SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA: The Three Things I Like Best About That City

My favorite image of the town I grew up in and lived for 22 years….

 

Everybody has a hometown.

Technically, I have two…

Riverside, CA, fifty miles east of Los Angeles, where I was born, spent the first nine years of my life, and have idyllic memories of as I lived with loving grandparents in a rural community outside of that city.

The other place I consider my hometown?

Santa Monica, CA, fifteen miles west of downtown Los Angeles, a town famous for its beach and pier.

It’s in Santa Monica where I lived for 22 and a half years, eighteen in one house.

It’s in Santa Monica where I spent my pubescence, adolescence, and young adulthood.

And it’s in Santa Monica where I did the milestone/rites of passage; play little league,  get my first  (unrequited) crushes on girls,  graduate high school, work at my first jobs, things like that.

Though it’s approaching twenty years since I lived there, moving to Culver City at the end of 1998, there are three things about that seaside town that provide fond memories.

I won’t waste any time with listing those three things:

 

1.  THE AFTERNOON SEA BREEZES

Being that it borders the Pacific Ocean (or technically, Santa Monica Bay), Santa Monicans have been blessed with what I call God’s air conditioning, as starting at roughly 3:00 p.m. winds from the ocean cool that city – and neighboring ones like Venice, Pacific Palisades, and Marina Del Rey – and make it very desirable while starting at between five to ten miles inland the temperature significantly rises.

On hot days, that means that while people in Santa Monica and other beach cities are reveling in those cool breezes, folks living inland are suffering.

Why else does the beach in Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu, and other places get crowded with wall-to-wall people during heat waves?

 

 

A VERY nice view of the Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu, and Point Dume at sunset. Photo courtesy of shuttlestock.com

 

2. THE VIEW OF MALIBU AND THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS ON A CLEAR DAY

On a clear day, particularly after it rains, I always loved looking north and viewing the Santa Monica Mountains and various places like Pacific Palisades, Malibu, and Point Dume.

The views of those area is especially spectacular from the Santa Monica Pier, which I took some time to do on Christmas morning in 1998, just a few days before I moved away as I wanted to set my eyes on that incredible view one last time.

I unfortunately haven’t been able to see that sight due to the pier being crowded with tourists and life’s obligations in general, but rest assured that view is something about Santa Monica that I’ve always appreciated.

 

 

My all-time favorite place to eat – sorry that the picture is so small! Photo courtesy of camposfamousburritos.com

 

3. CAMPOS FAMOUS BURRITOS, ON 20TH STREET AND PICO BOULEVARD

There has been no other place where I’ve preferred to eat in my lifetime.

Since age eight, I have been enjoying the tacos, nachos, and burritos from what was originally called Las Palmas until it was renamed Campos around the late 1970s.

Having lived two blocks from Campos for 18 years, I have had a long history with that place…

I remember taking field trips with my junior high school Spanish class to that Mexican eatery for lunch, taking dares to drink the hot green salsa.

Though I was a bit too much of a goody-goody to do so, many of my friends have ditched school to enjoy Campos food.

I can recall taking dates there during my early 20’s.

And my latest enjoyable memory of Campos?

Going there on my 50th birthday to buy avocado burritos, which incredibly enough I had never tried as I always preferred ground beef tacos in my youth and chicken tacos and burritos in later years.

I don’t have to tell you the waves of nostalgia that passed through me that day.

In fact, if someone asked me what my number one memory of living in Santa Monica is, Campos would be it.

I thank God that there’s a branch about a block and a half from where I live in Culver City; their tacos was the first meal I had upon moving there.

I’m quite proud and blessed that I’ve been eating and enjoying Campos food for over forty years, and will continue to.

 

So there they are – my three fondest memories of my twenty-two and a half years in Santa Monica.

Hopefully these descriptions make anyone from that town who may be reading this smile.

