“HE HAS RISEN!!”
It rang through our house last Sunday, at maybe 10 a.m., or 11, I’m not sure. I was still a little groggy from, well, Saturday night, of course.
Not an unusual hallelujah to hear on a joyously gorgeous Easter morn, except, it was sarcasm coming from my daughter, a confirmed atheist who only celebrates Easter for the chocolate.
She wasn’t referring to any deity, but close: her father. But she was impiously, perhaps even sacrilegiously, using the holy day to draw attention to the phenomenon of her dad rising before noon.
Give me a break. I’m nocturnal. I’m a writer. Midnight to six is the only time the house is quiet. Some sour grapes involved, I think, because she’s a hard-working student with early classes. But come on, that’s the respect I get, after all those diapers I changed, taking her to see Jello Biafra and teaching her the importance of John Lee Hooker’s thumb style?
Everybody’s a comedian. I’m surrounded by comedians.
Even the ones who really are comedians, like SMDP columnist Jack Neworth, make my life miserable. We all know inspired comedy exudes from miserable lives, and Jack this weekend was trying to make my life miserable too.
Actually, he started the week before. With the phone calls. Way too many phone calls.
Never with any message left, so I knew they had only one purpose.
To try to ruin my fun, my focused attention to and drooling obsession with the famed college basketball tournament March Madness, and watching every minute of every game, all 129 of them. It is my high religious observation, and he knows that.
He doesn’t give a fig for college hoops (“I only care about two teams,” he told me, “UCLA, and any team playing USC”) but if I’m sucker enough to answer the phone he’ll pretend to care and start asking me so many questions about who’s winning and who’s even playing and do I think UCLA coach Steve Alford (“your guy from New Mexico” – “he’s NOT my guy”) should be fired, and did you hear they’re flying banners behind planes over the campus? Yes, Jack, I did, from you, for the tenth time. He never laughs but I can hear him smiling, big time. I think he’s actually perfected a silent cackle.
But I must set the record straight
Even though the image of a hopeless fanatic (from which the term “fan” is derived, you know) is kind of romantic, wouldn’t you say? In a way? Sort of? No?
The sentimental truth is I’m a sucker for the human drama involved. That’s why the most important part of the games for me is the pre-game intro, when the commentators give you the backstories. Remember, these are kids, many still teens, playing in front of 20,000, up to 50,000 screaming fanatics and tens of millions of viewers worldwide. Including that girl who turned you down cold for a date, sophomore year of high school; remember me, girl? How you like us now? (Not bad grammar: that’s an enthusiastic Magic Johnson championship parade quote.)
There’s the player with the odd blue cloth sewn into his uniform, which you find out is from his grandmother’s favorite dress, because she raised him and was so proud of his playing and she died just before his first playoff game. The team leader who went down with a badly broken leg last year – would he even walk again? How about the guy who’s a great outside shooter but has disappointed everyone by going 0 for 10 from distance in the tournament, then sends the big game into overtime by making an impossible falling-down shot from the very corner, at the buzzer.
Or the star center who wears his brother’s number now since he died in a skateboarding accident. That one comes from the high school ranks, the fairytale saga of the Chino Hills team, led by the three Ball brothers (all committed to UCLA, thereby saving aforementioned Coach Alford’s job).
Led to the state championship, an undefeated season (35-0), scoring 100 points more than half the time (in high school! – games are only 32 minutes!) and ranked the number one team in the nation. Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo (Lonzo, Jello and Mellow) and their big daddy LaVar (6’6, 320). Graduating Lonzo averaged a triple double and was named Naismith player of the year. Junior Jello averaged a mere 27.4 points a game, and little (5’10 but growing) yellow-haired Mellow fearlessly buried three-pointers from Steph Curry range. They all fired bullet passes the length of the court. As a screenplay it would be rejected as being too far-fetched.
Not far fetched
Santa Monica traffic. Getting exponentially worse by the week, it seems to me, even before the train brings it to a standstill dozens of times every day.
Last week I was leaving the Vons parking lot and saw the traffic barely moving south on Lincoln and figured I might be able to avoid that bottleneck, which usually crawls to Pico at least. So I zipped out the back way but made the big mistake of not turning right to Broadway, and it took me a good (??) 25 minutes to twist and creep my way out of Downtown. Just a few blocks. No trains.
It signified a few things, I mused, like the need to get people out of their cars. Walking, biking, good up to a point. Into public transportation? Even with the train and our buses, we all know it’s far from adequate.
The gut feeling that hit me was, this is insane. How can our city planners possibly consider more and more development here, now? We’re strangling. I’m well aware there are complicated factors and competing visions, but what really requires more overdevelopment in our claustrophobic 8.4? Don’t they see what we see, what we live with? And so much more is headed our way. Sometimes I just want to cry.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Sometimes I feel so bad/watching traffic/I start to cry.” – John Martyn (“Stand Amazed”)
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.