CURIOUS CITY — CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER. Have you ever gotten involved in a battle of words and ideas on a Facebook page, and wished you hadn’t?
A ha ha ha ha hahahahahahahaaaaaaargh!!! – I’m sorry. Couldn’t help that. Feeling mimsy, I guess, snapped a bit. It was a long night. “Alice: How long is forever? White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.”
But you all know what I mean. You’ve all been there. Maybe you were wise enough to not be a participant, but you observed the madness and shook your head in wonder. Something needed to be said, you acknowledged firmly, and reluctantly … so glad it was someone else who jumped in.
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat, “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
But here is where we all come, we who care passionately about Santa Monica and want to not just “tsk tsk” but actually do something to make it as good as it can be, for all the residents. There are other sites, but primarily it’s the Facebook pages “Residocracy” and “Santa Monica Government, Politics, Policies and People” that those people check out frequently, for local news and opinion. It’s our forum. But sometimes it turns into the Roman Coliseum, where carnage and insanity rule.
Many days are quiet and thoughtful, with rational argument and discourse, enlightening all and ravaging none. Other times, “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”
I guess that’s why I’m so bushed. It takes it out of you to call a spade a spade (no offense, Queen of Hearts) and try to get the conversation back to a point that makes sense and has value. It’s sometimes like arguing with the climate change deniers, or (holy metaphor, Batman!) members of the Tea Party. “Well, I never heard it before, but it sounds uncommon nonsense.”
“Off with their heads!” would probably be the appropriate response, but don’t you have to believe these are good people, fellow concerned citizens, just seeing the world differently than you, perhaps misguided, misinformed?
Nah. You want to think the best, you try, but face it: some of them are just trolls, loonies, genuinely disturbed, or folks with an agenda, and hitting them with facts and logic is like throwing pop bottles at the Ferguson police tanks.
It’s a dilemma. Do you let outrageous statements stand, hanging there in the cyberverse like a smelly gym sock, or do you step up and say no, I can’t let that be.
I am haunted by the truth that “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” I don’t mean to blow our local issues out of proportion, but a principle is a principle, not just a catch phrase, and I’ve always thought that a good one.
I’m not talking about one incident or one person or just the battles I’ve been involved in. I’ve seen enough, and I’ve reached my limit. I’m not really talking about them; it’s me. Now I’m trying desperately to keep my mouth zipped and my keyboard silent. Won’t you help me? “She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it).”
I’m passing the torch. There have been a handful of good, courageous people in our concerned citizens cadre I can count on to back me up in these forays, but now I want to be the back up.
“It is better to be feared than loved,” said Machiavelli. Nope. I’m a lover, not a fighter. Fear is not in my quiver, not intentionally, though I do believe in the power of the pen, because words have meaning and properly put together they can express ideas and ideas can change the world, for better or for worse.
“Keep your temper, said the Caterpillar.” “If you don’t think, then you shouldn’t talk.” – March Hare. Talking less, I hope, means I’m thinking more. I’ll be in my cave if you need me, sitting on a mushroom. Reading my Alice.
“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
John Muir’s doing alright for a guy dead 100 years.
His spirit hasn’t yet convinced the Public Art Committee to issue a statement of support, that the Muir Woods mural at the corner of Lincoln and Ocean Park is important art, important Santa Monica history, culturally significant, and must be preserved rather than painted over, as is the plan at this moment. But various members of the committee had some very nice things to say, and that was gratifying.
Their decision Monday night to delay deciding is too complicated to waste space with here, but completely understandable. Maybe next month.
But several members remarked at how often they’ve heard people in the community talking about it positively, even affectionately, with nary a discouraging word, no one saying paint it over, I hate it, it’s bad art and meaningless.
Two members offered eloquent advocacy, of the mural’s personal significance to them and its place in the community, having been there since 1978. They spoke of Muir’s California connection and worldwide stature, of their having been inspired, like so many, to retrace his footsteps and discover the wilds for themselves, and its healing qualities. When we’re trying to beautify one of the ugliest streets in town (Lincoln), one said, why would we paint over that mural?
The Campaign to Save the Muir Woods Mural will be staging a rally for support for an hour on Sept. 6, from noon to 1 p.m., at the site of the mural. They hope to have a big turnout. There are so many reasons to treasure this art piece. Let’s not lose it. Show up and sign a petition.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd” – Voltaire
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org