Bill Bauer


I’VE BEEN ACCUSED— of saving the best for last, when it comes to my column.

I’ve also been told, don’t kid yourself, there is no “best” there, but you do put some of the more interesting and useful stuff at the bottom, when you should be hitting it first thing.

Journalism is supposed to adhere to the inverted pyramid principle, where the most important info (who, what, when, where, why, how) goes at the top, beginning the lead paragraph and working down through less important details, quotes and background. But that’s for news stories; columns are different. They are opinion pieces. Propaganda at worst, storytelling at best. So I try to be entertaining enough that people will read all the way to the end.

Today, though, I must go straight to the most important item.


Dear Bill Bauer. You must know that we lost him three weeks ago, when he finally lost his long battle with pancreatic cancer and passed away peacefully in his sleep. Make no mistake, up to the inevitable, Bill battled like he wrote his “My Write”

column for 14 years: finding the facts, looking reality piercingly in the eye, ignoring

insurmountable odds and charging ahead like he could make a difference, or at least had to try. There are a lot of things I think you should know about my friend and fellow columnist Bill Bauer, and I will write more about him later, but here’s what you need to know right now.

His memorial service is being held this Saturday, at 9:30 on a probably typically gorgeous late fall Santa Monica morning, on the Santa Monica Pier he loved (and helped save), and you should be there. Bill Bauer gave and gave to the city he loved, for so long, not just as a columnist but in so many ways. You may not have agreed with everything he stood for, you may have agreed with very little he wrote, but acknowledge this:

Bill Bauer loved Santa Monica. And for very little pay, and a whole lot of hassle, he came back week after week after week, year after year, always hitting his deadline with something important to say about the city he loved. He told me spent at least 20 hours researching and writing each column. Even when his advancing illness caused him to skip a column here and there, he came back again. As someone who has written just over 200 columns over the space of about five years, I can tell you, Bill Bauer’s feat of writing more than 700 over 14 years is truly remarkable.

Bill was a very private guy and had a somewhat small circle of friends, who were privileged to get to know the real Bill Bauer, and they were fiercely loving and loyal friends. If you see lots of policemen at his memorial Saturday, don’t worry — they’re not expecting trouble. They’re there in force because they considered Bill family. He rode with them every week for years, particularly paying attention to the homeless folks he loved and wanted to help.


The service Saturday will be led by Rev. Ron Hooks. Ron has been involved in Santa

Monica’s homeless situation for years, and that’s how he met Bill and became his close friend.

I’m a big fan of Pope Francis, so Frank, listen up: take a look at Ron Hooks. He has served God’s least loved for so many years, and he served Bill Bauer every day in his illness, in so many ways, that he should get the fast track: Saint Ron Hooks. Sorry, Ron — I know that would embarrass you, but I also know it’s true. You cared for Bill Bauer in every way he needed, and those many of us who also loved him owe you a huge debt of gratitude.

If you want to show it — give a donation to Ron’s work with the homeless, at West Coast Care. Nothing would make Bill smile bigger.

And here’s another idea, first put forth by our fellow SMDP columnist Jack Neworth: a Bill Bauer Journalism scholarship fund. Granted to Santa Monica students who enroll in a college Journalism program. (More big smiles from Bill.)

Bill and I often commiserated about the sad state of journalism today, and I remember how delighted he was to hear my story of having worked with the student journalists at Samohi a few years ago, and how dedicated and knowledgeable they were. Bill

loved the written word and the power of the press to do good. Being able to help

Santa Monica kids who believe as he did, to pursue that goal, to become the next Bill Bauer, I think would be the best memorial possible. It’s a complicated thing to set up but people are already working on it. Give West Coast Care your donation in Bill’s

name now, but save some for the Bill Bauer Journalism Scholarship Fund.


Do you know Sturgill Simpson? You should. He’s an immense talent, a soulful roots rocker who has put the country back into country music. His new album, “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” is mesmerizing. And he’s playing TONIGHT, at the Wiltern, if you can still get tickets.

I had a great time at the Jack Rutberg Fine Arts Gallery on La Brea last Saturday, listening to the marvelous Lyris Quartet, surrounded by the gallery’s head-spinning “Surreal/Unreal” exhibition. It was the second time I cruised that collection and I’m going back for a third, this Saturday at 2 (after the Bill Bauer memorial on the Pier), because Rutberg will be doing a walkthrough, sharing his knowledge of the 100 works, from the 1930s through today, and leading a discussion of the surrealist movement and its ripple effects. I asked him who curated the show, guessing correctly it was him, but I was surprised to find out every piece was already in his collection. All the more remarkable. And he told me the Lyris Quartet will be performing there again next March. Goody!

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Did Alexander Hamilton write into “The Federalist Papers” a way to keep a dangerously incompetent President-elect out of the White House?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Ring the bells that still can ring/forget your perfect

offering/there is a crack in everything/that’s how the light gets in.” — Leonard Cohen (“Anthem”)

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