Wouldn’t you know that on the rare night when I actually went to bed early, my slumber was rudely interrupted. (#rudely.) Last Saturday night, technically early Sunday morning, I was dreaming about Woodstock in 1969 and Jimi Hendrix was playing guitar in my bedroom. (Lesson#1: Never eat pizza before bed.)
Suddenly I awoke and, while there was no Hendrix, music was in fact blaring. Big time. I quickly checked the clock. It was 2 freaking a.m.! I rolled out of bed and staggered out onto the balcony. On the bike path along the beach was a flash mob of maybe 200 people. They had bikes and fireworks and were listening and dancing enthusiastically to a highly amplified rock band that would blast away for the next sixty minutes.
While some of my neighbors called the Santa Monica Police non-emergency line in the first five minutes, all complained that the female officer taking the report was not exactly congenial.
Finally a police car showed up but no one got out of the car. Then another squad car arrived and I thought, “It wasn’t worth being awakened but this could get interesting.” But to my dismay it appeared that no one got out of either cop car. So I called the non-emergency number.
As she could definitely hear the music blasting through the phone, I politely asked if she knew why the police didn’t seem to be doing anything. This didn’t go over swimmingly. Put it this way, she greeted me with the same enthusiasm one generally reserves for a telemarketer.
“They’re going to see if they can get them to move along, ” she said matter-of-factly. Move along?! It’s 2:40 a.m.! “Move along” wasn’t exactly music to my ears. (Then again, neither was the band.)
I asked if, as a citizen, perhaps I could be informed the next day what the final disposition of the situation was and if citations were issued. “There aren’t going to be any citations,” she said as if the idea was absurd.
But what was the point of the police coming out in the first place? Couldn’t they at least have used the P.A. system to inform the crowd they were violating Santa Monica City noise ordinances. Or how about, “If you don’t want a citation, please cease and disburse immediately?”
Feeling powerless, I started getting paranoid. I suddenly imagined the police using the P.A,. system for requests, “Do you know any Beatle songs?” (Okay, in addition to being paranoid I was also crabby but remember it was 2:45 in the morning!)
Adding insult to injury, even with two cop cars nearby, the lead singer kept chatting into his microphone between songs. He shouted to the crowd, “Are you guys having a great time?” I was tempted to yell back, “Not particularly!”
Inexplicably oblivious to the police, the lead singer also announced where the band could be found on the Internet and the locations of their next upcoming live gigs. Wonderful. He’s shouting plugs for the band at 2:50 a.m.! (The only plugs I wanted were ear plugs.)
Finally the lead singer announced apologetically, “This will be our last song.” The crowd groaned. I applauded. According to my clock, the high decibel concert had been running 55 minutes. At that moment I was as upset with police inaction and the non-emergency officer as I was with the band.
I realize with a boisterous crowd that size perhaps the police worried there might be a riot. And maybe they couldn’t call for backup, though at that hour I would think plenty of backup would have been available.
And maybe the female officer answering the non-emergency line was having a bad night. It can’t be fun. Then again, being blasted at 2 a.m. with an hour of electric guitar and off-key singing, wasn’t exactly fun either.
The final straw that really steamed me was when she seemed to be saying the problem had been solved. Huh? No offense, but the impromptu “concert” didn’t end because of the police. It ended because, as the lead singer shouted, “The band has run out of songs!” None too soon, as it happens.
I realize police have an exceedingly tough job and generally nothing good is going on at 2 a.m. Other than sleeping, that is, which is exactly what I was doing before getting flash mobbed at high frequency.
And yet I’d still like to know why the police didn’t disburse the crowd immediately. There’s got to be a reason. As of press time I’d left three messages for the SMPD Public Information Officer. If and when I hear back, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, as I’m off to CVS, this brings me to Lesson #2: In Santa Monica, these days, always have ear plugs.

Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth or jnsmdp@aol.com.

Join the Conversation


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *