MORE BeachHead Archives
Beachhead Archives 1983
30 Years Ago in Call
Someplace Paradise and/or Ghost Town
Venice in Books A-C
Venice in Books D-K
Venice in Books L-P
Venice in Books Q-Z
Quotations about Venice
Venice in Magazines and other ephemeral
1981 Resistance Celebration
1981 Resistance Celebration
Birth of Venice:
1914-1916 Part 1
1914-1916 Part 4
1914-1916 Part 5
Destiny's Consent by
Lions and Gondolas
Poem about Venice
Tales of the Blue Meanie
by Allan Cole
Another Chapter from
Tales of the Blue Meanie by Allan Cole
Venice Historical Society
1969 Police Riots
Jack the Liar
Free Venice Beachhead
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
Ushering in the 80s: The Spirit of Venice
by Moe Stavnezer
Describing the "Spirit of Venice" is no
mean task. However, there's no reason why I shouldn't give it a try and
so I will. Venice, in a word, is irreverent. A place that thumbs its collective
nose at the accepted and acceptable behavior of the world. At the same
time, it is far from being above thumbing that same nose at itself. It's
kind of the Muhammed Ali of California community politics - always in
training for that one last fight against opponents who just never seem
to stop coming. Fortunately, for Venice's spirit there have always appeared
"trainers" to whip (figuratively, of course) the community spirit
back into shape for the next scrap or an occasional championship bout.
Lately, however, I hear that the Spirit is DEAD.
Well it's my feeling that the "Spirit of Venice" is just plain
pooped and not at all dead. After a decade or more of struggle and hard
and continuous work, the Spirit, like many of us, is tired. BUT, even
pooped, the Spirit is more alive than most community spirits and I feel
safe in predicting that it will rise to the challenge of the Orwellian
80s. 'Cause I don't know of any place that loves so passionately, hates
so vehemently, or forgives so easily as Venice.
Some of the realization of what the spirit of Venice
is was brought home to me through recent political work in Santa Monica.
It was exciting to be part of a movement that brought about some significant
electoral victories including the most progressive rent control law in
the country, election of an entire slate for the rent control board, and
the election of 3 city council-people. All within 6 months time. But there
is still nowhere the kind of political awareness or dedicated activism
in Santa Monica, even after these victories, that I find in Venice where
there is not even a remote chance of such electoral victories. Even more
obvious is the political sophistication in terms of making the connection
between community political/social events and those outside the community.
And I write this at a time when there is a debate here as to whether the
Town Council should concern itself with anything other than the community.
The debate is healthy and is certainly a part of the community spirit,
an eclectic political mish-mash in which controversy is normal and acceptable.
Venice remains, after 7 years, a breath of fresh air and I'll take its
spirit, tired or not, as long as I can still find here what is missing
in most other places.
But the irreverence is gladly not confined to the
Spirit's political nature. It's also the poker game on a kitchen table
on Ocean Front Walk on Christmas day, or a Halloween party that becomes
a parade through the community and along the same OFW. It's an article
in the LA Times about Swami X, Venice night at the Fox, the crowning
of two "queens" amidst a storm of controversy, a nude beach,
skaters, bikers, murals and street vendors.
Despite the comparative lethargy of the past year
there was an underlying tension in the air. There was energy. A sense
that the Spirit was just lying low in anticipation of a new decade in
which it will rise howling like the wind. A bit off-key, of course.
Happy New Year to the Spirit of Venice and to all
of you out there in Veniceland.
The Spirit of Venice
by Phil Nurenberg January 1980
Venice is a sort of local artists' colony by the
sea. At its best, there is a tolerance for the unusual and different individual
here. Many people I've met and talked to are just passing through and
an ungodly number tell me they're working two jobs just to pay the rent
and get by.
Politics and religions of all kinds are alive and
thriving on and off. Venice boasts the first California NOW chapter (National
Organization for Women) and had rent control before Santa Monica. Rent
control appears to be just that: a holding action.
Beach front property still rents for as much as
$600 a month for a studio apt. After two and a half months of desperate
apartment searching, I went to the local 'Roommate Finders' establishment
and paid $50 of my alarmingly dwindling California 'move' money to get
it over with and become a California resident.
Wanting to make it easy for them, I said I would
be willing to pay the amount I originally planned to pay for my own place:
$200 a month. The young lady was very nice as she took my picture and
said to call her in a few days when she believed she would have a nice
place with two other roommates 'who can't afford to pay very much, like
Floating around, waiting to become a resident, I
was told by my childhood sweetheart and friend from back east, to check
out the 'Swami' on the beach when she listened for the umpteenth time
about how it was Henry Miller who made me want to become a writer 8 years
ago from reading about his struggles to extricate himself from the rat
race to live in the world of art and imagination.
'You'll really like the Swami,' she said, 'every
other work out of his mouth is fuck.' After a lengthy explanation about
the idea that this was not what Miller (currently living over in the Palisades)
is really about, I did in fact check out the Swami and saw a pleasant
similarity in the attempt to speak the truth from the guts without the
formalities of self-censorship.
A stranger at the airport trying to sell me ounces
of hash unsuccessfully when finding out I was from Venice, like so many
others, told me he used to hang out there all the time. 'So you're from
Whacko Venice!' as he called it. 'Then you probably know the Swami. Is
he still in jail? I saw him get busted when the Hare Krishnas had their
festival for yelling at them that they were a bunch of bullshit and telling
them to go fuck themselves.'
Yes, the spirit of Venice is the people: street
people, actors, musicians, musclemen, painters, poets, swamis, rollerskaters,
healthfood freaks, reside, have resided, will reside, or visit here.
Celebrity surfers and skateboarders are among these.
A lot of people are unaware that, under the right conditions, there is
surfing from the Pavilion all the way down past Rose Ave. where the recently
demolished Ocean Park Pier used to be.
Probably one of the most famous surfers who grew
up in Venice is Dewey Weber. Dewey was one of the originals at Malibu
during the infamous Gidget era, upon which both the book and the movie
were based. He was one of the first to use California's aggressive hot-dogging
style successfully in big waves in Hawaii.
Currently, Allen Sarlo and Clyde Beatty Jr. are
among the better known professional surfers living in Venice. Allen can
successfully be seen coming and going from Sarlo Realty in his Mercedes
sedan from the roof racks down the street from David Isackson's Pacific
West surfboard shop on West Washington Way.
Isackson is one of the major organizers and sponsors
of professional contests in the local area including the Sunkist Open
at Malibu last summer which drew much media coverage and spectators because
of the famous surfers around the world who showed up to compete for thousands
of dollars in prize money.
During the '70s Venice and Santa Monica became known
as 'Dogtown' to skateboarders around the world. Dogtown is viewed by many
as the center of energy and innovation because of its reputation for pioneering
in pool, vertical, and bank riding which skateparks are now made to reproduce.
Among the pioneers were 'Mad Dog' Tony Alva, Jay
Adams, and Dennis Agnew. They all live, or used to live, in Venice. Tony
Alva was voted #1 in an international Skateboarder Magazine poll
and became known as a sort of Mohammed Ali because of his outspoken views.
