CURIOUS CITY — I’M NOT GOING TO COMMENT ON THE SMRR CONVENTION LAST SUNDAY. So much will have already been written and said by the time this gets into print, what’s the point?
On the other hand, when the circus comes to town, what’s a kid to do?
Now, I wouldn’t be so cheeky as to call it a circus, myself. But I will report that there have been a few who have used that very same word. I’ll just say that I have attended Cub Scout meetings swarming with young boys at their most loopy, out-of-control age, and it’s been more organized. Usually, the Cub Scouts at least knew how to make their PA work.
I had to leave four and a half hours in, before it was over. It was about the time the co-chair was appealing for contributions to pay for the overtime they were going to incur because, gosh, it was taking so long.
Maybe one of the reasons it was taking so long was because they were sometimes using one person – one – to distribute ballots to the entire room. And there were more people outside. The venue was too small but, after all, this is an election without many issues or controversies, and no one signed up as a new SMRR member in the last few months, so who could possibly have predicted all those people would show up?
Don’t get me wrong. I believe in what SMRR says they stand for and most of what they’ve done. I cheer all 14 points of their 2014 Platform – in the bold face. But the devil is always in the details, and some of the details get a little stinky.
I strongly endorse affordable housing, but I more strongly believe we can’t give away the ranch for it. Same for workers’ rights – but not to the point where we build every 20-story hotel that promises a living wage. Those should be givens, not “community benefits” to hold hostage for out-of-scale developments.
Why, I’d even like to see the City Council adopt it as their credo. But we would have to talk about those “fine points,” wouldn’t we?
I have been suspect as of late of the SMRR operating procedures, and the SMRR leadership, and the convention Sunday confirmed my worst fears. After all, they gave us, through their traditionally nearly bulletproof endorsements, the current City Council majority that so many are working so hard to unseat, who have sold us down the river to greedy development interests who seem to value only maximum profits with little or no concern for lasting ill effects on our community.
I know that sounds harsh, but these are perilous times for Santa Monica and many believe, as I do, that the soul of our city is at stake and could easily be lost forever in the next year or two. If you don’t think so, you may not be paying close enough attention.
So the sweaty SMRR Sunday scuffle left us with no City Council endorsements. What now? Will the depleted-by-recusal steering committee choose candidates anyway, ignoring the members’ votes, the same way they handed us Pam O’Connor last time?
I’m rooting for Residocracy to become the new kingmaker, as long as they stay true to the democratic, grass roots principles upon which the group was founded, the ones SMRR seems to have misplaced somewhere. I look forward eagerly to see the next move from both organizations.
The best drama of the day was Council candidate Ken Robin’s surprise announcement, during his scheduled speech, that he was withdrawing from the race and throwing his support to Phil Brock. Boom! Brock told me he knew only 10 seconds before Robin got up to speak.
Bill Bauer’s anecdote in his column Monday about Maria Loya cutting to the front of the line was so interesting. Revealing? I heard a similar story that day about Gleam Davis (sans sashaying), accepting the offer of a SMRR official to take cuts. Where can I get my official SMRR Marie Antoinette trading cards?

Ending Well
That wasn’t the only fun I had over the weekend. Finally made it to a “Country in the City” concert put on by our own KCRW and the Annenberg Foundation. Very well organized, a pleasant concert-going experience, from detailed instructions on parking ($1!) to a roomy grass area close to the stage in Century City to the great Annenberg Space for Photography exhibit of country music photos (free, through Sept. 28) to shockingly polite personnel every step along the way. Wynonna Judd was, of course, a great show, but opener Nikki Lane, a newcomer, was really impressive. I’m a new fan.
It was the last of their three free shows, but you can still see really good Shakespeare in a completely charming outdoor setting at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon. We saw “All’s Well” but they’re also doing “Much Ado” and “Lear,” plus other productions, through Oct. 4. It’s some of the best Bard you can get anywhere, worth double the price of admission. The theater is small, with no bad seats, the acoustics perfect. Not many know about this superb company founded in the mid-’70s. You should. Not much of a drive from Santa Monica, but you will be completely transported.

Quote of the week
Pope Francis (I’m lovin’ this guy), in an interview in the Argentina Sunday newspaper, was asked for his 10-point recipe for happiness; I can tell you as a fallen-away Catholic, his answers were very “unpapal,” but I think his boss would approve. Look up the original for more exposition.
1. “Live And Let Live.”
2. “Be Giving Of Yourself To Others.”
3. “Move Quietly.”
4. “Have A Healthy Sense Of Leisure.”
5. “Sunday Is For Family.”
6. “Find Ways To Make Jobs For Young People.”
7. “Respect Nature.”
8. “Letting Go Of Negative Things Quickly Is Healthy.”
9. “Stop Proselytizing (Trying To Convert Others).”
10. “War Destroys.”
– Pope Francis

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

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