Calendar August 2013

August 1, 2013

Calendar August 2013

Friday, August 2
• 6-10pm – Venice Street Legends live at the Venice
Bistro, 323 OFW. No Cover.
• 7pm – Dave McPeters plays 1930s, 40s and 50s
sentimental tunes followed by James Lowen, Jon
Lundin and The Sun Worshipers. Talking Stick.
No Cover.
• 7pm – First Fridays – Big crowds and food trucks.
Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice to Westminster.
Saturday, August 3
• 12-4pm – 7th Annual Venice Community FREE
Potluck and BBQ hosted by the Venice Neighborhood
Council and Fire Station 63. Firefighters provide
the BBQ, you bring a salad, side dish or dessert.
Music and Games. Oakwood Park.
• 2:30pm – Bikini Contest. Registration starts at
10am, winner gets $1000 price. Muscle Beach.
• 7pm – Pop Saturdays: Taylor Dane. Burton Chase
Park. Free.
• 8-10pm – Brad Kay’s Regressive Jazz Quartet.
Ragtime, early jazz. Townhouse. No Cover.
Sunday, August 4
• 11am-6pm. 37th Annual Festival of the Chariots.
A parade of three 50-foot tall “chariots”; live entertainment
on three stages; free, vegetarian feast; exhibits
on Indian art, culture and spirituality; family
activities; fashion and gifts. Windward and OFW.
• 10am – 2pm. Birthdaypalooza Country Fair and
Live Music – come celebrate 7 years of the Mar
Vista Farmer’s Market. Grand View at Venice.
• 2-4pm – Book launch: My Life, A Four Letter
Word – by Dolores DeLuce. Mystic Journey Bookstore.
1319 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
• 9pm-12am – Azar Lawrence. Jazz. RG Club, 2536
Lincoln Blvd.
Thursday, August 8
• 11am-3am – Throw Back Party Celebrating 58
years – prices rolled back to 1963! La Cabana,
738 Rose Ave.
• 6:30pm – Rogue Wave Thursday Night Artists
Talk: Laura Krifka, Ashley Landrum, Heather
Gwen Martin. LA Louver. 45 N. Venice. Free.
• 7pm – Twilight Dance Concert: Hanni El Khatib/
Bombino. SM Pier. Free.
• 7pm – Classical Thursdays: Roberto Cani, violin.
Burton Chase Park. Free.
Friday, August 9
• 8:30pm – Poetic Instability, a dance theater performance.
Brazilian award-winning dancer,
coreographer and professor Clara Trigo in her premier
LA performance. Electric Lodge. $20.
Saturday, August 10
• 2-5pm – Shades (R&B). Fisherman’s Village Concert
Series. 13755 Fiji Way.
• 4-5pm – Celebrate summer with beach-themed stories
and decorate a sparkly sea animal. Kids, preschool.
Abbot Kinney Library. Free.
• 6-10pm – Grassroots Acoustica. Great artists,
basking for great charitable causes. Donations welcome.
The Talking Stick.
• 7pm – Screening of acclaimed documentary “Vanishing
of the Bees” followed by honey tasting and
honey-themed food and drinks directly from the
hive. Electric Lodge. $10.
• 7:30pm – Maureen Cotter’s Ninth Annual Storytelling
One Woman Show. With music, food and
drinks. Beyond Baroque. $10.
• 8pm – Restitution Press. Opening Reception.
C.A.V.E Gallery. 1108 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Free.
• 8-10pm – Brad Kay’s Regressive Jazz Quartet.
Ragtime, early jazz. Townhouse. No Cover.
Sunday, August 11
• 2-5pm – Thin Ice (Contemporary Rock). Fisherman’s
Village Concert Series. 13755 Fiji Way.
