Pet Peeves


A Funny Thing Happened…

By Mark Crantz
By Mark Crantz

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. I found parking. It was a dream California style. There were avocado plum fairies and open spaces dancing in my head. Even, the seven candidates running for city council found parking, too. We had arrived to attend the Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts candidate forum. Before the first question could be asked, “Do you support art?” candidates were outside asking each other for parking meter change. Nobody could find any. Toni Iseman, a 16-year veteran of public meetings suggested looking under the seats. Newcomer, Michele Hall offered to think inside the box and check the glove compartment. Jon Madison offered to look up change holder in the owner’s manual. Paul Merritt, the lawyer among them, extended attorney client privilege in the event any candidate got a parking ticket and went to court. Rob Zur Schmiede recused himself from looking due to a conflict of found change from a rooftop bar still pending city approval. Kelly Boyd wanted the group to use Canadian quarters that he had collected over the years and neglected to disclose at the time of sale of the Marine Room Tavern. Eli Grossman advised being proactive and calling ahead to turn the group into the police for a group discount on parking tickets. The candidates couldn’t agree to a solution and turned the parking matter over to consultants, who would appoint an ad hoc committee to investigate. Finally, the candidates went inside to find out who Art is and why he needed supporting. The homeless issue never seemed to go away.

To the candidates’ surprise, art was about art and they all agreed to support it. To the group’s relief it became obvious that support for art would require more than pocket change that the candidates didn’t have at the time and would be collected from citizens at a later date. Fortunately, the moderator made clear that he was asking for a pocket of promises instead. With an audible sigh, the candidates dialed up their smile wattage because they all had cargo pants pockets full of promises and were eager to throw these promises to the wind regarding a year round cultural arts venue.

Everybody promised 100% agreement to a cultural arts venue. Everybody promised 100% disagreement on who, what, where, when, why and how the cultural center would come about. Hall wanted to build one from scratch, but insisted that the cornerstone read Michele Oliver, her maiden name, to make sure high school classmates knew who built the building. Iseman disagreed and wanted the new building to be multi-purposed and house an art center, visitor center and a wedding venue in one. An attendee pointed out to Iseman that art imitates life and the building should include a divorce center too with art space equipped with lock down cabinets of all sharp and pointy art tools. Jon Madison disagreed and thought the downtown tennis courts were the perfect location. The courts would be relocated to the roof so that errant balls could be launched to slow down traffic on 133. Boyd scoffed at Madison’s idea and pointed out that bouncing balls on First Thursday Art Walk was not conducive to quiet meals of wine and cheese. Zur Schmiede saw the need to bring the divergent views together under an arts master plan. A coastal commission representative interrupted and advised that a master plan or a piecemeal approach would require four additional parking spaces. All the candidates agreed that four spaces would be available after Election Day and would come from one of their fellow candidates. No one offered his or her parking spaces. The electorate will choose unoccupied spaces come Nov. 4.

But wait, if we connect the parking dots correctly, maybe there’s room enough for a multi-purpose year round art center devoid of all sharp art instruments.


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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