Changes in the textures of life often come without notice. One day, a simple walk is a quiet and relaxing pleasure. The next day, the streets are filled with people simultaneously walking and talking out loud to themselves. Not because their medication has failed them, but because they have a cell phone wire stuck into their ears… and they must talk.
Changes came quickly after 9/11 and we were afraid so we accepted changes as fast as they were instituted. The slow and methodical baggage checking, the presentation of ID cards, the confiscation of our toenail clippers. For passengers, commercial flying became more like the Army; “It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure!”
It appears the small town, village feel of Pacific Palisades is about to change and those changes might come faster than you can say, “Bullet-resistant fiberglass.”
There’s been a rash of bank robberies in the Palisades. In fact, they’ve had five bank robberies there in five months. And there was a stick-up at a popular Palisades delicatessen, much as that sounds like part of a movie pitch (“Put the cash, and one of those big pickles, in this bag…”). As a result, the casual Mayberry feeling of some Palisades businesses such as banks may now give way to Plexiglas cages and more security.
It makes you sad when you can feel something turning. More and more everyday, modern life drives to extinction things that we take for granted and assume we will never be without. Way before you get to something like one-of-a-kind small businesses disappearing because of giant retail chains, you feel nostalgia for even smaller more primal pleasures like sitting on a field of grass with your fellow citizens all around you, awaiting a holiday fireworks display. I mean, without having your cooler checked for a bomb.
The minute I read about the troubles in the Palisades, I immediately began making a mental list of what might disappear in our own city if we suffered a similar chain of crimes. I saw the service counters at my friendly Main Street bank becoming ugly safety bunkers with metal cash drawers, the always-pleasant tellers trapped inside and looking out like fish in a tank. I wondered if they’d have to fence in the counter at the liquor store, ending all those breezy conversations about various brands of tequila and pages of interest in Maxim Magazine.
The list of people-friendly points of exchange unrolled like a carpet: The Farmers’ Markets, the Santa Monica Pier, festivals and concerts… all possibly changed in some unpleasant way if our city suddenly required more intensive security.
Palisades residents are acutely aware that something’s amiss in their village. The sound of a helicopter overhead causes citizens to think that another bank has been hit. One retailer in the Palisades was so downbeat about the crime wave there that she suggested her gift shop might be renamed “The Sitting Duck.”
I’d love to be able to offer some suggestion or plan for turning things around and getting things back to the way they were: Simple, open, friendly. Alas, I can’t; I don’t have a clue. And it would be little more than a cheap shot to observe that some residents of the Palisades can afford to live there because they are producers of movies and TV shows predicated on the vigorous deployment of guns. Besides, it would be naïve to think that any of the Palisades woes are going to reverse that texture of modern life.
This Week’s “Know Your News” Quiz
1) The U.S. is isolating North
(a) severing ties there.
(b) jacking up cell phone fees.
(c) canceling “Seoul Train.”
2) Norwalk’s Node Bookstore sells
(a) “Star Wars” thongs.
(b) Christian rock music.
(c) “Lord of the Ring Dings”
3) Actor Eddie Albert preferred
(a) the chores.
(b) the stores.
(c) fresh air.
(d) Times Square.
1) (a) “Now stay in your room!”
2) (b) “Holy Smoke on the
3) (a) & (c) “…give me that