LESS ROTTEN IN ‘23. Courtesy photo


Nah. It’s just another square on the calendar. We can start fresh, resolve up the wazoo, declare A New Me any day of the year, right? But 1/1 seems perfect for such fol-de-rol, a futile charade of self-deception masked in good intention. I’m not saying I never went to a New Year’s Eve party and enjoyed it, but I’ve always been amused by the frantic, over the top, dare I say forced? celebrations – colorfully lit buildings and rivers! Star performers! Incredible fireworks! Hundreds of thousands jammed shoulder to shoulder while COVID still takes its toll (and it’s probably freezing so how many colds and flu show up the next week?) – every 1/1 this Brobdingnagian brouhaha celebrates short memory, that the Bad Old Year has passed, thank Zeus, and now we can get on with a Good New Year. But wait – isn’t that exactly what we celebrated so hard exactly one year ago? Oh well. I guess everyone loves a party.

I’m all aboard with being a better person. (You first…) But I know my human habits, frailties and limitations. Don’t aim for Mars if you haven’t yet managed a soft Moon landing. Better yet, make those detailed Mars plans first instead of just  jumping onto a used Musk missile.

I’m always a believer in trying to figure out what the big picture is. Don’t worry about lighting the fuse on that rocket until you’ve figured out what needs to happen  after that. The same applies to Santa Monica issues, and God knows we have plenty of them. More than our share, I think, for a small but wealthy city. More than we should have. But before I go into my pitch about identifying the real source of problems and not fighting on the level that is irrelevant to what you need to accomplish, let me offer this cheery New Year idea. (Talkin’ to myself here, but you can listen in.)


…to remember to always fight the idea but not hate the messenger. No one can really know what is inside another person’s head, and heart. There are some people in this town who push ideas that are ruinous for Santa Monica. They sometimes operate in all sorts of underhanded ways to accomplish their goals. Do they not understand what harm they are causing? Or do they understand but their agenda is more important to them? Is the acquisition of money and/or power so enticing that nothing else matters? Are they so committed to their ideologies that they believe any sacrifice (by us) is worth it?

I’m going to try… to always assume the best of these folks. Because I can’t see inside their souls. I’m going to assume they love Santa Monica as much as I do, but they are misguided or misinformed. But that doesn’t change my duty to resist. I’ve alway said, since coming to understand more about how we govern ourselves and why things play out the way they do here, that in Santa Monica it is always hard to tell the difference between incompetence and ill intent. But, the results are the same.

So, for me, that means a different attitude, more empathetic, generous and even loving, but – not so much a different approach. I still want to do all I can to save what remains of what has always been so good and special about our town. And no, that does not mean that I and so many other residents like me are hopelessly devoted to a nostalgic myopia that cannot exist in modern times. We of course must progress with the times. But we don’t need to lose our minds and lose the soul of this fine city over it. For one thing, we can look to other communities,  across the planet and sometimes just next door, to learn from others who are meeting similar challenges without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.


To yes,  the Beatles (“All You Need is Love”), many leaders have taught the power of love for your enemy and peaceful resistance to wrongdoing. Gandhi booted the mighty British Empire out of India without firing a shot. In the end, historically, it seems not only the best path morally, but effectively. It takes great patience because always the forces aligned against you are experienced, organized and well funded. David had only a rock, but it was a righteous rock.

Remember, I am not condemning those with a different vision for Santa Monica, just condemning their ideas if they bring residents more harm than good, and  trying to encourage myself, and maybe others, that while things may look dark and we may see the best parts of Santa Monica slipping away, it’s still a beautiful warm and sunny day at the beach (while the rest of the US is tortured by the horrendous effects of climate change) and that’s not a terrible battlefield. We should give thanks for being “populus felix in urbe felici” (it’s on our city coat of arms), sometimes translated as “a fortunate people in a prosperous city.”

That, of course, is the root of our problems. Santa Monica is so prosperous, the land so valuable, that vultures sweep in for the rich pickings, sweeping out again leaving only a sad carcass. I’m determined not to let that happen, and I get encouraging notes every week from residents who have never before contacted me, saying they feel the same way. We may be out moneyed, out politicked, out organized, but we have the numbers, and the passion. We are fighting for our home. Just ask the US military, the greatest fighting machine in history, how that worked out in Viet Nam, Afghanistan, and other places. 

We do need the organization, but while the last election showed how much that is lacking, already there are groups working on that. I can’t wait for election 2024.

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 37 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at  therealmrmusic@gmail.com