“LOOK UP AT THE STARS and not down at your feet.”

If Stephen Hawking says so, I’m good for it. No disrespect to science, sir, but I’m bastardizing your quote to make reference to astrology. But why?

Call it tradition (now two weeks old), or staving off perdition. Call it torpescence or lack of imagination. Call it belief in the unbelievable. What I call it is an easy way to write a column.

Last week my hovering horoscope instructed me: “Tonight: you express your ideas as if you are in a dreamlike state,” and so I did, yielding to that clear command from the cosmos to be inscrutable. This week the stars told me: “Music is powerful. Share the songs you love with people.” – that’s me! I do that all the time anyway! And now I don’t have to even think about what to write for this “Curious City.” Column by horoscope, I love it.

But first, this brief public service message from the land of stranger-than-fiction Santa Monica politics.

Monday night I had an agonizing choice. Be a good yellow journalist and attend my neighborhood association meeting to observe the fun and foolishness, for background info or immediate distortion, or stay home and watch my favorite hoops team for the last two years, the golden Golden State Warriors, in the playoffs. You know, the playoffs, that tournament for the NBA championship that the Lakers used to always be part of until Daddy Buss left the team to Baby Buss and he broke it.


This was not an easy decision, irresponsible and lazy as I am. Steph Curry, the dancing necromancer of the nets, the slight young man (by NBA standards) always smiling, laughing, no pressure, who casually flips the ball up from somewhere near the cheap seats and hits nothing but pay dirt on the way to 30 or 40 points, was set to come back that night from two successive injuries that kept him from playing all but two halves in the entire postseason so far.

(Hang on, keep reading, less hoops now, more gossip.)

His team is so good they were crushing everyone anyway, most recently the Houston Rockets, which I found just delightful because it was payback for their star James Harden whose girlfriend Khloe Kardashian (still married to ex-Laker and all-around nice guy Lamar Odom) woke up all Santa Monica Bay with midnight fireworks from a barge, to celebrate Harden’s birthday last August. Remember? I’ll bet your dogs remember.

But trudge I dutifully did, off to the Ocean Park Association (OPA) meeting at Joslyn Park, less than three blocks away. Sigh. If I was lucky I might catch the last minutes of the game, if these people don’t talk all night long.

I’ve lived in the same place in Ocean Park for more than 30 years, but like current OPA president Andrew Gledhill wrote on the OPA website recently, “I lived in Ocean Park for years without knowing the Ocean Park Association existed.” Now of course, for some years, I do know it exists, I know something about how it functions, and now I stay away by choice.

Why? I am seriously asked. Why don’t you like your neighborhood association? Don’t be a poop. They work hard to put on the 4th of July Main Street parade, you know. Yup.

Well, their board, though reduced from 19 (in 2014) all the way down to such a sensible 15, still usually outnumbers the folks in the folding chairs. It leaves one feeling left out of any possibility of influence or even being heard. They’ve only recently changed their rules of conduct to allow a “community comment section” at meetings; good luck before, if you just showed up and thought you could have a chance to talk if it didn’t fit the agenda’s agenda, if you know what I mean. Very different from the meetings of other neighborhood associations I’ve attended.


OPA is the only neighborhood association to not endorse the LUVE initiative. I find that embarrassing. It’s like saying, we stand against democracy and the right to petition. I say, even if you’re against it, let it come up for a vote. There are several realtors on the board, and then there’s Judy Abdo. Ex-mayor and current aggressive power broker. Give her credit: she seems to wield undue influence wherever she sits on a board, and while she seems to me to be a captivating and civic-minded person, I don’t think our beliefs meet very often. We should probably get together over coffee. I will say this for her: she was responsible for the snacks that meeting, and they were outstanding. And her famous holiday party is still a must-do, a Santa Monica institution.

Discussion drifted at one point to the RIFT initiative of ’08, and when she dismissed the resident support of it as insignificant, Jan Ludwinski raised his hand from the audience and said, I was one of the people who carried 11,000 signatures to City Hall, that’s not an insignificant expression of the people’s will, and I will not sit here and see you try to rewrite history. Bet he won’t be invited to the holiday party next winter.

There was a great “debate” on the initiative to make the City Attorney an elected rather than appointed office. Craig Miller made a persuasive presentation for his cause, and former mayor Mike Feinstein was drafted to present the opposition argument, subbing ably for Councilmember Gleam Davis at the last minute. Interestingly, as Feinstein argued that we don’t need another elected position, holding his head and moaning that there would surely be half a million dollars or more thrown in by developers to influence that election – he was making the case as well against our current state of corruption for the election of our City Council. Oh dear.

Oh. Yeah. The music. So much to say… later. For now: go buy the current Rolling Stone with the late great Merle Haggard on the cover. LA author Mikal Gilmore (“Shot in the Heart”) wrote it, and he had a close friendship with Haggard. He recently wrote the RS cover story for Bowie, and has another project just now being  serialized on his Facebook page that sounds really cool: “The Albums.” Impressive output from a guy just seeing daylight from the dark hell of chemo. An inspiration.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The world is run by those who never listen to music anyway.” – Bob Dylan

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 therealmrmusic@gmail.com.