Strolling along the Rivo Canal on Naples Island Long Beach

A Gondola, plumeria, kayakers, drought tolerant plantings and a Captain Morgan statue — all along the Rivo Canal that cuts through the man-made Naples Island in Alamitos Bay in Long Beach.

Rivo canal Long Beach Naples Island
Naples is a man-made island with a canals running through it. The canals are lined with very expensive homes.

My intention was to escape the 95 degree F (35C) heat in the Los Angeles foothills where I live.  But it turned out to be not much of an escape: it warmed up and became muggy in Long Beach, too.

Here is some of what I saw.  It was a mix of this and that.

Kayaking in canal Naples Long Beach CA
This family was out for a Saturday morning cruise around the island. Kayaks and paddleboards are for rent on the beach at nearby Belmont Shore.
Diver in canal Long Beach CA
This diver was planning a prolonged dive. Maybe to repair something underwater?
Plumeria blossoms Long Beach CA
Many gardens along the canals used to be filled with tropical plants, like this white Plumeria. Drought tolerant plants have replaced many of the plantings, but the Plumeria trees persist. Love them!
drought tolerant plants Naples Island Long Beach (
I love this mix of drought tolerant plants. You can see more at my website Hot Gardens.
garden ornaments drought tolerant plants plumeria
Years ago the tiny gardens along the canal were filled with tropical plants. In this one small patch most of the plants are drought tolerant ones, except for the pink plumeria. I liked the little boy statue hidden among the plants and the Statue of Liberty behind .
figs Long Beach CA
In the mix of gardens along the walkway beside the canal I came across a fig tree. These figs are not ripe yet.
Captain Morgan statue Naples Long Beach CA
Beach homes used to be “unserious” and people placed silly ornaments and statues around them. At least one homeowner continues this tradition of silliness with this Captain Morgan statue.  The last time I walked along this area there was also a Bob’s Big Boy statue on another dock, but it seems to have vanished. Sign up to be notified when I publish new posts about places and people in Los Angeles.  (It isn’t all movie stars and beaches!)  Use the form at the upper right hand side of this page.

The Frank Romero retrospective at MOLAA hits all the high points

Going to the Olympics mural Frank Romero
The ‘Going to the Olympics’ mural was painted on side wall of the 101 freeway in downtown Los Angeles and is probably Romero’s most viewed work. Thousands see this mural every day and have since the 1980s when it was painted.

In his long career Frank Romero has gone from being a young artist who was part of the landmark exhibition, ‘Los Four’,  the first significant show of Chicano art at LACMA to a major international figure in the art world with his work owned by the Smithsonian.

The retrospective currently at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach covers the entire spectrum. Full disclosure: a Romero work on paper hangs in my living room.

Here are a few of his works at MOLAA now.  My photographs do not really do them justice. The show closes on May 21st.

Romero self-portrait
The self-portrait of the artist as a 75 year old man. (That’s his age now.)
Frank Romero painting
At the entrance to the exhibition is this painting of a neon-lit car and palm trees–the ultimate Frank Romero image.  Note the dog in the back seat, looking very wolfish.
The Death of Ruben Salazar
The Smithsonian Museum owns this famous Romero work entitled ‘The Death of Ruben Salazar.’ Salazar was a journalist for the L.A. Times killed during a protest march in 1970 in East L.A.
Romero police brutality
One entire gallery in this retrospective is devoted to Romero’s paintings about police brutality, especially against members of the Mexican-American/Chicano community in Los Angeles. This painting captures a moment of police activity near Echo Park.
Los Angeles Burning Frank Romero
This very Japanese looking painting was done right after the riots in 1992. I remember that he said he went to the top of the Hollywood Hills and looked down on the city as it burned.
dog painting frank romero
Dog images recur in Romero’s paintings and over the years the dog images have changed from angry, wolfish and muscular to soft and relaxed. A comment on Romero himself?


See the L.A. River through the eyes of artist Victor Zayas–extraordinary!

You can pre-order my new novel, ‘L.A. Ladies’ on either Kindle or Nook

Museum of Latin American Art Long Beach
The Museum of Latin American Art exhibits artworks from the U.S., Mexico, and other Western Hemisphere countries right down to Argentina.

Since the early 1980s artist (and former collegiate soccer player) Victor Hugo Zayas has been painting the Los Angeles river, primarily at night.  So yesterday on the Free Museum Day I took the Metro from Pasadena to Long Beach to see his work at the Museum of Latin American Art.

Los Angeles River Painting Victor Hugo Zayas
A Victor Zayas painting of the L.A. River with trees on one side.

When I walked into the gallery my first reaction was ‘Oh, inspired by Turner’, but I changed my mind when I stepped back from the paintings and viewed them from a distance of 25 feet.  Suddenly the dark, sweeping brush strokes became an impressionist view of the river. Unfortunately, I have to apologize for the poor quality of my photographs.  These photos do not do the paintings justice at all.

