July 1, 2014


By Roxanne Brown – member: Concerned Neighbors of 320 Sunset (CNS)

Rose Avenue continues to produce more and more upscale restaurants with liquor licenses and late-night hours. And now, it looks like Sunset could become the next Rose. Here’s a quick update on Rose and Sunset, and how to get your voice heard.

THE ROSE CAFÉ: Gift shop is closing to make room for a late-night wine bar.

FIESTA BRAVA at 5th and Rose: Proposed upscale restaurant serving alcohol with late-night hours

THE MARKET at 5th and Rose: See Fiesta Brava above – it will be part of this new development.

609 ROSE: Another upscale restaurant with alcohol and late hours is in the works here.

320 SUNSET: This is our current big fight. We learned in the April Beachhead that owner Fran Camaj, Gjelina’s owner (1427 Abbott Kinney), had proposed development of a bakery with accessory retail at 320 Sunset. And, we learned that he and former Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) 320 Sunset case manager, Jim Murez, had failed to mention the proposed off-site beer and wine sales.

Camaj appears to be doing a bait and switch. Now, instead of a bakery, he is proposing a restaurant with 30 employees, serving 20 inside and 65 on an outdoor patio, 12 – 20 feet from residential dwellings. Construction on the “bakery” isn’t complete – it hasn’t opened and Camaj wants to convert it to a restaurant? Was a bakery ever even on the radar?

LUPC April 16th: Many neighbors spoke out against this. One resident had taken pictures revealing that rather than a bakery; it appeared that a full-blown restaurant had been built.

April 26th: Camaj hosted a tour and outreach meeting, sharing with the 60 neighbors gathered that when he applied for 320 Sunset’s conversion to a bakery, it presented less than 10% increase in usage (this falls within the constraints of a maximum 10% increase in intensity per the Venice Specific Plan). Camaj told the community that the prior tenants at 320 Sunset were six architects. A restaurant with 115 people is nearly 20 times that usage – a 2,000% increase in usage.

How can this happen? It seems this kind of “case splitting” is a loophole in the system, which allows developers to apply for one thing and then slip through a very different thing – all allegedly legal – through the city.

Camaj said patrons would be allowed to eat in 320’s parking lot, seated on milk crates. 320 Sunset has a parking lot that could maybe hold 15 vehicles. But, if people are eating on crates there, is it still a parking lot? Where is the real parking? Where will deliveries be made?

With proposed opening hours from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. (19 hours), noise and traffic will likely be 24/7.

Camaj repeatedly insists (LUPC and April 26th) that he has a seven-year track record as a good neighbor at Gjelina’s. But, the LA Times, Grub Street, Eater LA, the Beachhead and other media have reported on Gjelina’s seating over capacity city code violation and interfering with street parking regulations on Abbott Kinney. Media has also reported on neighbors continually complaining about loud music from the patio being heard in their residences, congestion and noise from pedestrians and vehicles, and lack of residential parking.

Camaj has a permit for a bakery at 320 Sunset. He proposes to obtain a variance for the zoning of 320 Sunset from light manufacturing (M1-1) to commercial. The 300 block of Sunset is currently home to a large, quiet artist community, as well as to senior citizens, families and young couples with children.

Traditionally, restaurants have been on commercial streets like Rose, Main, Abbott Kinney, and Lincoln, not in residential areas. If 320 Sunset gets a commercial variance, what’s next? Other buildings in M1-1 zoning and residential streets in Venice will become vulnerable to similar zoning variances.

No wonder many Venetians believe our community’s unique quality of life is under attack by developers and look-the-other-way political representatives. If there is going to be change, we want what is right for Venice. If you agree, now is the time to be heard.

HAVE YOUR SAY: The easiest way to be heard is to join a community organization. They inform you of what is going on via email or Facebook. You can get information regarding 320 Sunset from: CONCERNED NEIGHBORHOODS of 320 SUNSET (CNS) by emailing us at concernedneighborvenice@gmail.com. And/or go to Facebook – SPIRIT VENICE
More community organizations on Facebook: Venice Community Unity Coalition and Stakeholders of Venice.

Learn what The Venice Coalition to Preserve Unique Community Character (VCPUCC) is doing (see June Beachhead).

Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC)- Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC): LUPC reviews proposed developments and gets residents input. VNC represents Venice’s voice to the city of Los Angeles. The Venicenc.org website posts their agenda. 320 Sunset may be on July’s agenda.

Go to that meeting and sign up to speak. LUPC meets at the Oakwood Community Center on the first and third Wednesday evenings every month at 6:45 – corner of 7th and California. VNC meets once a month on a Tuesday at Westminster Elementary School at 6:45 – corner Westminster and Abbott Kinney. Your presence makes a difference-no need to talk. There is power in numbers and unity.

TELL CITY HALL: All of these developments, liquor licenses, improprieties, code violations, zoning variances, change of use – way over 10%, case splitting, late hours, and inadequate parking are happening on City Council Member Bonin’s watch. He wants to hear from you. Write him at Council Member Bonin, City Hall Office, 200 N. Spring St. #475, Los Angeles, CA 90012 or email councilmember.bonin@lacity.org Keep a copy – give it to your organization.

Now, you know there is something simple and easy you can do. Join an organization that will represent your views, your voice. You can be heard. Every voice counts.


May 1, 2014

Dear Venice Beachhead,

Esteemed salutations extended to the indomitable Venetian spirit and those who embody that eclectic spirit.

