For so many reasons. Family. Turkey. Health. Hoops (Lakers, Bruins and my own miserable playground game). Peace. Sunny skies. Freedom. Mashed potatoes and sauce (that’s my daughter).

And right in front of me – an opportunity, with this column, to dispel the myth that I’m a cranky, Negative Nellie, NIMBY growthless whiner, Santa Monica hate fatalistic cynic. I am none of those things.

No indeed, I love Santa Monica and I love everyone. Everybody. Honest. Just ask God. But I hate some of the really bad things these good people do.

Charles! I often hear – Why don’t you write about all the good things going on here? Reading your CURIOUS CITY column, you might think Santa Monica is hell on earth.

Have you ever heard the maxim in journalism: The dog bites the man, not the news, but the man bites the dog … Many of the good things about our wonderful seaside town are featured in the pages of the Santa Monica Daily Press , the benchmark newspaper for the last 20 years. But newspaper columns, especially politically oriented ones, are not so much for cheerleading as for the opportunity to expose the hidden, denied and dark undersides of society, to try through exposure to mend the wrongs. It’s not a great job, but someone has to do it. (Thanks, Bill Bauer.)


Tree-lined residential thoroughfares (but we need more green space), wide streets in northern Montana to cozy Sunset Park. With many centuries-old historic houses, from north to south.

Palissades Park! What a gift, from our founding fathers. The tense ocean view, the unique landscaping. Few people like it in the world.

Our beach! What beach ! Wide and long, stretching as far as the eye can see. You can cycle the entire route from Malibu to Palos Verdes. The whole world comes to experience it. I don’t get to the water that often, but when I do, I love it, and it’s always there, my front sandbox. Every time I drive home to Ocean Park Hill from Lincoln, I see this endless blue Pacific, and I am grateful for it in my life.

Palm trees! I know they are not native but I love them. What wonderful creatures, stretching out so tall and so slender like sticks with green feathers curving up to the sky. Our small group of 10 unit condos in Ocean Park are called Twin Palms, but now we have half a dozen.


After 40 years in LA, I always tell neighbors when I go out to greet another wonderful day, like I just moved here, “I love LA.” Sure, Santa Monica often has the morning coat, but it’s burning and the sun comes out, a glorious sun. Not having air conditioning in my house and in my car is okay in Santa Monica.

Many of us here, unlike other parts of our sprawling megalopolis, feel part of a community, and I love living in such a place, which has a sense of belonging. And such a rich history, even if many ignore it. Local amateur historians like Richard Orton and Marty Liboff do their best to educate and enlighten us. I am grateful for them. In all walks of life, the more you know about your surroundings, the more you can appreciate it.

My daily walks have stopped crossing every street in SM – I did it once, inspired by the great Samohi teacher Berkeley Blatz, and almost twice before COVID hit. It’s a great way to get a very different idea of ​​Santa Monica from the sidewalks. So now I stay close to home and Ocean Park is a great area to walk around. It’s artistic, a little funky. A strong sense of community. Lots of great coffee joints (much more, pre-COVID). Great restaurants, Michelin starred, nothing less.

The fascinating array of shops on Main Street is quickly disappearing, so make the most of it while you can. Different and even unique, like jAdis gizmo shop. And we even still have St. Matthew’s Thrift Shop, a treasure trove, with sky-high rents on Main Street. The Fourth of July Main Street Parade !! Never miss it! Although all the concrete blocks and “parklettes” that currently obstruct the street may make this impossible next July.


For a Gelson down the hill (bye bye), Vons, now 8-10 mins up the Lincoln wall, and bye bye too), and Ralph is right next to the freeway and Olympic. Just beyond the southern border we have an ever-thriving 99 Cent Only store next to high-end Whole Foods. Go figure it out.

We’ve lost a lot of long-standing businesses dear to moms and pops, like Alex’s Shoe Repair, Lincoln Auto Electric, and Vidiots, but we still have Bay Cities Italian Deli, so popular they cause traffic problems on Lincoln. , and Sam Wong’s Precision Sound Service on Pico right next to Lincoln (at the end of the alley, hard to spot). Sam is an expert and a perfectionist who can tackle any electronic device, at reasonable prices. Sam emigrated from China as a child decades ago and has great stories.


I wish there were more places here. We have such a great story. We miss At My Place, Ash Grove had a short reincarnation on the pier, and of course we miss the decades of incredible summer concerts on the pier.

Years ago, before I stayed here, there was the Aragon Ballroom which hosted big, renowned bands, country gentlemen Bob Wills and Spade Cooley (well, Spade murdered his wife and died in prison) , and later hosted the Lawrence Welk Orchestra. From 1967-70 it became the astonishing Cheetah Club, welcoming all the big names in rock from Doors to the Dead, Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Jefferson Airplane. (Marty Liboff has done extensive and painstakingly researched documentation of everyone who has performed there, in the Free Venice Beachhead newspaper.)

But our rich tradition of live music is not only historic, it continues, and I am so grateful! McCabe’s will return the first of the year with more intimate live acoustic gigs, including Janis Ian on his End of the Line tour in March. If you want to be amazed, go to their site and click on past concerts. Pity!

And Harvelle’s, which I write about frequently because they have so many great shows, of such variety, seven nights a week. They have been operating on Fourth Street for 90 years. Go.

Living in SM gives you easy access to a new location, Venice West, by reserving some great numbers, just across the border from Lincoln. A short drive to LAX will bring you superb jazz in a nice little venue at Sam First. And don’t forget the nearby Cinema Bar, Culver City’s tiny country-Americana venue with live music seven nights, no blankets, and cheap drinks.

I am so grateful for the provocative theater that rolls out of the Ruskin Theater Group at the airport, and their monthly Library Girl spoken word series, which is so inspiring and treasured.

There are a lot more things I’m grateful for about Santa Monica, but I guess I’ll have to wait until next year.

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and would not live anywhere else in the world. Truly. Send him love and / or a rebuke to [email protected]