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When LA sold tanning, barbecue and surfing to the rest of America




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Ahh, California.

The golden state. The land of perpetual summer.

And due to the never-ending heat, we Angelenos KNOW how to play in it. We practically invented it. From barbequing to surfing and everything in between.

Author D.J. Waldie calls this embrace of the summer season: "The source of our sunny liberation."

Waldie spoke with Take Two's A Martinez to break down how Angelenos invented summer culture.

Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

It all started as marketing

"We had to sell summer to America, in order to make summer in L.A. liveable. There was a massive advertising campaign, beginning in 1921, through the all year club, that reached out to...residents in Oklahoma and Kansas and Arizona, and New Mexico and Texas and told them, 'Come to L.A. in the summer time. It's only 90 degrees.' And this was a revelation to those lived in the hot zones of the South West."

LA sold tanning to America

"Before...about 1920, most Americans...resisted the idea of getting a tan. That was thought to be an unappealing look. But beginning in the 1920s, particularly through the movies, the idea of exposing one's skin to the sunlight and getting a tan was becoming an idea of health and beauty. 

So, L.A. sold tanning to America and that made it possible to invite paying customers to expose their skin on the beaches of Los Angeles."

Long Beach BBQ Festival via Facebook

Barbequing was appropriated

"That was going on in Southern California from Spanish colonial period to Mexican colonial period, appropriated by the middle class, working class residents in the '30s and '40s and definitely into the '50s.

...there were a number of magazines, primarily Sunset magazine which was a lifestyle magazine of the '30s and '40s that continued on afterward. It sold the idea of outdoor living to Californians. Outdoor living was a little unusual...but the outdoor life around the barbeque, became a quintessential element of what it meant to be Californian."

Via Cliff Kapono

 Surf Culture

"Surf culture explodes in the 1950's and you have inexpensive surf boards, better made using war time and space age materials. And the surf culture becomes a really integral part of what it means to be at the beach in Southern California. And that becomes an incredibly desirable marketing tool.

True surfers resisted commercialization of their culture but the marketing machine of Southern California selling itself, turned surf culture into clothing, records, movies...it goes on and on. For people who may never have gone to the beach at all...they never went into the water...but they lived the surf culture life, through these commodities and products."

To listen to the full interview, click the blue play button above.