WINNER'S CIRCLE: Diane Gershuny
Anyone who has visited the stretch of vintage shops and quaint eateries from Junipero Avenue to Cherry Avenue on Fourth Street in Long Beach charmingly referred to as Retro Row, or anyone who has attended one of the area's many imaginative events has encountered the work of Diane Gershuny. The PR powerhouse tirelessly creates, organizes and promotes fantastic happenings for the Fourth Street Business District, from independent documentary screenings at the Art Theatre to the annual, much-anticipated Zombie Walk, for which undead enthusiasts young and old dress up to shuffle along the street. This month, the day-long zombie fest will attempt to break two Guinness World Records: the title for the most people simultaneously dancing to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in one place, and the title for the largest Zombie Walk of all time.
Though it seems like she has always been here, Gershuny's solid place on Fourth Street was a long time coming. After graduating with a degree in fine arts, editing magazines in NorCal, and then working as a corporate heavyweight at Fender, she found herself along the coastline of Long Beach—and, since 2009, the social director of the Fourth Street community.
"I have always been an avid thrift-shop shopper and junk-store junker, so when I stumbled upon the Fourth Street/Retro Row area, I was in hog-heaven! After getting to know a few of the shop owners, I was introduced to Kerstin Kansteiner, owner of Portfolio and the president of the Fourth Street Business District," says Gershuny of her start in the area. "She asked me to help with promoting the street and a few monthly events, and that led to more and more opportunities. I absolutely love the people and the entrepreneurial spirit that is alive on the street. Not to mention, I've scored a bunch of great finds from fashion to furnishings along the way."
So what's on the horizon? Economic crises aside, the street is flourishing, and there are many events Gershuny has cooking, including the second annual Fourth Street In Motion Bike Festival. "I helped with the organization and promotion of the inaugural one back in 2010," she says. "We're starting work on it again for 2012."
HER HIGH SCORES
• Fourth Street/Retro Row. "I love strolling the street, chatting with folks along the way, and poking around the shops in search of that elusive bargain treasure—and I've found quite a few!" Fourth Street between Junipero and Cherry avenues; www.4thstreetlongbeach.com.
• The easy-going vibe of the area and its residents. "Long Beach seems to me to be a place where you can be yourself. There are so many interesting and creative folks here, without that hipster/trendy vibe like you find in similar areas of LA."
• Affordable real estate near the beach. "I never thought I'd be able to afford to buy a house in California, let alone a vintage Spanish casita in a historic neighborhood."
• Concerts at Fingerprints. "I've seen some fantastic shows here, both at the old and new locations, including Peter Case, Dave Alvin and Pete Yorn—to name a mere few." 420 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 433-4996; www.fingerprintsmusic.com.
• Restaurants that honor the vegetarian/vegan diet. "Yeah, you can get a salad anywhere, but so few places have a plethora of options for us green-eatin' folks. Some of my local faves are Roots Gourmet for its sweet-potato fries, Kafe Neo for its veggie burgers, and anything at Zephyr." Roots Gourmet, 6473 Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 795-7668; rootsgourmet.com. Kafe Neo, 2800 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 987-1210; www.kafeneolb.com. Zephyr, 340 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 435-7113.
• Summer movies on the beach. "I love movies, but watching movies in the great outdoors is the ultimate experience. Especially at the beach—how cool is that? The cheesier the movie, the better, too. I have fun memories of seeing Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space a few years ago." www.longbeach.gov.
• The annual Zombie Walk. "Yay for the passionate Logan Crow for conceiving and producing this unique event! I've been every year, and people are so into it! It's growing by leaps and bounds. Last year, I was a zombified Frida Kahlo." Downtown Long Beach; www.facebook.com/ZombieWalkLB.
• Live music downtown including Summer & Music concerts and the Funk Fest. "There are so many things to do for free in the summer here in Long Beach, and as a music fan, I'm a sucker for live music outside. . . . Free is good, too!" www.summerandmusic.com; www.lbfunkfest.com.
• Rosie's Dog Beach. "Although the dog beach in Huntington Beach is nicer, Rosie's is super-close to home, and my dog goes nuts being able to run leash-less!" 4800 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; www.rosiesdogbeach.com.
• The view at night from the deck of the Queen Mary. "Several years ago, I caught a Lucinda Williams concert on the ship's lawn. The combination of the music and the shimmering backdrop of the city was magical." 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 435-3511; www.queenmary.com.
• Favorite video game: Despite the plethora of zombie-related titles out there, Gershuny declares, "Yikes . . . I have absolutely no idea about anything video-game-related. Really. No clue. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. What was the question?"
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