Now And Then: Autumn heralds many changes

"Life is one big transition."

—Willie Stargell


September's days are becoming noticeably shorter, and the season of tourists (also known as summer) has come and gone again in Laguna. Locals mark the reclaiming of the village by the final performance of the Last Supper, the observance of Labor Day weekend, and the beginning of a new school year.

The first tangible result of summer's closing will be the availability of parking throughout town again. Well, maybe not at Thalia, Oak or Brooks if there is a swell afoot.

Speaking of last supper, my final meal at Five Feet was much like my first with Rev. Bob Cornelison so many years ago — splendid! Michael Kang's unparalleled run of superb food and service came to a celebratory conclusion last week.

Catharine and I recalled the many wonderful meals we enjoyed through the years and the generosity (and uniqueness) of our host. There wasn't a worthwhile cause that Michael did not support in town and beyond. His classy establishment will be missed.

Of particular note, we finally made Five Feet's wall of fame, after failing to turn in suitable photos from Chinese New Years' pasts. Catharine's sketch of us drew broad praise, with many attempting to take credit and another critic claiming it to be a past work of John Lennon.

As noted in Cindy Frazier's offering last week ["Hush goes quiet," Coastline Pilot, Sept. 3], upscale hush closed last month with more than a little intrigue. Rumors abound about the viability of many of our local eateries, many of which continue to struggle along with the economy in general.

Although the City Council is to be commended for their ardent support of local businesses, restaurateurs are not standing pat. Mozambique Steak House and Sorrento Grille have both added a late night dining niche to bolster revenue. And ever optimistic, new establishments are moving forward to fill empty venues; perhaps the next Javier's or Five Feet will burst onto Laguna's dining scene soon.

This past Tuesday, the Laguna College of Art & Design opened their school year at their new Big Bend Campus. This was a remarkable achievement, which was not only improbable but perhaps deemed impossible a few short months ago.

It is well documented that processing a new development venture in Laguna (or most anywhere) will require a few hurdles to navigate. The city of Laguna Beach, particularly the City Manager's office, the Laguna Beach Fire Department, and the entire Community Development Department, showed a commitment to local business and excellence in education by veritably working overtime to assist LCAD in meeting their opening deadline.

As noted by college President Dennis Power, "The engagement by Assistant City Manager (John) Pietig and all of the others truly makes the city a partner with us in educating the next generation of great artists and designers."

Garden designers must be relishing the prospect of autumn in a scant two weeks. Certainly the perpetual "June gloom" left many of our efforts in an unwanted state of inelegance — rank growth, spent flowers, powdery mildew, sooty mold and giant whitefly to name a few. In the meanwhile, let's support our local businesses, campaign for our favorite candidates and begin plotting our new fall garden. See you next time.

Steve Kawaratani is a local, plant guy and always will be. He can be contacted at (949) 497-8168 or

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