And will never know about why and how things happen in our little Bay City. Transparency? That word was kicked out of the dictionaries and spell checks in our local government and school system 10 or 20 years ago. Let’s not confuse the kids, eh?

Last week I wrote part of my column about the long, slow effort to save the Muir Woods mural that has been a fixture at the very busy intersection of Lincoln and Ocean Park for 41 years. Literally tens of millions of people have driven by that mural. Jerry and Marissa Rubin and I teamed up to form the Save The Muir Woods Mural group shortly after I discovered plans to obliterate it for some cheesy painting of the Pier in garish colors (one version had a tiger lying in the surf — ?!), and wrote a CURIOUS CITY column about it in 2014.


The Rubins and I sometimes ask ourselves. Why haven’t we already committed to preserve this historic, popular, even beloved, paean to the environment, that also honors a national hero from California, the pioneering environmental icon John Muir? (The Scotsman lived in CA nearly half a century and died in an LA hospital.) For pete’s sake, he and his beloved Yosemite are on the back of the state quarter for CA!

The Amazon is on fire and we’re going to tear down a representation of an ancient forest? Doesn’t that seem ironic, even irresponsible, at this point in history? Sending the wrong message, especially on the wall of a school?

I remember, years ago, at one of our rallies, then-chair of the Recreation & Parks Commission Phil Brock said, “I know we’re never going to get a park at that intersection but if that wonderful mural of a forest is as close as we can get, I’ll take it!”


 And that was controversial. But this mural should be a no-brainer. You may or may not love it but who can hate it? Tear it down! Get rid of that painting of a deep, dark, calming forest! — said no one for any good reason.

There is opposition to restoring it, or we would have done it years ago. Maybe by only a handful of people, whose agendas I can’t figure out. When I posted last week’s column, partly about that mural, there were responses from well-meaning but ill-informed residents about the “demands” by the artist, Jane Golden, now world-renowned as head of Philadelphia’s murals project, 4000 and counting. Who would be spreading this misinformation?

“The artist asked for a very large amount of money to come out and restore it…” “She wanted all her expenses paid!” So, she should clear her jam-packed schedule at her high-profile job for 2-3 weeks, reach into her own pocket to fly from the East Coast, with assistants, to restore a mural that belongs to us? Her estimate then was around $35,000 — that’s a bargain, a gift. The Save The Muir Woods Mural committee could definitely raise that money, for this cause.


At that time. A 6/4/2014 news story in SMDP reported, “[SMMUSD] documents from April show that Olympic [High School, site of the mural] does have $62,000 set aside from the Bond Measure BB budget for the wall and mural.” But… that money disappeared, somehow.

…and [Golden] wouldn’t let them retouch it or paint it over,” read another post, by someone “who knows.” Just the opposite. When told, incorrectly, that there was no money to do this, Golden generously acquiesced and said, do what you must. But Rubin an I spoke with her a few times by phone and the last we heard, she would love to see that mural saved and would love to be part of that.


But the 40-year-old mural belongs to the community. Let’s recognize that and move forward with a plan to restore it, that can greatly benefit the students at Olympic and the community. This project could be another moment that tells the world, Santa Monica values art and the environment. Or would we rather be known as the birthplace of the scooters?


(Different topic.) First of all I’ve had it up to here with ignoramuses who have been trained by Fox and Rush to scream about their God-given right in this country to own any gun and infinite ammo feeder as though it were as important as eating, breathing or… health care. There is a Second Amendment, but they refuse to complete the sentence, you know, the part about “a well-regulated militia.” Teenagers set loose with automatic weapons of war is complete insanity.

We just lost a very young SM resident, 19, Charles Mondev, gunned down by his brother in the 900 block of Lincoln after an argument.

Remember when brothers would argue and then beat each other up with their fists? Are you really going to try to tell me that having more guns than people in the USA doesn’t account for our being the gun slaughter capital of the world?

 Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 33 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at


Join the Conversation


  1. with all the artists and wanna-be artists in the community, why can’t we do it ourselves – refurnish the mural? Of course, with the okay of the artist and her recommendations.

  2. The old Mural may be a touchtone to some change-adverse citizens in the community but for as long as I’ve lived here it’s been an eyesore. Clearly the original mural was poorly painted and is no masterpiece. The area has been gentrified and it’s now time to move on. There is no rule that says we need to keep mediocrity just because that’s the way it’s always been.

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