Photo by Joel Bernstein


For anyone not stark raving delusional, those words are almost always proffered dripping with sarcasm.

In this case it occurred to me that the destructively clownish reign of orange too often reflects what’s going down in our own city. In DC and in SM, our government is not acting on our behalf, and it’s not fulfilling its first directive to keep us safe.

As with the tRump deluge of new oh no! moments, when the torrent of crimes and malfeasance is so unrelenting, people tend to get numb. Oh, that? Again? Still? Yeah. Scooters. Whatever.


And the Council is still seeming to attempt incremental fixes, expecting our patience. Each day passes and we pray our Council will simply enforce the laws — as Obama recently pleaded, incredulously, is that so hard?! And they haven’t. And now they say they need another year’s trial to figure things out.

Here’s what they should expect: our patience is long gone, and we will show them in November that how they handled the scooter invasion from day one was a monumental disregard for our safety that rescinds their privilege to serve us. They’ve had a good 365 chances to act for us, and they haven’t. We have suffered, been injured, and with Sacramento now declaring that fewer people are required by law to wear helmets, I will repeat what I hear everywhere: someone is going to get killed.

How we’re going to show them in November, with voter ignorance, campaign/bribe money, programs of misinformation, and the powerful influence of SMRR and Unite Here and other unions unchecked, I don’t know. But I’m working on it. I’m thinking. Hard. — any good ideas out there?


My sweet neighbor, laid up at a local rehab facility after tripping over a scooter left in the street near a crosswalk, if she feels our Council has acted to keep us safe. Because of her injuries and advanced age, when she is released she will have to give up her beloved apartment in our complex where she has lived alone, just fine thank you, for more than 40 years, walking distance to friends and church, six blocks from the beach, and have to move to an assisted care facility. Her remaining years are changed forever. Thanks, Council.

And now, in the same facility, I have to go visit my cool buddy Bob, who was getting an argument from a woman who dumped four Birds in his driveway, and as he was telling her it didn’t matter what their app said, it’s his building and his driveway and he was not allowing it, he stepped backward a little and tripped on them, fell hard to the ground, couldn’t move (she ran away after he asked her to call 911, he said), and wound up needing an emergency hip replacement, narrowly averting the amputation of his entire leg. Thanks, Council.

I asked a woman at the front desk of the rehab facility if there were any other scooter-injured patients. “Oh, lots of them,” she answered. “We get them all the time.” Thanks, Council.

Take that into the voting booth. There is absolutely no excuse for our City Council and staff to have so disregarded our safety.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: One year ago today was my son’s last day on earth. He did not see it coming. If you knew today was your last day, what would you do with it? It’s a good question for me to ask myself, every morning when I open my eyes and see I have the gift of another day.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Never done this before: I’m running last week’s quote again because I’m so taken with it, always have been. (Yes, it’s from a song lyric but I used it in QUOTES OF THE WEEK last Wednesday.)

“It’s coming on Christmas, they’re cutting down trees, they’re putting up reindeer, and singing songs of joy and peace, oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on.” — Joni Mitchell

It moves me. I find it really evocative and poignant. And a brilliant switch of expectations from the first words to the last.

The second half of the lyrics of “River” paint a story of regret over a love thrown away and the urge to run away from what she did, consciousness of being “so hard to handle, I’m selfish and I’m sad,” a wish to be back home in Canada, leave “this crazy scene” in LA behind.

But that is the sign of great art. Anyone can make of it what they find, what strikes them or unfolds, filtered through their own life experiences. Not everything is art, of course, and not all art is great. In a lifetime of looking and listening critically, I have found that while most great art seems to be created with intention, that which finally emerges, and its effect on other people, is unpredictable. It’s a mysterious exercise, of giving and receiving, the art and the process of it. Some artists literally live for the creative act, others struggle and suffer mightily to set it free.

Here’s another sign, for me: when, after the familiarity of many exposures, I abruptly realize something different from it. In reading again the lyrics to “River,” I paused after the line, “And he loved me so naughty/Made me weak in the knees.”

Mitchell has always written with great honesty, exposure and vulnerability about her feelings surrounding love affairs. When I read that this time — the image, in so few words, so striking and complete — questions popped up rapid fire. Really, Joni? OK, let’s say, really. Was it that way with every man you were with? Did you pick them for that? What effect might giving yourself over so completely have on a relationship? Could be cementing, could be destructive.

But then, the unanticipated thought those words never brought up before: maybe she created that feeling, independent of who was standing (or lying) there. Certainly the right chemistry has to exist but maybe Joni Mitchell has this extraordinary, special ability to create and feel epic passion and even epic love in moments more ordinary to ordinary mortals. And quite possibly, that is inextricably intertwined with her breathtaking songwriting gifts.

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 32 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at

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