Time wounds all heels

January 24, 2017 § 25 Comments

It was with great pleasure that I read about the invasion of the wave snatchers at the holy site formerly marked by the masturbatorium erected by the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch, and reputedly mourned by white pick-up kook, workboots surfer kook, Michael Kirst (known for his role as Deputy Sykes in the video blockbuster “Sisterhood of the Shewolf”), and of course Falling Off Surfboard Robert Chapman.

The big hammer that the surf community is swinging is the class action lawsuit combined with threatened action by the California Coastal Commission. If you are curious about the surfer kook gang that has made Palos Verdes Estates infamous for great waves ridden badly, here’s one handy link.

However, it was with great displeasure that I realized how long it has taken the surfing community to stand up to the violence and the bullies that rule the break formerly known as Aloha Point, but now rechristened “Taloa Point” after the courageous activist who has broken the color line at Lunada Bay and led the charge to open public beaches to, well, the public. Displeasure because it’s been a Thirty Years’ War, and when I look at how much effort and money it has taken, it makes me wonder what the prospects are for cyclists who dare to ride in PVE.

The police force, led by Jeff Kepley (also a defendant in the class action lawsuit against the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch Surfer Gang), has still not issued a single citation for cars violating the 3-foot law, but has handed out numerous tickets to cyclists for running stop signs. That makes a lot of sense: Ignore actions by cars that can kill people and clamp down on victimless stop sign violations. Moreover, the police, ordered by the rampaging city council, have focused their efforts not on protecting cyclists and finding the person who killed John Bacon but on harassing legal group rides and shutting down legal protests.

If the surfer activism at Lunada Bay is any indicator, the fight for cyclists’ rights in PVE is going to take a long time. What’s worse than that is the city’s effective crackdown on cyclists’ efforts to educate the residents about the actual law and what it means.

Having taken a page out of the alternative fact playbook, the bike hating activists are relentlessly pounding home falsehoods, and the cycling community’s early enthusiasm has flagged. When it comes to endurance athletes, maybe we’ve met our match in the form of a few rabid, racist, bike-hating NIMBYs.

With a city council impervious to law, fact, or reason, with a raving minority of bike haters, a hostile police force, and falling-off-surfboarders like Robert Chapman bobbing around the rocks, the question of “What next?” is more than simply relevant. It’s a frontal challenge to our right to ride safely on the peninsula.

The scary reality is that most cyclists may simply be too flat fucking lazy to defend their rights to ride here. A whole bunch of dedicated people have shown up and advocated, but a whole bunch haven’t. When given the choice between showing up and doing a cool ride or fighting city hall, maybe it’s more important to more people to go out and do the big ride, clock the miles on Strava, hit the “like” button on Facegag, and ride somewhere else than it is to put in the time and effort to beat back the crazies. I mean, isn’t that why we have the president today that we so richly deserve? And isn’t there a saying somewhere … “No time to do it right, always time to do it over.”

But I digress … a new educational protest is in the works pending completion of some very cool t-shirts currently in production that will help residents and car traffic understand and apply the law. Date/Time TBA–hope to see you there!

bmufl2

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No expletives were harmed in this protest

January 16, 2017 § 56 Comments

Yesterday we met at Malaga Cove Plaza and rolled out our fancy new Bikes May Use Full Lane signs as part of our free speech demonstration. We held up the signs for all motorists to see, so that they could learn about the law and so that we could exercise our right to free speech.

By my rough estimate, more than a billion cars passed by, or perhaps it was a thousand or so. Many waved, a few showed the finger, and one sympathizer of the Lunada Bay Boys on Mom’s Couch and Robert Chapman stuck his head out of the window of his rusty pickup and screamed, “Cars first!”

I pleasantly shouted back, “State law!”

He screamed, apoplectic, “Fuck you! Cars first! Whiny faggot!” summing up perfectly the grounds on which a tiny handful of people oppose the law.

The best car was a house divided, where the sour driver husband grimly shook his head and gave us a thumbs-down, while his wife enthusiastically smiled and gave us a thumbs-up. I bet she has a happy pool guy.

