“I grew up in Europe. Where the history comes from.” That‚Äôs an Eddie Izzard line. He‚Äôs possibly the most intellectually capable comedian alive at the moment who is still touring.
In his movie “Dress to Kill” he does a bit about how we in America tear down our history and put in a parking lot. One of his funny bits is that a hotel in Miami was restored to its former luster of “50 years ago.” It‚Äôs funny because it‚Äôs so very true.
The best comedy comes from reality. It is the showcasing of our foibles that makes us connect with each other ‚Äî and laugh. Usually we laugh with good humor, knowing that the honest truth is that we are not logical, rational creatures. We are actually quite illogical and irrational, but we cloak it in terms that sound rational.
Take, for example, the current debate over the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. It is in dire straits physically. The building needs somewhere around $50 million in retrofitting to become a world-class stage that is earthquake safe (at least based on today‚Äôs standards).
There is a great debate going on as to whether it should be retrofitted, torn down and made into a soccer field, or any number of other possibilities. I‚Äôm certain we could sell it off and have it turned into a big box, multi-purpose residential or commercial property and that any number of developers would be gobsmacked salivating over the possibilities of that much land on Main Street. The heaps of money they could make would have them killing for the opportunity.
Personally I think we should find a way to retrofit it and return it to an awesome live entertainment venue.
We need to preserve our history at the same time that we build for the future. History is more crucial to a people than we recognize. It is why the concept of family is so embedded in our DNA. When a family is created, the collective history is woven together. That is why even with divorces running at 70 percent for first-time marriages, children are so important. They graft two histories into one new branch. It is why mothers should not cut fathers out of their children‚Äôs lives when a breakup happens.
Our social history is woven together by the events we all partake in and the locations where they happen. The Civic Auditorium has been home to decades of memories for the people of our fair city, me in particular, and as such each time I see it I recall fond memories of trade shows, concerts and car shows. I remember being there for Thanksgiving, feeding homeless people.
The building and safety crowd who clamors for the destruction of the civic are the same people I bet would not allow Buckingham Castle to be built today because it doesn‚Äôt meet with current standards for safety, yet it seems to have stood the test of time. Times change, and standards change ‚Äî both true. But that doesn‚Äôt mean that we have to tear down our past to prepare for our future.
We should incorporate the past into our present to create a richer, more vibrant future. I am certain that an architect of taste and style, with a creative soul, could build within, and around the current auditorium to provide us with the foundation we need and the vision for tomorrow.
It wont be cheap. It shouldn‚Äôt be cheap. It should be well done. It should be funded by private donations, some corporate, and a large chunk from our city budget.
We should shutter the civic until we are able to properly provide for it. We should guard the history, the values and the purpose of the auditorium with a vengeance. A foundation should be established, money should be extracted from the hordes of celebrities and filthy rich who reside in Santa Monica.
I will volunteer to do the legal work of forming a foundation for free. Anyone interested in helping please call or e-mail me. We‚Äôll need startup funds for the filing fees with the state of California and the Internal Revenue Service, but that will be less than $1,500.
Who will join me?
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father‚Äôs and men‚Äôs rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.