November 1, 2014

Bonin’s Bollards – By Nick Antonicello
Bird Totems of Venice – By Doug Fay
Thanks – By Barbara Langlois d’Estaintot
Dear Editor:
Your story on cameras and Oceanfront Walk should have been more appropriately titled “Bollards & Bonin.”
The so-called changes at OFW had nothing to do with community input or outreach, but rather a sense something was done in the face of the death of Alice Gruppioni, an international traveler murdered by the act of a maniac behind the wheel of a car while on her honeymoon!
For this political practice of bollards, cameras and alike will do nothing to change the unpleasantness that exists at OFW. It is an overreaction to a tragedy that in all probability could not have been prevented if bollards existed at every corner from Santa Monica to the Venice Pier.
For what we have at OFW is an unbridled mess of mismanagement with no one seemingly in charge. As mattresses burn into the midnight hour a sense of brokenness and no one being in charge remains on a day-to-day basis despite promises by Bonin to have someone responsible.
The physical condition of OFW continues to deteriorate at a rapid pace and those who have pointed out these obvious deficiencies continue to be ignored by the 11th Council District Office’s bureaucratic and distant way of dealing with problems that forever mount at the beach.
For how can anything change when you have this unbending elected official who does not listen to the concerns of the community?
While the grassy knolls that separate OFW and the bike continue to fall apart, the 11th Council District office wants to install an ice skating rink at a time of the year when the days are shorter and the propensity for crime at night more probable! Who would bring their kids to Venice at night to a temporary rink when a very successful private/public partnership on 4th Street east the 3rd Street Promenade is safe, secure and popular?
For other then the 11th Council District Office, who believes the construction of this ice rink makes sense?
This detached and distant governance that occupies Venice is disturbing and more importantly ineffective.
Embedded political insiders like Bonin doing as they please with little or no community input is the norm rather than the exception.
Is it any surprise that Oceanfront Walk remains in a state of deterioration and rotting from within because of the lack of political will and governmental leadership?
Bonin in his prior capacity as chief of staff to his council predecessor has had over a decade to figure it out.
How much more time are people willing to give him based on this record of consistent mediocrity?
Nick Antonicello

Nick, thanks for writing to us. Yes, the city of Los Angeles continues to ignore Venice and fails to pro- vide basic services while collecting the tax money that tourists and residents pour into Venice. Latest such gross example is the anti-mansionization bill passed by L.A. City Council November 4, offering some pro- tections to 14 L.A. neighborhoods. Surprise: VENICE WAS NOT INCLUDED! Bonin joined the unanimous vote in favor of the proposal, but did not advocate for the inclusion of Venice.

Venice constitutes one percent of the city of L.A., yet twenty percent of the development (mansioniza- tion) of L.A. is taking place in Venice. Plus, Venice has some of the most historic, worth-preserving archi- tecture in the city of L.A.

Instead of stepping up to save Venice, Bonin is wasting all of our time and money with useless bol- lards and Ocean Front Walk sweeps that have not pro- tected or helped anyone so far, and will continue to be just as useless and meaningless in the future.

Since L.A. City Council, including our represen- tative, refuse to offer Venice any type of representa- tion, our only option is to strengthen our efforts to- wards Venice Cityhood.
Only through local governance in our own city of Venice will we be able to preserve our architecture, community and ourselves.

Greta Cobar
Bird Totems of Venice
Dear Krista Schwimmer,
Thank you for sharing your love and knowledge of birds. Did you know that I am currently involved in litigation with the County of Los Angeles and California Coastal Commission to save our 10.7 acre Bird Conservation Area a.k.a. the Duck Pond on Washington Blvd? Yes, the birds need us.

One of my father’s greatest success stories was saving the Brown Pelican. Go to YouTube and type “Hero of the Coast Don May on Rim Fay” to watch two of my father’s good friends talk about a man from Venice. He was following the work of Professor of Nature Studies Roland C. Ross, who slept in the Ballona Wetlands and was instrumental in creating the Marina Del Rey Bird Sanctuary/Refuge that will become a public park and urban runoff detention basin in perpetuity if we don’t get organized.

For the birds and our children,
Doug Fay
Dear Beachhead,
Thank you for this amazing paper! You guys are awesome and I wanted to thank you for your work!

