The cards and letters in support of Sand Aid, the concert to free the beaches of Malibu, keep rolling in, and today I'd like to bring everyone up to date on the latest developments.
As you may recall, the concert will be a fund-raiser for the legal defense of Access for All, which has been sued by beach-dwelling mogul David Geffen. Geffen promised to allow public beach access in return for the right to enlarge his compound, but then Mr. Bigshot changed his mind and sued to keep the gate closed.
Readers have generously offered money and an array of services, up to and including the production and promotion of the concert. I'm sorry to report that U2, Jackson Browne and Sting--self-proclaimed consciousness-raising performers--have bailed out on us because of alleged scheduling conflicts, and no response yet from Joni Mitchell or Sheryl Crow.
But who needs them?
Four Southern California bands--Minimal Effort, No Jack City, Come And Go and Pseudopod--have offered their services. I'm thinking of headlining Pseudopod because it's on the Interscope Records label, which is part of the Geffen/A&M music family. The idea of a Geffen-affiliated band muckraking for Mr. Mogul to open the gates is too tempting to resist.
I did receive a kind offer to merge Sand Aid with the Force-for-Freedom concert scheduled for Aug. 10 and 11 in Malibu, featuring the Neville Brothers, John Tesh, chanting Tibetan monks and a host of others. I'm fine with the Neville Brothers and chanting monks, but we do have standards, and so I notified the Force-for-Freedom producer that if they don't drop John Tesh, we have no deal.
Still waiting to hear back.
Sand Aid--the date of which will be announced in this space--also will feature the folk duet Doodoo Wah, which has offered to come all the way down from Gold Rush country to sing, "This sand is your sand, this sand is my sand ...."
Speaking of parodies, readers have knocked themselves out rewriting the words to Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi," whose famous chorus goes:
Don't it always seem to go,
That you don't know what
'Til it's gone.
They paved paradise.
They put up a parking lot.
My favorite effort so far, abridged below, is from Jack Grimshaw of Long Beach:
Ain't it always in the news,
The rich getting more
While we get the blues?
They put up a mansion
And fenced off a public
In fairness, let me say that not all readers are with us, and some took issue with my contention that all beaches in California are owned by the public. So allow me to clarify.
It is true that some beach dwellers own a private patch of sand. But generally speaking, the public owns everything seaward of wet sand, and homeowners have attempted to manipulate legal interpretation of that line of demarcation.
In Geffen's case, as with other movers and shakers, he promised to allow public access to a big chunk of the beach in return for permits to build his dream house. Steve Hoye of Access for All says there's a 275-foot-long, 100-foot-
deep beach out there that people can't enjoy.
Why? Because Geffen, refusing to live up to the deal he agreed to, won't open the gate to the walkway that runs from Pacific Coast Highway to the beach.
For shame, for shame.
Hoye says another nasty access battle is simmering just up the coast, at Malibu's Broad Beach. Homeowners have hired red-shirted rent-a-cops to patrol the sand on all-terrain vehicles, rousting people off beaches and herding them like seagulls into vertical columns.
"They'll tell you this is a private beach and you have to sit in the vertical access way, and if a leg or surfboard is sticking over the line, they'll push it back. It happens all the time," says Hoye.
Homeowners also are hiring surveyors and manipulating property lines at the water's edge, posting "keep out" signs, according to Hoye.
"I really don't like arriving at the beach and getting hassled by little private police forces. It's appalling. And I don't want people with martinis coming out and saying, 'Get off my property,' when it's not their property."
(All of you who asked how to donate to Access for All or how to get more information about it can contact Hoye at sierrasteve
@earthlink.net, or write him at P.O. Box 1704, Topanga, CA 90290).
Malibu homeowners often tell me, in arguing against public access, that people can't be trusted not to foul the beach. And yes, there are a few idiots in every crowd.
But Encino surfer Noel Anenberg notes that Malibu has no sewer system, despite being home to a bunch of self-congratulatory progressives.
What that means, Anenberg says, is that moguls and movie stars use septic tanks, the contents of which occasionally are washed to sea.
"Bacterial infections of the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems plague Malibu surfers and swimmers. Yet those liberal champions of our environment refuse to clean up theirs!" rails Anenberg. "Isn't it bad enough we have to listen to their crap?"
Sand Aid 2002.
Catch the wave.
Steve Lopez writes Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.