','subtitle>',$line); echo $line; $line = "\n"; } else if (strstr($line, '','updated>',$line); } else if (strstr($line, '','published>',$line); } else if (strstr($line, ' Impractical Proposals <br> Santa Monica: 2005.06


The only solution traffic congestion in Santa Monica is...

...More traffic!

Let's face it. Only if the traffic tangle gets immeasurably worse than it is already will we get light rail. And only when we Santa Monicans cease going to our own downtown altogether, because it's just too damn hard, will we be offered other ameliorations like minicabs, pedaltaxis, and Tide-sized buses to all parts of town.

If you favor the development of a rational public transportation system, you've got to look on gridlock as your ally and friend.

Planning and development and even growth are not the enemy, by the way. The enemies of the good life in Santa Monica are bad and wasteful planning, mediocre development, and growth that is unaccompanied by the planned and managed creation of a workable infrastructure.

Growth is going to come. The only question is how we will manage it for the better.

If you are a progressive, you probably favor development: development means jobs, it means housing, it means improved infrastructure, it means public transportation.

And if you are concerned about the environment, then you must have realized that the only solution to urban sprawl, to the loss of farmland, recreational opportunities, plant and animal diversity, water resources, and so on, resides in encouraging the creation of much denser urban environments. And you have to ask yourself where in Southern California the concentration of development should occur if not in the zone that puts the least drain on the infrastructure and the environment by needing neither air-conditioning in the summer nor much in the way of heating in the winter. There is also a huge benefit to having a large population within a short hop to the beach.

In Santa Monica, a successful future can be expressed in a simple two-part formula: Develop the commercial areas! Protect the neighborhoods!

This means allowing new construction of mixed-use housing and commercial developments along the commercial streets, while doing everything possible to protect the character and density of the purely residential neighborhoods.

In the meantime, while we wait for the traffic grind to a halt, there are many alternatives to automobiles for getting around our little (3 mile x 3 mile) town. Those who are are neither lame nor lazy can easily walk from our neighborhoods to downtown or to other parts of the city. Although City Hall has pursued traffic policies over the past decade that have made it increasingly dangerous to ride, the climate and the basically flat topography make Santa Monica almost ideal for commuting by bicycle (and, while it is true that riding safely here requires great alertness, it is equally true that as more of us do it, the safer it will become). Why is it left to a city like Long Beach to pioneer a downtown bicycle valet service while Santa Monica relies on bike lanes to nowhere and ridiculous "Share the Road" signs?

Finally, we are lucky in having a relatively efficient and inexpensive bus system. The Big Blue Bus is cheap, clean, and safe (at least for people on the bus), and with innovations like the Tide shuttle linking the major hotels to downtown and Ocean Park and the new express bus to LAX, Santa Monica's bus company has demonstrated a willingness to think outside the lane. And Metro's red express buses connect Santa Monicans to a growing county-wide transportation system.

See Travel: ExperienceLA.com


Needed: Universal Wi-Fi Access

Santa Monica needs to move quickly if it is not to be left hopelessly behind by the wireless revolution.

It's not as though providing a wi-fi network is a major capital expense requiring a big investment by the city. In fact, it may not require public funds at all.

What's needed, more than anything, is leadership.

In Turku, Finland, according to MasterNewMedia.Org, a city-wide network of wi-fi hotspots was installed in one month time with absolutely no centralized investment or public funding. Using the cooperative model, community members agreed to share surplus broadband connection capacity on a municipal-wide basis.

SparkNet and OpenSpark are two similar projects in Turku that use a specific combination of low-cost/free software/hardware tools to leverage community members' extra internet capacity.

SparkNet, a partnership between public sector organizations and private companies, including University of Turku, Åba Akademi University, Turku School of Economics and Business Administration, Turku Polytechnic, ICT Turku Ltd and MP-MasterPlanet Ltd., has created a network outside of any of the participating institutions' firewalls. Using a shared open source operating system that allows each partner to use its own internet gateway (e.g., wherever a student uses this network, the connection goes through the college's internet gateway), each institution has acquired a number of inexpensive access points. With the participation of private companies, municipalities, etc., every student in Turku (over 50,000) can use the SparkNet wi-fi network all over the city free of charge. SparkNet has now over 100,000 user accounts, more than 5,000 active users and over 500 access points. It is the most used wi-fi network in Finland.