The great news is that standing at the intersection with a concise, easily seen statement of the law works wonders. The not-so-great news is that if you’re holding up an actual traffic sign that hasn’t been approved for installation by the city, the PVE PD will come up and threaten to cite you for violating CVC 21465. We had a civil and brief discussion with the police, who told us that it was free speech if our signs were made of cardboard, but not free speech if they were actual traffic signs. The statute doesn’t say this, of course, and we pretty clearly have the right as part of a demonstration to hold up whatever signs we want, but since the point of the protest was to educate motorists rather than be led away in chains, and since it was lunch time, we ended the protest without being fined or arrested. #winning

Our next and expanded intersection education campaign is already in the works. Thanks to all who honked encouragement, the cyclists who rode by and grinned, the entire Surf City Cyclery Team who yelled as they rode through, the high five from Gussy, and the advocates who showed up to help educate the city’s motorists.

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Deb’s throw a leg over ride

January 14, 2017 § 23 Comments

Debra Banks was hit by a drunk two years ago. Her ordeal was detailed in an earlier post here. I don’t know very many people who could have gone through what she endured and come out on the other end still wanting to ride a bike. But she is tough, randonneur tough, Paris-Brest-Paris tough, and for her there was never any question of whether she would ride again, only the question of when.

Everyone who gets hit by a car suffers from some degree of post-traumatic stress disorder. Getting back on your bike is only partly physical. It’s hugely mental. So when Deb told me that her doc had cleared her to ride again, we swapped emails, figured out a day, and I drove up to Sacramento so that we could commemorate this monumental event.

We left LA bright and early. I had never been to Sacramento before and was looking forward to all the mountains. We got there around noon and headed straight for an awesome coffee shop that Yasuko had found on the Internet. “You sure this place is good?” I asked, making a mental note of what seemed to be no mountains anywhere.

“It’s got a very good rating,” she said. “It’s called Estellle’s bakery. Itsa most famous chocolate croissant and we eat light and a coffee and still be hungry for dinner.” I wondered when I had never not been hungry for dinner.

We parked in downtown Sacramento across from the capitol. Sacramento is an amazing blend of gritty and funky, and it reminded me of Austin in the 1980’s, when the tallest building was the capitol. Sacramento has that feeling of pre-gentrification, where the funky and the gritty are creating the magic that, in a few years, will attract the burned out yuppies from the Bay Area who will kill it.

We got to the famous cafe and it was out of business. “I guess it was too good for its own good,” I said.

Down the street was the Capitol Cafe, a run down diner was part of a business empire that included the Capitol Bar on one side and the Capitol All You Can Eat Salad bar on the other side. It was a true cafe, where you could eat a full meal for a few bucks, and everybody knew everybody including the crazy vet nursing a cup of coffee and telling each customer that “Jesus is lord.”

Freed from the necessity of an appetite-saving croissant we decided to save space for dinner with a cheeseburger and fries, and Yasuko chose the diner’s equivalent of a croissant, which was a BLT. We would still have plenty of room for dinner if dinner were served at midnight.

We left the cafe and headed for the dumpster-filled alley that abutted the parking garage just in time to witness two homeless dudes get into a fight. It was kind of unique, because one of the guys coudn’t walk well and had a big wooden cane. “Someone’s going to get hurt,” I told Yasuko.

The cane-holder began the scuffle with the obligatory “you motherfucker” and hit the other guy on the shoulder so hard that his backback fell off.

“You’re the motherfucker,” the other dude said, and moved over into our line of sight so that we could see him fully, which is when we realized that this was going to be the fight of the the century because he had a cane, too. It was the Charles Sumner caning where both parties were armed.

The first dude (MF 1) steadied himsef after hitting the backpack dude (MF 2) and while he was regaining his balance MF 2 counterwhacked the shit out of him, dislodging  his styrofoam box of leftovers from his hand and spilling them onto the street.

“You motherfucker I’m going to kill you,” screamed MF 1, but by now both MFs realized that the dislodged backpack and the spilled salad kind of canceled each other out and there was an opportunity to avoid further foodshed by simply cursing some more and declaring victory, kind of like an imaginary sprunt victory at the  beginning of the third traffic island on the NPR.

