I was honored to again be invited to sit in on a meeting of a group of local architects calling themselves SMART, Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow. They have a very reasonable, common sense platform for turning our runaway development into something that won’t kill the goose’s golden eggs.
But don’t architects depend on development for their livelihood? Yes, and that’s why it’s all the more impressive that they have banded together to voice their concern over the direction we’re headed, at such breakneck speed. But I realized something else: these are exactly the people we need, because they understand the language. Developers often submit documents by the pound, that even our planning department has trouble unraveling. These folks can spot the bull-pucky.
The other big point I took out of there was that there is so much rushing to judgment right now that it’s hard for anyone to respond. Planning meetings, Architectural Review Board, Landmarks Commission, crucial City Council meetings — how do you find the time? But this group is trying, and we must all turn out to support their expertise and speak our own minds.
Henry’s still the man
I see that Marianne Williamson has thrown her karma into the ring, in the 33rd Congressional District (Malibu to Santa Monica to Beverly Hills and down the coast to Rancho Palos Verdes). Ordinarily I might rejoice at a non-politician seeking to change things in D.C., especially one who comes from a spiritual path.
But we’ve already got a very special Congressman in Henry Waxman, whom I consider the best representative on the hill. He’s not perfect, but his record of fighting for the people (versus corporate interests) is consistent and his accomplishments remarkable. He knows how the system works and builds consensus; he has four decades of experience and relationships, which he uses for mostly good stuff. He’s been re-elected for nearly 40 years in this very creative and influential district, and I think mostly for good reasons.
I suppose the makeup of the district is why Williamson is running here (as an independent) instead of where she lives, in West Hollywood. But I’d rather she try to unseat some bad guy. That choice shows me she’s more interested in getting elected than in changing Washington. Freshman representatives don’t accomplish much, for years sometimes. Henry’s doing a great job for us, and I want him representing me for as long as he is willing and able.
Clowns off the stage, please
You watched the Golden Globes, right? It’s become more enjoyable than the more staid and self-indulgent Oscars. I need to start writing about movies and getting it published in Sri Lanka or Burkina Faso or Andorra, so I can become a voting member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, because there are only 80-some voting there, as opposed to 6,000 who vote for the Oscars, and those 80-some get treated like royalty. The trips, the swag, the fine wine and meals, dates with Margot and Scarlett!
My favorite moment this year was when U2 got the Globe for Best Original Song, for the “Mandela” movie, and when music mogul/hip hop whatever Sean “Diddy” Combs, one of the three presenters, went to embrace Bono, Bono pulled away and left Diddlyman clearly hurt and confused. Big dis! Diddy-o was being his usual obnoxious self, grabbing the spotlight, advising the room, “Everybody just keep drinking, OK? It’ll be over soon.” I felt sorry for his co-presenters Usher and Kate Beckinsale, who showed nothing but class in the face of Diddy’s crass. Hasn’t it reached the point where no one would accept the assignment of sharing a stage with this clueless egomaniac? I’m not trying to be mean (well, maybe I am), but it’s all true, so it’s not mean.
I like to think Bono did what he did because he understood it was a serious moment, honoring Mandela, and he wasn’t going to let Combs have another moment to distract from that.
“This really is personal, very, very personal,” Bono, a long-time friend of Mandela’s, told the audience. “This man turned our life upside down, right side up. A man who refused to hate, (because) he thought love would do a better job.” Bono’s an egomaniac, too, but there’s a world of difference.
Virgin births make comeback
I read a credible study (for the British Medical Journal) that found that 1 out of 200 young pregnant women declared themselves virgins. Ah yes, denial in the face of facts and science, God bless America. Could this have anything to do with it? Nearly a third of those pregnant virgins had signed chastity pledges. Do they have those pledges in other countries?
Still sticking up for cyclists
Maybe it’s true. In some places in Santa Monica, at some times, the occasional cyclist will ride on the sidewalk. You find that out when you write in your column that you’ve never seen it. Then you have people writing and telling you in person that it happens where they are — all the time. Hire more police! Call out the National Guard! As one young rider I interviewed confessed, “cyclists can be jerks, too. I’ve made mistakes,” but “if everyone sharing the roads were more accepting, and forgiving,” it could be a beautiful thing.
Here’s the overriding (pun intended) value, as I see it: the more we can do here to make the streets safer for bicycles, the better off we all are. Fewer cars being driven. And fewer sons and daughters, husbands and mothers losing the very unfair fight when bicycle and auto collide. Educate drivers and cyclists, share the roads, and create the infrastructure that makes it possible. Are we going to let tiny little Holland beat us on this?
Vegans and nurses
I had to chuckle at the photo on the front page of the Daily Press last Wednesday of two PETA demonstrators dressed in an attention-getting way as nurses, holding signs that declared, “Bypass Heart Surgery: Go Vegan.” Vegan is cool with me, but ask my nephew, a 22-year vegan when he went in for emergency heart surgery at the age of 40 because he had an artery that was 99 percent blocked.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 28 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org