“In times like these, the Nobel Prize is important,” intoned Carl-Henrik Heldin, chairman of the Nobel Foundation, in his brief introduction last Saturday in Stockholm of Patti Smith, there to accept the prize for literature for absentee Bob Dylan and perform his graphic, emotional ballad of a dystopian future (but with an undercurrent of hope). Some performance!

There remained no real controversy over the unprecedented boundary-shattering choice of Dylan’s lifetime body of work for the coveted prize. From this point forward, no one will question that songwriting can be the highest form of literature.

The audience was dressed for a ball, not a gritty-voiced New York ex-punk rocker (though Smith looked pretty classy herself). The royal family of Sweden was there in all their jeweled finery, and the rest of the audience was none too shabby either. It was quite the sight to see them first graciously forgive Smith with long, sympathetic applause when she blew the second verse and asked to start over (with an affecting confession of being “so nervous”) — she blew part of the third verse too. And then listen intently throughout the long number, many wiping a tear away with a white-gloved hand. At the finish, she received enthusiastic applause from what looked like every single person lucky enough to be there.

Sparingly accompanied by a single strummed guitar, then a haunting, quietly moaning pedal steel coming in, with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra sweetening ever so slightly, it’s hard to imagine anyone could have delivered a more perfect rendering, even with the flubs.



No one there needed to have Heldin’s reference explained. In reading about the event, it hit home for me, how as much as so many of us here are painfully aware, every day, and fearful, of the Trumpian future thrust upon us, the rest of the world is experiencing that fear as well. They had nothing to do with creating it but must nonetheless suffer the consequences. Sometimes it’s not so great to be world leader, top dog, when the dog goes mad.

This coming Monday is the real election for president, when the members of the Electoral College cast their vote. It would be astounding, a glorious miracle, if 37 Republican electors went rogue and denied the highest office in the land to a man eminently, dangerously unqualified. Our Constitution wisely provides for just such a circumstance.

As I write this, two GOP electors have already declared that intent, along with a Democratic elector. It is our only hope. Every day brings news of more Trump ties to Russia and the murderous thug Putin. “Rigged election,” Donald? Seems so. Now he names Rex Tillerson (Exxon-Mobil CEO, working billion dollar oil deals with Putin) as his Secretary of State, in clear violation of the Emoluments Clause of our Constitution. Look it up.



Sign the petition now (nearly 5 million have) asking the Electors to responsibly exercise their Constitutional powers to save us and the world from this “elected” con man.

But what about Santa Monica? What about my neighborhood? On the Donald Doomsday Scale, probably not going to kill us. As far as I know, Mayor Vazquez does not have nuclear missiles. At worst, Santa Monica will be developed to ruination, losing its soul forever. At best, perhaps some comic relief.

The latter was as plentiful as the number of board members (15, cut way back from… 17) when I attended the monthly meeting of the Ocean Park Association (OPA) Monday night.

An election was on the agenda. There were some clear emails and some not so clear. The calendar on the website didn’t list the meeting at all. Turns out, the election of the board members already took place, at the holiday party Dec. 3. But the website states that election is usually held on the second Saturday of December.



The bylaws also state that members shall receive notice of that upcoming election in the form of an agenda, no less than 30 days in advance. Never got that one. (I’m still a member, until tomorrow. They made sure I got that reminder.) There was discussion as to whether they had done the board election correctly the week before. Guess so, they guessed. Bylaws don’t cover it, someone said. Really?

The election of officers, by the board members, was to be held that night. It was scheduled for 10 minutes, but with no direction from bylaws and apparently no one remembering how they did it last year, they debated everything: acclamations or nominations, what form and how many, prez and VP combined or separate, voice or ballot vote, and more and more. They gave up after more than half an hour.

The treasurer was re-elected by resounding affirmation (nobody ever wants to handle the money), and the vote for president resulted in a tie (with questions about quorums and who could vote), and guess who they had tally the ballots for OPA president? Yup, yours truly. Maybe they trusted me since I was successfully refraining from giggling.

So they decided to postpone the rest of the election until the January meeting. One candidate for president was not present, and the other was almost nominated, against his wishes, not for president but for VP again — awkward. VP was not voted on. Too much!

(OPA was the only neighborhood association that did not back the LV initiative, on a split vote by the board. Embarrassing.)

These are good people, volunteering their time to make their neighborhood better, and despite my frustration I appreciate that. They do a lot of good. We have our great 4th of July parade through their efforts. Lincoln and other boulevards are sprouting murals and other art because of them. But it seems true, as someone in the meager audience pointed out, that they don’t tackle subjects of substance as much as other associations. Maybe that’s not in the bylaws either?

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Is there any point debating local issues (or national) when everything is overshadowed and distorted by the truckloads of money rolling in to buy our boulevards, buy our public property, buy our politicians? The oligarchy is here.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter, heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley.” — Bob Dylan (“Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”)

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