Saturday, May 1, 2010

Life in Miami... er, Long Beach

When I moved to Long Beach, I thought I knew what to expect: laid back aging surfer dudes strolling Second Street in flip flops, rowdy college students hopping from bar to bar, and even freak tornado storms that make Belmont Shore look more like Venice.

So when, driving to my apartment, I saw something that looked quite out of place -- a Miami-Dade police car -- I knew I had to investigate.

Miami-Dade police in Southern California?
Turns out that Long Beach is a the television and film production business' go-to stand-in for Miami. This particular day, CSI:Miami had chosen to shoot in Naples, my neighborhood. One of my favorite shows, Showtime's Dexter, also routinely films in the area. (There's even a website that lists all the shooting locations. This beach shack where Dexter met a serial killer is actually a tiny taco stand that I jog past everyday.)

Miami is this way!

When you think about it, the choice of Long Beach is not too surprising. Palm-tree lined streets, boats filled with marinas. And viewers will never notice the cooler, dryer air, of course.

Anyway, back to the more mediocre procedural drama on CBS. My main route to PCH was blocked by police -- this time, genuine Long Beach police officers:

Sorry, we closed to road to help put another piece of crap on network television.
The policeman I spoke to was helpful, though, and pointed some things to check out: a charred car, a Hummer rigged up with cameras and sound equipment, extras walking around in colorful sub-tropical outfits, and a planned explosion for later that afternoon.
A forensic mystery!
Although I've never seen the show, I do have to thank CSI:Miami for making me aware of my town's Miami-like qualities. Since that day, I've even taken to wearing guayabera shirts, smoking cigars, and snorting coke... well, maybe not.