Doug Krikorian / Viewpoint

From Expecting To Spend His Life Working In A Chemical Plant In England, The Boathouse's John Morris Has Come A Long Way From Peddling Women Dresses And Delivering Newspapers, As The Founder Of Legends And The Pioneer Of Pine Ave. Can't Wait For The July 3rd Resumption Of His Big Bang On The Bay Fireworks Show

Mr. Krikorian, an award winning journalist and author of two books, earned multiple awards in his 22 years of writing for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and 22 years for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. He is happily retired.

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No one in's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(May 17, 2021, 8:45 p.m.) -- John Morris is 73 now, and he is seated at a corner table in the back patio of the Boathouse restaurant he operates next to Alamitos Bay holding court with friends in a weekly Friday lunch ritual in which men of a certain age exchange wisecracks and political remedies and the latest findings of their internists.

John Morris holding court at his Friday luncheon at the Boathouse as seated next to him listening to his pearls of wisdom are Bad Stu Ledsam (left) and Big Ben Goldberg

He is 73 now, and you'd think this fellow who has had such a dramatic impact on the culture of Long Beach would be set for a leisurely retirement of golfing and traveling and napping and staying detached from the turbulence of the constant schmoozing and the constant issues that are such an inherent part of his business.

He is 73 now, and you'd think this gentleman who once had well-chronicled public disputes with such Long Beach City Managers as Jim Hankla, Henry Taboada and Jerry Miller and various other civic leaders would have faded into the oblivion of old age and the silence of expediency that goes with it.

He is 73 now, and the shock of hair long has been gray and he seems more nostalgically reflective than in the past when he seldom mentioned his first 15 years of life when he resided in Widnes, England where he labored in the summer for a pittance in the potato fields and where he expected his future would be working in the local ICI Chemical Plant that produced plastics, paints, pharmaceuticals, and specialty chemicals.

``Never figured I'd make it past the ICI Chemical Plant,'' he would say to me in an interview after his noon confab had broken up. ``That was my future, a bleak future for sure. But it's all I knew. But then my life changed overnight when my grandmother, Annie Morris, brought me over to live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1963. Oh, did it change!''

Suddenly, he is smiling, and his eyes are glowing brightly, and he reverts to his hustling, marketing mode which have been his hallowed trademarks across the decades, along with his creative ventures that have left a wide imprint on the Long Beach scene.

``Hey, be sure to mention the `Big Bang on the Bay' will be back on July 3rd,'' he implores. ``We just got the OK from City Hall the other day. We started it in 2011 as a 10-year remembrance to honor those who perished in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C. and in Pennsylvania.

John Morris points to where the fireworks barge will be on Alamitos Bay for the July 3 Big Bang On the Bay show which he created

``The first one we had we closed off the parking lot in front of the Boathouse, and 3,000 motorcyclists rode down on PCH from Cook's Corner in Orange County with American flags flying from their cycles. What a spectacle that was, and a huge success.''

The Big Bang on the Bay became a wildly popular event -- it raised more than $1 million for Children Today and other charities -- for nine straight years before it was canceled in 2020 because of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

``I think we're going to have a fireworks show this July 3rd to beat all fireworks shows,'' says Morris, ever the promoter.

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And, oh, has John Morris been a stellar promoter going back to when he and his then business partner, Los Angeles Rams offensive guard Dennis Harrah, opened a sports tavern called Legends on Dec. 8, 1979. Less than a month later on January 6, 1980, the entire Ram team flooded into his new place at around 2 a.m. after flying back from Tampa where they had won the NFC title and earned a Super Bowl spot against the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier in the day with a 9-0 win against the Buccaneers.

``The entire Ram team---including its owner Georgia Rosenbloom---she hadn't married Dominic Frontiere yet---came down from LAX in buses and cars and partied at our place until 6 a.m.,'' says Morris. ``Of course, I had to check with the Long Beach vice before to find out if it would be OK. The two vice guys in charge, Dave Duran and Rich Rose, said it would be OK, but told me to leave the back door open so they would be able to come in and enjoy the festivities. That night turned out to be a big boon to Legends when the word got out that all the Rams had been there.''

John Morris was responsible for Legends becoming the first sports bar in America to extensively use satellite dishes---eight were on its roof---and customers were astonished that they were able to watch so many different sporting events from around the country, a quite novel concept in those days.

Mr. Morris later would play a vital role in putting together what long has been a most cherished annual Belmont Shore tradition---its Christmas Parade--and then a few years later decided, against the advice of so many skeptics, to open a restaurant in 1988 on Pine Ave called Mum's.

``There were no other restaurants on Pine Avenue at the time and people thought that I was nuts to go there,'' he says.

