Leaving Santa Monica

It is with heavy heart and light wallet that I leave The People’s Republic of Santa Monica, California. I am moving to the much more affordable San Fernando Valley, an area known locally for its hot weather and its vibrant adult film industry.

Although I am leaving Santa Monica, I know that parts of it will never leave me. Whenever I see clouds over my head in the middle of June I will think Santa Monica. Whenever I receive a parking ticket in a quiet residential neighborhood I will think Santa Monica. Whenever I see a bum with the fat mass ratio of a beluga whale, I will think Santa Monica.

I can say that. I have lived among bums for the past four years. I define bum as a homeless person who is doing nothing to better his or her life. If you do not have a home and you are trying to get a job, you are homeless and my heart goes out to you. If you drink a nicer brand of beer than I do and you pass out on the sidewalk every day, you are a bum.

Living in Santa Monica means living on the cutting edge of Bum America. When our bums sneeze, the rest of the world’s vagrants catch the gout. Our bums are the trend setters. They are the early adopters.

While I lived in Santa Monica I watched our bums switch from carrying their stuff in shopping carts to carting their possessions in baby strollers. It was a shrewd move. Baby strollers are more mobile and quieter. Plus they evoke a sense of sympathy. Is there anything sadder than a baby stroller without a baby? Now give me money.

Where did these baby strollers come from? I have no idea. All I know is that since 2004, I have noticed a lot fewer babies strolling around Santa Monica. Now I see bums in Hollywood and other Los Angeles neighborhoods rolling two-wide with baby strollers of their own.

I can’t help but think that an entire generation of Los Angeles children will never know the joy of being pushed feet first into a busy intersection by a small, non-English speaking woman who is being paid $13 an hour to walk them. How will these children ever learn to crap their pants in fear? Will they be able to handle the 405/101 interchange as adults? Or will they pull over to the side of the freeway ramp, weeping for reasons they’ll never understand?

I have seen an array of stunning things while living in Santa Monica.

We have psychic cats here. They have the power to confirm that some people are not good with their money. They also confirm that this is one city in which dogs do not know their proper role. Ohio dogs would never stand for psychic cats. It’s hard to fleece tourists from the top branch of an oak tree. Or from the trunk of a Buick LeSabre.

(Pictured above: Typical Santa Monica dog)

Santa Monica has more than its share of loons too. I once watched a deranged man throw a power saw at another man on my street. I would not have cared, but this happened a mere three feet away from where my car was parked. After the police arrived, I moved my car to a safer part of the street, near some teenagers who were huffing paint and setting things on fire.

Yet of all the things I witnessed, no single event stunned me more than the summer day when I crossed the street, noticed something in the middle of the road, looked down and saw it was this. Please go to the link. Look at the photos. Then come back.

Apparently the latest trend among local daytime beer connoisseurs is the Bud Light Chelada, which is a combination of Bud Light beer and Clamato, which is tomato juice with clam broth. In the same can. On purpose.

Thanks to this discovery, we now live in a world where I can write the following true sentences.

* If you’re allergic to shellfish, you can’t drink this beer. That’s right. This brand of beer induces hives.

* For a fun dinner dish, mix this beer with minced onions, green peppers and fusilli pasta. (My Grandma Donatelli’s hand just punched through her coffin in a fiery fist of rage.)

* Keystone Ice is pumped it will no longer be picked last during beer kickball games.

Of course I stumbled upon this Franken-beer on the streets of Santa Monica, this city of oddities, this city of bad ideas, this city of unbridled creativity. Where else could it have happened?

On the supermarket refrigerator shelf that is America, where so many cities are bland light beer, Santa Monica is bland light beer with tomato juice and clam broth.

It tastes weird.

But a part of me that I can’t properly explain is kind of glad it’s out there.

Click here to read the previous column – “I Want You (But I Really Want Egg Rolls).”

If you have a comment, e-mail me at joedonatellicolumn@gmail.com.

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