don't know how bleak life in some cities can be.
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