Nobody Leaves Venice
NOBODY LEAVES VENICE A-K
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.
I lived at 503 Ocean Front Walk aka "A Red Brick Building,
Ugly as Hell, in Venice, California ". From 1972-1977 my mother was lived
in a drug treatment facility known as Tuum Est, now called the Phoenix
House. Despite the circumstances that brought me there, it was the most
memorable times in my life. Keep in mind back then people who used drugs
were just like ordinary people long removed from the crack-smoking, VCR
stealing addicts of today (if the shoe fits...). We sold macrame, candles
and had movie night every friday. There were many kids there Billy and
Dawn, Damon and Peter, Stevie and Mondo, Denise, Lisa, Odessa and others.
We were loved. It was like living with 50 aunts and uncles. Our playground
was endless. We never worried about cars. Cars seem to only exist when
we were arriving at or leaving what we affectionately called "The House"
We spent most of our time walking the boardwalk and talking to the many
people who seemed to live there. . I remember watching many of the people
you see on TV when they shoot the boardwalk the rollerskating guy with
the turban, the midget amputee and his boom box, and an old guy named
Ralph. Not sure if he was drunk or retarded, but he was always a laugh.
I remember handing bricks to the guy that was laying the floor for the
outdoor patio for the cafe next door and asking to sweep out the synagogue
,our other neighbor, for a dollar. I remember the pleasure of feeding
the seagulls loaves of stale bread and learned to appreciate sunsets at
an early age. It was an amazing place full of adventure. It was like having
Disneyland,with all of its characters, right outside your front door.
I lived in the "Dogtown" section of south
Santa Monica from '82-'87 while I was going to law school (and trying
to produce hard rock bands on the side!!). I spent a lot of time hanging
around Venice/ Venice Beach approximately in the same time period I think
you're writing about. I hadn't been back for 17 years until Xmas-New Year's
week, when I brought my wife out to spend a couple of days in Venice.
It's still a crazy/wonderful/semi-dangerous place...she was amazed at
the whole area, and we're planning our next trip back around the same
time this year.
Michael "Windance" Lopuch
I am Mike, the bassist from Windance, a group that played
and lived in Venice. I was with them from 1974 through 1976. The group
was one of the house bands at Honky Hoagies Handy Hangout otherwise known
as the 4H Club. The band had Jeff Golden, flute/sax/clarinet/guitar. I
think he is still in Venice. Janie Golden, Jeff's sister, doing sound.
She now has a Tai Chi business. Harlan Tissue played harmonica and guitar,
and lives in Hawaii with what I believe is a landscaping business. Allen
Schneider played violin/piano/guitar - whereabouts unknown. Michael Brooker
and Cher and Diane Osbourne helped and provided lots of moral support.
Sadly, I have misplaced them all.
I really enjoyed listening to the Canaligators
and Severance at Wally Woods' 4H Club. The Club had some of the best original
music out there. Absolutely great. I really enjoyed watching Zoom from
Severance to see what riffs I could "borrow" from him. Severance had Gregory
Hines as a lead singer. Nice guy. Peter Tork, from the Monkees, used to
come in and play between our sets.
I was lucky enough to be supported by
my girlfriend, and future wife, Estelle "Stelly" Kelly, which allowed
me to pursue music. We lived in the Biltmore on Ocean Front Walk as well
as an apartment on Rose, about a block from the ocean. We lived up above
Cecil, a retired octogenarian farmer from somewhere like Nebraska. He
taught me that you should always tighten a nut on a bolt, not the bolt
while holding the nut. I still wonder about that.
I had the Chevy van parked on Rose
in front of the apartment and was under it on my back performing a repair
when I reached for my ratchet, it was gone! Someone pilfered it when I
was right there, the rascal. Lots of drugs were floating around then,
and it probably went toward some. I also had my van broken into when it
was parked in the beach lot. Took ALL my tools, spare tire, and radio.
The cops said they hoped I had insurance because they were too busy dealing
with robberies and murders than to deal with this, and left. Actually,
we did have a couple of acquaintances murdered who invited a person in
to stay with them in their bus. Very sad. Left a little one. But, the
best part of those years were living next to the Pacific. It gave me a
love of salt air, it's daily changes, and just being near it. Hopefully,
I'll get to live near the sea again.
I got to visit Venice a few years ago
on a trip for work. I was sad to see a strip of tattoo and T-shirt shops
lining Ocean Front Walk. When I lived there, I remember veggie stands,
health food co-ops, little cafes, and it seemed a bit less touristy. I
will admit every weekend was a carnival. I loved that beach at weekdays
at about 4 PM in the summer, after it had cleared out. Just gorgeous!
I also miss all the great vegetarian food I had the pleasure of feasting
on. It's a Venice hold-over for me in that I haven't eaten meat in twenty
Lots of good friends, good music, good
food, and what can beat whiling away the hours catching ducks in the Venice
Canals with a cardboard box, string, a stick and some bread as a lure?
Of course we let them go! They would come right back, and we could catch
them again! Peace, Mike L. P.S. Is the guy still around who had the silver
peace sign inlayed in his front tooth?
I have lost not only
the love of my life, but the friends of Venice who sustained me through
so many years, drugs, good times, camaraderie, etc. I would like to find
Jeff Golden, Allen Schneider (SP?), Steven Taugh (drummer, Ph.D. in percussion),
Greg Hines has passed (nice guy), Wally Woods (owner of the 4H club) and
Angie, as well as Diane Osborne - longtime supporter of Windance. Also,
what happened to the little blond bomber of the group, Cher Deever/Brooker.
She married Michael Brooker, moved back east, and then left him from what
I heard, moving back to LA changing her name to dodge bill collectors.
Can't beat havin' fun.
(Note: this is NOT a first person account, it was written
by John D. Shearer) Annie Lyons was one was one of my favorite friends.
From England, she was corresponding with a gentleman in Vancouver after
the turn of the nineteenth century. They were to be married. She had traveled
around Cape Horn, off South America, and was rescued when the ship, heading
north, sunk of off Santa Monica and remained there. She lived on the first
floor of Josephine Kearney's house on Howland Canal. Annie must have seen
me go up and down the alley many times. One day, when I was about 12 years
old, she was out and called me over. We visited for about an hour, when
I heard my mother calling me for supper. The next time she saw me, she
invited me in for cookies and milk. Later she introduced me to tea. She
would regale me with stories of England and the early days of Venice.
I often recieved little momentos that she recieved from England. One was
an English textbook on their history another was a souvenir medal of Queen
I lived in Venice in 1972, at 26 Westminster ($65/month),
sat on the beach listening to the Swami X, etc.,Ö wrote dozens of pages
of accounts and fiction about it but stuck them in a box and never had
the guts to try to publish them.
Rozinkhes Mit Mandlen
(Webslaveís note: This pseudonym is actually the title
of a traditional Jewish lullaby. The paragraph was in the Free Venice
Beachhead, August 1982 )
Anyway Iíve got some things you canít exactly take away from me. Oh you
could, you could take it all away but for now Iíve got them. A vermilion
sunset over the beach, a man playing banjo in the back of a Santa Monica
bus, friends around a campfire in a Venice yard. One canít eat off them
but they make the poverty more entertaining. And unemployed and struggling
as I am, I think I must be luckier than you, the Big Guys at your one
thousand a plate dinners, weighed down somewhere inside with the knowledge
that all your clever economic curves will never come together to make
this country smile.
I've been photographing and creating imagery of and about
Venice since 1964. In the old days (1972 ) one might have had the privilege
to see about 6-10 persons on the Boardwalk all Sunday morning. Usually
those were people coming from or going to the Lafayette cafe. Today it's
a seaside circus of persons eager to see or be seen by it all! an eclectic
assortment of humanity!
Currently I have been sorting and scanning through 6,000 negatives that
have been cigar boxed and unpublished to get ready for a digital archive
that will be available to be viewed by anyone that requests photographs
of my imagery taken between 1972-1990. I have produced a 28-minute VHS
film of stills and some live action, similar in title to the book I authored
in 1983 titled North Beach, 90291 Rich Mann in Venice. It
contains the imagery of the North Venice Beach Boardwalk that still remains
non-commercialized and unexposed today.
Venice has always been a repetition of evolving returns ever since I've
been visiting in 1957 after taking the nickle tram from Santa Monica's
Muscle Beach to play on the rings and gymnastic apparatus in the sand
pit, and living here since 1968.
I came to Venice in March 1960, sleeping in my car the
first night in a parking lot near Windward. I was 28 years old and all
I owned was a Ford Galaxie and a few boxes of clothes and books in its
trunk, among them a copy of Larry Lipton's The Holy Barbarians,
which is how I ended up in Venice, lured by its Siren call of freedom
and bohemia. The movie A Touch of Evil is a great source for Holy
Barbarian Venice; it's exactly as it was when I arrived 18 months after
the movie was made.
I spent the next day wandering the beach, riding the jitneys,
and soaking up sunshine. That night I wandered into the Gas House and
listened to the homeless poet Clair Horner read from his eccentric volume,
"Don't step On The Bacon, Man." It was unlike any "poetry" I had ever
heard and nothing in my formal education prepared me for it. After another
night in my car I found a room and began a sojourn that lasted five consecutive
summers, although I often spent the winters elsewhere.
In 1963 I opened the "On The Beach Bookstore" at #5 Dudley Avenue, next
to the Venice West Cafť. I wasn't in Venice when the police closed both
places, having given up the bookstore to Bratton; but if they thought
we were bad for Venice, they must have missed our beatnik ways when the
late 60s and 70s happened. We were downright respectable compared to psychedelic
youth and its music. Incidentally, the term "hippie" was coined by beatniks
ó which itself was coined by "San Francisco Chronicle" columnist Herb
Caen ó as a derogatory term for a beatnik wannabe. As I heard it in 1965:
"How can you tell a beatnik from a hippie?" Answer: "The beatnik is the
one carrying a book." I met a lot of strange and wonderful people during
my years in Venice. It seemed it was a world of cultural extremes, and
I shall never forget it. It is like a friend said about war: "I wouldn't
take a million dollars for the experience ó or do it again for two."
The Matchbox was a lesbian bar at night that welcomed
beat artists during the day. The owner/bartender, a great tough old dyke
whose name I forget, threw a gay man out one morning for "cruising" me
while I was having my hangover breakfast of tomato juice and beer. I lived
just around the corner on Speedway. The market was a family business that
was also a "numbers" book, but never when "Mama" was in the store.
Venice in the Snow is my second-favorite Venice painting. The first was
a wall on Brooks facing the ocean and was a mirror-like reflection of
the beach scene at your back as you stood looking at the mural. Any photo
of it (and none exists that I know of) would literally be just half of
At 75 I am a relic. The only old Venice hand I
have stayed in touch with is the great silkscreen artist Earl Newman,
now my Oregon neighbor, sort of, whose gallery/studio was two doors north
of the Gas House and became a contentious issue with his landlord, who
objected to Earl having painted a "communist peace symbol" on
the building's outer wall.
I think Shanna, Frankie Rios, Bill Fleeman and I are the only ones still
alive from that era, and we didn't even know each other except by sight
and, possibly, reputation.
Now we are interviewed and get a chance to write history, as survivors
always do. I wish I had some old scores to settle, but I don't. Venice
treated me kindly and it was filled with holy angels and of all descriptions
My first apartment in Venice ('70) was a third floor efficiency
on Breeze Ave - two houses from the beach - $165/mo. Last apt. ('79) was
on Pacific Ave. - 2 bedroom facing a one block walkstreet to beach - $325/mo.
(Jane/Tom/Rent Control!) It was a great time to be alive! I still keep
in touch with many wonderful friends from those amazing years.
My father moved our family to Venice California all the way from Mississippi
in 1959. I was 4 years old and there were 4 other siblings 5,7,9,11. We
arrived on a Greyhound bus. We landed at my Aunt Coreneís house on Westminster
between 5th and 6th Street and that is where we stayed for the next 2-3
years. My memories are: Trolley rides on the beach, the Helms Doughnut
truck coming through in the mornings, the milkman delivering, the watermelon
man as well as the fruit truck in the summer. Long lazy days at the beach
during summer break. The fog coming in in the afternoons. Laying in bed
and listening to the sound of the foghorn at night. As I got older I participated
in the skating revolution on the beach. I would come home from work, don
my skates and head for the beach. Weekends were spent biking. I even remember
when the famous guitar guy arrived on the beach! Walking everywhere! From
Rose Avenue (my brother and I would get free sourdough bread freshly baked
Ė ummmmm) on the north to Palms (walking home from Mark Twain or Venice
High School) on the south Ė from Lincoln Blvd. on the east (Grantís dept.
store, Thriftyís Ice Cream) to Main Street on the west. Venice also has
a rich history in the churches which have survived and the generation
of families that attend New Bethel on Brooks Avenue, Friendship on Broadway,
Bible Tabernacle, First Baptist on Westminster and 7th Avenue, and my
own church, Second Community Baptist Church on Abbot Kinney (formerly
Washington Avenue.) I attended Westminster Elementary School as well as
Broadway Elementary. What I remember most about Venice is the family feeling
of it. I married in 1982 and moved to my husbandís home in Inglewood but
I still attend my church on Westminster and my aunt, a sister and my father
still live in Venice. I make sure I get a taste of Venice every weekend!
Viva La Venice.
I moved to VENICE in 1973, I was 10 years old and fell in love. The
boardwalk was bare, all except the skate ramps built by local Venice Kids at
the Venice Pavilion. It was much more desirable to just walk down to the
Pavilion instead of Mark Twain Jr. High. Oh yes we defiantly got into some
trouble around here. So much that I had to go away for a minute the whole
time I was gone I would just think of how bad I wanted to be home. I still
live in Venice at the Property I grew up on. I am a Venetian and plan on
dying one, I can't see moving anytime soon. I'm 44 now and my teenagers are
repeating history here in VENICE at the newer skate ramps at the beach and
walking down the same Electric Avenue, some things never change...I just
wish it wasn't so crowded:-( I love you Venice!
I spent a LOT of time at the Venice West during the
time that John and Anna had it. We made a short black and white documentary
of a guy named ERIK during that time. I lived in Venice from 1960 until
1991. I still have copies of Clair Horner's books that he wrote while
he was there. Perhaps you (or somebody) might be interested.
i played the boardwalk for years, did the Midnight
Special with the Canaligators, had my own group performing at the Starboard
Attitude on Redondo pier (4 years) played with John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley
and Albert KIng, opened up for James Brown and Jr Walker, and did 2 tours
with the Johnny Otis Revue. i moved to Memphis in 1990, where i now reside.
Uncle Bill Crawford was a mentor and was like a father to me. i had a
lot of history in Venice, from the Cheetah pier to Sam Taylor...i been
wanting to come back to Venice, but circumstances been blockin me out,
but the opportunity may come again, hopefully.
Lived at on carroll canal (231) this was in the late 40s
and 50s. Had a great time , we would sit on the pipe that ran over the
bridge and eat ice cream and swim in the canal. We would take the barge
that they kept down on Linnie Canal and ride it around all the canals
(The city used the barge to clean the canals of algae, two guys would
use pitch forks) Attended St. Marks, Mark Twain Jr., and Venice High.
Venice will always remain my home.
