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City Lights

By Michael Miller | April 18, 2012
As the Angels embark on a new season, I have a signed baseball in my collection at home that probably isn't worth much money. But I don't care. Suffice to say that it's probably the only baseball in existence signed by Chad Curtis, the Angels' left and center fielder from 1992 to 1994, and his wife. Yes, his wife. And anyone can see that, because, unlike the average ballplayer's, her handwriting is quite legible. Right now, of course, it's hip to love the Angels.
By Michael Miller | November 14, 2012
Saturday afternoon, I sat in a cramped, paper-laden office inside Don the Beachcomber - the kind of setting that evokes thoughts of long hours and minute detail - and listened to a man on a computer screen talk about leaving reality behind: "That's what the idea was - that you can enter into a place where you can leave everything else in the whole world outside. This all is fantasy. The drinks that were - that he created in Hollywood never existed in the South Seas. If they're in the South Seas now, which they are, all over, being served to tourists, it's because they were sent - they were carried into the South Seas from America, where Tiki took over the whole country.
By Michael Miller | August 24, 2011
Next week, the Ocean View Little League may win the Little League Baseball World Series. Even if they don't emerge on top, though, I'll be impressed - and I'm not just saying that because they're local or because they play pretty well for kids. I'm saying it because they can play baseball at all, which was more than I could do during my Little League career. Well, perhaps that's an understatement. When one of the Ocean View batters wallops a base hit, I'll think fondly on the time I hit a single as well.
By Michael Miller | May 21, 2012
Wednesday afternoon, I attended a fundraiser for the family of Austin Brashears, the Marina High School graduate who died the weekend before in a New Zealand road accident. It was held at the Hot Off the Grill restaurant in northwest Huntington Beach, and I had a hard time getting in - the crowd at the register spilled out so far that anyone entering through the front door had to inch in slowly. The area outside the restaurant, which Brashears frequented before heading to Boston University, had turned into a makeshift memorial for a life cut short.
By Michael Miller | October 3, 2012
Someday, if the situation arises, I hope I'll be like Galen Flynn. I may not know if I'm capable of it until the moment comes. Flynn, a Huntington Beach resident who lives a stone's throw from the pier, is not a brave man by trade. The 51-year-old makes tools for Boeing for a living and has no emergency training beyond a few CPR courses. With his long brown hair and sunglasses, he looks more like a beachcomber than a rescuer. Now, he's helped to save a life. And though he says, in retrospect, that he wouldn't have handled any part of the situation differently, he hardly went in with a coherent plan.
By Michael Miller | November 5, 2013
I once met a woman who had known three of the Beatles as a college student in Liverpool. At least, so she said. Having a personal connection to the Fab Four is probably a favorite lie among the British. But her story seemed down-to-earth enough that I could go along with it. In her telling, John Lennon had a reputation as a sardonic punk who browbeat local bartenders into giving him drinks. She remembered Paul McCartney for his "sickly gray complexion" and George Harrison for his ravishing good looks.
July 12, 2010
"Joe will be standing back here, and this will be the main sanctuary." George Mitchell was giving me a guided tour Monday of the hoped-for future grounds of Calvary Chapel of the Harbour, which has operated for seven years as the only church in Sunset Beach and, if the state's blessing comes through, will move a few blocks away to Huntington Beach by the end of the year. The building is a shell now — stripped-down walls, chalk outlines, piles of rubble lying around — but Mitchell painted the scene as best he could as I struggled to hear him over the rattle of jackhammers.
By Michael Miller | June 26, 2012
The small gray sign points out at passing cars on Newland Street, bearing a name and a few dates that imperfectly summarize a life of service. For future generations, the text will provide the basics: Bauer Park, named after Ralph H. Bauer, mayor in 1997 and a councilman from 1992 to 2002. A historian may be needed, years from now, to add that Bauer helped to create Huntington Central Park and half a dozen schools, that he helped to unify the city's religious leaders, and that his work on behalf of human rights led humanist authors from around the world to visit Surf City.
By Michael Miller | March 7, 2012
The thought hit me the other day, about the time the news broke of former Monkee Davy Jones' death, that I might live to see the '60s. Those would be the next '60s, of course. When the year 2060 hits, if I am still around, I will be 81, not an uncommon age nowadays, and life expectancy is increasing. By that time, will the phrase "the '60s" still have the resonance it does now? A few outliers aside, everyone who lived through the age of Abbie Hoffman and the Merry Pranksters will have passed on by then.
By Michael Miller | December 31, 2009
Sometimes in the news business, we look for excuses to be silly. It’s only human nature. We read those off-the-wall stories about parents setting up balloon hoaxes or beachgoers fighting for their nudist rights, and suddenly the headlines we’ve put out in the last week — “Council to vote on raising fees” and so on — seem pretty drab. So when a quirky story hits town, we’re inclined to run with it. Take the case of Devin Dwyer, the Huntington Beach city councilman who, in October, got so incensed over a parking ticket that he announced he would shred up the ticket on the dais and resign from the council if the city didn’t change its street-sweeping policy.
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