Saying in an interview that Dogtown was the best
began a much overpublicized verbal and competition feud with skateboarders
from San Diego and the south for some time.
Alva, Adams, and other skateboarding celebrities
used to practice mornings at the Pavilion.
World famous body builder Arnold Schwarzenegger
has his gym in Venice and can sometimes be seen at 'Muscle Beach' near
the Pavilion where the public watches them pump iron as they call it.
Robert Blake of the popular Baretta TV series grew
up in Venice and Orson Bean currently lives here. Herve Villechaize who
plays the midget on the "Fantasy Island" TV series has an apartment
A couple of well known writers associated with Venice
are Clifford Irving, who became known nationally and went to jail as the
perpetrator of the Howard Hughes 'authorized' biography hoax, began his
married life in Venice. He had to leave, he says, because he couldn't
discipline himself to work at the beach. He was one of the ones who was
passing through. Writer Dan Wakefield, the author of Starting Over,
has the hero of his recent novel, Home Free, start out in Boston
(like myself) and wind up in Venice happy to live in a room on "the
Speedway' and work as a short order cook in a restaurant stand on Ocean
There is one unsung individual I would like to pay
tribute to in closing, known simply as 'Red' according to his co-workers
in the Venice Post Office, who has turned many a rotten day for me around
with an uncharacteristic courtesy and friendliness. No matter the Mickey
Mouse rules and regulations and 'go to the end of the line' irritations
I get at the bank and the DMV, that middle-aged clerk with the red hair
at the post office always conveys an attitude of understanding and helpfulness
A Community Problem and a call to Action
from Free Venice Beachhead #128
During the past few years many different
weeds have been slowly growing, threatening to choke the spirit-life of
our green and beautiful Venice-garden-island. In most cases the alarm
has been sounded (against rent gouging, police abuse, encroachment of
big-money land speculators and plastic culture, etc.) but somehow one
very real and dangerous problem has been neglected, the weed allowed to
grow unchecked, to the point that, in the eyes of an ever growing number
of people from all quarters of our community, it is becoming a serious
threat to our peace and freedom.
I am referring to the large number of
half-witted, alcoholic (or over-drugged) violently antisocial sociopathics
who hang out loaded in the pagodas or on benches, acting loud, profane
and violent in an attempt to intimidate passers-by in particular and the
whole community in general. This is not only a problem in appearance.
Those of you who remember Bingo will recall that the one who, in a fit
of stoned psychosis, plunged a knife into her defenseless body seventeen
times was one of these. Nor is the problem of actual violence (killings,
stabbings, beatings, sexual harassment, rapes, robberies) confined to
isolated occurrences in our community. A woman was stabbed on August 17th
near Breeze and Speedway in the evening. This problem is menacing us now.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that
every impoverished soul who spends his days in the shelter of our gates,
eating the crumbs that fall from our tables is a deranted killer. I am
saying that certain ones among them have been doing everything in their
power, as individuals and especially in groups, to make life for us in
our beloved Venice a hell, and that "Now-Is-The-Time-For-All-Good-Men-To-Come-To-The-Aid-Of-The-Party."
(hmm...the typewriter works)
It is time for the Peace and Freedom
loving citizens of this community to act to remove this problem.
It says here in this Psychology II textbook
that the first step in coping with a problem effectively is to define
it. O.K. WHat is the problem?
1. Defecation in the doorways. Most of
us have observed one or another of our "colorful" (?) derelicts
relieving himself on a back door, along a wall or in our carport or garage.
It smells, it's a health hazard, it is counterproductive to creative energy,
it is a drag.
2. Spiritual Violence. In my opinion
this is the gravest evil brought by these people. By constructing and
continuously maintaining a violent "profile" on the boardwalk,
a constant state of fear and tension becomes established. We are put in
the position of always being "on guard" or in defensive mode
which serves to drain us of our creative energy so that ultimately we
either have to leave (and way too many good people from our ranks have
moved out rather than continue to put up with these denizens of drek)
of like the subjects of pepperland become transformed, after repeated
attacks by the Blue Meany Apple Bonkers, into lifeless gray stone.
3. Uncontrolled and vicious dogs. How
many time have you seen their dogs suddenly run out and snap their teeth
in the mid-section of some harmless passing skater or bike rider? This
leads to falls and broken bones as well as being very frightening to kids,
women and the elderly, not to mention the smaller pets of the members
or our community who are subject to attack and injury from these largely
uncontrolled and probably un-innoculated beasts.
4. Profanity and loud and abusive language.
I don't know about some of you, but I have a mother. She lives nearby
and I would like to be able to take her on a walk on the ocean front without
hearing "Mother-f*cker" thirty times. I feel certain many among
you share my distaste for loud, public, verbal abuse.
5. Assaultive change hustle. This is
not your polite "Excuse me, can you spare some change?" This
is where the hustler walks up so hard and fast that you instinctively
step away to avoid being run into, where he stays one inch from your face
and by his positioning impedes your progress, follows you for twenty feet
and winds up hurling insults and epithets at your retreating shadow.
6. Broken glass and trash. This type
of person generally feels more comfortable in a polluted environment and
so will leave piles of beer cans, paper sacks, half-eaten food and cigarette
butts strewn around. He delights in smashing bottles on the walk where
the broken glass can puncture tires of bicycles or obstruct and injure
skaters and walkers. Lately it has become fashionable for these groups
to dump over trash cans as an expression of their contempt for our lives
This then is the problem. What follows
is one idea as to a solution. These techniques have been tried by a group
of several residents in the community during the past month with surprisingly
good results. It is believed that the more of us that use these techniques
the swifter and the more certain will be the solution of our serious mutual
DO's and DON'T'S
Don't attempt direct confrontation. There is nothing that these bullies
like more than ganging up on the lone individual, thereby intimidating
him or her into inaction. When confronted, withdraw (speedily). Do not
allow yourself to be trapped into an argument. These people, like sharks,
are constantly looking for a weakness at which to strike. DON'T GIVE THEM
A TARGET. Instead, if you see them doing something wrong (i.e. public
drinking, a violation of city law), being drunk and/or disorderly in public
(ditto) committing acts or threats of violence or acting in an intimidating
manner, allowing their dogs to menace people, etc.), quietly make your
way home, close the door, draw the shades and DO call the police. (This
is not 1966, they are NOT putting people in jail for ten years for a joint
of weed anymore, the police are NOT automatically your enemy even given
instances of police abuse.) They are your watchdog. They have been getting
MANY calls lately about this problem and they are now responding swiftly
(in most cases) and strongly. They are NOT busting heads, they are writing
public alcohol tickets and dispersing these groups before the trouble
has a chance to start. They are able and willing to help but they won't
come if you don't call (because the community has come down on them so
much for over-doing it). If YOU give them the mandate the WILL help us
rid ourselves of this menace. (A word of encouragement - you will occasionally
find an officer on the phone or on the street who just WON'T help. Don't
give up. This is a case of resistance on the part of an individual, not
department policy. And don't worry about creating a monster. As in the
past, if the police get out of hand we can rein them in through community
If you want safe sane streets around
here, you can have them, but your fingers have got to do the walking.
