WHY WERE THERE ALL THOSE PEOPLE at a Planning Commission meeting last Wednesday?? For five hours! And they weren’t even getting any ahi mini-tacos. No wonder so many seemed angry. Come on, you malcontents, get a grip, take it easy, stay LUCE.
CHRISTMAS IS COMING but what I want is a bit pricey. I revisited the Andrew Weiss Galleries at Bergamot to take a second look at the Dylan art, and confirmed my first impression, that the one I really, really love and need is “Man on a Bridge IV” – of course the largest and priciest of them all. All but three being exhibited are prints (giclees); this one is mixed media on paper, and I’d have to clear an entire wall. But I’ll do it! I love it! It’s just a tad over $400,000, so a few of you may have to go together on it, but I will love each and every one of you who do. Heck, that’s less than a silly movie poster of an old Lon Chaney movie recently sold for.
WE’VE LOST ANOTHER LEGEND. Just now got a phone call from New Orleans from my dear friend and master bluesman Ray Bailey, that Mickey Champion just passed away, at a local rest home. Mickey was a legendary L.A. blues singer, an archetype, and will be greatly missed. She was in her 80s, Ray said, and hadn’t performed for several years. Say hi to Rosie when you get up yonder, will ya Mickey? She’ll carry your tip jar again.
BOB HOLBROOK IS FINALLY LEAVING CITY COUNCIL, and we finally found something to agree on: naming our newest park after local neglected war hero Joe Gandara, as he suggested to the Recreation and Parks Commission last Thursday. Thank you, Bob, for that, and for your years of service. Oh, we also agreed during the recent election that Phil Brock should be on that Council. Maybe Holbrook will lend his obvious campaign skills to Brock’s next run.
YOU’D THINK, IN A CITY THIS SMALL, it would be easy to figure out how many newspapers we have. Well – if it were, I would have just given you a number, wouldn’t I?
You tell me. No, never mind, I’ll tell you, why it’s not an easy answer.
First – what is a newspaper? I’m serious. I’m old-school, and even remember the reassuring racket of a ponderous printing press spitting out a morning edition I could grab in my paws and open up and thumb through to my heart’s content.
Journalism (not to be confused with just publishing newspapers) is a dying art, and they are both dying businesses. All newspapers and magazines now go online to try desperately to figure out how to draw their share of that incredibly shrinking advertising dollar. Some then give up print altogether.
But you know what else you lose with online newspapers? The filler. The incidental stuff. And that’s important. In print, you have to fill in gaps, and sometimes that is the most fascinating and informative thing you read that day. Event announcements. Random ephemera. Some piece you wouldn’t have read if it didn’t catch your eye as you moved on from what you intended to read. It’s like record stores – remember record stores? – where you went in looking for one or two specific things and wound up getting an education from what you were distracted into. Proximity. Serendipity. Enlightenment.
So I was thinking of print newspapers only. The other question is “we” – how many newspapers do we have in Santa Monica, and there’s the rub.
Everyone wants a piece of us. So a number of area newspapers do some distribution in Santa Monica so they can claim us and our desirable demographics for advertisers.
There’s only one daily newspaper dedicated to covering just Santa Monica. That’s the one you’re reading now, the Santa Monica Daily Press. The Santa Monica Mirror is a weekly, of a similar description. After that it gets a bit murky, with three or four others, publishing weekly or monthly, claiming Santa Monica but covering and being distributed in surrounding areas as well.
Then there are the several papers and some ritzy glitzy magazines you can find around town with the name Malibu on the cover. Be honest: you live in Santa Monica – do you really care about Malibu? I didn’t think so. Me neither.
And then there’s the Free Venice Beachhead newspaper, which I rarely come across, and now I know why. They have only two drop-offs in Santa Monica, the coffee house at 212 Pier off south Main Street, and our library at Main and Ocean Park.
Publishing continually since 1968 (!), cooperatively, without an editor, it’s a wonder and a bit of a mess, in the way most ’60s underground papers were. But the last few months I’ve been seeking it out for one reason: Marty Liboff.
Marty, born here and still living in Ocean Park, is an OP historian and has been drawing on that to write some crazy good pieces in the Beachhead.
I’ve got to recommend his long history of the Cheetah nightclub, sitting on Pacific Ocean Park pier, spitting distance south from the Santa Monica border. In existence less than two years, early 1967 through Sept. ’68, it had a history every bit as remarkable as the New York club it was named for. Marty lays it all out in his inimitable style (he writes like he talks, but scrupulously crafted and edited), has a cool related poem alongside, and a sidebar listing 113 bands who played there. Huge names, and ones you/I never heard of.
I asked him about that, where he found that list, and he said there is no list, he searched the web for posters (“I spent billions of hours researching that article! Billions! I’ll never do that again!”) and copied down every band name, after decoding the psychedelic type faces.
If you miss the current November issue in print, look online. Coming next from Liboff: a profile on his boyhood hero, and mine, Hoppalong Cassidy. I can’t wait.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – G.B. Shaw
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.