COACH: Valvano -"don't ever give up." - courtesy photo

IS 2021 OVER YET?

Almost? I hope so. Not that 2022 looks any brighter. But hope springs eternal, doesn’t it? What would we do without hope? No New Year’s Eve parties, that’s for sure.

BUT FIRST…

A public service message!

Our venerable The Church In Ocean Park needs help. Just as they were poised to reopen, and provide all the many services for our community that often otherwise go neglected, the roof fell in on them. Literally. Large pieces of the ceiling in the main sanctuary room tore loose and crashed to the floor, fortunately when no one was in there.

The historic, nearly century-old building at 2nd and Hill is going to need a minimum $150,000 fix. Rev. Janet Gollery McKeithen just announced that they have received a $35,000 matching fund, so any donations received now will be doubled, up to that amount.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

If you don’t belong to that church? It’s not just another neighborhood church. It is historically an important part of the very fabric of this unique city, part of our identity. It became a nationwide leader in social activism in the ‘60s, and the rent control movement was born there. Rev. McKeithen has continued those traditions, even expanded them, very involved with social justice and serving segments of the Santa Monica community who are often ignored, overlooked or shunned. Courageously, despite the displeasure of some leaders in the mother Methodist Church who have threatened to take over the building or defrock her (which would mean loss of her pension for lifelong service), unless she is more… Methodist. (If you ask many people familiar with her shepherding of the church, they will tell you she is following the words and path of Jesus a lot more faithfully than many so-called Christian churches. The established religion in his time didn’t care much for his message, either.)

The Church In Ocean Park has been passionately serving the community for nearly a century, in outstanding fashion. Now they need our help. Mail your donation, or go to the website:

https://www.ciop4justice.org/from-the-pastor

NOW, BACK TO NYE

Oh sure, I like a party as much as the next guy, and it is a perfect excuse to drink, drug and dance oneself into oblivion, blotting out the travails of an entire year (… until the next morning, or afternoon), but the frantic celebration of the old year passing ignores what you did exactly 365 days before – the same exact thing, cursing the bad old year and heaping hope and baseless celebration on the new one. The one you are now cursing. Short memory is a wonderful thing, eh?

We thought 2020 was a really bad year. And it sure was, for body and soul, ghastly, gruesome and grim, that may take a generation to get beyond. Because too many are still saying, based on no fact or science, that COVID is no worse than the flu. Yet you get your flu shot every year, no big deal. But get away from me with your Bill Gates chip vaccine (wait! … the one Trump gave us?) and your Nazi commands to wear a mask!

Yes, sadly, that is the future we are marching into. But –

I ACTUALLY FEEL PRETTY GOOD ABOUT 2022

So why all the moaning about the pandemic and the science deniers who are spreading it and making it likely it may never go away? It is the number one issue that has changed our world. But there’s more. Much more.

There’s the likelihood of the GOP taking over the House and Senate. Can you imagine? The lunatics running the asylum. The looming comeback of The Donald, because of all the hard work the Republicans have done in the states, to, yes, steal elections.

Here in Santa Monica we have half (at best) the City Council struggling with serious problems plaguing residents, and the other half telling fibs and pulling strings. More office/retail buildings being permitted! Many more in the pipeline. Just what we need. Wait – what happened to righting the imbalance here between work and living spaces?

We’ve got unpermitted, dangerous vendors taking over the Pier, hurting legitimate businesses there, selling uninspected food, creating fire danger to our Pier. It’s been going on for two years. And speaking of hurting legitimate businesses, whose bright idea was that whole Main Street Closure? (I know, but I’ll let you guess.) And can we get our $70,000 back?

The school board is set tomorrow night to award a bid to tear down the Muir Woods mural, buried deep in an item that never mentions the word “mural.” (But does invoke the name Obama.) And what surprises are in store for new voting districts for the school board? Stay tuned.

OPTIMISTIC?

You bet. Because history shows that when good people are pushed down and pushed around, they finally unite to push back, and I think that will happen, in our city, state, nation and the world.

You saw that terrible tornado day. Incredible. Unprecedented. And yet you still had so many ignoring climate change as a cause and intoning, we need better warning systems. Our tolerance as a political body for children being gunned down in school seems limitless, but now we have the CA governor proposing, if it’s fine by the Supreme Court for Texas to take away abortion rights in that vigilante manner, then I guess CA can do the same for the “right” to own assault rifles meant for nothing else but killing as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted. Beat up, stressed out, beat down, picked apart, outnumbered, disregarded, disenfranchised, dismissed, lied to, cheated, robbed, fooled, toyed with. But never defeated, in the face of demagoguery. Coach Jim Valvano said it, in the midst of a bruising cancer fight he could not win: “Don’t give up, don ‘t ever give up.”

I’m not giving up. I’m just getting started.

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