Well, since my last letter (April 2013), my circumstances and struggle for vindication have improved significantly. I felt compelled to share these positive developments with the community and any who read my first letter and may find inspiration in my progress.

Well, to begin. The catalyst for my opportunity to work towards my objectives of freedom and growth was my release from the oppressive confines of California’s prison torture unit, the “SHU” (Security Housing Units) after seven years of the sensory/human deprivation of being all but excommunicated from humanity.

Since then, approximately one year ago, I have created a website to share my life’s work and story with the world and this has opened many doors and allowed me to create relationships with the most influential people in my martial arts. It was through my work, as expressed on my website, muaysena.com, and youtube videos that I was fortunate enough to establish friendships with Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) founder and gracie Jin-Jitsu’s most important grand master, Rorion Gracie and Muay Thai Boran’s most sensor grandmaster “GM Woody” (Chinawut Sirisompan) and many others.

As I am sure some will recall from my last letter, I was facing the death penalty for defending myself in prison from a knife-yielding would be assassin, which unfortunately resulted in my assailant’s demise. After five years of fighting with the DA, showing no signs of compromise, my “Big Bro” Rorion Gracie intervened and agreed to testify on my behalf as an expert (martial arts) witness that my actions, while imperfect, were justified and unavoidable. As soon as the DA learned of Rorion’s defense of my response, and who Rorion is, he immediately submitted and agreed to a compromise of a 9-year plea bargain.

While I knew within myself I was completely innocent of any malice and only defending myself, I also knew from my first experience that in our legal system innocence did not guarantee victory. So I accepted the compromise and took the 9 years.

I have been in prison for 11 years for a crime I did not commit. I am now focused on locating any of our community who witnessed the murder that occurred on June 9, 2003 on Lincoln and Brooks in front of Red Hot Videos, who are willing to testify, or at least write a declaration that it was not me who committed this hideous crime, so that I can somehow hire a lawyer to file rights of habeas corpus and end this nightmare.

I hope that my story and this medium reaches the eyes of someone who can and will play an important role in saving my life and that will allow me to contribute my many positive and unique experiences and abilities to society. I believe in karma and I remain resolute and optimistic in my pursuits and belief in the human spirit and heart.

Please feel free to visit my website and learn about me and my system of martial arts at muaysena.com. My movements can be seen on youtube and I am also on Facebook, Muaysena and Muay Sena Combatives.
I end this with many thanks to the staff at the Free Venice Beachhead for all their diligent work to preserve the integrity of our community and combat the gentrification (read:normalization) of a place that is as unique and special as its esoteric inhabitants.

In solidarity, and true Venetians spirit,

Bramajarn Nick “Ninja Nutt” Sena

“The greatest skill is not to fight and win 100 foes, but to defeat the foe without fighting.” – Sun Tzu
Dear Beachhead,

I hardly ever pick up your newspaper. Today must have been my lucky day. I saw the article by Marty Liboff about his mother Ruthie. Oh what memories it brought back. We adored her. She always gave my son (starting 1962 – when he was 2) a BIG hug & a free cookie every time we’d go in. We were loyal customers until the bakery closed. Ruthie, how we missed you. Please thank Marty for bringing back such memories of a wonderful time.

Nesha DeAngelis
P.S. I am sending the article to my 54 year old son in Tucson.
Dear Beachhead,

I support your endeavors and want to continue reading your Free Press! There is so much going on and people bury their heads in the sand. Thank you for exposing the truth(s)!

Mary Richards
Dear Beachhead,

So, as we were walking last night and bemoaned the two home fate of the church at 6th and San Juan,  I heard from a reliable source that church was donated by Mrs. Abbot Kinney to the Venice Community.
Now it’s been a very fast and hush hush kind of deal with somebody buying it and it soon to be demolished.
Nobody even knew it was for sale. The Venice Historical Society wasn’t notified.
Um…This is too under the radar. And, another icky decision impacting the neighborhood.

Jeff Weiss


March 1, 2014

Santa Monica Airport – Nelson Schwartz

Abbot Kinney hotel – Gene Mendez

“Art Tiles at Venice Beach, a Graphic History: 1904-2201″ – Emily Winters

Marty Liboff’s poem – Suzanne Verdal


Dear Venice Beachhead,

My name is Nelson Schwartz. I live one block west of Lincoln in Venice.  The February Venice Beachhead has a letter from Bill Worden in support of the Santa Monica Airport. His letter is almost identical to the letter he sent to the Santa Monica Daily Press which was printed on November 15, 2013. That letter was entitled, “Santa Monica Airport poses no significant threat”.

As a Venice resident, I find it objectionable that the southbound planes that leave Santa Monica Airport turn left and fly directly over the block where I reside but the northbound planes turn right only after they reach the Pacific Ocean. This way, the rich white people who live north of Montana Ave in Santa Monica are not disturbed.

Nelson Schwartz


Dear Beachhead,

Hey Beachhead and fellow Venetians, Have you seen the pro-AK Hotel flier currently littering the neighborhood? It’s a hoot! Each of their responses to their own questions is more nebulous empty evasive nothingness than the one before. I figured they would have the chudspah to use such words as “philanthropic” and “for the benefit of the community.” Bingo! It states that they are “..committing to establishing a philanthropic program that will benefit the Venice community.”  Yeah, me too. Mr. Abrams, you’re fooling no one. Just call it what it is: a monument to  selfish egotistical greed at its capitalistic best. You want to shove this hotel down our throats and you want us to click on “like”? Your kind of philanthropy is killing the golden goose. How hard is that to understand?

