WHAT A WORLD
When I was a kid one of my best daydreams was, what would it be like if I lived in another time, of Merlin and King Arthur, or Socrates and the gods, the royal courts of… anywhere, a future time with flying cars and super computers, or as a neighbor of Mark Twain, or Mickey Mantle or Babe Ruth? I know, if raised with a higher brow I might have been dreaming of the Renaissance or Einstein, da Vinci or Mahler, but c’mon, boys just want to have fun.
(When I visited Glastonbury in southwest England five years ago I got to stand near the graves of “Arthur and Guinevere.” Or so say the ancient monks. After a fire destroyed the massive, beautiful 7th century abbey there in 1184, they proceeded to rebuild it, and in 1191 they discovered, lo and behold, an unusual, deep old grave. Never mind that Arthur is a fiction. Crowds flocked to see, and the near-depleted rebuilding fund had new life. Similarly, when I visited the cathedral in Valencia, Spain, to see the Holy Grail — around a dozen other far-flung locations also claim to have it — I learned that the discovery of the sacred artifact was also a timely boon to lagging local tourism, also in the 12th century.)
My childish romantic daydreams usually dissipated because my knowledge of history
kept interjecting harsh reality. I knew that wars then were frequent, long and bloody awful. Bullets and bombs kill you but swords, maces and axes leave a real mess,
ouch! and there was no Geneva Convention. Bubonic plague was no fun and no vaccine,
as well as dozens of other deadly, devastating diseases. On a more mundane level, castles were freezing, roads usually muddy, travel more than a few miles was really inconvenient, no movies or TV and basketball wasn’t even invented. No toothpaste or toasters. Even royalty had to travel bumpy roads in cramped carriages, and Mark Twain had to fill his pen with ink.
When another vicious, heartless, barbaric terrorist attack takes place these days, perhaps I don’t as much as many lament and blame “the times we’re living in.” Attila, Genghis Khan, Caligula, Vlad the Impaler, Andrew “Indian Killer” Jackson, Leopold II, Pasha, Stalin, Tojo, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot and so many others — terrorists have always been with us, eager to destroy countless lives in the most terrible ways for what they want.
My heart breaks anew when another soulless scum attacks civilization, as happened Monday night in Manchester. This one hit me particularly hard: young music fans, many just kids, out for the night of their young lives. Music should be able to take us away from the world’s troubles.
These cruel attacks become so commonplace that the headlines weren’t even that large in the LA Times. And please don’t use the term “senseless attacks” — it makes perfect sense to the attacker, but is bereft of any morality, of any God. The leaders pulling the strings are like the list of mass killers above, grinding humanity for their own purposes, but their army is global and commanded by Internet. If there is any solution it is to keep attacking these evil leaders. Sure, others will take their place but as you get farther down the list the leaders usually become less adept, less charismatic, and that might help, a little.
Changing our imperialist foreign policy might eventually help, but that’s sure a trump card that’s not going to be played soon.
So I try to keep things in perspective, historically, culturally. We search desperately for a solution, but history proves such monsters have always been with us. Sadly, modern technology can unite far-flung crazies, motivate and inform them, and individuals can now construct personal weapons of mass destruction. We worry about Kim’s missiles (we should) but is it only a matter of time before some sick someone gets their hands on a
small nuclear device? That’s why I cringed extra hard when I read that our Precedent-elect asked twice, in security briefings, “Well, if we have nuclear weapons, why can’t we use them?” The man can’t think past his nose. And now he’s “bringing peace to the Middle East”? (“It’s not as difficult as people have thought,” he informed us.) Give me a break. He thinks everything is just a deal, and that he’s actually good at deals (he’s clearly not).
SANTA MONICA SMILES
The world can be a cruel place. But we all have a responsibility, I feel, to find joy, be it in a sunset, a Schubert symphony, a smile, a wildflower, something we’ve created, or a child’s laughter. And until our SMRR City Council – Developers Team builds us out of blue sky and sea breezes and the ability to move, here in Santa Monica we should all enjoy what we’ve got. And besides our natural beauty, we’ve got a lot.
The summer tsunami of great and mostly free music has already begun. Grab your calendars! Be prepared! Or you will miss out on some lifetime memories. I don’t think the LA Weekly guide is out yet and it’s usually the best, but hip Brit mag Time Out (Los Angeles) has a pretty good calendar, online.
Mark this first: “An Illegal Start” is an engaging examination of friendship, race, life
choices, small towns, war and other things we all encounter throughout life, in a two-man play performed at the merry-go-round on the Pier. It was set to end twice but has been selling out and is now extended but only through this Thursday and Friday. Playwright, former thespian, local history buff and Deputy Director of the Pier Corporation (aha!) Jim Harris wrote the piece 10 years ago, but only recently decided to try the merry-go-round as a backdrop. It works, it’s cool.
I’ve been criticizing the booking for the Twilight Pier concerts for at least the previous four years, but this year I think they may have gotten it pretty right. Congratulations, because there was a real question whether or not the longstanding series could continue at all. The damage has been done as far as establishing summer Thursdays on the Pier as LA party central, who’s-playing-who-cares, but credit is due. I’m looking forward to it. More later.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Can the 70s be as much fun as the 60s? Stay tuned, stating Monday.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that create huge inequalities.” — Pope Francis
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 31 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else
in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com