DESTROYING THE SANTA MONICA CIVIC AUDITORIUM
I take it personally when you are destroying my adopted hometown of 37 years. It’s hard to take so many slings and arrows of outrageous corruption, for so long. When you feel there is little you can do about it. It’s my town, it’s a small city, we residents should have more control.
Ye minions of mendacity, greedy grubbers of amoral acquisition, leeches and vampires, you have risen up from our very ranks and flown in from afar, to lay waste to a once beautiful city by the sea.
Our precious, historic, world renowned, unique, little California coastal city has been raped. And it continues, in plain sight. Yes, that’s a strong word, and I don’t use it lightly, but I think it is the most accurate. Raped by developers, and the politicians who enable them. By people who don’t know anything about this city’s history or its residents, or don’t care, or simply think the fortunes to be made and the power to be grabbed are the only important considerations. If we witness a rape in progress, don’t we all have a moral obligation to stand up and step in?
Reasonable people can disagree over issues, or even degrees of the issues. But it’s time to stop tiptoeing around in Santa Monica, time to call spades spades, because not doing so is playing into the tactic of “reasonableness.” Now, now, let’s talk about this, let’s fund a study committee. Delay and distract – oh, have we been schooled in that by the Orange One! – are also tactics, to keep the discussion mired in details and not addressing the gorillas in the room.
There goes the History Building. Since 1912, THE icon and representation of our high school, perched on Prospect Hill with a view of the Pacific and windows opening to ocean breezes, long before A/C. The school board master plan not only deemed the History – HISTORY – Building dispensable, they shaved down that pesky hill too. Besides the century-long association for every student and parent who set foot on that campus, the History Building is also familiar to millions around the world as the setting for the quintessential film about teenage angst and rebellion, “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955). One of only three films that the giant James Dean made before his young death. Not just another movie.
This is, I know, a detail, but I think it’s important to know why we can never turn the Civic over to the school district and expect it to remain standing for long. State law says that all zoning and historic rules are out the window for school-owned properties.
The world-recognized unique environmental Muir Woods mural by mural legend Jane Golden was also destroyed by the school district.
Will the same fate befall our Civic Auditorium? Inconceivable as it may seem, it well could. Will you stand by and moan and wail, or will you make your voice heard?
WHY WE MUST KEEP IT
Literally hundreds of reasons. It is a major part of our unique history here.
The list of exceptional concerts there is hard to match for any small city 3,000-capacity hall. So many great live albums recorded. The Academy Awards, for pete’s sake! From 1961 to 1967. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke there. And the Dalai Lama. It was the home of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra since 1947. (I had an album they recorded there in 1948, which I donated.) And how many thousands of Santa Monicans delighted in their children’s music performances at “Stairway to the Stars” every year?
Even though there is no possibility of breathing life into it now. But who knows, in five years, 10? Because like the Pier, it is the soul of Santa Monica. And once it’s gone it’s gone, and hope is gone.
Thank goodness so many residents are rising up in anger to save the Civic. Many terrific defenses have been published in the last couple of weeks (I particularly recommend one by Michael Jolly), and I’ll try not to repeat them.
The SM Civic is that. It has been shuttered for 10 years, and lost money for 20 years before that. During much of that time we kept as many as 10 employees on, doing next to nothing. Because we are a “compassionate” city, I suppose.
I’ve been preaching fiscal responsibility for this crazy city government for more than a decade. It is our greatest sin. But you have to know where to draw the line, and this is it. Do anything, to save this important part of our history. Please.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org