Nobody Leaves Venice
NOBODY LEAVES VENICE L-Z
Screenwriters, Directors, Actors who live or lived in Venice
Through the Veil
Reminiscences by Moe Stavnezer
The Christmas Ladder
Carol Biddulph Dickinson reminiscences
Nobody Leaves Venice
Dedicated to the proposition that wherever you go, a
part of you stays in Venice, and you take part of Venice along with you.
When I lived there, I knew quite a few people who shared
an attitude like, "If it's not in Venice, I don't need it."
They never wanted to move beyond the boundaries of Venice again, and even
after physically moving away, many have found that it's not that simple.
It's like the song "Hotel California" by the Eagles: You
can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
Here, in alphabetical order by last name, we have commentary
from former residents and current ones too. This page is long - look in
the area to the right for a concise list of contributors, and just click
to get to that section of the page quickly. Those who are new since the
last update are noted as NEW.
If you are presently or previously a Venetian, send your
thoughts to the Nobody Leaves Venice mailbox.
Millicent Borges Accardi
I lived in Thornton Towers for 12 years before moving to Topanga Canyon
(light years away, but still OK).
Every day I miss my friends in Venice. Walking up to see the ocean and the
street vendors setting up and fighting over spaces. I miss having coffee at
Fig Tree, buying "kitchy" Christmas presents on the Boardwalk. Getting
mini-donuts and kettle corn (at will). I miss running to the pier and passing the
people working out, playing chess and skating. I miss the flute music and
the drums, the Chariot parade.
I miss leaning out of my second story window and waving thank you to the
police on horse back (at the start of the summer season). I miss Small World
books and the guy who sells "your name on a grain of rice." I miss sitting at
my oak desk writing (in my 350 sq foot apartment) and looking outside at the
three palm trees directly in front of me and the dolphins in the water...
Freak Viewing is the tradition of Carny, now transformed into the
Movies. Venice Beach is an unruly festival of flesh,
glamour, sometimes cheap, tacky, and tasteless.
It is the envy of the world, has graced many movies, and been
home to thousands of artists. Efforts to clean it up will only
Unless, of course, you would take it unto yourself to personally
and truly help a homeless person to fix their life, if they want
The mass media of this country sell you their stuff with Carny.
They make billions peddling flesh fantasies. While many have
declared it's death on the Boardwalk over the years, Carny is
continually reborn because it is a natural expression of desire.
Carny is always in trouble with high minded busybody citizens and
their police. Carnies often deal in forbidden goods, the exotic,
I would rather see local artisans and craftspersons on the beach
instead of mass imported sunglasses and t-shirts
One of the things that attracted me to Venice was
the feeling that everyone was welcome. My first visions of Venice were
from the boardwalk when I visited L.A. as a little kid; when my aunt hung
onto me by the seat of my pants on the roller coaster as it zoomed over
the ocean. Later, my grandmother and I rode the big old red cars from
L.A. out to the beach via Culver City through the beanfields and back
into town down Santa Monica Blvd. Because I had grown up in Portland,
Oregon, next to an amusement park, Venice and Ocean Park felt familiar
to me. Later, when Hughes Aircraft invited me to come south to work in
radar, I naturally looked for a place in Venice. Except for a couple of
years in Topanga, a year and a half in Canada, and a couple of years spent
in East L.A. and the Wilshire District, I have always come back to Venice.
From 1960 to 1964, I lived in Venice Beach, California, then known as "Venice, Slum by the Sea." It was also the heart of the mushrooming beat and hippy cultures. Its free-spirited, flamboyant inhabitants fascinated me, and I filmed all who attracted my lens. I was particularly drawn to creative characters who courageously lived their unconventional lives.
Still a Venice poet writing for the Lady. I lived there
in Venice from 1957 to 1961 and it was a lifetime..I was art director
of the Gas House until Eric Nord gave it up for Hollywood. Lived in a
celler with other beat poets my old man James Ryan Morris and Tony Scibella
and bycycle annie..... we have started a group of the old outlaw poets.
Living in Hawaii still writing for the Lady.
I grew up in the San Fernando Valley but moved to Lake
Tahoe in the early 70's when the smog here was so thick you couldn't breathe
or see the mountains. My brother bought a bar/restaurant in Tahoe and
that sounded like fun and it was so beautiful there...but cold!! After
4 years I moved to San Francisco - beautiful, but cold and damp most of
the time. I missed the heat!!! I worked with a woman in San Francisco
who offered if I ever wanted to return to L.A., I could stay with her.
I took her up on her offer and arrived at her apartment on Horizon on
July 1, 1990. I walked out to the Boardwalk and it was full of people
enjoying beach life and I thought "this is for me" - and it is. I love
Shawna Marie Bayati
I first resided in the West Los Angeles area in 1985 from
Indianapolis, Indiana. I truly loved L.A. from the get-go, found great
employment and friends. 3 years later living in Venice Beach, there is
a vortex if you will. This place is actually a little scary. There is
a definite "Ju Ju" here, whether it's positive or negative, is up to you
!!! I love Venice, always will, plan to possibly move back here soon,
I'm now in Seattle Washington !!!!! I do not need to say any more, moving
back Venice !!!! To all you new comers...Enjoy !!!!!!!!!!!!
John M. Bennett
I used to hang around Venice 1966-1969 when I was in grad school at UCLA.
Lots of great funky areas there back then, and lots of amazing strange
people and houses. I loved it.
I lived in Venice from 1974 to 1980. I first lived right on the
boardwalk, specifically at 25th and Ocean Front walk. Later we
moved to a charming little house on Linnie Canal. My business
partner was a long-time Venice resident named Rick Sinatra. We
were looking for a place to develop our consciousness-raising
invention, the METAPHASER, when we happened upon a place for rent,
the upstairs of the old Eagles hall on West Washington Blvd. I
remember falling in love with the place the first time I climbed
the stairs into that big beautiful space. The only way we could
afford it was to give up our canal house and live in the
workspace. We did, and I remember it as one of the most wonderful
times of my life. Later we moved back to the canals to a quaint
little red house at the "intersection" of Linnie and Grand canals.
I lived and worked in Venice from 1966 to 1972, approximately.
When I was there, people didn't really set up their art on the boardwalk.
in fact, I may have been instrumental in making that happen, founding
the Free Venice Art Festival on a vacant lot next to the Synagogue. When
I got bored (or too stoned, if I remember), it was moved southward and
organized by John & Anna Haag, who then took credit for it all. I was
glad to be out of there, with their politics and all. But now I am entertaining
the idea of going back into Venice to re-photograph the scene.
Venice is a microcosmos of LA (possibly the world) with all economic levels
coexisting. I feel that not only can I do whatever it is that I want,
but that the vibe of Venice is to "live your dreams." At the
same time there are families that have lived in the same apartment for
three generations. Venice is a bike ride to the beach; 10 minutes to the
airport; 20-45 min (depending on traffic!) to museums, concerts, and many
ethnic pockets of LA; 30 minutes to hiking; 1 &1/2 hours to the snow
- I feel like I'm the center of the LA universe. Rather than it being
a center that is encroaching on me, I feel that I am in the center of
I feel totally at home in Venice…….You have a mixture
of people. I like the way things move. I was told it was a cultural desert,
but it's not. You can be an intellectual here, a writer. I wouldn't live
anywhere else in California but Venice. I feel it's a blessing for me…..I
love Venice. I love every minute of my life. I squeeze it like an orange
and I eat the peel, because I don't want to miss a thing.
I lived in Venice from 1970-1975. I had a band (trio)called
Nightengale with Steve A. (guitar) and Chris (bass) and me singing lead
and playing guitar. We played at the Sweetpea Cabaret all the time and
performed at the Charthouse when it first opened for about a year. I was
close friends with Hook from the Canaligators and they jammed with us
many times. I performed at the Cheese and the Olive (a deli that was on
the "Square" for a while and sang to Jane Fonda and her family one afternoon.
I partied like it was - well like it was 1969 and was very fortunate to
never get busted, although I was close to it numerous times. I lived in
an old house that I rented from the Canaligators who sublet it to me that
George Carlin owned. I ate Hinano burgers and hung at the SandBar for
years. I hung with bikers and hippies and loved Venice with all my heart.
I fell in love with Dick Jones, a local plumber, who I dated for many
years. I worked at a small place that was only open for 6 months selling
only reused jeans and one day John Lennon came in with a gorgeous Asian
woman (not Yoko). They didn't buy anything but they were very well dressed
and sober that day, arriving in a white Mercedes. I also found a dead
guy in a laundromat that was stuffed in a dryer....that was weird. My
best friend lived next door to Peter Tork from the Monkeys. Some of the
best times and wildest memories of my life were back there at that time.
I moved to Hollywood and then Nashville where I stayed for 11 years, returning
to California in 1989. Currently, I live in Orange County. I was voted
favorite singer in the annual "Best Of" Series in O.C. in 1996 and continue
to write and perform locally. I also read Zen Tarot Cards and am a Vibrational
I used to have a friend (Tom Schneider) that lived in a second-story
apartment overlooking the boardwalk in Venice in the early 80s and I would
come out from Albuquerque to visit him every once in a while. I really
enjoyed the "spectacle" of Venice and since I was in the video production
business, I would spend a lot of time going out and videotaping the
"essence" of Venice.
It is true that I am now living in Boca Raton, Florida.
However, I'm a Venice expatriate eager to get home.
I'm a CIA brat - the son of a CIA agent. Spent most of my youth abroad
in the Middle East and Asia. After a series of tragic incidents I washed
up on Venice Beach in Fall of 1968. I lived in Venice - with a few cutouts
to Santa Monica and Hermosa Beach - until the Fall of 1993. During that
time I was a newspaper reporter, then editor (The former Evening Outlook)
and commentator in various underground publications for more than a decade.
I lived opposite what would become the Marina Del Rey (Ocean & Washington),
then on the Venice Canals (Carroll Canal) and then the Venice walkstreets
(Amorso Place). During that time - after the newspaper days - I created
and published about 16 novels, out of the 27 I've completed. And I sold
more than 150 screenplays (TV, movies, MOWs) while living in Venice.
So Venice was definitely an influence on me, to say the least. In Venice,
the human condition is apparent wherever you look - and however you might
want to interpret it.
I left in 1993 to tour small town America. It was an inspiration from
living in Venice. I've spent the last ten years in tiny communities from
places as disparate as Washington State and New Mexico. I'm living in
Boca Raton right now, because I was caught by a heart attack here while
on the way to Amsterdam.
I intend to return to Venice. (after Amsterdam) My son was born in Venice
- still lives there. As do my grandchildren, best friends, etc, etc, etc.
I'm writing a book right now about my experiences in the early days (1968-1971)
as an apartment manager at Ocean & Washington. It's called, "Tales
Of The Blue Meanie."
I always loved February in Venice. Gray skies, air super salty, fish flopping
on the shore, trying to catch the next wave.
In February 1969 along the beach, there was nothing open but a few tea
shops, etc. There was a by-god McDonald's - but it served up it's own
food - good stuff - along with the crap. And there was a biker bar on
the right side of Washington and a dynamite little joint run by a Greek
cook on the left. The biker bar had incredible burgers. The Greek joint,
more importantly, had amazing BLT's and fries. Couldn't be matched for
miles. And he (the Greek) used to come out and listen to people
pitch their short stories and poetry. There was always a guitarist on
hand - some better than others. And the marijuana smoke was so thick you
could cut it. Amazing daze at the Greek's joint. Also, there was the lesbian
biker bar, just down the way. I wrote stuff for Easy Rider on the
side and could always get something really cool - including rude photographs
- from the dike bikers and their very beautiful women. It was a good time.
Venice was just bristling with activists in my time. Of all denominations.
If I recall correctly, we had the highest registration (per capita) of
Peace Freedom types and George Wallace party types in the state. The turnout
of both groups was incredible. You should have seen the right wing bikers
hauling old ladies to the polls on the back of their bikes so they could
get out the vote for Wallace. Democracy in chain-driven action!!!!
There was guy, whose name I do not remember, who was the head of the Venice
division of the Communist Party. One helluva guy. Super charisma. The
girls (and the guys) fell all over him. He was also an extremely talented
classical guitarist. He gave lessons to pay the rent. I had him over for
a party when I lived on Carroll Canal and he was the nicest guy you could
ever meet. Played the guitar and the piano all night to the delight of
us all. This was during one of the early Canal Festivals, I think. Do
they still have them? Have the Yuppies taken over?
Across from us on Carroll Canal (right on the corner at Dell) was the
house they used for the old "Starsky and Hutch" TV series. Once
a month or so they'd block off the canals and do car chases over the bridges
- sparks and stuntmen going every which way. Fun times.
Then the Nichirenshoshu bought the place. Trained their acolytes there.
They'd get out into the canal with their robes hiked up and clean the
debris from the canal - changing all the while. Weird and lovely sound.
The old ladies on the street called them the "Hummers." Because
that's how the sound was to them. They quite liked "the boys."
And showed up every day for a free feed of veggies and rice, with maybe
some canal smelt thrown in.
I came to Venice in 1978 and (much to my amazement)
am still here. Since I was in and a part of the group that was shot skating
for this documentary made in the late' 70s /early '80s, I would also love
to find a copy. It played on our local access cable channel for years
in the '80s. I can name almost all the skaters who were a part of this,
if we ever find it. An ex-boyfriend is the person who opened Cheap Skates
on the boardwalk with his brothers in the mid-'70s (the Rosenberg brothers)
and I became a part of a large group of people (all ages from about 14-50)
who skated with the Roadskates crew (the competing skate shop in the area
on the corner of Windward and the boardwalk).
I remember Patty very well. She was friends with a woman named Terra who
sold her air-brush art on the lot south of the Sidewalk Cafe when I sold
my hand-painted items on the same lot. It was run by Bob Goodfader, owner
of the Sidewalk Cafe. I meet every few months with my ex-neighbors who
lived with me in the building on the corner of Westminster and Clubhouse.
( It was torn down in the early '90s to make way for a bad pizza parlor
and other cheap vending store fronts). Benji was a part of the aforementioned
group of skaters when he was really young. The last time I saw him (probably
about 10+ years ago) he was a record producer or an A+R guy for some record
label and was living in Hollywood.
I've always considered Venice my home, no matter how
far away I live. My mother, Vale, moved me to Venice in 1972, when I was
five years old. Over the next thirteen years, I lived on five different
Venice blocks: Clubhouse, Breeze, Pacific at 27th, 26th, and Grand Blvd.
I returned to my mother's apartment frequently until she died in 2003--a
thirty-year Venice citizen. Now that my childhood home is gone, I feel
disconnected from my own past. I believed, while growing up, that my mother
and I were among the original Venice free-spirits: among the first to
roller-skate, the first to set up drums on the boardwalk, to use the metaphaser,
to read at Beyond Baroque, to play volleyball and understand the currents
of the ocean. But I guess that's one of Venice's magical qualities: it
makes every person feel that they are a part of something new and special.
My next novel takes place, largely, in Venice. A few of the wonderful
people we knew, who are also listed on this site, make their cameo appearances.
Now when I visit, I feel overwhelmed by the tourists and gentrification.
But change is the lifeblood of Venice . I'm so glad that you've created
this site so that those of us who feel the need to express our connection
to this magical place can do so.
