The LookOut Letters to the Editor
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Last Monday night, Santa Monica Police along with officers and equipment from Culver City, Inglewood, Torrance and Long Beach sealed off and surveilled the 2200 block of 21st Street after a parolee punched an officer in the face, broke her finger and then hid under a house on that block.

The following is an account of the misadventures of former Planning Commissioner and 21st Street resident Eric Parlee on the night of the incident – Lookout Ed.

Full Service Community

August 10, 2011

Dear Editor,

I live in a full service community with some of the best and most well-compensated civil servants in the state if not the entire country. Santa Monica has the fullest gamut of “life slices” imaginable, all of it crammed in an eight square mile postage stamp hemmed in by the behemoth that is Los Angeles on three sides and the vast Pacific Ocean on the other.

It is the last stop in the continental tilt where all the nuts and bolts end up as so well described by Frank Lloyd Wright, (well acquainted with what he was talking about). It is also blessed with a mild climate, cooling breezes, jobs far in excess of the number of residents, and all the wealth one can imagine.

Per capita our city budget exceeds other similarly populated communities by a multiple of three due in part to the transient communities of all sorts that tilt our way. Our enviable budget is also due in part to our community commitment to continually enhance, explore and maintain a quality of life and interrelated services demanded by a self styled highly progressive community.

Now by transient community I don’t mean exclusively homeless as the tourist industry is by far one of the biggest factors in the transient population only exceeded by those commuting into town to follow a job.

This calls for a remarkably responsive and versatile gendarmarie to handle the occasional negative implications of so many comings and goings.

Last night as I was returning from a grueling day-long business trip out of town I came upon a remarkable demonstration of what this full service means. The advance preparation for my trip had called for three weeks of at least 60 hours each followed by a short three hour nap before rising early to catch a plane north for an early afternoon meeting. All of that went well enough, but the return leg flight was delayed two hours. I can’t sleep on a plane any more than a sardine can swim in its can, so there was, as they say, no rest for the wicked.

Dragging myself to the car, trying to keep my eyes open long enough to get home, hit the head then hit the sack, I was startled to see that my street was blocked off on all sides with the flashing lights, shinny metal squad cars and crisply uniformed members of Santa Monica’s finest. “What’s up?” The officers answer that they are looking for a fugitive and that I’ll have to wait until they catch him before I can return home.

It’s late, I just live down the block (you want to look at my license?) can’t someone just arrange an escort so that I can sleep in my own bed at a reasonable hour (like now…).

Nope, no one can go in, we’re using dogs to find the guy. You can talk to the Watch Captain at the command station (yes, they’ve set one up already…) but I doubt you’ll be allowed in. I doubted it too.

Sometime the year before, a similar situation had occurred and we had a neighbor who wound up sleeping the night in his car just doors form his warm and cozy bed. Rules is rules. In that case, and as I read later the next day, “considered armed and dangerous” was the operating factor in this orchestration.

Not inclined to sleep in my car and suffer the rest of the week from the effects, I decided it was a waste of time to try to buck this policy especially since the only name I could drop had retired seven years ago. My how time flies…

So now I’m homeless in the Home of the Homeless (nod to Harry Shearer), within eyeshot but not reach of my humble upper six figure tear down. The situation is becoming more aggravating as by now that trip to the head has been delayed nearly to the point of floating teeth.

With zip cash, but plastic aplenty, I could remedy the accommodation part, but first I needed to find somewhere to get the pressing immediate relief required. I’d left my office keys at home, so that option was out. What the hell, a drink at my favorite watering hole and call it a fair trade.

Unfortunately, I arrived at closing time but was told that the Huntley penthouse bar was the best bet nearby. It was. but the elevator wait and ride was nearly interminable. Alls well, the bar is open, (just barely) the wc is just off the elevator, and that part of my problem is solved., and soothed. I can’t remember many men’s rooms with glowing scented candles in glass bulbs on the floor.

