AM I CRAZY?
Maybe, but I’d rather be called crazy than boring.
So I had to throw half of this column in the trash (icon) just a couple of hours before deadline. (I miss getting to angrily crumple up sheets of paper, so satisfying.) Every time I reread it to fix it, I dozed off, so that was a sign.
I think I can sum it up in a shorter, less painful way.
I was whining about the political process in this town that often seems to discount the opinions of sometimes large groups of residents, especially those who come before City Council or other official bodies to speak their minds. It’s a big sacrifice, folks. You give up after-work cocktails and TV, cruising the bars, or shopping for hot new outfits. Or having to make arrangements for the evening for the kids you got because of bars, cocktails and those outfits.
Then because there are a handful of genuine crazies who always show up to get their two minutes of fame on Council TV, you get lumped with them and dismissed as the usual group of suspects. (I LOVE “Casablanca.”) Dissidents, malcontents, NIMBYs for zero growth, living in the past in a quaint little beach town that never existed. Pay no attention to them.
It’s a common theme navigating all sides of the spectrum here: we’re not being listened to. How many people have to show up? If 1,000 people rally for a cause, can they be dismissed as only 1-percent of the population? Years of experience in journalism taught me that if you get five angry letters (old school) you’re in trouble, if you get 10, the people have spoken. Lots of people feel strongly but don’t take action.
And lots of people just aren’t informed, about many issues in this town. Some of that is bound to happen, and some of it is engineered by those who don’t want their steamroller looked at too closely. That’s why you get people horrified at some project about to break ground, and others who say, “There were three years of hearings, where were you?” (“Taking care of my kids. But I really don’t want that thing you’re about to do. Stop it. Now.”)
In at least two one-on-one conversations some time ago with Council members, they strongly let me know (but without the actual words) that I was naïve, uninformed, misinformed, drinking the Kool Aid, ridiculous, maybe crazy-the word “wrong” was employed, I remember that-about a couple of issues that, lo and behold, turns out I was not so wrong about. Intimidation and being fiercely convinced of your “facts” does win some arguments, but doesn’t foster cooperation and enrollment and an atmosphere of progress through compromise.
Hell, I’m even trying to force myself to chew on the stuff coming out of Forward/Next/Spoke/etc., as having sincerity and good intentions, from people who care but have a different opinion. Really… force… myself.
I’m writing this before Tuesday’s Council meeting and have no idea what happened, so this is not about those issues. But it would be great if it became a starting point for more listening, more transparency, more feeling on the part of residents that they were being represented, not railroaded.
MY SUPERBOWL SUNDAY WAS GREAT! How about yours? Did your team win? Did you sit inside for five hours on an absolutely glorious beach day? Glued to a screen, eyes off only to reach for too much to eat and drink?
Yes I know I’m using unnecessary roughness and am in the vast minority. 112 million of you indulged, even my basketball buddy who watched instead of playing with me on empty courts. Thanks, Obama. I mean, Joel.
I do glue to the screen for my preferred sport of hoops. Don’t even try to phone me during March Madness or NBA Playoffs. But I’ve never liked football. Violent by design, militaristic in terminology, macho off the charts, more coaches per team than most sports teams have players… I don’t know why that bothers me but it does. And also the headsets they wear. It just seems like such a big organized production rather than a more personalized competition. They even wear so much padding they have less personal contact when they do collide. And don’t tell me they need it, to avoid injury – tell that to a rugby player, and tell that to all the NFL ex-players with concussion repercussions. Or just watch the opening scene from “North Dallas Forty.” Ouch.
There was no one on the courts at Joslyn and I even found a parking space right there (there are only three). Almost no one in the dog park. And not a single soul inside the community center there trying to save their soul by staying off something. (Gosh, I hope they weren’t all falling off the wagon at Super Bowl parties.)
And glory hallelujah I got to shoot some hoops on my favorite courts at the beach that are always full, morning to night, with guys who take their basketball much too seriously and apparently have no ego boost other than on the courts so of course they will run over their grandmother to drive to the hoop and look good. They will earn a fine injury some day, I’m telling you. I was there for sunset and there’s nothing much better than that. Since I wasn’t in a game I had much more opportunity to stop and take it all in. The final stage, a sliver of rose topped with a fading layer of robin egg blue, was exquisite and lasted forever. Then I went to the supermarket and didn’t have to steer around a single other shopping cart. I felt camaraderie with my few scattered fellow shoppers. None of us gave a flying frozen fish fillet about that game.
Then I came home and turned on the DVR not expecting much of the halftime show. Instead of Carolina Panthers I got black panthers. I haven’t seen that many fros since Malcolm X’s funeral. Wasn’t a Beyoncé fan until my musically wise daughter told me to wise up. Probably still won’t spin her music given other choices, but man she is becoming a force of culture and politics. My black beret is off to her for that show of force.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “How can I miss you when you won’t go away?” – Dan Hicks
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 firstname.lastname@example.org