Life in the Theater of the Absurd


    We had a little incident Saturday in the Malibu Colony Plaza Shopping Center. That’s where the Hughes/Ralphs/Krogers, or whatever-they-call-it-these-days market, is located.

    That’s where The Malibu Bay Company, which owns the center, had set up a model of its proposed Civic Center Development, which they hope to build on the land across the street on what we all know as the “Chili Cook-Off” site. Lyn Konheim and Dave Reznick from the Malibu Bay Company were standing around the model answering questions when there was a sudden, unprovoked and dastardly attack on the model by Valerie Sklarevsky, a local Malibu activist. She dumped a 40-gallon bucket filled with “nutrient rich soil and water from the Egret Pond” directly onto the model. The descriptive terminology comes from Valerie’s own Letter to the Editor to explain her actions. The model, as far as I know, wasn’t doing anything particularly provocative at the time. Valerie describes what she did in her letter as a “symbolic nonviolent action.”

    Unless Valerie has some deep-seated hatred of models of which I’m unaware, I can only assume that the symbolic protest she mentions refers to the proposed project on the Chili Cook-Off site, which she describes as “Malibu’s historical wetland floodplain.”

    I must confess I have a little difficulty with that one because each year I dutifully attend the Chili Cook-Off and I can remember lots of people, lots of chili and lots of dust, but the one thing I can’t seem to remember is a wetland slopping around my ankles. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen someday after the tsunami recedes. Nevertheless, Valerie seriously cares about this vacant lot, and I’m sure her mind’s eye sees it filled with water and birds and homeless and whatever.

    And Valerie really does care. Anyone who knows Valerie, and we all know Valerie, also knows that she is a very sweet soul who truly does care about everything; the people and the animals, the flora and the fauna, and just about everything on the face of the earth. She also worries, I’m sure, that we’re either running out of things like air, water, space and ozone or that we’re drowning in a surplus of things like garbage, carbon dioxide, greed and a list of other sins.

    But if man is a caring animal, he’s also a thinking animal. We have our powers of reason to bring to bear on our lives and perhaps wonder whether some of these possibilities are not quite as immediate or as horrendous as some fear. My reasoning powers also make me wonder how it is that Marcia Hanscom from the Wetlands Action Network, who until recently was Councilwoman Carolyn Van Horn’s prime choice for a city of Malibu $25,000 wetlands delineation contract, just happened to be on the scene, at just the right moment. Our reporter later asked her that, and she said she had nothing to do with the attack on the model. Also on the scene were two male witnesses from the Earth Trust Foundation, a Malibu organization, whom Valerie told us she had brought along to bear witness. Strangely enough, I was told a photographer from a rival, but unnamed, newspaper arrived on the scene just after the attack. I know some of you may believe that’s just sour journalistic grapes, and it probably is, but next time I hope she sends us a press release before her spontaneous protest.

    However, to Valerie’s credit, she refused to leave the scene, even though there were several bystanders who were absolutely incensed and were prepared to punch Valerie out. Ironically, it was Konheim who had to hold them off until the local gendarmerie arrived.

    The sheriff tried to settle it, but Valerie refused to apologize and refused to pay for the damage. Even then, no one would arrest her, so Valerie and her confreres ultimately left, unarrested, much to her disappointment I suspect.

    There is a moral to his story, and that is, this doesn’t seem a very thoughtful or civilized way to decide what we should do with our Civic Center. So I would ask Van Horn, who I know had nothing to do with this but still is held in high regard by some of our more vociferous activitists, to use her influence with them to perhaps lower the screech of the dialogue.

    PS. My apology for the quality of the photo on the front page, but it came from a videotape that Valerie had ordered of the event. As I said, we’re asking for a little advance notice next time.