Last week I purchased a new (used) bike. Realizing this isn’t exactly “breaking news,” I nonetheless hope what happened to my beloved mountain bike, and why, will pique your interest. In a change of pace for both of us, I also hope this will be close to a “Trump-free” column. (Under “writing is re-writing,” this convoluted intro reminds me of a Mark Twain quote, “I’m sorry this letter isn’t shorter but I didn’t have the time.”)

Unfortunately, my old bike was stripped by thieves. In part, I blame a Shores management policy about which I shall elaborate shortly. Meanwhile, I have an additional management gripe. But first I note that if my apartment ever needs repairs, maintenance usually fixes it within the day. And I say this because it’s true. (Also because I don’t want to wind up on the street due to my public kvetching — Yiddish for complaining.)

In 2000, when our landlord bought the Shores they replaced apartment front doors with computerized ones. Whereas our old keys were metal, the keys to the new doors are computer chips affixed to plastic. As dozens of tenants can attest, the plastic deteriorates or just breaks. Getting a replacement takes 3 minutes and the office is pleasant in doing so. But they want $50! (For a key that maybe costs $3?)

“That’s our rule,” I was told politely. Exasperated, I was unwilling to pay because of their defective keys. Meanwhile, Rent Control says a landlord must replace a defective key free to the tenant. (I say this hoping if worse comes to worst, I have a devoted reader with a guest bedroom.)

As for my bike, for 15 years I’ve had it in the parking spot until a few months ago when there was a tag on it. Essentially, the warning said I had to move it to the bike room or else. “That’s a new rule from corporate,” the office said apologetically, “but the bike room is locked and safe.” Yeah, and it’s also so crowded it’s a pain to get your bike in and out.

So I begrudgingly moved my bike and locked it. A few weeks later, on a wonderful summer day, I felt like biking on the boardwalk. As I went into the “safe” bike room, the only problem was my bike was now missing a seat, tire, headlight, taillight and a rack. So much for wonderful. So much for safe.

I stared at the wreckage in utter dismay. Something about a boy and his bike. (Okay, old man and his bike.) I left disheartened and feeling violated, for lack of a better word.

Minutes later, I called the office but before I finished I was told, “Good news, the rule has been rescinded, you can put your bike back in the parking spot!” I replied sarcastically, “Great, I’ll do that, what’s left of it.”

Even before the bike incident, I’ve been feeling Santa Monica isn’t nearly as safe as it used to be. I don’t know if it’s the Metro bringing an influx of whomever from wherever or that, much as I hate to suggest this, the homeless population is more aggressive, it just seems radically different. Business may be booming, but residential tranquility isn’t. (Once again, it appears my banner should read “No Laughing Matter.”)

Depressed, I didn’t feel like replacing my bike until I was referred by a friend to a friend of hers who lives nearby and was selling one for $40. The night I met the woman, who wishes anonymity, she was in the street busily recycling. “Is today a bad day? Everyone seems grouchy.” (Apparently, she just had a disagreement with a neighbor.)

I joked, “It’s been a bad day for two years.” But, to my disappointment, I discovered that she’s a big fan of the POTUS whom she adamantly defends. After giving her the money for the bike, I said, “Forgive me but this conversation is reminiscent of when my black friends insisted O.J. was innocent.” She replied instantly, “He is, you know.” (#Good grief. )

When I got home my phone was ringing. It was her asking that if I quoted her about O.J., could I include an important detail. While she believes he’s innocent, she’s convinced he knows who committed the murders. What are the odds I would encounter someone into recycling who has kind words for our paranoid POTUS and sociopath O.J.? Go figure.

Given the recent Woodward book “Fear” and the scathing NY Times “Resistance” Op-Ed, next week I’ll probably return to covering the chaotic Trump Train. As for my bike, I’m definitely not putting it in the bike room and not even in the parking spot. Temporarily, it’s in my bedroom. Suffice it to say, if they steal it from there, I’m in real trouble.

Jack is at, and

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