WOW! BOOKS ARE BACK!
Look at all those people lined up at the Main Library last Sunday waiting to check out books. How exciting!
Well, it was pretty exciting but it wasn’t about books. It was a left wing panic attack. O Lordy, the Mango Mussolini was actually elected. He’s days from the Oval Office and he’s emptying the asylum to stock his cabinet. We’ve got to do something!
“We” being Democrats, the all of a sudden no-longer roll-over-play-dead opposition. The library was hosting the election of representatives from the 50th Assembly District to their next state convention, and the troops were fired up, ready to go and out in force. I asked City Council member Kevin McKeown, long active in the party, how many people showed up for the last one of these.
“187, as I recall” he recalled. “Today, I think we have more than a thousand.” Others agreed with those figures. “Of course,” he added, “if we had shown up like this before the election, we might not have to do this today.”
Beyond the numbers, it was politics as usual. Much was decided before this
election day. Alliances were formed and slates presented. Obviously, few in that
line that stretched across the library courtyard to 6th Street and then up to Arizona
(for three hours!) listened to all the one-minute speeches in the small auditorium. I listened to most of them and decided to vote my impressions (plus a couple of names I had already decided on), and while the success rate for that is about the same as betting on a racehorse because you like its color, it felt pretty… well, democratic.
Folks who are at each other’s throats over local politics were all smiling and chatting and communing in their other identity, united in their resolve to stop the evil GOP and make America safe again for non-old white men. Quite a few candidates were comfortably gay. I’m guessing that wouldn’t be a plus at the Republican counterpart, and that it would have neither the numbers nor the demographics of this assemblage.
I was disappointed very few of the candidates mentioned Bernie Sanders, except to urge us to put aside the primary results and all work together. Feh. I voted for Hillary to stop Trump but not nominating Bernie was a hyuuge fail, missing a perhaps unique opportunity to elect a genuine progressive who was honestly, courageously addressing the overriding issues (primarily wealth inequality and all the other messes it drags along with it), and to bring millions of new voters into the political process. More fundamentally, I’m still angry not that my guy “lost” but that my party is controlled by elitists willing to thwart the will of their own people. Makes them not much better than the voter-suppression GOP.
The next night there was a political gathering of a much more intimate sort: the monthly meeting of my neighborhood association for Ocean Park. The good news: the chaos from last month’s aborted election for president disappeared and the meeting and election ran smooth as a baby’s bottom. Treasurer Patricia Godon-Tann kept things and people in order by waving copies of the bylaws (11 pages) that seemed so mysterious and misremembered last meeting.
But it was a bit too intimate: I was the only body in the chairs for some of the meeting, facing 12 august board members arrayed behind a line of tables.
“I’ve been a member for four years,” a late arrival whispered to me, “but I don’t come very often because it’s just so intimidating, with all them up there.”
She’s right, but the OPA board doesn’t get it, or is just unwilling to kill off some of its seats. They eliminated two but still have 15, and some indicated last meeting that they kind of like it that way. (It is a good way of being pretty sure you’ll have around 15 people at every meeting.)
After attending two meetings in a row now (matching my entire previous total, not counting mixers) I can say that these are dedicated citizens of historic Ocean Park, willing to serve their community. The area’s been sprouting art and green under their guardianship, the shotgun house finally landed by the Carnegie library, and everyone agrees they put on a helluva good 4th of July parade.
But OPA remains the quiet neighborhood association, not known for taking on big issues. (They were the only association, of seven, to not endorse the slow-growth measure LV,) How about taking a stand on our new ultra-expensive city services building? Why are we spending $80,000,000 on a trophy construction (could we maybe do it for 50?) when we delay, discuss, study and argue still over a desperately-needed playing field that was promised 12 years before, and should cost under a million? They heard a brief presentation that night from David Garden, who said he is taking legal action to prevent its being built as approved, but they did not even discuss it afterward.
Neighborhood associations have the opportunity to influence city hall, and therefore our lives in those neighborhoods, by representing the views of their communities. OPA could do more.
Group. And their theater. At the airport. Every time I go to something there — and I’ve never come away anything but completely, if not profoundly, entertained — I overhear someone say, I never knew this place was here! The next two weekends they have encore performances of Paul Linke’s moving one-man show, “It’s Time.”
You’ll marvel, you’ll laugh, but bring tissues.
Spoken word salon Library Girl is there once a month, and they’re two for two in my book. David Kukoff’s anthology “Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine” takes us back to 1970s LA, and eight of the authors read from their pieces. I loved Deanne Stillman’s impressions of the freeways as a newbie from Ohio. (I never thought about the flower planters at the gas stations.) Your $10 ticket includes snacks and dessert, and that night the gorditos, hand patted from batter in front of you onto the grill, were insanely good.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Would we be better off with district voting for City Council and a real mayor here? (It seems inevitable.)
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “We have the best government that money can buy.” — Mark Twain
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 31 years and wouldn’t live
anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at