NO LUVE LOST

SINCE THIS COLUMN turned out to be so artsy-fartsy I might as well start out with the event I attended at the Robert Berman Gallery at Bergamot Station last Sunday, along with more than 300 others. I can’t really call them, as a group, art lovers, but they were there for L.U.V.E., the presentation of the much-anticipated Land Use Voter Initiative. (I’ll say it again: I hate the name. Acronym. Whatever.)

Co-sponsors Tricia Crane and Armen Melkonians explained that the initiative (if it gets enough signatures then passes a citywide vote) intends to put control of height and density of new construction in Santa Monica in the hands of the voters, not the City Council. It’s a more comprehensive initiative than the referendum that stopped the Hines Project last year.

You’re going to read lots about this in the next few weeks so I won’t say anything more here except that I picked up my petition Sunday, and though I think it’s not perfect, I believe this is crucial and our best bet to guide development in Santa Monica that works for the benefit of the residents. If you want to back this and can’t find a petition to sign, email me and I’ll bring mine to you. Please allow 30-45 minutes if you live more than 10 blocks away.

If you want to know more about this complex but very important issue you can go to a Q&A at the monthly meeting of the Northeast Neighbors tonight, at 7 p.m. at the Main Library. And you can get in the mood for it by attending the Ocean Park Association mixer from 5 – 7 p.m. at Lula’s, on Main Street. Yes, no question, Santa Monica politics drives you to drink.

PARDON MY SCOTTISH lowlands lowbrow descriptive language, but if you want to see a lad simply act his arse off, non-stop intense for more than an hour, you can, for the next seven weekends.

Where? The Ruskin Group Theatre, at the airport. In what? “A Gambler’s Guide to Dying” by Gary McNair, directed by Paul Linke.

Who? None other than Maury Sterling, who you may well know from TV if you watch more TV than I do, but I have heard good things about “Homeland” and he was Max, for 16 episodes. (Also did two episodes of “24” – now, that’s a credit!)

In “Gambler,” it’s all him, 65 minutes alone on stage, on a bare room set where a single chair is as much action as you get. (Well, he does throw himself around on the floor a couple of times.) The play unfolds, strictly through narrative, of how a young boy comes to know and understand his quite interesting, locally notorious grandfather. Seems too simple and at first common and in some ways it is, and at some points “Gambler” feels like it’s too slow making enlightening revelations.

Hang in there. The journey’s always entertaining and often spellbinding, and wrapped up nicely at the end. The small town Scottish characters may seem a bit alien and overblown to Americans, and this particular grandfather is not like most folks, but through all the exotic language (the program provides a two-page glossary) and thick accents we come to glimpse their universal humanity.

Sterling’s characters seem sometimes, at first, just a bit too loud, too animated, too enthralled with the family fable. But that’s what keeps you so engaged. It’s an amazing feat, this piece of acting – just memorizing more than an hour’s worth of lines! – maintaining the story, plumbing the emotion, keeping you looking for clues and wondering what’s next and what it all means and how the Millennium is going to turn out.

Well done, lad.

NO MONSTERS MASHING but it was a graveyard smash. Last Saturday the place to be was the cemetery, specifically Woodlawn, where local history came to life. In conjunction with our Commission on the Status of Women, they presented their second annual Living History Tour, and they killed it.

Appropriately costumed actors stood by 14 selected gravesites and as groups came to “their” final resting place they put on a dramatization of that person’s fascinating life. Actors Barbara Billingsley (Beaver’s mom June Cleaver), Irene Ryan (Granny, “The Beverly Hillbillies”), Glenn Ford (“Cimarron”), Doug McClure (“The Virginian”) and Leo Carillo (“The Cisco Kid” and also a political cartoonist and conservationist – see? you didn’t know this stuff, did you?), astronaut Sally Ride (first American woman in space, youngest astronaut), Miss America 1945 Bess Myerson (first Jewish Miss A, also a politician), cartoonist Elzie C. Segar (created Popeye), director/producer/muralist Hugo Ballin, suffragette Christabel Pankhurst and local political figures Abbot Kinney, Christine Reed, Thelma Terry and Emma Leavitt.

Make it a date to check in to the cemetery this time next year.

This Sunday, I hope I’ll see y’all at our 10th Annual Santa Monica Airport Artwalk – live music, theater, tours, demonstrations, food trucks, workshops, shuttles and bike valet, all free (well, not the food trucks), and of course oodles of art to behold and/or buy. Noon to 5 p.m. Since you’re already there, catch dinner at the Spitfire Grill or Typhoon and hit the Ruskin at 8 p.m. for “A Gambler’s Guide to Dying.” Where are we, New York, London, Paris, or lil ol’ Santa Monica?

MUSIC NOTES: A week from Sunday, March 20, one of the best places in the entire music universe to be will be right here in Santa Monica, at the Moss Theater at New Roads School. Longtime local and legendary jazz drummer Peter Erskine will be performing his new album, “Dr. Um and the Lost Pages,” with his most tasty quartet. Erskine’s credits are as long as they are impressive, so suffice it to say he says this album is a return to his Weather Report days.

I interviewed Erskine and his pianist John Beasley (equally long resume, how about Miles Davis?) and will recount that in my next column.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams (Dilbert)

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com.

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