Laguna Beach Has the Most Interesting Taco Bell in the World

"Savages" and "Kings of Cool" author Don Winslow talks to OC Weekly and visits the fast-food joint he's helped to make famous.

Just when we think we're done with writing about Savages, Oliver Stone's shot-in-Laguna Beach movie that's made about $20 milion since opening a week ago, a new excuse comes along. And today, it's OC Weekly writer Nick Schou's cover profile piece on Savages author Don Winslow—click this link to read it.

Winslow, of course, provided the source material for Savages with his 2010 novel, also set in Laguna Beach. The crime writer, conveniently enough, also , a Savages prequel that as of this writing is at #35 on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

It's in Kings of Cool that Winslow sets several flashback-to-the-1960s scenes at our very own Taco Bell, on the corner of Coast Hwy. and Cleo St., where a character named Doc (a.k.a. "Taco Jesus") hands out free grub to his LSD-eating hippie disciples.

Winslow based these fast-food scenes on the true story of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a cultish band of Laguna Beach drug smugglers who , using this same Taco Bell as its primary dealing hub. For research, Winslow used Schou's 2009 history of the group, Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and its Quest to Spread Peace, Love and Acid to the World.

So it was fitting that Schou (who—full disclosure—was a colleague of mine when we worked together at the Weekly) would meet up with Winslow at the famously infamous Taco Bell, and open his profile in the restaurant's dining room:

"(T)here's a photographer nearby snapping pictures of Winslow. The fat guy working the cash register is giving him the stink-eye, and the restaurant manager is waving his arms in the air.

"I told you already—no photos inside the restaurant," the manager whines.

"What are you complaining to me for, dude?" an innocent Winslow asks. "I'm just trying to buy a taco."

Later ... Winslow tells Jean, his wife of 28 years, about his taco troubles. "We were taking pictures inside the Taco Bell," he explains. "Which seemed to upset Taco Bell to no end. They did not want us to shoot inside Taco Bell lest we reveal secrets."

But here's the story behind the story, one that might have made an even better intro to Schou's piece. That arm-waving manager, Christopher Andrews, is actually a huge Winslow fan, and happened to be on a break—in the middle of reading Savages for the second time—when he got called to bust up the unauthorized photo shoot with the author.

"I didn't recognize Winslow because I've only seen one picture of him," Andrews tells Patch. "Had he introduced himself and their intentions, I would have proudly welcomed them inside the dining room to take all the pics they desired. I probably would have bought their lunch with my own money as well!"

Or maybe the following account would've made a better intro to the Winslow piece, if Schou had been crunching down on Doritos Locos Tacos in the restaurant with your handsome Laguna Beach Patch editor on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 10.

That was when I witnessed a suspicious-looking, backpack-wearing gentleman who was lurking around the frequently-opening trunk of a black Mustang. Turns out others thought it a bit odd, too, and soon, several Laguna Beach police officers pulled into the Taco Bell parking lot and arrested 34-year-old Farid Rafael Trinidad of Laguna Niguel for possession of a controlled substance (Xanax), possession of marijuana for sales, and selling marijuana to others, according to Lt. Jason Kravetz of the LBPD. Bail for Trinidad was set at $25,000.

Not quite the return of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, but more evidence that we have the most interesting Taco Bell in the world ...

Leslie Coffin July 13, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I remember Taco Bell in the 60's. I just moved into town and couldn't figure out why so many flower children were flocked around this small establishment...everone had flowers in their hair, embracing each other, lovely floral prints wrapped around like sarong, they were all beautiful...maybe a hundred of them..spilling into the parking lots and all around the periphery.I later learned that it wasn't the tacos. I still drive by and remember that colorful summer...
Rich Kane July 13, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Wow, that's funny, Leslie!
Christopher Andrews July 13, 2012 at 09:07 PM
This is truly the most unique Taco Bell in the world. Great article Rich.
Laguna Beach Fogey July 14, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I drive by that Taco Bell almost every day. I'm too young to remember Laguna Beach in the 1960s. But I do recall a series of pulp surf novels from the 1970s called 'Operation Hang Ten' by Patrick Morgan, featuring All-American secret agent Bill Cartwright battling drug lords and hippies in California and Hawaii. I wonder if Winslow remembers these novels...?
Nancy Belletto July 14, 2012 at 11:24 PM
I worked at Taco Bell in the 60's...my first job. It was certainly a different place then with Mystic Arts across the street. I met my first boyfriend there too, when my manager told me to use our big fire hose to "hose" down the benches and get rid of the hippies! He couldn't believe I hosed him off the patio (it was open then)...Does anybody remember the street dances on Forest? Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
Rich Kane July 15, 2012 at 05:28 AM
Wow, amazing times, Nancy ... !
Brion Paccassi July 18, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Ahhh... The Infamous Taco Bell.
Norton October 13, 2012 at 06:21 PM
street dances on forest? yea ! they were the liv'in end for us schoolers and a cracked nut in bed for our parents. laguna in those days was at it's end of being one of the greatest eras of southern cal ( 1950- 1970 )
Norton October 13, 2012 at 11:27 PM
taco bell on cleo back in 70 there was "picture frame man", one of many nameless characters in Laguna, a bearded fellow who would put together discarded taco bell food from the trash cans, put whole meals together and sit at the top of the beach steps eating and wearing a large picture frame around his neck.....he would say something like "its a self portrait" or something.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »