Buy these books
30 Years Ago in Venice
from Call Someplace Paradise and/or Ghost Town: A Venice California Life
This time, the goofy "Vesta Greenleaf" column, that may or may not be written by Eve Babitz, concerns a visit to her boyfriend in Venice, a painter who also does fantastic floral centerpieces.
Lynne Bronstein had a review in the Times book review section the other day. She wrote about someone else's poetry book.
Big changes at the beach, where I haven't been in literally months. At Brooks Avenue a convoy of trucks loads up with sand. They proceed south to a stretch between the tennis courts and Venice Pier, where a large chunk of beach has been washed away. Most of the vast parking lot is flooded. It's sad and frightening, as if the ocean is protesting the erection of yet another block of condos and the opening of yet another ultra-hip eatery. The piles of sand deposited by the trucks look pitifully inadequate. The waves are enormously high and loud. A lone hot dog surfer continually threatens to crash into the rocks. A whole line of people stand along the beach to watch. None of us have ever seen anybody ride a surfboard like that before. The Meatless Messhall is closed and its signs painted over. Nearby is a new Japanese restaurant with a new ocean waves mural and a samurai-type figure on the front.
On a pole, a tacked-up sign appeals to the compassion of anyone who knows the whereabouts of a certain 12-string guitar - "my livelihood." Another Xeroxed notice written by a real raving lunatic describes his or her experiences with Satanic Methodists. I want it for my collection but it's stuck to the wood with paste. Alky Bob is on his usual bench surrounded by a large group of hangers-on. Someone gives me a flyer, legal-size and printed on both sides, for the Nationwide Geek Crackdown sponsored by someone called Freddie Blassie who has an organization called Geekstompers of America. If you join, you get supplies and equipment, like a generous supply of Geek Repellent, a bumper sticker that says "I don't brake for geeks," etc. Just send about $15 to PO Box 263 Venice CA 90291
When Venice Pier was first built, it was wrecked by a humungous storm before the town's construction was even finished. Abbot Kinney got permission to build a breakwater at his own expense, which cost over $100,000 in 1905 money. Damage to the pier was repaired to the tune of $50,000 and it was around this time that the phrase "Kinney's Folly" came into common use. The pier was rebuilt in time for the grand opening. Special railway lines were installed to bring 70,000 tons of Riverside granite for the breakwater. Apparently this led to further problems by moving currents around, so the water got deep not very far out, and the shoreline eroded. This contributed to the damage done by storms to a lot of houses nearly ten years later.
So Windward Avenue, because of the pier, used to extend three or four blocks west of the boardwalk. There used to be a ship on it called the Cabrillo, which had a cafe inside. At one time there were two gigantic roller coasters on the pier itself and apparently during an overlapping time frame, another one further inland. There was an adventure called "Over the Falls" and a structure that looked like Disneyland's Matterhorn. Kinney died in 1920, and six weeks later the pier burned, as the whole city probably would have if not for a sudden fortuitous shift in the wind. It was rebuilt in time to become the playground of movie stars and mobsters during the Twenties.
In order to counteract the horrible image of Venice, the Chamber of Commerce sponsors self-protection courses and Community Watch meetings. The manager of the Chamber is a third-generation Venetian named Joseph Malconian. He blames the Venice Division police map, which also includes Playa del Rey, Westchester, the Los Angeles Airport, and parts of Palms and Culver City. Last year there were 54 murders in the Division, of which only 14 (or 17, depending on which newspaper you read) were in Venice itself. Sarai Ribicoff was number 49. He also says that once a place has a reputation for being wild and woolly, bad guys from other parts of the city are attracted to the ambiance, which is a good point.
The reporter also talked with a woman who's been a crossing guard near the Westminster school for eleven years and brought up her kids in the canal district. She carries Mace and contemplates getting a gun pretty soon. She says some of the grade school children threaten to send their mothers after her, armed with butcher knives. She tells them, "I know how to use a butcher knife, too."
Venice Writings by Pat Hartman
Town: A Venice California Life
Read an excerpt on the site of the publisher, Xlibris.
Buy Ghost Town from Xlibris.
Questions? Email the author.
Call Someplace Paradise is non-fiction and covers the years 1978-1984.
These links take you to the site of the publisher, Xlibris, for a longer
description, or to read
© 2004 - 2012 Pat Hartman