Article from the 4/22/2016 Catalina Islander

Since I became "Catalina's Official Greeter", March 10, 2014, when the Chamber Of Commerce assigned me to greet the cruise ships and cross channel boats, I have answered 45,525 questions.
These are some of the more interesting/unusual questions/comments:
"Are California fishing licenses good here?"
"Chuck, WHY are you doing this?  Are you ALWAYS standing here?"
"When do you have tours of your insane asylum?"
"Is the Island sinking?"
"Does Avalon have a phone book?"
Just an update since last week's article, "HOW DOES THAT SONG GO AGAIN?", Bruce Belland, founder of the "Four Preps", and the lead singer of the group that is STILL performing, called to tell me that he was in Avalon on Sunday to discuss his and the "Preps" participation in the formal opening of our new museum, Metropole, in June.  He picked up an "Islander" and was "thrilled" to see his lyrics of "26 Miles" so proudly printed.  I had NO IDEA that he was coming to the Island when I wrote the column!  WHAT TIMING!!!  I also forgot to mention last week that I had a "connection" to Al Jolson who co-wrote "Avalon".  I met, and enjoyed the company of his last wife, Ruby Keeler, on a Caribbean Cruise quite sometime ago.  She was most enjoyable and only referred to her late husband as "Mr. Jolson".  I have a feeling that she must have called him other things when they were married!
There has been a change in the showing of the VERY SPECIAL double feature, sponsored by the "Catalina Foundation" at the "Overlook Hall", corner of Whittley/East Whittley.  A double feature, just like the "old days", will be presented one night only, Friday, April 22, the original 1933 "King Kong", 6:45pm followed the 1933, sequel, "Son Of Kong", which was made on Catalina Island!  If you are in Avalon, A DEFINITE MUST TO ATTEND!
Although the "Catalina Express" is very generous by giving all "Islanders" with commuter books of 10, 2 free upgrades to "Commodore Lounge", locals often wonder why I give them away and don't take advantage of them myself.  Frankly, I am NOT "Commodore Lounge" material!  I rarely know anyone up there, it is far too comfortable and relaxing for me, I am not a drinker so the free drink and cookie are not as appreciated by me as might others, and I find that "my kind of people", mostly "Islanders", are in the general seating area.  I find that I can get A LOT of business transacted, while crossing the channel, or simply having a MUCH NEEDED conversation with old friends that I haven't seen for a while.
This last Thursday was no exception.  While I was in "general seating",  I saw a man devouring a great looking sandwich, which is wife patiently watched for him to come up for air (a BIT of an exaggeration, but the sandwich DID look great and he WAS enjoying it).  When he was finished, I asked him where he got it and he told me "Ellie's" on the Mole.  He looked at me and asked if I was the one who wrote the weekly column in the "Islander" (people can actually recognize me in black/white and one dimensional.  Hopefully I am MORE than that in person!).  When he told me that he reads my column weekly, I chimed in with, "Yea, right after your read Jim Watson's column, 'Mysterious Island' on page one."  He answered, "No, I read you first!"  Sorry Jim, but I now want to introduce you to my "new best friends", Bryan and Nia Baze.  He is the "Edison, Supervisor, Plant Maintenance".  As we talked about "things", the fact that we were both going over to the Mainland got me thinking about the fact that there are times, when much to the Catalina visitors' surprise, WE HAVE TO LEAVE PARADISE.
If you are down at the 7:45am boat to Long Beach (used to be the 8am, now TOO EARLY), you will notice quite a disproportionate number of Islanders going off the Island.  This is what we call, affectionately, the "Medical Boat", as most of us are going over for our routine medical "specialist" checkups.  Although our local hospital does a GREAT job of our "regular" needs, when it comes time for our needing a specialist, a trip to the mainland is mandatory.  Over the years, we have had specialists come over on Saturday to help us out with skin, foot, and visual needs, but we sometimes need more.  Then WHY the large suitcases, if we are all planning to come back on the late afternoon boat?  Where else do we put all of our "necessities" from "Trader Joe's", "Mothers", "COSTCO", "Walmart", "Target", swap meets, etc.?  Besides, sometimes we are able to "stay over" to take in a special theatrical or sporting event or simply much needed time with family and friends who have been woefully missed for FAR TOO LONG.
If you have a meeting, as in the case of Bryan, or my checking out the new Chinese Restaurant with my good friend, Hi, recommended by the staff of "Mr. Ning's", you "have" to go to the mainland.  If you have to catch a flight, same thing. Unfortunately, some of people have housing issues, such as teachers and construction workers, which means that they have to cross over daily!  This goes for some of our students who, thank goodness, decide on continuing their education beyond high school and really better themselves, and our community, IF they decide to come back. 
Sometimes I just want to get off the "rock'!  Although it is GREAT to be recognized for "whatever it is" I do on Catalina, sometimes it is refreshing to sort of blend with people who don't know who I am or what I do for a living.  Sometimes it is just nice to "reinvent" myself once in a while.  IF you know you HAVE TO BE on the mainland for any reason, it is always a good idea to go over at least one day in advance, JUST TO MAKE SURE!  With all of the storms we experienced last December when cross channel boats were cancelled, for the first time in 68 years, I was unable to be with my Mother at Christmas.  Unfortunately, that is also LIFE IN PARADISE; not being able to leave!
Last week, when I was gone, I didn't realize it then, but have since, how nice it was to get  far away from our Avalon election!  Speaking as an Avalon citizen, and one who has been here for "most of life" (NOT "all", as I am NOT dead yet!), I don't remember an election, in my lifetime, that was so mean spirited and hurtful rhetoric since the "AC/DC" local political group that took on the "Island Co." in the early 1960's.  Just ask Rudy Piltch!!!  I was somewhat relieved to read that this "hate mail" filling our boxes was NOT sponsored by the individual candidates, but by "PAC" groups!  SINCE WHEN DO WE NEED "PAC GROUPS" IN OUR LOCAL ELECTIONS!?!  What "hidden agendas" did these disruptive groups have that weren't clearly laid out in these elaborate and obviously expensive pieces of trash!  Many people were hurt by this mudslinging and only given a short time to defend themselves.  At one time I thought our "civility" could be the cornerstone of Federal Elections rather than to follow their embarrassing, if not outright destructive, behavior.  I thought we were better than THIS and hope, in a  couple years, that we will be able to prove it in our next election.  I only hope that these "brains" who think they were clever enough to come up with this "stuff", can now shift their gears to help us with some of our "real issues", such as WATER!!!
Sorry to leave this article on a sour note, but hope to have a little more fun with my observations on the difference between Avalon and the mainland type of lifestyle, in my next article.
If you have missed any other my "articles", which are over 40 by now, you can check on my blog,, where my blog administrator and good friend, Rocky Wall, adds at least three new and old ones every week.


If you want to ask me "Catalina oriented questions" or make any comments regarding what I am doing on the Island, you can check out my "open group" entitled "Chuck Liddell", on FACEBOOK, which was provided for me as a "surprise" by my friend of longest duration (over 55 years), Mitch Hammond.  If you want to contact me directly, you can always send me a message to:  chuckliddell,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.