Within a few years, there were other top-flight dining spots---L'Opera, The Madison, King's Fish House, George's, etc.--- lining both sides of the street and Morris naturally came up with an outdoors party plan he would call New Year's on Pine. It became a well-attended annual happening that turned downtown Long Beach for one celebratory night into a mini Times Square.

Eventually, the Pioneer of Pine Ave., as Mr. Morris' sobriquet became, decided to depart the area, sold his restaurant, and got involved with what was then known as McKenna's on the Bay, which later would be renamed Boathouse on the Bay.

John Morris calmly listening to Big Ben Goldberg’s latest political rant

With his son Bryan now serving as general manager of the Boathouse, John Morris actually is able to take some time off during the week, and recently has been going each Sunday to Palm Springs where he plays golf a few days at the nearby La Quinta Country Club---he's a member of the Virginia Country Club---before returning to his Lakewood mansion on Wednesday.

Not bad for a guy who had no idea what his destiny would be when he arrived in this country 58 years ago, who graduated with modest grades from J.P McCaskey High in Lancaster, Pa., in 1966, who drove for UPS before enlisting in 1967 in the U.S. Air Force where he would become a jet engineer working on C-141s until 1971, who would come out to Long Beach a couple of years later with a pal with $300 in his wallet, who attended for a short time Long Beach City College and worked at the Harris Fence Company and delivered newspapers for the Press-Telegram, who got into the apparel business via a gentleman named Dennis McConkey and actually wound up peddling women dresses, who met by chance Dennis Harrah at the Jolly Roger, who later would become such a close pal of Harrah that they bought a home together at 6919 Seaside Walk on the Peninsula, who would open with Harrah what was at the time the most high-tech, innovative -- Legends also had a digital ticker streaming scores around the establishment -- sports bar in America, who would become a high-profile trailblazer on the Long Beach restaurant scene.

As with anyone who has taken on the political establishment and who has taken on so many financial risks, he has had his ups and his downs and also has had his critics.

``I've made my share of enemies, I'm sure, but I also made a lot of friends,'' he says. ``Sometimes I shake my head in amazement at my life. I mean, I was destined to work in a chemical plant near Liverpool in England. I thought, and, instead, I wind up having a life filled with so many fabulous memories and meeting so many fabulous people and having such a fabulous family with five children and a great wife of 37 years in Judy. I couldn't have asked for more in my life. . .''

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Previously by Mr. Krikorian:

Sign Of The Times: To Donning A Mask At A Near Empty Blair Field To Keep A High School Baseball Game From Being Halted To The Zany LBUSD Superintendent Jill Baker Still Keeping Elementary Students From Engaging In Playground Activity

