Anyone who lives in this sprightly village nestled like a newborn amid mountainous breasts between the ocean and Hell knows that you don't cut anything down, or jerk anything up that is planted in the ground or kill anything that walks, crawls, flies or bores even if it is a black widow biting on your ass.
If you are caught perpetrating any of the above, you will be pounced upon by wide, burly men with squinty eyes and beards and women with large busts and big hands who, short of lashing you with imitation leather thongs, will harangue you into a stupor with long, boring lectures on the rights of all living things to such a degree that you will end up on the ground in a fetal position crying for forgiveness.
There was a time in (the) Topanga where cutting down a tree meant a mandatory death sentence for the cutter under a provision of the local Outdoor Act that deemed it a major felony to even clear their own yards of poison oak or to chop off the head of a rattlesnake living under their bed. Those were the days when punishment was roughly designed to emulate the ritualistic Spanish Inquisition with its celebratory auto-da-feys and the lively parties that always accompanied them.
I mention this today because a group of people who want to cut down pine and eucalyptus trees as fire hazards are colliding with a man named Roger Pugliese, a growling, feral street kid from Yonkers who is now the head of TASC (the Topanga Association for a Scenic Community) and if he has his way nobody is going to cut down nothing nowhere no-how. He is quick to say he is not speaking for TASC but you can bet that he is going to gather an army of resistance before the whole thing blows over.
A group known as the North Topanga Canyon Fire Safe Council wants to allow home owners the right to cut down pine and eucalyptus trees because they burn like tiki torches and help spread a fire. Also, they are liable to fall during a fire and block evacuation routes. Pugliese replies with a phrase that describes the steamy feces of a male cow. He says it is just a ploy to rid (the) Topanga of non-native plants.
"We are all non-natives," he declares self-righteously. "Only the Indians are natives."
The confrontation has all the elements of a civil war, which is always fun to watch, in a community that can go bonkers over, say, a proposal to build a burial plot for dogs. I have lived in (the) Topanga for 40 years and have seen these kinds of loud, bloodless confrontations many times, but, thank the god Bacchus, they end happily with everyone pledging their drunken love for one another at the Abuelitas bar where no one has ever suggested chopping down a martini or trimming a beer.
There would be hell to pay if they did.