 

 

The inside of the Original Campos on 20th & Pico in Santa Monica, which is so successful there are several branches all over Los Angeles’ Westside. Photo courtesy of tripadvasor.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2017: Just A Few Thoughts

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A great shot of some extremely well known people; I had the pleasure of meeting the guy with the boxing gloves in the upper left hand corner. Photo courtesy of 1966mag.com

 

MUSINGS FROM A MIDDLE AGED AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE

 

It’s my regret that I’m giving homage to Black History Month on this blog with just a few days to go in the month.

But as they say, no use crying over spilled milk.

Or better late than never; take your pick.

 

Having said that…

In light of our new President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s regime, who’s celebrating one month in office and – as we all know – has attacked every group of people not white, male, Christian, conservative, gay, wealthy, or a combination of those six attributes,

It seems like we need events such as Black History Month more than ever.

Particularly since it seems to be a bad time to be black – or any person of color who’s not named Clarence Thomas,  Ben Carson, Omarosa Manigault, Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz – right now, what with the increased racist/sexist/homophobic/Islamophobic attacks across America.

Living in California, the deepest of blue states, I’m honestly a tiny bit scared to go east of the Colorado River as while I refuse to say that every white person, or white Republican for that matter, is a bigot who feels that people who look like me are naturally inferior and  need to stay “in their place”,  it seems that too many whites have that mentality in the red states.

The comments I read from every article that talks about racial issues are an illustration of this thought, as you would think some of those folks writing such comments are carrying their Ku Klux Klan cards in their back pockets with white sheets hanging in their closets.

I feel thankful that I live in a relatively liberal area and subsequently have not seen or experienced any real, hardcore ideological or racial animosity.

At least not so far, thank God and knock wood.

 

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A really good message that needs to always be remembered. Image courtesy of wesleyunited.org

 

Personally, I feel Black History Month is sorely needed to remind Americans of how without Black people of African descent, there wouldn’t be an America.

And not just due to the 246 years of chattel slavery as so many things that we use and take for granted, from peanut butter to potato chips to the stoplight to open heart surgery, was invented by an African-American.

Imagine if blacks – as well as women, gays, and other people of color – were celebrated every month of the year rather than merely the one designated for them (the shortest month in the case of African-Americans).

Then perhaps a guy like our new Commander-In-Chief (my personal refusal to mention his name on this blog remains in effect) would never have been elected.

And there wouldn’t be a need for groups such as Black Lives Matter.

 

The irony of all of this, from a personal standpoint:

I won’t go into any details now, but in my book describing my experiences with having Asperger’s Syndrome, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, which I’m in the final stages of editing and will begin the self-publishing process soon, there’s a chapter detailing my experiences of being black on the Autism Spectrum.

Unfortunately it hasn’t been the most fun experience, but that’s all I’m going to say at this time; you’ll just have to read chapter four of the book.

All right, I said I had just a few thoughts about this year’s Black History Month.

And I’m going to stick to that as I don’t want to ramble or go on and on save for this…

All I can do is as far as the extremely fragmented situation that this country is in is two things:

1. Hold good, optimistic thoughts,

and…

2. Be the best person I can be.

Which I reckon is all anyone could or should do.

 

 

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Being the longtime baseball and softball guy that I am, this is perhaps the part of the African-American experience that I’m most proud of: The (so-called) Negro Leagues, with its two greatest stars, Satchel Paige (left) and Josh Gibson (right) featured here. I’ll be writing an article about these and the great black players from that era soon on this blog. Photo courtesy of pechakucha.org

 

Are We Now Fighting A Second Civil War? (Albeit A Cold War)

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This says it all – I only wish all Americans felt like this. Photo courtesy of rawstory.com

 

A FEW BELATED THOUGHTS FROM ME CONCERNING DONALD TRUMP’S ELECTION AND THIS COUNTRY’S DEEP DIVISIONS

 

The last time these United States of America was divided like this, 600,000 men and boys died.

Killed in a brutal fashion over deeply divided ideologies and how they saw this country.

Now that it has been two weeks since Donald Trump shocked this planet by being elected leader of the free world  – I won’t go into how Trump not so much won the election as Hillary Clinton lost it; that has already been well documented – it has amazed me that the racial, political, and ideological divisions that America has been experiencing for the past few years has perhaps grown to the point of no return.

