Free Venice Beachhead Archives
of the Light-Hearted
Webslave's note: Each month, back when I lived in
Venice, someone from the Beachhead Collective would drop off a
bundle of a hundred copies at my door, and I would distribute them house-to-house
around Oakwood. My way of continuing to be a Beachhead volunteer
is to resurrect and re-type selected articles from its past (pre-computer)
issues, for which the Beachhead has graciously granted permission.
Cheap Eats in Venice: Fighting the $3.00 Clam
From Free Venice BeachHead #178 October 1984
By Essie La Fresseur de la Yenta
There is a new three star restaurant here to improve
our lot and lighten our day.
When I say three star, I dont mean three star
as in Michelin, but owned by three stars Liza Minelli, Tony Bill and Dudley
Moore. The name of the restaurant is its address 72 Market Street. I cant
afford three dollars a clam (according to People Magazine) so I shall
review the clientele as they look at me looking at them. Even more delicious
than a three dollar clam could possibly be, is that this restaurant is
on the very place where artrepreneur Doug Chrismas carved out the first
of his chain of Ace Gallery art marts in Southern Calif. and put Venice
on the trendy map. Why do you think Im here?
A wall has been replaced by a window which was opened
during the recent hot spell and one could glimpse the techiest of high
tech restaurants - exposed pipes, sky lights. A bit of civilized Soho
come to Venice.
The customers seem to have been imported from MTV
or commercial land.
Cocaine-white women weighing 95 lbs. and video chic
men in black wraparound glasses look as if theyre waiting to be
photographed for a Chanel ad.
Limos line Market St., while red jacketed valets
talk with black uniformed chauffeurs.
Ill save my bubble gum money and go in there
But right now, Ill talk about the places Ive
eaten in and therefore are the places of the true hip. The first place
isnt a restaurant at all. Its Windward Farms on Windward Ave.
A produce store that delivers what Charmers (another refuge of the
desperately trendy) doesnt. Tear yourself away form the fresh and
exotic fruits and vegetables Chantrelle mushrooms at $5.00 for a ¼
of a pound but hey you only need a gram to brighten up your omelet. Go
to the back of the store and order a sandwich and salad to go. May I recommend
the chicken salad stuffed into a pita bread with lettuce and sprouts.
Its simple and solid.
The chicken is home cooked not diced by some restaurant
supply house, lots of mayo the kind of chicken sandwich mom would have
made if she were a goy. A salad (also to go, no eating here) made of fresh
veggies tomatoes zucchinis carrots and whatever else is in season with
bottled dressing - but O.K. goes for $3.00.
A good strong fresh cup of coffee is difficult to
find in Venice.
But the truly hip know that that very object can
be bought for .50 at the O.D. - the Oriental Dish located at 1512 Pacific
next to the Aardvark. The O.D. specializes in Philippine cooking (note
cooking not cuisine) which combines Spanish Oriental and African techniques.
Vegetable lumpia the Philippine equivalent of egg rolls are crisp fried
and filled with crisp vegetables 2 for $2.25, a chicken stew called chicken
adobo, fried rice or noodles filled with chicken, veggies or whatevers
fresh cheap and abundant. The entrees range in price from $2.50 to $3.00.
Order a coconut ice cream $1.50. It slides down rich and smooth with gelatinous
pieces of young coconut. Theyll be out of that so settle for the
custard - a square of dense rich smooth lemony flan for $1.50.
The O.D. serves a breakfast for $1.50. This consists
of 2 eggs with a heaping order of white rice steamed with garlic. If you
order coffee, breakfast will cost $2.25 with tax.
Remember. You dont need to spend three clams
for one clam, and anywhere you go my darlings is Truly Hip.
Ride the Highboy, Folks!
by Gerry Goldstein - January 1980
"Ride the Highboy, Folks; It's a High, Safe,
Sane, Sensational Ride!"
So went the repetitious, recorded sales spritz ...
er ... pitch of the old Ocean Park Pier roller coaster. The pitch, followed
by the sound of steel wheels on twisting track as the coaster careened
down the slope to the tow-line; then the ratchety rattle of the winding
winch, as the tow-cable tugged the coaster up, up, up, to the top of its
first drop; then the screech of wheels on rails and screams and squeals
of funseekers, made this a sort of themesound or audio-intro to the whole
pier. That, and the music of the band organ playing for the merry-go-round
just across the midway.
