Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Newport by the Pier

The Orange County Launch Party for Dumb Angel #4: All Summer Long

Featuring the Ghastly Ones, the Boardwalkers, and special guest Billy Hinsche, who will be performing songs from the 1968 psychedelic surf film soundtrack for Follow Me — Sunday, April 2 — 6:00 p.m. to Midnight.

Balboa Beach

Do you smell it? The fresh salt water, the smell of seaweed crashing up against the pier barnacles, and the whiff of fresh seafood coming out from behind basin doors at the Dory Fleet?

There’ll be plenty of places to park right along the pier and oceanside, April 2nd, for the show at Sid's Blue Beet

Balboa Beach

The Dory Fleet boats bring in fresh fish. Sid's Blue Beet is in the alley between the brick buildings at the center of this photo.

Can you see it? There’s Charlie’s Chili, and next to it is the Sea Shell Shop . . . they have stuffed models of huge Alaskan crabs and Sand Sharks. You walk along the beach, there’s a ledge to sit on and watch the sunset. There’s plenty of waffle cones, corn dogs and strips to be eaten. And then you can get up and make your way to the end of the pier . . . just another wide-angle view at the end of the earth. You can look down the coast and see where others watch land’s end. Piers each way; to the North, Huntington Beach Pier, to the South, Balboa Pier, and you’re in the middle at the Newport Beach Pier in Newport Beach, California.

Beneath the Newport Beach Pier

Do you hear it, or will you hear it? Phil & the Flakes pounding out crunch-chords at Sid’s Blue Beet, a brick cabaret open since 1912, but more recently (1950s/1960s) a Beatnik Folk club hosting Flamenco guitarists, Bebop Jazz, Bluegrass and Folk music. Folk festival performers such as Jess Boggess would sing, or Chuck McCabe – real drop out kind-of shit . . . he was inspired by a girl he met at a clothing-optional resort. And when you walk out the beat goes on, via the angry young man pounding his bongos on the beach. All around, beach-side, angular apartments are rented by Surfer teens looking for girls or guys over the verandas, while the carry-all record player inside blasts out the Beach Boys’ Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!!) album. This is how it was in 1965.

Balboa Beach

Let's Eat! D.I.Y. dining cultivation at the Newport Beach Pier, 1960s

When you drive up to the pier area, the overwhelming scent of good food, and the ocean, hits you right in the face. There’s a fancy, Victorian-looking steak restaurant, Pizza joints, the smell of Bay seasoning at the Crab Cooker, Fish and Chips at Woody’s Wharf, Mexican food aura everywhere . . . and the tar of the salt water . . . this smells like California.

Balboa Beach

The environment around the Newport Beach Pier, 1960s

The Ghastly OnesWhat we’re trying to do here on Sunday, April 2nd is bring actual Surf instrumental music back to the area, back to a place long-forgotten even in Los Angles, a locale purely "local" in recent years. In bygone times, the whole of the Greater Los Angeles area shook to phenoms from Balboa – the Stan Kenton Orchestra (’40s) and Dick Dale & his Del-Tones (’60s). This year, 2006, we’re bringing two of the finest Surf instrumental combos on the planet – The Ghastly Ones and the Boardwalkers – to Sid’s Blue Beet. On top of that, an acoustic set by Billy Hinsche (formerly of Dino, Desi & Billy, who also recorded great versions of "Mony Mony" and "Honkin' Down the Highway" with the Beach Boys during the '70s). Billy will be performing songs in support of his new CD, Mixed Messages, along with Beach Boy related songs written with Brian Wilson and performed by Carl Wilson. A few Dino, Desi & Billy gems will be thrown in for good measure. Don't miss it! The sound will dwell into the deep pumice underneath our coastline existence. Go Go dancers will quake and shiver above the equatorial splendor of sounds right out of The Munsters theme. You just have to be there.


Balboa Beach

SID'S BLUE BEET – 107 21st Place, Newport Beach, California – Sunday, April 2nd from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. The Ghastly Ones, The Boardwalkers, Go Go dancers Kari French (etc.) and DJs Penelope Pitstop, Domenic Priore, and Brian Chidester – editors of Dumb Angel #4: All Summer Long. Plenty of parking next to the pier on Sunday nights.