Barbara Langlois d’Estaintot


October 1, 2014

Jim Smith – Venice Peace Park
Rachel Gomez – Venice Beach Drum Orchestra
Laura Shepard Townsend – Hail the Beachhead!
Vernon Courteaux – Unjust OFW Ordinance
Dear Beachhead,

One of the great things about the Free Venice Beachhead is the sense of continuity and history that it gives to readers. Venice has had a long and exciting, and sometimes, tragic history during its nearly 110 years. For instance, the first Beachhead, in 1968, told the story of Abbot Kinney. For many Venetians, it was the first they had heard about the magnificent creator of the city of Venice. And through the years, the paper has given us a blow-by-blow description of the ongoing saga of the community’s fight against L.A. developers’ plans to run a freeway through the center of Venice, turn the canals into a yacht harbor, and, in general, bulldoze everything in sight.
That’s why I was dismayed to find a couple of uncritical references to “Centennial Park” in the past few issues. This park is the plot of ground directly east of the Abbot Kinney Library, which for many years was a refuge for Venetians who had nowhere else to go.
In 2004, the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council (GRVNC), of which I was the elected treasurer, found out that our unelected city councilmember Cindy Miscikowski was going to have this lonesome plot of ground declared a park.
Miscikowski had been imposed on Venice by the L.A. City Council, in an arrogant act of disdain for Venice, when it summarily transferred our well-liked – and elected – councilmember, Ruth Galanter, to a vacant seat in the east San Fernando Valley. In her place, they brought in Miscikowski, who had been representing Pacific Palisades and Westwood.
We told Miscikowski that we would like the people of Venice to pick a name for the new park. On February 26, 2004, the GRVNC sponsored a town meeting at the First Methodist Church, which hundreds of Venetians attended. In a secret ballot vote, “Peace Park” was picked as the overwhelming choice for the park’s name. The name, Peace Park, was doubly significant because of the gang war that had been afflicting Venice, and because of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. We informed Miscikowski, of the results and thought that was the end of it.
Without the knowledge of anyone on the neighborhood council, Miscikowski then called together a small group of Venice hi-rollers at the Abbot Kinney Library to pick another name for the park. The name picked by the few people at the meeting was Centennial Park. It is true that the 100th anniversary of the founding of Venice was coming up in 2005, but this plot of land had played no part in Venice history. It had always been just part of the Venice Blvd. center divider.
This same group, with Miscikowski’s blessing, created a counter-centennial committee to the already existing committee which was called the Peoples Centennial Committee, and which held many events around Venice in the months leading up to the 100-year parade on July 4, 2005. The Peoples Committee held a great parade from our old city hall to the Venice Circle (from which pedestrians are now banned). Most of the community organizations and long-time active Venetians were part of this committee. At no time did the Miscikowski committee contact us to suggest working together. They were kissing L.A.’s official ass and didn’t have time for the locals.
The arbitrary change of name from Peace Park is still a sore spot with a lot of locals who have been active in Venice since 2004. What annoys us even more are not just the constant efforts by L.A. City Hall to split our local movements, but the willing cooperation of those in Venice who will sell out their neighbors in exchange for some phony recognition and/or crumbs from their downtown masters. This probably goes on in other areas, but it has been particularly acute in Venice, perhaps because, as a group, we are so outspoken.
The machinations of L.A. officials and their local minions began with a simple name change, went on to divide our 100-year celebration, and within a few months had brought down the most pro-Venice and active neighborhood council our community has ever had. If you’re new to Venice, and think this is all a paranoid delusion, then read their emails which we obtained in a public records request: .
With the current wave of gentrification destroying Venice house by house, it is more important than ever to know who provides the political cover for policies that will forever change Venice. The biggest mouth in Venice belongs to the Beachhead. We’re counting on you to keep the community informed.