• 9pm-12am – Azar Lawrence. Jazz. RG Club, 2536
Lincoln Blvd.
Wednesday, August 14
• 7-10pm – Suzy Williams – Jazz and Blues. Danny’s
Deli, 23 Windward. No Cover.
Thursday, August 15
• 6:30pm – Rogue Wave Thursday Night Artists
Talk: Kent Familton, Christopher Miles, Eric
Yahnker. LA Louver. 45 N. Venice. Free.
• 7pm – Twilight Dance Concert: The English
Beat. SM Pier. Free.
• 7-10pm – PEACH and her AllStar Blues band
with the Delgado Brothers and Kathy Leonardo,
presented by Music Magique. Talking Stick.
• 8pm – Henry V Opening Night at Pacific Resident
Theater. Through Sept. 8. Thurs-Sat 8pm; Sun 3pm.
$15 suggested donation.
Friday, August 16
• 7-11pm – Venice Art Crawl 3rd year anniversary.
http://www.veniceartcrawl.com
Saturday, August 17
• 2-5pm – Yes Ma’am (Blues). Fisherman’s Village
Concert Series. 13755 Fiji Way.
• 7:30pm – Sixth Annual Philomenian. A night to
honor Philomene Long, Venice’s late Poet Laureate.
Featuring the screening of the last cut of recently
found Philomene’s 1980 classic film on the
Beats, THE BEATS: AN EXISTENTIAL COMEDY.
Philomene’s poetry will be read. Beyond
Baroque. Free, donations welcome.
• 7pm – Pop Saturdays: Poncho Sanchez. Burton
Chase Park. Free.
• 8-10pm – Brad Kay’s Regressive Jazz Quartet.
Ragtime, early jazz. Townhouse. No Cover.
Sunday, August 18
• 2-5pm – Floyd and the Flyboys (Soul/Funk).
Fisherman’s Village Concert Series. 13755 Fiji.
• 7-10pm – Blues Time with Tom Gramlich and
Mystic Miles. Talking Stick.
• 9pm-12am – Azar Lawrence. Jazz. RG Club,
2536 Lincoln Blvd.
Thursday, August 22
• 6:30pm – Rogue Wave Thursday Night Artists
Talk: Sarah Awad, Matthew Brandt, Farrah Karapetian.
LA Louver, 45 N. Venice. Free.
• 7-10pm – Jazz Funk Fest. Talking Stick. Free.
• 7pm – Twilight Dance Concert: Nick Waterhouse.
SM Pier. Free
• 7pm – Classical Thursdays: Rufus Choi, piano.
Burton Chase Park. Free.
Saturday, August 24
• 2-10pm – 3rd Annual Sleep Out in solidarity with
our unhoused community. Food, music, teach-ins.
Film screening at 8pm. Free, everyone welcome.
• 2-5pm – Michael Haggins (R&B). Fisherman’s
Village Concert Series. 13755 Fiji Way.
• 6-9pm – SPONTO LIVES Art Exhibit Opening
Party. Group Show. Live music by the
BACKBONERS. 9 Dudley. Free.
• 8-10pm – Brad Kay’s Regressive Jazz Quartet.
Ragtime, early jazz. Townhouse. No Cover.
Sunday, August 25
• 8-10am: Free Breakfast, provided by Venice
Sleep Out. Beyond Baroque lawn. Everyone welcome.
• 2-5pm – 2AZZI (Smooth jazz with vocals). Fisherman’s
Village Concert Series. 13755 Fiji Way.
• 9pm-12am – Azar Lawrence. Jazz. RG Club,
2536 Lincoln Blvd.
Thursday, August 29
• 6-10pm – Third Annual Surf and Skate Silent
Auction. Proceeds to benefit Venice Free Family
Clinic. Featuring custom surfboards and skate
decks designed by professional surfers, skateboarders
and artists. “The King’s English” will
perform at 9:00 pm. Bergamot Station, 2525
Michigan Ave, B7, Santa Monica. $15.
Saturday, August 31
• 2-5pm – ISMISKISM (Reggae). Fisherman’s Village
Concert Series. 13755 Fiji Way.
• 7pm – Pop Saturdays: Rose Royce. Burton Chase
Park. Free
• 8-10pm – Brad Kay’s Regressive Jazz Quartet.
Ragtime, early jazz. Townhouse. No Cover.
