Saturday, September 6, 2014
Find It All (Even Mystery) in Long Beach
We've got everything in greater Los Angeles. I often talk about that being both our blessing and our curse: you can find anything and everything you want in the LA area ... but you may have to drive to get there. Hey, it’s why we have so many freeways.
But back to the positive: we've got everything. What do you want? Beach, mountains, deserts? City center, suburb, or rural areas? We've got industry and tourism, socio-economics that range from Bel Air to Compton, and ethnic diversity only found a couple other places in the nation.
And what's true of greater Los Angeles is especially true of Long Beach, where I've lived for most of a decade. Here, in a single city of half a million residents, we've almost got it all. Almost.
One study I saw online ranked Long Beach as the fourth most diverse city in the nation—behind Oakland, Sacramento, and New York, and ahead of Chicago. I've heard Long Beach is home to more Cambodians than anywhere but Cambodia, and certainly, if you want Cambodian food—or Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Ethiopian, Indian, Mexican … even raw, vegan, vegetarian, or other specialty cuisine—you've got a variety of options.
We've got other kinds of neighborhoods, as well. You can visit the projects where Snoop Dogg grew up or tour the country club neighborhood where Ferris Bueller and Donnie Darko lived (cinematically, at least). In between, we have a host of friendly, character-rich neighborhoods. And did you know one of the CSIs is filmed here? That's right, make the pavement wet, and Long Beach becomes Miami. So we’ve got Florida, too.
Up near the Long Beach Airport (which I recommend flying into), we've got some remnants of World War II era airplane manufacturing, which we're told will become an automotive plant in the next few years. We've got a couple factories of the mind also, in our community college and a state university.
If all those weren't enough attractions, we've got real ones. There's that big boat (the Queen Mary), a fantastic aquarium (the Aquarium of the Pacific), and the waterfront area that's been revitalized, in part due to a bunch of cars zooming around every April (the Long Beach Grand Prix). We've got great weather here, even for LA, given our waterfront status (proximity to the ocean means we stay more temperate than a lot of areas).
But honestly, even with all that, we don't quite have everything. I live and work in Long Beach, and I write mysteries about a female race car driver. Long Beach has some auto racing for me, but I've had to leave town to find my mystery writing tribe. Until this November, when you're all coming to town.
Now I feel like a nervous host. Will everyone like each other? I hope that Long Beach enjoys a bunch of mystery authors running around for most of a week. But more, I hope that every one of the Bouchercon attendees enjoys and appreciates Long Beach as I do.
So when you get here, look around—from the air, from a vehicle, and from your hotel room. Appreciate the kookiness of a whole lot of very different people calling one city home. And think about bringing a little mystery to this vibrant, thriving city. I think it's about time!
Enjoy your trip, and let any of us who live here know if you have any questions or need any recommendations!
Tammy Kaehler’s career in marketing and technical writing landed her in the world of automobile racing, which inspired her with its blend of drama, competition, and friendly people. Mystery fans and racing insiders alike praised the first two Kate Reilly Racing Mysteries, Dead Man’s Switch and Braking Points, and she takes readers back behind the wheel for the third time in Avoidable Contact. Tammy works as a technical writer in Long Beach, where she lives with her husband and many cars. Find out more at www.tammykaehler.com.