I found inspiring beauty in Venice to paint everyday all year, weather permitting when I was living there. I return to Venice once and a while and paint a couple.
I have a separate file of reminisces regarding the late,
great Van Gogh's Ear - especially the Big Yellow House era - but I have
some, er, recurring memory problems due to adventures of a misspent youth:
it'll have to wait for a sunnier day, but it'll come.
It was in a little studio apartment at 120 Westminster that I first started
really learning about life. Sounds dramatic, doesn't it? Venice has that
effect - not to make one dramatic, though we had our share of Drama Queens,
but to strongly touch a person, bring truth or understanding to them in
a certain powerful way. So, of course, when speaking of it later, one
puts it in dramatic terms.
But, to continue, it was there that I really came to grips with the fact
that I was my own person. It was around 1990, a year not very remarkable
in L.A. or Venice, and I'd just washed up there after missing the peak
of the Sunset Strip scene - I'd come out from the Midwest with rock n'
roll starring my eyes, but found something I didn't know I was looking
I shouldn't ever have left; I didn't realize at the time what I was walking
away from. I lived there for six or seven years; walking wherever the
breeze took me in the dead of night, wearing my black on black on black
leather, or sitting and chatting and flirting with whom (or what) ever
stopped by at Van Gogh's Ear, early afternoons hitting every little yard
sale within a mile, on foot... The sand between my toes, drumming the
sun down. Learning, through a cycle of tears to laughter to tears again
that what and who I was (and am) is a fierce, prideful thing, not something
to be ashamed of.
At one time, there was a group of young ladies (and, I should add, a young
gentleman or two) that knew me on sight and vague acquaintance, our paths
usually only crossing at Van Gogh's; they nicknamed me 'Prince Alarming',
though I pretended not to be aware of it. I did eventually spend a night
or two with one and another of them - they were sweet nights, made all
the sweeter by how rare they were.
Not long ago, on Craig's List for West L.A., I ran across a missed connection
for 'Prince Alarming' - after all this time, I never thought it to pertain
to me. But it did. Apparently, one of my friends from that era had moved
away, gotten married and raised a few kids... She'd been diagnosed with
breast cancer; she was scheduled for a mastectomy in a few weeks. She'd
posted the missed connection because the memory of those days gave her
the strength to smile and stand firm despite the invasion of words like
'chemotherapy', 'radiation' and 'malignant' in her life. I replied, but
just to say, "This is my smile - now it's yours" (a local saying from
the era, used to pass a smile around). I was careful not to leave an address
where she could reach me again; she didn't need to hear from me - not
the middle aged, overweight me of now, anyway. She needed to hear from
her cockeyed Prince from Venice, she just needed a touch from that mystic
land she once stayed in, long ago.
Venice is a magical place; those that need that magic seek it out, often
without knowing. I think I need to come home.
"Nobody leaves Venice, and Venice leaves none unchanged"
I returned to California from New York City in the mid seventies. I'd
had a hard few years living on the lower East Side driving a cab. My drinking
and dope use were a bit out of control and every new job I managed to
wangle when I got back to the West Coast seemed to end the same. And living
in Hollywood was killing me. I hated the heat and the dirt and the fact
that everybody in L.A. seemed to be working some kind of hustle.
Then, over drinks at Danny's Big Twenty on Hollywood Boulevard, a pal
of mine suggested that I move to Venice. He knew somebody who knew somebody
who was living in a studio apartment for under two hundred a month. He
suggested gently that my temperament might be better suited for a beach
lifestyle. I didn't think much of it at the time until, as luck would
have it, a month or so later, my girlfriend Amy left me and stole my fucking
TV - a wonderful old RCA with a real wood cabinet - and I remembered Harvey's
The studio apartment that he had mentioned was long gone but I found a
place with a sign in front on Venice Boulevard a mile or so from the beach
- a one room bachelor deal. Just right for snarling, depressed writer
wanna-be. The move-in was one month's rent and no questions and I remember
that the red-haired Latina manager spoke good American and never wore
I was mostly unemployable in those days so I'd spend my days walking the
boardwalk or on the streets in coffee shops scribbling poems in my notebook.
But somehow moving there did the trick. The glowing sea and the good air
began to make me feel human again and my depressions and alcohol jones
stayed pretty-much under control. Eventually, I wound up getting sober
and living in that little studio for 8 years, off and on. It became my
home. I'd move away or in with a woman and when that would go bad I'd
drop back by and find that the landlady somehow always had a vacancy.
I wrote two books there in three different apartments and finally got
lucky in telephone sales. Eventually, I bought a house on 26th. Avenue
near Speedway then quickly pissed it away. But that's another story about
a bad blackjack player.
The point is I fully expect to spend the rest of my life in Venice. It
suits my odd disposition and writer's temperament. And of course there's
nothing better than a girl in a bikini top whizzing by on rollerblades
to make an old dog breathe deeply and catch the scent of a place that
still remains one hundred percent crazy American.
I was recruited here by a real estate developer that I
knew through my car club - we restore little English Morris Minors. This
guy started coming up to our meets in San Francisco and as we became better
friends, he asked if I wanted to stay at his place on Dimmick Ave, north
of Rose for 6 weeks while he and his wife toured Europe in 1981.
