My 5-minute run for City Council.
I got a lot of support (especially considering — per minute). Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you. If I had actually committed for, say, a couple of weeks, I guess I would have surfed a landslide vote right into City Hall.
But five minutes was all I needed to come to my senses. For all the grief, pressure and invective I get just writing a column, imagine my life running for council. I guess I’m chicken. (Wait! Is that politically incorrect? Have I just ruffled feathers and fowled my reputation?)
I understand those who shy away, and my hat’s off to those who do run; it is a personal sacrifice in so many ways. I may disagree 90 percent with some who step up to the plate, but service to the community is always good to recognize and honor.
The problem comes when a candidate’s vision for our beach town is Miami Beach, or Rio — talk about filling every inch with skyscrapers! — not Santa Monica at the beach. Rio is not hemmed in by borders enclosing only 8.4 square miles. We the voters, and elected and appointed officials, can only control our small territory, but the behemoth L.A. looms hungrily at our border, like Audrey, needing to be fed.
Miami Beach has a similar situation with Miami. Miami Beach (land area) is smaller, only 7 square miles, with a population only a few thousand less. So, very close. But, look what they chose, or allowed. Mini Rio. That’s not what our history, our look, our ambience is here. Is that what you want, voters? Could be. Not me.
When you start from the belief that Santa Monica can, and must, add thousands more housing units plus large commercial developments, on top of our current disasters of gridlock and dwindling resources, without recognizing what that will do to the people who already live here, you are not being realistic.
Talk about local politics a little and you’re bound to hear the phrase, “drank the Kool-Aid.” It usually refers to a candidate who preached slow growth during their campaign, or practiced it for a while after gaining a seat, but wound up coming around to all the “advantages” of runaway development. Of course, some started out with that Kool-Aid running through their veins. Maybe periodic blood testing of Council members would make things a little more transparent?
I have to sift through so many before I write anything. I try very hard to get it right, but nobody’s perfect. Did the Pier Corporation board just vote to add a Planet Hollywood? What?!!? Oh. Uh, no. Just a rumor. Not true. Is former chair of the Recreation and Parks Commission, Phil Brock, sworn onto the Arts Commission on Monday night, having decided to sit out the council race this time, still considering a run for school board? Could be. I don’t know how that will turn out but you will, by the time you read this column (nomination papers are due by the end of the day).
I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE
My wake will not be nearly as good as I hoped it would. (Not expecting it soon, just planning a fun party for my friends.)
That’s because Big Manny won’t be there. He beat me off the stage, closed the curtain and left the building. He died Aug. 5, apparently unexpectedly, and I didn’t find out until a week later. He was a man and a musician who moved people, and a dear friend.
Now I have to let go of my longstanding wish to have the Blazers play for mis amigos upon my eventual passing. To rock the joint and get everyone on their feet dancing and twirling with grins so big you can’t lose ’em, and make that final loud bilingual declaration that Charles Andrews was all about great music and the joy of sharing it with people.
For years now, I have not been able to think of another band for that gig, even a second choice. The Blazers, live, were exactly what I would want everyone to take away about me, for more reasons than I have space to explain here. But trust me, if you ever had the chance to go to a Blazers show and didn’t have a great time, check your pulse, you might be dead.
The Blazers had a rotating rhythm section over the years, but the Blazers for sure were Manuel Gonzales and Ruben Guaderrama, buddies since Roosevelt High School in East Los Angeles 45 years ago. They wrote most of the songs they played, and they wrote some great ones, from rockabilly to cumbia to ska to Chuck Berry rock and roll. Big Manny loved Chuck Berry rock and roll.
Big Manny was a gentle spirit, a man of faith, and one of the sweetest, kindest, most grateful and humble human beings I’ve ever met. In the world of hard scrabble rock and roll, in more than 25 years I never heard him say a mean or angry word about anyone.
The Blazers toured the U.S. extensively, and Europe once or twice a year for a decade. Even though he endured years of physical pain from infirmities that finally led him to leave the band in 2003, he rarely mentioned that and never complained about it, except that it limited his touring, and put him in a chair on stage rather than standing at a mic. He was soft-spoken, but put an edge of belief and passion on his soulful singing and blistering guitar work.
My just-Bruin-graduated daughter used to love their first album, “Short Fuse,” when she was a toddler, relentlessly circling the room at top speed to the strains of “Yeah Yeah Yeah” or “Tiburon Tiburon.” I had a cable TV show for years and the Blazers were the only ones besides Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones) I invited on more than once (three times). When she was 6 or 7, Nicole interviewed the band for a show, and all agreed she had great questions and delivered them well. Big Manny would often bring that up to me, and smile or laugh with delight at the memory.
ANOTHER MUSIC NOTE: Bears repeating: If you miss Mavis Staples at the Pier tomorrow night, you’ve blown it big time. She’s justifiably a living legend. And the remaining three concerts could also be good.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I’m gonna rock, and sing the blues, play my guitar and pay my dues… yeeee-hah!!” —Manuel Gonzales and Ruben Guaderrama (“Yeah Yeah Yeah,” from “Short Fuse”)
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.