L.A. River paitning at Molaa
Another of the paintings of the Los Angeles River. Many are night scenes. Others appear to be aerials.

In another gallery at the museum was an exhibition of works from Chicano artists who burst into the art scene after tagging LACMA back in the late 1980s. Many artists in this movement produced silk-screen prints at Self-Help Gallery under the guidance of Sister Karen.

I bought quite a few works at Self-Help years ago, including works by Frank Romero and Leo Limon. Sometime in the next year there will be a solo show of Romero’s work at LACMA. Also a solo show of Carlos Almarez’s work.

Frank Romero painting at Molaa
An L.A. landscape by Frank Romero, a leader of the Chicano art movement.
Robert Vargas Day of the Dead painting
Robert Vargas actually painted this at the Museum of Latin American Art during a Day of the Dead gala!
L.A. River from Metro Gold Line
On my way back home on the Metro Gold Line, the train passed across the L.A. River and I snapped a quick picture.



Kayaking, sailing, paddleboarding…oh, it’s too hot for all that!

private boats and sailboats Naples island
Power boats and sailboats tied up outside the luuxious homes on Naples Island in Long Beach CA

When the weather forecast indicated that it was going to be over 100F this weekend, I escaped to Long Beach where it was supposed to only reach a high of 86F.

children dashing into ocean
Two little boys make a dash for the ocean as the temperature rose to over 100F.

My goal was to take some pictures of all the water sports and activities on Alamitos Bay where the water is usually flat–no waves to speak of. Well, either the weatherman lied or lost his skill at forecasting. In a sudden spike, the temperature in soared to over 100F by 11 a.m. so I took my camera and left.  Happily I’d already taken a lot of shots of all the water-related activities around Naples Island, a man-made island in the middle of the Alamitos Bay.

dragon boat swimmers kayak
A dragon boat–without its removable dragon head– racing team was practicing on Alamitos Bay while three swimmers stroked in the opposite direction. In the distance, a kayaker paddled along.
sailing classes at Leeway sailing center
If kayaking and paddleboards aren’t for you, take sailing classes on Alamitos Bay . Classes are offered by the city of Long Beach at the Leeway Sailing Center on Ocean Blvd.
learning how to paddleboard
If you rent a paddleboard you get instructions on how to manuver it in the water of Alamitos Bay.
kayaks ready to go on alamitos bay
Kayaks ready for rental at the corner of Ocean Blvd. and BayShore drive in Long Beach.
The Port of Long Beach hired a group of professional sand sculptors to create the Pt. Fermin lighthouse, a mermaid riding a whale, and other sea creatures. It had taken them 2 days to get this far and they weren't done yet.
The Port of Long Beach hired a group of professional sand sculptors to re-create the Pt. Fermin lighthouse, a mermaid riding a whale, and other sea creatures in sand for the Long Beach Sand Sculpture Festival. It had taken them 2 days to get this far and they weren’t done yet.  This is an amateur event. A professional sand sculpture festival is held in San Diego every year.
building a sandcastle Long Beach
A group of young women starting their sandcastle for the amateur sand-castle building event on the beach at Belmont Shore..

Oil prices down. Oil prices up. Where does all that oily stuff come from?

Oil island Long Beach California
The oil island in Long Beach that is closest to Bluff Park. The “buildings’ on the island were constructed in 1965 to disguise the oil pumping equipment.  This island is manned 24 hours a day–or so the story goes.  The smoke in the distance is from one of the dozens of cargo freighters backed up because of labor trouble on the docks.

Over the last year we’ve all seen oil prices plunge and — yipee!–gas prices plummet, too.  Now gas prices, at least here in Los Angeles, are shooting back up.  So during a visit to a friend in Long Beach I took some photos of the oil fields which surround the city including right in the harbor. All the wells are still pumping like crazy.  The current leap upward in gas prices is being blamed, in part, on an explosion at a refinery in Torrance.  I don’t believe it; that refinery was already closed for repairs.

On one oil island the fake building has either been removed by the oil company or perhaps damaged by severe weather.  The Oil derrick is clearly visible.
On one oil island the fake building has either been removed by the oil company or perhaps damaged by severe weather. The oil derrick is clearly visible.

In the Long Beach harbor are 4 man-made oil islands, disguised with palm trees and simulated buildings.  The oil is pumped out and through pipelines under neighborhoods like Belmont Heights and Bluff Park to huge storage tanks further north. (There is an earthquake fault running through Belmont Heights,)

On one of the islands farther away from the beach, the fake building has come down and an oil derrick is exposed.  Further west of the oil islands are wells on land near a couple of major shopping centers.  And there are a bunch more on Signal Hill, which is actually an oil dome.

But the beach and harbor are not all oil, oil, oil.  There is a terrific cycling route running along the 7 miles of beach in the city.  It extends beyond the beach up the Los Angeles river for quite a ways.