We came down and loved the place. I don't remember Oakwood being so scary.
We used to walk across 5th to Abbot Kinney (near West Washington) and
it was OK. When crack cocaine and the bigtime gang stuff started in the
1990s was when you didn't even DRIVE through (two of my neighbors had
the back windows shot out of their cars as they drove down Sixth in different
The gang violence drove almost all of the working class and elderly blacks
from Oakwood - not gentrification. African Americans are less than 6.5
percent of the population in Venice now (2000 census):
The old hippies out here still "hate the pigs" including our
recent ex-councilwoman Ruth Galanter, who wanted to leave Oakwood crime
alone and the Rose Ave homeless to live on the streets and hang in the
alleys - hundreds of them! We had to go around her to the LA District
The beach scene sucked for years as gangstas from all over LA came here
to act tough and pick fights. Again this required more police. This is
what happens when the inmates can no longer control the asylum. We like
to think that Venetians are a tough breed but we were reduced to wimps
with substance abuse problems and a counterculture history by these truly
dangerous people from the mean streets way east of here.
This is where I had I death and spent an eternity in just 2 years.. Every
day was an adventure. Not having any money, crashing in the sand, living
on spare change and yogurt. My best memories...Earth Mothers cafe. my
first job. Compass Rose...Reredos Theatre, where I first acted for Annie
Reiner and John Giampa. Listening to the guy reciting lines from old movies
he was in, who lived in a one room trailer right on the sand. The best
was living in a room in Tom Sewal'ls house that was covered with egg cartons.
And helping him decorate crazy-ass sets for TV shows. And listening to
the drone of lighthouse bells and oil wells pumping on the beach. Yes
. '68 and '69. Thank you Venice, for turning Frank into Felix!
Norma Flores (Chaidez)
As a child I lived in Venice and my father would often drive through what is
now known as "Abbott Kinney." My fondest memory was a big "Raggedy Anne"
doll on one of the old bungalow homes (which is now a form of an"artsy" shop of
some sort). As a teen I lived in Mar Vista (close by). My friends, Brother and
I would get dropped off at the "circle" at Venice Beach and sunbathe, swim,
roller skate, walk around and people watch (always a very interesting
crowd…nothing like it elsewhere). We would also buy a one dollar slice of thin pizza
and shop around for jewelry, art, summer clothes and hopefully end the day with a
fresh-made waffle cone and ice cream before the sun came down and then we
would all walk home together. As a very young adult I was able to again move back
to Venice with some friends and enjoy very close walks to Abbott Kinney and
Main Street (another beauty). A lot of things had changed but nonetheless the
coffee shops, restaurants and shopping were wonderful. I later married "Vito."
He was born and raised in Venice and shared many of my intereststhere. Later, we
had to move because of his job to San Diego, and although it is beautiful
here and we love it, part of our heart is still there. So when we visit family in
Venice, we still have to drive through Abbott Kinney, Main Street and around
the Venice circle.
I am from Venice. I died in Venice & I was born in Venice. & it
is the world of Venice that I would know & love. & I would take
the measure of its suffering.
7 years in venice(92-99),
7 years away(99-06),
7 years homesick.
the greatest love
I grew up with an 8" x 10" photograph of my great aunt
and uncle sitting in a gondola in the canal in front of the Doge Palace,
marked Venice, Italy October 24, 1922.
I was mesmerized with this sepia-toned photograph and dreamed about visiting
Italy, especially Venezia as soon as possible. It seemed so exotic --
the magnificent colonnades of the palace, the quiet open space of the
piazza, and the elegant costumes travelers wore in the 1920's.
I brought that photograph with me when I moved to California. It adorned
a wall of every place I lived. We moved to Ocean Park (Santa Monica) which
is right next door to Venice, California. This Venice of America would
be the only Venice I would experience until my early 50's. In the meantime,
I have had a studio in Venice, California since 1995. I read all that
I could about Abbott Kinney and the city that he fashioned after its European
namesake. Much had changed since the turn-of-the-century, but there still
remained a few canals and a small handful of buildings with colonnades.
I photographed the colonnades and used the image for my business card.
I left the graffiti that was scratched on one column to define that the
photo was taken in Venice rather than Italy's living museum. The architecture
seemed so magnificent, that I couldn't imagine that a single stroke of
graffiti would ever be allowed to remain on any structure within the boundaries
of the city.
It took an invitation to show my work at the Venice Biennale of Architecture
in 2006 to finally visit Venezia. As we approached by boat, the first
site of Venice was dazzling. I was truly surprised though when we disembarked.
To get to our flat, we had to move through crowded corridors amongst throngs
of tourists wearing shorts and T-shirts. My dream was shattered, as the
crowd appeared no different than one would encounter on a typical Saturday
on Ocean Front Walk, at Venice Beach. Litter and graffiti were everywhere.
The pigeons were just as ubiquitous as their California counterparts.
Fortunately for my husband and myself, I am a photographer who specializes
in night urban landscapes. We explored Venezia after most of the tourists
had returned to the safety and familiarity of their cruise ship, bus or
hotel room. Only like-minded travelers remain on the streets after dark.
Venezia, like Venice is given back to its residents as soon as night falls.
