As I write this, Los Angeles is surrounded by wildfires, there’s a Category 4 hurricane headed our way, mudslides may follow the hurricane, and we’re overdue for a major earthquake. Happy Labor Day, everybody!

While Labor Day was created in 1894 to honor organized labor (remember them?) instead it marks when the kiddies go back to school and the tourists leave town. All winter I practically count the days until summer but, usually around July 5, I start counting the days until fall and the return of some peace and quiet. Go figure.

Summer is actually a mixed blessing for me. For starters, the ocean is polluted. If I stay in the water too long, I get earaches. But I just read on the Heal the Bay Web site that where I sit, by Lifeguard Station no. 26, got an A-plus grade for water quality. I wonder if just knowing that will help my earaches? (Go to: and click on Beach Report Card.)

And I can’t totally enjoy the sun because of skin cancer. Apparently the sky has a monster hole in it that makes the sun’s UV rays dangerous to all living creatures. (Perfectly safe for concrete, however.)

Not to be David Downer, but what legacy are we leaving our young people? They’d have every right to shoot us on sight, but they’re too busy with i-Pods and texting. Thank God for technology, huh?

We’ve known about the hole in the ozone for over 30 years. I remember watching, James Watt, Reagan’s controversial Secretary of the Interior, casually advising citizens to, “Just wear a hat.” Watt, you may recall, held the record for protecting the fewest species on the Endangered Species list, until Bush Jr. appointee, Dirk Kempthorne, didn’t protect any! (Forget Joe Dimaggio’s, that’s an unbreakable record.)

Years earlier Jimmy Carter had plaintively warned us that we needed to cut back on fossil fuels before it was too late. But we chose the “Wear a Hat” administration, which was also the “Government Cheese for Poor People” and “Ketchup is a Vegetable” administration. (I’ll bet I get an e-mail from a reader insisting that I’m a Commie and ketchup is a vegetable.)

Polluted or not, I still go into the ocean as often as I can. After body surfing, I take a long shower to rinse off. (With the A-plus grade, however, I may take a shorter shower.) To avoid more skin cancer, I don’t go to the beach until after 4 p.m. and I sit under an umbrella. At least I don’t wear a hazmat suit. Not yet.

In summer, Santa Monica changes radically as the city comes alive. Some say too alive. On the beach, the pier, the promenade, with so many foreign tourists, the air is filled with the sound of exotic languages. (And perhaps a little too much cologne.) Walks on the boardwalk at sunset can inspire the soul, barring the occasional run-in with visiting gangbangers looking for some evening recreation.

Summer highlights the unspoken battle between business and residents. It’s the “chicken or the egg” debate. To support a city like ours the hotel bed taxes contribute huge amounts of money. But do we residents really benefit from the new Santa Monica? On some nights, like after a concert at the pier, the answer is “absolutely.” After an insane holiday weekend, the answer is “who has the earplugs?”

I even face this issue at my apartment building. I hesitate to mention it because the last time I received an e-mail from a reader who warned me that as a rent-control tenant, “You ought to be very careful before you complain.” I thought maybe it was from Tony Soprano. It turns out it was a female landlord who later apologized for her choice of words. (I was just relieved I wasn’t being fitted for a pair of cement shoes.)

Summer at the Shores is like living at an upscale hotel. The pool area is so crowded and noisy that it looks like a beer commercial. The other day, two attractive French women were relaxing in the jacuzzi oblivious to their four screaming children. Surprise, surprise, none of them lived here. Hey, if you’re sneaking into our pool, is it too much to ask that you try to keep your kiddies from screaming? Security is so lax, the place feels like a public pool, albeit a classy one, with French accents.

In the 1997 documentary “Wild Man Blues” (I highly recommend to Woody Allen fans) Woody is asked by his wife, Soon-Yi if he’s sad to be going home. He confesses ruefully, “When I’m in Europe, I miss New York. Then when I’m home, I miss Europe.” My complaining aside, this fall, as soon as it turns cold, I’ll probably be longing for summer. Go figure.

When he’s not at the beach, Jack can be reached at

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