ODD FELLOWS?

Or brothers from another mother? I’ll vote for the latter, and dance a jig while I do. Or maybe hum a Pete Seeger song. (Or, this week, Everly Brothers. R.I.P. Don.

Think of all the musicians who take up social causes, in their music or by lending support with money, their name, or benefit concerts. SM’s own Jackson Browne has been extremely generous in that regard.

But I am kind of surprised that I’m surprised, after writing a mostly political column (CURIOUS CITY) for the Daily Press for almost 10 years, and a music column (NOTEWORTHY) for more than four, that this convergence, as epitomized by my two columns, hadn’t occurred to me before.

I guess I have Judy Abdo to thank for that.

Those who know me well — and Abdo — know how much those words stick in my typewriter, that I would thank her for anything these days.

MAIN STREET CLOSURE

So what about it, round two, this past weekend, which is where Abdo came up to me in the middle of the street while I was trying to listen to David Tann’s darkly rockin’ band, to confront me? I found round two more interesting than the first Closure because there was more to do, and more people. And more, and better, music. Duh.

But so far my objections remain. From what I observed, and from chatting with a handful of Main Street merchants, and from emails I received from residents after round one, this still mostly benefits restaurants and bars, and has either no positive effect, or a negative one, on other businesses. And that doesn’t seem fair.

So why are the people pushing this, mainly to benefit the food and drink folks? Time will tell; I’m betting hidden agendas will eventually become more clear (maybe years later), woven into the complicated web of political influence and long range goals of the handful of behind the scenes unelected manipulators, who really run this town. Goals such as, oh, eliminating as many cars as possible from our city.

Certainly bars and restaurants need help to keep from going under during this pandemic, but so do all the businesses on Main Street. It seems to me that the thinking is, if something like this can greatly benefit food and drink establishments, and not hurt the others too much, and perhaps does not rile the neighboring residents, it’s worth it.

DO YOU THINK

Some envision the entire length of Main Street as a closed-to-cars pedestrian zone? Ala our Third Street Promenade? Good! — let’s double down on that concept failing in the 21st century, that the best minds in the city (sorry — I just can’t help myself sometimes) are now wrestling with.

Maybe it could be a restaurant row? That seems to be the focus right now. That would be interesting. To a certain crowd. Keep in mind: those crowds would have to arrive there somehow, and leave. By our outstanding public transit system? By driving and parking in the inadequate lots we have west of the street? Or shall we just let it overflow into the adjacent neighborhoods? I’ve received a few complaints about that.

But the pedestrian-only, perhaps bar and restaurant row idea is not as interesting as the delightful mix of businesses, some quite unusual and quirky-endearing, that we had, that have been fleeing Main Street for some time. When a distinctive retail mix becomes known it draws its own crowd, and everyone benefits.

I suppose now I won’t get anyone in trouble by revealing that closing Main Street, top to bottom, to all cars, ubers and buses, was thrown on the table in the earliest discussions by the Ocean Park Association (OPA) board, because three members of that board have disclosed that to me. Not to say that is the agreed upon plan, but also not to say the idea did not come up, and may be the final goal of some involved in this. They are calling it a pilot project, you know.

BACK TO ABDO

Longtime member of the OPA board, former City Council and mayor, Chamber of Commerce board, decades with the social activist The Church in Ocean Park, SM Education Fund fundraiser, worked to defeat the Briggs initiative in ‘78 which would have allowed gay and lesbian teachers to be fired, helped create Community Corp in ‘81 for affordable housing, raised money to restore the Pier after the big storm in ‘83, SM Education foundation board, I think recently the Pier Commission and some important county water board? It;s hard to keep track. She’s everywhere. Judy Abdo has been an activist all her life and has brought about some important changes in Santa Monica.

So why would my defenses go up when I see her approaching me? Because she’s one of those very influential behind-the-scenes puppet masters who has strong ideas about how things should be here and feels she’s the one to get them done, and it shouldn’t be put to a vote. For all the good she’s done she is now on the side of overdevelopment and that puts us in different camps. She pushed hard for decades for that SMC early childhood learning center that is so inappropriately on the grounds of the SM Civic, in a one-sided financial deal that would make The Donald envious.

“I probably shouldn’t be talking to you about anything,” she began, “but I wanted to ask you something about your music column this week.” Whew. That should be relatively safe.

It wasn’t. She methodically made her way around to my list of really bad songs I would haunt people with, which turned into a list of bad bands. One of which was metal band L.A. Guns. “Tracii Guns is my nephew,” she deadpanned. Oops. I was nailed. It was a good conversation about music, and I will relate it in tomorrow’s NOTEWORTHY column. Music and politics, indeed.

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