Let’s Go Dutch

By Mark Crantz
By Mark Crantz

I thought the door was closed on the village entrance project. Then I read there’s a community workshop scheduled to discuss the project for July 16at the village entrance. Above, level and underground parking available next door.

I made up the last sentence to see if I could get a rise out of Howard Hills or Ari Grayson. Oops. I sit corrected. That’s Dr. Ari Grayson and Howard Hills, Esquire.

I think it’s cool how they go after each other in the comment section of the digital Indy. I seldom get comments. My wife says it’s because readers feel sorry for me and know better than to pick on a girlie girl with third grade level writing skills. She’s president of my fan club and recently heard from the Top of the World third grade class. They think I write at a kindergartner’s level. They may have a point. I take naps between paragraphs.

Aah, I feel refreshed. I think the community workshop should hold a field trip, instead of a workshop on July 16. I suggest a fact-finding visit to Home Depot to see what doors are available for the entrance.

I couldn’t wait to July 16 and went to Home Depot to look for myself. There are a lot of doors. I knocked on all of them. No one was home so I went to Ganahl Lumber, whereupon the first door I knocked on, somebody answered. “May I help you?” asks the most helpful hardware man.

“I need a door for Laguna’s village entrance project.”

“What kind of door do you have in mind?”

I really didn’t know and realize the only door I can think of at this exact moment is Keith Morrison of the Doors music group and how his career tragically ended at 27 years of age and what a loss to mankind that mine continued. Howard and Ari agree. I don’t know how they do it, but as I’m writing they are posting their comments simultaneously. It’s unnerving and distracting me from finding a village entrance door. Maybe it’s time for another nap.

Aah, I feel energized and promise myself not to look at the comment section until I’m finished. I got an idea. Actually, it was my dad’s idea many years ago. My dad and mom put a screened-in porch on the back of their house. The entrance was connected at the back of the kitchen. They decided to put in a Dutch door. Dutch doors are cut in the middle, so you can have the top half open and the bottom half closed. My dad said he liked that door because sometimes he forgot to wear pants. Mom liked the door more than Dad. This door was a source of much amusement over their retirement years. Occasionally, my dad would put a sock on the door and we would steer clear of the porch so he could listen to the Pittsburgh Pirate baseball games on the radio. Baseball is a long season of 162 games. I always knew when the team was doing well if by September my dad wasn’t wearing socks.   Luckily, his birthday came on Sept. 26 right before the fall classic playoffs and the grandkids outfitted him with matching socks to get him through the World Series.

So, I vote for a Dutch door at the village entrance. Do I dare look now at the comment section to see what entrance the good doctor and good lawyer want. I’ll need my strength. Nap first.


Aah, I’m up. Wow, they agree on something. Both have picked out a nice exit door with my name on it. How thoughtful.


Mark is a transplant to Laguna from Chicago. He occasionally writes the guest column “Pet Peeves.” His recently deceased Border Collie, Pokey, is his muse and ghostwriter.

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  1. OK, Mark, here you go, your hope that Ari and I will ask you to come out and play once you have had your after school snack is coming true.

    Only I hate to disappoint you, it is not as much fun as you seem to think. You see we have no playground rules to keep it fun and safe. All we have is this nasty thing called accountability.

    So here is a little does of it for you, in very neutral tones because you are an innocent among beasts of prey.

    Ari and I have only gone after each other once. I have had dealings with him only three times, and two of those times were very positive. The first was when I was working for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 48th Congressional District Office and Ari wanted Congressman Rohrabacher to appear on his radio show.

    I set it up on the Congressman’s calendar and came down to sit in on some of the interview. But a funny thing happened on my way there. I found the Congressman and his 10 year old triplets strolling around town sightseeing and making their way to the studio at a decidedly leisurely pace. It was such a beautiful Laguna morning no one on the street was in much of a hurry.

    But we all arrived at the Firebrand Media’s Forest Ave. venue only a few minutes late and the interview was going great. Ari was being fair and even if he wasn’t Rohrabacher enjoys nothing more than jousting with liberal media. So I went to hang out with the Congressman’s kids and we had a swell time checking out the exhibits and the candy store next door. Dana enjoyed the interview and liked Ari, so did I.

    The second time I dealt with Ari was when as a relative newcomer Ari to our town commons he made an understandable but not consequence free miscalculation. We do not need to re-litigate it here but he wrote an op-ed that presupposed anyone who disagreed with him was delusional. Liberals may be louder in this town than conservatives, but that does not mean we can be dehumanized or demonized without paying a price. That does not work in “our Laguna” so I called him out for it in no uncertain terms. He and some of his sympathizers wanted to draw me into the merits of the topic, but I was not really interested in the topic so much as the ideological mockery that precluded civil discourse on the subject matter as far as I was concerned.

    So that was not a pleasant experience, but then I read his op-ed about what true patriotism means. It was not a piece I would have written with the focus he gave the topic, but I found myself in agreement with his premise, that patriotism takes many forms, and that people who criticize and dissent against what our government and nation do should be counted in many cases among the most patriotic Americans. I also agreed that if you have allegiance to the U.S. as a citizen and do so lawfully you are patriotic and contribute to the success of the country by enjoying the blessings of your freedom and making a life for yourself and your loved ones.

    So I wrote the Indy Editor and Aril and commended them for that op-ed and explained why I agreed with it. I got a very gracious and nice note from Ari about the importance of civility and respect for opposing views. I just wish some of those who think I am being mean to the school board for criticizing their profligate waste of taxpayer dollars would remember that usually I am civil if pointedly focused in my critique of what based on my own experience in government I honestly regard as unethical bureaucratic tactics.

    I suppose it also would be good for people to remember that most of us who are civic activists do not make a living doing it, but instead are acting out of a sense of civic and patriotic duty. That is why we are less cautious about holding other accountable than we might be if we had to go along to get along in order to make a living.

    So there, Mark, that didn’t hurt much, did it? You tried to create the impression that Ari and I are a couple of partisan political junkies incapable of erudite discourse like yours because of our ideological rigidity. Turns out we actually are sincere and patriotic advocates who can work together, accomplish joint goals to inform the public debate, and even find some common truth and have constructive dialogue, as we have on two out of three occasions.

    As for your writing style, I usually don’t have time for your ambling lead ins in order to find out what the Hell your topic is, so I tend to give up and move on. But you caught my eye today by mentioning the Village Entrance project, so you hooked me just as you hoped and your wish came true. You now have had the thrill of coming out to play with the other kids on the block.

  2. Howard, thank you for the thoughtful reply. I’ve never been on the adult playground of important issues. Now that I’ve been, I don’t think I’m ready for accountability. I’m going back inside now to drink and smoke and generally be unaccountable. Don’t tell Mom. Also, I appreciate you pointing out my ambling lead-ins. I should never bury the lead. A full burial of the story would be better. Thanks again for being a good sport and coming out to play along with those of us less civic minded. Where’s Ari? I’m putting out a BOLO spaghetti to fret over and hope for his safe return. Keep up the good work.


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