Viva La Beachhead,

Gene Mendez


Dear Beachhead,

Thank you for the very entertaining book review of the Venice Arts Council book “Art Tiles at Venice Beach, a Graphic History: 1904 – 2001” by Eric Ahlberg. I would like to add that the reason for publishing this book is a fund raiser with the proceeds to keep the wonderful images of these unique tiles into perpetuity, and to repair and preserve the tiles and the benches that house them. The tiles are very sturdy but the cement structure of the benches is deteriorating. Three benches have been removed by Recreation and Parks (RAP) due to the benches deteriorating, four of the tiles are missing and two are saved encased in cement. The four missing tiles are being reproduced by the original artists, Noel Osheroff and Tamie Smith with a grant from the Venice Neighborhood Council. The soft cover books are available for $20 each. Your donation for this book will help to maintain this unique history of Venice. Books will be available in mid March at Small World Books and other local places to be announced. There will also be a series of book signings at local venues to be announced. Orders may also be placed by email: emilywinters@verizon.net.

Emily Winters


Dear Beachhead,

Kudos for Marty Liboff’s poem, the Venice Primer. He totally encapsulated the essence of Venice at this present time! I laughed so hard, almost to tears!

Thanks for printing it.

Suzanne Verdal

Ballona wetlands: letter from Shelley Luce

March 1, 2014

Dear Beachhead,

Mr. Davis is confused. The Bay Foundation is a nonprofit environmental group in good standing.  Our revenue is from grants and private donations. We are audited annually by a reputable firm and the IRS posts our annual nonprofit filings, along with all other nonprofit groups in the country. We have completed every grant we have received and accounted for every dollar spent, without fail, and have produced excellent results for state agencies, the federal EPA and the communities in which we’ve worked. Many of those grant products—-from greenway plans and kelp restoration to award-winning rain garden and rain barrel projects–are available on our website, www.santamonicabay.org.

The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission is a small non-regulatory state agency whose job is to convene stakeholders of Santa Monica Bay so that we can work together for the good of the Bay. Restoring coastal wetlands where they have been lost or damaged, as at Ballona, is an extremely important part of repairing our coastal environment and protecting people and wildlife from development and climate change impacts. Public access to open space, with trails and educational features, is another critical element of our work along the coast.

There are a lot of problems with wetlands, but Ballona is special because we have an opportunity to do something positive now at a place that is in an unnatural state and really needs repair. A lot of wildlife has been displaced by trash, pollution and construction, and our goal is to get it back to a healthy place for all to enjoy.

The misleading and baseless statements in this editorial are obvious attempts to take the focus off an important job: undoing the damage we humans have inflicted on the Ballona Wetlands, and making it a place of beauty where people and wildlife can flourish. State agencies are creating a range of project proposals that will show what is possible at Ballona, and will present them to the public sometime this year for review. It’s a long process, but it’s a big job, and patience is warranted. It has taken us 100 years to degrade this wetlands to the point where it desperately needs our help, and it will take a few years and a lot of hard work to make it healthy again. I hope the Venice residents will work with us and all the stakeholders for a healthy, thriving Ballona Wetlands.

Shelley Luce, D.Env.

Executive Director

The Bay Foundation and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation


February 1, 2014

Venice Oceanarium – by Tim Rudnick

Santa Monica Airport – by Bill Worden


Dear Beachhead,

I’m happy to say that our annual reading of Moby Dick, on the beach went fabulously. We had a good crowd and great readers who kept the book moving. We actually finished the book on Sunday at 8:00 pm, a great record of 26 hours.

This year, along with the reading, we also presented a showing at Beyond Baroque of the 1956 movie “Moby Dick,” starring Gregory Peck. The audience loved it.

But we couldn’t have enjoyed the success without your generous contributions and sponsorships and we are grateful and thankful to you. We look for your continued support in 2014.


Tim Rudnick, Director, Venice Oceanarium


Dear Beachhead,

A feature article in your last issue of the Beachhead purports to show that our local airport (Santa Monica) has somehow been a “bad neighbor”.  It fails to make its case because the arguments are based on faulty data, falsehoods, and other myth-information.  The argument presented goes like this: the airport only serves the purpose of a tiny minority of pilots living in Santa Monica; the airport is a danger to the community; it is no use to anyone else–so let’s make it into a park.

The author says that there are some 300+ licensed pilots living in Santa Monica and that this shows the facility is being operated for the use of a privileged few. This conclusion is bogus.  The airport is used by people from all over Southern California and the country, and from all over the globe, every day.  Aircraft and pilots based there are but a portion of the airport’s users in any given time period.  More local pilots live in Los Angeles than in Santa Monica.  The airport is a major general aviation transportation hub for the western United States.  Some of the wealth and wellbeing of Venice come directly from it. Santa Monica City has estimated that more than 200 million dollars come in yearly just to them.

To bolster her contention that the airport is physically dangerous, the author cites the now infamous list attributed to Zina Joseph, President of the Friends of Sunset Park homeowner’s group.  This list is very deceptive and can easily lead a casual reader to erroneous conclusions.  The list is a raw, unsorted compendium gleaned from the National Transportation Safety Board’s database of accidents and/or incidents for approximately the last 30 years that are indexed by the words “Santa Monica”.  When this list is culled of irrelevant reports such as those that pertain to occurrences in other localities, or merely run-of-the-mill landing mishaps like flat tires, the dramatic conclusions melt away.  There are about two incidents involving the surrounding communities every three years, on average.  In fact, to the best of anyone’s knowledge only one person on the ground has died or even been seriously injured in the entire 93 year history of the airport.  That is a remarkable safety record, but not at all unusual.  A child at Penmar Park is far more at risk from normal playground activities than from any operation at the airport.

