This is a book for all who live and do business in the city of Santa Monica. Have you ever wondered just what does the city think it is? Frank J. Gruber has collected some of the articles in his column written for the “Lookout News” between the years of 2000-2004.

You may not be surprised at all to read the names of the council members back in 2000 mirror our current slate fairly closely. That is, not if you are a resident of Santa Monica. Nothing much seems to faze the residents of Santa Monica, that is, except for politics. Gruber seems to be a fan of our Santa Monicans for Renters’ Right group. The SMRR is too much a king maker not to be recognized and admired. He writes, ”It is hard not to admire Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights. SMRR is a grassroots organization. It is open to all who want to join. Its nominating conventions are open. SMRR does what it says it is going to do and success is daily proof of the legs of collective action.”

His interest in our city politics is because in 1995 he became involved on the Planning Commission because of the Civic Center being rebuilt. He was elected to the City Council where he served until 1999.

But this book isn’t just about Santa Monica. The columns cover the time period before the national election of 2000 and end close to the 2004 election. In the mostly unrelated subjects written about in the columns we have a good picture of the politics and life of the 8.5 square mile piece of real estate known as Santa Monica. It is opinionated, not asking for you to agree. In fact you will have more fun reading this book if you don’t agree all the time. You come to realize that Santa Monica is just an image.

This has the subtitle “Life and Politics in an American Town.” And that is what you get — a picture of a small American town.

Gruber handles urban issues such as development, traffic, homelessness and education in an easy to digest form. People may think it is a playground for the rich and famous, but as you read these columns you realize that not everyone in Santa Monica is rich and famous.

Politics are interesting. Our city is interesting. Book reading is interesting. Contact Dane at smdp_review@yahoo.com and stay interesting.