DO form a community watch. Get together with the people in your immediate
neighborhood. There is strength in unity. Pre-arrange distress and emergency
signals and don't be afraid to look out the window. The police may hake
a half hour getting there and in the meantime the defense of a victim's
life will be in the hands of the people in the neighborhood. YOU are the
home guard. Find out which neighbors can be called on in a pinch. ORGANIZE.
DO walk tall and hang tough. Nothing makes a bully back down faster than
stepping on his toes; he has no heart for the fight unless he has overwhelming
force on his side. If you fight back (psychologically) you'll win.
Remember this simple rule of thumb. Anyone
who wants to be here without harming or intimidating others can. That's
what Venice is about. But anyone who is here to make trouble for others,
nail 'em! There's about a hundred of them and twenty thousand of us. Let's
put a stop to this Mickey Mouse terrorism.
Beneath the Crime Hysteria
by Carlin Thompson
December 1980 # 132
On November 12th, Sarai Ribicoff, a young
editorial writer for the L. A. Herald Examiner was murdered in
Venice. In the wake of this murder reports exploded across the pages of
the local news media - that Venice was in the grip of a huge crime wave
with over 50 murders in the last year. Immediately, people began to speculate
about the causes. While no one wanted to say it loud and clear, the constant
suggestion was that murder and the crime rate were the result of a "criminal
element" that is not white.
Plowing through all the misstatements
and hysteria, a few things become obvious.
First, the murder rate has been greatly
exaggerated. Six people have been murdered in Venice, not fifty The original
inflated reports are for all areas covered by the Venice Division
of the L.A.P.D. Of the numerous murders in this geographical area, only
6 were in Venice. The Venice Police have stated publicly that in their
division, Palms, a predominantly white area, has a larger crime rate than
But crime is on the rise in Venice, as
it is in all of Los Angeles Times in its editorial on the subject
saw some general failing of society, including racial inequality, but
failed to clearly pinpoint the causes. The Herald Examiner in its
grief admitted it had no solutions, but suggested that we should increase
support for the police. But Tom Victory in the Ocean Front Weekly
was totally unvarnished on the subject. His view was that "We have
our ghetto or barrio that is the home of haven for a criminal element
that seems to pounce on local merchants, residents and visitors in the
Venice area." (He did not, however, seem so certain about everything
in that column. He called for Pat Russell to resign, only to claim he
never said it in the next issue, after he got lots of letters criticizing
him for suggesting that somehow Pat Russell was responsible for the crime
Crime has been a fact in Venice for a
long time, but as one long-time Venice resident put it, "It's only
recently that whites have become the victims, so now it is an issue. No
wave of editorials have followed the murders of third world people, like
Local white merchants are divided in
their opinions on how to react to these developments. Some groups, like
the Venice Chamber of Commerce believe that bad publicity will slow development.
They have reacted by stressing the fact that crime has been greatly exaggerated
in the media. They stress police reports indicating that crime in Oakwood
is not as high as in surrounding areas. The Venice Beach Association (the
local right-wing merchants grouping) on the other hand is pushing for
an accelerated police occupation of Oakwood. Some of these merchants'
establishments were attacked last summer by third world kids from downtown.
These merchants, then, immediately assumed that Oakwood kids were responsible
since most Oakwood kids are not white. They have seen Oakwood as a threat
The "crime wave" in Venice
did not just happen spontaneously. Unemployment, redevelopment and soaring
rents have all contributed to the pressures that turn people to crime.
For years developers have been moving
into Venice, buying up old property and renovating it. The property is
then rented out at staggeringly increased rentals. As middle class white
tenants have been squeezed out of beach markets, many have looked to Oakwood
where property values are lower. They move in, to renovate and to displace
local residents, and become the new gentry.
Few middle class white residents realize
that Oakwood has existed as a stable working class community for generations.
When Venice was first developed, blacks were allowed to purchase homes
but not to rent. A number of blacks did, and they became the nucleus of
the present black community here. Some Chicano families have been here
as much as three generations. These communities are now under attack.
In today's inflation-ridden economy,
third world youth have a staggering unemployment rate of between 75 and
85%! Study after study of the "causes of crime" undertaken by
government agencies and law enforcement, as well as private entities,
has shown that the single societal factor having the highest positive
correlation with the crime rate is the unemployment rate. In other words,
as unemployment gores up, so does crime, and as unemployment decreases
so does the crime rate.
Rents are skyrocketing and many third
world families are being evicted to make way for the new gentry and new
profits for the landlords. Faced with no jobs, no chance for college and
no homes, many third world youth are about to explode. As one Oakwood
youth put it, "Some kids may be committing crimes, but they aren't
near the crimes committed on our community."
Oakwood is bordered by Washington Blvd.
Here new shops and restaurants catering to a young, affluent crowd stand
as a symbol of the new gentry. As whites move into Oakwood, they start
at the boundaries near Washington Blvd, making the street itself a symbol
of the invading white middle class. It is no coincidence that police report
a much higher rate of crime here.
The Venice Beach Association, whose members
include some of the people involved in the gentrification of Oakwood,
has been instrumental recently in forming the Venice Business Association,
in an attempt to unite business interests from various parts of Venice,
particularly beach merchants with those of West Washington Blvd. Primary
on the agendas of both groups is the issue of crime. These merchants need
a middle class clientele to support their businesses. Some members of
both groups are involved in land speculation. They may feel they need
a large police force in Oakwood to protect the white citizens who are
displacing minority community members, who presently stand in the way
of real estate profits.
It is important to note that violence
against racial minorities is also increasing in Venice, and elsewhere.
In the last year signs proclaiming"kill niggers" and "niggers
off the beach" have surfaced on the boardwalk along with swastikas
and anti-Jewish slogans. Racists whites talk about "our beach,"
adding to the hostilities.
The media's cry for more police in Oakwood
is ultimately a racist and violent solution. The experience of third world
people in Los Angeles and Venice is that increased police in minority
communities leads to more deaths of third world people, while doing little
to solve the "crime rate."
One young black musician was returning
to his home late at night several weeks ago, when he became aware that
two white men were following him. He turned a corner. They followed. Finally,
fearing for his safety, he decided to run for it. Suddenly one of the
white men screamed "Freeze! Police!" The young black man had
done nothing suspicious, but fortunately he froze or he could easily have
been killed. The two white men were plainclothesmen with guns.
Recently in Venice two black youths happened
to arrive at a bus stop at the same time, but from opposite directions.
Police looking for two black suspects in a robbery detained them for nearly
an hour, despite testimony from other people at the bus stop that the
tow had just met each other. The police had no other connection of the
two besides the color of their skin.
Is reliance on the police the solution
to the problem? Organizers on Breeze Avenue don't think so. They have
been working with neighbors on Wavecrest to organize neighborhood support
on a block level. They take turns walking together between 9 and 11 seven
nights a week on their block,. The idea is to create a presence, so people
walking home at night, particularly women, will feel safer, and, perhaps
even more importantly, so that people will have a greater experience of
community, of being connected and concerned with one another. One local
Breeze Stroller said "It's great! You get to know your neighbors
and you don't feel so isolated."