The author alleges that there are dangerous amounts of air pollution coming out of the airport but the evidence she offers either does not support her position or is inconclusive. The recent EPA lead study found no levels of lead around the airport neighborhoods anywhere near what is considered unhealthy by the federal government. The so-called “UCLA study” on particulate matter was not university sanctioned and was not conducted by personnel with the specialized training necessary to conduct it.  Its conclusions are based on two, one-day samples taken in two separate years and tell us essentially nothing worth knowing.  It would be good to know, but one needs to know the true facts, which were not present in the report.

The author opines that the airport premises are not secure.  Again, this is simply not the case.  There is a dedicated police facility on the airport.  Access to the airport is controlled with card keys, and there is practically no crime of any type.  I totally disagree about warrantless searches.  The fact that airport security does not routinely search planes and passengers makes me feel more secure, as a freedom-loving American citizen, not less.

The substantive issue of noise was dealt with back in 1984 when an aggressive noise abatement program was instituted as part of a legal settlement between the Federal Aviation Administration and the City of Santa Monica. Since that time, no neighbors are routinely subjected to noise levels above 65dbl as measured and monitored by microphones in the vicinity of the runway ends. You can still hear aircraft but their noise levels are now on a par with other sources of noise in the community and pose no danger whatsoever. These noise levels are enforced by robust municipal fines and, or, permanent banishment from the airport, in some instances for “busting” the noise monitors.

The author implies that there must be some sort of calumny towards Venice on the part of the FAA or Santa Monica City in the designation of flight paths. Nothing of the sort is true. Flight paths are designed for best-fit noise abatement and flight safety. The Sunset Park neighborhood is a hill and so, for noise abatement and safety, flights go over Penmar Golf Course to get more distance between the departing aircraft and local homes. Aircraft departing on instrument flight rules follow the runway heading (270*) for procedural safety rules set by the FAA.

Most offensive to me is that the writer ignores three vitally important aspects of the airport in an attempt to show that we would lose nothing of value if it were closed.  The first is the role the airport is expected to play during natural disasters similar to the Loma Prieta Earthquake up in San Francisco in 1989.  The airport may likely be our only source of relief for needed supplies and medical care.  In an emergency this airport can handle large military and civilian cargo aircraft and helicopters. It will be a lifeline for all of us, come the time of need.  City and county fire departments routinely stage out of our airport for day-to-day emergencies.

Secondly, the writer doesn’t mention the activities of private aircraft flying routinely for the public benefit.  Groups like Angel Flight West fly needy people, and sometimes animals, for compassionate need, most often medical, into and out of the Los Angeles area with its many major medical facilities and teaching hospitals.  These flights are done by volunteer pilots using their own aircraft, their own time, and bearing all the flight expenses themselves, to help ensure that a fellow citizen gets help.  These pilots help mend a big gap in our healthcare net and they do it out of our local airport about 800 times a year. God Bless them.

Thirdly, the airport channels business and money into our communities – parks take money out.

So finally, the author would have us trash all the beneficial things we get from our community airport to speculate on yet another park. And speculation it would be as Santa Monica has said it cannot afford to build a park should they get a grip on the land and I don’t doubt that. The last two parks built in Santa Monica came in at over $6,000,000 an acre. Even all of the out of control development now going on in Santa Monica, could not cover that kind of overhead.  The city has tried once already to begin a “Century City West” project at the airport in the late 1980’s.  They were only foiled when their attempt to develop 37 acres along Airport Avenue into 6, six-story office buildings was to be put before the people by referendum causing the city to shelve the idea until a later date.  They will try again.


Bill Worden


January 1, 2014

Dear Pardee Properties:

Please stop tearing down  beautiful craftsman homes and putting up these monster structures that cut off our sunshine,air and beach breezes. Think about where you live and if you would like a huge structure to be built and cut off the light and air for you. I ask you, if this is your way of forcing the old Venice home owners to sell their properties? I see that  you state on your web site that you give back to the community? Will you please let your gift be that you remodel the old craftsmen homes? This would be the best gift in the world to Venice, lets keep Venice, Venice and keep our community a community, it would be greatly appreciated by many of us who are watching the quaintness of Venice be destroyed and your name seems to the name Pardee properties that is profiting from it.


Laddie Williams, Jataun Valentine, Lydia Ponce,

Pam Anderson


El Huarique – A Hidden Gem

On The Boardwalk Culinary Scene

The aptly named, El Huarique – Peruvian for “Hole in the wall” – is hard to find but well worth it. Located INSIDE the food court at 1301 Ocean Front Walk (X street Westminster) this rockin’ little spot dishes up delicious Peruvian style cuisine at very reasonable prices.

Talk about reasonable – their signature dish is the very popular rotisserie chicken, 1/4 of a succulent roasted bird with salad and rice all for the princely sum of $4.99. Many other gourmet dishes can be found on the menu, including ceviche de pescado, done in authentic Peruvian style herbs and spices.

Owner/Chef, Ernesto Guitierrez, was born in Lima where his Mother cooked meals in her kitchen to help bring in some extra money. This is where Ernesto learned to love cooking. When he moved to America in 2010, he started the Inka Deli next door to Big Daddy’s on the OFW, but (Gee, what a shock) after the lease was up, the landlord priced him out of the location.

Now Guitierrez has opened the fabulous El Harique, cooking up delicious Peruvian cuisine at very affordable prices. You’ll sit at a counter – it’s not fancy, but the smiling faces of Ernesto and his aide de camp, Milo, as they prepare your meal, make it a pleasure to dine there (or you can take out, or get delivery if local).

So you will have to look hard to find this little jewel of an eatery on the Ocean Front Walk, but just go on inside the food court at 1301 OFW and dig in. You will not regret it!

- B. Meade


Dear Beachhead:

It was very disheartening to see Anjelica Huston turning on the switch to light our Venice Sign in its traditional red and green for the holidays.  Such irony as she was lighting a piece of valuable Venetian history, while her husband, Robert Graham, could not construct a studio that could possibly retain Abbot Kinney’s historical columns and his promenade. These destroyed columns were copied from St Mark’s Plaza in Venice, Italy, the city on which Kinney modeled his Renaissance City in Southern California. Those columns should have been declared historical long ago and never been allowed to be removed. I abhor this worship of celebrities and their subsequent courting of them, over what little of Venetian history remains. The celebrities will come and go; our history needs to be zealously protected.

To add to the insult, incredibly, Ms. Huston was more interested in talking about her book, than in the spirit of the ceremony. She mentioned it three times before posing for photos with Councilmember Bonin.

May I say to the Councilmember as well as to the Venice Chamber of Commerce, that here in Venice, there are thousands of ‘celebrities’ to choose from who work tirelessly as volunteers to better their lives and the lives of others in our community.  Perhaps next year, we might consider one.

Laura Shepard Townsend



December 2, 2013

Dear Jim Smith – by M.J Suchecki

Dear Beachhead – by Charles Thomas


Dear Jim Smith,

I’ve lived in Venice since 1980. You and I spoke when I was covering the Venice Neighborhood Council for AOL’s Venice Patch. I’ve also written for The Argonaut.

I have to commend you for your lead piece on the Kennedy Assassination.  I was a kid when he was killed.  As a Boston Catholic he was  the epitome of our aspirations. My dad owed his justice department job as a prosecutor to the Kennedys. His career advancement died that day. Without knowing all of the ramifications, I was devastated, crying all the way home from early dismissal at St. Brendan’s School.

I was skeptical, but bought into the Warren Commission report. It wasn’t until years later when I worked as a field producer on “Cops” that I can to realize how wrong I had been.

I have four solid reasons to believe Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy:

On my day off from working in Ft. Worth, I stood in the Dallas book depository, and at the grassy knoll. I’m a good cameraman and a decent shot with a rifle. There is no way that I would have chosen the book depository as my site for the shooting. The target was moving down and away making the second shot more difficult. Years later when I shot Pope John Paul II in Poland I flashed back to Dallas. With my Nikon on a motor drive I got three good frames, the last images bigger than the first one. I had chosen a spot in Krakow akin to the location at Dealy Plaza, where the motorcade slowed and I had a bigger target.

Secondly, according to the Zapruder film, Kennedy’s head snapped back. Try this right now. Slap your own forehead with the heel of your palm. Which direction does your skull move? It’s one of the laws of physics. People don’t get shot from behind then move in the direction of the shot.

Thirdly, what did John Wilkes Booth say after he killed Lincoln, “Sic semper tyrannes”,  so always to tyrants. He had a point to make. In contrast, Oswald denied any involvement in the crime, he most famous quote was, “I’m a patsy.”

Finally, the case never went to trial. Jack Ruby silenced Oswald, so we’d never know the truth.

Like you, I’m convinced that the assassination was more than the work of a deranged, solo gunman. Thank you again, Jim, for an insightful article.

Best regards,

Paul M. J. Suchecki


Dear Beachhead:

Thank you for printing Jim Smith’s fine article in your November issue regarding President John Kennedy.  As so many of us remember, it was fifty years ago that JFK died in Dallas.  This is a profound time of remembrance, so I especially appreciated Jim’s article.

Besides print media, television has also been in on JFK’s remembrance recently with a wealth of programming.  Twenty-five years ago we had (of course) the “25th JFK remembrance” with a number of great TV specials.  These programs revisited the circumstances of the assassination as well as general retrospectives on the JFK presidency.  Twenty-five years ago, I tearfully sat before the TV and wept watching old JFK footage.  I was working a job back then for two guys who owned a business and it turned out they had been sitting in front of the TV, weeping a lot also.  They had been watching the same JFK “specials” and it came out in conversation that we had all been crying.  It took us by surprise that we still had emotional scars about the assassination.  Now, twenty-five years later I still sit in front of the TV with a lump in my throat.  Sure, there’s joy in remembering JFK, but I knew that the 50th “remembrance” which has been going on (as I write) for over a week now, was also going to be tearful by the TV.   (The new TV “retros” have been most interesting, as I knew they would be … but also sad.)

I have never accepted the loss of JFK.  I was ten years old when our school teachers called us kids in early from the school playground to tell us the President was dead.  I didn’t want to believe it.  I have never accepted it.  I could be more accepting if we really knew what happened that day in Dallas.  I can’t accept the “official” finding that Oswald was a lone killer.  It seems clear in the Zapruder Film that Kennedy’s head wound was inflicted by a bullet from the front (in the general direction of the infamous grassy knoll, not from the rear).  What do you make of the denial about that?  There are some who might ask, “How in the world could something as notorious as a second gunman be covered up and ‘swept under the rug’?”  To those, I say, “Hey, Daniel Ellsberg was ALMOST ‘squelched’ in his successful effort exposing the Pentagon Papers.”   Once the machine of government cover-up gets going, it can be damn fierce.  As to that day in Dallas, someone out there still “knows something.”

Twenty five years from now (on the 75th anniversary of Kennedy’s “passing”) I expect we will have another major television retrospective on JFK.  If I live to be 85, then I see myself, an old man, hanky in hand, sitting before the TV watching this event, my chin trembling.  There will never be another JFK.

Thank you again for sharing Jim Smith’s uplifting (and thought provoking) tribute to Kennedy.

Charles Thomas

November 22, 2013



November 1, 2013

Della Franco

Suzanne Verdal

Lola Terrell

Gene Mendez

Michael Millman



Dear Beachhead,

I would like to thank the Beachhead for printing the article by Brian Connolly “On Being Homeless in Venice”.

I thought the article was extremely well written and the content and message stayed with me long after after reading it. I think it is important for people to read this article as it shows a side to being “homeless”  that so many choose not to see or think about. It shows the daily struggles, the hardships, the pain, and a glimpse into a world that many of us just want to ignore. Too many Venetians like to blame and criticize and condemn the homeless, and I am sickened by the ignorant few who refer to homeless people as “crusties” or worse. Too many assume being homeless means you are only a drug crazed violent criminal. This article is a perfect example as to how false and misguided those sentiments are and I welcome that! I encourage that. And I thank Brian Connolly for doing that. It shows the compassion, the humanity and the intelligence that exists in the lives of those who have to live on the streets.

My hope is that people who judge or vaguely ignore the homeless, realize that the person sleeping on the concrete may in fact be the person who could inspire them.

Good luck to Brian Connolly and all the homeless people who are trying to survive in this world. Just like all of us are.

Della Franco

Venice Resident


Dear Beachhead,

Soon after 6am, the many unhoused Venetians must vacate their concrete repose on 3rd Street until well after dark, permitted only to set their bedding down at 9pm.

Teri Shapiro, an unemployed nurse who is partially disabled, sleeps there, side by side, with her 17-year old cat “Possum.”

Being a feline rescuer most of my adult life, I thought someone would be touched by this fact and might donate some quality cat food for her precious elderly kitty.


Suzanne Verdal


Dear Beachhead, Just read the letter in the Sept issue (yes I’m late!) from Anthony Castillo re: gentrification on Abbot Kinney, and then the article, “LAPD in the Spotlight for Racial Profiling” by Mark Lipman.
Does anyone see a connect here…profiling of all human beings and gentrification? I have three stories to tell. I’m also appalled to know Ocean Front Walk is now closed from midnight to 5 am. I’m a night owl who lives in Mar Vista.I occasionally go down to the Venice Pier to walk late at night when I haven’t gotten my exercise during the day. About 5 weeks ago (maybe beginning of September/end of August) I was walking from the end of the pier back towards the parking lot, and a police truck had been moseying down the beach from the north. I saw it stop once further north, shining its light on something or other in the dark.  When the police got to just past the pier where that pile of rocks is, I saw them turn the light on towards the rocks, stop their truck and get out. It was a young man and a woman officer. There were two young people, a man and a woman, who had been ‘snuggling’ under some blankets there. Disturbing no one, making no noise. When I walked up, the blanket was off, and it looked like they were putting their clothes on (still sitting down on the bottom blanket) with the bright light shining away of course. I bucked up and walked over and asked the police (tactfully, no animosity) why they were doing this. Well, for one, I was informed, the beach now closes at midnight! I was like, what??!! They said it’s been a couple of years (I’m not normally down there quite that late) and that I need to talk to the City Council about passing the law. They were ‘interrogating’ these two young people who did not appear to be homeless (God forbid!) extracting all kinds of information from them. I wish – Continued from page 2: Letter I had thought to say more…but I did have more conversation with the police, saying, that it is the people’s beach! I never heard of closing the Beach! And then, instead of the police just explaining to the couple most likely making whoopee that they were sorry, but the beach is closed and they have to leave…how many young (and maybe even old!) people do such things, when there no other convenient place for them to go for a modicum of privacy.  Probably what galled me the most was the police were asking them for ID and of course running checks on them. The guy looked white; she may have been of a light color. There was no reason for the police to interrogate these folks or give them a hard time. Tell them, time to go now. That’s it!  But instead, they interrogate people, like they’ve committed some crime. (OK, once they’ve been told, if they keep coming back, that is another story, then you get their info, write a ticket (a ticket for being on the beach at 12:30 am at night, right next to a lit pier!) Sounds INSANE to me. Gentrification anyone? This is what is going on. A couple of months back, I was out and about (in my car) and rode down to the main channel on the Marina side, where the jetty is, where there are pull in parking spots, lights, etc. and it’s a few minutes after 10…I find it strange there are no other cars.  I then see the sign. No Parking 10 PM to 5 AM (or whatever the second time was). I was APPALLED. (I hadn’t been there in a few years, obviously). I looked to the north, and saw newer buildings of mostly condos perhaps…It could likely have been these folks (and their tax money) that caused this wonderful little section of parking/grass to close down at 10 pm. Can’t have the ‘riff-raff’ who are not from here (or even if they are!) coming down to this nice little public space, can we?  Now if there were real /problems there, let’s work on that. Not closing the area to everyone! Then, a week after the beach blanket whoopee was stopped by ‘LAPD coitus interruptus’, I was at the pier again, much earlier, perhaps just about 10:30 pm. There was a small white ‘police’ car on the pier; he had driven out to the end and then back, and was about to close the gates. I’m like, what’s up?  He said we close the pier now at midnight, nice enough fellow. He explained to me that he has other places to close, and he can’t get to them all unless he starts closing before midnight. So now, at 10:30pm the pier is closed at to us who enjoy it and the fishermen?? SOMETHING is VERY WRONG with this picture. It’s like we (even us more or less ‘normals’!) are being walled off from public spaces within our communities.  Right here I’ve listed four areas (three I experienced for myself) and one I read about – OFW, where the public is not allowed during certain hours. Some starting as early as 10 pm.  This feels like I (and all the others like me, i.e. regular people, part of the 99%) am being slowly imprisoned/walled off from community public spaces, where it is slowly being encroached upon by—–Money! I mean, the Beach, for God’s sake?!! And there is only ONE ANSWER as to who is forcing this encroachment. It’s the 1%, the gentrifiers. Some gentrification is okay, but when does it ever work out that way? The rents go up, the locals who created the community in the first place is being forced out.  So Sad!!! It’s all part and parcel of what Anthony Castillo wrote about in his letter re: the gentrification of Abbot Kinney. Locals being pushed out, fancier, more costly, up-scale taking their place. It’s all of a piece, and it’s a sad piece. I agree with Mr. Castillo, This is NOT Venice, that is for sure.  Is nothing sacrosanct? I feel Venetians and others who care about the real Venice really do need to rise up and fight for her…yes, things do change, but this is happening before our eyes and if it continues, there will hardly be any space for just ‘normals’ or artists or those who want to be, to live free and work in Venice.  Maybe we like it as it is?  I used to like the SM Pier better too, when it was more old-style with its bumper cars. Of course the rides are great, but can’t we have a MIX? I feel this encroachment more and more myself, all the time. By the way, the young fellow on the sand, of course, agreed with me that it just isn’t right. He thanked me as I was leaving.  He also said, “and we know, it’s all about the money!”

