In Santa Monica, No Such Thing as a Strange Bird

For more than a decade, a pair of emus, distant relatives of the ostrich, have resided in a run-of-the-mill Santa Monica neighborhood.

We found that strange because emus are native to Australia. But the owner, a resident of Santa Monica for 75 years who declined to give her name, finds it bizarre if not annoying that people would gawk at her collection of birds, which also includes geese and canaries.

Trying to gather information was like a trip through the looking glass.

"Why do you have an emu?" we asked.

"Why not?" she answered.

"Where did it come from?"

"An egg," she replied, deadpan. Suddenly, the male attacked the female.

"Why don't the male and female get along?"

"Think about it," she retorted.

"OK, when do they get along?" we rephrased.

"When do you think?"

"Mating season?"

"Obviously."

Somebody must think this is strange, right? We walked down the block and found some neighbors.

"Well, do you find it strange that two emus live up the street?" we asked a resident.

"No. Why? Strange is something you haven't seen before. Those emus have lived here longer than I have," the neighbor said, looking at us quizzically.

Another neighbor said the emus "are great."

"My baby loves to go watch them and he says, 'Hello, emus!' "

More evidence that just about anything goes in Santa Monica.

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POLL PUNDITRY: Attorney David Barrett Cohen's campaign was crowing this week about a new poll that shows he's within 8 percentage points of state Sen. Ralph C. Dills (D-El Segundo), whose 28th Senate District includes Marina del Rey.

But politics is a game of expectations, and Dills' campaign says their man is thrilled as well.

The poll, commissioned by the Cohen campaign, showed 29% of the voters would select Dills, 21% would pick Cohen and 42% were undecided. The survey of 350 registered voters in the district has a 4% margin of error.

"It shows that whatever support Dills does have is very soft," said Cohen, who lives in Redondo Beach. "He is tremendously vulnerable."

Of those voters considered most likely to make it to the polls, the survey showed Cohen within 2 points of Dills. Dills got 28%, Cohen 26%; 42% were undecided.

"I haven't even sent out my first piece of mail yet," Cohen said. "People are giving me the benefit of the doubt."

Dills' campaign coordinator, Tim Mock, didn't comment on the survey of the most likely voters. But he was encouraged by the 29% to 21% overall spread.

"That's good news for us," he said. "We're 8 points ahead."

He expects the gap to widen once Dills steps up his campaign. Reapportionment carved up the old Gardena-area district of the 84-year-old incumbent, who has a legal and judicial career dating to 1938. His district now covers new territory of Torrance, the South Bay beach cities and Marina del Rey.

"I think we're going to win by substantially higher margins," Mock said.

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