The Breeze Strollers try to avoid physical
confrontation. "We're not a vigilante group," is a comment frequently
made. The folks on Breeze don't believe that the walks will end crime,
of course. But they do believe they can curb it, and in the process cut
down on alienation and fear. They hold regular block parties and try to
meet all their neighbors.
Betty Brooks, a L. B. State professor,
has held a series of self-defense workshops for women at the Boys and
Girls Club of Venice. Local women have been unanimous in their praise
of the classes. One Breeze resident claims that she has had much greater
confidence since taking the class. The next one is scheduled for January
8th from 7 to 10 p.m.
Community involvement is essential, but
if Reagan makes the cuts expected, we should expect to have more crime.
Reagan plans to cut C.E.T.A., the government's major job training program.
He also plans to cut welfare and essential benefits for the poor. He could
probably cut unemployment compensation directly. His policy of not interfering
with business and trusting in the "good will" of moneyed interests
in this country to provide jobs will probably mean greatly increased unemployment.
His dedication to beefing up the military budget and increasing defense
spending will result in increased unemployment since defense industries
employ proportionately few people. And finally, there's a very good chance
that he will take the right-wingers' advice and eliminate affirmative
action programs in hiring, which will greatly increase unemployment among
minorities and women.
As has been shown, unemployment increases
directly relate to crime increases. The fight against crime in the next
decade will require a fight to support a decent standard of living for
all citizens. If we are not willing to wage that fight, we will also have
to accept an even higher level of crime.
The Conference Against Racism had one
workshop project involving the issues of crime. Participants from this
workshop will be reporting back to the community on December 13th.
All people concerned with the issue of
crime are urged to attend.
The Backyard That
by Carol Fondiller
April 1981 #136
There I was, as Candide's mentor would want, cultivating
my garden, actually a collection of pots, and wondering whether I should
wrestle with yet another coat of shiny blue enamel that adhered to everything
except the surface I wanted to paint and I said, yes I would organize
something about my part in and about Venice history - and later when someone
gave me 3 lily bulbs and no pots to plant them in I said yes, I would
write something about what I was going to do, even though I had no idea
what I was going to do:
"Venice the backyard nobody wanted." Good,
I have the title anyway.
I stole the title from Freddie, to whom I was talking,
as we sat on one of the remaining benches on the Ocean Front Walk.
It was one of the unreasonably hot February days
that we've been having for the past few years. The sun pounding on my
head, feeling as if I were in some tacky Arabic village on Market Day,
watching people from all over the world dodging everyone from Los Angeles
on roller skates. The scene we agree was different from the old days.
In the old days when marijuana had not been discovered by the upwardly
mobile and the grass you got was unparaquated herb from Mexico, and even
your daddy who had a friend in the Sheriff's office couldn't get you off
from a felony charge. No, it wasn't Hawaiian or Monterey or Thai or Mendocino,
and the hippies, that most copied, exploited and co-opted culture were
being arrested for hanging the American flag upside down or wearing bells.
(Musical instruments without a license.)
The Venice Survival Committee, the Venice Defense
Committee, the Free Venice Committee, the Free Venice Beachhead - but
wait, this is about culture ad here I go talking about drugs, politics
and raids on hippies and I'll probably whine about low-income housing,
the so-called Feminist Community, the "New Jews", Old Jews,
why I feel a grudge against certain groups of people who say that other
groups of people have a right to shoot me as I walk up West Washington
Blvd. to the Venice Town Council, because as certain people say, I am
walking on someone else's turf. I no longer walk to the Town Council meetings.
I no longer go to the Town Council meetings.
How it used to be with that most marvelous of grass
roots organizers John Haag.
But I'm supposed to be talking about culture - I'm
supposed to be organizing a show about Venice Culture from the late '50s
to I guess the edge of the '70s but I can't separate art from politics.
Let me go back to coaxing my Dittany to coexist with my Corsican Mist,
and to deciding what color I should throw over my couch that I scavenged
from Wavecrest Court.
Will the people who come to see this understand,
feel the Drama, the Farce, the Irony of 250 people being locked out of
City Hall, when the Venice Master plan was being decided upon by the City
Council and the property owners, while renters were barred from entering
by Marshalls? Or will the leave early to sip their nice little wine in
their reconverted apartment houses that they own with several nice neo-Marxists
and talk about Tehran and talk about my narrow view? Or will folks find
it vastly entertaining, have a toot of some nose candy, or toke some Mendocino
Sens? ("A nice little bud - unassuming at first, smells a little
resiny but more than one toke and you won't be able to rollerskate to
Will ANYBODY be able to take more than three I told
you so's per hour? Will I be able to hold myself down to less than 5 "I
told you so's" per hour?
How about some tales about the Honda Babies - Jane
and Tome. Or a few anecdotes about some refugees from Berkeley who tried
to make Venice go by the Marxist book. Perhaps a better title would be
"Washing the Dirty Linen."
Oh, Oh! I know. How about the First Canal Festival
and the Canal Festival Funeral?
And the war on the bongo players and Venice West
and how it closed. And how Rick Davidson got beaten by the cops and asked
some very interesting questions - or what meeting was City Planner Calvin
Hamilton told "Bullshit!"?
How about a few memories about the First Woody Guthrie
Revival - and how about Sylvia Kohan singing Moon Over Venice?
How about stories of police brutality and individual
police compassion? Or, if you're in the mood - a sociological view of
sexism and harassment on the Ocean Front Walk? Maybe I'll tell, maybe
I won't. Depends on the stars.
A sweet memory of the Independence Day Parade that
was neve a biased history of the Venice Pavilion and how Councilman Rundberg
made a pile and skipped the country?
Hell, people have been saying April 4 Sat. 7:30
p.m. is gonna be MY show - so, if the moon is in proper conjunction with
my planets (remember in the late '60s the opening gambit to every conversation
or pickup was "What sign are you"?) It promises to be spicier
than the National Enquirer with singing.
No, my Venice will not deal with Abbot Kinney (except
for a few quotes) or the gambling ships or the Dragon Ride or any postcard
reprint history. Venice U.S.A., an organization that I admire for its
efforts to preserve the early history of Venice, but feel impelled to
castigate for its purely Chamber of Commerce view of Venice, does that
No my history is the time of two synagogues on the
Ocean Front Walk, the destruction of the Gas House by the City of Los
Angeles, when the only men who wore beards were Poets, Rabbis or men who
had no money for razors. It's the Venice of the steely gray rainy days
when people sloshed through mud puddles, the Venice where people who had
long hair were stopped and searched by the police. The whys and wherefores
of bugging of shutter bugs and other psychic rip-offs.
The Venice people who dealt with cockroaches with
more compassion than the Venice Beach Association deals with people. The
Venetian art and necessity of holding grudges, the times when the St.
Charles rented apartments for $60 a month and how Tony Bill bought the
Marco Building and how longtime residents were forced to relocate. And
how Tony Bill, a few years later, in the Calendar section of the Los
Angeles Times lamented the demise of the vigorous diversity of Venice,
and only the same kind of people come down to Venice - White, Bright and
Uptight - famous landmarks that Venice USA will never show on its tours.