Location Guide
• Abbot Kinney Public Library, 501 S. Venice
Blvd. 310-821-1769, fovl.org
• Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd.
310-822-3006, http://www.beyondbaroque.org
• Burton Chace Park. 13650 Mindanao Way.
Marina del Rey.
• Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave.
310-306-1854, electriclodge.org
• G2 Gallery, 1503 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
310-452-2842, theg2gallery.com
• Hal’s Bar and Grill, 1349 Abbot Kinney
Blvd. 310-396-3105, halsbarandgrill.com
• Oakwood Park, 767 California Ave.
• Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice
Blvd, 310-822-8392,
pacificresidenttheatre.com
• SPARC – Social and Public Art Resource
Center, 685 Venice Blvd. sparcmurals.org
• Talking Stick Coffee Lounge, 1411c
Lincoln Blvd. 310-450-6052,
thetalkingstick.net
• Townhouse. 52 Windward.
• Vera Davis Center, 610 California Ave.
310-305-1865
• Westminster Elementary School, 1010
Abbot Kinney Blvd. (enter auditorium
from Westminster Ave) 310-606-2015
Ongoing Events
COMPUTERS
• 2:30pm, Mon-Fri. Student/Homework Zone.
Computers, iPads, homework resources and a
trained computer aide to assist students grade 4-12.
Free Printing. Abbot Kinney Public Library.
• Tues/Weds 8:30-6pm, Thurs/Friday 8:30-5pm.
Free Computer Use. Vera Davis Center.
FOOD
• 10am Tuesdays, 12:30pm Thursdays, 1pm Fridays.
Free Food Distribution. Vera Davis Center.
• Sign up for Food Stamps (EBT Cards).
Vera Davis Center. Call for date and time.
310-305-1865.
• 4pm Saturdays through Wednesdays. Free Vegetarian
Food. OFW & Dudley.
• 1:30pm, Thursdays. Free Vegetarian Food. OFW
& Sunset.
KIDS
• 11:30am-noon Wednesdays. Toddler Storytime.
Abbot Kinney Public Library. Free.
FILMS
• 7-10pm, fourth Sundays. 7 Dudley Cinema.
Dialogue on films, art culture and politics.
Beyond Baroque. Free.
MUSIC
• 8pm-12am, Sunday and Monday nights. Hal’s Bar
and Grill features live jazz. No cover.
• 6-10pm, First Fridays. Venice Street Legends.
Venice Bistro, OFW & Dudley. No Cover.
MISCELLANEOUS
• 9-4pm, 2nd Saturday, every month.
Venice High School Flea Market. Antiques,
crafts, collectibles, toys, jewelry, clothes.
13000 Venice Blvd.
• 7-11am, Fridays. Venice Farmers Market.
Fruits, vegetables, flowers and coffee.
500 North Venice Blvd.
• 4:15pm, every Thursday – Chess Club. Ages 6-15.
All levels welcome. Abbot Kinney Library.
• 11:30am-2:30pm, every Sunday, weather
permitting. The Venice Oceanarium
(a museum without walls). Venice Pier. Free.
• 8:30am, 2nd Fridays. Bus Token Distribution.
First 40 people in line will receive a free bus
token. Vera Davis Center.
• 5:30pm, Sundays. Open Mic Night. Twentieth
Church of Christ, Scientist. 132 Brooks Ave. Free.
• 7-10pm, 3rd Wednesdays. MOM: Meditations
On Media. Beyond Baroque. Free.
POETRY
• 2pm, 2nd Sundays. Soap Box Open Mic. Bring
your words, sign up begins at 1:45pm, six-minute
limit. Beyond Baroque. Free.
POLITICAL AWARENESS
• 7:30pm, Mondays – Occupy Venice General
Assembly Meetings. Beyond Baroque
OPEN MIC
• 8:30-11:00pm every Monday – Moxie Monday
Open Mic. Talking Stick. Free.
• 6:30pm every Wednesday – Open Mic. Talking
Stick. Free.


