JERRY MANPEARL, SM, R.I.P. - courtesy photo

I will certainly be boycotting them, and I hope everyone does the same. What is their sin? They buckled to the political pressure of 20 (red) state attorneys general threatening prosecution and a massive lawsuit if those states – several of which legally allow abortions – don’t stop dispensing Mifeprestone, an abortion pill approved by the FDA years ago and used safely ever since.

Gov. Gavin Newsom did the right thing. He told Walgreen’s (second largest pharmaceutical distributor in the country) that the state of California will no longer do business with them, and cancelled a $54M contract for our correctional facilities. Walgreen’s is crying we are reacting to “false and misleading information.” Right. And those were peaceful tour groups in DC on Jan. 6th.

The influence of Christian nationalists is a huge threat to our freedoms and democracy itself. We have idealogues in Santa Monica too, pushing their beliefs on everyone. Even elected officials, sworn to serve the constituents, not special interests, particularly those who believe (or really don’t) that densification is the only solution to 21st century urban problems, even for a small city that is already built out and too dense and takes in another 200,000 visitors a day. There is no evidence to support that “solution” for Santa Monica, so you have to wonder what is behind it. I’ll let you figure it out. But don’t forget to follow the money. And follow it in a straight line to Sacramento. Our two newest City council members, Carolyn Torosis and Jesse Zwick, along with our mayor Gleam Davis, seem very enthusiastic to build build build here, damn the consequences.


You will hear mostly two reasons, both baloney: that we desperately need the handful of “affordble” units that come with massive market rate housing developments. To solve the “homeless problem,” and lower prices overall. Except it can’t be shown that building such density does lower prices – in fact, just the opposite. Such overdone development ruins neighborhoods and current residents seem overwhelmingly against it. But idealogues usually don’t care about the effects on others. Their cause is righteous.

Will the good, liberal, progressive citizens of Santa Monica boycott cowardly Walgreens? I doubt it. First, because that whole “progressive city” is a false trope, a useful PR lie but not supported by what we do, as opposed to what we say. And second, I don’t think the city that didn’t raise a peep, or, godforbid, demonstrate, when Chik-fil-A came to town, will vote with their wallets on Walgreen’s. In fact, the Chik-fil-A on Lincoln seems to be the busiest fast food emporium in the city, with customers’ cars constantly spilling out of the parking lot and blocking traffic on Lincoln. (Are there any laws we enforce in Santa Monica?) But no one showed up when they came to town, to protest a company whose CEO regularly funnels profits to anti-gay causes and legislation. (Same with Home Depot.)

I’ll get my home supplies from Lowe’s, thank you, cook my own chicken and get my meds through the mail from CVS. Voting with your pocketbook happens every day, and it can be very effective. It is the only thing corporations understand.


The buzzer beater. That last-second shot that drops in just as the clock hits zero and snatchs defeat from the jaws of victory, crushes a team and all its followers who were all set just the moment before to celebrate a great win.

In my previous CURIOUS CITY I wrote of local luminary Jerry Manpearl, whose hospitalization for something minor turned into pneumonia, a useless lung and a dire inability to breathe. Doctors put him on intubation and a gaggle of tubes that could keep him going but only for two weeks. Then would come the moment of truth: could he breathe on his own? If not, there were no good options.

Talk about facing your mortality, with a sense of humor, his signature sarcasm, outrageous texting and wild hand gestures Jerry made it easier for loved ones, and drew a bedside crowd, of not just friends and family but also hospital staff. “He was the star of the ICU,” his wife Jan Goodman declared. “Typical.”


Jerry had his granddaughter Izzy make a sign to post in his room: “DEATH WATCH: DAY 14 AND COUNTING” and declared, concerning Tuesday, that he wanted his family to have both a vanilla malt and a casket ready for him.

How ghastly! No, it fit right in with Jerry’s well-known sarcasm and sardonic sense of living life fully every moment. Jerry was 85 and certainly had a dynamic, influential life. He flew planes for fun and drove race cars for the thrill, he wrote extensively and he argued twice before the U.S. Supreme Court, and helped write the legtislation that resulted. Above all, he was proud of his large, loving family.

His longtime home on San Vicente was the perfect rambling gathering place for causes and candidates, spacious both inside and out. The kitchen put forth a steady stream of tasty hors d’ouevres and drinks, and in between speakers, people could mingle and meet. I had many thoughtful, pleasant but provocative conversations there, with acquaintances and new friends I disagreed with completely on local issues, but when you chat in that kind of atmosphere you can’t help but recognize people’s humanity, and all the things you do agree on – a safe city, a nation that works for everyone, a livable world free of pollution and armed conflict, the best life possible for your children and grandchildren. Their first fundraiser-soiree was for Santa Monica’s own Tom Hayden, among the most recent, for now-LA Mayor Karen Bass, hosting folks from Dennis Kucinich to Chucho Valdes, Gore Vidal to Barbara Boxer. Always, Jerry and his wife Jan worked tirelessly for universal health care. They believed passionately that the problem is not the political system, but the scarcity of candidates of humanity and compassion. They worked together for decades to make a difference.


Would linger near Jerry’s room, Jan said, to admire his good spirits. Besides his large family at his side, he had a lot of visitors. Family friend and Grammy-winning violinist Lily Haydn came and fiddled for Jerry, improvising to the sound of his breathing machine like it was her rhythm section.

The morning after I submitted my column was his moment of truth and there was joy all around when the machines were shut off and Jerry could breathe! But it was not to be, and he passed by high noon. That damnable buzzer beater.

No one dodges the final whistle, but Jerry Manpearl and his family and wide circle of friends can rest easy and be proud that he was in the game right up to the last.


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