Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Life in Malibu II


Life in Malibu II

Life in Malibu II is finally in print! Right now, it is available from Amazon, at the Adamson House Museum gift shop here in Malibu, or directly from the author—email me or use the connect form). The new book is 180 pages, and consists of 11 chapters on the history and natural history of Malibu and contains 206 original and archival photographs. It took three years to write. 

Malibu is a place that has always been in flux. Holding on to anything for more than a decade, a year, a season, is a challenge. This is arguably one of the most storied coastal towns on Earth, but its history is ephemeral. This book and its predecessor are an effort to capture some of that history and natural history in a more permanent form than newsprint.

As a local journalist, I’ve investigated and written about Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains for more than fifteen years. As an amateur naturalist and historian, I’ve been blessed to spend a lifetime learning about life here. This is my second collection of essays and photographs on life in Malibu, and there are still so many stories to tell. 

Meet Malibu matriarch May Rindge and her legendary railroad. 

In this volume, we meet Malibu matriarch Rhoda May Knight Rindge and take a trip back in time on board her legendary railroad; spend an uncomfortable night with shipwreck survivors in 1909; and meet a rogue’s gallery of smugglers, outlaws and rum runners, along with the lawmen who pursued and subdued them. 

Spend a night shipwrecked in Malibu.

We’ll travel outside Malibu city limits for a hike on the Backbone Trail, and a short history of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area that I originally wrote for the Los Angeles Times. We’ll also meet some strange denizens of the deep ocean, and search for the elusive sunset green flash. However, scorching the edges of everything in this book is the Woolsey Fire, which changed life in Malibu forever in 2018.

Take a hike on the Backbone Trail, and learn about the roots
 of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

My first Life in Malibu book was due at the printers the week of the Woolsey Fire in 2018. I spent much of the nervous, anxious ten days of evacuation time revising the manuscript to include the fire and its immediate aftermath. I realized even then that the Malibu I grew up in and had written about in the book had changed, possibly forever. 

The Woolsey Fire raged through the neighborhood I grew up in.

But in the aftermath of the fire came a once-in-a-lifetime
season of wildflowers.

Three years later, we are still struggling to rebuild our community in the wake of a disaster that has been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic. This book starts with the fire, but it isn’t all tragedy. The aftermath included the spectacular and miraculous super bloom that followed the worst disaster most of us who live here have ever faced.

Many families who lost their homes in 2018 have moved on. Others are still in the middle of the painful, complex process of rebuilding. It’s a reminder that Malibu, like so many other places that are at the mercy of natural disasters, is impermanent and always in a state of change. The one constant is the natural beauty of the seashore and mountains, and even that constant is constantly changing. 

I grew up in "old Malibu," this is me and my big brother  Christopher on his horse Apple in the 1970s.  It's hard to see some of the changes this community has faced in recent years, especially the sudden and irrevocable changes made by the Woolsey Fire, but there are many things here that are still special and worth protecting: the beach, the rugged beauty of the mountains, dark skies at night, abundant wildlife, and a way of life that revolves around the rhythms of surf, tide, and weather.

The Santa Monica Mountains were formed from sand deposited on the ocean floor by vanished rivers from ancestral mountains that have completely worn away. As sea levels rise, beaches, houses, roads will vanish back into the ocean. Even the ghosts are short-lived, fading as their names and stories are forgotten. 

Our time here is short, but that is all the more reason to take a moment to breathe the air, enjoy the view of sea and mountain, sunset and night sky. 

No matter how much I learn about this amazing and remarkable place, there is always so much more to find out, and more to share. Thank you for joining me on this adventure!

Suzanne Guldimann
Malibu, California
November 13, 2021

What happened to the Malibu Post blog?

Writing the book meant putting many things, including the Malibu Post blog, on hold. During the three years it took to write Life in Malibu II,  Malibu has been struggling to recover from the 2018 Woolsey Fire, everyone everywhere has grappled with the challenges and changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic, and two of the newspapers I wrote for went out of business at the same time. 

It didn't seem like it at the time, but that sudden job collapse proved to be a blessing in many ways. I had the opportunity to help create the Topanga New Times in the spring of 2020, where I serve as editor for publisher Bonnie Morgan. It's a new, hybrid publication that is part newspaper, part magazine. The focus is on life in the WUI—Wildland Urban Interface,  and the biweekly magazine is entirely handcrafted by passionate local residents. 

Several of the chapters in this book had their start as TNT features. TNT is available in print or online. We have an email newsletter that includes links to our features and breaking news, and we never sell our readers personal information. Sign up at www.topanganewtimes.com.

 You can also find the Malibu Post on Instagram @MalibuPost, where I regularly post photos and original artwork. 

I enjoyed writing Life in Malibu II, I hope you will enjoy reading it. Let me know. 

Life in Malibu I is still available, too!

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