I promise a personal history told by people who lived it and to whom attention
must be paid. This will not be a walk or a jog or a skate down memory
I am not going to sell "Collectibles"
of memory. I'm going to try to get you to feel the times before Venice
became "hot". I'm going to try without the help of CETA or a
magic carpet to show you why I still love this still tacky town.
It's gonna be my show with my selective and biased
memories, and with Anna and Silvia, a magical show.
It's my life I'm talking about, Mr. City Planner,
Ms. Real Estate agent, my experiences, Mr. and Ms. Political Theorist!
I'm going to be showing the privates the cannon fodder in the war against
the colonialization of Venice, because what was accomplished was not just
accompanied by LEADERS leading the MASSES. The fight for low income housing
started a long time before CED and the Venice Town Council Coastal Committee,
and it was conceived by a bunch of diverse people with divergent views,
and like all Venetians, contentious and opinionated as all get out. So
I'm going to give and take credit where credit is due.
I find I'm going to be doing or demonstrating art
after all: the fine Venetian Art of Survival and nonviolent urban Guerrilla
May 1981 #137
To the BeachHead -
Well, I haven't wrote a letter for a long time,
so I am going to tell you the story of the Venice I knew and know.
I remember when I came twenty six years ago, Venice
was a quaint little city by the sea. I remember the street car tracks
were still on Pacific Ave. The Security Pacific Bank was on the corner,
where the flea market is, and it looked like a bank in a western movie,
all made of wood. Next door was Safeway. Across the street on the corner
was the Pup - further down was the 49'er, a bar, variety store, dress
shop & jewelry, & a shoe store. Then the liquor store, before
that the Bamboo Hut. You could have a good time in the Bamboo Hut; it
was family owned - they really made you feel at home. Xmas time there
was a Xmas parade, with Santa and his horses, they used horses, and Santa's
helper was a little girl, who is quite a big girl now. We would go in
the Bamboo Hut, drinks for the grownups and toys for the children. Venture
Inn, Town House, and the Bamboo Hut had free buffets New Years and most
You could get a hamburger & fries for 50 cents
at the Bamboo Hut. $1.50 for a steak dinner with all the trimmings etc.
Husbands & wives would meet at the Bamboo Hut and for $6.00 a couple
and all the beer we could drink, we would board a chartered bus and go
to the ball game. Come back to a buffet dinner. Those were the days. 49'er
bar moved across the street and became the Town House. Gus owned it. He
still tends bar on Mondays at the Town House, he owned the Town House
then. He can tell you about Venice. I sure remember John Hamilton. He
sure was a nice man with his toothless grin and his 20 cent glass of wine.
The St. Charles Hotel. and then the liquor store, another hotel, the dime
store, & then of all places the beatnik hotel, what a place. No problems,
everyone seemed to get along.
Corner of Pacific and Westminster was a Mom&
Pop grocery. Where the dress shop is on Westminster & Speedway, another
little market. I lived at 20 Westminster, lived there when my baby was
born twenty-three years ago. People were on the boardwalk then night and
day like they are now on Sat. and Sunday. I used to work at the Lafayette,
then I moved on to work at Luckey's in P.O.P. Rents were $55 to $65 a
mo. I had a one bedroom house on Brooks Ave. for $65 - gas bill was about
$4 a mo. and lights $10 for 2 mo. You could carry four bags of groceries
home for $20, now you can't get one bag for that. A bottle of coke for
5 cents. So much fun riding the tram for 10-15 cents to Santa Monica.
My husband worked nights, I would take my baby for a walk sometimes at
1:00 in the morning, you could sleep with your door open. The P.O.P. was
so nice to go to. Hot dog stands, little shops, hotels, etc. Things to
do and places to go without fear. The elderly people sit on the beach
till 2 o'clock in the morning, there was no fear of getting mugged. You
really did not hear so much of rape and robbery as I recall. There were
more jobs here then. Little factories on Main Street, I worked in one
for Mattel. And the Boom, everything went to hell- They started tearing
Windward Ave. down. Moved the Safeway across from the post office, the
bank where the Safeway was. Only thing left that's running from the old
days is Town House, post office, Vals Drugs, St. Charles, and the liquor
store at the end of Windward and Speedway. I guess a few more strewn around,
but that's what's left on Windward. Then they started in P.O.P. and all
the houses started going right on down to Windward. The poor old people
that sat on the benches are gone, so are the homes sold out from under
them. Oh! They were paid for them, but who pays for the memories? You
could have all the furniture you could carry from those places free, before
they tore them down. How sad, some of the lots are still empty and that's
been 19 years ago they started to tear them down. And then I remember
the rents started to climb then. I furnished me a two bedroom apt. 17
years ago with the free furniture and my rent was $75, and they are still
climbing. So that's a short story of Venice and its downfall. Venice went
when they uprooted families and their homes. People moved on to who knows
where. I know some of those poor old souls are dead and I know they must
of really enjoyed sitting on those benches as much as I do now. It's really
sad to see so many empty places. Especially along the boardwalk. The boardwalk
is the heart of Venice, and to look at it now, nothing really there but
good old memories. Pacific Avenue used to be called Trolley Way.
So now we got the Doug Chrismases and the Lance
Robbins, etc. So what if he can paper his walls with bad checks, some
people don't even have a wall. It's people like them that's breeding crime
here in Venice, because people don't even have a wall. How about the down
and out people in Venice. It's starting all over again like 19 years ago,
they aren't tearing down buildings, they're tearing the hearts out of
people and the greedy landlords are driving people to frustrations that
are causing muggings, robberies, etc.
Take Charmers Market, for example. I am surprised
he don't charge a cover charge to get in there. I went in there - lamb
chops $7.95 lb., Pork chops $7.95 lb., lamb 4.00 a lb. He ought to have
a swift hoof in the pants for those prices. And I noticed $3.95 for some
kind of a root, and his pasty prices are outrages. If he thinks I'm going
to get a sweet tooth over that, he's got a hole in his doughnut. Well,
Beachhead, hang in there. We've still got Venice. We first got to stand
together and fight and take care of her - him - it.
Please withhold my name. I have to get a money order
for my rent.
Getting Away with
by N. Petrova#138 June 1981
I am writing to see if we can't get a
little more notice towards what is happening along the boardwalk. I am
sick at what is happening. Some people are taking over the pagodas and
benches. You just can't sit in the pagodas any more.
Sometimes when I have been shopping and
I have been walking, I like to sit down and relax. There is no such word
as relaxing. You have to be on your toes for flying bottles, or some of
the derelicts urinating on you. They do not care where they do their toilet.
Why don't they put some of those derelicts to work on the beach? Most
of them are getting SSI. I know because I see them with their checks.
They use phony i.d.s and addresses. This one young guy, as do the others,
hang out in the pagoda at Breeze Ave.
On the first of the month there is a
lot of money flowing there and it goes for beer. Twice that had so many
beer bottles lined up in the pagoda they were trying to line the whole
wall, so that they could get a case of free beer from the store at Brooks
Ave. Anything to make a buck, while the innocent old people are at their
mercy, afraid to walk by them places.
I know their names but you can't say
anything because who wants a knife in the gut. Sometimes I sit on the
bench past the pagoda and watch, and you'd be surprised at what they do.
