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Built in 1925. Raymond Chandler should have lived here.

While wandering down to the ocean yesterday on a post-work day walk, I passed this building. I’ve been seeing it since 1967, but hadn’t actually walked by it in many years.

In its heyday, it was a Hotel (obviously) and below the Hotel was an Italian restaurant and bar. The bar was one of those local spots that had caricatures (drawn by some local yokel artist) of repeat customers plastered all over the walls. Very old-school, very shades of old Hollywood, but with a beach town influence.

The Hotel is now empty. Vacant and unused for, what, eight years? Ten? I’ve lost track. It was shut down in preparation to be torn down to accommodate a hideous renovation that was supposed to happen in the entire area that, due to shady dealings and mismanagement of funds, has yet to happen.

I guess it’s a good thing it hasn’t happened, because the area surrounding the Hotel is the only remaining funk-zone in the city. The Californian is one of the few surviving, interesting pieces of architecture in a city where every other building is a neo-colonial-Spanish-revival-stuccoed-wannabe of some other time and place, usually with the ubiquitous Starbucks attached to it like a coffee spewing parasite.

Built in 1925, the Hotel is old for our town. This is our history. We don’t have the history that the East coast has that stretches back to the birth of the U.S. We don’t have a Williamsburg or Gettysburg. But we have The Californian.

I peeked through the dirty windows and could see the caricatures of now long-gone regulars peeling from the walls behind the bar. Even in its forlorn, empty state, I’m glad it’s still holding its ground; a temple to the pre internet, pre iPhone/Pad/Pod days.

Enough with the nostalgia! Remember when humor used to show up on this blog??

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