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John Grossi's Publisher's Note September 2020

It was starting to wear on me. This itch. As the spring and summer passed, this one vision kept entering my mind. And it wouldn’t go away. It seemed so stupid, so insignificant. But I couldn’t get it out of my head.

I wanted some doggone chips and salsa!!! Stat.

Not Tostitos. I’m talking about real, authentic, warm and greasy restaurant chips, with that tangy salsa and a Mexican beer. You know what I’m talking about. It’s different. I wanted to sit there, without a care in the world and drink my beer and space out.

But I couldn’t. The restaurants were all closed. Yes, I have been buying to-go food. Yes, it has been good. But no, it was not the same.

I realize there are much bigger problems in the world…but, as the great Babe Ruth once said, “I got a craving... can you understand that?”

It got me thinking. We really do take a lot for granted. I know, it’s not a revolutionary thought. We all know it… if you’re alive, healthy, and kickin’ you have a lot to be thankful for. Especially if you live in East Long Beach and get this magazine. I mean I say it every day… “Life is Great in the 908” (cool phrase, right? Check our website for shirts).

But this horrible pandemic, the shutdowns, this new way of life that we all can’t wait so dearly to end... This trying period is truly revealing the everyday luxuries we have all been taking for granted and now sorely miss. If you had asked me a year ago what I loved about Long Beach, I could have talked to you for ten minutes straight -- without once mentioning that I can, at any time, go to any number of a dozen insanely delicious and authentic Mexican restaurants to enjoy high quality chips and salsa, accompanied by a refreshing cerveza.

I mean, there aren’t that many places on the globe where you can say that. And it’s something we so easily take for granted.

In this issue, we asked a number of community leaders and voices to tell us what they have realized during this pandemic about the things they’ve taken for granted in our great city of Long Beach. And I have to admit, they’re a lot more inspiring than that little rant I just gave on chips and salsa.

In the back half of this magazine, you will find a long feature article diving into the long-term viability of outdoor dining. After all, the only thing better than chips and salsa inside a restaurant is chips and salsa on a patio.

Talk about another thing we take for granted in Long Beach. I mean truly, our weather.

Haven’t you ever wondered why we have the best weather in the world, but like, the fewest number of venues offering outside dining? It bugs me every time I travel to some place with extreme heat and/or extreme cold, yet which boasts sprawling patios, courtyards, rooftops, backyard dining, cornhole setups, outdoor bars, and the list goes on…

It all just seems a little bit backwards. Well, if you have had the luxury during this summer of 2020 to go out and dine at one of the many temporary al fresco eateries, you’ve experienced, in my mind, one of the coolest vibes in Long Beach I can ever remember. It just stinks that we can’t enjoy it with extended family and friends.

I personally would love to see more outdoor dining stay in Long Beach year-round, and it sounds like most restaurant owners and their customers would agree.

The other hot topic around town is education. I think everyone agrees that distance learning from home is not the ideal model in a normal world. Yet, here we are.

I always try to see the positive in my magazine if for no other reason than that I think the negative is already being covered (and then some) everywhere else you read and watch.

When you look hard enough you can always find silver linings, and when I look at what’s happening in education right now, with the entire system being thrown into a technological crash course, I can’t help but think there will be some lasting long-term improvements in education once schools are back in-person.

We interviewed some of LBUSD’s all-star teachers and uncovered how they’re making the best of a less-than-desirable situation, and adapting helpful technological tools that can continue to improve K-12 instruction.

The weird times roll on in Long Beach, but our community is strong. We are learning a lot about the things we care about most. It isn’t easy running a small business, and the pandemic has had devastating impacts. Yet the hundreds of small business owners I’ve talked to quickly and constantly acknowledge gratitude for the amazing support they continue to receive from our Long Beach community.

I hope you read the next page about the Subscription Box we’re launching. If it makes financial sense for you, consider purchasing a Box to support local businesses. It’s a fun and easy way to shop small; support local; and get more than you pay for!

Thanks for reading. Happy Fall. And Life is Great in the 908!

-John Grossi



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