Summertime in Malibu, and that means staying close to home as much as possible, and trying to avoid the PCH, and so I comment this week on public radio 97.5 KBU and websites everywhere.
But if you have to go anywhere, do check KBU and also maybe Google Maps for the latest traffic conditions, and time your forays as best possible to avoid the crushes. And Malibu being the scene this summer of increasing fatalities and accidents, and more and more frustrating delays, talking about the PCH appears to have drowned out a host of other local issues, at least at the present.
This, I guess, is a relief of sorts for residents concerned with the future of Bluffs Park and the drift of local planning. And I would add a relief also for City Hall itself, given the conflicts and confusion of our Council and a passive-aggressive staff. Yes, I have resorted to a psychological disorder definition to describe our under achieving and over compensated bureaucrats, at least some of them.
They are a wily group, whom really it is hard to blame, reasonably concerned as they are with preserving and perhaps feathering their nests, especially considering their capricious overseers.
While concern with City Hall may not be a paramount concern, any mention of PCH traffic, on the air, or in the social media, is sure to prompt opinions. Solutions are another matter.
In a torrid of recent comments, we have been reminded the PCH is not the autobahn, certainly not the speedway I remember when a long, long time ago I briefly test drove there.
Even if it is designated as highway, officially State Route One, PCH for stretches actuality is an urban street, indeed Malibu’s main street. And according to a host of studies, a dangerous one., especially during congested peak hours and during seasonal uses.
A tool kit of traffic tweaks have been recommend to hopefully make it safer, which Caltrans is expected to begin shortly. But frankly don’t expect traffic to lessen. It even might make busier, with more vehicles being attracted to the improved conditions.
And even if the green lit La Paz and Whole Foods shopping centers are never built, and the cemetery really becomes a dead zone, the traffic on PCH I predict will just get worse, That is the way it is in every growing metropolitan regions the entire world over, due to rising populations and wealth, no matter what public and private policies are adopted to combat congestion. That includes more mass transit, charging tolls, scattering work places, or whatever.
For the time being, it seems to me the only relief is a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle with a top of the line sound system, hands free phone, and if you must commute, add a dash of patience
It was great being away in the East for several weeks, celebrating the family as several fetes,, and as a culture vulture, attending music and dance festivals, and art exhibits.
But it is also great being back in Malibu, and its welcoming weather, enjoying ocean views, my exotic gardens and endearing pets, and delivering my city observed commentaries on public radio 97.5 KBU, and select websites.
However, being a reluctant city grouch, I can’t say Malibu as a city is as inviting, operating as it does as an insecure council-manager construct, disguised in a democratic cloak that is not very transparent.
Sadly, from my Malibu catbird seat of nearly 40 years, 20 plus on Point Dume, the current city as a governmental exercise is a disappointment.
Yes, there are elections, but, really, only a small percentage of eligible voters participate, and honestly fewer still seem concerned with local government.
That is what you get when Malibu is a second home for a roughly estimated half its estimated 13,000 residents, who are here on sporadic weekends or vacations. And then there is the unknown others who, legally or not, rent or lend out their abodes, creating transient neighborhoods.
If you don’t think so, just come to the Point, and if you can get behind the guarded gates, try questioning the occupants, or wend your way into Paradise Cove, and attempt to survey there. Forget about accessing select beaches unless you have a key. And I do not recommend walking on PCH east of the Nobu nexus; much too dangerous.
With its absentee population, and a good portion of the resident population too comfortable to care, Malibu has drifted into what can be described as a benign autocratic government, albeit a properly elected city council and a presumably professionally administrated city hall.
So much for labels. What we have in the harsh light of day is a self aggrandizing city council that despite doubtless good intentions – or at least had them when first elected – just not providing the vision or the oversight needed for Malibu to persevere as a unique, ocean side village.
And perhaps worse is a city staff that seems to be more concerned with feathering its nests, placating the occasionally questioning council persons or concerned citizen, while shifting responsibilities onto a cadre of accommodating, over compensated consultants.
City Hall it appears has turned into an insulated gravy train for bureaucrats, which might be alright if they would serve residents as they do those with special interests and influence.
And for this our neophyte city manger is being paid more than each of our United State Senators. And our consultants are smirking all the way to the bank. Hey, it’s Malibu, so who cares?
It’s back on air on public radio KBU 97.5 and in print after several weeks on the east coast that included returning to my cultural roots in western Massachusetts.
There, I am happily to report the Berkshire Mountain is still joyfully flourishing, as a wellspring of dance, music and the visual and performing arts, in an accessible historic cluster.
For us that meant locating in the pleasant village of Lenox, and making daily forays to the surrounding attractions.
First and foremost was nearby Tanglewood. The Koussevitsky Music Shed was inviting as ever, though to be sure I no longer sat on the lawn for concerts, but in a chair under cover and closer. And the summer resident Boston Symphony Orchestra was as crisp and refreshing as expected, in a program of Mozart’s youthful violin concerto number 3.
The soloist was Daniel Lozakovich, a 15-year-old European phenom, making his American debut. He performed faultlessly, and was cheered enthusiastically, especially by his mother, who sat near us.
He joined her after intermission for the program’s second feature, Mahler’s fourth symphony, and arguably his most genial. This performance also had a family touch, the orchestra being conducted by Andris Nelsons, and the last movement’s vocal centerpiece, delivered by his wife, Kristime Opolais.
In the evening, it was the Ozawa Hall, and a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and the American Songbook, batted out enthusiastically by Tanglewood’s vocal troupe accompanied by members of the Boston Pops. I just loved Stephanie Blythe, who echoed Ella Fitzgerald.
The next day Tanglewood’s own orchestra performed, with the addition of world renown trumpeter Hakan Hardenberger, in a program that included some several modern scores. Ever engaging was Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1, less so Mark-Anthony’s Turnage’s From the Wreckage.
To be sure, the humid weather and thunderstorms were not as climate perfect as Southern California’s, but the festivals and museums forays were sublime, notably also Jacob’s Pillow for dance and a forever expanding and engaging Massachusetts Museum of Art in North Adams.
My Berkshire ramble prompted the thought of Los Angeles, and how the region’s emerging and engaging cultural gazpacho might be better organized and orchestrated to serve Southern California’s expanding and diverse population, fractured and institutionalized as it is.
Ah, if some of those selected self aggrandizing arts efforts were only less insular and more attuned to audiences and artists, how refreshing and energizing our cultural scene could be; if only our vain patrons and pandering politicians were less ego involved, indeed, if only pigs could fly.