Jim Smith
Dear Beachhead,

Ibrahim Butler of The Venice Beach Drum Orchestra finds himself in court once again. Enough is enough!
Once upon a time, in 2003, Joseph Shemaria, an attorney and an Ocean Front Walk property owner located at 319 Ocean Front Walk, thought it would be a good idea to sue Ibrahim, a local artist, musician and activist for his inability to rent his 3-unit property.
What an interesting idea…Venice Beach ocean front property owners suing artists and musicians for adversely affecting their occupancy rates. Hmm.
Actually, Shemaria did sue Ibrahim, of the Venice Beach Drum Orchestra – an array of international West African drummers, teachers and multi- talented musicians. His suit was based on his inability to rent his boardwalk real estate and his belief that Ibrahim alone caused his loss. The case went to mediation and an agreement was struck that allowed Ibrahim to continue playing music with stipulations.
Nine years passed with no complaint from Shemaria. Within that time, L.A.M.C. ordinance 42.15 came into effect allowing amplified music, performance and First Amendment free expression to exist from 9 am until sunset seven days per week throughout the year on Ocean Front Walk.
The Ocean Front Walk has become one of the most visited tourist destinations in the state of California because of its diversity of original art, music and people like Ibrahim.
Ibrahim and The Venice Beach Drum Orchestra have been entertaining and uplifting the Venice community and tourists for decades with its original drum beat and electrified sound Saturdays, Sundays and major holidays from noon until 4:30 pm. So what’s the problem?
Fast-forward to 2012. Shemaria again decided to take up court time with a contempt of court order against Ibrahim. Today, this case is still in the court system.
Is this a waste of precious court resources and time? Is Shemaria’s pursuit of legal recourse against Ibrahim a personal issue?
Interestingly, Shemaria has never complained or pursued legal action against any other artist or musician on the Ocean Front Walk. Shemaria has never complained about his property being located next to a bar with weekly musical entertainment that plays until 11 pm.
It is important to note, when the judge asked Shemaria about his desired outcome of this suit, he replied that he wanted Ibrahim to move to another location and away from his building.
So I say, Enough is Enough!
It is time that the entire Venice community acknowledges and supports the very artists, musicians and free speech expressionists that attract the millions of visitors to Venice each year.
Today, let’s all move towards creative peaceful resolutions where unity and community spirit thrive.
Ibrahim is scheduled to appear at the Santa Monica courthouse for trial on November 3 at 9 am. Your support is welcome.

Peace and Blessings!
Rachel Gomez
Dear Beachhead,

HAIL the Free Venice Beachhead!!!
Readers, whether you agree with an article or a perspective or not, you are free to write a letter, and chances are, the Collective will accept it and print it.
Today, most of the newspapers, periodicals and news stations are owned by just a handful of owners.
There is extreme treachery, brought home succinctly while I have been researching for the 3rd book of my Destiny’s Consent series. For background, I had been reading every Venice Evening Vanguard from September to December, 1924.
There, article after article enthusiastically endorsed the cementing over of the Venice Canals. It only made perfect sense!! After all, who traveled around by boat??? The Vanguard wielded huge sections of ads, with beautiful pictures of the new toy, the automobile, to entice populations away from public transportation, the efficient and 40 mph Red Cars.
Everyone agreed that Venetians would get rich; property values in the city would increase by $10Million!!! As I read, I decided to put myself into the noggin of anyone reading this newspaper, without knowing what later transpired when the steam shovels and trucks showed up to annihilate Abbot Kinney’s canals.
This was absolutely not the TRUTH of the matter!!! When the shoveling of dirt began to fill in the canals, hundreds of people, shoveling BY HAND, were managing to keep up with the machines. Finally, the volunteer army gave up.
But here’s the rub. Reading these newspapers, supposedly representing Venice, there was not one, not ONE article with an opposing view. Only one article reluctantly admitted that there was ‘some controversy’ at a town hall meeting.
So, Venetians, do not take the existence of the Free Venice Beachhead for granted, lest there be no Beachhead…the ‘paper that is a poem’.