Sincerely, Lola Terrell


Dear  Beachhead,

My thanks to you and CJ Gronner for the informative article on the Abbot Kinney Hotel debacle. New York transplant Abrams and his minions were no doubt stung by the reception to their planned gift to the neighborhood by an ungrateful citizenry. No good greed goes unpunished. Mr. Abrams, take a bow. You are not only the most disliked (putting it mildly) man in Venice, but also, with Angelica gone, FatCat Outsider of the Year! (Joel Silver is livid.) Now run down to Aviator Nation and buy yourself a $50 “Locals Only” trucker’s hat. Oh. You have. Well, of course you have.


Gene Mendez


Dear Beachhead,

Approximately a week ago I attended the Venice Community Council PLUM meeting at the Oakwood Recreational Center. There were over 300 residents. It was well run and very well organized.

Everyone agreed that there are perhaps 5,000 or more “illegal” short term rentals in Venice wherein the property owners are indeed serving as a surrogate, stealth motel or hotel Business, and not paying any Business or Bed taxes. A simple examination review of many of the popular computer sites will reveal that there may be as many as 10,000 or more illegal short-term rental operators. All of that revenue is lost.

Simply stated, we already have several dozen or more illegal hotels in the city. We have transients or tourists using our highway, street parking, beach attractions and of course, our restaurants and other amenities.

The new hotel of course would establish a new, substantial TAX BASE; employ only local Venice residents as staff or others; generate enormous taxes and be a destination venue for anniversaries, conventions, weddings and bar mitzvahs. In no way would it obstruct anyone’s view. The zoning already has been designated by the Coastal Commission as appropriate for a hotel. It brings good paying jobs to Venice. It’s well designed and appropriate. Accordingly, let’s stop being hypocrites: there are already major, substantial hotel businesses in Venice, although they are below the radar, inappropriate and illegal.

Your friend always,

Michael Millman

Dear Michael Millman,

Respectfully, Mr. Millman, “Everyone” did not agree that there were illegal short term rentals in Venice – that was your argument alone. Those “illegal” rentals, in fact, help enable many people to meet their mortgages and/or rents that have skyrocketed in recent years, so that they may continue to live in the Venice they love. That revenue is not “lost” … it helps to keep Venice residents in their homes. Our tax money never stays in Venice anyway. We are merely 1% (ironically) of the greater Los Angeles budget, so that argument doesn’t hold water either, and only reinforces our need for cityhood. Renting out your spare room to give a visitor a real Venice experience and help families through financial strain is hardly the same thing as a big hotel, which we – and nearly everyone else at the meeting you attended – wholly oppose.


The Beachhead


Free Venetians,

As an over-mountains Venetian, I have always taken exception to Ocean Front Walk being called “the boardwalk”. I always presumed that that was just a conceit of those from the wrong ocean. But to see it used in the Beachhead  is most disconcerting.

Best Regards to the  City of Venice!


Dear Ted,

You are absolutely right. Ocean Front Walk should never be referred to as the Boardwalk. We apologize for the oversight.

The Beachhead


October 2, 2013

Dear Beachhead,

Thank you for your articles on our murals! The original 15c wash and the 5c dry mural was so famous that anyone who wanted to be anyone came to be filmed in front of it. Bobby Darren was there with his photographer to soak up the ‘hip vibes’ to assist in  changing his image. We thought the Fine Art Squad’s Venice in the Snow was gone, beautifully rendered in composition with the Squad and friends depicted as well as the Boardwalk Venetians in winter attire. Tragic that it is now unable to be seen, with a building erected inches away.  But here a tribute must be paid to those who bought the lot next to 15c wash and the 5c dry mural, art lovers who shaved one of the corners off the building so the mural could be seen from the street.  Where has such gentility gone?  We must resurrect it in Venice. Quickly.