The Vernissage of the Biennale was magically staged outside the Arsenale.
My light silk coat billowed out from the warm wind. A jazz band played
as the champagne freely flowed. On other nights, we listened to great
music in sparsely populated piazzas and enjoyed wonderful meals in outlying
neighborhoods. We explored the canals under a full moon guided by a friend
in his boat. The songs of the gondoliers echoed throughout the rooms of
our rented flat.
And so, the romantic vision that came from a lifetime of viewing that
photograph from 1922 finally came to life.
George L. Garrigues
Vivian Shulman and I were married on the last day of January 1953; we
were still students at UCLA. We were both twenty years old; in those days
girls could be married at age eighteen, but young men under twenty-one
needed permission from a parent. My mother gladly signed the required
We moved into a studio apartment in Venice on Westminster Avenue at the
corner of Speedway; it had a pull-down bed that filled the whole room
and there were tiny recessed bookcases on either side at the head of the
Loud drunken male voices sometimes came from the room above, and I learned
to hammer on the ceiling with a broom handle. Our landlady said the two
men who lived there were "brothers," but now, in this new day
and age when you can speak about such things, and even rejoice in them,
I know better.
Venice had changed again since my father, the noted Los Angeles newspaperman,
C.H. (Brick) Garrigues, had lived there as a young man in the 1920s. The
big indoor swimming pool and the amusement pier, with its Race Through
the Clouds, were gone. Most of the canals had been abandoned or were filled
with stagnant water. Vivian and I could still hop aboard one of the trams
that ran up and down the deserted beach walk, carrying a few elderly Jewish
passengers, but most shops on Windward Avenue and on the ocean front were
empty. The little grocery store on the corner sold us some maggot-infested
meat. The whole neighborhood was so creepily shabby, so oddly macabre
that Orson Welles used it as a set for his noir movie, Touch of Evil.
We moved away from Venice as soon as we could.
I worked in Venice from 1968-1982. I was known for
my 10 foot columns and 8 foot tripods in concrete and steel. My first
show was at Newspace Gallery, followed up by an exhibition at L.A. County
Museum in 1976 titled "L.A.8." I really miss those days in the
'60s & '70s when Venice was a decaying Beach Front Town with dirt
cheap rents and great spaces. We thought we would live forever. My Studio
was at 1508 W. Washington Blvd. now named Abbot Kinney across from Brandelli's
I was "The New Kid in Town" in the early Venice years, as Moses,
Irwin, Bell, and the other "The Market Street Boys"etc. were
10 or 20 years older than me in 1968. My Venice years were incredible
and the height of psychedelic/rock music & mind expansion in the Arts,
that still influence us today.
These were among my fondest memories: P.O.P. decaying and the Cheetah
Club rocking with the Doors and Young Rascals. The Venice I knew back
in 1968 was so unpretentious and affordable. We were the "Space Cowboys
of the Psychedelic West". Our mind expansion during the 60'S &
70's truly created an Aura that will continue to live in the Venice Spirit
of today. It really gets me all teary eyed to think I can not go back
to those early days again. It feels like losing a loved one, even though
it's still there.
I first saw Venice from the tram in '52. My bohemian
parents conceived me there on VJ Day in '45; but left and I was born in
Tacoma 9 months later. But they were always drawn back to the bohemian
community. We returned in '63 and I finished high school in Venice that
year. We lived at 433 Sherman Canal, in a little blue 1 bedroom house.
My cat grew up with the ducks. Summers, I'd take the tram over to POP
and work at one of the hot dog stands on the beach. In '64 I discovered
the Venice West Cafe, listened to some beat poetry and wrote and performed
some myself. Went skating at the Jaguar rink on the POP pier. In '65 there
were only 3 bike riders in Venice, me, and a sailmaker who also lived
on Sherman Canal, and a guy who lived over on Buccaneer. In early '65
we moved over to Cabrillo Ave by the wedge formed by Altair Place. I went
into the Navy in '66 and came back in '69. Venice was transformed. It
was alive. Venice was about Freedom and a great celebration of Life. If
you look at a '64 picture of the Beatles and then look at a '69 pic of
them, you'll see the difference that Venice went through in that period.
I married a girl who lived on Howland Canal, but had grown up on Westminster.
We raised our daughter in the Valley. I am an Oregonian now but that smelly
Venice canal water still runs in my blood. They say if you remember the
sixties, you weren't there. I may not remember it, but I still dream it.
About 5 years ago I went to the wedding of the son of someone who used
to share a house with me in Venice in the 60's. I got to hang out with
people that I hadn't seen in 30 years. We got to talking about the "old
days" in Venice. We all pretty much remembered the same things but
we all remembered it slightly different. Later I made a list of some of
the things we had recalled & brought it with me to a music performance
where this same group of people would be in attendance. After the performance
we looked at the list, people made additions & corrections. I put
it out on the web thinking it would evolve somehow but it has remained
You might want to look here
for more about this.
Joy Graybill (in Seattle)
...the only community I ever called home
I was one of the people who started shooting
videos of all the performers way back in the 80s. I shot Perry "Hooba
Hooba" Hernandez (the limbo guy), Tony the Fireman, George French the
Wizzard of Venice (I really miss Mad George a lot), Barry the Lion, Cedric
the Entertainer, George Oddo, and of course Gruenberg of Chainsaw fame.