Laura Shepard Townsend
Dear Beachhead,

I’d like to once again bring an injustice to your attention. I’d like to offer you a different take on it from someone who has been arrested for merely making and selling a $5 dollar bracelet along the Venice Boardwalk.
“Poverty is a sin against our humanity and a cumbersome drag on our economy”. That is a quote from L.A. Councilman Mike Bonin’s website. I find this very hypocritical when the L.A. City Council has thrown the local artisans under the bus with an ordinance that does not allow original handcrafted jewelry to be sold along the boardwalk. This will affect many people, single moms, low income families, starving artists and even the tourists and local Los Angeleno’s who only want the right to make a choice for what they want to purchase.
The ordinance supports the shops on the east side of the boardwalk, who import mass reproduced knock-offs from other countries while criminalizing the local handcraft artists. Why are only a few shops allowed to dictate what millions Los Angeleno’s can purchase when visiting the beach? If the L.A. City Council was truly interested in the community they would recognize the many great artisans that are local and the ones that travel through and stop in Venice to show their handcrafted work. Instead we have a very few people deciding what all of us can make, sell and or buy along the Venice Beach Boardwalk and it just so happens those people who want to dictate what we make, sell or buy are making huge profits selling imported mass reproduction knock-offs on the east side of the boardwalk. Do they care what the public wants?
We need to highlight the hypocrisy of this ordinance and the City Council’s ineffectiveness to create real positive solutions, like permits for artisans, or regulating the commercial activity. Instead they have chosen to criminalize its citizens and local artisans.
The public does not know what is going on, all of the people I have explained this law to think it is appalling. For more info, visit: http://bit.ly/1javVHp.

Best regards,
Vernon Courteaux 310-621-5035


September 1, 2014

Dear Beachhead, 

I don’t get it.  I never did.  
I don’t obsess about RV’s, or caravans, or motor coaches or moho’s or whatever you want to call them.  However, some people do.  I still don’t get it.  Appears to me this obsessing is done mostly by people who have a lot of free time on their hands, concern themselves about what other people do, how they live, what they look like and do they look like an ad in a house good-looking mag… or a commercial…some kind of a beauty contest.
 This has been going on for a really unconscionable period of time when, at the same time, much more important things are going on, like the possible beginning of WWIII or a 2nd Civil War. 
 Why then are moho’s still being manufactured?  Why haven’t they been taken off the market? Seems that you can buy them but you can’t use them in too many places… unless they are new, or corporately owned. This does not seem right to me or even “capitalistic”…for that matter. 
 Reminds me too much of WWII, the Gypsies, the Jewish People, the disabled and what happened to them…

Betty Rexie
Venice, CA
Dear Beachhead,

Thank you for all your fine reporting.

Earl Newman


August 1, 2014

Nick Antonicello
Randy Saludes
Alan Rodman

Dear Beachhead,

Mary Getlein’s July piece (Bonin Walks From Meeting) is insightful and indicative of how Mr. Bonin approaches the Venice neighborhood and governance in general.

The freshman council member doesn’t allow for any serious exchange with residents and the “Venice Life” meeting held on June 18 was another example of that flawed policy.

When first elected to the council Mr. Bonin was a speaker at a monthly meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) and took no questions.

When a Venice Town Hall was held in response to the senseless auto death of an Italian tourist on her honeymoon, Bonin lectured residents on his vision of Venice, and promptly left again after his prepared remarks and no interaction with the hundreds in attendance.

It seems to be the policy of the 11th District council member that unless the environment is controlled, an honest discussion or the ability to ask questions is non-existent.

In dealings with his staff, emails are rarely if ever returned – especially if you disagree with their public policy positions or inaction as witnessed for over a year as it applies to the current condition of the Venice bike path and knolls that separate it from the pedestrian walk.

Building consensus and reaching out to residents in a diversified community such as Venice takes thoughtful leadership from the head, and not the back of the line.

Nick Antonicello

Music Police
I play drums for Phylte Risk (http://VeniceLion.com). I am primarily a Jazz drummer. I play at a low volume that accompanies acoustic pianos and other Jazz and quiet amplified music groups. I enjoy drumming for Al Robinson, who leads the group, and is a great guitar player, who plays through a small battery operated amp.
Our group alternates performances with other acts in front of On the Waterfront restaurant on Ocean Front Walk just north of Rose. The police came by as a loud guitar player was performing, and they shut him down. I told the officers that we had encouraged him, we encourage all performers who come out to play, and do not appreciate the police who come by and say all kinds of contradictory things, and that amplified sound is ok as long as it’s kept to a reasonable level.
So our group began to play at our lower level. The policeman came up to our guitar player who leads the group and was able to have a normal conversation with him as we played, and told him to turn it down. So we did. The police officer and the guitar player were able to converse and I could even hear what they were talking about sitting at the drums while we were playing. The officers told us to play even lower and when we did they then told us to shut down. We did comply. I was angry. They have no right to shut us down, we know the legal decibel level and know the police were being unreasonable. The crowd and the patrons where chanting over and over “let them play”.

