VETERAN OF UPHILL BATTLES?

I guess I am. I always figure, even if it seems like I’m out in left field all by myself, there are others there in spirit, with me in silent agreement. And if you keep standing up, others will be able to see you, and find their way to join you.

Dec. 19 the members of the Electoral College will cast their votes to officially elect our next POTUS. They almost always vote according to the popular vote in their state, not the nation as a whole. And because of the way each state’s electoral votes are assigned, by population, even though Clinton got 2.5 million more votes than Trump, the Electoral College vote will likely make him president. Very, very, likely.

But they shouldn’t, if they understand the nature and history of the College. Alexander Hamilton, in The Federalist Papers (68), argued that it gave recognition to the will of the people while safeguarding that they weren’t conned into awarding this important office to an incompetent or a dupe of a foreign power. If that happened the electors, supposedly more informed and reasoned than the general population, would have the power to choose someone who was at least qualified. They never intended it to thwart a majority vote of the people for a qualified candidate.

Well, guess what? After centuries of usually bitter presidential elections along party

lines, which we’ve always allowed to run their course, accepting the results, we

finally wound up with someone who is, by almost every measure any reasonable, informed person can name, unprepared, unqualified and unfit. And he was not the choice of the people.

I’M NOT GOING TO ARGUE WITH YOU ABOUT THIS

Within just a week of being “elected,” Trump amply demonstrated his incompetence and corruption. (Look up the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, for starters.)

So all I ask is that you inform yourself about the Electoral College and why it’s there, and if you feel as I do (and almost 5 million other signers), add your name and active support to the change.org petition asking the electors to perform their Constitutional duty and cast their votes for the candidate who overwhelmingly won the popular vote, to prevent a man being installed who has less business being there than I do.

An uphill battle? You betcha. But it’s our only hope. These are unprecedented — and dangerous — days. Write, call, do something, time’s a-wastin’.

Hey, the Cubs won the World Series, anything’s possible.

BUT THIS IS NOT A COLUMN ABOUT TRUMP

Oh, sure, it may have seemed like it so far, but that was more a civics lesson. This column is really about music. And how music can get you through some trumped up times.

A couple of days after the election, when I finally ventured out into the world, with

the dark cloud still hanging heavy, I realized I would survive when I found myself

spontaneously singing along to a Peter Gabriel song on the car radio. In that moment, the music took me away. “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” (Bob Marley)

So I’ve been musically medicating away lately, and LA is a darned good place to do it, especially if your tastes range wide and your standards are high. How about, in a four day period, punk, Brahms and ukulele?

The punk came from the legendary Mike Watt, who was opening for the wildly entertaining Wild Wing, at the Monty, a very cool, very dark club in downtown LA. There’s a stuffed buffalo head right above the narrow stage and more decapitated deceased critters with horns on display. But it’s not creepy, honest, and I’m sure they all died of natural causes long, long ago. (If they’re even real.) Friendly young crowd, no Hollywood attitude, there for the music.

PURE WATTAGE

And Watt delivered. But his bandmates didn’t quite cut it that night, and he seemed a little perturbed because he is a musician who cares. I saw him with a different trio in Phoenix recently, opening for the Meat Puppets, and they absolutely rocked it, with a bass-drums-organ lineup, no less. Watt is a gem, a relentlessly inventive bass banger, 36 years after he co-founded the Minutemen with the late D. Boone. And one of the nicest, down-home Pedro guys you’d want to come across.

That was Thursday night. Saturday afternoon, off to Samohi’s Barnum Hall for the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra and an afternoon of all Brahms. Damned delightful; difficult music well executed. They are a fine orchestra, in their 72nd season, delivering varied programs, always free. There were a handful of empty seats. Are you crazy, forgot, or just didn’t get the word? Your next chance is Jan. 14.

UKULELE WIZARD

Yes he is, and even though I was prepared I was still blown away. Jake Shimabukuro has been around a while (this was his fourth visit to Pepperdine’s Smothers Theatre) but I’d never caught him. Foolish me.

The comparisons to Hendrix and Miles Davis (in the program) are of course frivilous, but people do have to reach to try to describe his musicianship and emotion. The ukulele has four strings and two octaves — except when Jake plays. He is a master in ways few thought were possible on this small instrument. He strums in a blur, he plays high on the neck, he taps the strings, he picks like Segovia, chords like Clapton, he makes sounds like a battalion of soldiers marching, but none of it just for show. He covers the Beatles (a lot), and Queen, and will throw in a piece of a Cream song, for fun and effect. I thought it might get a little cheesy but it was 80 minutes of stunning musicianship. He has a new album out, “Nashville Sessions” — trust me, just go get it.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Who on our City Council, and among our top City staff, knew or had a clue about what Neil Shekhter of NMS was up to, all the illegal stuff that’s coming out now — what did they know, when did they know it, and why did they overlook the lawsuits of two years ago and continue to do business with

him? Lots of business.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “‘Ah, music,’ he said, wiping his eyes. ‘A magic beyond all we do here!’” — Dumbledore (“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”)

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

 

By CHARLES ANDREWS