The Beloved Sandra Headley, AKA Coachie, Climaxes Her Memorable 39-Year Tenure At Naples Elementary School With A Most Unusual Task
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia Takes A Victory Lap For His City Hosting The Undocumented Migrants, But The Estimated $35 Million Cost To Taxpayers Has His Critics In An Uproar, Including One, The Famed Bodyguard Mike (The Hammer) DiMarzo, Who Calls Mr. Garcia The Teflon Don Of LB
Tommy O'Toole's Magical 12-Hour Day That Might Well Land Him In The Guinness Book Of World Records And, Who Knows, The Zany LBUSD Superintendent Jill Baker Might Be Destined To Wind Up In It, Too
Why Don't Mayor Robert Garcia And His Marionette, City Manager Tom Modica, Come Out And Tell The Truth About How Long Beach Became A Lodging Sanctuary For More Than 1,000 Undocumented Kids?
Why Have ALL The Long Beach Leaders Been So Silent On The Feds Placing A Contingent Of Undocumented Kids In Downtown LB?
A Talk With Jerry West And An Emotional Remembrance For Me Of Still Another Friend, Elgin Baylor, Who Is Gone
Frankly, I'm Surprised Long Beach Chief Of Police Robert Luna Didn't Think A Contingent Of Extraterrestrials From Another Galaxy Was Responsible For The LB Crime Wave
The Creator Of Two Iconic Long Beach Dining Establishments, Schooner Or Later and Tantalum, LB Bachelor Denny Lund Also Has Been A Creator Of Glad Times
Krikorian Notes: From Cal Gov Gavin Newsom Keeping Long Beach Restaurant Diners Outdoors For No Plausible Reason To His Equally Despised Michigan Counterpart, Gretchen Whitmer, Actually Allowing Indoor Dining In Her State To Cock Of The Walk John Morris Speechless (!) To Dickie (Too Fast, Too Furious) Babian Turning Crow's Over To His Son To My New 7-1, 354 Bodyguard Aaron Gray Taking Over From The Undersized 6-0, 225 Mike (The Hammer) DiMarzo
Krikorian Notes: From Gavin Newsom Praising Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia As Though He's Destined For Mt. Rushmore To Newsom Hoping The Rest Of California Follows The Jill Baker LBUSD Path (???) To The Tiger Woods Car Accident To Bad Stu Ledsam's Son Kyle's Big Award To Vons Pavilion GM Steve Carr Performing Cashiering Duty To My Watching the Amazing Emerzian Twins Next Week In Michigan
Krikorian Notes: From A Most Surreal Development That Has Me In A State Of Giddiness---Our Beloved Long Beach Actually Now Serious About Building A New Swimming Pool After Coastal Commission Approval And Strong Endorsements From Such Local Leaders As Mayor Robert Garcia and City Manager Tom Modica and Their Political Accomplices To Mike O'Toole Doing a Solo, He-Man Rowing Act On A 32-Foot Gondola Carolina Filled With 14 People Around Naples Canals To Jill Baker’s Typical Back-to-School Delaying Tactics To My Receiving My Periodic SAG-AFTRA Residuals From My Once Flourishing Acting Career That, Sadly, Went The Way Of My Once Flourishing Radio Career
Long-Time Belmont Shore Resident Dorcas Baldwin, 85, Endures Frightening Experience Of Homeless Man Breaking Into Her Bay Shore Avenue Home And Taking A Shower Before Long Beach Cops Come To The Rescue
CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod Hoping Gavin Newsom And His Health Department Toadies Come To Their Senses For Projected High School Sports Restart On March 19
Terry Antonelli Orchestrating Rise Of L’Opera After Its Tragic Fall In The Great Long Beach Memorial Day Pillage & Plunder Festival
Krikorian Notes: From Mayor Garcia's Spineless Speech To Jill Baker's Passing The Buck Alliance With Gavin Newsom To A Positive Long Beach Vaccination Experience To Welcoming New Neighbor George Gascon To Mike The Hammer Bludgeoning Me About Boxing To The Amazing Tom Brady
The Memorable Life Of Tommy Lasorda: From World Series Titles To Slim-Fast Diets To Obscenity-Laced Jim Healy Tapes To Pitching To Jack Clark To A Sacred Legacy Of Laughter And Success On The Ball Yards Of America
"A Lady Shrieking "Wear A Mask!" On Bay Shore Ave. Results In A Mask-Wearing Epiphany For Our Columnist
A Christmas Tale Of Reflections And Remembrances
A Christmas Tale Of Reflections And Remembrances" Krikorian Notes: From New LA County DA George Gascon Moving To Naples To LBUSD Superintendent Jill Baker Continuing To Stunt Growth Of 70,000 Students To Distress Of Locked Down LB Entrepreneurs Jeff Cozart, Mike Neufeld, John Sangmeister To LB’s Very Own Kato Kaelin, Steve Folger, Squiring Kelly Clarkson In Nashville
Krikorian Notes: From Joe Jost Owner Ken Buck Sounding Off On The Lockdowns To Big Ben Goldberg's Boat Parade Party In Huntington Harbor To Bob Ludlam Departing LB For Prescott -- The Leisure World of Arizona -- To LB State President Jane Close Conoley Not Faintly Resembling Her Esteemed Predecessors To Mike (The Hammer) DiMarzo Invading Miami For Nightclub Frolic To LB State Women's Soccer Coach Mauricio Ingrassia Suddenly Looking Like A Matinee Idol
When Is LBUSD Superintendent Jill Baker Going To End Her Calamitous Lockdown That Has Caused So Much Chaos And Heartache And Disruption Among 70,000 Students?
