“Got milk?” Soon it will be, “Got water?” But it won’t be funny.

With the West in a 13-year drought and 90 percent of California in severe drought, our governor has just decided our state is turning “Brown” after our driest year on record, ever. Better late than never, I suppose.

In L.A., 3.6 inches of rain fell in 2013, instead of the “normal” 15 inches. How does this impact us in Santa Monica? It’s complex, but remember those architects I wrote about last week, the SM a.r.t. guys (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow)? Their mission statement reminds us “rainfall is at record lows,” and of our city’s “goal of becoming water independent by 2020.” The city’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment web page adds, “and stop importing water to ensure a safe and reliable supply of water for generations to come.”

Way too much of the development being proposed and approved right now flies in the face of that and other such stated goals, ignoring plans and regulations drawn up after extensive public input. Why do we even consider these proposals, if they don’t conform?

Certainly other voices have been raised, but I’d like to point out that Bob Taylor, a member of that group of concerned local architects, has been a broken record on the issue for as long as I can remember. While various rooms I’ve been in have gotten heated debating all the various evils of the proposed developments here, every so often Bob pipes up and reminds us, what about water?

Maybe we don’t need any other criteria. Let’s just demand of every developer, instead of “show me the money” (I think that’s been done), we scream, “show me the water!” If you can’t — bye, bye.


My new favorite radio station


It’s far left (of course) on the dial, 88.5, KCSN-FM, the radio station of Cal State Northridge. I spend three-fourths of my car radio time there now. (Sorry 100.3, The Sound. I still love you but there’s someone new and exciting in my life. Hey, we’ll still hang out! Today you seduced me with an awesome string of Stones. And you never know how these new loves will go.)

I hear a lot of things I like on KCSN, many I’ve never heard before. Their combination of known favorites (usually deep cuts, not just the usual hits) plus promising new discoveries is perfect in my book. They call their format “smart rock.” Whatever. “The best independent records and progressive major releases” — better. Especially since they use the word “records.”

I thought Nic Harcourt, music director for our own KCRW for 10 years (I did not enjoy those 10 years), was their music director, but he’s not. It’s Mr. Shovel! Mark Sovel was the music director for the late lamented Indie 103.1, and sidekick to the irrepressible ex-Sex Pistol Steve Jones, who had the most interesting radio show I’ve ever heard. I think Shovel’s doing a fantastic job. I rarely hear two songs in a row there I don’t like. And if I do, it’s back to The Sound. KCRW — hardly ever, anymore. For news, maybe, but not for fun or musical enlightenment. And I must add that I now love the stuff Harcourt plays. Maybe he was pressured at KCRW to be hipper, rather than happier.


Do the right thing, cops and courts


Also, last week the two ex-cops from Fullerton on trial for the beating death of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man, were found not guilty. Just “doing their job,” one’s attorney said. The security video that showed Kelly being Tased, and clubbed to death, that shocked so many nationwide, was “not the entire case,” he added.

Thomas’ mother said after the verdict, “I’m just horrified. They got away with murdering my son.” His father said that everyone now needs to be afraid. “This is carte blanche to police officers to do whatever they want.”

That would be “hyperbolic nonsense,” according to one reader, who wrote to the Daily Press about my column about disabled veteran Brian Beaird, shot to death by three out of 20 LAPD officers who surrounded his wrecked car, as he raised his hands in surrender. The reader asked if I was “a reckless driver who habitually speeds through city traffic, endangering the lives of others,” when I wrote I would have “mortal fear if I’m ever again stopped by the police.” No, I’m not, and still yup on the mortal fear. I read the news.

I have to disagree slightly with Thomas’ father. I feel some bad police officers already feel they have carte blanche to do whatever they want. We see it over and over, every week, in every part of the country, and I have yet to read of any perpetrators jailed for their reprehensible or even murderous behavior.

On the other hand, sometimes a court decision gives me hope, as when an appellate court in Pennsylvania just overturned the voter suppression laws the GOP there bragged would assure victory for Mitt Romney in the last election. (Could have, but legal challenges put a hold on the new law.) I was despairing that we were turning the clock back to the 1950s for voting rights when so many GOP-controlled states passed voter suppression laws. How could this be Constitutional, let alone conscionable? Turns out they weren’t, and we still seem to be a nation of laws.

Courts have recently struck down state laws barring same-sex marriage in two bastions of religious conservatism, Utah and Oklahoma, as well as other states. And on Monday, a North Carolina federal judge threw out the anti-choice law there that forced women considering abortion to have an ultrasound and to listen to the state’s (the GOP’s) religion-based philosophy to dissuade them. But with the radical conservative bent on the Supreme Court, I fear the outcome of any of them being resolved there. Still, there is a ray of hope in this new year.


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 therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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