HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHY YOU NEVER SEE ANY CELEBRITIES AT THE DMV HERE? I mean, Santa Monica is crawling with ’em. You can’t go shopping for Gucci or cameras or carrots at the farmers market without tripping over them. Kind of annoying, sometimes, when all you want is to pay for your carrots and the vendor is chatting away, chatting away with Jackson Browne or Michelle Pfeiffer or Lawrence O’Donnell or Kobe or Obama or the Pope or somebody. Sheesh. C’mon, I’ve got a life too, things to do. Sort of. Sometimes.

Don’t even the mightiest, most hyped celebs still have to do that official government stuff in person like everyone else? You can’t send Reginald if they’re going to ask for fingerprints. Or do they somehow get a pass on it, as they do so many things in life once they become really famous?

May I digress? Thank you.

I have been called, not with affection, a grammar Nazi. I prefer the grammar police. It involves a larger cultural debate that I’m aware could not matter less to many.

But notice I wrote “really famous,” above, not “super famous.” Forgive me, friends and lovers who have slipped into super-silly-ousness, I do still love and respect you, but I have had it up to here with “super.” It’s an infestation of locusts, a tsunami, a 7.1.

I know, like, it’s a losing battle irregardless, but if we don’t, at the end of the day, stand up for the awesome defined, correct, even nuanced use of the English language, seriously, it will literally be corrupted so super fast it’s ridiculous, you actually won’t even see it happen. But, whatever, it is what it is, I guess, it’s all good.

I have this fantasy, that at some point in a dystopian future there will be isolated Communes of Correct Communication, last bastions of principled, stubborn folk who insist language, grammar and spelling mean something, and have banded together to, well, just to be able to talk. Because the rest of the world will have so devalued words that no one knows what anyone else is saying any more, it’s all babble and nonsense, every word meaning whatever you think it means or want it to mean at that moment. Ah, the freedom! Point to a bird floating gracefully in the sky and one person will say “sunshine” and another “rocket” and a thousand more will just smile and say, “Super!”

So knowledge will have almost disappeared and no one will be able to communicate how to bake bread or split an atom. It will be worse than Neanderthal society because everyone will know what they’re meaning to say but no one else will get it. “Oog” would be eloquent, if everyone knew what it meant.

The exception in this converse brave new world is the Semantic Superheroes, who will have a now proprietary handle on all human knowledge, and therefore all power. Ain’t that a sweet dream? (Screenplay, anyone?)

But back here at the DMV last Friday, I’ve got three manila file folders filled with documents going back almost eight years, a tangled string ball of disappeared documents, broken promises, missed deadlines, vanished plates and slipped non-op designations.

I was there an hour and a quarter. But that’s a good thing, because several people were making that much effort to help me. First I spent an unusually long time at the appointments desk (always make an appointment online — there were at least 75-100 people waiting in the walk-in line), but I strolled right up and the woman there asked questions and looked through my paperwork and dove into her computer to pave the way for me go to the right window.

I got Jeffrey. He wasn’t as animated as some I’d encountered there, and at first seemed reluctant to make an effort beyond his original findings, which were definitely far removed ($500 back fees and a smog check on a car that hasn’t moved for years) from what I wanted to hear.

But Jeffrey was all business, and isn’t that what you want, rather than cheerful chitchat? He was a great guy but he was trying to solve a sticky problem, so I mostly let him concentrate. Searching the screen, furrowing his brow, tapping away at the keyboard, jumping up several times to consult with others (including the outstanding Alice, who untangled half of this for me in a previous visit in April), finally bringing over Angela, a supervisor, who stared just as long and intently but knew some of the magic keys to hit to give me a happy and legal ending.

I remember the days of going to this DMV and getting nothing but misanthropes who were all too quick and happy to tell you, “Can’t do it,” “Them’s the rules,” “No, you can’t talk to my supervisor, they’ll tell you the same thing, NEXT!”

Once again, even at the DMV, Santa Monica is the place to be.

Oh, the celebs? Yes they have to show up in person for certain transactions like DLs, but they have a back room and an exclusive entrance. Then the employees get to jockey over who takes care of their faves. But I’ll bet they don’t get any better service than I did.


An entire day devoted to music, around the world! Musicians and listeners in more than 700 cities in more than 120 nations will be celebrating. Santa Monica too!

The city staff was more supportive this year than last, thank you, but I hope next year they can really get behind it and not leave most of it up to Recreation and Parks, neighborhood associations and civic groups. I’d be glad to pitch in on that planning, so next year’s Make Music Day can be bigger and better than ever.

If you play, at any level – please do! There are still time and venue slots open. Recreation and Parks Commissioner Phil Brock is coordinating artist schedules. Call or email him, at (310) 393-8004 or commissionerbrock@gmail.com.

(Hint: I think you’ll enjoy a particularly fine artist at the Rose Garden in Palisades Park at 3 p.m., and at cute little Douglas Park at 5:30 p.m.)

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 therealmrmusic@gmail.com.

Leave a comment

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