We went back to the car and drove over to Deb’s place, taking the scenic route through east Sacramento, which was jam packed with the three horsemen of the gentrification apocalypse: Craft breweries, hip coffee shops, and Trader Joe’s.

We got to Deb’s and were joined by Mark, Darrel, and Kim. A sumptuous feast was served and we had the most amazing evening doing that weird thing that people used to do a lot but never do anymore. We sat and talked. For hours.

“Is it weird meeting people you only know through the Internet?” Darrel asked.

“Not any weirder than meeting people at a party for the first time. The only difference is that with Facebag friends you already know the fake stuff about their lives from their newsfeed and can go straight to what’s real.”

One of the real things was an awesome Wankmeister sculpture welded by Darrel for me as a gift, and other real things reminded me of the violent collision that had brought us all together: The shoes that had been cut off Deb’s feet in the first of countless gruesome procedures that had begun the process of cobbling back together her shattered ankle, shoes she had glued back together and planted with flowers, or the medieval external brace that had been bolted into her shin and was now a vase.

We talked and laughed late into the night, which for cyclists meant 10:30.

The next morning we drove over to Davis, where Deb and Mark broke the sad news: “There are no mountains here. It is a pancake flat valley. However, it’s super cold in the morning.”

We met up with Drew and Tuesday and rode out to Winters, where we stopped for good coffee. The day was spectacular and clear. This was Deb’s third ride and we talked about the mental and physical barriers to getting back on the bike because a lot of people simply never do.

A lot of it has to do with risk tolerance but more than that it has to do with the nature of what you require in order to live your life. For some people it’s the very existence of the risk that gives life its bite, that makes life something more than a tasteless oatmeal that you chew unenthusiastically until you reach your expiration date.

I’m inspired by people who get through to the other side, friends like Deb, like Marvin Campbell, like Chris Gregory, and so many others who get badly hurt and are able to get back on the horse. It’s partly a question of toughness but much more a matter of courage, a willingness to face fear and to power on through to the other side.

We finished the ride and were joined by Paul Thober, Darrel, and Kim for lunch, after which we selfied and got in the car for the seven-hour drive home.

Maybe that seems like a long way to drive for a two-hour ride. But to share a few moments with people like Deb, well, I would have driven twice as far.

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Coming soon to a Palos Verdes Estates near you!

January 12, 2017 § 48 Comments

Since the city of Palos Verdes Estates has decided not to install the Bikes May Use Full Lane signage recommended by their traffic safety commission and traffic engineer and supported by hundreds of cyclists, law and common sense, we’ve taken matters into our own hands.

img_0612

Who knew that you could purchase ten honking, big-ass CalTrans-approved BMUFL signs, the real steel deal, for a mere $362.81? And that you could order them online?

We did, and we did.

Join us this coming weekend, and weekends throughout 2017 as we take to the four ingress/egress points of Palos Verdes Estates and hold up signs to educate motorists about the right of bikes to use the full lane, and to stress that all motorists (including Garrett and Cynthia Unno, Robert Chapman, Michael Kirst, and that Zaragoza lady) need to “CHANGE LANES TO PASS.”

The city council can — and they have — locked the chamber doors to public dissent.

But the streets are still free and we’ll be out there helping to spread the word.

Join us!

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Dying for fun and profit

December 14, 2016 § 21 Comments

The whole idea of a die-in to protest the lame Palos Verdes Estates city council’s refusal to plant five bikes-may-use-full-lane signs seemed like a great idea at the time.

But there I was, lying in the formerly warm grass, breathing in the sweet scent of my youth, when some bug crawled up my nose. I was just about to scratch it when up came the photographer. Play dead or scratch? Scratch or play dead?

The photog clicked and walked on. Then I scratched like hell. I guess the press was worth it … we got a nice write-up here and then again here. And the battlefield kind of looked like this:

fullsizerender

The best part was watching the six body-armored, body-cammed PVE police milling around as if a bunch of prostrate old people might erupt at any moment into a mob of hobbling geezers intent on fomenting insurrection. As I lay dying, or rather dead, I heard lots of encouraging honks from passing motorists, and the protesters holding up signs reported countless thumbs-up, but frankly, being dead sucks and after 45 minutes I was ready to start living again.