Private companies or even individual home users can also easily and inexpensively create a voluntary co-op network. Using one version, OpenSpark, anyone can share his broadband connection with others wirelessly. Both OpenSpark and SparkNet can be installed and operated in any home or office with a broadband connection. Any ADSL or better type of connection will do. Participants can connect to the internet wherever there is an OpenSpark access point. In Turku, using OpenSpark, 600 access points have been acquired with more in the pipeline.

Either SparkNet and OpenSpark can be deployed anywhere. There is already one OpenSpark access point in New York City and more are expected to pop up in other locations. Many municipalities -- from Philadelphia to Culver City -- are installing citywide public networks. All that is needed is a broadband connection, free software, and an access-point hardware device costing $130 or so. In a city as small as Santa Monica, the expense of covering the commercial and retail areas -- Santa Monica, Wilshire, Pico and Ocean Park boulevards, downtown, the Pier, Main Street, Montana, Broadway, Colorado, SMCC and the airport -- would be a phenomenal value.

But, although the software is free and the hardware very inexpensive, it will take a commitment of someone's time to get this project organized. What company, institution or agency is willing to take the lead in bringing universal wi-fi access to Santa Monica by freeing up one of its employees for a month or so to put together the necessary resources? The neighborhood associations? The business districts? Santa Monica College? City Hall? The Chamber of Commerce? An internet company like Yahoo or Google? Someone needs to step forward now.

Let's do it.

Source: <http://www.masternewmedia.org/>

To learn more about OpenSpark: <http://open.sparknet.fi>


Political Action (but fun): Westside Bike Ride

Santa Monica Critical Mass is a monthly bicycle ride to celebrate cycling and to assert cyclists' right to the road. The Critical Mass concept started in San Franciscoin September 1992 and has spread to cities all over the world.

1st Friday of every month
Next ride: Friday, July 1, 2005

We have three starting points to choose from:

6:30 pm, Santa Monica Pier, Colorado Blvd. & Ocean Ave. (at top of pier ramp)

map | satellite | live webcam

6:00 pm, UCLA*, Westwood Blvd. & Le Conte

map | satellite

6:00 pm, Venice Beach*, 1401 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA

map | satellite | live webcam

* Early "satellite" groups that merge into main group group at Santa Monica Pier.

For more info: <http://www.CriticalMassRides.info>

The next time you want a light beer…

…consider wheat beers, aka "white" beers:

During fermentation so-called white beers develop a pale head of foam, and, since they're often unfiltered, suspended sediment can give these concoctions a milky mien. And like many traditional beers, white beers pursue a secondary fermentation in the bottle that can also make them hazy with yeast.

While some of these beverages take their appelations from wheat – German
Weizen; tarwe in Flemish; froment in French – others, like the one we're going to consider today, are named for their cloudy, pale-yellow-verging-on-white color: Weisse, wit, blanche. They might more accurately be called gelbes Biers, but who wants to drink something called yellow beer.

Anyway, to press on with today's lesson, beers made using wheat are usually fermented with ale yeasts, making them lighter than those employing lager cultures. Since white beers aren't usually very high octane, they make great hot weather refreshments, perfect for the deck of your yacht. Only a shade more mundanely, they also make a great companion for fruity desserts, like Library Alehouse's superb Mocha Torte with Raspberry Sauce. Back home in Belgium, they're typically served in chunky, bevelled tumblers that look like French pastis. Very classy.

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, in the days before barley came to dominate brewing, wheat beers were produced all over the place. In Germany and Belgium, wheat beers never entirely went away, and they've made a big comeback with the growing market for "light" beer. The traditional use of fruits, spices and herbs as seasoning began to recede as hops gained the upper hand in the middle of last millennium. In Germany, only hops are now permitted, though a barkeep or patron has been known to add fruit, raspberry syrup or essence of woodruff, whatever that is,* to some styles of beer.

The best-known Belgian
Witbier or Bière Blanche is the principal justification for the existence of Hoegaarden, a pretty but otherwise insignificant town in the wheat-growing Brabant farmlands east of Brussels and Leuven. In the 1960s, a local milkman named Pieter Celis, about whom more in a moment, revived a traditional brewing style of the region that ordinarily combined equal portions of raw wheat and malted barley (sometimes with an admixture of oats), spiced it up with dried Curaçao orange peels and ground coriander seeds and -- something else…what? cumin, maybe -- and then fermented the lot with a conventional yeast.