Race Thru the Clouds
While at the foot of Windward Avenue, just south of the old Venice Amusement
Pier entrance, the Race Thru the Clouds double-tracked roller coaster
entertained crowds. Like Magic Mountain today, it had two coasters racing
each other up, down, and around. And that was at least fifty years ago!
Before that, it was the Inland Coaster, located where the Post Office
is now, and extending several blocks east along Venice Way.
The old post office itself was on Venice Way, in the building now occupied
by Room to Move. The post office will still deliver mail there, addresses
simply "Old Venice Post Office."
Trams furnished fast, frequent transportation along Ocean Front Walk between
Windward Ave. and Pier Ave., and connected with other trams from Pier
Ave. to the Santa Monica Pier at the foot of Colorado Street. The fare
was only 5 cents, much later raised to 10 cents.
The trams were often raced and chased by barefooted
boys who sometimes tried to hook rides, hanging onto the back of the tram.
During the twenties, I believe there were some battery
powered trams, but during the 1930s they were replaced by larger, awning-covered
side-seating trams powered by four-cylinder Chevrolet engines, similar
in design to the Ford Model A engines.
On days of passenger overload, the trams, which
were garaged at Brooks Ave. and Speedway, were supplemented by two vans,
named "La Paloma" and "La Golondrina."
Live Steam Trains
Transportation through Venice in its early days consisted of an amusement
park ride scale sized live steam engine and open-car train which used
a loop of track probably two or three miles long, around Venice, then
a new and still largely undeveloped subdivision. Los Angeles City Councilwoman
Pat Russell's field deputy Curtis Rossiter told me that Mrs. Clines's
brown brick building on West Washington Blvd. was the railroad station/roundhouse
for the train. That's right across the street from Press Release, formerly
Beyond Baroque. A map of the route may be seen at the Old Lionel Train
Store, also on West Washington.
By the mid-thirties, the miles of narrow-gauge track had been reduced
to a small loop with a diameter a little less than the width of Windward
Avenue, just east of Trolley Way (now Pacific Avenue) and the train had
become simply another children's amusement park ride. Photos of this Windward
Ave. live steam train are still displayed in some banks, shops, and books.
Anybody else out there remember riding on it?
A couple of years ago, reported the Los Angeles Times, some live steam
railroad hobbyist found that old locomotive rusting in an El Monte, California
scrap yard, bought it, and has restored it.
The Big Red Cars
Many of us remember, as we would a favorite childhood toy, the Big Red
Cars of the Pacific Electric Railway's Venice Short Line; so-called because
it offered a shorter alternative route from downtown Los Angeles: south
on Hill Street from 5th, and west on Venice Boulevard. Westward from West
Blvd./Vineyard/Rimpau tracks were in the median strip private right-of-way,
and a trip to or from downtown took only about half an hour. Some say
a late-night trip from LA took only fifteen minutes! Compare that with
today's bus schedules of one-to-two HOURS! If they even bother to stop
The original route, from the Subway Terminal on
Hill Street between 4th and 5th, thence through the two-mile long tunnel,
north on Glendale Blvd., west on Sunset Blvd. to Sanborn Junction, where
the motorman or conductor had to get out of the streetcar, and throw a
manual switch lever embedded in the pavement between the tracks. Then
west on Santa Monica Blvd., through Hollywood, west Hollywood, Beverly
Hills, West Los Angeles, and Santa Monica, finally south on Ocean Ave.
adjacent to Palisades Park, and Trolley Way, another then private right
of way, now called Nielson Way in Santa Monica and Pacific Ave. in Venice.
Santa Monica Blvd. in Santa Monica, was once called Oregon Ave.
At the corner of Pacific Ave. and Windward, what
is now Cleopatra's, Aardvark, and the head shop, was all the Venice Pacific
Electric station and waiting room. The building itself was two stories
high; I don't know when or shy the top floor was removed.
But I can remember fares of 5 cents, 6 cents, 7
cents and 10 cents or a 3-for-25 cents token. In 1942, regular fare was
7 cents; a student half-fare ticket was, would you believe, only 3-1/2
cents! We bought them at school student stores in small books of 40 tickets
for $1.40. And transfers were free.