The many anti-Trump protests (I saw one in downtown Los Angeles in which a HUGE sea of folks made themselves heard) and the 400 racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-Muslim incidents in the week following Election Day certainly illustrate this.

So much so that although…

* Despite recent actions, the realistic likelihood of California seceding from the union ala “Calexit” is highly unlikely,

* Despite the various riots and skirmishes, there are no all out battles with armies carrying Confederate and American flags with Robert E. Lee and U.S. Grant-like generals leading them, and…

* There are no plans for the red states to separate from the blue states and form two separate countries, as what happened in 1947 when after independence from Great Britain, Muslims separated from Hindu-dominated India and formed Pakistan, with the two countries subsequently experiencing wars and significant tensions ever since,

I’m going to go ahead and call this period we are going through a name…

 

The Cold Civil War.

 

Much like the Cold War in the late 1940s through the 1980s, even though the United States and the then-Soviet Union never fired any nuclear missiles, the tension was so pronounced between those two superpowers that there were wars (namely in Korea and Vietnam) fought over those democracy/communist ideological differences and the fact that those communists’ ultimate goal was to make the world like them.

Not to mention the fact that the world came pretty close to ending during that 1962 missile crisis in Cuba.

 

 

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This is what I’m fervently praying for in light of this recent election as far as people of color, women, LGBTQs, and all other non-Christians as well as Muslims. Photo courtesy of slate.com

 

There’s no doubt in my mind and heart –  We are now in a Second Civil War.

It is a Cold War, at least for now.

But it is a Civil War.

I don’t how else I can describe it.

And sadly, I honestly don’t know how it can be stopped.

As long as there are millions of people – liberals, conservatives, “Alt-Rights”, or what have you –  who feel the way they do on both sides and who are so unwilling to compromise,

Then this Second (Cold) Civil War will be ongoing.

And the way things are, if in about fifty years (or even twenty) the United States does what India and Pakistan did nearly 70 years before and dissolves, with liberals forming one country and conservatives – those who voted for Trump in particular – forming another,

Like it tried to do in the 1860s and very nearly succeeded,

It would not surprise me at all.

 

One last thought…

About five years ago I wrote on the website Hubpages.com an article called “If The Far Right Ruled America”.

The article offered my view of what this country would be like under far right Republican rule.

For those who are interested in reading it, here’s the link to that piece:  http://www.hubpages.com/politics/If-The-Far-Right-Ruled-America

In light of what has happened this month, I believe we are about to find out what this U S of A will be like now that the far right has taken power.

Or officially will on January 20th.

 

 

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An anti-Trump protest in downtown Los Angeles, which I saw when passing through there. Photo courtesy of nbcnews.com

LIVING WITH ASPERGER’S: Noises That Are Soothing and That Drive Me Crazy

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A very good quote on the bottom of this picture, which is why I decided to use it here. Image courtesy of henryharveybooks.com

 

I once heard someone say that if you have met one person with Asperger’s Syndrome, or Autism Spectrum Disorder, then you’ve met one person with Asperger’s or ASD.

Unlike the old saying “If you’ve met one, you’ve met them all”.

One aspect of this condition that seems to be common in many folks on the Autism spectrum is a sensitivity to certain noises.

Being an “Aspie” myself, I am no exception to that aspect as there are sounds that make me want to scream in emotional agony and sounds that are completely relaxing and make me want to snuggle under the covers in my bed in comfort.

Let me describe what those noises are, first the ones that I hate:

 

1.  SIRENS

There have been times when I want to rip those wailing things off of fire trucks and police cars, they are so loud to the point of inducing an inner fury.

Being that there are a couple of fire stations not far from where I live, I hear sirens periodically, an average of once or twice per week to my estimate.

I understand that they are inevitable, and I also know that one doesn’t have to be on the autism spectrum to hate those sounds as I have heard neurotypicals (those without ASD) complain about them, too.

But that doesn’t change the fact that they bother the heck out of me, a level of 15 on a scale of one to ten.