Stuart Z. Perkoff
city of venice, my city, city within a city i do not know
I am Tiik Pollet, formerly Pamela, and I lived on Linnie
Canal in a little house with Gioia Siciliano in 1970-73. We had her dog
Peter Rabbit and a band, Lizzy Tisch, with Lois Webb-bass, Sunny Tepper-drums,
me on 1st guitar, Gretchen Albright-violin, Sherry Barnett-2nd guitar
and Virginia Rubino-electric keyboard. We played shows right there on
the canal at the Canal Festival with Birtha and Fanny and other bands,
including Teda Bracci and Dog Squeeze. I have 2 or 3 pic's of us playing
at the canal festival. We played at the Beach House also and many other
venues in Hollywood and the area.
Virginia had her dog, Arrow, who went with her everywhere, even into restaurants,
and laid quietly under the table at her feet. I remember various neighbors,
Sandy, the very tanned gay guy, big-blonde-curly-headed Danny with his
little son and hippie group house. Then there was Connie, Cindy, Davy,
Liz, Linda, Bobbi Jackson the bass player and her Jack Bruce pilot's cap,
and Hilary Butts & Elaine. Cindy is back living there. Good for her. Hillary
went off to the Ozarks years ago.
And the Venice Pavilion History of Venice Mural, which I had the honor
of being painted onto in 2 places, and very large at that, actually. The
band War took a shot of themselves in front of that mural and used it
as a poster insert in their "Why Can't We Be Friends" album. And there
I am large as life with my guitar sitting on my fender amplifier, towering
above their heads. Kewl!!!
Venice is truly not out of me. I lived there 3 yrs and have had the rest
of my life affected for the good by those 3 yrs. I often wish I could
go back to that era and relive it with the knowledge, sobriety, self confidence
and awareness that I now have. I had a ball, regret none of it, and wish
to find that excitement again. Maybe I will. Maybe I am right now as I
resurface my career in the alternative rock scene.
peace too all my brothersand sisters in the community
of where we were..........mari jane kwan where are you????? jaya founders?????,
bob activists.............and the strong gay pride community...........my
name is gilles premel Aarone's son on grand canal venice 1970.
where are you all write me i feel lonely..........2403 grand canal son
of aarone premel jaya founder and many active projects the park, the painting
on the liquor store, fight with the police,and music; the metafaser, boarding
with david kwan mari jane's son ...........;conga drumming and poetry..........and
the canal music and arts festival with all the the painters and spray
painters and home grown not even planted growing by mistake......surfing
in the canals, the flea market when it was a flea market......terry playing
here 4 congas in front of the pavilon .......... jaya artist and feminist
art movement.........it was all music in my head. firstname.lastname@example.org
A thousand times hello. I spent many years there in Venice
and most local jails. From ' 61 to 76. I learned lots about us...and me.
from Windward to Rose Ave...never further inland from Lincoln Ave. I learned
courage. and value. and mostly how I could be what I thought I was. Great
place...Many people helped me and I wish I could say a true thanks to
I visited Venice Beach in January of 1993, the first and
only time I have been there. I imagine that's not the most exciting time
of year to visit, but I was with a friend and this was the only time I
had. I bought two tight, spandex dresses; one black and one red, for $10
each. I looked really good in them---back when I was 20 pounds lighter.
What I remember the most was a woman sitting on a bench, eating pizza
and crying at the same time. My friend and I thought it was funny.
Just found this page, such memories after 28 years, seeing
names that bring smiles to my face. The beach, the Santa Ana's, and grunion
runs. Do they still run? I live in Seattle now but Venice is the home
of my heart. Is there a way to contact some of the people who post their
memories? I've never been a good corresponder, but maybe just to say hello.
I lived in Venice in 1972 (on Westminster Ave). Hearing
about the Venice Pavilion project, I joined Judy's nascent mural team,
specifically working as an apprentice under master muralist Frank Gonzales,
who, it must be noted, studied under the great Mexican muralist, Siqueiros.
Our job was to create the enormous Space Wall, which ran to either side
of the stage. It was a heady time, and my first experience with large-scale
painting. Frank was a patient and knowledgeable mentor; I essentially
learned how to paint under his tutelage. Judy Baca was a dream, deftly
handling the city bureaucracy, while simultaneously keeping the disparate
group of artists on track. The final result was an artistic gem, and much
appreciated by the community.
Judy went on to establish the remarkable SPARC. I created two more murals
for this organization, which sadly--like the Venice Pavilion itself--have
long since been destroyed. I later moved to Seattle, and created over
20 large-scale murals in that fine city, primarily in public schools.
Returning to Los Angeles, I became an illustrator in the film industry,
working again on a very large (albeit moving) canvas. I must say that
some of the skills I learned in my days as a muralist were directly applicable
to this powerful medium, and I remain grateful to Judy for giving an earnest
young artist a chance to expand his horizons. I regard Judy one of the
defining souls of Los Angeles: a visionary whose works have transformed
the urban landscape, and inspire succeeding generations of artists.
john d s
I grew up on the Venice canals. I was a teenager when the (Fox Venice) theater moved from the beach. In those days I wasn't scared to make the long walk to the theater. Every thing changes with time. In the 60's hippies took over the canals. I don't know when it started, now they are home to rich people. My Dad bought our house at 440 Linnie Canal for $4.000, added 2 rooms and a bath and sold it for $16.000 in 1962. Visitig there in 2002, I was told the house and lot were worth over $250,000. Dad bought the lot for $400. .