One certain derelict does the pan handling, and he really goes after the
people anything less than a threat to get the buck for a quart of beer.
I sat in the pagoda last week on Breeze because it was pretty well empty,
but all of a sudden they stated to come. I saw a nicely clean dressed
man come in there, and he and this certain bum was behind me. He bought
dope from the bum. I seen it. I can point to any number of the ones that
are mainlining the dope in the pagoda. But I keep my eyes open and my
Sunday the 26th I was down that way,
and the girls are as bad as the men. A nice young man came into the pagoda
and was talking and passing out papers when this girl started on him!
Well, he got mad and told everybody that could hear that all they do is
sit on their asses and drink beer, litter the beach, and irritate the
people. That did it. This girl his him. They kicked him and threw his
papers all over. He talked to the police; nothing was done.
But when the police left - they threatened
him, one spit on him. So when I got a chance, when they didn't see me,
I asked the policeman why they get away with what they do. Well, we tell
him to not go in there, to stay away, so in other words, that's their
pagoda. You hardly see the police anywhere - sometimes once a day. I know
who is doing the vandalism. I know who - the biggest thieves on the beach
are. I pointed one of them out to the police. He had two cases of wine,
selling it. He also went in a friend of mine's garage and took his oil
paintings and was selling them for $10 apiece on Rose Ave. Sometimes on
my way home I have to use the bathroom, but I am afraid to go in there
because my friend had a knife pulled on her, but also one of the bums
beat a black girl up in the women's restroom. He enticed her in there
with a bottle of wine, broke her nose, her arm, all short of killing her.
But he is still there. And its going to be there because there is too
much slack in the system.
One's that really needs help don't get
it. I was robbed where I live. I know who did it, but I keep my mouth
shut because it will do no good. Well, I could go on but that will give
you an idea. Thanks.
Free Venice - Myth or Reality
by Rick Davidson
September 1981 #141
The slogan "FREE VENICE" first appeared
on a Peace & Freedom button designed by John Haag. It was conceived
to raise the issue of community control, symbolize the colonial relationship
between Los Angeles and Venice, and express many people's desire to be
free of L.A.
John used the slogan in his race for State Senate
in 1968, the first election Peace & Freedom participated in as a legal
3rd party in California. Thus the birth of Free Venice is tied directly
to the birth of the Peace & Freedom Party.
The name Peace & Freedom was selected to express
our demand for peace in Indochina and freedom for oppressed
peoples here at home.
Using the electoral process was putting into practice
our desire to move beyond rallies and marches and carry the issues of
War and Racism into the neighborhoods. Most of us were beginning to realize
that in order to accomplish "peace & freedom" for everyone,
a major change in the structure of American society would be required.
We hoped to begin that change within ourselves in our own communities.
Local Community Politics
Venice activists in the Peace & Civil Rights
movements were also active in local community politics - street politics
if you will. John and Anna Haag used their Venice West coffee house to
muster support for a local outpost of the ACLU in an attempt to keep in
check the LAPD; a similar effort by Bob Castile was set up in back of
Oakwood Wesley House; Venice activists precipitated Councilman Rumberg's
political downfall; the Black community of Oakwood brought a halt to the
City Code Enforcement that was destroying Venice (25% of the Ocean Front
was torn down); Morrie Rosen waged a valiant effort to awaken us all to
the disaster confronting Venice's elderly; Don Wright and Lynn Williams
with the help of Vista Volunteers exposed the racism and inadequacies
of the L.A. School Board; Ray Martinez and "Chino" Melgoza created
BALA mirroring the fine anti-war work going on in East L.A.; Vermont McKinney,
Sally Leffall and Addie Edwards with many others organized to keep Venice
Our experience in community politics convinced us
in P&F that in order to take the issues of the War and Racism into
our neighborhoods we had to connect them with the struggle (war) in progress
in Venice. It was in this context that the slogan "FREE VENICE"
emerged as an active force in the community.
The Free Venice Organizing Committee (FVOC) was
officially created at a major anti-freeway meeting at the Broadway Elementary
School Jan. 9, 1969. Venice had always been noted for its many community
groups; it was our hope that this new organization would retain the wide
cross-section of the community attending that meeting. The freeway was
stopped and FREE VENICE took form, but having grown out of the peace &
Freedom Party, its image remained white-left-radical. Still, the new organization
grew, developing many successful projects. It became a major force in
fighting the Venice canal Redevelopment Project and the Venice Master
Plan. These two plans were the City's hope of transforming Venice of America
into a Miami Beach on the West Coast...at the expense of the local residents,
FREE VENICE shared the P&F office at 1727 W.
Washington Blvd. thanks to Earl Newman. Most of us wore 2 hats. We didn't
separate the politics, we did divide the work. From the beginning we felt
that food for the stomach and food for the mind were essential needs in
the community. So we created the Beachhead newspaper and the Free
Venice Food Co-op. The newspaper was housed in the office, but we made
sure that the Co-op functioned elsewhere. Key people like Marvena Kennedy
and Milton Takei maintained the politics. In Venice, protection from the
LAPD was also essential; so we created the Venice Defense Committee thanks
to Steve Clare and Judy Goldberg with the help of Marge Buckley and the
lawyers and staff of the Neighborhood Legal Services. Venice being known
for its art community, the Free Venice Art Festival was an on-going art-political
event on the Ocean Front Walk thanks to Ken Havens and Anna Haag. A typical
Venice contradiction saw Werner Scharff, one of the heavies in the speculating
department, let us use one of his many lots along the Ocean Front - "as
long as it wasn't political." Anna was in charge and everything was
cool. Mr. Scharff loved anything Italian. It was on Scharff's lot that
the San Francisco Mime Troupe first played in Venice. They marched up
from the ocean in a light rain, set up their stage and performed to a
soaked but appreciative audience. It was love at first laugh, a beautiful
experience for everyone, except Mr. Scharff. JAYA, a women's art collective,
added to the growing culture of resistance.
Idealism was our strength, but we didn't want it
to cloud a working class perspective. In an effort to unite work, community
and politics, a Free Venice Carpentry Collective was formed. Only a few
projects emerged; an addition for Jane Fonda and mock tiger cages used
at anti-war demonstrations.
We had waged a long struggle to allow local performers
use of the Pavilion. Time was ripe to take it over. George Geller (Gelernter)
an infamous actor from Hollywood and our own infamous actress, Carol Fondiller,
joined in an un-holy alliance and created the Venice Free Theatre. Typical
of the "left," it was not long before we had Venice Free Theatre
I & II. How prolific the "left" can be at times.
The Wars Won't Go Away!!
Fun was fun, but the War in Indochina refused to
go away, nor did the LAPD give Venice any rest. To pinpoint the reality
that the War in Indochina and the war in Venice were being waged by the
same generals, FREE VENICE and the Peace & Freedom Party planned a
joint march through the community concluding with a rally in Westminster
Park. The final leg of the "Short March" was down the Ocean
Front Walk. The American Nazi Party got wind of our plans and informed
us that they would disrupt them. As our march turned onto the Ocean Front
at Rose Ave. a platoon of fully uniformed Nazis turned onto the Ocean
Front at Westminster. The LAPD was in the middle not knowing what to do.
