Portrait by Heinrich Hofmann


Good advice, when trying to deal with issues that come with a lot of distraction.

But what if you’re facing an octopus pitcher and there are eight balls hurtling at you at once?

In Santa Monica, we are facing that situation. And in our upcoming presidential election, there is a large truckful of octopi. No fastballs down the middle, it’s all curves, forks, changeups, sliders, knuckleballs (from knuckleheads) and of course screwballs. In the dirt. So, how to cope?


Most of them really important. In SM, it’s obvious to most residents that continuing to densify this small city, especially in a time of viral pandemic, is not healthy for anyone but developers and the politicians they keep in office. That city government should be transparent and City Council and staff should respectfully listen to residents before deciding things.

That the streets should be safe. Our tax money spent judiciously. Laws enforced. Our Constitutional right to protest protected, not tear gassed. Our children safe at City-sponsored programs. Our businesses not left helpless to an army of looters we knew were coming. That an 11-story behemoth hotel complex on land we residents own is not what should further clog up our high-rising, packed in, already built out downtown; it should be a park, plaza, or at least open space, like all great cities around the world have at their center.

Our leaders should be elected, not selected through a one-party, exclusive club, movers-and-shakers process. Private companies should not be allowed to use our public spaces without permission, permit or payment, especially when it endangers our residents. We need more trees and parks, parks safe for all. In a time of painful awareness that BLM we should be advancing minority rights, not spending tens of millions of our tax dollars to suppress them through the courts, fighting on even after we lost the trial verdict.


But our entire City Council, five of them up for election in less than 100 days, are. In a time of unprecedented health, economic and equality crisis. Does that work for you?

They have their reasons. They have their vision, their master plan. But they are destroying this beautiful city, in the name of affordable housing that is not affordable to most of our once-diverse population. They obviously feel they know better and we can’t be entrusted to even have meaningful input on these important issues. Paternalism. If we try to fight them issue by issue, we haven’t got a chance. Is there a strategy?

I think so. It’s not what you think I’m going to say.


To fight for what you know is right, with resolute passion, with determination to never quit no matter the setbacks or the odds. To fight for principles because they are right, humane, just. Not because you hate the other side. You can hate what they’re doing, hate the actions, but don’t hate the people. Keep your eye on the ball.

Oh Lord, there you go Charles, the old long-haired love-is-all-you-need college peace activist cops-are-pigs demonstrator, beads and acid and bad poetry dude reemerges. (Um, actually, only the peace activist, love and hair parts would describe my college days. Never called a cop a pig, never dropped acid. Two years in the US Army interrupted my college career and I was a father at 22 of a beautiful boy and would not risk messing around. Not even with bad poetry.)

But this is the 21st Century, get real.


And there is a huge body of evidence supporting the principle of love that is the foundation of non-violent protest. There are quite a few folks who profess (though not always in deed), 2,000 years later, the principles of peace and brotherly love espoused by that likely long-haired, bearded, dark-skinned Middle Eastern revolutionary named Jesus — billions, one-third of the planet. The Indians would still be serving tea to the British if Gandhi hadn’t used non-violent protest to move them out. American women finally got the vote without firing a shot (though, somewhere, a husband or two may have been punched in the stomach). And as bad as our racism persists to this day in the US of A, there is no longer lawful segregation nor denial of voting rights and so much more because of the non-violent tactics of heroes like Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis.

The great congressman Lewis was laid to rest this past Sunday (Trump announced he would not even pay respects at the casket lying in state in the Capitol), but his voice, principles, passion and love for this country and what it stands for can never be stilled. I think if he had a chance to speak before our City Council, things might run differently.


Love our city, I don’t doubt that. They’re just misguided. Terribly, terribly misguided. And since they have shown intractability over the issues listed above and so much more, it seems we are left no other choice for saving what’s left of this amazing city than to move them out of the way. Without malice, but with resolute love for our city and all it has been and still can be.

Our issues here are serious, like protecting a precious child, giving it a chance to grow into something good, to realize its potential, so we must use the very best means available. And I say, and you know, hard as it may be sometimes in our anger and frustration to stray otherwise — all you need is love.

Hey, if you think that’s corny and outmoded and won’t work, well, I’m with Martin and John, Jesus and Mahatma. I’ll match their successes with any tyrants of history you can name.

I don’t even hate Donald J. Trump. Or William Barr. Or the Trump boys or Jared. Or Menuchin or Kudlow. But for God’s sake VOTE! Vote blue!

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com