By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Stanton Park, across from a brickyard, is a strip of grass a few dozen yards wide, running alongside the narrow, rocky Stanton storm channel. Except for the Hispanic family resting on wooden benches near the gun-metal gray merry-go-round, the park was empty. Sociologist William Whyte said a city was only as good as its comfortable places to sit. On Beach Boulevard, Stanton Park is it.
Exactly 11 years before I passed the Jack in the Box at Beach and Ellis in Huntington Beach, a 31-year-old man left the restaurant after telling patrons he'd left a bomb in the men's room. Police found him a block away, sitting quietly on a short wall, his hand concealed in a black shaving bag. He told police to stay away or he'd trigger the bomb. After a half-hour of negotiations, the police tired and ordered their K-9 German shepherd Baron to attack. Police found nothing in the bag or the restroom.
A few moments beyond Jack in the Box, a mute man handed me a slip of paper that read, "Ye Must Be Saved." I asked him what it was for, but he just kept walking. A half-hour later, a man with a dead stare passed me carrying a considerable length of pipe. I didn't try talking to him.
Except for a strip of white light blazing over the western horizon, the sky was completely overcast as I walked past the Huntington Beach wetlands and oil refineries. The air smelled of salt and oil. The sidewalk disappeared again, so I walked in the street. Then it reappeared in front of digital parking meters-25 cents for eight minutes, according to the angry girl I passed.
At exactly 6:50 p.m.-a woman at Beach and Pacific Coast Highway asked me for the time-I completed my walk, crossed the street, and walked onto the beach. There was a small party on the sand in front of Zack's Too, where a bicycle cop was musing about his partner's whereabouts. The guitar music was quick and cheerful. I sat down in the sand-between them and a sign warning all of us to get off the beach by 10 p.m.