They ended up keeping us separated as we passed one another. We finished
our march and rally looking over our shoulders as we developed some bizarre
contingency plans. The saddest part of the day was that the uniforms evoked
many of the horrors of Nazi Germany for many of our Jewish elderly who
had experienced them first hand.
Events moved so fast in the late '60s that we seldom
had time to plan, only react. In 1969 Councilman Timberlake resigned.
A special election was called for the 6th District of which Venice represents
about 20%. At the time John Haag, Jane Gordon and I were the fulltime
organizers for P&F/FV. We decided that it would be worth our effort
to use this special election to build the two budding organizations. We
felt it would make a good platform from which to talk about the War, Racism,
Peace & Freedom, FREE VENICE, and what L.A. was doing to Venice. We
also felt mounting a serious campaign would expand our perspective, got
more people involved and generate needed funds to help pay the office
overhead. We were not thinking in terms of "winning," but in
terms of raising real issues affecting the residents of the 6th District
and of offering real solutions to the problems.
Not seeing any volunteers, we had to look to ourselves.
With John and Jane functioning as a unit, it was decided by a two-to-one
vote that I should be the candidate. We divided the work -I would design
the campaign and concentrate on the District outside Venice, John and
Jane would take care of Venice. George Geller, my ol' partner from our
theater days, jumped in as campaign manager; Bob Wells moved back from
Hollywood and freelance writing to help define and articulate the issues;
Larry Johnson, a dropout public defender, gave us legal advice.
Bob Martin, my ex-brother-in-law, took on the task
of organizing high school students, and many more joined in for all the
work required to run a campaign. With only a few hundred dollars to spend,
obviously the point was not to win, but to educate.
We got a thousand votes, spending about $900 dollars.
Pat Russell won with 7,000 votes, spending $25,000. An important pay-off
for us was a deeper understanding of Venice's problems, a clearer appreciation
of the forces against us and a more realistic view of the required solutions.
Big Plans for Venice Stopped
FREE VENICE was active 24 hours a day it seemed,
but for all the many activities generated out of the P&F/FV office,
it was the work in response to the City's Canal Project and the Venice
Master Plan that defined the local struggle. It required a massive effort
on everyone's part to keep up with events. This was compounded by the
fact that the 2 projects were at different levels of the City's bureaucracy.
The Canal Project had passed through all the various departments, commissions,
committees, and was scheduled before the full City Council. While the
Venice Plan was just beginning with a public hearing at the Planning Commission.
This meant that we had to organize bus and car loads, usually 300 people
plus, several times a week, to get to downtown L.A. With delays and postponements
(always after we got downtown) the process was endless.
The 2 projects required different strategies. The
Canal Project was relatively simple; delay, delay, delay. Time would cost
the City the project. As it turned out it was the City's arrogance and
stupidity that gave us our first delay. A scheduled "public"
hearing on March 27, 1969 to hear opposition to the Canal Project closed
its doors to tenants. Two LAPD officers barred the doors to City Hall
refusing to let anyone in who wasn't a property owner. A law suit was
filed on behalf of those unlawfully barred and FREE VENICE had its first
This gave us time to organize. Eventually the Canal
Assessment District (a way of funding City projects) was passed, 13-0!
The project was sent out for bids, but there were no bids. Several factors
accounted for this happy surprise; our united and vocal opposition, the
law suit and the difficulty expected in selling bonds to finance the construction.
The fact that not one bid came in on such a large project had a conspiratorial
ring to it. And all Venice loves a conspiracy.
The final struggle ended up in the courts where
FREE VENICE, represented by Neighborhood Legal Services, and Howard Hughes
both filed against the project. And that's where it stands until this
Strategy around the Venice Master Plan was more
complex. FREE VENICE's first task was to convince other community groups
what the plan was really all about. This we had learned first hand a few
years earlier from Kurt Simon, Scharff's sidekick. Unsatisfied with the
City's efforts to plan Venice in the mid-1960s, Mr. Simon had graduate
students from Cal Poly Pomona spend a summer in Venice designing his dream
city - Profitville USA. It was in these plans that he first articulated
the importance of a freeway through Venice i.e. to wall off the Black
and Brown communities from the Ocean Front. About this time the US government
announced that cities that didn't develop a master plan would lose their
federal funds. L.A.'s planner, Calvin Hamilton, immediately went to work.
His approach was to create a series of local community plans, put them
all together and call it L.A. Since Mr. Simon already had one started
for Venice, it seemed logical to begin with a Venice Community Plan. That
was the second major mistake L.A. made. FREE VENICE took advantage of
Our strategy was to create a Venice-wide coalition
with each organization analyzing the City's plan and developing arguments
as to why the plan didn't serve their community. The process was good
and brought the various community groups closer than they had ever been.
Meetings at City Hall outdid anything produced in Hollywood. It was pure
theater, but with heart and soul. But we became too bureaucratic which,
combined with the legal talk in connection with the projects, killed the
spirit that held us together.
We were realistic enough to know that we couldn't
"beat city hall" and were only buying time. Some of us are still
here, but many have been forced from the community they loved. Most of
us felt and still feel that nothing less than a socialist transformation
of our society will allow the Venices of America to exist in peace. Our
direct connection with the Anti-War Movement kept this reality clear in
FREE VENICE, Everywhere!
A by-product of fighting the two major City projects
was the development of many mini-support projects; The Community House
with its Ecology Action Center, Community Switchboard, Family Gatherings
and playground, all beautifully explained in Mike Clare's article in the
100th Issue of the Beachhead. We rebuilt sidewalks the City had
neglected since they annexed Venice in 1925. Boardwalks, parks, and more
parks were built with loving hands and sharing hearts. And each summer
was concluded with the Canal Festival, an event where the community turned
near defeat into victory.
The list of law suits is long, spanning the legal
spectrum from humorous to horrendous. A book could be written on them
In between doing good community work FREE VENICE
activists were everywhere. Steve Clare and Elizabeth Elder organized Hawaii
for Peace & Freedom; John Haag and Jane Gordon toured the US in a
similar effort; Jane went on to Paris to deliver the "people to people
Peace Agreement." Bob Wells put together the Free Venice Indochina
Peace Campaign; as Marge Buckley and I took the Indochina slideshow to
St. Louis, Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Miami Beach (the Republicans were conventioning
there.) One would think that so much diverse activity would have drained
us, but no. The details reinforced the whole as the whole gave meaning
to the details. Greater understanding made sense our of chaos... activity
created more energy with which to create more activity.... as people like
Bea Free helped us maintain a human concern, which served to hold us together,
creating a culture of resistance that is the Venice Myth. I call it political
synergy - where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
This period of the late 60s and early 70s also served
to develop our politics. Yes, we had been active in community politics
for a long time, but that's about as far as we developed. The cross-fertilization
between community work and Anti-War activity moved us to an anti-imperialist
perspective. Politically this was a qualitative step forward.
The continuing of the War and America's seemingly
unlimited destructive power and its will to use it took its toll psychologically.
