Can’t Tell the Players

Without a scorecard, right?

We need one in Santa Monica. Who’s going to take it on? Dan the Man Jan?

What kind of scorecard am I talking about? Have you ever seen one of those “tree branches” charts of bands, that shows all the connections? Deep Purple is a good example. It’s huge and includes iterations of the band labeled Deep Purple #1, DP #2, #3 – 8, with two reunions of #2 (all, of course, depending on who’s doing the chart). Then it shows you where everyone came from to get there, and where they went as they left the mothership — besides some intercourse with Black Sabbath, big doses of Whitesnake and Rainbow.

For example, bassist Glenn Hughes (who my mother-in-law and her daughter aka my wife CLAIM lives a couple doors down from the family home in RPV… but I’ve never seen him) went from respected Brit power trio Trapeze to DP #3, and then except for a brief gig with Black Sabbath and back to Trapeze #2, left the big wide chart, though this alleged neighbor, the phantom Hughes, seems to have kept very busy in the ensuing 44 years. (Always on tour, that’s why you’ve never seen him, they tell me with straight faces. Unh huh.)

I Hate Surprises

I’ve lived in Santa Monica now into four decades, and I still get surprised sometimes by what I don’t know that I thought I did. Especially why and how things come to pass here, politically. Those who have that Santa Monica relationships chart in their memory banks get fewer surprises, and spend less time spinning their wheels.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these relationships. But often, things that don’t seem to make (common) sense do, when you connect the dots. It’s not just the personal relationships but the many connections of an individual to commissions, boards and other influential points of power all across the City.

Most people know the wife of Councilmember Tony Vazquez, Maria Leon-Vazquez, is an elected member of the SMMUSD School Board. Also on that board is Oscar de la Torre, whose wife Maria Loya ran unsuccessfully last election for the SMC Board of Trustees and in 2004 for City Council, and was on the SMRR Steering Committee (up to this point still the kingmaker in Santa Monica) and is currently suing to force Santa Monica to adopt district-based Council elections. Laurie Lieberman, president of the school board, is married to local attorney Chris Harding, who has so many connections he needs his own tree.

City Councilperson Sue Himmelrich’s husband Michael Soloff is on the Housing Commission and on the SMRR Steering Committee, longtime Councilperson and former mayor Kevin McKeown’s wife

Genise Schnitman is a member of the SMRR Steering Committee. Also former mayor Denny Zane is a SMRR cofounder and Steering Committee member, and was campaign manager for Himmelrich’s successful Council bid, and so much more. OPA Board member and former mayor Judy Abdo was on the SMRR Steering Committee for years. And so much more. I’m not trying to pick on people but I’m also trying to not do that chart myself. These are just a few examples of what you will find throughout our little city’s neighborhoods, City staff, consultants and elected officials. Connections. What does it mean? Anything? Everything?


Sometimes the connections are less obvious. For example, the board of Ocean Park Association (OPA) has not one, not two, but three sets of cohabitating members. Draw your own conclusions as to the dynamics of such a board, but that is not obvious to the rank and file.

I keep saying we need a heap more common sense and we do, but that assumes there is a place for it, and in many instances, there isn’t. Because what looks like unfortunate incompetence or a one-time error or a lack of common sense is often very intentional manipulation and maneuvering, based on labyrinthian long range ambitions, relationships, and the stratagem thereof. The rest of us start with two strikes, without that knowledge.

Cuba Goofs

Gosh I hate to make mistakes in print, there for all to see and enshrined forever.

There are big ones, like when I finally fell off the fence about the massively popular gazillion-selling REO Speedwagon album “Hi Infidelity” — six of the 10 songs charted on Billboard! — inconceivable! — and finally gave it a tentative but positive review. About six hours later I sat straight up in bed in a cold sweat, knowing I made a big mistake (I can’t stand to listen to any of it now) and thought of trying to retrieve every copy of the newspaper that held that damnable review. So now I live the rest of my life knowing that somewhere in an attic in Albuquerque is a copy of that review, being read by someone laughing their ass off at that stupid, stupid clueless music critic Charles Andrews.

As for Cuba, Center for Cuban Studies (CCS) tour leader Sandra Levinson corrected me on last week’s column. And I did know better, that’s what hurts.

One is that President Obama did not lift the travel ban, he just eased it. Jimmy Carter lifted it. Ronald Reagan reinstated it. And Bill Clinton (Bill I love ya but you did some bad stuff, man) turned that decision over to Congress. The same Congress that wouldn’t let Obama dismantle our prison at Guantanamo, despite that being one of his first moves as president.

The other is the procedure for Americans getting to Cuba (and you must). Not that long ago you had to go through Mexico and not get your passport stamped and really act like a criminal trying to hide. Now, at the airport when you check in (Alaska Air now flies direct to Havana from LAX, $325 RT), you just mark one of 12 categories of traveler that applies to you (journalist, teacher, performer, etc.) and no one asks for proof. Still — I highly recommend going with a tour group, such as the one out of CCS, that opens doors you can’t as a lone traveler.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What could be better Saturday night than “2001” 70mm at the Aero, a local treasure, with Gary Lockwood (“HAL…?”) introducing the Kubrick classic? Doesn’t happen in Albuquerque.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 31 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at