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Vote! and other thoughts from our Editor 

On the Cover: Vote! Elections put direct democracy in the hands of the people. Together, we have the ability to bend the arc of the moral universe a little closer to justice, but only if we vote, and thanks to mail-in ballots, early in-person voting, and drop off boxes, it’s never been easier to participate. This is an election that will directly impact everyone who lives in the Santa Monica Mountains. We all need to make sure our voices are heard and our ballots counted. For voting locations and information on how to get a new ballot if something dire happened to the one you received in the mail, visit Cover designed by Urs Baur

Did you hear that thunderous roar in the skies? The fire-fighting Quick Reaction Force is back in town and ready for peak fire season. The three massive helitankers that are the heart of the program were recently spotted above the Santa Monica Monica Mountains. They may have rattled the nerves of residents, but these fire-fighting behemoths weren’t battling a blaze this time, they were here as part of a Los Angeles County Fire Department training session at 69 Bravo, the state-of-the-art helistop above Topanga that helps insure 24/7 aerial fire support when an incident does occur.

This trio of aircraft and the state-of-the-art resources they bring to Southern California—enhanced night vision, special reconnaissance and intelligence gathering capabilities, and a mammoth 3,ooo-gallon water tank each—sound like the stuff of action adventure movies and comic books, but this is a real asset, and we are lucky to have it. The program is funded by Southern California Edison in an effort to prevent catastrophes like the 2018 Woolsey Fire.

Having Helitanker 55 (the Chinook helitanker stationed in Los Angeles) on call makes fire season less daunting, but this is going to be a challenging year. All the indicators point to another dry La Niña winter, and fuel moisture levels throughout the Santa Monica Mountains are already dangerously low.

November 8 is the fourth anniversary of the devastating Woolsey Fire, which consumed 96,949 acres, from the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in the Simi Hills, to the beach in Malibu. Half the area of the Santa Monica Mountains burned in the fire. In the early hours of November 8,  everything in this photo was consumed by flames. The destruction was devastating to witness, but nature has amazing powers of recovery. Even during the ongoing drought, the scars of the fire have begun to fade, hidden by new growth. The oak tree shown here is a survivor. It has weathered other firestorms. This is a constantly changing and evolving landscape, a place where nature manages to thrive despite the challenges of climate change, habitat fragmentation, and all-too-frequent wildfires. There is a message of hope and endurance for all of us in the burn zone: life rising from the ashes of destruction. Photo: Suzanne Guldimann

November 8 is the fourth anniversary of the Woolsey Fire. Many of the people who lost their homes in that disaster have still not rebuilt their lives. The scars are visible throughout half of the entire area of the Santa Monica Mountains, and they will never entirely vanish, although they are beginning to heal. The lesson we learned from that fire is that there aren’t enough resources to protect everyone and everything. We all need to do our part to make sure we are ready for the next major wildfire, because there will be a next one, there always is. And the most important thing is to make sure that people and animals are able to safely and quickly evacuate. It’s something to keep in mind as we enter the time of year when most major wildfires have historically occurred.

November 8 is Election Day. For those of us who are prevaricating over sending in our ballots, time is running out. It’s a long and complex ballot, but it’s important. This is an election that will have major and direct consequences for everyone who lives in the Santa Monica Mountains. Please take the time to vote. 

One of things that often delays our vote here at TNT is that long list of judges. Something that can help is the Los County Angeles Bar Association’s list of which candidates are at least well qualified:

Just in time for the election, TNT Historian Jimmy P. Morgan has a timely piece on the life and legacy of Bobby Kennedy, and if election stress is getting to you, dear reader, TNT invites you to join us on a weekend getaway in the past. Wouldn’t it be nice to let go of all the anxieties of twenty-first century life,  get in that time machine and travel back for a peaceful vacation in a tent cabin at Stella McAllister’s Tavern in Topanga, c. 1913, or at the Topanga Ranch Motel in its 1930s heyday, or how about a room at the Tiki-themed Tonga-Lei in Malibu in the 1960s? Alas, unlike the Hotel California, where you can check in but never leave, this is just a quick backwards glance in the nostalgic rear view mirror of the past.

We are also traveling back in time to the start of WWII for a new piece of fiction in our Storyland section. Let us know what you think, and if you have a favorite family Thanksgiving recipe you would like to share with our readers, or your own story to share, let us know: we are already cooking up the next issue of TNT. Submissions welcome! Email us at

Stay safe, be well, and don’t forget to turn the clock back an hour on Sunday for the end of Daylight Saving Time—who says you can’t travel back in time, if only for an hour once a year?

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