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MORE BeachHead Archives

Free Venice Beachhead Archives 1980-81

Beachhead Archives 1982

Beachhead Archives 1983

Beachhead Archives 1984

Street performers

30 Years Ago This Month in the Free Venice Beachhead

Tale of the Fox

Beachhead Archives

People of Venice (from Beachhead)

Windward Avenue Articles from Beachhead

Art in the Beachhead

Venice institutions from the Beachhead

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 sources

1981 Resistance Celebration Schedule

1981 Resistance Celebration Articles

Birth of Venice:
old-timey magazines

1914-1916 Part 1

1914-1916 Part 4

1914-1916 Part 5

John Hamilton

Destiny's Consent by
Laura Shepard

Lions and Gondolas

Poem about Venice Beachhead

Rana Ayzeren

Tales of the Blue Meanie by Allan Cole

Another Chapter from Tales of the Blue Meanie by Allan Cole

"Brick" Garrigues

The Spectre

Venice Historical Society

1969 Police Riots

Jack the Liar


Free Venice Beachhead Archives
of the Light-Hearted Kind

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 don’t 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 can’t 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 I’m 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A wall has been replaced by a window which was opened during the recent hot spell and one could glimpse the techiest of high tech restaurants - exposed pipes, sky lights.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 they’re waiting to be photographed for a Chanel ad.

Limos line Market St., while red jacketed valets talk with black uniformed chauffeurs.

I’ll save my bubble gum money and go in there some day.

But right now, I’ll talk about the places I’ve eaten in and therefore are the places of the true hip. The first place isn’t a restaurant at all. It’s Windward Farms on Windward Ave. A produce store that delivers what Charmer’s (another refuge of the desperately trendy) doesn’t. 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. It’s 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 whatever’s 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. They’ll 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 don’t 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.

Post Office
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 for you.

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.

Shooting Galleries
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 housing units.

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 run.

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
August 1980

Our Principles of Unity

1) We support and defend the right to self-determination of all oppressed centipedes, caterpillars, and snails of color.

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 long-term attachments.

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 germ conscription!

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 the streets!

H. Spiderperson Ryan
Central Committee
Bay Area Bug Collective

Winos Organize
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 president.

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 reporter.

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 fallen asleep.

No date was set for the next meeting, but Lambrusco said he would attend the next City Council meeting with a list of grievances.






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