So this is when at some distance away from where we were set up I went up to the officers and asked for their contact information, because I wanted to make a complaint against them. They told me they would not give me this information unless I gave them my driver’s license. Well I told them I didn’t want to give them my license and they again repeated the same story that they wouldn’t give me their info unless I gave them my license. So like an idiot I gave them my license. I thought they were telling the truth. I waited and waited and thought they were writing down the information I had asked for and waited and waited and they gave me a ticket.
A ticket for 115.02 LAMC: Amplified Sound: Engaging in the installation, use, or operation of any loudspeaker or sound amplifying equipment in a fixed or movable position;……..

Amplified sound is legal on the boardwalk no matter what the police say.

I’ve lived on the OFW since 1992 and there are many horror stories from many musicians who have been abused, lied to and threatened by the police. Venice has been a circus, loud, noisy since its beginning. Anyone who says they came to Venice for peace and quiet is a bold face liar.

Randy Saludes

Dear Beachhead,

The wonderful DVD, “The Cook,” (Milestone film & video, 2003) starring Roscoe Arbuckle and Harold Lloyd, deserves the attention of Venice. It is a real gem!

The disc includes countless, amazing historic scenes shot right here in old Venice, and Ocean Park!

The first film on the disc, The Cook, long believed lost, was restored when additional missing footage was found in Norway. With  incredible sight gags, juggling food, and wild slapstick comedy, this picture includes amazing footage of a chase on the old Crystal Pier, or perhaps early Ocean Park Pier, with its rickety rollercoaster, in Santa Monica, just south of Pico Blvd. In the background appears what is now the Casa del Mar Hotel, and the whole beachfront to the south, with many rides and buildings under construction. Some of this footage may be misidentified on the disc’s liner notes as the Pike, yet may be recognized as old Santa Monica in 1917.

Surprisingly, this movie includes what may have been the 20th century’s first filmed wardrobe malfunction: high up on the rollercoaster overlooking the Pacific, a frightened cashier, played by Alice Lake, turns to face her pursuer (Al St. John as The Toughest Guy,) when her see-through bodice slips slightly, and she reveals a bit more than just her acting talents.

(See if you notice The Toughest Guy leering – while actually the actor seems to be clinging for his life to a flimsy guardrail!)

The entire beachfront scene from Santa Monica Pier to Ocean Park Pier, Lick Pier, and Venice Pier (“Admission: 10¢”) are the backdrop for at least two of the hilarious early films on this disc. Shot in 1917, as well as in 1920, using a single stationary camera, (just months before the pier being destroyed by fires), these pictures present our whole early beachfront scene, ready to be explored as if through a time machine.

The later, very funny film, “Number Please,” starring Harold Lloyd, gets comedic (and some racially stereotypic) play from the newfangled telephone, but the action soon brings us to the pleasure piers.

Everything there sure looks like a lot of fun, demonstrating how many fascinating and curious attractions the beachfront had going in 1920. In fact, these pleasure piers play their own big role in this picture, since all that festivity emphasizes the irony of Lloyd’s forlorn look, as a lover who has lost again, now lonely in the crowd.

The Merry-Go-Round has a great part in this movie too, as Keaton runs in frantic circles to rescue his girl’s small dog, one who is also an incredible scene-stealer (and purse-stealer,) while we watch the dog’s point of view from a camera placed on the turning carousel.

It may well be noticed that attitudes toward the treatment of animals in film have changed over the last century, though Keaton and this poor hardworking dog will likely still make us laugh out loud.

At the close of the film, a vignette focuses on his sad gaze, then widens out to show Buster Keaton gloomily chugging off on the little Kinney-Marquez Railroad that took happy vacationers on Venice beachside pleasure tours.

Explore more, and tell what you discover!

Yours for all time,
Alan Rodman
I can be reached at (310) 927-2959, if needed.


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


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