We went over to the city council meeting with a sizable contingent of about twenty people and spoke our allotted time telling the city what we’ve been telling them for a long time now: BMUFL signs are legal and a great step in improving roadway safety. Mayor King glowered and the council grumpily listened to speaker after speaker castigate them for their hypocrisy and bad behavior.

However, it was easy to see that the city council wasn’t going to be swayed by a couple dozen fake dead people and declamations at the lectern. As with their capitulation to those who engineered the dismantling of the Lunada Bay Boys’ fort and masturbatorium, the only things that are going to make this city council change its tune are:

  1. Relentlessly bad media.
  2. Litigation.

The litigation part is of course coming, and it is going to hit like a tidal wave in the form of some biker who gets hit and killed or catastrophically injured. The biker will hire a lawyer and the lawyer will sue the city for its negligently dangerous road design. The city will have been shown to be on notice due to the minutes and video of the council meeting refusing the recommendations of its engineer and traffic safety committee, and part of the multi-million dollar settlement will include installation of the signs.

All it’s going to take is another dead cyclist or two. Real ones.

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Save the kids on foot, kill the kids on bikes

December 10, 2016 § 2 Comments

There will be a die-in on Tuesday, December 13, from 4:00 to 5:00 PM, at the Malaga Cove Plaza. If you’ve ever been hit by a car or know someone who has, this is the time to come and show solidarity with the dead, catastrophically injured, and all others who’ve suffered simply because they decided to legally ride a bicycle on the street.

The goal is to encourage the four members of the PVE City Council to erect Bikes May Use Full Lane signage per the traffic safety committee’s engineering recommendation.

Of course, not everyone wants to put on a fake bloody t-shirt and drape themselves over their bikes in the posture of a cadaver. For those who desire to make their concerns heard orally, there will also be a city council meeting later that evening at 7:30 PM. At the city council meeting, you’re encouraged to submit a separate speaker card for every single item on the agenda. The city council really encourages participatory democracy and appreciates it when people speak in detail about issues they confront.

There is however one key item on the city’s agenda that you should definitely speak up on.

This is Agenda Item #9, consideration of traffic safety committee’s recommendation to install a crosswalk for kids walking to school. This has come up twice before the traffic safety committee, just like the recommendation to install BMUFL signs. But I digress. But not really.

As with the BMUFL signs, the traffic safety committee considered the special snowflake NIMBY arguments against doing something for the safety of small children, then went ahead and recommended what anyone on a committee named “traffic safety” would recommend: Slap down some paint to protect children crossing the street.

This item, approved by the traffic safety committee (just like the BMUFL signs!) now goes before the city council for a vote (just like the BMUFL signs)!

This is your opportunity to speak on this issue and point out that the city council has the same obligation to immediately take steps to protect pedestrians that it has to protect bicyclists. In case you wonder why PVE kiddies and their parents are getting chubbier and chubbier, take a look at this photo:

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Yup. Few of these people live more than a few minutes away from school, but would you really stick your kid up that pedestrian gauntlet of death? Here’s what THAT looks like:

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Aside from the dig by the city of Palos Verdes Estates at low-rent Rancho Palos Verdes by leaving the “s” off its name, note that the low-rent RPV streets have pedestrian sidewalks, just like parts of low-rent RPV have bike lanes.

Fancy PVE, however, hates anything that detracts from its rural charm, you know, the rural charm of being in a city of 15 million people. That’s also called the “unicorn fart” charm, and can be found in the same location, i.e. Delusionland. So, no street lights, no sidewalks, minimal pedestrian crosswalks for kids, and not one single BMUFL sign. Part of rural charm means hitting people with your car, doncha know?

But back to the city council meeting. You need to put in a speaker card for this issue and remind the city council of the following:

  1. Safe streets shouldn’t have to wait for the completion of the city’s Unicorn Fart Master Safety Traffic Plan which still has no timetable or funding.
  2. Kids walking to school in safety is a good thing.
  3. Kids riding bikes to school in safety is a good thing.
  4. Caving in to safety-hating NIMBYs over logic, sound engineering, and common sense, is a bad thing.
  5. If you want a healthier PVE, get people walking when they’re young.
  6. If you want less traffic congestion in PVE, get moms and dads walking to school with their kids instead of driving them in Buffalomobiles.
  7. If you think that dead road users is a bad thing, put up the fucking BMUFL signs already. Dead bikers are just as bad as dead pedestrian children.