..what about: Earth Rose? (once Earth Books and Gallery
on Ocean Park & 2nd)--got shut down for smut and relocated to Ocean Front
Walk and Rose Ave. on the corner..proprietor, Steve Richmond, dope fiend
meat poet pal of Bukowski? ...Harold Norse & Kenneth Patchen? ..the Cheetah
Club? ..the Free Press birthday party on the beach by POP's old burnt
out pier? ..the Magic Theater head shop on Pacific by the first old Gold's
Gym in the alley where Arnie worked out? ..the West Washington studios
off Venice Blvd--Tim Buckley & family lived upstairs after the dance studio
moved out ..and on and on and on..
What they say is true--if you remember, you weren't REALLY THERE...i do
remember some, tho', through the fog...
I think it would be nice to wall the whole place off.
Sort of like an edgy "Grove at Fairfax" or perhaps a scuffed-toe, quasi-DisneyLand.
Grey -haired hippies, living in rent-controlled apartments, (with two
non-running Volkswagon beetles in the front yard) would sell tickets at
the two main gates, California Ave. and Rose Ave. Once inside, visitors
would marvel at the wealth of entertainment that would await them. Children
would squeal with glee as they rode "Mr.Homeless Toad's Wild Ride." Instead
of little cars, the kiddies would zoom around in the numerous smoke belching
itinerant campers that currently line the streets. Discarded shopping
carts would be available for those who simultaneously hate meat and/or
the internal combustion engine. Parents would delight in busying themselves
on "Ain't enough Space Mountain." Here they would don the uniform of their
favorite self-important architect (weird yellow glasses, mock turtle necks,
etc.) and drive bulldozers through the last of the low income housing
projects screaming "Set-backs, we don't need no stinkin' set-backs!."
The ride finishes with actual architects, pleading on plasma screens,
"to let them clad everyone's houses in galvanized sheet metal." Proceeding
to Sixth and Indiana (or thereabouts), teens would thrill to the wonders
of the "Haunted Crack Mansion." Ushers in blue-hooded sweatshirts, with
requisite pistol bulges, would stand on the corners taking tickets and
glowering at soccer-moms entombed in lumbering SUV's. Wizened old grandmothers
could finally, truthfully say that "my grand kids ain't sellin' no drugs!"
The day would end with the "YuppieLand Electric Main Street Parade." An
army of Armani A/X-clad, latte-swilling hipsters would march down Abbot
Kinney Blvd, swatting each other's asses with yoga mats and checking e-mails
on their "black-berries." However, the street would be devoid of music,
due to the effects of the "white cord of imbecility" or i-pod-ism. The
parade finally ends, the crowds disperse and all that will be heard is
the distant sounds of terror from an underground Realtor "caged death
matches." How do I get on the Centennial committee?
John D. Shearer
It's been 50 years since I left Venice. But I still
remember the city and sometimes
think fondly of growing up in Venice. My
father went to California in 1942, and brought us out after finding work
at the Douglas Aircraft Company in Santa Monica. It was a good job and
building airplanes kept him out of World War II. He rented a house at
413 Howland Canal, then we moved to 28 Clubhouse Walkway. I started kindergarten
at Westminister School there. One of my earliest memories is from living
on Clubhouse Walk: a supposed Japanese aircraft was shot down and the
Army set up a machine gun nest in the covered benches near the end of
We moved to Redondo Beach in 1943, and I started kindergarten again. We
returned to Venice in 1944 and my father bought the house at 440 Linnie
Canal, where we lived and I attended Nightingale Elementary, starting
kindergarten the third time, Mark Twain Junior High and Venice High School.
I remember Hopalong Cassidy's Hoppyland and the Venice and Ocean Park
Pier before it became POP Pier; the beach and its extension by sand from
the building of the Hyperion Plant. I remember when the beach was widened
and as a young teenager grew up on the beach. The hippies would not move
into Venice for a few more years.
The filling in of the last section of Grand Canal north of Venice Blvd.;
riding the red cars of the Pacific Electric Railroad. They were discontinued
just as I was to start Mark Twain Junior High. Also the barrage balloons
set up in Lincoln Blvd and Ocean Park. Being dismissed from school on
VJ Day. Spending summer days at the beach and building rafts and swimming
in the canals. We kids weren't too smart, the canals were not a good place
In 1950 it snowed on Venice and the canals one night. It snowed during
the night, about an inch, and by noon it was melted away. There was enough
snow to have a small snowball fight. I remember crying to my mom that
the Clayton kids, who lived behind us on Howland Canal, were using up
all our snow. My Mother learned how to make her first tacos from Mrs.
Martinez, who lived on Grand Canal. They are still my favorite food.
There were few children on the canals in those days. One of the few was
my best friend Roger Miller. Other friends were Howard McNary, Robert
Jensen, Dallas Eichstedt and John Garbish; none of these lived on the
canals. At this time most of the inhabitants of the canals were older
couples whose children had left home. Drugs and hippies would come later.
My 10th birthday was important to me. My father bought me my first bike
and I was able to get around town, Ocean Park and Santa Monica. When I
lived there the bridge over Eastern Canal had horizontal beams across
the to from end to end supported by square pillars made from the cement
blocks on each side. We used to think it was fun to take turns riding
our bikes over the bridge. We also used to race our bikes over the four
car bridges. There used to be a market across from the trolley tracks
at the north end of Dell Avenue. I think it's name was Ardenís Market.