Venice and the Next One Hundred Years

July 7, 2013

Cover_7_2013

 

Poster by Earl Newman

By Pano Douvos

The Golden Age of Venice for me was the late 60’s and through most of the 70’s. The highlight was the glorious Venice Canals Festival. The free-wheeling “open house” celebration captured the spirit of that special time. It epitomized the arts ferment and the counter-culture activism. Jim Morrison and the Doors set the tone playing on the boardwalk at the Cheetah, a large hall with a dramatic 20-30 foot high wine-colored curtain.

To get the visuals, you see artistically decorated quarters, red canoes, multi-colored ducks, in brilliant sunshine and clean sea air. There’s at least four canals and maybe eight picturesque bridges. Now add a swirling band of open friendly people. That mix would be my cottage-renting friends Rick Sinatra, Osah Harmon and Danielle Greco. Mary Lou Johnson owned her house and succeeded in holding out against all buyers.

The Venice Canals Festivals were a festive time for sure, the many diverse activities difficult to encapsulate. The celebrations held in late summer I believe for 4-5 years in the late 70’s, covered a 3 or 4 day period. The original canal summer cottages had been rented, then fixed up into a bohemian low-rent haven. Chianti wine and recreational drugs flowed. Every other cottage became a mini-band stand or art gallery, that’s with ducks…(and their contributions).

I experienced Venice as a mostly a laid back, if lively place. The only riot I saw was a police riot on a July 4th holiday some 10 to 15 years ago. An out of control cop was waving his gun around. He had this black kid handcuffed and pinned down on his stomach on the boardwalk. He suddenly just hauls-off and boots the kid on the side of his head…forget that he was surrounded by a crowd of beach-goers.

I moved into inner-Venice when I joined the Venice Beyond Baroque Poetry Workshop and later wrote with the staff on the Free Venice Beachhead. The poets I met include Tom Waits and Wanda Coleman. I later became acquainted with John Doe and Exene Cervenka of the Band X. I sculpted a portrait-bust of Exene…at the Beachhead Arnold Springer was the most equal among equals. Those writing and contributing on the staff were Chuck Bloomquist, Moe Stavnezer, Olga Palo, Osan Harman and myself amongst other.

A “small village” atmosphere flavored Venice at the time. People walked, talked, made art, music and love, not war. Individualists in free-expression mode continue to congregate but the “bump-into-friends” aspect may have changed some and shifted, but the vitality remains.

Venice was being re-energized by the creative artists, musicians and poets who began to gather at John Haag’s Venice West Café. Important Beat-Poets such as Jack Hirshman and Stewart Perkoff read their work. In scattered studios artists Billy Al Bengston, Ken Price, De Wayne Valentine, Fred Eversley and Ed Gilliam were completing prime sculpture and paintings.

Hot hangouts formed at the boardwalk’s Sidewalk Café, the Earth Rose Headshop of poet Steve Richmond and at the La Fayette Café. The spacious Gas House Coffee Shop was memorable for its energetic paintings, plus the dude reclining on pillows in the decorated bath tub, serenely reading his book…(The Gas House was torn down ages ago.)

Happening spots in Golden Age Venice included live music at the Come Back Inn on West Washington, now Abbot Kinney. Across the street was the perfect home for rhythm and blues in a righteous wood floored down and dirty establishment, the Taurus Tavern. It should be a historical landmark, but it is a chichi restaurant.

A living landmark is Swami X. He was a longtime feature standing on the benches down on the boardwalk. He presided for years, offering his very clever material of a radical political and lusty-vibe kind. He peppered his delivery with the attack humor of a stand-up comic. Today he sometimes contributes, mainly poetry, to the Beachhead.

I was introduced to the aura of Venice at the Church-in-Ocean Park at a performance night. Goldie Glitters was the transvestite master of ceremonies, on stage bare to the waist with a jewel in his navel. He later was chosen Homecoming Queen at Santa Monica college.

At neighboring Synanon, a large drug-rehab center, Saturday nights were music concert nights. The music-heavy clients formed top-notch groups and rocked. The nights were always well attended. One client told me that I didn’t know life if I had never been down in “Junky Hell.”

Bill Attaway is a hard-working Venice artist currently producing large 20 foot tall ceramic sculptures, with a totem-like piece recently located near the beach west of Windward Ave. One day he allowed me to assist him by adding a small ceramic piece to a large wall mosaic he installed near Muscle Beach. He continues the Venice art heritage, as does my long-time friend Emily Winters, well noted for her large wall murals which can be seen in several prominent locations. She is an activist citizen of Venice and a stabilizing force as chairman of the Venice Arts Council.