I used to have a small video editing studio in the basement of the Morrison
Apartments on Westminster and Speedway. It was in this tiny basement studio
that I restored, remastered and edited Leon Russell's "Out of the Deep
Freeze" concert video, almost one frame at a time, over a period of a
year and a half. Venice gave me the creative breeze and the excitement
that I needed to slog through the project and bring it to fruition. The
completed video also premiered in Venice at the old Market Street Screening
Room. I dont think I could have pulled off the job if I had been working
in some sterile office environment. It's just another piece of rock and
roll history that started in Venice.
Venice is still very much a big part of the "glue" of my life and although
I am no longer there in the flesh I am very much there in spirit and look
forward to the day in the near future when I can once again walk the streets
and refresh my soul.
Deep Freeze Story
Before I came to Venice in 1975, I was living in New
York City, in Greenwich Village, but I grew up on an Iowa farm, and Venice
appealed to me because it seemed to contain elements of those disparate
places. The gritty urban hipness of the Boardwalk and the poetry scene
at Beyond Baroque and jazz at the Comeback Inn, along with the shacks
leaning into the alleys, the pen with a hog in the lot next door to Brandelli's
Brig, the general seediness and out-of-the-wayness of the place that made
me think of dirt roads and weathered farmhouses and sagging barns. I didn't
know exactly what I wanted to do with my life, but I felt that whatever
it was, I could do it in Venice . In that sense, Venice was as much a
state of mind as a place defined by streets and buildings, by the inanimate
columns of figures on a census report. Of course I could have drunk mescal
and smoked Columbian and slept till noon in Santa Monica or Culver City,
but somehow wasting time or searching for enlightenment or simply waiting
for the next phase of life to begin felt permitted and even blessed in
Venice, the way it couldn't have been in another place. But people change,
or die. Or if not die, then shrivel into desiccated caricatures of their
younger selves. That Venice of the Seventies died, and utopian dreams
metamorphosed into middle-class realities-job, family, mortgage, savings
account and mutual fund-and the Boardwalk with its raffish denizens and
eruptions of violence turned into a tourist attraction, and West Washington
Blvd. with artists behind its blank storefronts became Abbot Kinney with
toney restaurants and boutiques. Whatever lingers is real, in one sense,
but fantastical in another, shards in an archaelogical site, collected
and displayed in the wondrously cluttered museum of the mind.
As you know, in my series [The Venice Walk],
the City of Venice is to the story, what Dickens’s London is to his works...
a living, breathing character giving birth and substance to the story….
I love Venice from the bottom of my soul.
I spent a month in Venice in the summer of 1973 or '74. My cousin had
a place on Buccaneer, one block from the beach, that she let us use while
she was in Europe. It had a waterbed--the rage during those years. A friend
of ours happened to be visiting her family in LA came over to visit us
and never left. The waterbed and the friend (who had something new and
exotic known as hash oil you smoked in a glass pipe) catalyzed my first
threesome. We drank Mai Tais at a restaurant overlooking the beach. The
boardwalk scene was colorful post-hippie, and there were a number of small
occult shops on that boardwalk, I Ching throwers and tarot readers, and
even a little bookshop where I found a few things for the library I was
starting to build. There was a restaurant one or two streets back from
the beach with an R. Crumb designed menu. I think there may have been
a Crumb mural on an outside wall. Sweet memories of a distant time. Decadent,
I moved to Venice with my wife and son in 2004 after having
hung out and surfed here (POP, breakwater...) since I was a kid in the
70s. We made a film called Pure and shot some of the scenes in
Robert L. Huffstutter
I am glad to have been one of the Gas House's first bathtub
sitters. I am thrilled to have had my poetry read at the Venice West Cafe
in 1960; I am glad to have been at the right spot at the right time for
a short part of my life that was long enough to make me a charter member
of the beat generation.My blog or photojournal, BEATNIK MEMORIES, is a
casual and informal collection of reflections of the positive mental energy
that created the beat generation in the early 60s and anything akin to
that power source thereafter.
While I have refused to physically
apt. reside in Venice due to the damp air and high crime rate, I have
actually Lived in Venice since 1971 and could never describe this vortex
to others. Words twist and twirl and trick me and I cannot Name or Label
or Describe and be understood, I have found, repeatedly. Those attracted,
whether by accident or intention have come to Venice, stayed in heart
& memories or left and left an imprint - on others. There is no other
such place, thogh I have asked others from cities far and large, if a
duplicate exists 'elsewhere' ? "no....not really...." So I remain, a week-end-fixed-persona
recognized by the boardwalk community that is 'family' in more ways than
birth-born, and loyal in 'our weird ways' = artistic, caring, intense,
creative, courageous, 'different', continuous, staying...close to our
real home - Venice ocean front. Homeless, Schizophrenic, Manic, Addictive,
Creative-types, and more 'types' all included. Just like Home should be.
So no other traveling can compare with experiences available here. No
other group can replicate the intense relationships and fantastic happenings
that occur ..only here. No other community, instantly formed intensely
intentionally and unforgetably can be found, for 'us'. We recognize who
we are and that we are spiritually connected. And love it. Love each other.
