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Lookout Sets Lens Loose

Photo of Vince Basehart

By Vince Basehart

The Lookout News will be setting me, The Lens, loose on a weekly basis to discover, search out, peer into, look at, and report back on all the things that make Santa Monica fun and fascinating. Think of me as that hyperkinetic out-of-towner who insists on seeing every sight during his layover. By the time you leave him curbside at LAX you are exhausted, but perhaps a bit more knowledgeable and appreciative of your home town.

The Lens will be looking at the unusual behind the everyday, the odd inside the obvious. We’ve all seen Santa Monica’s famous Ferris wheel a million times. I want to get to know the guy who changes the light bulbs on it. The Lens looks closer.

There are a few other things on my agenda: I want to know how many tiles there are in the McClure Tunnel and who fixes them and what kinds of people blow their horns in it. (Okay, so I’m a bit weird.)

I want to talk to people who fish off the Pier and have the courage to eat what they catch. I want to know the story behind that cannon on the bluffs and talk to members of the Greatest Generation who remember Santa Monica during the Big One. Some of the city’s buildings would spin some fascinating tales if only someone knocked on their doors and asked.

I may tag along with one of those metal detector guys on the beach and see what kinds of stuff he finds. I want to know if it’s true that Santa Monica meter maids never give a guy a break. I have a fascination with empty lots and the detritus that stacks up in them. (But they may not let me go that weird).

Don’t expect the Lens to be a magnifying glass pin-pointing the white heat of the public’s rage upon the corrupt and powerful. I am not a journalist and would embarrass myself pretending to be one. Not to mention, the Lookout News’ reporters already serve that purpose far better than I could hope to. I am more like a wandering minstrel, but instead of an old guitar I carry a pen and a 9” x 6” steno notebook.

When I’m not wearing my monocle I am proud to be the “regulatory guy” for a cutting edge cancer center in Santa Monica, which does really important work. Trust me, Regulatory is not nearly as dry as it sounds.

I am lucky at love. It still feels like I’m dating the phenomenal woman I’ve been married to for the past eight years. Our apartment is ruled by three cats which technically puts us one feline shy of “crazy cat people,” and if we can ever afford to buy a house, we’ll end up with a menagerie.

I am obsessed with old cars including my 1961 Ford Falcon. I smoke one cigar a month. I’ve been told I cook a mean gumbo.

There are hundreds of hidden surprises and unknown characters in Santa Monica to be discovered. I’m at least as excited to find what I don’t know I’ll be writing about yet.

And I could use your help too. If you have any stories of interest upon which The Lens could aim its steely gaze, please send your suggestions to me at

Thanks. And I’ll be seeing you here at The Lens.




"The Lens will be looking at the unusual behind the everyday..."





"I want to talk to people who fish off the Pier and have the courage to eat what they catch."


"I am more like a wandering minstrel, but instead of an old guitar, I carry a pen and a 9" x 6" steno notebook."






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The views expressed in this column are those of Vince Basehart and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Lookout.
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