We live in a city of creativity. Our little patch of the world feeds content and imagery to the rest of the planet. I cannot count how many different artists, writers, musicians and performers of various skills I know and come across on any old Tuesday.
The creative space we occupy is one of the things that makes Santa Monica such a wonderful place to live and raise a family. We have such wealth, not just financial, but intellectual and creative around us, which continues to spark new and more interesting ventures.
I’ve been thinking about this a great deal lately as I walk my dog down by the Santa Monica Pier. There’s this man, Lenny Hoops, who does a little show at the base of the pier between Big Dean’s and the Hot Dog on a Stick shack. Lenny has a set of drums and a bunch of crazy hula hoops he has people use. His songs are real ditties. Frequently they are silly rhymes that he makes up as people are walking by. He dresses flamboyantly and has all these crazy outfits with funny hats.
Oftentimes Lenny has a unique slant on life that he is sharing. Two weeks ago it was how he resigned his presidency of the Ku Klux Klan. As a black man saying this, he was making a point and being funny simultaneously. He was doing this in a pair of rainbow pants and a multi-colored fuzzy top hat to draw attention, as if his words were not enough.
There are others who are controversial in different ways. Take the monkey man who appears on the Third Street Promenade. He is there with his mini-monkey, whose sole job and unique function is to take a dollar from you, and put it in his pocket. If you want a picture you have to pay extra. The controversy is two-fold. One, should a monkey be used in such a fashion? I don’t see it as any different from other uses we have for animals and he doesn’t seem to be ill treated. Two, can an “artist/performer” performing in public demand to be paid for pictures? I doubt it, but I also doubt anyone is going to fight him over it.
Then there are the artists amongst us we know and love. Those who grow closer to our hearts, through their performances and through their art. For example my friend Timm Freeman.
Timm is not your typical 40-year-old divorced dad. He’s a musician who actually has made money being a musician. He toured for years with a rock band that he managed and had international success. He retired from that vagabond lifestyle to be a dad to his son.
As his son has grown, Timm has dipped his toes back into the world of performance and artistry. Last year he performed at Brennan’s on Lincoln Boulevard. The show featured songs he wrote.
This year he and his beautiful girlfriend Jen Maxcy (yes, she of PTA presidency fame) have been performing at Golden Mean café on Wilshire Boulevard. She is not only a great singer, but also a tremendous photographer who took the headshot I use for my books. Together they make a wonderful couple, both on stage and off.
Timm has also taken up the horsehair. He has allowed his inner Monet to come out, and this month has a show at Em’s Artist Café in Culver City. The show was put on by Santa Monica force of nature Suzi Gunn, in partnership with Timm. Suzi is a whirling dervish of energy and creativity who not only puts on artist salons, photographs musicians and organizes people’s lives, she also inspires them to push their boundaries, to be more.
The point for me is that living in this environment of creativity and artistic freedom allows all of us to be freer and to pursue our own artistic expression. We live in a city where your next door neighbor could be some world renowned artist or the guy across the street is a musician who you listen to Sunday mornings.
The children who live here have the opportunity to see how different artists see the world and they experiment with their lives accordingly. The kids who stop by Lenny Hoops see how fun and openness are accepted. Difference is not drummed out, but drummed in by Lenny.
When Timm Freeman shows up at his son’s school in a fauxhawk and paint splattered jeans he’s the cool artist dad. That’s what this town breeds. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it, and I love this town for it.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.