Time for the exchange in the bargain and I order a house selection scotchwaterrocks to further ease the tension of the last hour. So now what, it’s closing time nearly (early on a slow Monday apparently), so I head back home to see if our boys have got their man. No.
I’ve never seen this many cops at one place and now the helicopters are in on the act, circling around like and Orwellian/Vonnegut/Keystone/Gestapo action extravaganza with a dash of Heller to round out the absurdity of my situation. This much effort for one miscreant? Now that’s full service.

The next day I read that Mr. Presumed Armed and Dangerous was stopped by a female officer as he was riding a bike on the wrong side of the street. Now I’ve done that, as have many who deem bike riding a special activity free from the niggling constraints of traffic law. It is a common enough occurrence, scofflaw light, as one might expect,--free pass territory--so I’m going to assume that there might have been another factor in the encounter, but that’s mere speculation.

I’m also going to watch my biking manners, maybe even stop at stops signs and stoplights from now on. I don’t want to be the object of this kind of full service if I can avoid it.

Nor would I presume to be armed and dangerous, or seek to acquire the wrap sheet that the object of all this attention had when his identity was checked. A parolee, (the “o” in that word is very important to me as it makes all the difference in how I’m perceived) with a record of narcotics and weapon possession, Mr. Presumed slugged the female officer, broke her finger, and departed the scene to hide in my ‘hood. We can’t have that.

And thus ensued a full tilt boogie demonstration of “Quien es mas macho”. Four hours or so later Mr. Presumed was at last apprehended with the presence and participation of nearly all the Santa Monica Police force not otherwise engaged (somebody was probably holding down another fort somewhere), plus the assistance and participation of neighboring Gendarmes from Santa Monica College, the cities of Culver, Inglewood, Torrance, Los Angeles and Long Beach—the latter providing the helicopter that most likely kept all my neighbors up until the all clear was sounded.

Mr. Presumed got the best attention available in the known universe and is getting another ration of full service without bail that might last for a couple of years if there’s room at the Inn-Carceration.

I didn’t stick around for the end game. I figured the night was nearly lost and that recovery of any semblance of a good night’s sleep was going to involve king sized luck and plastic. I headed down Pico. I’ll take a shot at Casa de Mar, maybe Shutters. Make lemonade out of the situation and have a little pampered mini-vacation. Well, it’s the high tourist season and the only room available was beyond my gotta have it range. The concierge did sympathize with my plight, a newly transient homeless person in my own hometown, so near yet so far from my own lumpy bed and boon companion(s)—three if you include two cats. I didn’t bring her to tears, but she did get to the phone and find me a more reasonable room, ocean view no less, at the Viceroy, where it appears half of France is staying.

Well, hells bells, I’m sort of French myself, although at minimum a five-generation remove, so I felt right at home, homeless but with some hommies that speak English in that very exotic way that my early antecedents must have before they married Scots Irish gals and had their name Yankeefied round about the time of the American Revolution. And the French are all so calm and non-plussed. The entirety of August is vacation time in La Belle France and we should all be very pleased that they are transients here as well from time to time, (de temps en temps, pronounced duh tonz on tonz), homeless in our little burg, paying customers, paying bed tax, seeing the sights then leaving, hopefully with happy tales of Happy People in a Happy Town. They weren’t trying to stay in my neighborhood, so nothing should be amiss in their perceptions of our little Urbe Felice.

And this rounds my story. I paid my bed tax too. And I’m sure a decent portion of it will drop into the General Fund and offset the rather extravagant but necessary full service that Mr. Presumed received and will continue to receive for some time.

Considering all the personnel and equipment involved in this amazing operation, the cost of which could very easily attain six figures if you measure it proportionally against the cost of any fee assessed for services, full or less so in our Urbe Felice, Mr. Presumed, if Found Guilty, will have a lifetime of pressing license plates to work it off. Or, given the State of the State of Things, he’ll be yet again Mr. Parolee in short order, as he was just before he had the chutzpah to think he could ride a bike on the wrong side of the street in Santa Monica.

My Rant For the Day,

Eric Charles Parlee

(that’s Perlier in Frog but spoken with a hard Yankee R and a tongue with no patience for the nuance of ‘eeeyay’). I currently have no aspirations to be a parolee, but given the state of things these days, I could very likely join others aux barricades in some in-civil action of protest involving chardonnay but not tea.


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