• Malibu’s Cross Creek Name Calling •
Words have tremendous power and will continue to wield that power until humans decide to bypass them by communicating solely in code and symbols. That’s why the fact that a new verb and a new adjective have become part of Malibuspeak is so intriguing. While we’re not passing judgement on the merits of the lexiconal additions yet, they illustrate the concept that popular protest can take many forms.
The name of Cross Creek Road is now being used as a verb and an adjective, as in “to Cross Creek [something]” or “[that’s being] Cross-Creeked.” I’ve seen this imprinted on T-shirts and bumper stickers, and a group of developers with millions of dollars at stake has used it in a meeting announcement. It may be too strong to say that “Cross Creek” is being used as a pejorative, but slogans like “Don’t Cross Creek Trancas,” “Cross Creek is Not Malibu” and “Stop Cross Creeking Malibu,” are not compliments.
People appear to be angry and want a shorthand way to express their discontent, and the road name may be it. There seems to be a growing resentment among a number of residents who say they feel like they are in an episode of the old “Twilight Zone” TV series, where the residents of a community wake up one morning and find themselves in a place that they don’t recognize. Some of these locals say they see edifices that look as if they belong in West Los Angeles or downtown, and they shun events viewed as photo ops for the Internet, rather than gatherings designed to develop neighborhood solidarity.
Its merits notwithstanding, this broad-brush slam by critics of the changes at Cross Creek is unfair to longtime pillars of that area, such as the Malibu Country Mart, whose low profile and friendly beachiness have served the community well for decades. The Mart’s comfortable atmosphere holds fast, even as its businesses change to reflect the times.
Ultimately, the best indication of whether a business meets local needs is how residents vote with their feet and their pocketbooks. If the goods and services being provided are what Malibuites want, the businesses will thrive. If they are not, those companies will depend on visitors and outside area public relations firms. How they fare when an El Niño weather pattern brings weeks of downpour, or a wildfire is raging, will be even more telling.
It appears unlikely that the growing local discontent is transitory. If the number of bumper stickers and T-shirts increases, something is clearly going on. How far it goes, and what direction it takes, has the potential to have an impact on the Malibu-to-be.