WHAT A GLORIOUSLY GORGEOUS DAY
It was in Santa Monica last Sunday. I needed only a light shirt, unbuttoned, over a t-shirt in my walk down to the beach. (Just to be clear, I didn’t forget my pants, or shoes.)
As the nightly news continues to parade the escalating ravages of climate change — spring blizzards, torrential rain, tornadoes, mudslides, melting glaciers at both poles — affecting tens of millions of Americans, it’s easy to become smug and complacent here where the dire weather maps get scary only to the east and north of us. But won’t all those suffering masses want to come live here? Will climate change refugees become our next big problem?
As I sat on the grass at the corner of Ocean View Park, one of the most appealing open spaces we have, with the hill vantage point sloping down to the large grassy area always littered with socially distant blankets of friends, families and dogs, soaking up the sun and the sea view and breezes, I realized it wouldn’t take much ocean level rise to put my resting spot under water. Sure, we’ll likely lose lots of Florida coastline first, and some would say that’s politically a disaster with benefits, but how much are we doing here to prepare for that sea rise near-certainty? We worry about the tourists coming back — how will that work if we no longer have a beach? What will happen to our “Baywatch” glory?
Hey, ease up, I hear you snickering. Some cultural maven I pretend to be eh? But this is a column about my musings from hanging out at the beach, isn’t it? OK, then.
Two things about “Baywatch.” Worldwide, it put Santa Monica on the map. When I traveled all over 30 countries in Europe and North Africa a few years ago, I can’t tell you how many times I told someone I was from Santa Monica and the immediate response was, “Baywatch!” And a big grin.
Sometimes I would first identify as being from Los Angeles, no reaction, but if I then clarified to SM — big grin. We may not like it but it’s too late to put that bikini genie back in the bottle.
Number two, and I can hear the snickers turn into guffaws, I watched half an episode of the new BW the other night. The truth is I’ve never seen an entire show, and parts of one only 3 or 4 times, ever. But when I channel surfed recently, there was The Man Himself, the Most Watched Man on TV, probably second only to William Shatner in ratio of bad acting to fame and wealth — David Hasselhoff. Matching stares with his new stand-in, The Rock (#3 on that list?). The Hasselhoff sucked me in, and then the story got pretty interesting. (Shatner’s net worth, BTW, hits mid nine figures!)
MURDER! REAL ESTATE!!
These are lifeguards, of course, but they were trying to solve a murder. Not only that, they got pulled into a ring of big-time bad guys with tons of drugs, yachts, helicopters, and a plot to… take over the beach! To control every business and piece of real estate! Pshaw, what a fantasy, right?
Here’s some dialogue: “The ______ [they named a local business! — likely a random coincidence]… is a front for a giant drug operation. But I figured out it’s not about drugs, it’s about real estate. She’s planning on making the entire bay private.” “Yeah, but the town would never let her.” “You’re wrong.
Because she has every single politician in this town on her payroll.” Really bad writing and acting, but OMGosh, the storyline was a hoot and a little too close to home.
SO WHAT ARE YOU DOING
To slow glacial meltdown, hm? To stop voter suppression? Racially motivated violence? Hunger? Overdevelopment destruction of your wonderful, unique home town? Half a million Americans dead from the virus? Incumbent Council members sticking to the old script despite a mandate last election and a whole new COVID world, and a City staff that is often more hinder than help? Runaway technology? That smirk on Rand Paul’s face? So much to do, so little/too much time to do it. Have you learned French yet? Written that novel? You said you would. You’ve had a year…
There is a temptation in these stay-at-home times to just throw your hands up and ignore it all, the civic, national and/or global problems, and personal ones too, that abound, compound and surround us, and just try to cope, to lose oneself in the gifts and advantages that we do have from living in Santa Monica. And maybe, a bit more wine and whiskey than usual.
We must take care of our mental health. Even in paradise, this has been tough. Gratitude is a must, a huge help, I believe, in any time. Ray Wylie Hubbard sang, in “Mother Blues” — “the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, well, I have really good days.” Leon Russell went one better: “I am happy with what comes, I don’t have expectations of any stature.” And the great man Stephen Hawking echoed Leon: “When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.” Seems simple but not so easy to embrace and practice.
But isn’t that a recipe for inertia? Not really, but it is a tricky line. Lose your expectations but keep your aspirations. Chip away, keep moving forward, doing, contributing, finding a way to cope. It’s an overarching problem, an age-old one that has risen to prominence in the time of COVID. but we can do it. Meditation, and Jamesons.
EAT A GREAT SANDWICH, HELP A LOCAL CHARITY
If I get the urge for a really good sub sandwich, quicker and less expensive than Bay Cities, it’s Jersey Mike’s, hands down. And on March 31, you may as well stock up because they give every single dollar (not just profit) taken in to a local charity.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org