Krikorian Notes: From Councilman Rex Richardson Displaying Courage To Show Up At A Long Beach Restaurant Association Meeting To The Countless Millions Lost On Unoccupied LB Buses To LB Health Czar Kelly Colopy’s Latest Mean-Spirited Edict To the Irritating Silence Of LB City Manager Tom Modica To LB Mayor Robert Garcia Ignoring His Constituents For Political Reasons To Bob The Black Labrador Parading Down The Peninsula Boardwalk Holding A Large Palm Limb In His Mouth
How Many Long Beach Restaurants Will Be Forced to Close After Latest Lockdown Lunacy?
Where's Krikorian? Temporarily On "Injured Reserve List" Recovering From Shoulder Replacement Surgery
Krikorian Notes: From Nico's George Mlouk Praising LB Mayor Robert Garcia For Working To Help LB Restaurateurs To A Plea To LB Health Czar Kelly Colopy To Restrain Her Overzealous Sleuths To Lakers Deserving NBA Title To LeBron James Turning Anthony Davis Into Passionate Competitor To Vital Contributions Of Lakers Coach Frank Vogel And GM Rob Pelinka To Sadness Of Passing Of The Great Joe Morgan And Its Impact On Maury Wills' Hall Of Fame Chances
Famous Long Beach Restaurateur Phil Trani Days Of Joyful Memories And Pandemic Miseries
Krikorian Notes: From The Irritating Silence Of The Long Beach Politicians In Not Supporting Their Citizens To The Whereabouts Of LB Mayor Robert Garcia To The Whistles Favoring The Lakers Against The Nuggets To The Greatness of Patrick Mahomes To The End Of A European Vacation Streak That Started In 1989
LBUSD Superintendent Jill Baker’s 70,000 Student Online Virtual Teaching Miscalculation A Disaster!
Krikorian Notes: From The 9 Unworthies Of The LB City Council To The LB Upstick In Shootings And Speeding To Restauranteur John Morris Horseback Riding On A Wyoming Mountaintop To The Walking Adventures Of Earth Man
Jeff Cozart's Time Of Torment: Will His Belmont Athletic Club Survive Gavin Newsom’s Latest Lockdown?
Krikorian Notes: A Labor Day Elegy For Those In The Long Beach Business Community Who Were Violated In The Memorial Day Looting Frenzy To The Palm Tree Limbs Littering 2nd Street To The Scooters Littering The Belmont Shore Bridge To The Virtual On-Line Spectacle At Big Mike O'Toole's Household
Krikorian Notes: From Long Beach Mayor's Ascent To Dem Stardom Because Of Lockstep Embrace Of The Party's Policies To The Enchanting Parklet Dining On 2nd Street To Tearing Down The Hoops in Belmont Shore To Greg Silver's LB Departure To Huntington Beach To Bob Rice Protecting Me From Isiah Robertson
Don Kramer Was A Character Like No Other With His Zaniness, Goofiness, Joyfulness, Kindliness Who Left All Who Knew Him With Lasting Memories Of Slapstick Antics And Mirthful Anecdotes
Krikorian Notes: From Majority Of LB Teachers Skipping Classrooms For The Comforts Of Home To Dr. Jill Baker Becoming Another Maria Montessori To Terry Antonelli Discussing Resurrection of L'Opera To Mayor Robert Garcia Touted By MSNBC's Brian Williams As A Future U.S. Senator To Kershaw's Magical Transformation
Long Beach's Renaissance Man, Chuckie Miller, Reflects On His Entrepreneurial Life And On Racial Inequity
Krikorian Notes: From LB's Elected Leadership's Reimagining Delusions To the Gaslamp's Outdoor Wall Video Band Show To The Ghastly USC Coach, Clay Helton
FDR's Grandson, Delano Roosevelt, Talks Democratic Party, JetBlue, Long Beach And His Life
LBPD Chief Robert Luna: Stand Up For Your Fifty Ousted Cops!
What Next From Long Beach Health Boss Kelly Colopy, Hazmat Suits For Our Restaurant Servers?
Sadly, Our National Pastime No Longer A Pastime For Me
Parklets! Three Cheers For Long Beach Politicians!
Memo To LBUSD Sup Jill Baker: Return The Kids To the Classroom!
A 2 1/2-Hour Commute To Work A Joy To This 86-Year Old Gentleman
Long Beach Politicians Once Again Fail Long Beach
Is Long Beach Destined to Become the City That Never Sleeps?
I Never Thought I'd Live To See These...
Ben Goldberg Exits Long Beach, Now Nearby Refugee In OC
Long Time Long Beach Resident Dave Lopez Climaxes Storied 48-Year TV Career
From Krikorian's Notebook: When Will LB Police Chief Luna Come Clean About May 31 Downtown Long Beach Looting Frenzy?
From Krikorian's Notebook: (1) LBUSD Mgm't Mulls Keeping K-5 Kids Indoors Without Normal Access To Playground, Cafeteria, Auditorium Activities; (2) And More...
Will LB's New School Sup't Allocate Untimely Pay Raise To Serve Students?
Awaiting Governor's Dictate To Decide Fate Of This Year's (July 3) "Big Bang On the Bay"
Mayor/Council Sounds Of Silence After LB Cops Let Some Pillage Our Village
Excuses By Long Beach Police & Politicians Dishearten Damaged LB Businesses
Hallelujah! LB Mayor Pleads For Sac'to Permission To Lift Closures That Needn't Have Occurred
Speak Up, Mr. Mayor, On Governor's Unwise Edicts. You Can Do That And You Should
My Beloved Long Beach: A Victim Of Irrational Government Overreach Beyond Reasoned Response To Virus
Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.

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