The day after my birthday I was reading the Daily Press looking for something celebratory for a birthday wish. Like instead of rent increases in September the Rent Board mandated decreases.
Unfortunately, the stories were about home break-ins, catalytic converter thefts, a drug bust and a homeless man in a public park stabbed to death by another homeless man. (Since crime gets ratings maybe the Daily Press should change our name to the Daily Press Police Blotter.)
The only possibly encouraging news was the City Council had unanimously approved a private security plan for the Third Street Promenade and surrounding area. For a 12-month pilot program the Council selected “Covered 6,” to provide extra policing, security and community services.
Covered 6 has successfully been operating in Beverly Hills since 2020 and has an impressive resume. Frankly, however, I couldn’t tell if I was pleased by that or perplexed that our crime epidemic has come to this. So I did what I often do during stressful salutations, I ate.
In honor of my birthday my friend Elizabeth brought me an extra large pepperoni and mushroom pizza. (Actually, she brought three, two are still in the freezer.) So I hurriedly put one in the oven and I poured a glass of wine, which ultimately turned into two glasses of wine. Suffice it to say, after I devoured the pizza, I was reminded of the Alka Seltzer commercial, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”
Thankfully I didn’t have any indigestion but my dream that night was a pepperoni-induced freak show. Instead of Covered 6 patrolling the Promenade, the City Council had hired the Wagner Group led by the nightmarish Yevgeny Prigozhin who attempted a coup of Putin in June and reminds me of Mussolini, only worse. (Apparently the moral of this tale is never eat pizza before bed.)
This brings me to the serious side of this column, that being what if anything can be done to save our beloved Santa Monica. It seems to have gone from paradise by the sea to “Clockwork Orange” with an ocean view.
I started thinking about my late friend Liliane Pelzman, a writer and publisher who had predicted this years ago. Almost daily she’d swim a mile or more in the ocean even in the winter. I once asked her how she could do it with such joy and vividly remember her response. “My mother was in Auschwitz for three years, how can I not do it?”
Recently, I found one of Liliane’s emails which nearly brought me to tears. It read like a poem describing her love for Santa Monica but also describing the pain watching it deteriorate before her eyes.
These days there are so many acts of senseless violence here but one still sticks out in my mind. On April 19th two minors allegedly attacked a man getting off the Metro bashing his head with their skateboards. And yet apparently no bystanders interceded. It reminded me of the infamous “Kitty Genovese murder,” which took place in 1964 in Queens, New York.
Kitty, a 28-year-old attractive bartender was raped and slain only steps away from her apartment building but it seems the witnesses just watched. The mind-boggling story of such apathy shocked the nation and is credited to have been an impetus to beginning the 911 system. Unfortunately today it seems like we’re beyond being shocked.
Meanwhile, when the two minors appear in juvenile court I’m definitely going to monitor the results. It’s obvious brutal crimes like these make me irate. A few weeks ago I happened to watch the movie “Network.” I was surprised that when news anchor Howard Beale angrily lectures his TV audience that he’s “Mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” I felt even angrier than when the movie came out forty-seven years ago!
How has all this happened to our city and what if anything can we do about it? As a result of the rapidly rising crime, drugs and homelessness violence The Shores Residents Association (TSRA) has invited Council Member Phil Brock to hold a Town Hall here outlining plans of the council to stem these horrific developments. There will also be a Q&A from the audience likely voicing their displeasure and possibly even offering their solution ideas.
A second generation Santa Monican, Brock was born and raised here. He’s ideal for the Town Hall as he was recently accosted by a violent homeless man whom he had to physically restrain until police arrived.
I just blew out the candles, so here’s my belated birthday wish. Before my next birthday, with everyone’s commitment and maybe even divine intervention, Santa Monica returns to more paradise and less “Clockwork Orange.” And that wherever she may be, Liliane is smiling.
The Shores is located at 2700 Neilson Way. The TSRA Town Hall will start at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, August 16th .Jack is at: email@example.com.