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Pizza conquers all

November 11, 2016 § 30 Comments

We showed up in force for the PVE City Council meeting on November 8, beginning with sign protests at Malaga Cove Plaza. Rather than riding our bikes, about twenty people stood on the various corners and held up signs that said “Bikes May Use Full Lane,” “3 Cyclists Dead!” and various other proclamations of our rights. We even had a young protester up in a tree!

It was fun sitting on the corner while the crazypants video nuts stood around and took videos of the protest, and the only non-fun part was that I’d pulled my fascius buttassicus muscle and had to stay seated holding up my signs. Roughly one in five cars came through the intersection, saw the signs, and gave us a shout or a thumbs up, and only a handful cursed, told us to ride on the sidewalk, or advised us to go die.

Living up to its moniker as Dick City, after the protest ended I hobbled across the street, hunched over from the spazzed-out back muscles, and a nasty old woman in a giant red Buick rolled down her window and screeched, “Get out of the street!”

In the crosswalk. So classy!

The huge benefit to holding up signage at the intersection was that passing motorists understood why we were there. After the previous protest ride one citizen had approached the group and said that people had no idea what we were advocating for or why we were riding around the plaza. It was a great point and we took it to heart, and of course our signage proved our point about BMUFL signage: IT WORKS.

People saw it, read it, understood it, and went away knowing more than when they got there. It also completely destroyed the NIMBY, Special Snowflake on the Hill theory espoused by Garrett Unno, Zoe Unno, Cynthia Bianchi, and Shannon Zaragoza that signage is unnecessary or that it somehow has to be part of a big, multi-year project.

Put up the fucking signs already.

After an hour and a half of signing we went over to the city council chambers where the mayor opened things up by praising a group of young students for taking an active interest in city government and becoming participants in democracy. Too bad the kids didn’t stick around to see the shenanigans pulled by Mayor King as she squashed dissent, illegally limited speaking times based on speech content, and showed a stony, cold heart to people’s pleas for help.

Our council meeting strategy was different because Mayor King had made it clear that she had dug in and not about to put BMUFL signs back on the agenda. In order to shut us up she had moved the meeting back to 5:30 from its regular time of 7:30, hoping that people wouldn’t be able to get off work (doesn’t she know cyclists are all unemployed?). Then she shoved public comment back to the very end of the meeting, hoping that by forcing us to wait around we’d give up and go home.

Sadly, both ploys failed. More than fifty people showed up to the combined protest and council meeting, including:

