SURFCITY MALIBU CELEBRATES

Surfing and Malibu is synonymous, like stickball and Brooklyn, baseball and the Bronx and soccer and Spain. only wetter and wilder, a celebration of sorts of the city’s stunning settijng .

To ask a surfer dude to define it as a recreation or a sport, a devotee would answer, it is really an art form, as I relate in my weekly arts and entertainment commentary on 97.5 KBU and radiomalinu.net.

On the worst of morning on the Point, when to bring in the paper I have to wear a slicker left over from my storm watch television standups, ,I am forever amazed to encounter a surfer dude or dandy .

Trotting barefoot down the dank street, actually smiling, wet suit half on, clutching a long board, the surfers, are like a lemmings drawn to the sea. They descend the steep steps down to the local beach to fearlessly plunge into the chilly water to catch a set. After decades here I am still impressed, meekly wave, and retreat to my coffee.

So it makes sense that the surfboard is being exalted as art in an exhibit at City Hall. Appropriately entitled The Art of the Board. it is curated by the Cultural Arts Commission celebrating the municipality of Malibu’s 25th anniversary.

Be they relatively new or chipped, battered and bruised, the decorated boards, I feel, are very much in the spirit of emulating the ancient Viking funeral rite of commemorating the dead to the sea.

Indeed, in this respect you might consider the exhibit a bit macabre, particularly how it displays the surfboards, which are hung by a secured cabling system, from the ceiling in the upstairs lobby of City Hall. Though some will think this a welcome change for the building

According to the city’s press release, among the boards selected by an unidentified committee are several commissioned for the exhibit by renowned local artists Lita Albuquerque, Chuck Arnoldi and John Van Hammersveld.

Not incidentally, Van Hamersveld is known for his famed poster he did for the film “Endless Summer,” which popularized the surfing culture nearly a half century ago. He is scheduled to be at the grand opening of the exhibit, next Monday, March 28th, at about 7 o’clock,

Included in the festivities will be a silent auction of the artistic surfboards to benefit the Malibu Arts Fund, which supports public art and the arts in education.

Cowabunga All!!

 

 

UNREPENTANT MALIBU COUNCIL PURSUES ZUMA BEACH FOLLY

The Zuma Beach land grab on behalf of a New York gallery owner just won’t go away.

An unrepentant City Council insists the proposal for a temporary museum to exhibit a pricey private photo exhibit on the beach is the greatest things for Malibu since , probably, the Whole Foods Market.

The on air and internet commentary that took the Council to task for its lack of transparency and failure to follow its own guidelines for such venture generated considerable response,, as I comment on 97.5 KBU and everywhere on radiomalibu.net

Some were in support of the project, in particular the Cultural Arts Commission, whose purview does not include land use , nor professionally vetting entrepreneurial New York gallery owners or expert oversight skills.

But most residents were opposed, pointing out the city’s abuse of its own policies regarding beach use and special interests.

This included a public plea, by Mari Stanley, at the last council meeting to rescind the request to the County to approve and aid the project, reveal the project ‘s detailed specifics, and hold open hearings..

In reply, city attorney Christi Hogin hemmed and hawed that though the council approved the concept for the museum, it was not a commitment, even though the resolution it approved contained that language.

\According to Hogin, all the Council did was ask the County to cooperate with the promoter Robert Dutesco.

And Hogin added if the county approved the concept, it would be returned to the city for proper hearings. We presume this include full details of the project’s operations, such as construction, entry fees, events, gift shop and financial data.

But hopefully the County who owns and manages Zuma will just deep six the proposal as being an illegal use of the beach. And the only possible hearings to be held will be to determine how the proposal was broached and a full disclosure of the involvement of the city’s commissioners and councilpersons.

There is concern that for the last 22 years the wild stallions of Sable Island Dutesco has photographed have figuratively become dray horses, tied to a cash cow. I trust the City is not being hustled.

 

 

 

 

MALIBU COUNCIL COMPROMISES ZUMA BEACH

Put this commentary under a new category: what were they thinking

I am referring in my cityobserved.com heard on KBU and everywhere to the recent mindless action by the City Council endorsing a private photographic exhibition on Zuma Beach.

If it clears several legal hurdles –which I hope it doesn’t –it would run for three months, in a sprawling temporary structure in the parking lot, charge an entrance fee, host v.i.p. events, show films, and no doubt gild Malibu’s reputation as an elitist enclave.

Featured would be a solo exhibit of photos taken by an artist promoter of the wild horses of Sable Island off of Canada’s Nova Scotia Island, previously displayed and pedaled in his private gallery in New York, as well as other select locations.

The photos by Robert Dutesco also can be seen in a book, priced at $150.00 and most likely will be available with other items in the ubiquitous museum shop also proposed for Zuma.

You have to wonder what the residents in the area might say, that is if they had been asked. They weren’t, and neither was the Planning Commission. So much for the city’s transparency.

To be sure, the support by the Council was limited for the moment to blessing the concept, which nonetheless is a statutory act, and requesting the cooperation of the County, which owns and operates Zuma Beach.

It should be noted there are limits for which the Beach can be used, consistent with state’s Coastal Act the city’s own Municipal Code, and a raft of exacting environmental reviews, though this has not stopped their abuse.

To some Zuma already has been compromised too often by filming and special events, so much so that it has been suggested renaming the beach the Zuma Industrial Park.

It will be interesting to see how county supervisor, Sheila Kuehl, reacts to the proposal. At stake here is her reputation as an avowed coastal advocate. Also at stake is no less than Malibu’s heritage.

If Malibu as a singular community is distinguished by one physical feature, it is its beaches.

Among its many personal pleasures is simply being able to view them, the endless ocean vistas, spectacular sunsets, and the seasonal parade of spouting whales.