Later I got a black English bike, and my brothers and I decided to ride
our bikes to Topanga. We got a few miles north of Malibu on the coast
highway and turned around. One summer I got a job at the Venice library,
mostly shelving books. I always loved the beach and spent a lot of time
there. This helped me to decide to later join the Navy.
I never returned to Venice until the year 2000. I just spent a couple
of hours visiting the canals and the beach on a weekday. I was there for
a Venice High School class reunion. The
house I grew up in was still there. I got a chance to visit with the woman
who lived there then. I didn't find out what they paid for the place but
she said that lots were selling for about $200,000. My Dad sold the house
around 1960 for about$14,000. He paid $4,000 for the house and bought
the lot next door for $400.00. He sold the house because the were going
to raise taxes to about $2,000.
I'll probably never visit Venice again.
Once more for the tattoo! My favorite time was living on the canals and
sharing adventures, music and metaphaser with Rick Sinatra. Met and married
and had my daughters there. Walked everywhere. Learned to build a sand
castle that spread for blocks and incorporated every found object on the
sand. Learned to make mouth watering brownies. I remember things that
make me blush when I recall them. Grinning and grateful. That's me and
I came to Venice in 1978 to visit my friend Anthea.I fell in love with
the place and stayed until 1989 when I returned to England. From 78 to
89 I worked at Hinano Cafe on Washington St. It was owned by Joe Larson,
run by Lee and had great bar tenders including Caroline, Marlene, Anthea
(also English) and myself plus others too numerous to mention. I also
worked for a while at The Dandelion Cafe on Venice. It was a great time
(mostly). I lived in a building on Ocean Front Walk which we called Heartbreak
Hotel as most of the residents had broken up with a lovers. We had barbeques,
we had water fights (the Brits against the Americans) we had FUN. I had
my hair cut by Michael Savino (sadly I heard he has recently passed away)
who was the best hairdresser in the world. I ate at the Baha Cantina in
the evenings and ate breakfast at the Sidewalk Cafe, how I miss California
breakfasts!! It is true that Venice never leaves you. I truly miss it.
I was at Venice beach 28 years ago. The only time I've ever imbibed in
a strawberry margarita. Drank it while watching a sunset over the beach.
That's why I can never drink another one. Strawberry, that is.
I grew up in Venice...I just moved away in 1999 after
finishing my MA at UCLA....I used to take the Blue Bus to school every
day. I would drink coffee and watch Venice go by and feel euphoric and
lucky to be living in such a beautiful place with such incredible people.
Your book really validated a lot of feelings about my relationship with
Venice which are so hard to express to others. My frustration with the
gentrification, Venice Art Walk, real estate prices (all one thing?).
My father is trying hard to "keep it real" on Rialto - counterculture
posters, beads, slightly unkept yard, house sort of spilling out into
the street. It is discouraging to see 3 houses demolished on Rialto just
this year to make way for huge stucco boxes. Now, when I go for a visit,
I feel a bit depressed - like it isn't home any more, like I don't really
Keith Snyder (in New York)
I'd rather be back home in Venice, California
Patricia Nunez Souder
I moved to Venice from Santa Monica when I was 7 years
old. I went to Westminster Elementary School. Many times after school
we would sneak across the street to the Deany's and listen to the music
on the juke box, a hang out for the teen's. The stores and houses that
were on Washington, are now just a fond memory. You never had to leave
Venice because you had the local drug stores, the Maytag man, furniture
store, of course the Pet Store on the corner of Washington and California.
We had a local neighborhood store that sold the best pickles that were
in this big barrel. I lived 1 block from Venice Blvd and 3 blocks from
the beach. In the summer time we would go and play at the beach which
was our back yard. As long as we were home before dark it was ok. We had
Beatniks & Poetry Coffee hangout & the hotdog stand We had the drug store
at Windward circle, Newbury's five & dime where we bought our candy to
head to Venice Pier to go fishing, what more did a kid need in those days.
When I turned twelve we moved to the Lincoln Apts and I began my junior
year at Mark Twain & graduated from Venice High in 1968. I moved out of
the area for a while when married but was at Venice Beach all the time,
taking my kids to the beach during winter, spring, summer or fall. Once
a Venetian the beach is in the blood. I since have moved from Venice to
Chatsworth. I left my heart & soul there to another life, but I will never
leave my love for Venice.
I was very involved in Venice during the 70s and 80s
and, to some extent, remain involved though I moved to San Gabriel a couple
years ago. I've made a proposal to UCLA to conduct an oral history of
Venice/Santa Monica activists for those decades. I had more than a hundred
articles in the Free Venice Beachhead. I'd like to publish, in
some form, a collection of photos of Venice murals. (There is also piece
called Reminiscences, written especially for the
Centennial edition of the Beachhead)
Back in the early 80's I lived up in the San Fernando
Valley and used to go down to west Washington Blvd to the Sunset Saloon
right on the beach. Was a guy named Slavin' David who used to play there
sometimes midweek but usually Friday or Saturday nights. David was lead
singer and had a good blues band. I believe he said he flipped burgers
at McDonaldís locally during the days. I remember a big black guy who
had a bandolier of harmonicas around his waist and he blew a really mean
harp. Always standing room only and usually a bunch was outside listening
to the music and having a blast too. One old old gal by the name of Sally
(homeless) used to be there most of the time later on in the evenings
and we'd try to sneak her out a drink if possible. God those were fun
days. Well , time moves on, I moved to Orange County years ago, and finally
moved out of state.
