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I Voted! (And It's All Sylvia's Fault)

We sit in with Sylvia Levin at her "Register and vote" table in front of Mani's Bakery, Main Street, Santa Monica.

May 07, 2000|Hank Rosenfeld

A man approaches Mani's.

Sylvia: Are you registered to vote?

Man: Not around here.

Sylvia: That doesn't give me an answer.

I do all of California. All voters can register at this magnificent table. Tell them where I am so the voters will know. I've been registering voters since 1973. The Congressional Record wrote about me; I got a resolution. Are you gonna be here tomorrow? I'll bring it.

I am known to be--not bragging--the No. 1 registrar of voters of all time. In all of Los Angeles County. That comes right out of the registrar of L.A. County, in Norwalk.

I do this as a service to the community. Helping the voter. I have two children. My daughter, Susan, is a special-educational instructor in an L.A. elementary, Laurel Elementary, and my son is in politics. Chuck. He's behind the scenes. A campaign manager, for future candidates. I can't divulge anything more. Not right now.

I moved out here in 1941. Came out on the train. What else? So what do you do for a living, as we say in New York?

Another guy stops to register. He says when he was 13, he used the money from his bar mitzvah to buy Dodger season tickets, and still has them.

Sylvia: Did you go to Opening Day? I did. My son's name was on the screen! It was his birthday. The celebration they put on, it's stupendous! It's a circus, a spectacular. I went two years ago to Opening Day, with a whole bunch of men. A bus full.

How do you like this new fella, Shawn Green? Twenty-seven, cute kid. Tommy Lasorda took him to all the synagogues. Now all the Jews will come to the ballpark. They never did before. They will now. He's from Tustin, went to Stanford. Hit 42 homers last year, oh, yeah. Cute kid.

The one guy you want to sit next to at the stadium sits waaay up, near home. He goes crazy from Inning One. There's only one thing I don't like. They get up in the seventh. And leave. It's so hickish. So unsophisticated. I say, "Where ya going? The game isn't over." They always say the same thing: "To beat the traffic." I assure you when Shawn Green is playing, they won't leave.

What? Bush or Gore? That's where I draw the line. This is a nonpartisan table. My hours? Every weekend, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. My age? Even the Congressional Record never asked me that! Look. See that over there? There was an accident out here the other day. Guy drove right into the front wall of the restaurant. Know why? A car phone. Car phones. You wanna write about something, write about that!

Another customer prepares to enter Mani's.

Sylvia: Are you registered, sir? Come sit down, it only takes four minutes. Are you on parole?

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