Want change? VOTE!! - courtesy photo

YOU JUST NEVER KNOW

Do you? You never know what’s around the corner. That’s why I’ve always felt that suicide is so tragic. How often do you hear about someone who was at rock bottom, came close to ending it all and then their life turned completely around? (I know – for some the pain of living seems just too much to bear any longer. I understand that.) 

But for me, I never worry too much or too long about some “disaster” in life. You have to wait and see how it’s going to turn out. Could be the best thing that ever happened to you. Lost your job, your home, your significant other? You might just wind up with a better one, or one that’s better for you. Quite a few people who lost their jobs because of the pandemic decided an entirely new path was what they needed, and are now much happier.

And how many of us lose sleep over something that might happen? My parents, like many of their generation, were short on long communications about life. But they had a few apt aphorisms that stuck with me. A few words that encapsulated their lifetime of experience. “Don’t cry till you’re hurt” was one of them. Especially apt for trying to quiet young ones making much ado about nothing.

DON’T EVER GIVE UP

The lesson in that for me is also, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Those words, exactly, came from Coach Jim Valvano of North Carolina State (national basketball championship, against ridiculous odds), delivering a speech at the ESPY sports awards telecast 29 years ago, telling us that was the motto for the cancer research foundation he had just formed. Many thought he wouldn’t be able to deliver that speech but he did, with great quiet energy, and grace. Two months later he died, from bone cancer.

Those words, that motto, are not original, of course. You can find that spirit throughout history. As an American, the first thing that comes to mind for me is the incredibly courageous fight of so many, for hundreds of years, to force this nation to finally make good on the promises on which we were founded: “all men are created equal.” Of course that would mean all people, but we haven’t even gotten around to making that so for men of color, or men of poverty, let alone the female half of our population. “400 Years,” Bob Marley reminded us. And today, the struggle continues.

Don’t ever give up. Even when there seems to be no chance, no way out. Those who do give up, never, ever prevail. The deep thinker and hockey hall of famer Wayne Gretzky spoke the truth, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

RUNAWAY DEVELOPMENT

It looked like runaway overdevelopment and the politicians who support it would always prevail in Santa Monica, but now we have a different makeup of our City Council, and another election coming up in eight months. Change is always slow, but there is hope now, some of us think. We are seemingly powerless to control what our own city looks like, with increasingly restrictive laws coming out of Sacramento. But, again, that election. 

“Everyone” says the Gelson’s project is a done deal, and the monster Miramar expansion, but… you never know. Many residents seem to have been energized to make their opposition known to the huge development on the Gelson’s site, bridging Sunset Park and Ocean Park. Many have come to me asking, what can we do? I have no good, specific answers, except… everything above.

“Everyone” said it was impossible to unseat SMRR-selected, Forward-financed candidates, but three new candidates without that backing, pledged to represent the residents instead of outside interests, won. Impossible. The Church in Ocean Park looked doomed to take-over by the very conservative mother church, and our longtime minister Janet Gollery McKeithen was slated to be removed. And then the roof fell in, literally, requiring six figures to repair. They still need money, but now it looks pretty solid on all fronts. 

So many fought for more than 20 years to get the promised soccer field across the street from Samohi; so many with tons of money and influence wanted it for themselves. But our kids are playing there today. On the other hand, right next door to the field is a large childcare center that serves mostly children of RAND and City Hall employees (many of whom do not live in SM), that does not, I believe, belong there, and certainly does not deserve the multi-million dollar sweetheart deal it got, that is costing us money every year. Sometimes, often, you don’t win.

LETTER

Recreation & Parks Commissioner John C. Smith wrote a letter to the Coastal Commission, published in our paper last week, imploring them to not approve the project as proposed. Let me sum it up in one sentence, he wrote. “The California Coastal Commission should vote to delay the Miramar makeover for four reasons: The size and questionable design of the project, conflicts of interest, it’s controversial approval and the geological risks the project poses to the fragile bluffs in Palisades Park just 50 paces away across the street.” I agree with all four points, but it is the last one that makes me lose sleep.

Is that science fiction? Alarmist? Unfounded? Maybe. I just think that with really big stakes you have to be absolutely certain that the gun does not have a live round. I guess the Coastal Commission checked all the chambers. I have come to be suspicious of all EIRs presented by developers. Shouldn’t some neutral body pick the best agency to do the EIR? But I still think it is way outsized for Santa Monica, and will have a really bad effect on traffic and parking in the neighborhood. Who really needs this?

As Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 36 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com