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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Sunday, March 06, 2005
A Family Outing in the Gutter
Today, our oldest Bean-child was invited to hang out at a friend’s house, so we only had the three girls to contend with parent. So we decided it was a perfect day for a Bean family outing and packed the girls in the SUV and went to Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade. For those of you unfamiliar with Los Angeles hangouts, the Third Street Promenade is a pedestrian outdoor mall with stores and restaurants and outdoor performers and milling crowds.

The outing developed its seedy theme before we even got there. Santa Monica has very lenient laws regarding bums homeless persons and beggars panhandlers, which, along with its balmy weather makes it an ideal destination for those with no housing, occupation, or personal hygiene. Just as we crossed the border into Santa Monica, our eyes were assailed by the sight of a bum homeless man with pants at half-mast. No shirt, either. Too late, I remembered our last trip to the promenade and how I promised myself I would not return until Santa Monica tightened up its policy on vagabonds miscreants hobos transients soap-and-water-challenged loiterers. Once we got there and started strolling around we were amazed by the diversity of hair styles, piercings, tattoos, and alternatives to bathing. Some of the street performers were interesting, most were profoundly creepy – all the innocence of Michael Jackson without any of the talent. There was a table where a man was selling a broad selection of peace, anti-war, anti-Bush, and various Trotskyite pins and stickers. My favorite was “Buck Fush”. Genius!
Six year-old: “Mommy, what does that mean?”
“Well, he’s kind of using a naughty word and making a pun on it because he’s trying to tell us that he hates the President.”
“Our President? Why would someone hate our President?”
“Well, some people think that a lot of things that the President is doing are wrong. But we like the President, and because it’s a free country, everyone can say whatever they think of the President, and we’re not allowed to drive our SUV into his table.”
There are plenty of nice shops and restaurants, but the bathrooms were covered with graffiti and gave our three year-old second thoughts about having to go potty. (“I meant I wanted to go potty at home.”) It is certainly the kind of scene that we enjoyed more in our college days, but now it just seems aggressively family-hostile. It could simply be that we’re looking at it through older parental eyes, but I think the street scene is much worse than when we went to college. I blame Bush and corporate greed.

From now on, we’re going to The Grove.

Co-authored by ball-and-chain and Doctor Bean
Ugh. That's disgusting. Some of my acquantances consider me an elitist (supposedly an insulting word), but I just can't stand the idea of being next to someone who hasn't washed for a month. And if it's that bad NOW, I have chills just thinking about the times when I have my own children. Times, they are a'changin.
Indeed, I think your historical glasses are tinted a little rosé.

I'll never forget walking into Westwood for a Tommy's Burger, and finding myself in the middle of gang warfare. About 2 dozen gang mebers came flooding past me, followed by cops on horseback. An urban twist on a Western cavalry scene. A girl had been stabbed to death at the theater earlier. Oh, those were the days.

3rd Street, the semi-oasis in the middle of Santa Monica's pervasive squalor, is an invention of the 90s. When you and I were in school, there was no oasis. 3rd Street was just another down-and-out street in a down-and-out neighborhood.

But, you're right in one respect. It still sucks.
Nomad: You're right. Thanks for the reminder.
Also, your accent mark over the "e" in rose has what the French call a certain I-don't-know-what.
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