IT’S OVER, THAT BIG BAD ELECTION. NOW GET OVER IT. So your courageous candidate or your precious prop didn’t win. So what? Life goes on. Get a life. Lick your wounds. Get up off the floor. You’ve got lots of extra time now to do something constructive.
Easy for me to say. As I write this, because of deadlines, the election hasn’t happened yet and I’m neither crushed nor elated. You, dear reader, know the awful truths of yesterday’s election and are either practicing your Irish jig or packing your bags for the move to Santa Barbara. Or maybe you’re headed south, for Manhattan Beach or Escondido, where they have height limits. Height limits? It’s the law! What a concept.
Me, I’m sticking with Santa Monica, no matter what the results (are tomorrow) were yesterday. I believe a lot of complacent citizens opened their eyes in the last couple of years and didn’t much like what they saw, and are not willing to sit down and shut up anymore.
We shall see.
Seems to me the mailers escalated their nastiness in the last week. It’s too bad outright lying in a political campaign can’t be outlawed and carry a stiff enough penalty to stop it. The way we run campaigns in this country, it’s no wonder so few good people decide to put themselves and their families through it. And for that, we all suffer. You get what you pay for.
We’ll see what we get/got. And now, enough of politics for a few years, I can go back to writing about real life.
PETE THE BARBER
Too bad I have to start off on a sad note, but I have to report that we lost a Santa Monica institution Oct. 15, with the demise of Peter Katsikides, or as almost everyone knew him, Pete the Barber.
Peter’s funeral takes place at Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth today,Wednesday, November 5 at 1 p.m.Sorry for the short notice; I just found out a few days ago.
Pete the Barber. Not Pete, that barber Downtown, or Pete, who’s a barber, but Pete the Barber. How many of us embody and become our lifelong passion and profession to the point where those few words say so much.
Peter felt that way too, and when illness forced him to close his shop on Fourth Street in early April, temporarily, we all thought (he left a handwritten note in the window: “Sorry, back next week, Pete”), that was a big blow. But when it became obvious he couldn’t, at the age of 88 (or 89), keep doing what he loved and did every day (he was open for business seven days a week) for five decades (or four), it pretty much took the life out of him. On top of the recent loss of his wife, it was just too much for Peter to rise above, his son Jimmy told me.
If you want to know what I found out about this charming, bright, rascally icon while he was still with us, go to my “Curious City” columns online for April 22 and May 21 of this year.
Pete left us with many of my questions unasked, others asked but not really answered, so I was grateful to be able to dig into his son’s memories.
Quite a few surprising things came up. Besides the “English, Greek, Italian and a little Spanish” Pete told me he spoke, Jimmy said his dad spoke six or seven languages, including also French and a couple others he wasn’t sure about.
Peter Katsisikides was born on the Greek island of Rhodes in 1926. “Rhodes?” I asked. “I knew he was of Greek parentage (“mixed,” Jimmy clarified) but wasn’t he born on Cyprus?”
“No,” Jimmy laughed, “he liked to pretend he had some Italian too, the mobster thing.”
One friend/customer of his wrote me to ask if I knew about his military service in Greece, and I wrote back that I didn’t. Jimmy didn’t think so (“he was just a young teenager when the war started, 14 or 13”) but he was a policeman in Greece, he said.
I have to explain again: Peter K was not a liar, nor an old man who couldn’t get anything straight. He was a storyteller, in the grand old tradition. And being a barber, he wisely crafted his conversation to the client, keeping his own beliefs pretty close to the vest, to give people a good experience while sitting in his chair.
I loved it, and I’m sure most of his clients did too. The whole am I Pete or Peter, how old am I, where did I come from ‚Äì it was a game we all enjoyed, and Pete was a master.
When he moved to the U.S., to Baltimore, he was a cabbie, and also got his real estate license. But when he moved to Venice he got his barber license in the early ‘70s and cut hair in Santa Monica for more than 40 years. “Almost 50 years on his feet,” Jimmy said.
Peter loved his cats. And was “an accomplished artist” (pencil drawings), his son told me, and a musician. “I play guitar and have a few albums out,” Jimmy said, “but dad could walk up to any instrument and within a few minutes figure out how to make it sound pretty good. He just played for his own pleasure, never with others.”
Some of his celebrity customers (most regulars) ‚Äì Bruce Dern, Don Ameche, Dean Jagger, Sargent Shriver, Dabney Coleman, “lots more,” Jimmy said, “but I’d have to look them up.”
Also Whitey Bulger (see April 22 column), hiding in plain sight, and Henry Hill, the guy who inspired Ray Liotta’s Goodfellas character. It would seem that Mr. Hill may have murdered 19 people. But Pete didn’t know that when he came in his shop to sell him his cookbook.
So if you got a haircut from Pete you sat in the same chair as Whitey Bulger and Bruce Dern and Sargent Shriver. But the real star in Peter’s Barber Shop was Pete. I’d rather have known him than any of the others.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies.” ‚Äì unknown (and let’s keep it that way, got it?)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org