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THE BOMBS ARE BURSTING IN AIR (well, fireworks, I hope) as I sit here writing this, the evening of the Fourth of July.

It started out a really good Independence Day. So how did it wind up in a lair of very illegal drugs, nerves at the exploding point, floor awash in blood?

Um, let me go back to the beginning, because there’s some wide-ranging territory to cover related to this here holiday.

After watching from the sidewalk every year, I finally decided to ride in our small-town Fourth of July parade that I love. From the back of the Daily Press pickup truck, I saw women twirling brightly colored, huge billowy fiesta skirts, the Wells Fargo stagecoach pulled by horses, surfers right behind us (one young woman walking and running to catch up in 6-inch wedge sandals), Chabads after them, dancing like it would take them to the promised land, with a little bitty kid doing that insane Russian squatting leg-kick thing. I used to be able to do that … when I was 12.

There were more police officers than I thought Santa Monica had for the whole city. (A great opportunity to commit a crime anywhere but Main Street.) There was a gorgeous old Packard and a very bright yellow Buick (that grille!) and an orange Bugatti that a nearby policeman (see?) commented must be the real deal because it had the certified antique car license plate, reading 1927. (If so, it was worth a million or two. If the driver, dressed in authentic-looking 1927 motoring garb, bought it just a few years ago, he paid half that. Sheesh. And I collected stamps.)

Our SMDP VIP luxury white pickup truck (snacks, sure, but Dom Perignon? — thanks, Rob!) was preceded by our flatbed truck, with an excellent band playing, the Americans, and packed with several thousand fans of the Daily Press, most of them relatives of our owner/former publisher Ross Furukawa. Great job all around, Ross. (Now, about that raise … )


I spotted our U.S. Representative Ted Lieu, but I didn’t go over to say hello. I had done that when he spoke at a meeting of our local Democratic Club last Wednesday, and I’m not sure how he might have greeted me this time.

When I got a chance to introduce myself that evening, I said something like this: “Congressman Lieu, please let me take this opportunity to let you know that as a lifelong proud Democrat who worked on JFK’s campaign as a kid, I am extremely disappointed in what I’ve seen from the national party lately. I don’t think it’s very democratic. And I strongly feel that Debbie Wasserman Schultz [chair of the national party] has to go, immediately.” He nodded politely, of course. I have no idea where Lieu stands on these issues, but I respect his work so far.

There have been grumblings for a long time that Wasserman Schultz has slanted everything she can in favor of her girl Hillary, for the Dem nomination. Very un-level playing field. There is a petition asking for her immediate resignation (more than 200,000 signatures, as of six weeks ago) and she is now the subject of a six-count class action suit for that misfeasance of duty. Of course it comes from Democratic supporters of Bernie Sanders, who have plenty of evidence to provide.

I got to see that foolish, self-destructive mindset that night. At-large member Barbi Appelquist was on the mic up front, along with Co-President Jay Johnson, and she was urging club members to get out and phone bank and work for “Hillary Clinton … or the other candidate.”


Yeah, you heard me. And Club members Leigh and Elaine Brumberg, sitting in the front row, heard her, and Leigh immediately raised his hand and said, “I would like to clarify something, that ‘the other candidate’ you referred to was Bernie Sanders. Would that be correct?” Immediate, strong applause from the audience.

Appelquist said yes and made a stammering correction, and Johnson spoke most of the rest of the time and was obviously trying to walk it back.

It’s a disgrace, and it’s foolish. Hillary needs the millions of voters that Bernie has brought to the political table and this is no way to enlist them. Further insult: the platform being crafted for all Dem candidates to get behind is ignoring almost everything that Bernie so successfully campaigned for. As Will Rogers once famously said, “I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat.”


I’m getting to that, but first let’s get back to the fourth and that pesky national anthem that takes a Pavarotti to cover the octave plus. (It’s a 12th, for you music people. Very, very high. Good luck.)

Has it always been our national anthem? How about, only since 1931? It was rejected six times by Congress until they finally agreed to it.

But it’s not just the tune I don’t like, it’s the lyrics. I am glad the British didn’t take Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812, but, how many of you knew that? And now that you do, how many care? That’s more than two centuries ago, not a deciding battle and not an A-list war. Check the words in the third verse — terror and gloom and blood. I love “America the Beautiful” and would vote for that, especially Ray Charles’ stirring version.


OK, here’s the blood. I’m so bad to tease you with that gore reference until now. But I didn’t want to bum you out at the beginning.

I grew up in Albuquerque. I finally got tired of my L.A. crowd mentioning “Breaking Bad” and me admitting I hadn’t seen it and getting those “Are you crazy?” looks. So I got a box of the first four seasons and decided to binge-watch this long weekend.

Got through 34 out of 61 episodes. Oh my, sigh. Left it at a particularly gory scene, in a series filled with them. But true, so much good writing and story development (and a few plot holes), that really intrigued me as a writer.

I will try to finish, but … well, you ALL have seen it, and you know.

Good old Albuquerque — now best known for its fictional high school teacher who morphed into an uber-violent meth pusher. Land of Enchantment, anyone?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “When the Judgment Day comes civilization will have an alibi, I never took a human life, I only sold the fellow the gun to take it with.” —Will Rogers

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