We often had bonfires in the courtyard of our apartment
complex; everybody there were good friends who brought food, helped poetry
readings and played music all night long.
Rialto has gained local notoriety each Halloween as the
western block is closed off and all the residents go totally wild decorating
their places and putting on circus-like presentations to scare the little
kids. And there are plenty. Each year I'd say we get 300-400 trick or
treaters, of which I can usually get 2 or 3 to cry when they dare enter
out haunted mansion featuring the ever-popular "wall of fire." It's a
great time for all, with neighbors hosting wild parties late into the
night. It has definitely become my favorite holiday.
Maria Rosa Tarantino
I am just a tourist (sigh), I don't live in Venice. I
am from Italy, visited Venice on February 25, 2005. It is so particular,
original, strange and beautiful... actually I live in san Diego California
and I really hope to come to visit again because it was fun!
I lived and played around Venice for thirteen years.
Nobody touched my band in the 70s - A Band Called Sam. Sometimes I miss
Venice so bad itís painful. I know itís a lot different now but in my
day, Venice was the place to be. Iím still playing and singing my tail
off. Headed for the Netherlands at the end of September (2006), Iím sure
thereís someone there that remembers the "Bluesman." This note came in
November 2006: Venice is such a part of my life I would love to play there
again while I still have on my rockin' shoes. (Sam Taylor died early in
Dave Thayer NEW
In April 1970, I left home, for the first time, to make
my way in the world. I took my second airplane flight, from my home state,
New York, to Los Angeles International Airport. I was 19 and had made
no arrangements. My only luggage was a red backpack. I was going to hit
the road to find out. It was very exciting. Leaving the LA airport on
foot, I stuck out my thumb and got a lift from an English guy, riding
a red Vespa motorscooter. Riding shotgun with a big red backpack on a
little red Vespa! Did anyone take our picture?
I don't remember how far he took me, but I wound up in Hollywood, for
about a week, then got a job at Marina Del Rey and moved into the Ocean
View Hotel at 5 Rose Avenue. Mr. Marks was the manager and, like everyone
else at the hotel, was quite old. I was probably the only tenant under
40. Funny - writing this, just now, I've suddenly remembered the friendly
old lady with the twinkling blue eyes and snowy white hair, who lived
down the hall from me. My room was on the 5th floor and my one window
looked out towards the Beach House and Pacific Ocean Pier, the deserted
amusement park. That was a weird and wonderful landscape! A Bavarian village
next to a moonscape.
I'll always remember watching the Beach House and the pier burn, from
my window. I remember going to Gay Lib meetings in Venice, and Harold
Norse, the beat poet, would be there. The Gay Lib movement was just starting
up and there was a lot of interest and energy at those gatherings. I found
this website searching the Internet for the name of the bar where I used
to go dancing with my buddy, Ronnie from Ft. Worth. I don't think that
it was the Matchbox, but it was somewhere on Ocean Front Walk not far
from the Matchbox.
After a couple of months at the Ocean View Hotel, a friend persuaded me
to move into the apartment that he'd just vacated at 14 Wavecrest, which
had single story, bungalow apartments around a garden. It was only a block
from the beach but the tenants lived around a tree-shaded yard on a quiet
street with no cars. That was in June of 1970. A few weeks later, a whim
had me thumbing up the road to Stockton, to spend the long 4th of July
weekend with my brother, who was at college there. I only made it as far
as San Francisco and never (almost) left that city.
When I did get a chance to return to Venice - probably in the mid 1980s
- I was walking on the Ocean Front and saw a guy who looked familiar.
It was the English guy who gave me the lift on the red Vespa! We had never
bumped into each other during the months that I lived in Venice, so this
was the second time I'd ever seen him - with a 15 year interval! I spoke
to him and asked about the red Vespa and told him about riding shotgun
on the scooter wearing the big, red backpack, in April of 1970. We had
a good laugh, but he didn't remember me.
Kimberly Theisen (Dragonfly)
Years of residence: 1969-1978 or
79-ish. My old haunts were mostly Thornton (33 1/2 and Thornton towers)
Ozone, Pacific Ave., and the Canals. Loved those bongos and dancing to
them!! Loved when Venice was a nude beach for a while!! Loved roller skating
to disco down by the pavilion, loved the murals and funky clothes and
the jugglers tarot readers and over all amazing group of people that were
around at that time!!
Philomene Long Thomas
Even now I prefer to live among the poets, saints and
mad ones of Venice West. I know no other way but to strip and leap naked
into the Holy Fires.
I had my own bands that recorded for SST Records in the
1980s. In my own solo band, I was ALWAYS introduced as being "direct from
Venice California." I did some recording at Radio Tokyo, gigged the Taurus,
lived on Ozone, smoked my first joint in 1969 under the P.O.P. pier. My
family moved to Samo when I was 13 in early 1969. What a time for Venice!
Scary and adventurous for any teenager. Hopping on the back of the boardwalk
trams to avoid paying the dime. Exploring the mostly abandoned P.O.P.
pier. Checking out the myriad 'hippie' scenes. The times of my life...
