By CHARLES ANDREWS
STOP THE PRESSES!!!
Everyone who has ever worked at a newspaper or magazine or thought about it for even a second has fantasized leaping up, frantically waving a fistful of crumpled copy sheets and yelling that famous phrase filled with fabulous forecast. But you got that from movies, didn’t you? Old movies. Few newspapers have their own presses on site anymore. STOP THE DIGITAL UPLOADS!!! — it’s just not the same, is it?
I might have had to yell something, somewhere, scare the squirrels in the back yard perhaps, and rewrite this column if the Electoral College on Monday had done the “unpresidented” and installed someone, anyone, even Little Marco, Mitt Romney or a squirrel, in place of Don the Con as President of these United Snakes. As much as I wanted that to happen, as much as it should have happened, according to the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and no less an authority than Broadway star Alexander Hamilton himself, it did not. So now we all are, yes, screwed.
Most of the people I know are still drifting in and out of shock, six weeks after the election, muttering, I can’t get my head around this, not real, look at his appointments, horrible, impossible, this can’t be happening to America. “It can’t happen here,” Frank Zappa sarcastically prophesied 50 years ago. The lunatics have taken over the asylum. Almost all of us will stay put and ride it out — so long as it doesn’t end in a 3a.m.-miff mushroom cloud — but what to do next?
COFFEE WITH ED
Ed Munter is a moving songwriter and singer but more importantly he is a visionary, the guy who looks at a steaming pile of doggy doo and wonders what kind of beautiful flower is being nourished underneath. He fiercely wants to make a difference for good with his gifts, and while I would argue that he can relax, he already has, the seeker seeks ever more ardently when the doo-doo hits the fan.
So without either of us showing up with an agenda, the talk naturally drifted to our brand new dilemma, of artists in a suddenly unthinkably hostile world. What is our responsibility? What is the opportunity?
We might’ve made more progress if we were hitting shots of Jameson instead of espresso, but it was inspiring for both of us. Perhaps even finding some intersection. I’m beginning to get that feeling, that people are activating rather than collapsing in despair. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. We all can find our own way to make a difference, to shove back at the racism, misogyny and homophobia, to stand up to the power of the oligarchy this once-great nation has become. We’ve always come up big, here in America, when threatened by outside forces. Now we have our most dangerous threat ever, from the inside. As Pogo’s crazy-wise buddy Albert Alligator once observed, the enemy is us.
BUT IT’S CHRISTMAS!
And we’re all so weary of politics. What’s the perfect antidote? You know
what I’m a-gonna say: music!
I got such a shot of happy last Saturday, from a Santa Monica couple, Judith and Harry. They live just a few blocks from me, at the end of Ocean Park, and they used to give these holiday parties in their home where everyone would gather around the piano and sing the usual suspects, plus a few off-the-wall offerings.
Harry and Judith have lots of famous and talented friends and it outgrew the house, moved to Disney Hall, and has now settled into the more intimate confines of Largo at the Coronet Theater, on La Cienega. You missed a fantastic evening but they’ll be back next year and I couldn’t recommend it enough, mark your calendars now. It also raises funds for worthy causes, this year for My Friend’s Place, an organization that helps youngsters who are living on the street. You can learn more and donate at myfriendsplace.org.
They call it Harry Shearer and Judith Owen’s Christmas Without Tears, and I expected music and mirth, but the mirth took over. Owen was absolutely hilarious as the ironic sardonic queen of the stage/living room, bringing on a parade of guests that were ridiculously talented. It was a schtick she maintained that could have easily gone south, but she played it perfectly.
Fred Willard slayed (sleighed?) as an Elvis impersonator, with a 15-minute stand up to die for. Amy Heckerling (“Clueless,” “Fast Times”) went that long with a dark, comedically precarious obsession with the movie “Castaway,” and I think that was my favorite of all the great acts. Peter Asher (Peter and Gordon) sang his ‘60s hit “World Without Love,” John Michael Higgins (Christopher Guest mockumentaries) directed a stunning 12-piece vocal group he called the OK Chorale, there was a juggler, and an 8’ tall mute clown, two dogs on stage, and Jane Lynch sang and gave away her Christmas CD to those waiting in the restroom line at intermission. But the musical shocker for me was Doña Oxford, a boogie woogie woman who destroys a piano and rocks and sings like few I’ve ever seen. Best part: I just found out she’ll be doing a rare LA show this Friday, at Joe’s Great American Bar and Grill in Burbank. But call to make sure (818.729.0805).
BILL BAUER MADE A DIFFERENCE
For 14 years, as a columnist shining his light into the dark corners of our labyrinthian local politics, and as a tireless volunteer in the city he loved. We lost him to cancer in October, but he will never be forgotten.
Before you spend all your year-end donations, keep in mind that a perfect memorial to Bauer is taking shape and you will want to contribute. I am helping establish the Bill Bauer Journalism Scholarship, for a local high school student who is serious about pursuing that wounded but crucial profession he and I both cherish as a pillar of our freedoms. There are hoops to jump through but I guarantee it will happen, as soon as possible.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: How much is that doggy in the window?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.” — H. L. Mencken
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