Laura Shepard Townsend


Historic Preservation Architect Says: Restore the Column!

The historic Corinthian order column cap damaged by a tour bus is one of the most character defining features remaining of Abbott Kinney’s Piazza San Marco inspired Venice of America colonnades on Windward Ave. The column cap designed by Felix Peano, (Ref: Jeffery Stanton) should be reconstructed as soon as possible to reduce any further deterioration of the remainder of the column cap.

The tour bus company that hit the column is responsible to reconstruct it. That is why they carry property damage insurance. It is the City’s responsibility to make that claim and if they don’t, a private citizen or organization with the help of an attorney on a contingency can make the claim. Those columns belong to the citizens of Venice.

As far as originality goes, few restored historic buildings have all their original parts. Even the Statute of Liberty is reconstructed. The National Park Service that administers the Register of Historic Places, not only approves but encourages restoration and reconstruction of character defining features as a necessary long term process to give continued life to historic buildings. Hell, everything wears out if not restored.

We have lost so much of the original Venice of America, we all need to demand that what remains is protected, and when damaged repaired.

– John Ash, AIA,

Historic Preservation Architect

Dear John,

Thanks for your informative letter and your expert advice. The Beachhead would be delighted to work with you on pressuring the city of L.A. into filing the insurance claim needed to repair the column.

Please email us soon.

Many thanks,

Beachhead Collective

Damaged Column


September 1, 2013

Dear Beahhead,

Thank you Beachhead and Greta Cobar for the interview with Emily Winters. I have known Emily since I came to the Beachhead Collective in the late 1970s. Her art and her commitment to humanistic politics have always been inspirations to me.

Long may her murals survive beyond tagging and natural erosion.


Lynne Bronstein


Dear Beachhead,

You sustain and reassure me!

Thank you,

Laura Shepard Townsend


Dear Free Venice Beachhead!

I am currently serving a 24-year sentence here at SATF Corcoran Prison.

I was born and raised in Venice, California. My friends call me Shark not only because I swim like one, but because this beach boy has razor-sharp physique.

Well let me get straight to the reason for this letter. I would like to ask you to put me on your membership – and please mail me your Free Venice Beachhead.

I’ve also written to my sisters, who lives on Venice Blvd./Louella Av. and on 5th/Brooks in Venice to please make a monthly donation to help keep your paper on the map, as you all are doing a great job! Do you accept books of stamps for donation?


Mr. Mike

Dear Mr. Mike,

We send the paper for free to all inmates that we know might want it. We added you to our mailing list and you should receive the Beachhead monthly. We do not accept donations from people in prison, but all others are welcome to donate. We do accept books of stamps.


The Beachhead Collective


Dear Beachhead,

Santa Monica, CA – Airport2Park.org, a coalition of residents and groups formed to turn Santa Monica Airport into a great park, will sponsor a workshop to envision what the park could be. The workshop, “From Airport to Park: Turning Santa Monica Airport into a Park for Everyone,” will be open to the public and will take place Thursday, October 3, 2013, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., at the Mount Olive Church, 1343 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica 90405.

“Airport2Park.org is a coalition uniting residents who want to seize the once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a great park in place of the Santa Monica Airport,” said John Fairweather, Chair of Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT).


The Airport-to-Park Train


Dear Beachhead,

I’m tired of this war between the locals and Those Other People. It’s like a bad movie: Earth vs. The Aliens. Everyone came to Venice from somewhere. What qualifies you as a local – how long you’ve been here? How you look? How much money you have in your bank account? How does the peace and love that is supposed to be Venice jibe with Us against Whoever They Are?


Don Schraier, long-time resident

Dear Don,

As a self proclaimed “long time resident” it should be obvious what the on going struggle between Venetians and “those other people” is all about. True, most of us came to Venice from somewhere else, like many did to CA in general. Venice is a not a state, but it is a state of mind. Venice is and always has been a diverse working class neighborhood/city. But with continued gentrification, the working class, low income, and bohemian artist types that give Venice its very appeal (along with the beach and weather), their very existence becomes threatened. All you have to do to see proof of this is to walk along Rose or Abbot Kinney and watch local, mom and pop, long time shops close due to souring rents. Gentrification is its own unique kind of blight. It may be pretty to look at, but what it does to the very fiber and spirit of a community is where the underlying struggle gets played out. Do we just roll over and accept it, or do we fight back to save our beloved community? I’m all for peace and love. But as long as rich developers, greedy landlords, and the one percent continue to want to turn Venice into something they envision, we will continue to hold onto the true spirit of Venice and resist.


Anthony Castillo


Dear Beachhead,

In your recent story Parking, Traffic and Other Evils in Venice the street Grand Blvd. is referred to as Grand Ave. in both picture captions. As small as this may seem, it can discredit your paper and staff involved as not true Venetians. Grand Ave. is in downtown L.A., which ads to this insult. After all, it was the choice location of our founding father (1 Grand Canal). Please school your staff on Venice facts before you turn into the mini LA Times.

Thank you,

George Hernandez

Dear George,

Thanks for paying attention and reading carefully. Our staff has been schooled accordingly.

Many thanks,

The Beachhead


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