CURIOUS CITY —10 WORMS – 8 SQUIRMS. That’s a much better percentage than any of the LA sports teams have managed lately. Except the Kings. But, that’s hockey. Ice. In the desert. Doesn’t count. Not a real sport. No balls.

(There I go again. Why does my smart mouth beg for the wrath of sports fans? They’re irrational, often large, and “fan” is short for “fanatic.” Now I have to stay out of bars for a while. Or maybe the rest of my life. Hey! Aren’t you the guy who said hockey’s got no balls? Let’s have a thoughtful discussion outside, shall we, maybe in the alley, yeah.)

I do like sports. Even some blood sports, like bullfighting, the Hunger Games, the Compassion Games, and political campaigns in Santa Monica. (Just kidding about the bullfighting.) Yes, I caught it from a few people for my anti-NFL rant three weeks ago, but I expected it; that’s like calling out the good Pope, Bill Cosby or Santa Claus. Do more Americans spend Sunday with football or at church?

It was encouraging to see some push back, finally, to the NFL’s codependent abusive culture, when the scandals kept piling up recently like Pam O’Connor’s undeclared campaign finance reports. (Both had a similar explanation: is that a violation? Well, not sure. Let me check and get back to you on that.)

Some parents are even pulling their kids out of youth football programs or steering them in other directions now. But face it, football and hockey are for sissies, let’s get back to that sport that can make tough, smart, successful grown women and men cry, or squirm.

Monday night’s SMDP-sponsored candidate grilling (throw one, or 10, on the barbie) at the beautiful Broad Theater lived up to its title. Though there’s a long history, this is the first one for me, and I realized too late how sitting through this very necessary and important, civic-minded, mostly entertaining but damnably long ritual requires sustenance, and muttered, I should have brought a flask.

“Two!” the woman next to me quickly chimed in. “Three!” said the woman next to her. Next time, ladies. Obviously, they’re pros.

ON STAGE – THE CONS.

After candidate forums for those running for school board and SMC trustees, which I found mostly interesting and informative, we got the main event, for the chaaaaampionship of Saaaaanta Monicaaaaa – with 10 candidates for City Council!

What’s that, you say? You thought there were 14 people running? You’re right. But the criteria for participation imposed for this forum eliminated four, three perennials and a virgin, and they weren’t real happy about it. One, Jon Mann (not a virgin), made his traditional protest by putting tape over his mouth and standing silently off to the side of the stage. SMDP Publisher Furukawa was a good sport in pointing him out, standing there in the shadows. So Jon, you were part of the forum after all. Now, shut up.

Of the 10 on stage, only two had never run nor been on a commission, so for lack of a trail of missteps and broken hearts and promises, they avoided personalized squirm questions. But the rest – hoo boy! There were some hard-hitting, crucial, personal, revelatory squirm-worthy grenades lobbed out by Editor Matt Hall and Staff Writer Dave Simpson, who chaired the evening’s performance and kept things on track, and even did a good job of getting political candidates to stick to time limits. Imagine.

Simpson was excellent a few times in re-lobbing a question if he thought a clear answer had been, let’s just say, not given. I’m sure Furukawa and perhaps others along with Hall and Simpson worked together to choose and formulate the spot-on questions, but Simpson, relatively new to Santa Monica, showed several times an impressive grasp of the wide range of complicated issues we’re facing in this election as he carefully chose his words, seeming to go to great lengths to be precise.

Sometimes there was a discernible low gasp from the audience as really good zingers flew. Some came from other candidates. Now we’re talking! Mud wrestling!

But they were mostly civil to each other, likely out of fear of payback. Councilman Bus Bench McKeown and his two Planning Commission sweethearts Himmelrich and Kennedy had a virtual love fest as they gently tossed softballs and praise amongst themselves. It was kind of icky, and converted no one. McKeown has a good grasp of issues, his buddies have a bit to learn. O’Connor sat next to Gruber (I think they were holding hands under the table), with Phil Brock one removed from our Metro Queen Mayor, which did prevent him from strangling her over some of her more arrogant answers, but he did not even try to restrain his hands and face from expressions of shocked disbelief. Bad acting, Phil. Neophyte Nick sat at one end and dodged a few answers that would have further revealed his lack of knowledge and/or understanding, but he came off less the wet-eared kid than previously. He’s learning. (God help us.)

Whitney, oh Whitney Scott Macbeth Bain, booming tales full of sound (no fury), signifying nothing. But I like him, and admire his always reminding you he wants the airport to remain an airport even when he knows he’s the only one in the room who does. Mr. Feinstein – you’ve been our mayor, sir, yet you always cover your mike and smile and chat with your neighbor at these things. Disrespect. Go to the principal’s office, Mike. You were passing comments to McKinnon but it seemed he wasn’t so much a willing participant, probably distracted with thoughts of finding a consultant who could erase the entire database of the continent of Australia, or at least all news reports. Maybe Sue could loan you the money for that, Richard.

I thought I’d had my full up fill of these forums but this one was so much fun I want more, but just like that one. The others, next election, will have a high standard to match, because of the content and the class presentation. Let’s continue to ask the hard, important questions from now to election day. This is one really important election.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Work is the curse of the drinking classes.” – Oscar Wilde

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 therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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