Saturday, October 29, 2005
Politics and Art
Do you remember the controversy last year when the previous Costa Mesa City Council, at a time of great fiscal uncertainty,
decided to forgive more than $660,000 in fees due by the developers of the new concert hall at the Performing Arts Center?
The inducement at the time - the carrot dangled in front of the noses of the council by the Segerstrom's silver-tongued spokesman,
Paul Freeman - was the possibility that the council just might get it's name on a wall honoring the big donors when the hall
is completed. No guarantees were made, though. So, the council - giddy at the prospect - released the developer from his
contractual obligation and took a pass on cash that represented nearly 15% of the projected budget shortfall at the time.
Of course, the tax payers of this city had to find that money somewhere so it could be passed on to the county - the ultimate
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At the time I speculated in a commentary published in the Daily Pilot that those dollars might enable the developers to install
more gold-plated bathroom fixtures or commission a nice, new piece of art.
Well, this week I read that Henry Segerstrom has, indeed, commissioned controversial sculptor Richard Serra to craft a few
hunks of steel into a 60 foot high creation to become the centerpiece of the arts plaza. Apparently those art lovers among
us will be able to creep through this collection of rusty scrap metal and be awed by it's beauty.
I also read that some of Serra's most famous works are referred to as "Torqued Ellipses". That seems ironically
appropriate, because that's how I feel about his selection - torqued. Serra has recently made a couple strong anti-war statements
with some of his works, using images of our president in quite negative terms. I'm going to have a hard time feeling very
positive about the artist and his benefactor when I view the completed work. Yeah, yeah, I understand about freedom of expression.
I just don't like the guy's politics and sure don't want to see a rusty, sagging 60 foot tall reminder of his views in a
place of honor in our city forever. Sorry, Henry... that's just the way it is.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Protecting Our Parks
Remember our old pal, Your Neighbor? Well, a fellow that bears a striking resemblance to him is now on a crusade to save
a neighborhood park near his home from marauding hoards of out-of-control soccer players!
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Seems this fellow feels unsafe during his strolls through the park with his young child. He has put our city on notice that
there are dangerous conditions that need to be corrected. This, of course, is a precursor to any law suit he might decide
to file if the city doesn't "fix the problem" to his satisfaction.
"The Problem" is the occasional group of young men who might congregate after work to kick a soccer ball around.
It seems that this fellow fears for the safety of the general public because of errant soccer balls that might be kicked
toward them. This "Your Neighbor" look-alike, good citizen that he is, has made his case before the city council
and anyone else who will listen to him.
In our town, if 10 or more individuals gather to play a game in a park the rules require a permit. If they don't have a permit
they are subject to sanctions by our park rangers and/or police. Although our pal seems certain that there are always more
than ten participants, none of the authorities that have been called confirmed those numbers.
Here's a surprise for you... these marauding soccer players just happen to be Latinos. Wow! What a surprise! How perfectly
in character for this man to be so concerned for the activities of the Spanish-speaking members of this community. He has,
after all, gone to great lengths to make the lives of the Latinos in this city - which may number close to 50% now - miserable.
It seems that, in his minds eye, the Latinos are the root of all problems in our little town, so he's methodically and persistently
trying to find ways to expel them from our borders.
Such is life in our little slice of paradise these days. Stay tuned for more adventures with "Your Neighbor".