Then there is the delightful diversion of walking along its shores, smelling the fresh ocean, tasting a taint of salt, hearing the waves break, the bark of sea lions, and if barefoot, feeling the wet and warm sand. It can be magical.

In a more philistine mode, it is this coastal setting, edged by confining mountains, near an engaging Los Angeles, but yet comfortably removed, that undeniably makes Malibu so desirable, and not coincidentally pads its real estate prices.

For these and more ethereal reasons, being fortunate enough to live in Malibu prompts, or should prompt, a special affinity for the environment and a communal concern for the beaches.

Zuma is special, not just on beach days when it hosts hundred of thousand, but year round, even in winter, when every morning people can be seen walking their dogs or braving the surf, creating a special egalitarian community of acquaintances. You have to love Malibu

And therefore if for some reason or other the County does not deep six the presumptuous proposal, and it returns to the City Council, let the clarion call be sounded, and the resident heard.

It is one thing to compromise the civic center, as the Council has shamefully done. It is another more sadly egregious act to shamefully compromise the beloved beaches of Malibu.

 

 

LAUTNER HOUSE ACQUIRED BY MUSEUM

 

Good news for architecture buffs and Southern California’s rich tradition of singular residential designs.

In a first for the LA County Museum of Art, it announced the acquisition of the iconic Sheats-Goldstein House designed by John Lautner, a very much original and, I think, an under-appreciated architect.

The striking house high in the hills of the isolated Beverly Crest community is distinguished by a triangular concrete exterior that appear to be pried apart by walls of glass, approached by a stone walkway past a pool.

The spectacular setting of the house with sweeping views of Los Angeles is further distinguished by lush landscaping that contain a prominent structure crafted by the sculptor James Turrell. It also is being donated by the current owner, James Goldstein, along with several singular art works.

The house is probably best known as the setting for various movies, including the Coen brother’s classic The Big Lebowski. It was built in 1963 for UCLA professor Paul and artist Helen Sheats, and sold to the eccentric Goldstein in 1972, which in the succeeding years retained Lautner to update it, until 1994 when the architect died.

A student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Launder’s loved to talk about his buildings, each a unique marriage between architecture and engineering. And I loved to listen as the architecture critic of the LA Times 30 years ago as he held court dressed always in a fashionable white suit in his studio atop the Roosevelt Hotel.

He had time, for his practice sadly was limited, which he explained to me,“ I’m afraid I am just not into the superficial facades with all its phony rationales that seem to preoccupy architecture these days. ”

And then I recall quite vividly he turned to me as a critic to snap, ’You people have let them get away with it; you and those sheep-like clients who want to be trendy, even if it doesn’t wear well or work.”

You had to love the guy, and I proudly wrote in support of his nomination for the coveted AIA’s Gold Medal 30 years. He didn’t get it. He was just not popular then.

But now one of his iconic designs will be a museum piece, which actually I believe is much more impressive than a title being tacked onto his name.

This report was aired on my arts and entertainment commentary on 97.5 KBU and radiomalibu, net everywhere.

 

 

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: DOES ANYONE LISTEN?

“Council, Planning Commission Wonder: Is anybody listening,” was the front page headline in the Malibu Times, topping a story in which city leaders bemoaned that few residents attended what they thought was a critical hearing on the fate of the civic center.

Whatever, their concerns are grist for my latest city observed commentary, heard on KBU and everywhere on radiomalibu.net.

“We need to figure out a way to get a lot more people involved,” stated Mayor Rosenthal, in particular the noted design professionals she knew lived in Malibu,

The front page headline of the Malibu Surfside News simply stated in bold face, “Help Wanted,”

This prompted me to talk with several talented architects I know whether they were interested in volunteering. Trading candor for anonymity, all replied that though concerned with the drift of planning in the “bu they loved, they hesitate to become involved

“It is not that we are not listening. It is that the city doesn’t listen, or frankly doesn’t understand the issues, ” declared an internationally respected “placemaker“ whom I have had the pleasure to work with on some imaginative projects,

Over lunch, as is his style, he casually rattled off several ideas for a more livable Malibu that no doubt would cost the city big bucks in consultant fees and staff time if proffered privately.

When I asked him, as I did others, why he didn’t donate his time, he reminded me of my experiences, in particular, as a volunteer advocate of view protection. He suggested I recall what happened: that it might serve as a cautionary tale. I agreed.

It should be noted that if the city staff at the direction of past partisan councils would have enforced existing codes, a view restoration and preservation ordinance would not have been needed, just civic resolve.

But they hadn’t, and eight years ago Malibu overwhelmingly approved a referendum calling on the city “ to adopt an ordinance that would require the removal or trimming of landscaping in order to restore and maintain primary views from private homes.”

A city appointed task force of which I was chair and included several experienced attorneys. We reviewed ordinances of similarly challenged cities while weighing comments of local stakeholders with varying prejudices and perspectives.

It was a time consuming effort by volunteer residents, and for naught. The committee’s recommendation in the form of a professionally crafted ordinance was deep sixed; the council wasn’t listening, at least not to the committee it had selected, but rather to special interests, as is its practice.

Nor was the present Council listening when told by planning savvy residents that vertical landscaping should not count as open space and dated traffic studies were flawed.

And recently it didn’t even bother asking more knowledgeable residents if a structure can or should be erected on the county’s Zuma Beach for several months to house a pricy private photo exhibit. Of course, they would have told the council it legally can’t and shouldn’t.

Indeed, these failures raise the issue of civic responsibility and municipal oversight, prompting the questions “what for, and for whom, local government” and whether Malibu as a municipal conceit no longer is a viable democratic construct?

But is anyone listening?