We’re lucky to be in Los Angeles, a mostly gentle place where kindness sugar-coats the trees.
Not that it’s perfect. I’ve long suggested that L.A. purchase its own blimp, as sort of a command post, culturally and spiritually, and a place where cops could keep an eye out for speeders.
They’re everywhere now, these speeders. They accelerate through yellow lights and have turned the surface streets into speedways.
One nearly crushed us the other day as I pushed my granddaughter’s stroller through Santa Monica.
By the way, I saw you, you smoldering little punk in your silver Mitsubishi. I’ve got your plates. My pal Tony and his twin sister, Vito, will be stopping by soon.
“Yo, remember that stroller you almost hit?” they’ll ask you. Ka-POWWWW.
Otherwise, I’m feeling very forgiving on this magic afternoon in L’Monica, where I’m on a date with my granddaughter. It’s not like she has a choice. Her mother made her do it. But the lovely and patient older daughter needed to get her nails done, and off she went with her pal Marcella, with a pitstop later for a marg or three.
FYI, tequila lubes Los Angeles the way 30-weight oil lubricates old Chevys. We are all of us the better for it. Tequila chases off the demons. Remember Freud’s theories on the unconscious? It mellows those too. Or does it make them worse? I forget. In any case, tequila seems to make us friendlier and full of mirth.
Of course, we have pretty amazing mirth to begin with. You should see the Santa Monica board walk this day, full of oddballs and German tourists. At one point, I tell Cakes, “I’ll give you five minutes to spot one normal person.”
She quickly responds: “You, Papa?”
Keep looking, kid.
But what a grand time we’re having. I tell you, those little beach cafes called Perry’s are the best-kept secrets in the city. They serve Nathan’s hot dogs (with onions) and chicken strips that have been deep-fried at least 40 times, just the way toddlers like them.
Best of all, they have yellow cabana chairs and play a lot of Sinatra. While we nosh, Ella Fitzgerald sings “A House Is Not a Home,” a salute to Burt Bacharach, the legend we are honoring today with our beach date.
“Bacharach was the best,” I assure Cakes. Then I sing to her a little…
What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
It’s the craziest scene, this frantic board walk, with meth heads on skateboards and mothers on bikes, made tolerable by the elegant sounds of Bacharach, Sinatra and Fitzgerald. Bless you, Perry’s, for this classy touch. Bless you for keeping me sane.
Meanwhile, Cakes is having a grand time on her playdate with Papa. We finish lunch at the beach café, then take a stroll along the sand, where Smartacus and Rapunzel join up with us. It’s not that they don’t have faith in me as a sitter. After all, I raised four. And as I remind them, “one or two of you turned out OK.”
Let me just say that toddlers lead staggeringly wonderful lives. Never again will someone make a fuss over their every meal, their every burp, their every somersault. I would walk 10 miles just to see Cakes bellyflop, like a baby seal, down this playground slide.
It’s 4 p.m. when we roll into shady old Hotchiss Park, the exact time the palm trees start to shimmer. As I’ve told Smartacus, a palm is a mostly miserable tree, bony and worthless, till about 4 in the afternoon, when the beach breezes slap them sideways, starboard to port, uncovering their hidden tinsel.
Seriously, check them out some time. It’s as if the palm fronds have tiny Italian lights on their tips. It’s like all the storms have showered them, and they’re shaking out their hippy hair.
Oh, Los Angeles. There’s so much there there.
Of course, L.A. prides itself on the huge gesture — the blingy Ferris wheel, the swoony Oscar gowns, the sound stages full of self-absorbed superstars.
Yet, it’s here in these tiny flecks of firelight, or on the blankets on the beach, and the sun tickling the palm trees, where L.A. really glows.
Obviously, God took his time with California…gleaming and gorgeous.
And on this perfect winter day, we thank you.
Help a buddy out? I’m fundraising for a parent-ed program that assists struggling families. Donations honor my late wife and son. To contribute, please go to https://bit.ly/PARENTEDGALA23. Scroll own to Ticket Information. The first item is “Give to Support the Cathy & Christopher Erskine Compassion Memorial.” Every 10 bucks helps. Thank you in advance.