Doug P.
Kristie F.
Greg S.
Jay Y.
John W.
Joann Z.
Michael B.
Seth D.
Andrew N.
Sean S.
John K.
Greg L.
Yasuko D.
Alan K.
Michelle L.
Patrick N.
Hung N.
Alistair M.
Don W.
Ian D.
Tom D.
Geoffrey L.
Kate H.
Victor C.
Kathryn K.
Brian G.
Chuck C.
Charlie T.
Diana T.
Gary C.
Kevin S.
Larry L.
Jose G.
Mark M.
Steve G.
Alan S.
Delia P.
Leo L.
Reinaldo A.
Chris W.
Mario O.
Matt M.
Lisa M.
Lauren M.
Jeannette A.
Brent D.
Ron P.
Rebecca P.
Francie U.
Tara U.
Marv C.
Ava S.
Sarah B.
So instead of waiting patiently for our speaking “opportunity” which Mayor King had shoved to the end of the meeting, we objected to the entire consent calendar and submitted speaker cards for each agenda item so that we could provide the council with our input on the entirety of city matters up for consideration.
Kristie was brilliant and eloquent in her opposition to the city’s proposal to begin submitting draft pro/con arguments for ballot measures; Andrew N. spoke knowledgeably about the proposed increase in city funds for police patrols at Lunada Bay; Greg L. was emphatic opposing the “bad hombres” causing trouble in the city; and numerous people weighed in on the sunset provision for the fire department tax. They were so sick of us that Mayor King didn’t even bother to append the obligatory “thank you” after some of us finished.
Mayor King was livid and rather than giving each speaker the 3-minutes of time typically allotted for citizen input on agenda items, she slashed the speaking time per speaker to two minutes and then limited total discussion time to each item to six minutes. This was a blatant violation of the Brown Act and of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in White v. City of Norwalk, where the court held that public meetings may be regulated by a city council with regard to limits on speaking time, but those time limits must be content neutral. In other words, you can’t give lots of speaking time to people you like, and reduced time to those you don’t–which is exactly what she did when favored residents were given unlimited time at the lectern, and goofy cyclists cut off after sixty seconds.
If Mayor King pulls this stunt again, she can look forward to a lawsuit in federal court, and yes, the unemployed, broke-ass bike community includes hitters who are champing at the bit to fund that particular lawsuit.
The great thing about our strategy is that it really showed the need for education, both on our end and on the council’s. There is so much happening in PVE that is completely bizarre, like the $150,000 renovation of Lunada Bay Plaza designed to make it more attractive, while at the same time the city ignores bike safety and bike accommodations.
Don’t they understand that making the plaza attractive means having more pedestrians and bike traffic? Even the city council can’t possibly believe that the goal behind the plaza’s beautification is to fill the tiny area up with cars … or can they?
Finally, stuck at the ass-end of the meeting, we got to speak regarding bike signage. Mayor King made the most insincere, cold-hearted speech you’ve ever heard, and I encourage you to listen to it here, at about 2:44:58, as she tried to deflect blame by showing the fakest sympathy for the recent horrific collision a few days prior, where a person in a car rear-ended a person on a bike resulting in catastrophic injuries.
Rather than seeing this as a call to action, she stonily advised us–after chopping our speaking time to one minute and limiting the comment period to just a few minutes–that she had no plans whatsoever to put BMUFL signage back on the agenda.
Of course we had known from the beginning that she wasn’t backing down, which is why we came provisioned with much pizza, apples, meatballs, cupcakes, and other healthy party food. Hey, it’s the new normal: Twice a month the PVE city council will get to listen to the input of concerned citizens who have taken an active interest in the minutiae of the city’s governance in an attempt to better understand why they refuse to install a handful of signs.
Even with Mayor King working overtime to cut the meeting short, chop speaking times, and limit discussion, the 5:30 meeting dragged on so that we didn’t get home until after 9:30 PM, which will hopefully give the council a great idea of what future meetings hold: Beginning at the normal time of 7:30, they can expect to finish up close to midnight.
It’s the new normal because rather than doing the right thing they’ve invited the whole cycling world to get involved in their deliberations, and it’s interesting to see how it all really is related: $50,000 to tighten up enforcement for surfers where no fatality has ever occurred, but not one single nickel for signs to improve safety where three people have died. $150,000 to pretty up a plaza, but not one single nickel for signs to ensure the safety of those who visit. Long term taxation for fire department services that keep residents safe, but not one fucking nickel for signage to protect “outsiders” who travel through on public roads.
And as Mayor King is finding out, there may be ways to get rid of cyclists, but tiring them out isn’t one of them, although they did post custom notes telling us we couldn’t eat inside and we couldn’t  park our bikes indoors anymore. Next up are hall monitors.
It was pretty awesome spending the afternoon and evening with friends, eating pizza, hanging out, watching Mayor King flagrantly break the law, doing iPhone research on various agenda items, eating pizza, speaking on behalf of the dead and injured, eating pizza, and being happy. And eating pizza.
The contrast between the happy and enthused cyclists and the sour NIMBYs, not to mention the members of the council who looked miserable having to listen to flatlanders and transients opine on issues affecting their Special Snowflake on the Hill was incredible. I wanted to hand each of them a bike and an Rx to ride three times weekly. It really works.
Huge thanks to all who donated money or bought swag to help fund these activities. On to the next one, which is DECEMBER 13, 2016, 7:30 P.M. AT THE CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS, 340 Palos Verdes Drive West, PALOS VERDES ESTATES, 90274.
Maybe we’ll get in some golf practice, too.

END

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