Bravos here go to Steve Clare for his commitment to his low-cost housing efforts and also to Jim Smith for his Beachhead and political organizing efforts. Also kudos for Arnold Springer and Moe Stavnezer who forced the builder into including needed low-cost housing and inside parking in the building I live in. They’re to be commended for their long-time Venice activism.

I great picture of the people and history of Venice can be found in the book “Call Someplace Paradise” by Pat Hartman. It can be ordered at Small-World Books or through http://www.Xlibris.com. Hartman’s book is chock full of engrossing anecdotes of Venice and its spirited locals. I could have been one of her characters, but she failed to record my participation in the Venice Nude-Beach scene (of the early 70’s if I remember right.)

Possibly the counter-culture community changes, but Venetian Veteranos remain to fight the good fight, thus sustaining the uniqueness of Venice. A June KCET Program on beaches gave a national Number One rating to the Venice “Mardi-Gras” Boardwalk and Beach.

The Venice Canals Festivals were shut down by the powers-that-be in one big misguided change. The festival was a beautiful sharing time in a beautiful setting. A vision of a better future. We memorialize the past 100 years, but the future also needs tending.

Venetians could be catalysts for change to a cooperative, peaceful society. Women could influence their sisters to get out of the Army…then influence the testosterone tribe to say no to war. We won’t go. Conflict resolution by arbitration will stop war senselessness. Venice America can be the small-acorn start of a Venice Sunshine Festival for all the world.

This is a re-print from the July 2005 issue


Sikh on Wheels

July 7, 2013

HarryPerry
By Delores Hanney

He’s practically the living logo of our town, the rolling symbol of Venice eccentricity known far and wide. Rambling about northward and south, strumming his tunes flush with abundant distortion and wrapped around his particular form of poetry, he’s been a boardwalk fixture here since 1974.

Just a few years earlier – at the age of nineteen – Harry Perry was part of the Detroit cast of the quintessential sixties stage musical, Hair. Before and after this he was the leader and moving spirit of a local cover band. He became part of the stream of Motown music makers migrating to Southern California’s salubrious sunshine. Once arrived, it was his pal Antonio “Tony” Newton, of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles fame, who suggested Perry take himself off to Ocean Front Walk and “just go play.”

Music, that is.

His act, as it were, evolved. A friend named Alice hatched the notion that put him on skates and bought his first pair. From roller skates he matriculated to rollerblades then to LandRollers, those puppies with two large wheels slightly inclined. His original Les Paul guitar was amplified by the juice of six Radio Shack rechargeable AA batteries but when another friend engineered and wired him up with a power pack fast charger he said he felt like Iron Man coming into his power, able now to wheel about intrepidly transmitting his electrified sounds with scarcely a concern for broadcast capacity.

In a turban and the robe of a holy man, when he first fell onto my radar I just assumed Perry was all tricked out in his own personal version of street performer drag. But I was wrong! He’s the real deal. An actual Sikh. For many years till the yogi’s death, he was a student of Yogi Bhajan who brought Kundalini yoga to the west in 1968 and inspired multitudes to live in their excellence.

This suited Perry right down to his toes. He’s the offspring of very well educated parents whose idea of a good time was debating all manner of issues all night with a bevy of brainy friends. It grounded him in a mind-exercising practice that instilled the confidence, the creativity and the wits to fashion a lifeway in harmony with his bliss. Hallmarks of living said bliss include never having to ask for a job, no one to fire him and the maintainment of full control of his brand, down to producing his own recordings.

On an ordinary day, he’s to be found at Gold’s gym by 4:00 or 5:00 a.m., doing stretches, working weights in anticipation of a ten to twenty mile run, depending on the day’s agenda. This, along with yoga, fuels the high-octane needs to sustain the physical and psychic peak demanded by his public personahood. Most days, especially in summer, running segues into long hours at the beach riding the vibes of Ocean Front Walk. Making his music. Making the rent. Afterwards he might scoot off to a park or some other venue to set up his massive array of musical equipment and put on a concert in his Kama Kosmic Krusader guise. “Kama Sutra with a guitar,” he calls it.

