ARCHIVE LIBRARY

MANHATTAN BEACH

by Jerry Honigman

It was the Fourth of July in 1978. My first Independence Day in Southern California. Manhattan Beach. “Where the stewardesses all live.” They weren’t yet flight attendants. And they were still almost exclusively female.

This day, in addition to the usual holiday festivities, marked the inaugural run of the Manhattan Beach Marathon. So, things were especially hopping.

My friends, Steve and Dony, and I had taken a little acid and ventured down the coast below LAX to check out the scene and the girls. Beautiful day, beautiful scene, beautiful women, beautiful life.

The beach area was replete with seemingly unending rows of condominiums and apartment complexes, and everyone was outside enjoying the festivities which consisted of cookouts, weed, beverages, and lively gatherings, one blending into the next. A never-ending party.

Our attention was naturally on all the girls. And, look, there’s Margot Kidder. I recognized her from a couple of movies I’d seen her in, including Brian de Palma’s “Sisters” and “The Great Waldo Pepper” as Robert Redford’s girlfriend. She would become better-known later that year as Lois Lane in the first “Superman” movie. This was before her manic behaviors led her to be diagnosed as bi-polar, ultimately leading to her suicide.

As the sun set spectacularly into the ocean, the knowledge began passing through the throng that fireworks were set to begin.

As I walked with the crowd across the beach towards the water, I looked at the guy walking next to me and realized it was Timothy Leary, he of “turn on, tune in, drop out” fame, and a major proponent of the use of LSD as a psychologically healing element of a better and more peaceful future for society. Dr. Leary was a respected Harvard professor and a cult hero of the peace and love movement which had grown out of the 60’s.

So, there I was. As the magical fireworks display began to boom over the Pacific, my own personal Manifest Destiny had reached the west coast of the continent. Mildly tripping, standing next to Tim Leary, celebrating the Fourth with Jimi’s rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner emanating from a boom box in the sand. A perfect moment.

God bless America.

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