Dang! I wanted to scoot right into Alex’s Shoe Repair on north Main late Monday afternoon, because there were already two people inside, then some young dude dashed through the open door just ahead of me.

I know that sounds like whining, but you don’t understand. I had a meeting, nearby, in just 20 minutes. Three ahead of me. I’d never make it.

Having been a happy and loyal customer of Ignacio’s for a quarter century, I knew two things were pretty sure bets: one, that my two pairs of cowboy boots, requiring nothing more than an oiling and a shine, would probably not be ready yet because that’s just the way it rolls at Alex’s, along with great work usually at ridiculously low prices. And two, I might not even get to him in 20 minutes because Ignacio loves to talk and tell stories and once he gets started it’s hard to stop him or get a word in edgewise.

None of these are bad things for most of his legions of longtime loyal customers. Quality work often takes a little longer. Most people call ahead and ask, “No really, seriously, Ignacio – when will they be done?” Me, I live close by so I will stop in, even a couple of times, because if they’re not ready it’s still an excuse to see my friend and chat a little.

But this was a very special visit. SMDP columnist Jack Neworth had gotten a tip that Alex was facing eviction and wrote about it in his column Dec. 26. I then took the ball and ran with it.

I found out from Neworth that a lawyer-customer-friend of Ignacio’s, Danny

Brookman, with an office down the street, first learned of his legal troubles

and did two good things: alerted Neworth, and directed Ignacio to proper legal advice. He wound up in the apparently good hands of Danny Bramzon, of Basta! (Spanish for “enough!”), a legal group specializing in aiding tenants facing eviction. I had placed a call to Bramzon Friday, and Monday he returned it, with the terrific good news; he said he left a message but hadn’t yet spoken to our Michoacán mensch.

It turned out that I got to Ignacio quickly, greeted him simply with, “Hey amigo, how are you doing?” The first thing he said was, “Your boots aren’t quite ready, my friend…” But his face lit up just a little when he saw me so I knew he knew. He was very happy. He understands that having this eviction proceeding thrown out is not a permanent solution, but I don’t think he wants to go that much longer anyway before hanging up his tack hammer.

Basta!’s Bramzon teased me that I wrote, “Maybe he’s got a great lawyer (but I don’t think he can afford Perry Mason).”

“He does have Perry Mason – me!” Bramzon humbly offered, and referred me to the LA Weekly article a year ago that called him the “Superman of the Renters.” His approach to this area of law includes the crucial component of the right to demand a jury trial. “When you do,” he explained, “the landlord’s expenses go up 1,000 percent and at that point we can usually make a good arrangement for the tenant.”

He said that appealing to a landlord’s better instincts and civic responsibility (as I had planned to do) is usually a lost cause, but press attention is good because that’s something they don’t want. Well – finally, a lifetime of being a pain in the posterior has found its calling.


Take a long walk in a different neighborhood, catch up on a little reading and some old Tavis Smileys and “Death in Paradise,” watch some basketball on TV and get off the couch and play some one-on-one, in gorgeous weather in January while the rest of the country shovels two feet of snow, go meet a possible future POTUS and get some live bagpipes to go with my haggis, Scotch eggs, Orkney Clapshot and wee dram of Scottish whisky, surrounded by men in kilts. You know, the usual.

“Death in Paradise” is a Brit murder mystery series I’m hooked on: clever detective work, gorgeous Caribbean vistas, authentic reggae soundtrack and Sara Martins. I wait each week for an old episode I may not have seen. You can have “Downton Abbey,” feh.

It may be a little premature to dub Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) a future president, but some have and for good reason. He’s been a go-to source on national TV because he’s smart and funny and his prominence as a liberal voice seems to be well timed with a national swing left. He is now running for Marco Rubio’s vacated Senate seat. That should be quite a trade.

He appeared Saturday night at a fundraiser at the Santa Monica home of Jan Goodman and Jerry Manpearl. They’ve been hosting such events for decades, and it’s always a relaxed, intimate atmosphere for meeting the honored guest.

Grayson spoke and answered questions and savaged, in a Jon Stewart kind of way, every GOP candidate, including the ones who have dropped out. But here’s why he’s bound for greater glory: not only is he known for his unusual ties, but for his flashy cowboy boots. His make mine look conservative. A rock star, he is.

The haggis and trimmings were served later that evening at the Daily Pint on Pico, during the celebration of Robert Burns Day, the poet revered in Scotland. The bagpiper stood outside at the door to serve notice that this was not your typical Saturday night at the Pint. When the time came he paraded slowly, solemnly around the room, followed by the giant mound of haggis (sheep’s innards, but yummy). It was “presented” with a reading of Burns’ “Address to the Haggis,” and then a large knife was plunged into the casing and the delicacy was served to all, compliments of owner Phil McGovern.

But the highlight of the weekend was up in Ventura: a first visit with my newest great niece, nine days old. Welcome, Lila Marie Byars. I know you will make this sometimes sorry world a better place. You already have.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “He sees angels in the architecture, spinning in infinity, I can be your long lost pal, you can call me Al.” – Paul Simon

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at