Directions to Sid's Blue Beet:
From the Santa Ana Freeway (Interstate 5) or the San Diego Freeway (Interstate 405), go to the NewportFreeway (55) and head West toward Newport Beach . . . all the way to the end. This becomes Newport Boulevard. As the road splits, bear to the right (Balboa Boulevard). Finally, make a right on West Oceanfront. Park in the lot next to the Newport Pier, which can be seen in postcard #2 from the '40s on this blog. Sid's Blue Beet is in the first alley in the brick-walled business district seen in that same postcard.

Domenic's suggestion: Spend the afternoon seeing the Balboa Fun Zone, have an early dinner in the Newport Pier area, or head to the Blue Beet at 6:00 when the Boardwalkers start playing. Sid's Blue Beet serves burgers, fish 'n' chips and a bunch of other stuff.

Donna Loren

This is what it will look like at Sid's Blue Beet on Sunday, April 2nd, 2006
at 6:00 p.m. Don't be late!

Billy Hinsche

Billy Hinsche, formerly of Dino, Desi, & Billy . . . with the cover of the soundtrack for Follow Me



Newport’s own version of Don the Beachcomber

Newport Balboa Savings

The Modernism of Newport-Balboa Savings, 1960s


Charlie's Chili

Dig the resemblance between the Charlie's menu art and Michael Dormer's classic boho mural during the credits of Muscle Beach Party

Charlie's Chili

Charlie's Chili (established 1967)

Dory Fleet

Dory Fishing Fleet (established 1891)

"To live in an old shack by the sea, and breath the sweet salt air. To live with the dawn and the dusk, the new moon, and the full moon, the tides, the wind and the rain, and know the thrill of lonliness, to lose all sense of time… and be free." – eden ahbez

Collecting shells and sea creatures of this size is a competitive tradition amongst locals of Newport Beach

Oceanic book shelf of Terry Beattie (a.k.a. the Shell Guy)

21 Oceanfront Restaurant boasts a sleek Victorian dining room akin to a high-class New York City steakhouse. The paintings on the wall here are inspired by 18th Century Rococo whimsy, with hints of exotic oceana.

This painting sits above the side exit at 21 Oceanfront . . . the door dumps you out onto the pier area, with an incredible view of the ocean.

Established 1963 . . . just in time for the reign of Eddie & the Showmen

Newport Beach is home to one of the last beachside stands that offers strips . . . thee classic snack treat of surfers and beach-dwellers from the '60s.

1960s postcard drawing from the Crab Cooker. Many locals did great Beat drawings of restaurants and cafes . . . The best of these artists was Earl Newman, who drew such classic venues as Shelly’s Manne Hole, the Insomniac CafĂ© and Pacific Ocean Park . . . L.A. artist Frank Holmes employed a similar style for the front cover of Brian Wilson's 1966 Smile album. The artist signature on this postcard is Hart Lawrence. Other artworks unknown.

The Crab Cooker (established 1951) — not the Whisky a Go Go corner, but an incredible simulation . . . and much cooler these days, for sure.

A great example of the California Crazy signage genre.

Woody’s old boat sits on top o' the restaurant. All other fish & chips plates must kneel before Woody's Wharf

Mermaid tiki carving along the wall of the entrance to Woody's Wharf. Inside you can have dinner right on the Bay waters

We had a great reaction for the '60s Stuft Shirt photo from last month’s blog about Balboa. So, for all those out there clamoring for more . . . here's a color shot of the building taken in March, 2006. The restaurant is long closed, but water reflection still dances beneath the shell-curves of the cantilever roof.

Ed "Kookie" Byrnes takes his date to the Stuft Shirt building (here designated the Captain’s Grotto) in a mid-’60s issue of the 77 Sunset Strip comic book


Anonymous said...

What are "strips?"

Brian Chidester said...