There were, on and near the old Ocean Park Pier, several shooting galleries.
When that meant rifles, not needles. After a day or an evening of selling
target practice to passers-by, a gallery would have a veritable metal
mine of thousands of brass and/or copper shell casings left on the sidewalk.
Owners and employees simply ignored the debris as so much litter and left
it there! Early the next morning I sometimes pedaled my tricycle over
to the pier and collected a sackful of the casings. I love to shake the
bag and hear them jingle.
Shops and People
Adjacent to the Fox Dome Theater, with its gilt dome, was a store making
and selling salt water toffee It tasted sweet, not salty, and although
I asked the proprietors, I never received a satisfactory answer, and still
don't know what's meant by "salt water taffy." Inside the shop,
large beaters kept pulling and drawing the gooey mixture, while other
machines spun it out in long, continuous ropes which were mechanically
cut and wrapped in waxed paper.
Outside, in the middle of crowded Ocean Front Walk/ the Promenade, near
the pier entrance sat, half reclining in his three-wheel electric cart,
a paralyzed old man, selling pencils. These were depression years, and
social security was only begun in 1935.
Foot traffic on Ocean Front Walk, day and night, was as heavy as downtown
LA during Christmas shopping crush.
I remember the merry-go-rounds on both Venice and Ocean Park piers. In
Ocean Park, it was usually just across the midway from the Highboy roller
coaster. But one year it was moved under the pier, to a space usually
used as a ballroom called Casino Gardens, where Tommy Dorsey and his big
band played their very special kind of dance music.
Like all traditional merry-go-rounds, that one had a gold ring - brass,
really, which was god for one free ride. The brass ring, and others, all
black, like curtain rings, probably about 1-1/4 inches in diameter, were
dispensed through a slotted chute which swung out and extended within
reach of the outstretched hands of those on the outside ponies only. (Those
riding inside didn't even have a chance, and inside horses don't even
travel nearly as far as those on the outside - they travel as many revolutions,
in a smaller circle.)
One year our good old Los Angeles Silly Council in its gee-whizdom, outlawed
the brass ring as a gambling device, part of a then crackdown on bingo
parlors, poker, and such. After all, they reasoned, only one child could
catch the brass ring each ride. That made it a gambling device and illegal.
Then, reaching for a more socially and publicly acceptable reason to outlaw
a beloved merry-go-round tradition, the City Council added, as an afterthought,
that "Besides, a child might be hurt trying to grab the ring and
hit his (never "her") hand on the chute, instead."
The Venice pier merry-go-round was somewhat different. The horses in each
rank of three moved back and forth instead of up and down; the lead horse
of each three won a free ride ticket for its rider, so as many as 1/3
of the riders might be getting a free ride!
I was about six, and terrified, when one Sunday afternoon, my Dad put
me in a racing car on a racetrack on the Venice pier. The cars, a little
smaller than a Volkswagen Beetle, and open, were electric; the power delivered
through metal strips alternating with wooden strips in the track flooring.
Each car had in back a device resembling a garden rake, which scraped
along the electrified metal strips. Naturally, this produced showers of
sparks which added to the drivers' and viewers' excitement. I managed
to keep the car in its own lane, but to this day I really prefer the (probably)
safer bumper cars.
Speedway Avenue actually had two-way auto traffic along its entire length.
It extended into Ocean Park, where a few years ago some of it was removed
and relocated a bit west, to form Barnard Way. And remove some low-cost
Even the old, smaller, front-engined Santa Monica
buses and Bay Cities Transit Co. Buses used Speedway. When I was about
5 years old, in 1935, I remember chasing my beachball into Speedway and
nearly getting hit by one of those buses.
Santa Monica busline 7 (Pico) had a terminus at
the foot of Marine St., where the driver drove the bus onto a turntable
in the pavement next to Ocean Front Walk. The driver then got off the
bus and inserted a key into a key-operated switch on a post on the corner,
activating the turntable to turn the bus around, ready for its eastbound
Their coin boxes then accepted the old style large
tokens, somewhat larger than a nickel. Today's small tokens are smaller
than a dime in diameter.
Bay Area Bug Collective
from Free Venice Beachhead #128
Our Principles of Unity
1) We support and defend the right to
self-determination of all oppressed centipedes, caterpillars, and snails
2) We reject as exploitative the popular
romanticization of the reproductive labor of birds and bees.
