I'm writing this on Dec. 30, 2013, which, due to the insanity that is holiday deadlines, you'll read no earlier than Jan. 9, 2014. The year is about to close, so I went through my archives today to figure out what files I could finally junk (TBN founder Paul Crouch's crimes, the Illuminati takeover of the Laguna Niguel City Council) and which ones I should take a closer look at (I'm warning you, Brea politics). In the midst of files and books emerged a tattered KPCC-FM 89.3 Post-It note with a scribble: "Seacliff Liquor HB."
It all came back to me: Christmastime 2006. Weekly World Headquarters were still in SanTana, a girl had just dumped me, and our blogs were nonexistent. An older man had thanked me on our dining coverage and suggested I visit Seacliff Liquor for a last slice of small-town OC that just doesn't exist anymore. I wrote down his info and pasted the note on my eMac, planning to go after the holidays. That never happened: just a couple of weeks later, the Great Schism of 2007 buckled this infernal rag for years. Going to a small liquor store became the least of my concerns. Our offices moved; our blogs thrived, even as the Weekly shrank and staffers fled to other, seemingly greener pastures. And somewhere in that mix, that KPCC slip disappeared from my cublicle and my mind until Dec. 30, when the note fell out of—of all things—a folder devoted to my clippings of Villa Park history.
I drove toward Seacliff that afternoon: all the way down Adams Avenue until it ended near First Christian Church of Huntington Beach, then took a left on 17th Street. And there was the liquor store, far off any main drag, in all its faded glory, all alcohol and condoms and toiletries for the many apartment dwellers nearby. At the very back was a bona fide deli, with cheeses, meats and prepared salads to go, as well as a menu of sandwiches, the kind of offering liquor stores used to boast of in the days before commodification. Nothing fancy—this was the small-town treasure that man had raved about seven years ago—so I got the most baroque meal available: a 9-incher called the Bayou Ripper or something that had nothing New Orleans about it save for an honest-to-goodness remoulade. The sea was visible from the table outside; next to me were preteens talking instead of playing on smartphones. Worth the drive.
Moral of the story? Go through your clippings often. Always believe what old men tell you. And treasure those vestiges of old Orange County like Seacliff, which can disappear as easily as a scrap of paper.