World War II Sailor in Bluff Park Long Beach
This statue of a World War II sailor faces westward toward the Pacific.

In Belmont Shore on Second Street is one of my favorite bakeries in all of greater L.A.  Stop at Babette’s Feast for the very best French pastries.

And in Bluff Park at Ocean and Paloma, overlooking those oil islands, is a larger-than-life statue of a World War II sailor looking boldly westward across the Pacific.

Time to go kayaking, paddleboarding and kitesurfing in the California sunshine!

Paddleboarders on a Naples canal
Riding paddleboards through the canals in the upscale Naples Island neighborhood of Long Beach.

Winter barely happened in Southern California this year.  We had less than half our normal rainfall and the winter weather, such as it was, was benign.  For gardeners that lack of rainfall is not good, but for watersports enthusiasts the fun in the sun has started early.

Paddleboarders threaded their route through the canals on Naples Island in Alamitos Bay on the day I was there.  Most of them were riding paddleboards which they had rented on a nearby beach.

Paddleboard for rent Long Beach
More paddleboards available than people to rent them on this sunny but very windy weekday.  The lifeguard chair in the middle was empty.


At the same beach kayaks were available for rent at $9 per hour.  A sign admonished prospective kayakers that they had to know how to swim!  (I can’t imagine deciding to go out in a kayak without knowing how to swim.) And about a block away, kitesurfing boards and kites were lined up on another beach, this one actually facing the ocean, ready to rent to customers.  The day I took these photos the Santa Ana wind was absolutely ferocious and not one person was kitesurfing.  The kayaks seemed to be attracting the most business.

Let's go kayaking Long Beach California
Let’s go kayaking on Alamitos Bay in Long Beach California. While they were supplied with lifejackets, I hope all of them could swim!

After taking these photos I went to my favorite bakery, Babette’s Feast on Second Street, where, looming above me was a huge billboard to remind everyone to save water.  We don’t have mandatory water rationing in Southern California–yet–but  with the continued effects of climate change, we may face it soon.  Then it really will be too late for rain dances–or maybe it already is.

Rain dances is over Long Beach
This huge billboard was atop a building on Second Street in the Belmont Shore neighborhood of Long Beach. Clearly it was a reminder to save water.

See boogieboarders, a bronze seal and beachgoers at Seal Beach California

Lifeguards and bewachgoers
Beachgoers and lifeguards at Seal Beach California in May, 2014

Seal Beach is a trip back in time to the 1950s and 1960s. You can almost hear the Beach Boys singing ‘Good Vibrations’ as you drive down Main Street looking for parking.  Or maybe that is Annette Funicello (an original Disney Mouseketeer and star of several beach movies in the 1960s) in a bikini on the beach. Well, maybe her granddaughter.  Or maybe her grandson with two of his pals going home from a morning of boogieboarding.

Boogieboarders in Sel Beach
Three young locals with their boogie boards making their way home after a morning in the surf.

Unlike the beaches further north along Santa Monica and Redondo, Seal Beach is rarely crowded with people.  For decades Ruby’s restaurant was located at the end of the Seal Beach Pier.  It was a fun place to grab a burger and fries, or fish and chips and watch the  cargo ships head  in toward the Port of Lond Beach.

Seal Beach Pier
The Seal Beach pier. The restaurant at the end of it is closed now, but plans are underway for a new one to open there.
Fisherman at Seal Beach Pier
All the fish along this coastline are contaminated but fishermen still cast their lines–but hopefully do not eat their catch.

Since Ruby’s closed hungry beachgoers stop in at the small restaurants and shops that line Main Street.

Psychic Shop at Seal Beach
A Physic Shop on Main Street in Seal Beach. Maybe the psychic can foretell tsunamis?

There are the usual beach stores selling Hawaiian style shirts, sundresses and skimpy bikinis, but the Psychic Store was a new one!

And the menu at a restaurant called the Hangout, left me aghast.  Shrimp, grits and brown gravy?  I’d rather go across the street and have good, old-fashioned fish tacos.

Shrimp and grits Seal Beach California
Menu board at The Hangout cafe in Seal Beach. Shrimp and grits?







After disappearing for decades, seals have returned to Seal Beach at certain times of year.  The federal laws that protect them have resulted in a population explosion of sea mammals and all along the Pacific Coast seals, sea lions and even elephant seals are returning to their ancient habitats.  The only one I saw was bronze.

Coming next weekend: the AmGen tour Stage 7 stops at Pasadena.  I’ll be there!

Bronze seal at Seal Beach.  Thanks to wildlife protection laws, the West Coast seal population has grown and live seals show up on the beach from time to time.
Bronze seal at Seal Beach. Thanks to wildlife protection laws, the West Coast seal population has grown and live seals show up on the beach from time to time.