The American Film Market was in town last week. They did their usual takeover of the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel for offices. It was a bit more intimate this year. I imagine the impact of the pandemic is still being felt across the globe in the production of movies. It’s a strong reminder of the losses we experienced as a planet, our humanity was at stake, and for the most part, we came together as a planet to do the right thing, but the impact is still being felt.

As I walked through the Loews and observed the usual characters sitting poolside pitching and negotiating, it was a nice reminder that even when the world turns upside down, it will eventually come back to a semblance of normal. 

No one knows if the heydays of yesteryear will return to the American Film Market, where the city is packed with buyers and sellers of foreign movie distribution rights. I hope so. But everything changes as time marches on.

The load-in for AFM was happening last weekend, as my dinner buddy and I walked over to Bruno’s Pizzeria. There was a change of ownership sign on the door for the liquor license. After a few decades of working to build a Santa Monica landmark, Mr. and Mrs. Bruno are retiring and have sold their namesake business. It’s not going away, and hopefully, the new owners won’t change too much. Mr. and Mrs. Bruno stuck around to handle the anticipated crowds from American Film Market, and then hopefully they’re off to a long Mediterranean cruise and tour of their homeland, Italy.

I’m not sure I have the courage to go home and tour where I grew up. As I look around me at the way our city is changing and evolving, I’m already massively nostalgic for the days of yore. To go to northern California and visit San Francisco, the ‘Baghdad by the Bay’ of my youth, which has allegedly become a city of filth and grime, I’m not sure I want to see that. I want to hold on to my memories of Little Italy for espresso and pastries, Chinatown for Char Siu Bao that are steaming hot, and seeing the fortune cookie machine punch out fresh products. 

We are losing our uniqueness as a city, and frankly as a country, thanks to the rampant corporatization of everything. I am quite aware that there is little to nothing I can do about it besides bemoan the loss, curse the soullessness, and try to hold on to what humanity is left. Which is why I will miss walking into Bruno’s and being greeted with a big smile and some attitude. It’s just a bit less humanity in my world. 

But we do have a chance today to reverse that. It’s Election Day and if you haven’t voted by mail yet, you have until end of the day to get to a ballot box or voting booth to go make your voice heard. This year on the ballot are city level measures to raise taxes on high-end properties to fund homeless services, help seniors and low-income tenants stay in the city to aid in the diversity. That’s one thing that can happen to increase our humanity and address the needs of our community. 

At the state level are a couple of important issues. The first is to enshrine a woman’s right to an abortion in the California Constitution. Even though I personally am against abortion, as a gay man of a certain age, it’s not something I’m having to confront. I am voting in favor of securing the rights of women to safe and legal medical care that is decided between them, their partners and their doctors.

The same goes for the dialysis measures, I’m not a medical doctor, I’m not qualified to make decisions for other people’s care, so I figure I’ll let the operators of the centers continue to operate as they have been and voted against the measure. Seems like if there’s a real problem the market would have fixed it. Good doctors wouldn’t send their patients to bad dialysis centers, I could be wrong, but it seems to make sense to me. 

This has been a bit of a mishmash of topics today, with a loose theme of finding our humanity and doing what we can to preserve it. Times change, buildings come and go, and businesses rise and fall, but the one thing that we all have is our humanity to carry us forward. 

Please do your part today and go vote, stop by Bruno’s and say goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Bruno, wish them well on their world travels and retirement plans. Maybe buy a homeless person a lunch when they don’t ask for it.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.  He welcomes your questions and comments.  He can be reached at or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra

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