ONE NOTE SAMBA
(Sounds stultifying but could be the opposite, if you get inside it. Primal. Evincing truth.) — “Built upon a single note, other notes are bound to follow but the root is still that note… So I come back to my first note as I come back to you, I will pour into that one note all the love I feel for you.” (Jobim)
Johnny One Note — “Poor Johnny one-note sang out with gusto and just overlorded the place… Ev’ry one was mute, Johnny stood alone.” (Rodgers and Hart)
One Trick Pony — “He’s a one-trick pony, he does one trick only… he either fails or he succeeds, he gives his testimony then he relaxes in the weeds.” (Paul Simon)
Bear with me now, it will all get tied together, I promise. I think. (I hope.) Thank you.
In the weeds is where we try not to stray when discussing the many problems that beset Santa Monica. When that reference comes up, someone is reminding you to not go into the minutiae of your expertise, but to stick to the more broadly relatable points of the problem at hand. I steadfastly try to avoid those weeds. Those are effects. I try to raise my eyes to look for the overarching causes, because you can’t put out a forest fire by watering your lawn.
I’ve been accused of being that one note, one trick writer with all my columns, so, it’s about time to set the record straight: Not all. C’mon. But, pretty much guilty as charged. And I shall persist. Until something good happens or I am crushed by the futility and the hopelessness. But my personal inspiring mantra is, keep hope alive. We shall see how much hope there is after the November elections.
YOUR USUAL RANT
A reader gave me faint praise recently for straying ever so slightly from “your usual rant. Although I don’t agree with you (much) on your overall bleak view of Santa Monica’s evolution, I look forward to your column. I think you’re more effective with a little balance rather than just warming over the same argument that Santa Monica is going to hell fast and in every possible way. On most sunny days (which means most days) it seems pretty nice to me and our services, admittedly expensive, seem quite competent.”
There is some truth to that. It is a perfect, sunny day today. A cool breeze wafts in from the ocean. White sailboats float across the horizon. We have our spectacular bay that was not turned into LA’s harbor, was not blighted with artificial islands with freeways and high rise hotels and several bridges connecting. (That almost happened, in the ‘60s and again in the ‘70s, but the City Council lost its nerve when residents showed up with pitchforks and torches. So you see, this is nothing new.)
The mountains are clearly visible, even far to the east, and looking west you can see Catalina. There are no real slums in Santa Monica. Much of the city is charming or even gorgeous. There are tons of interesting people. A wide variety of cultural events abound. There are scads of opportunities for community involvement, including in government. There are half a dozen newspapers serving this small city, and a TV station, national radio station (nominally), and even the LA Times keeps a close watch on us, just in case we do something… interesting. Again. We’re always popping up on television, especially our famous Pier (that the City Council voted to demolish, decades ago — more pitchforks), and millions of tourists flock here every year and many more wish they could live here.
I’m getting worn out from all this positivity. Not used to it.
It “seems pretty nice to me” too — for now. But that letter writer knows full well what changes are in the works. After the skyscrapers go up on Ocean Avenue is too late to say, wait, I vote against that, that’s awful! I can refute and turn around every one of those observations above, and give you some timelines on their disappearance. That’s the reality here, past the appearances today. Almost everything we cherish about this town, right now, in addition to the loss already of so much, is threatened by overdevelopment from an eager City Council. These things we love about Santa Monica will disappear, one by one, because they are for sale. (A choice, not a necessity, as we are told.) And people will continue to be shocked as new developments change not only the face of the city we love but its resources. Most residents barely have a clue, until the ground is broken on that new monstrosity a block away. They have to become informed, very, very quickly.
Already, more and more long time residents have decided Santa Monica is no longer worth it, and are moving. Imagine. So many dream and struggle to move here, and then some of those same ones see the town they loved being dismantled before their eyes.
Of the emails I get every week.
“I was born and raised in Northern Italy and moved to the US about 12 years ago, my husband is American!
We moved to Santa Monica since to me I’m used to live in beautiful places, it was the only town offering a very high quality way of life.
We bought a nice home and began living a nice life in town!
Soon I realized all of this high quality of life is going to be destroyed by a corrupted, disrespectful city council!
What a shame! And how to stop them from destroying this wonderful City I made my home?
People tried to go against but the corrupted won again!
Traffic is horrible and they’re building more and more crap, ugly, cheep condo buildings, really bad looking and offering even more rent control as an excuse to be able to built more and more!
We need to join many more people in town and stop this.
Thank You for your work.”
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Is there really any more important issue here than overdevelopment? Don’t almost all of our most pressing problems come from that?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”
“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.” ”Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” — Sam Clemens
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 32 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com