Apocalypse now, but not in Santa Monica

(Nick Agro/Nick Agro/For The Times)

Apocalypse now, but not in Santa Monica

On Ed

Peter Mehlman

March 15, 2024

In December, an atheist, pro-choice, anti-gun, environmentalist a






asked a Santa Monica resident


So how do you plan to ring in the final year of American democracy?

Now, months into 2024, the world offers little rebuttal to this dire prediction. And yet, despite a marine layer of fear on the beach, not a single Santa Monican I know has made good on their threats to reach out

real estate agents

in Portugal or Uruguay or Cape Town. I haven’t gotten to step 2 of my plan to tackle enlightenment and live off the land’s saturated fat.

The fact is that even if 2024 exceeds its potential for national catastrophe, we must stay where we are. For one reason: we think we can be safe here. Santa Monica does


great place to hide from America. Just ask Whitey Bulger.

No matter how bad we think it can get


, we don’t expect diners to tip Giorgio Baldi servers with one hand and an open Glock in the other. Gynecologists at

St. John’s

Read them their Miranda rights before doing their job? Somehow it feels unlikely. The Handmaids Tale, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Hate U Give, George Orwell, Toni Morrison, Art Spiegel


and Anne Frank banished from the


library? Uh-uh. Not really. Never.

Once more…

The most decimated belief of 2024 America is that this cannot happen here.

Every 10 minutes another book comes out about how it works


happen here, or worse, how it happens


happens here. Soon, every purchase of a new nightstand will come with a free copy of On Tyranny by Yale professor Timothy Snyder. Brilliant book, but, you know, not overly cheerful.

From now on, the best way to rationalize the locals’ fallacy is to redefine “here”: Santa Monica just isn’t there. It is a refuge where we rise defiantly in peace.

Okay, not the most ambitious plan, right? Lying low in our green zone sounds quite defeatist. But after nine years of rehearsals, arguments we never had with people we never met and whose opinions we could never change were simply swept away. It’s scary how many aging boomers in Santa Monica have their towels ready to throw away


: Maybe you should leave at the right time.

So we kept our friends close and our enemies out of sight and out of mind. We were on a low dose of Rachel Maddow and an excess of escapism; Ignore Quinnipiac


polls and demos of the latest in thought-suppressing headphones. We also fell in love with our bubble

the A


that where

Borderline agoraphobia has gone from a condition to a cure.

We used to meet each other on the street and come up with a strategy


activism that would help more Americans see things our way. With leash in hand, lazy walks would turn into street discussions, so eagerly did our dog’s ears perk up at the name Raffensperger.

Now we were thrilled to discuss when and if another atmospheric river will drench Los Angeles.

We need the rain, but not


a lot of rain.

WHERE. The LA County flag should read: “Nothing in moderation.”

Anything that keeps us distanced from oncoming traffic, both domestic and foreign, is warmly welcomed. During an impromptu dog walk last week, I joked that one of the things I love about Santa Monica is that when you see a man


If you wear a suit and tie on a weekday, you feel sorry for him.

A mother of any kind laughed and said, Yes. Being in the rest of the world? Who needs it?

And therein lies my great fear: we will never do that

go there again.

Complacency has a pretty sordid history

that contain features

an overcrowded selection of good people became infamous.

And in reality, my great hope is: we give up that it can’t happen here for another few days or weeks, and spring, with its endless clichés of rebirth, renewal, rededication and all that gibberish, blows into Santa Monica and pushes us eastward along the fear, across the border.

La Cienega and into battle


Peter Mehlman’s latest novel is “#MeAsWell.” He was a writer and producer of ‘Seinfeld’.


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