Two readers with inquiring minds, Harry Bradley and Robert Jeffers, phoned separately to ask why, in these energy-conscious times, the Department of Water and Power building downtown is lit up like a Christmas tree at night.
'Cause . . . it's party time!
The DWP is throwing a birthday bash for itself.
Spokesman Ed Freudenburg explained that the lights-are-on-but-nobody's-home arrangement is in effect between dusk and 11 p.m. "in honor of the 25th anniversary of the building," which opened in June, 1965.
The DWP, still smarting from city Controller Rick Tuttle's criticism of two department lunches totaling $1,800 last year, pointed out that the lighting costs only "about $90" per day. (Or about $15,000 for the six-month celebration.)
Freudenburg also said that the lighting consists only of florescent tubing around the outside of each floor, which gives the impression that the 15-layer birthday building is more brightly lit than it is.
Still, it's a real surprise party, especially for rate-payers.
You often hear about youthful hackers tapping into complex computer systems. But USC freshman Tim Needham used an old-fashioned method the other day to prove there was something faulty with the new, sophisticated security system at his campus housing facility.
He kicked the door in.
That is, the inside door. First, he had to open the locked outside door. He accomplished that by jerking the door "a couple of times." And Needham isn't built like a USC football player.
His feat, which was witnessed by the Daily Trojan's Michael Utley as well as by an officer of the private security firm that installed the device, set off fears about the system, which is scheduled to be placed in more than 50 buildings on or near the campus.
But Steve Ward, head of USC's campus police, said that he believes the faulty setup was confined to one entrance.
"The outside door was broken and there was some warping on the inside one," he said.
As proof that the system works elsewhere, he said that there have since been two separate cases of students trying unsuccessfully to kick in other doors.
Perhaps the security company should put them on the payroll as system-testers.
Just when Santa Monica's leaders were no doubt ready to declare "When Veronica Plays Her Harmonica Down on the Pier at Santa Monica" as the city's official song, they found a forgotten 1960s tune about the amusement zone.
It's "Santa Monica Pier," recorded by Noel Harrison.
The stirring lyrics include:
I took you down to the pier, dear.
It was such a fine idea-r.
Fish and chips and the beer, dear,
Down on Santa Monica Pier.
While Harrison also croons about "the music of the merry-go-round," there isn't a single mention of Veronica's musical instrument.
Speaking of Pier Song 1, Dan Shapiro thinks it would have become a perennial holiday tune (like Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad") if only the title had been extended to read:
"When Veronica Plays Her Harmonica Down on the Pier at Santa Monica on Hanukkah."