Political divisions began to emerge. Some FREE VENICE activists began
to move further "left" while others "stayed behind."
The Free Venice Organizing Committee became just Free Venice. Then there
was the Free Venice Resistance. And there was a Free Venice Socialist
Collective. And finally some of us created the Provisional Prairie Fire
Committee in an effort to complement aboveground what we understood to
be developing underground by the Weatherpeople.
Modern Times, Almost
The time is now 1973 and Councilwoman Pat Russell,
the winner of the special election, created an advisory Venice Town Council.
We had just begun thinking about reviving ol' FREE VENICE. The idea of
the Town Council was so similar to the idea of community congresses that
we developed during my campaign that we decided to leave FREE VENICE on
the shelf. We urged everyone to participate and support the Venice Town
Council. The Town Council with its Coastal Committee, Tax Revolt Committee,
Renters League etc. is a story unto itself.
The Myth of FREE VENICE has been its unending energy
to struggle for the rights of people. The energy is still alive and working
in the Beachhead, the Coastal Committee, and is even being transplanted
to such exotic places as Mendocino, Ft. Bragg, Santa Fe, San Francisco,
Berkeley, Oregon and Hawaii. The Myth is alive and well! So remember:
FREE VENICE TODAY! TOMORROW BURBANK!
Zendik: the teachings of Ecolibrium Communalism
November 1981 #143
Their ritual invocations are sung, chanted
and spoken to effect a restraint upon those whom they term Cosmic Criminals
- those whom they see as the Spoilers of Earth's environment and the destroyers
of wildlife - and to help protect all peoples from the ever-increasing
horror of a poisoned, polluted environment.
Wulf Zendik, the group's thaumaturgist
leader, designs and builds many of the instruments. The lead electric
instrument, the Itar, was developed over a period of many years. It has
eight strings, combines Eastern and Western sounds and is also used to
accompany the chants and canta-poetry. Other instruments include the Bassura,
electric Icono drums, Improflutes and pipes, amplified steel drums, the
Space Organ, Reed Horn, Karmonic Gongs, and the Seetar, an electric guitar
of Wulf's design.
Their magazine, Zendik, is on
sale locally at Small World Books, Co-opportunity, outside One Life Foods.
The group's home base is in the desert and anyone interested and/or knowledgeable
in alternative energy forms such as solar, wind, alternative gardening
methods and into a communal farm life-style is invited to come and speak
to the group about the possibility of living and working at their farm.
Come and talk to Arol in the yellow or purple bus.
The buses parked at Breeze Court and
the Boardwalk belong to the Zendik Church, a pantheistic church that preaches
and teaches the doctrines of Ecolibrium (Eco-balance), Cosmic Morality
and Cosmic Responsibility - a new Metaphysics for Survival. Zendik is
a religio/activist/philosophic movement that seeks to achieve a lasting
sustainment of Life on Earth for ourselves, our descendant and our fellow
creatures. The Zendik philosophy takes the reverence which heretofore
has been applied only to scriptural concepts and places it upon the firm
here-and-now, upon Earth and all its life and all its elements.
On weekends Zendik can be seen on the
boardwalk playing their unique music which is improvised upon a Raga theme
and is an exotic synthesis of many music forms and sounds of nature and
was composed to function within a meditative Sorceric Ritual. Zendik Concert
Rituals of magic music, chants and cantas are performed to raise a cone
of occult power aimed to bring about a higher organic consciousness, a
Cosmic Morality, and direct this new energy towards the salvation of "our
dying world" and all its creatures and natural elements.
by Arnold Springer
When, in 1916, Venice held its 5th annual Bathing
Suit Parade, there was such a storm of moral outrage and protest from
church and homeowner groups that the city fathers promised not to hold
But in the spring of 1917 the temptation became
too great. Business interests of Windward Ave. and Ocean Front needed
the monies earned by the event so they re-introduced the idea and applied
for a city permit.
The Bay Ministerial Union headed in Venice by the
Rev. Fenwicke Holmes of Union Congregational, blustered and threatened.
There was a municipal ordinance, they said, which prohibited any person
to appear on the Walk or any Venice street in a bathing suit. It was therefore
against the law to stage the contest.
Well, said the Trustees, then the women would ride
in automobiles. Holmes warned that if the city continued catering to 'pioneer
forms of amusement' he would secure a court injunction.
The Trustees called the reverend's bluff, granted
a permit for a bathing suit parade, and offered $250 in prizes. It was
announced that the Mack Sennett Keystone Co. would enter 25 of their beautiful
girls, Universal City would be represented "by 20 of their cleverest
and daintiest", the New York Motion Picture Co. and the Horsley Studio,
last year's winner, would also enter their stars. But any southern California
woman could enter the parade and present her own suit.
Two days before the event Rev. Holmes announced
he would not go to court, and in fact that he was giving up his congregation
instead to attend Andover Theological Seminary. The Trustees promised
to conduct a decorous event.
More than 100,000 visitors spent over $150,000 that
weekend in Venice to see "about 100 "naiads" display "the
latest creations in surf costumes. In more ways than one it was the greatest
day that Venice has seen since the Atlantic Fleet came around the Horn.
The crowd was the largest of the season, the parade was the longest, and
the bathing suits were the most artistic that the annual parade has thus
far presented. And the girls too (there were several Venetian moving picture
maidens among them) were more beautiful than ever."
Commenting on the parade a Los Angeles paper noted
that "there was an absence of one piece suits. There were a few dimpled
heavyweights in the line of loveliness and a few "slivers" who
might have appeared to better advantage clothed for an Alaskan climate
or an ascent of the Alps, but these were few and kept to the background
so faithfully that they failed to detract from the dazzling ensemble of
the great bouquet of American beauties that was motorized through Venice
streets and out to the end of the pier." "So dense was the crowd
along the line of the parade and afterward that when the judges knit their
brows to decide the winners, thousands only got a fleeting glimpse of
the young women who were conveyed through the streets in 41 Overland automobiles."
"Parking was at a premium within half a mile
of Windward Ave. By noon late arrivals found it necessary to stand their
machines as far south as the outskirts of Playa del Rey and as far east
as the City Hall. The stars and stripes, the red cross, red-white-and
blue suits, and the colors of the Entente allies (but not of Germany)
were visible everywhere in the natty, close fitting suits which predominated
in the review. Judging from the suits worn yesterday, ladies surf attire
this year will be more of the practical than the too modest kind, for
though not too forward the composite bathing suit was of popular American
colors, or black and white, either knitted wool or silk, with a natty
pair of short socks, also colored, and a miniature parasol to match.
First prize winners were: Mary Thurman of the Keystone
Co. in an electric blue and white sailor suit with a parasol to match;
Priscilla Dean of Universal Film in a modest white and black silk suit;
Jessie Hallet, New York Motion Picture Co., the "red cross"girl,
in red and white silk, mounted on a pure white horse.
Two weeks later the Venice Trustees passed a new,
"stricter" bathing suit ordinance which made it "unlawful
for any person to appear on the streets, alleys or sidewalks of Venice...attired
in a bathing costume uncovered by a bathrobe or other garment," unless
that is, they had a permit from the Board of Trustees!