THIS IS NOT ABOUT LUVE

No, not my love of LUVE, which abides.

And not, until the bottom part of this column, about my love of LOVE. Very important music performance announcement. If you miss it this time, you’re a schmuck.

This is about how love came to town this week in the form of a Bernie Sanders rally at our own Samohi, right there on the football field. The turf may have been artificial but the feeling was genuine, and that’s part of the problem.

Sanders’ campaign is popping out new rallies in California like the endless stream of yellow balls at an old folks bingo game. Six in four days, through yesterday. While Hillary has already dropped a crown on her own head and is coming to California for high ticket fundraisers, Sanders is speaking at free rallies to yuuuuge crowds, carrying through on his promise – for 40 years in office he has espoused the same causes – to take his fight all the way to the convention. California, with its largest trove of delegates, is a state he wants to carry in a big way in order to bring his case to the convention floor in Philadelphia at the end of July. New voter registrations in California are off the charts, and that should help him.

But he’s still behind in the polls here – a position he’s very familiar with. It’s been that way since he announced his candidacy in April of last year, trailing Clinton early on by nearly 60 points. Think about that. Sixty points. And now it’s a virtual tie (composite polling, adjusting for polling error).

WILD EYED, WILD HAIRED

Bernie started out an unknown quantity except for negatives – that wild-eyed, wild-haired old socialist from Vermont. Then, as he slogged around the country to deliver his message, his numbers went up by leaps and bounds. When voters got to hear what he stands for, legions embraced it.

Clinton supporters keep calling for him to drop out. Hillary will get the nomination, they say, you can’t win, Sanders, and you’re just hurting our chances to beat the demon Republican. (I think she learned that line when she was on the other end of it, as the presumptive nominee falling behind to that unelectable new guy, Obama.) And yet he has won. State after state.

Think what you will about polls, but they’re showing Clinton now neck and neck with Trump, while all along they have shown Sanders beating him. Trump versus Sanders, to many, would be a delicious, clear-cut contest of left versus right, progressive versus reactionary, democrat versus demagogue – good versus evil, in some books – instead of the usual lesser of two evils choice. When it gets to the convention, the bottom line is what all Democrats need to look at, hard and realistically. Who has the best chance of beating Trump?

Sanders is very straightforward. He doesn’t pull punches or sugar-coat. He delivered essentially the same speech at Samohi as he has everywhere else for more than a year, yet thousands show up to hear that speech. (Those are people who will vote. For him. And conceivably change the Senate and House.) Parts of it, his passion for including everyone in the American dream and his value of diversity, perhaps particularly ring true here in Santa Monica, in the face of steeply rising land values that result in gentrification. It’s the third area rally of his I’ve attended. I was looking hard for some things unique to this one, but really, nothing that different. (Except Oscar.) The diversity and the enthusiasm were the same as I saw in Hollywood and at the Sports Arena – very much, on both counts.

OSCAR, DAWSON AND VAN DYKE

Our own Oscar de la Torre made inspiring opening remarks. (“Yale, not jail … people over profits.”) Actress/singer/activist Rosario Dawson gave a long but well-received introduction, but the crowd went nuts when the beloved Dick Van Dyke bounded up onto the stage, introducing himself as: “At 90, I’m what’s left of Dick Van Dyke.” He went through security right next to me, grinning all the while, and even did a little dance as he was asked to spread his arms for the wanding and turn front to back. Amazing fellow, always willing to entertain.

But on stage he took a serious turn. He said in his 90 years he has been “watching the slow disintegration of our democratic republic, and to hear Bernie step up and say the emperor has no clothes, I so feel that way.” He spoke of how so many groups worked together in the ’60s “and did something the government wouldn’t do, and that’s civil rights,” and now we must do that again, he urged, “we must work together.”

The ’60s reference, and the bearded, shirtless, long-haired, brightly clothed dancing young celebrants I saw on the football field is what I meant at the outset by “part of the problem.” This is a quibble. But I think too many, especially Democrats, dismiss Sanders’ movement by pointing to that minority of enthusiasts, including the now gray-haired original counter culturists, and dismiss what he’s doing as a fad, not politically serious. He’s just an aging hippie leader, they say.

Equal pay for women? Righting the decimation of the middle class? Good jobs at good pay in America? Reproductive rights? Health care, education, family leave? A democracy of votes, not big money? Climate change, immigration, affordable housing, caring for veterans? Protecting Social Security and protecting the nation from Wall Street excess? Billions for peace, not war? Equality, on all counts? These are mainstream issues affecting every American, that most agree need addressing and reform. Bernie is for real.

REAL LOVE

Almost exactly a year ago a great thing happened at the Moose Lodge on Ocean Park: the seminal L.A. band Love played their landmark album “Forever Changes” start to finish, with strings and horns. With only one surviving original member, Johnny Echols, they played an astonishing version, almost note for note. Someone I turned on to the little-publicized event called it the greatest night of her life (and she’s led a terrific life).

Now, in preparation of summer shows in the UK, Love will be playing one night (June 5) at the Del Monte Speakeasy on Windward Avenue in Venice. Music from Love’s first three albums. Do. Not. Miss. This one. Tickets at love.nightout.com.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Kiss me properly and pull me apart.” —The Last Shadow Puppets (“The Age of Understatement”)

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.