Tortilla chips, cut in thin strips, douced in a red spicy sauce, and fried. Topped with grated cheese. Definitely a step up from nachos and otherboard crap like that... and truly a "food of the SoCal beach towns."

MrBaliHai said...

I spent the entire 70s hanging out at Newport Beach. I thank you and my pre-cancerous squamous cells thank you for the nostalgic trip back there.

Tangaroa said...

I just got off the phone with Rick Bastrup of The Avengers VI & The Nocturnes (I've done some freelance with his company in the past). You should get The Nocturnes to play your gig at the Blue Beet!

Anonymous said...

Just don't let the Nocturnes perform any vocals. Yikes! Instros only please.

Brian Chidester said...

Hey Guys,

The show is pretty full-up, wouldn't you say? There's already three acts.

However, we love the Avenger VI and the Nocturnes, so if you want to turn Rick Bastrup onto us for possible future events, Domenic's and my email addresses are listed on the main site, next to our bios. Click the "Staff" page.

Thanks for checking out the blog and taking the time to respond. Hope to see you at the show!

Anonymous said...

Your photo of the painting at 21 Oceanfront looks exactly like the countless similar paintings and similar interior at a restaurant called Albee's, here in San Diego. I'd swear it was the same artist, maybe even the same subject. Albee's is a step back in time, and features a piano bar where the pianist plays old standards and some people come up and sing, but not like karaoke. Some are very good singers, and no video for the words to the songs.
Albee's Beef Inn, 1201 Hotel Circle South, (619) 291-1103
---Kalle in San Diego

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic. Out a control. Beautiful. I feel I must come down and hear some of that peace music.

Anonymous said...

Dig JFK hangin' ten at Newport Beach!

Maui Goddess said...

Awwwwwwwwwwwww Newport Beach. I grew up in Newport in the early 80's! The nostalgia of it all. 18th street was totally happening as so was 42nd street. You were nobody if you didn't hang ten there. Rollerskating the boardwalk, 20 of us at a time rentin out the boardwalk beach houses. And for anyone who hasn't ate at the famous "Crab Cooker" it is a must. The red clam chowder and lobster with that scoop mashed potatoes and corn. To die for. I miss alla that. I now reside on Maui. Beach life is paradise. Thanks for the memories. Great Beach, great food, best place to party. Don't forget Studio Cafe, Balboa!!!! Best Jazz always. Is it still there? Aloha nui loa

Joshua said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a Pier Fishing Guide site. It pretty much covers pier fishing

related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Tanya said...

This looks great, Domenic! Wish I could be there. I like the graphics for the webpage.

Darian said...

Beautiful job Brian.
Long live the Crab Cooker!


amiotiki said...

Wow...I'm so homesick now. The Crab Cooker, Woody's, sigh...The Atlantic just doesn't cut it.

IAN said...


I think people who grew up here and moved around back east/south/north/mid and then moved back to the cradle of civilization for the 20th Century (AKA: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA), like I have (and to a larger extent, you have experienced this more keenly), appreciate the things that are unique to California and still exist in their "raw" state to this very day.

There are so many things around us, waiting to be appreciated for their provincial flavor and international impact that have come out of this region.

Thanks for your hard work.


pravihrvat said...

Snug Harbor, always. Fun Zone, forever. Thanks for the great retro-futuro tour glimpses.

Randall Bruce said...

Wow glad I found this flash back! But my grandmothers favorite resturant was dillmans on the penensula near the pavillion, so we wnt there a lot! and my dads fav was the one (i don't remember the name but it was at newport dunes and it looked like a big wooden spaceship very cool!!

Anonymous said...

What is the place called that sell the strips?

Anonymous said...

It looks like this post is from a long time ago, but I wondered if you might have more info on the paintings at 21 Oceanfront? I ate there a couple weeks ago and fell in love with a painting that hangs above and to the right of the front door. It features a woman with dark hair lying on her back. I'm trying to figure out the name of the painting or the artist, but no one at the restaurant seems to know. Can you help?

billy said...

I also grew up in the 70's. Newport/Balboa was my fav place to spend my summers. Thanks for the memories!