I came of age in Venice and those six years influenced
the rest of my life. I miss the freedom of walking down the oceanfront
walk in 1967 and passing through so many communities - hearing Yiddish
spoken and Marty Rosen organizing folks at the temple, Anna Haag selling
her wonderful jewelry, walking along the Ocean Front Walk with my friend,
May Michel, who always said "this is the best part of the day" regardless
of what time it was; the dogs that would disappear the moment the dogcatchers
arrived and the wonderful, never to taste again, German pancakes at the
German Restuarant; Tuum Est the alternative to Synanon and the newspaper
I worked on, "The Source" that attempted to reflect the Oakwood community
where I lived for six years.
There was the day we were protesting the Vietnam War and some Klu Klux
Klan folks arrived in a bus from ?????? we chased them down Westminster
and soon they were running back to their bus with a whole community chasing
them. There was also the day that our wonderful diverse community went
to City Hall to protest the Master Plan that had been proposed for Venice.
We were changing the world, attempting to eradicate racism (at least locally).
I worked with Bob Castile in a War on Poverty Program and then worked
at the Neighborhood Youth Association where I learned firsthand about
the attempts to undermine community activists by the police of the time.
I met the most progressive teacher in the community, Myrna Oshrin, who
was teaching "Black History" before there was a school program for it
and I met a wonderful eight year old boy, named SunnyMan, who taught me
as much as I may have taught him. I met a wonderful elder while knocking
on doors to register people to vote. He lived in the Oakwood community
and his house was filled with carvings of gondolas and canals. He turned
out to be Abbott Kinney's chauffeur and Mr. Kinney left him his house
when he died. I also experienced infiltrating the "Venice Civic Union"
trying to pose as a right wing conservative, at the encouragement of Curtis
Rossiter who was sure they were connected to the Klan. All this while
trying to work my way through school at Cal State Los Angeles. Those were
the days, again, when we thought we were changing the world and it has
never felt as good since that time.
I am now a Social Worker who lives in the Bay Area and belongs to a group
called "Therapists for Peace and Justice". I will work madly in the 2008
election to try to get that old feeling back----the conga drums playing
to the sun setting on the Venice Beach.
Susan Weinberg - (
Free Venice Beachhead Jan. 1980)
I love you Venice!
I met you in the summer of 1974, that crazy summer of the nude beach,
and fell instantly in love with the freedom of the place. You let me be,
let me find myself!
When not in my studio, I spent long hours on the Walk, drinking in the
history that just pours from the walls of the old buildings and feeling
the vibrations of its people.
Venice is magic! My drawings are magic! They almost draw themselves.
These drawings are part of a series that I call my "Coloring Book"
series. They are done simply, easily, with the use of the thousands of
photographs I have lovingly taken during my years in Venice.
They were born out of the need to say: "Thank you, Venice,"
in the most direct, unpretentious way possible. I want to show My Venice,
the Venice of people all existing in their own spaces, dong their own
thing - all an expression of love and joy and of a faith that the world
can be a place of peace and harmony.
My drawings cover the time period from 1974 to 1980. Venice has changed
in that period of time - it always is in a state of change. So many people
need Venice we must not be too selfish with her.
I have moved away from Venice now, down the Walk to Santa Monica. Now
I must skate down to Venice, through the no-mans land separating
the two cities, to the little island I feel is my home.
Today everybody is skating - tomorrow it will be something else. But Venice
will always be for the people.
If joy is a sign of the presence of God, then God resides in Venice. The
God-force, the Creative Force, will never let its people down.
So, thank you again Venice, for being here.
Heres looking forward to the 80s. May the Spirit of Venice
Jack K. Wilborn
I lived there from about 1961 to 1967, just loved it!
I used to photograph EVERYTHING + the beaches!!
First home, a brick apartment building on Westminster.
We lived on Rose, Brooks, and Breeze. Short moves to Marco Place off Lincoln,
Matteson in Mar Vista. Mom moved a lot so I attended Broadway, Westminster,
Sunset, Grandview, and Roosevelt which switched to the name Couer D'lene
or something like that. I miss Saucy Dog, the very brief nude beach (at
13, I was handed a flyer by a nude from below the waist man). a quiet
beach and boardwalk before the storefronts, Nicks market at Wavecrest,
(he let me label cans for .25 an hour), our belief that the building at
2 Breeze was haunted, the Krishna parades, jumping the back of the tram,
sneaking into the long-closed POP and watching it burn every once in a
while, and also marveling when the rollercoaster fell over all on its
own one day, the swings at the end of our block, the kiddie park at Windward
near the Pavilion where I have one of my few memories of my Dad pushing
me on the swings, my first skates from Cheapskates, being able to hear
my Mom call me home from 26 Breeze when I was 3 blocks away, back when
it was safe to be out after dark. To look back and remember hearing the
waves at night.
I miss Venice, I miss my Mom who died on Rose Avenue, the same place she
moved back to after trying a stint back in her hometown of Baraboo, Wisconsin.
I still see it.
Stuart Z. Perkoff
john d s
John D. Shearer
Patricia Nunez Souder
Maria Rosa Tarantino
Dave Thayer NEW
Jack K. Wilborn