In the 1990s a certain flowering of quirkiness-diluting gentrification commenced in Venice supported by the drive to squish its more exotic nature. L.A. Municipal Code Section 42.15 disallowed hawking, peddling or vending stuff on the Venice Beach boardwalk, an obstacle to Perry’s sale of his records, T-shirts and what have you. The named plaintiff in an oppositional class action suit based on the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression, commerce and congregation, Perry fought back and prevailed upon appeal. The Los Angeles City Council simply roared into action again with more specific codified restrictions acutely curtailing boardwalk performance. Twenty years later the battle over First Amendment rights still roils on, though Perry himself is seldom hassled.

His status as an icon means You Tube is full of him. His image is blithely bandied about on postcards and murals. There’s a statue of him at the California Adventure theme park. He had cameo roles in movies such as Fletch, White Men Can’t Jump and The Gift, television’s CSI too, serving as a signifying element to establish authenticity of place. Incredibly he appeared in TV commercials for Primo Milk in New Zealand, of all places. Tourists from there are always antsy pantsy to make his acquaintance upon visiting here.

As the unofficial front man in the street entertainer tradition that’s been operational in elevating Venice to its position as a SoCal tourist draw surpassed solely by Disneyland, Harry Perry is a legend in his time.

 


Beachhead Front and Center in NOPD Battle

July 7, 2013

Beachhead Front and Center in NOPD Battle

By Greta Cobar

Over the past three months the Beachhead proved to be the go-to source of print media when it came to Overnight Parking Districts in Venice.

Other publications that cover Venice are the Marina del Rey-based Argonaut and the LA Times.

The Argonaut did not inform the public about the June 13 Coastal Commission hearing.  Its only mention of Overnight Parking Districts (OPDs) in Venice was published on June 20, a week after the unanimous vote against OPDs.

The Los Angeles Times, on the other hand, published an editorial the day before the hearing openly advising the California Coastal Commission to approve OPDs in Venice.

Following, Richard Abcarian (father of LA Times columnist Robin Abcarian) had this to say in an email message to Venetians: “Congratulations to all of you. What a great victory! I am going to rag on my daughter about the editorial stance her paper (LA Times) took.  Then I am going to sit quietly and entertain myself thinking about Mark Ryavec.”

“No one was happy with our suggestions,” states a June 14 LA Times article concerning their own advice to the Coastal Commission regarding OPDs in Venice.

Having been around for the past 45 years, the Beachhead documented a significant part of Venice’s 108-year old history. Happy 108th Birthday, Venice!  And here’s to many more!

You can watch the entire video of the June 13 Coastal Commission hearing at: http://bit.ly/czVepn.


This is what commissioner Jack Wickett had to say about Venice, Venetians and the Vibe

July 7, 2013

“I want to thank everyone for their testimonies today. Often times when we have so many people testify it gets pretty repetitious for the Commissioners, and I just want to say that each one of you brought a different flavor and actually had something original to say. Congratulations to you on that. I don’t think you were organized very well, and if ever you did get organized, that would be pretty amazing. I live in Northern California, and I know when people come to visit me they always stop in Venice – and actually sitting here today, I’m beginning to see why.

This is not the first time I’ve heard “The Vibe of Venice,” I hear it from people coming to visit you from international destinations. Whatever your marketing department is doing, it is attracting people from all over the world.  Having said that, we are all about coastal access. When people come and visit from all over the world and stopping in their journeys in the Mecca of Venice, they are also hoping to visit the coast, and depending on the kind of person they are, they want to visit the coast at all times of day, so frankly I am disappointed with the current curfew on the beach. I am hoping that the new mayor of Los Angeles, your new City Council Person, the new City Attorney, will all appreciate what you really bring to the greater Los Angeles area, and what you provide to the world, really. The creativity that comes out of Venice to the entire planet is something quite remarkable. Some people here today have thrown out a few examples of the Doors emanating from here, but it’s so much more than that, it is regardless of it being famous or not. It’s just that.

We’re all about coastal access, though.”