3) We support the passage of legislation
aimed at restricting the sales and use of lethal fly-swatters, while at
the same time openly criticizing the reformist strategy of the liberal
fly-swat control lobby.
4) We support the current struggle to
obtain equal rights for crickets and feel that the tactic of organizing
mass chirp-ins has been effective in making their demands heard. However,
we also feel that the frequency of these night-long protests is causing
many daytime bugs to become less appreciative of cricket concerns. We
would recommend a silent vigil at this point.
5) We support the autonomous but movement
and consider buggist phrases, such as "You bug me" and "This
room is bugged," to be blatantly anti-bug.
6) We believe that meaningful relationships
between bugs increase our sense of community and personal power. We thus
look toward our tick and lice comrades to show us ways of establishing
7) We are opposed to the forced breeding
of germs and bacteria in the laboratories of the military establishment,
and we urge our microscopic comrades to refuse to be used as cannon fodder
in imperialist wars of aggression. Reproductive rights for germs! NO to
8) On the roach question - we recognize
that roaches have special needs due to their low status in the bug community,
and therefore we see the current proliferation of self-esteem workshops
and roach-identified roaches as a positive development. However, it should
also be emphasized that such activities are no substitute for concrete
political action, such as mass infestations.
9) We believe that the source of our
oppression as bugs lies not in our tiny size, as is commonly assumed,
but is a product of class society. Under socialism, the oppression of
bugs would become a thing of the past. Socialism liberates bugs!
10) We have been hiding in cracks in
the wall, and in drawers and cupboards for centuries. To crawl in public
has meant inviting a bug phobic onslaught of rolled-up newspapers, crushing
shoes, and occasional squishing fists. The time has come for all militant
bugs to draw together and take a mighty stand. Out of the cracks and into
H. Spiderperson Ryan
Bay Area Bug Collective
by Huntley Bromberg November 1980
The Society for the Organization of Transients
held its first official meeting September 30th somewhere on the beach
in Venice, and after ratifying its charter, went on to elect its first
A. T. Lambrusco, known to the local denizens
as "The Wizard" because of his reputation of materializing loose
change out of his friends ears, seems to be the guiding force and main
contributor behind S. O.T. Running unopposed, Lambrusco was the unanimous
choice of the fifty or so indigents who gathered in the growing darkness
near the walled-in Mobil oil well at the foot of Market Street.
S.O.T recently organized by Lambrusco
to defend against those individuals who would harass the winos who inhabit
this somewhat seedy but picturesque beachfront community, appears to be
based on the same principles that other groups of local residents have
propounded in recent meetings organized against the growing crime wave:
Fear. Self-defense is their primary concern.
"We'd like to make it perfectly
clear," Lambrusco stated, slurring his words slightly, "that
there's nothing we support more than the great people who come to the
beach and like to have a good time and don't bother nobody." He went
on to say their main complaint was aimed at the vigilante types who have
taken it upon themselves to "clean up the ocean front"
The S.O.T. president was referring to
a recent move a A. Dripsy, owner of the Venice Meat House. Dripsy is the
man behind the Venice Detachment, a small group of local merchants and
concerned citizens who have begun a clean up campaign along the boardwalk.
Witnesses have reported the self-appointed bum patrol using electric cattle
prods on sleeping persons, and the confiscation of bedrolls and blankets.
When queried in an interview about these tactics, Dripsy denied charges
of violence. "We just prod them along," he laughingly told one
In a highly charged acceptance speech,
Lambrusco said his main goal was to enlist as many of his fellows as he
could in S.O.T. He pushed strongly for wino solidarity, and many toasts
were drunk as the night wore on. He warned, however, that not all winos
were members of S.O.T., and not all were interested in merely defending
their rights. He said he personally knew of winos who had armed themselves
and said the vigilantes should be wary of approaching a seemingly drunk
individual with a brown paper bag. "Some of these guys are crazy
and you might be looking down the wrong end of a warm magnum concealed
in those bags.."
There was a smattering of applause and
hoots at the conclusion, but in the murkiness it was impossible to tell
how many of the original crowd was still there, or if many had simply
No date was set for the next meeting,
but Lambrusco said he would attend the next City Council meeting with
a list of grievances.