2.  CAR ALARMS

I live in a complex which is designed so that the parking spaces are below the homes.

Which means that I hear those annoying alarms from cars from time to time.

Put it this way:

Whenever I go downstairs to our complex’s parking area, I make sure that I make no loud noises so as to not trigger those alarms, they bother me so much.

Thankfully they don’t last too long, but it doesn’t change my urge to yell, “Shut those d*** things off!”

3.  DOGS BARKING

It’s the reason why I am a cat person, as incessant barking drives me absolutely nuts.

I have two examples of this…

  • A few years ago, a group of folks with a dog moved next door to my house. They would park that dog on the patio right above my bedroom every day, and it would bark incessantly whenever the owners were out, which was frequently, including at night. I was so annoyed that it got to the point where I submitted a formal complaint to the manager of the complex asking to intervene. The dog and its owners moved away soon after.
  •  A couple of years later, there was loud barking from a German Shepherd (known barkers, which is why they are preferred by the police) who was perched on a patio across the way from my bedroom. This would start at roughly 3:00 p.m. every day and would make me want to scream in emotional agony. This situation had a more satisfying ending, however, as after explaining to the dog’s owner about my condition and how it made me noise sensitive to things like barking dogs, it was moved to another part of the house.

I know that there are non-austistics that hate dogs that bark loudly and incessantly, but my intolerance to that noise is pronounced. I think that’s the difference between someone with Asperger’s and someone who doesn’t have it.

4.  BABIES AND TODDLERS CRYING

Much like dogs barking, it’s a significant factor of me not wanting children as although I like kids – I wouldn’t have worked with them as a P.E. teacher, a sports coach, and a tutor for two and a half decades if I didn’t – and think babies are adorably cute, I know I couldn’t have one of my own because I couldn’t handle things that small children do like cry loudly and incessantly and throw temper tantrums.

As I have always said, parenting is not for everyone.

 

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I’ve always like open spaces like this meadow, as it gives off a similar relaxing feeling in me as the sounds listed below. Photo courtesy of atozallnews.blogspot.co.uk

 

 

All right, let me flip this and list the sounds and noises that I enjoy…

1.  JETS/PLANES/HELICOPTERS

Looking back, I realized that I liked planes flying overhead when as a young kid living near an air force base, I would lay in my bed and experience feelings of comfort and coziness whenever a jet would fly by.

That hasn’t changed forty-something years later as the sounds of planes and helicopters induces relaxing feelings, to the point where they would help me sleep if those sounds came late at night.

Those same feelings come whenever I would hear these other sounds…

2. RAIN

The harder the rain, the better.

Which I suppose would make me a good fit for living in Seattle, or Portland, or anywhere else in the Pacific Northwest.

3. WIND

See rain, as in the harder, the better.

Though I wouldn’t want to experience a category 5, Katrina-like hurricane or a tornado, as I have something against getting killed by flying debris or by having one of those EF-5 monster funnel clouds throwing me several miles.

Putting it another way, with all due respect to those regions I would not be a good fit for the Midwest, the Gulf Coast, or Florida.

And I suppose people in those areas wouldn’t think they’d be a good fit for California due to the threat of earthquakes, so it all balances out.

4. THUNDER

For the same reasons as the first three noises mentioned.

Though I know full well that I’m unique in this preference as many if not most folks hate thunder and feel threatened by it.

I, however, get a relaxing feeling from it, particularly when I’m in bed at night or in the early morning.

I always find myself counting “one-one thousand, two-one-thousand…” after a thunder boom to find out how far the accompanying lightning is; the longer you count, the farther the lightning is, which is a good tip for being safe in a big storm.

 

Well, that’s one aspie’s specific noise sensitivities.

If anyone on the Autism Spectrum Disorder, whether he/she has Asperger’s or full-blown autism, is reading this, I wonder what is yours?

 

 

Hans-Asperger

I really like this quote from the guy whom Asperger’s Syndrome was named after in 1944; it’s quite eloquent. Image courtesy of blog.southeastpsych.com