Love Venice. Yep, no place better to go to. To directly experience 'real'
authentic life in full strength. A test of our words and beliefs A proof
that yes, we can. Be Together. maria j. and yes, I mean every word here,
to share and again, try to explain, what is this "venice" place anyhow
I may now live in NYC but my heart remains in Venice.
I first came to venice in the 60's during the "hippie era".
At the time, I was involved with a group called Green Power. We focalized
the love-ins at Griffith Park and distributed free food. We also ran a
free store at Pico and Lincoln.
Hey does anyone remember the short-lived nude beach that existed at Venice
beach during the summer of 1974? Well I recall spending many days sunning
my buns at the beach along with the local hip community....The beach scene
encompassed folks from all over..rich and poor, young and old, gay, bi
and straight. I am sure the beach front businesses benefited from this
onslaught of hip naturists and gawkers....especially during the weekends,
when it resembled a hippie be-in ala Griffith Park except we were naked
in the sun. In fact, a gubernatorial candidate named Elizabeth Keathley
(Peace and Freedom Party) campaigned in the buff on the beach accompanied
by the media....unfortunately the repressive forces prevailed and the
city council legislated it out of existence.
Venice represents artistic freedom....I recall the many who have set food
on the boardwalk seeking Oz...whether it be at Rose Avenue Pier, Brooks
Avenue Pier, Lafayette restaurant, Venice pavilion, etc. We were all on
our own spiritual hadj breaking away from the monotony of a culture that
smacked of Archie Bunker. We the fighters for peace and justice say Venice
is ours - the mecca for the alternative culture....I became the mad yippie
pieman in NYC pieing right wingers....Visit
me or get in touch.
(Note: this is NOT a first-person story but a reminiscence
from John D. Shearer) Josephine Kearney probably rates as the Grand Old
Lady of the canals. You'd never have known this, though, if you had seen
her. She owned what was probably the only two story house on the canal
at that time. She was an important real estate dealer, a large land owner
and lived on Howland Canal. She was also a true Venetian heroine. Some
time in the 1930s she turned down a deal from an oil company to drill
an oil well on the canals. She would have made a fortune, but she had
seen the damage the oil wells had done in other parts of Venice and didn't
want that to happen to the canals. No one else would have recieved any
money in this deal. When we moved to Venice from Iowa, in 1942, we rented
a house on Howland Canal from her. In 1944, we bought a house on Linnie
Canal from her. We became friends, if she saw me walking down the alley
she would always stop and visit with me. She grew prize dinner plate dahlias.
One day she gave me what was for her a very great honor. She picked one
of her dahlias and told me to take it to my mother. There were other ladies
that would have killed for her flowers.
I lived in Venice(mostly) from Jan.'90 to Aug.'93, although, it was not
my first experiences there. My mother lived in a second story apt. on
Oceanfront in the early '70's and my visits to her there were quite memorable.
Venice was one of the few places you could live in the L.A. area without
a car and feel somewhat normal. There was something about the environment
that seemed cordoned off from the rest of Los Angeles area, and I never
felt a need to go anywhere else except to see a movie or friends (most
of mine were fellow boardwalkers). I was close friends with the very talented
and sometimes violent (original) Sandman "Scott Dosch" and have
photos of some of his best work. The "late" Boardwalk Joe was
a casual aquaintance as was Rip Cronk.
My occupation as a leather jacket painter, (first at "Venice Rock"
and later at "Venice Airbrush") with an occasional mural here
and there, kept me pretty much at home in Venice most of the time. There
is a dreamy sort of allure to Venice that contrasts dramatically with
the rest of the "Inland Empire", however eccentric the local
populace may appear, it still has a very "personal" appeal.
Surreal as it might have been, I still hold it as one of the most creative
times in my life and the people I knew there, the most talented and expressive
I've ever known.
I have b&w's of the period during the Rodney King riots taken from
the Apartments known as "the Morrison" on Speedway that are
quite spectacular, at least in terms of Venice's history. Police and National
Guard preventing people from accessing the Boardwalk, while the rest of
LA is in chaos.(respond, if you'd like copies).
My experiences there were among the most defining in my life, and its
true, you never leave Venice....your body may travel elsewhere, but, something
of your soul remains.
Venice was paradise, especially for a nondriver like me. It was my desert
island. I could walk to the post office, the grocery store, the laundromat,
the bank, the pharmacy, or take a bus to the mainland if I wanted to see
a movie. I had a sense of community--a little Philippine restaurant prepared
a special drink for me, Ginger Treat, and the mail carrier talked about
"the spirit of the sidewalk." I lived in a tiny two-room apartment
on a walk street, one block from the boardwalk. I could take long barefoot
walks on the beach, and I could see the ocean from my kitchen window.
The waves had different moods--calm, frisky, angered--but their momentum
always gave me a sense of perspective. They were rolling in long before
I was here, and they would continue rolling in long after I was gone.
-( from his autobiography, quoted with permission of the author).
Paul Krassner's most recent book is Murder
At the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities, with
an introduction by George Carlin, published by
to page L - Z
Millicent Borges Accardi
Shawna Marie Bayati
John M. Bennett
George L. Garrigues
Robert L. Huffstutter
L - Z