The resulting drink, named Hoegaarden after its hometown, is a lovely and enticing elixir, pouring a very pale yellow color that intensifies to a hazy gold when the yeast sediment is aroused. If held up to the light, the liquid appears almost off-white, true to its
witbier ycleption. The creamy head sustains with a moussy feel.

As far as taste goes, there's enough complexity here to incite the verbal excesses of a wine connoisseur: a sugary wheat flavor dominates, but the coriander and citrus, often pursued by a mild phenolic aroma, contribute to a complex, elegant, nearly winy disposition. Heady, virtually Bazooka-level sweetness, bestowed by the cereal grass, frequently with plum, apple or banana appoggiaturas, is nicely undercut by the piquant orange and herb colorations – you'll think you're catching intimations of cinnamon, cloves, pepper and nutmeg -- and by a faintly astringent dryness. That trailing nose is bright and highly fruity, with a pleasing hint of muskiness. Behind it all, a muted and nectarious bitterness, reminiscent of the absent hops, is probably contributed by the amaroidal orange peel.

Despite its lightness and freshness, this is a beverage that weighs on the tongue, graceful, bracing, yes, but because of the wheaty twang and slight acidity, surprisingly firm and grainy, with more heft than you'll ever encounter in German
Weizen beers.

If it were a movie actress, Hoegaarden would be Anne Heche.

Lastly, an aside: Pieter Celis, who had reincarnated Belgian white beer, sold Hoegaarden but was subsequently unhappy with the bier as produced by its new owners (he was a purist, after all). Entrepreneurial Pieter (now Peter) relocated to Austin where he microbrewed a similar drink, Celis White (the real Hoegaarden, I guess) that was very popular in Texas in the 90s. A familiar story followed: In 1995, Miller Brewing bought majority interest in Celis' brewery, took complete control early in 2000, by December 2000 announced the brewery would be closed and sold, and ceased production before the beginning of 2001 (apparently, neither Starbucks nor Walmart was involved). At the time, the equipment and brands were sold to Michigan Brewing Co., but it now appears Celis White is under license by the De Smedt in Opwijk, a two-hundred-years-old family-run brewery north-west of Brussels that makes Abbey beers (Affligem, Aulne and Postel).

As this saga demonstrates, beer ain't just beer.

*Looked it up, of course:

wood·ruff Audio pronunciation of "woodruff" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (wdrf, -rf)
  1. A fragrant perennial herb (Galium odoratum) native to Eurasia and North Africa and widely cultivated as a shade ground cover, having small white flowers and narrow leaves used for flavoring wine and in sachets. Also called sweet woodruff.
  2. Any of various plants of the genus Asperula, having whorled leaves and small funnel-shaped flowers.
[Middle English woderofe, from Old English wudurofe : wudu, wood + -rofe, of unknown meaning.]

Santa Monica Mountains:
Catch a Free Ride to Paradise
(from press release)

On July 2, the National Park Service (NPS) launches a public shuttle service called parkLink: alternative transit designed to connect visitors to beaches, parks and trailheads through the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA).

Eco-conscious NPS is moving forward with the vision in order to improve air quality, protect the environment and reduce vehicle impact. "We want to bring more people into the parks while limiting the number of cars driving through the canyons," says Jean Bray, Public Affairs Officer with SMMNRA.

On weekends and holidays, park for FREE at an NPS site along the route and catch one of the shuttles departing every 30 minutes. With nine stops on the agenda, consider lunching in chic Malibu, surfing at Zuma or picnicking with the peacocks at Peter Strauss Ranch. The clean-diesel shuttles have space for all your gear: trip bike racks, storage for coolers and surfboards, wheelchair lifts and room for 20.

The multi-agency partnership, which includes NPS, California State Parks, Santa Monica Mountains conservancy and LA County Beaches and Harbors has high hopes for the parkLink project. "Together we can contribute to the greening of American by using the shuttle," effuses Bray. You'll also spare yourself the repetitive motion of hitting the brake pedal all the way down PCH."

Visit <http://www.nps.gov/samo/shuttle/> for scheduled stops and complete info on how to use parkLink.