By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
The occurrence of SAD among Southern Californians is, understandably, relatively minimal. "That is something I’ve never seen out here," says Andrea Davis, a psychologist who has been practicing in L.A. for almost 15 years.But 4 percent of Americans suffer from the summer version of SAD — they get depressed when it’s hot. Heat may interfere with the release of serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates mood and appetite. Summer SAD is most commonly treated with antidepressant drugs, which decrease the actual temperature of the brain in order to cool down the body. Psychologist Robert Butterworth says that for the dream seekers who expected the postcard when they moved to California, less-than-perfect weather can cause depression, despite our mild climate. "That’s one of the reasons we’re out here," he says. "People want to wear those wild√Ę shorts and put the top down." Like February’s vacationers, we can be disappointed by Southern California’s seasons. And, says Butterworth, it’s even worse when we watch the news and see that the rest of the country is having a better spring than we are, with cherry blossoms aplenty and warm days contrasting against a season of cold ones. The mercury in our thermometers rarely jumps drastically. The average high temperature in L.A. in May is 70¬įF, and in December it’s 68¬įF. In January it’s 65¬įF, and in August it’s 77¬įF.Body HeatI see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes I have to turn my head until my darkness goes.
We Angelenos know that a few degrees can make all the difference. We celebrate en masse, but not always in the ways you’d expect. You might think that we’d bleach our hair for that sun-kissed look, but that’s not always the case, says Steve Lococo, style director at West Hollywood’s Alberto Borrelli Salon. "In Los Angeles, what we’re seeing is that a lot of people who have been highlighted in the winter are going darker for summer. There are a lot of richer golds, bronzes, and red is very big."
According to Lococo, our tanned bodies allow us to go darker in the summer without being weighed down by the deeper colors. And, he says, just when you might think we’d be cutting our hair short to get it off our necks, we’re not. Instead, we’re tying it up with what he describes as "knots." What used to be a negative term connoting images of adults with large combs is now a trendy way to control our manes after we emerge from the ocean waters or as we head off on a ride with the top down.
Our favorite body-care stores target the summer crowd with summer-specific products. Bare Escentuals, which maintains three boutiques in the L.A. area, shakes things up for summer with products that are activated by sun and heat, perfect for those oven-baked summer days in the valleys. Leslie Blodgett, president of Bare Escentuals, says, "Our entire hair-care line is based on the blooming essences" that smell different based on temperature. "If you perspire, if your body gets heated up, it changes," she says.Mary Setterholm, fitness instructor for the city of Manhattan Beach, is in the business of heating up bodies, pushing them to the boiling point. Her GI Jane Beach Boot Camp, a get-in-shape-for-summer exercise course at the beach, includes a run into town, where participants stop in front of pancake restaurants and perform defiant stretches in the face of such degenerate softness. Then on to the store hawking swimwear, where the GI Janes jog in place — their goal, or at least part of it, strung across plastic cups in the store window in front of them. "This is war," Setterholm says.
"There is a direct correlation between heat and body-consciousness," says Cynthia Graff, president and CEO of Lindora, which operates 31 medical weight-loss clinics in Southern California. Clients come to Lindora based largely on urgency factors, such as upcoming weddings or reunions. "Summer in and of itself is an urgency factor," says Graff.Go West, Angeleno
Even L.A.’s boys and girls in blue gear up for summer. According to Officer Steven Barragan of the LAPD’s Pacific Division, which supplies extra officers in the summer to patrol the Venice Beach area, the beach assignment is a coveted one. "It’s very nice being out here," Barragan says. "It’s sunny, you get the ocean breeze, it’s pretty temperate, the people are more friendly, and they come from all over the state, the country and the world. So it’s a nice opportunity."
Crowds in Venice Beach increase four- or fivefold during the summer months, warranting more officers. "They come not just from all over the world but from different parts of the city that don’t get along," says Officer Jay Varga, Barragan’s partner. It seems that the whole city shifts westward in the summer, drawn by the sand and the sun and that great remedy for the heat: the sea and its cool breath.Booze and BucksBut paradise seekers beware: Don’t get carried away with your fantasies of wine coolers on the beach, unless you are Demi Moore and own a piece of Malibu beachfront property. A recent attempt at circumventing the law at El Matador beach in Malibu involved digging holes in the sand in which to drop incriminating bottles lest the cops arrive and interrupt the bacchanal. Alas, the arm of the law is long — long enough, in fact, to reach into our carefully dug holes, retrieve said bottles and charge each of us a $75 fine.