Venice Victorious – How We Won The Third OPD War

July 7, 2013

Venice, a jewel of the Pacific
Venice, a dream so sublime
Venice, where freedom is in our hearts
Venice, where the light will not be extinguished
Venice, where time goes by but the magic remains
Venice, where a city like none other is being born

By Jim Smith

Our recent victory against Overnight Pay Parking Districts (OPDs) is well-known by most Venetians.  In spite of great odds against us, an army of  truth-sayers from Venice made their way to Long Beach, June 13, where they again spoke truth to power as they did in 2009 and 2010, but this time with even more eloquence.

It was a victory supported by the majority of Venice residents and a lesson to those who would attempt to restrict the freedom of our community.

We were arrayed against our old nemesis, the city of Los Angeles, represented by a bumbling Norman Kulla (none of the better known OPD advocates, including Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and City Attorney Carmen Tutanich showed up),  the empty suits of the Coastal Commission staff who bought into the OPD advocates bogus arguments, and Mark Ryavec’s Venice Stakeholder Association, represented by John Henning, who is the rightwing Pacific Legal Foundation’s favorite lawyer.

This month we are celebrating the 108th anniversary of the founding of Venice.  During that time, we have also celebrated some astounding victories, and some devastating defeats. The very founding of Venice was a victory for the creative spirit of humanity. Venice arrived full grown, as out of the brow of Zeus, and was a marvel to behold. There was nothing like it in 1905. We have the genius and perseverance of one man, Abbot Kinney, to thank for our home. And even today, after years of being treated like a punching bag by Los Angeles, Venice is still a marvel to behold. And so are Venetians. So says the Coastal Commission.

Venice has been on the ropes many times.  Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty wanted to bulldoze the whole town.  In the late Sixties, the city’s “Master Plan” would have turned Venice into a high-rise abomination.  The Canal Project would have made the remaining canals another Marina yacht harbor. A freeway would have run down Electric Avenue, bisecting Venice into white and Black halves. All these schemes were stopped by an aroused
community.

Later, a seven-story “castle” would have risen where Ralphs, Rite-Aide and Ross now stand. Lincoln Place would have been destroyed and replaced by 1,000 condo hi-rises. Permit parking schemes have been swatted down since the 1990s. And still they come.

You have to admire the tenacity of Venetians. We exist in a permanent state of war to preserve our homes and our culture. Our obituary has been written many times. Beat poet Tony Scibella bemoaned the end of Venice in 1959 (The Kid in America) when tourists descended upon Venice to gawk at and take photos of the “beatniks.”

Venice activists Arnold Springer and Moe Stavnezer stared into the camera in Moritz Bormann’s 1978 documentary, Feeding the Sparrows by Feeding the Horses and declared Venice wouldn’t exist in ten more years.

Yes, Venice has changed from (pick a date). But it continues to attract refugees who need a haven where they can take a time out from the capitalist world.  Many lost souls come for a few months and end up spending the rest of the lives here. Sooner or later, they become involved in saving their adopted home when it is under attack by developers, city planners and the self-righteous. This is how in 2013, we are still able to defend the promise of Venice as envisioned, and fought for, by Abbot Kinney, John Haag, Rick Davidson, Marvena Kennedy, Carol Berman and so many more, now departed.

NOPD – The enduring resilience of the Venice Vibe 

Our victory in Long Beach on June 13, against OPDs ranks with our other righteous triumphs, described above. It was a textbook example of community organizing.

Even though many of us believed – correctly, as it turned out – that some residents were growing dubious about OPDs and would reconsider their support, we didn’t take anything for granted.

Our campaign was decentralized. No one person or group made decisions for everyone. Each group – Venice Action, Venice Peace and Freedom, Occupy Venice, the Beachhead, Venice Community Housing, Spirit of Venice, Venice Surf and Skateboard Assn. – essentially ran their own complementary campaigns against the OPDs, as did other groups and individuals.

The Free Venice Beachhead should win a newspaper award for its three-month long series of articles and public service announcements explaining why OPDs are contrary to the spirit of Venice (Of course, the Beachhead also rallied the community against pay parking in 2009 and 2010).

