I trust you all had a really good time over the three-day weekend. Got a little bit crazy, didn’t ya? Maybe you should have skipped that last barrel-sized margarita, and that dare to make unauthorized adjustments to your ex-boyfriend’s car.
Well, it’s now the day after the day after, and maybe you need something sensible and calming to go to tonight. Something to give perspective and get you back on track, so you can sleep the sound sleep of the righteous.
Once a month, the folks who take it upon themselves to cover your behind, to be activists for what’s noble and just, when you don’t have the time nor, let’s be honest, the inclination (of course you feel guilty! — and have already stopped reading this — double shame on you!), and they’ve been doing it for years or even decades, so they come together for the Activist Support Circle, and … well, I’m not sure what they do, I’ve never been, but I’m dying to find out.
I think they form a circle and on the count of three kick each other in their covered behinds. That could be inspirational, supportive, or just painful and litigious.
You could find out tonight, too, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (refreshments at 6:30 p.m.), at the Friends Meeting Hall at 1440 Harvard St., but I have to warn you: there will be newspaper people there. Oh yes, maybe five of them. Not reporters, though. Even worse: they are all columnists (reporters without rules for accuracy or logic). And they will be talking about … who knows?
They haven’t told me anything more than that, and I’m one of them. Along with David Pissara of the Daily Press, and three other scribes from local rags (that’s a term of affection in the biz, you know). I’ve not met any of them but we’re brothers and sisters, all in the same club, from UU, the University of the Underpaid. Or UUU, adding unappreciated, but now that just sounds like crying.
I guess those activists consider us activists, or at least pliable dupes in their scheme for world domination and utopia. Either way, I’m showing up, because if there’s one thing the Underpaid and Unappreciated will stand up for, it’s the line for free refreshments.
World Music Day
Santa Monica’s Director of Community & Cultural Services Karen Ginsberg wrote a letter to the Daily Press “in response to” my column about World Music Day. But the only things she responded to were questions I didn’t ask, about permits for local musicians wanting to participate in the worldwide, daylong celebration of free music outdoors, and how to coordinate with the Make Music LA organization.
Make Music LA? How about Make Music Santa Monica? How about a more enthusiastic, even just helpful response to Recreation & Parks chair Phil Brock’s meetings and communications with city staff as to how we can be part of this great event that bursts forth with a joyous sound in more than 700 cities across more than 100 nations around the globe, all on June 21?
Make Music LA is shooting for more than 500 performances this year, up from about 100 last year. That’s ambitious, and a great goal. That’s for LA. The response from “our” city staff?
We had 10 performances last year (pretty much organized under Brock’s leadership) — let’s keep it at three this year. Three bands in Tongva Park, we’ll pay them (which is against the ethos of all-free World Music Day), and that’s it. Anything more, Brock was told, would be too much trouble. Not trouble like fighting, at the performances — trouble like extra work, for staff.
Out of frustration, and because he is a big believer in the power of public music to bond a community, and because he doesn’t let “no” stop him from finding alternative solutions, Brock contacted all the neighborhood organizations and urged them to do it themselves, by neighborhoods.
Ginsberg thought that was just peachy. In her letter she wrote, “City staff in fact encourages the neighborhood groups to pursue this option in celebration of Make Music LA.” I don’t think she gets it, that Make Music LA is LA’s response and organization for this amazing global event, and has no more to do with us than LA City Council has to do with our government. This is a prime opportunity for community and cultural services in Santa Monica, at virtually no expense, but Ginsberg indicates that staff can’t be bothered with it.
If Brock, and the dedicated citizens who volunteer their time and efforts to neighborhood organizations, have anything to do with it, there will be music in Santa Monica on June 21. Too bad our staff, some at the top being paid, by us, 200 grand a year, can’t show half as much dedication and can-do instead of don’t-bother-me attitude.
What if staff was on board with this, and offered the kind of support LA gets? (It’s too late for that now, of course.) Looks like we’ll have the Hundred Harmonica Orchestra again, and that’s a treat. Everyone who has the willingness to spread the joy of music by getting up on a stage that day is worth listening to and applauding.
But this is Santa Monica. What if this was well-organized and supported and publicized, and Jackson Browne called up and said, do you think I could show up unannounced for 30 minutes somewhere? I think I can get Ry Cooder to do it, too, he’s got ties to Santa Monica. And Waddy Wachtel, has a great band ready to rock. I can call up Peter Erskine, he lives here, maybe Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez used to live on the Santa Monica Pier, Charlie Hayden and Dave Wakeling from Pacific Palisades, and then there are all those classical cats.
Or, no celebrities at all, but 50 or 100 performances that day, of every kind of music imaginable, all over the city? Instead of three paid bands, in one park.
This is about more than one day. This is about an identity we could seize as a community, that would enrich all our citizens. I wrote in that column Ginsberg said she was responding to: “We could become known as ‘A Music City.’ We’ve got the climate, we have a cornucopia of artists here — too bad we don’t have a city staff that’s willing to support it.” Unfortunately, that column, and Brock’s efforts, fell on deaf ears in City Hall and didn’t change anything.
Do you want to take part? Contact your neighborhood association, or if somehow you can’t, get a hold of Brock. He’s not hard to find.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 28 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.