I've lived in Long Beach for over thirty years, and I love my hometown. It's not easy for a town to gain international recognition when it's living in the shadow of a major metropolitan city, but Long Beach has done just that. Long Beach is scrappy.

I read D.J. Waldie's Holy Land a few years ago, a wonderful memoir about growing up in nearby Lakewood. My house is very close to Lakewood, and many of Waldie's memories echoed my own. I remember wishing that someone would write something similar about the history of Long Beach.

Long Beach Chronicles is not that book. Written by local journalist Tim Grobaty, this book was not a memoir. It was not a history. It was just... a sterile retelling of an assortment of more-or-less significant events from Long Beach history. I wanted someone to give Long Beach the David McCullough treatment, or at least the D.J. Waldie treatment. What I got was a box of puzzle pieces with no picture on the front of the box -- a lot of distinct facts without much help to tie them together.

Grobaty is an award-winning journalist and columnist, but I found his writing style in the book to be quite bland. The events in the book were all out of order. There was no depth to it; various notable residents were mentioned, but I didn't really get a sense of who they were or how they shaped not only the buildings and streets of Long Beach, but also its society and culture.

I learned a decent amount about various historical events in the city's history, including how certain streets were named, which parts were incorporated later, and the fact that a lot of its early residents were Iowans seeking sunnier skies. I learned a fair bit about the who, what, when, and where of Long Beach, and that's to the author's credit.

I recently had the outrageously good luck of being hired by a local startup ten minutes from my house. One of the things I like best about the company is that they, too, love Long Beach and are proud to represent her on the tech scene. They even had me go out and shoot a video homage to the city that makes us what we are.

I love Long Beach. It's a vibrant city, full of color and life. I'll be leaving it soon for the first time since college, and I don't know when I'll be back. But I'm glad that there's a small history of a tiny corner of Long Beach, right there on the border of Lakewood, that I carry with me in my heart. I guess I don't need Grobaty's book after all. I'll be my own Waldie.


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