HAUNTED BY MEMORIES OF FACISM, CONCERNED FOR THE FUTURE

The skies over South Africa were mostly sunny and the Indian Ocean mostly choppy on our recent adventure abroad.

But hovering over us everywhere was the dark cloud of an anguished United States in the throes of what I would describe as no less than an attempted fascist coup, a nightmare of executive orders and alarming appointments; one after another in the quick step mode of a dictatorship.

I have sadly seen it before, as I comment on public radio 97.5 KBU, radiomalibu.net and other select websites.

So excuse me as I try to catch my breath on my return to Malibu, as I settle back in our Cliffside retreat on Point Dume and its calming ocean views. Perhaps I can get a glimpse of the magnificent migrating whales that remind me of the awesome gift of nature of which we are an irresolute guardian.

To be sure, nature in my absence had eased concern for our drought stricken landscape with a steady stagger of rains. And thanks to friends, my makeshift drains and wheezing sump pump had worked.

But there also was concern while away of how my misanthropic Malibu was persevering, following the recent election of a slate promising reform, and a more planning and environmental sensitive, transparent City Hall.

Unfortunately it initially appears they are subservient, as the old guard ingenuously maneuvered to be reappointed to key subcommittees and to represent Malibu to other cities and the State.
Needed at the least is an accounting of what exactly they are doing and saying, beyond mumbling their reports at Council meetings and submitting expense accounts.

I do look forward to once again commenting on the planning and design issues affecting Malibu and elsewhere. This includes the further assault of our commercial centers and zoning codes, and beyond the fate of the L.A. River, and the vain glorious proposal to corrupt LACMA, while the region’s housing crisis deepens. Yes, there is much to be reviewed.

Meanwhile I’m still in a state of weltschmerz, due in part having returned from Africa with a stop over in Dubai in the United Arab Republic, that incidentally was not on Trump’s ban list because he is said to do business in the country.

Nevertheless, the debate over the ban was at fever pitch, and after hustling through customs at LAX, thanks to having Global entry, we were greeted by a sign waving crowd with cheers.

It brought tears to my eyes, prompted by long lost memories of my public school days during World War Two, where several of my classmates had somehow made it out of Nazi Europe, sent by parents unable to get visas and doomed to die in the camps.

Among the memories is the smell of camphor, rising from the donated clothes they wore distributed by Jewish charities. My perception of the world then was frankly viewed as simply peopled by Jews and Nazis.

It took me many years to move beyond the prejudices and embrace the American myth of equality, engendered by my mother’s observation that the mark of a survivor is not to look back.

If she was around today – having the Ashkenazi gene she lived to 106 — I would reply, yes, for me certainly the smell of camphor has been replaced by the smell of the ocean. So much for the past.

But I would add with Trump trumpeting as president , what now of our future?

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hallkaplan

Parallel careers as an urban planner and a journalist, principally at present airing commentaries on pubic radio 99.1 KBU.FM The many arrows in my quiver have included Emmy award winning reporter/ producer for local Fox Television News, design critic for the Los Angeles Times, urban affairs reporter for The New York Times, an editor of The New York Post, contributor to various popular and professional publications, news services and broadcast outlets, including Reuters, NET, NBC, CBS, NPR and the BBC. Founding editor of the East Harlem (NY) Independent. A diversity of professional positions and consultancies in the private and public sectors, (Metro, Disney Imagineering, Howard Hughes, M. Milken, NYC Educational Construction Fund, US Comptroller of the Currency etc,) assorted academic appointments (UCLA, USC, CCNY, Art Center etc.), and always open to new challenge. And let us not forget fashioning sand castles and acting on 90210, crafting TV docs, design reviews, master plans. Books: "The Dream Deferred: People, Politics and Planning in Suburbia," "L.A. Lost and Found," an architectural history of Los Angeles, "L.A. Follies," a collection of essays, and co-author of "The New York City Handbook." Writings have appeared in academic texts, commentaries on the web, scripts for TV, and wherever, latest the Architects Newspaper, The Planning Report and Planetizen.

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