Bring back Norms
I very much agree with the last comment on (May 21) Q-Line, i.e. “reopen Norms at Bergamot” in Santa Monica. What a huge loss for the average low to middle income resident. Norms has the best pancakes around. The Bigger Better Breakfast doesn’t get any better for the price then Norms. Norms was a wonderful affordable restaurant for the people south of Wilshire. Please, please, please bring back Norms.
It is ironic that the sponsors of the Residocracy Community BBQ Celebration at Clover Park on May 31 advised attendees where to park their cars. Wouldn’t it be nice if the opponents of development and ensuing traffic in Santa Monica would recommend that attendees at this generous event take the Big Blue Bus #8, which has drop-off and pick-up at Clover Park?
Evolve or die
Wayne Blank is a dinosaur: his viewpoint is like that of a prehistoric animal clinging desperately, ridiculously, to an age, which no longer exists. The model and reality that is Bergamot Station, like it or not, no longer applies in this amazing and, yes, highly developed Brave New World in Santa Monica – and in the wider world around us. And I’m writing this as someone who has worked in the arts his whole life, in the fine arts and now in film and theater.
There is a sadness to the almost hysterical expressions by so many longtime Santa Monica residents about what is, in fact, an amazing, ever-developing – and completely inevitable – business and popular vitality to this great city by the beach. As writer David William Martin noted in a recent Santa Monica Daily News letter to the Editor, Santa Monica is, in its history, culture and development, completely different from other beach communities like Santa Barbara. Making these kinds of incomparable references helps no one in trying to negotiate the fantastic developments currently happening in Santa Monica, a city I hope soon to move to.
It would be highly interesting, I think, if the Santa Monica Daily News or some other media or news organization did a demographic survey of opinion regarding all the burgeoning development. The Bergamot Station – where I have been many, many times and still enjoy – remains, in contrary to Mr Blank’s romantic and self-interested presentation a wholly elitist outpost which is completely disconnected from the full and complete (and, also inevitably, ever-increasing) diversity of the Santa Monica community. More to the point, based upon the continuing development of an ever-the-more popular Santa Monica, for Mr. Blank and others who share his point to think that the Bergamot Station facility is a smart use of space is pretty silly, and naive.
It’s important to look at cities as organisms. The Expo Line coming through – which, regardless of its ultimate impact on traffic and travel times and pulling people out of cars – is like a large artery bringing in blood to a part of the body – the body of Santa Monica. When such an event happens in a biological organism (unless, like I’m sure some will say in this case, we’re talking about a tumor) it’s cause for celebration – increased blood flow increases nutrients and filters out waste products; in short, it’s excellent for a city’s growing health. Points like this and many, many others on this issue have kept many stuck-in-the-mud old time Santa Monicans stuck in the Dark Ages, which they continually reflect on as if it was some idyllic past.
It’s important to remember that that past they’re talking about was limited in energy, economic and social development, artistic vibrancy, and diversity on many levels. Like the country as a whole, that bucolic fantasy is not simply dying a slow death, it’s being destroyed right under our feet – and for the better. Santa Monica – just like America – is better when it’s vibrant, developed and energetic. Santa Monica is not a relaxed town anymore – that day has long, long passed. This great city is moving on and upwards and, yes, it’s displacing the psyches of a lot of people who, as we all tend to do, hold onto whatever part of the past we have that we are attached to with the fervor of that same dinosaur trying like a get out to avoid evolution. But Mother Nature isn’t interested in our bucolic fantasies – and it’s a good thing, too, because if all of us were always our endlessly self-interested expressions the world – our world – would never move forward.
Bergamot Station – if it wants to participate in the Brave New World that is already occurring in Santa Monica – like it or not – will have to find a way to cohabitate with the new reality of development; it will have to find a way to fit itself into a more developed reality. It may not be possible – certainly not in its present form. But crying for the death of a dinosaur is a pretty dumb thing to do. Unless, that is, you’re also a dinosaur. But life goes on. Sorry, Wayne. Your game’s over.
Private profit, public expense
I am not sure how Mr. Blank can refer to Bergamot Station as a “world-renowned arts center.” I’ve not seen any artist working there. There a number of high priced, for profit art galleries who anywhere else in the world would be paying market retail rents (i.e. Rodeo Drive). Mr. Blank owns a neighboring parcel, which he got zoned at a higher density than the city owned adjacent parcel and will make a huge financial gain on the area’s redevelopment so let’s not listen to his self-serving ranting.
How many people actually make art there? None. How many residents can afford to shop there? Very few. Why should the public continue to subsidize for profit retail art dealers? It should not.
This site is composed of a bunch of derelict old warehouses and was purchased by the city for transportation related uses. The retail art gallery use was intended to be temporary. Mr. Blank has profited greatly over the years at the public’s expense. His rent to the city is substantially less than what he then turns around and charges the retail galleries.
It has been a good temporary use, but now that the light rail is coming, it should be put to a higher and better use.