Venice Peace and Freedom distributed 12,000 postcards throughout the community and created the “NOPD” stop sign artwork that was adopted by the campaign as a whole.  Venice Action Alliance raised money for a lawyer and held a rally that brought everyone together.

Occupy Venice mobilized social media while Surfers and Skateboarders reached out to their youngish community for support.  While the Venice Neighborhood Council stayed neutral, they did run a poll on their website that showed the overwhelming opposition to OPDs in Venice (400 No OPDs votes to 294 Yes votes).

How we won – the strategy and tactics of the NOPD campaign:

• A clever slogan, NOPD, a contraction of No OPDs, had been used by some in 2010. This time around, Peace & Freedom ran with it on all their flyers and postcards. By the end of the campaign, everyone had adopted it.

• A decentralized campaign meant that every organization and group could do whatever they did best, and reach the age, ethnic, income and gender group they knew best.

• Our side took the offense. We presented numerous arguments why OPDs were a bad idea. Pro-OPD groups, like the Venice Stakeholder Assn., ended up responding to our points. The city of L.A., was less than aggressive as it was caught in the midst of a changeover with the strongest advocates of OPDs,  Trutanich and Rosendahl, becoming lame ducks. At the hearing, only a low-level staffer came to speak on behalf of the city.

• We had strength in numbers. Lots of people attended the rally, distributed literature, wrote emails, tweets and Facebook. Our numbers really helped us at the Coastal Commission hearing where we outnumbered the pro-OPD advocates by 90 or 100 to five or ten.

• The city made a serious blunder in closing the beach at night in spite of strongly worded letters from Commission officials telling them not to do it. We jumped on the beach closure as an example that city officials held the Commission in contempt. We further argued that there was no way to measure how many people would be deprived access to the beach by OPDs, since they were already deprived access by the illegal closure.

• We seized the moral high ground. While our opponents tried to turn OPDs into simply a parking issue (and under their breath, into an anti-homeless issue), many of us focused on the right of everyone to have access to the beach. This was not a tactical ploy on our part but rather a matter of principle. We explained to other Venetians and Commissioners, alike, that Venice had always been the People’s Beach where everyone, no matter who they were, could feel at home. Our beach was a cool (in more ways than one) haven for Angelenos, in particular, who live in a much hotter summer climate. It is one of the few places a poor family can take their kids, and not spend a cent if they can’t afford it.

What were the lessons we learned, and the lessons we should learn:

We learned that good people abound in Venice and have not disappeared into the sands of history. We learned that programatic unity (No OPDs) does not require organizational unity. We learned that the Coastal Commission is still our friend. We learned that the city of Los Angeles is not our friend. It will do whatever it can to grind us down into its image of quiet, obedient Matrix-like consumers. We should learn that they will come at us again and again because there are billions of dollars to be made in Venice by the developers who pull the strings of city officials.  We should learn that it never works out well when a people – a nation or a city – is ruled from the
outside by people who have a different set of values.  We should learn that no matter how long it takes, or how many defeats we suffer along the way, we have to begin the struggle to restore the city of Venice.


No Overnight Parking Districts (OPDs)

July 7, 2013

By Karl Abrams

I’m concerned with the Spontaneous Poet
that dreamy visitor who drives in to our
Coastal Venice by the sea, without warning
bringing peace in character and freedom of spirit,
Visitor or Venetian, who teaches and talks into the
night
leaving a trusty parked car without OPD permit.
Perhaps it’s a Walt Whitman, a Pablo Naruda or a
Mary Getlein,
who spends a tired and spontaneous night
at my carefree Venice house.
Who, after a few glasses of wine,
sleeps on my couch without OPD permission
rather than risk a life
driving back home alone.
I’m concerned with the Spontaneous Lover
Visitor or Venice rover,
who parks near the misty coast
and dreams innocent songs of Love, at most,
told by some among us
that they’re just too afraid of
his or her nightly unpermitted presence and too afraid
to let them sleep through the night
to wake again in a new and Free
Venice morning by the sea.

This poem was read by Karl Abrams in front of the
California Coastal Commission at the June 13 hearing
concerning OPDs in Venice


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