IT’S MARCH MADNESS!! MY FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR!! Time to live, breathe, and write a column about — basketball!

Wait, let me rethink that. People who aren’t much into sports would find that boring, and people not into the particular sport of basketball — really, really would.

It’s early Monday, I’ve slithered back into the world, blinking at bright morning sunlight after spending 84 hours indoors glued to the big screen. Clutching an espresso and trying to make sense of things that aren’t televised and don’t involve mostly very tall and large young men, I realize that my obsession is possibly not yours.

I may be a fan(atic) but I’m not weird, really I’m not, and I’m not alone. 70 million Americans fill out their brackets for this tournament and follow the action, wagering, illegally, $9 billion — billion. 27 percent of office workers admit to watching games at work. (That is a serious national productivity hit every March.) It pulls in close to $2 billion in TV revenue.

But I love it for the amazing human drama that inevitably unfolds. Still, I won’t bore you with a column about basketball.

HEY, HOW ABOUT THAT PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING LAST WEDNESDAY? The one considering whether or not to recommend to City Council that they dump the “activity centers” and Tier 3 category height allowances along Wilshire that so many Santa Monicans have gone to great lengths to object to, that would allow much denser and higher development justified by the route of the subway to the sea that is no longer coming but don’t bother me with dusty old news?

Everyone’s talking, and writing about it. So I won’t add to the chatter. But I do have just two little things to add.

One, I highly recommend you read the SMa.r.t. group’s piece on it that will be published in this weekend’s edition of the Daily Press. I’ve seen a preview of it, and I feel it’s a very good analysis of a complicated issue, with common sense recommendations for a much better process that would meet most of the development goals without selling out our main thoroughfare and the mom and pop businesses along it and the residents adjacent to it, to overdevelopment that benefits only a very few and makes Santa Monica a much more dense and traffic-clogged city for those who already live here.

Two, I was there last Wednesday, before 5, for the whole danged circus – well, not quite, because when they adjourned at 11:30 for “a half hour,” I gave up and trudged home. I had already witnessed a 5-1 vote against the will of the people — represented by the nearly 50 who spoke passionately about not wanting these height/density rule-benders to remain in effect (also recommended by our own city staff), as opposed to the five lawyers who apparently spoke much more convincingly to letting them be – and that kind of took the wind out of my sails.

Let me say one more third little thing about that: I’m sick of it. I’ve had it. Two things, not little, are now clear to me, after digging into many issues and the mechanics and minutiae of how government here works, for the last couple of years, and attending God-knows how many really long boring meetings and talking to God-knows-how-many fascinating and informed people on both sides of the issues: one, that these things mostly are decided before the doors are opened to the public, and everything after that, including lines of very concerned citizens who wait for hours to speak, is window dressing; and two, our elected and appointed “representatives,” collectively, do not represent us, the people of Santa Monica. I’m sick of it. I’ve had it.

You know what really got me? That when the commissioners got to the post-comments part of the meeting, the voting part, there was very, very little discussion or even mention of what all those people, their constituents, came to say. It reminded me of my first City Council meeting in early 2013, when I was then-naively aghast at the lack of notice paid to all those people who live here who cared enough to show up and speak. Now I know that’s the way it works.

But I’m sick of it. I’ve had it. All the rascals need to be thrown out, and SMRR needs to be completely discredited for foisting these politicians on us with their insular, inscrutable governing board’s self-serving, politically-motivated bullet-proof endorsements, and for drifting so far away from their original worthy mission of helping renters stay in their homes. Don’t get me started on SMRR. GRRR.

HOW ABOUT THAT L.A. TIMES? Remember how I told you they were giving away all the results of the Oscars by sending out real-time emails blabbing the results in the subject line, blowing it for people who record to watch later?

Here they go again, announcing results of basketball games: “Breaking News: UCLA advances to NCAA tournament Sweet 16”. Who’s minding the store there? Unbelievable. The Mayberry Gazette.

Oops. That was more about basketball, wasn’t it?

THE SANTA MONICA CIVIC WORKING GROUP met again the other night, and soon must present their recommendations about how to handle that whole complicated endeavor. Let me just toss this in: I’m sick of it. I’ve had it. With the notion that we must build hotels and retail and housing on that open, historic, cherished site, in order to “pay for it.” It’s a “Civic” center. It belongs to the whole city. And must be funded by means available citywide (new airport leases?) — but NOT from revenue generated by a 12-story behemoth Downtown.

TWO BASKETBALL HALL OF FAMERS have recently lost all my respect: “Laker” Steve Nash for taking his $10 million this year then post-career-ending injury not even returning the coach’s phone calls, unwilling to give up his tee time to mentor young players with his considerable skills. I want my money back. And Bill Walton, for his “announcing” – he has become not just a buffoon, but… no other way to say it, a whore.

For those of you who have not endured his beyond inane broadcast blatherings, I would explain, but — I promised not to write any more about basketball, and I’m a man of my words.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Learn everything you can — and then forget it and just play.” —Charlie Parker

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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