how to turn an epiphany into a blog post

September 2, 2011

originally posted here: THANKS DAVE!

ONE QUESTION … FOR LATE-ARRIVING LONG BEACH NATIVE SARAH BENNETT

The back story: When Sarah Bennett arrived in Long Beach from Los Angeles via Orange County back in—well, see, Sarah’s not sure precisely which year she finally got here, but figures it was four or five of them ago—either 2006 or 2007, she knew she had arrived. Sarah admits that her earliest clues were related to dive bars and $2.50 well drinks; she most-recently admitted it during an August 18 appearance on Greater Long Beach Radio with Dave Wielenga, where she opened for City Council member Gerrie Schipske. But Sarah is quite adamant that the list of things she loves about Long Beach—as well as the things about the city that she hates so much that she’s driven to change, which are really the same things—expanded and diversified rapidly. By now, it includes bikes and coffee houses and ‘zines and alt-publications and her sound map of Pine Avenue and a bunch of new little stores and restaurants and bumming about the demise of Sipology and coming back here after class at USC and music, music, music. “By now,” says Sarah Bennett, “I’m basically from here.”

The question: What was your favorite thing about the just-concluded Summer And Music festival that was downtown’s soundtrack for the past three months.

Sarah Bennett’s answer: I had this moment at the Funk Fest. I was standing in the Beechwood Beer Garden, drinking a Melrose IPA, which is one of their house beers, meaning it is brewed in downtown. So I am drinking one of the first and best beers to be brewed in downtown Long Beach in a long time, and I am standing there watching Fred Wesley and the New JBs—and you know who Fred Wesley is; he’s the guy who was musical director for James Brown, so you can imagine the sound—and I looked around at all the people … all these different people, my friends, the homeless people with their backpacks, some older people and parents with their kids … and I thought, “This is the new downtown Long Beach, and this is where I live.” I couldn’t believe it! I felt so much pride … I don’t know … I just felt overwhelmed. I couldn’t stop smiling. These were my people, my community. It was the first time I really felt that way.

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