Poetry

July 1, 2011
  • On Returning to Venice - Stuart Z. Perkoff
  • On the Boulevard – Malcolm H. Ball
  • Venice West – Don Johns
  • Make me your lover – Jasper Schubert
  • A solstice has occurred – Roger Houston
  • Venice you bleed – Philip Chamberlin
  • Two Lives Lost – Mary Getlein
  • Somewhere – Jim Smith
  • Cool, Smooth, Nocturnal & Universal – Hal Bogotch

—————————————

On Returning to Venice

By Stuart Z. Perkoff
time is confused on the streets of my city
returning, it is now & always as i walk
thru footsteps of memory

fog limits vision, & my eyes turn
inward, where birds fly the feet
over paths of intricate memories

ghosts over my shoulder do not push or press
rather, their eyelessness peers to pierce
the veiled images of the future, or
the flowers ballooning from the clouds of mist
2.
all is not voice
or vision. real walls
separate the rooms
within which movements
are limited by space. & the bodies
within it

what endless histories
walk each separate flesh
each mind touching
its own
chronology
which goes beyond, encompasses
boundaries & isolations
within rigidity
the flow of continuity
3.
o ghosts
o my past
the face i wear

o my city
my flesh
the space given

yr voices in my ears
yr tears in my eyes
hands touching
songs ringing
from room to room
in the houses of my mind
———–

On the Boulevard

I see him
Limping back and forth along the traffic island at an intersection on Venice Boulevard.
Smiling at the cars waiting for the light,
Waving with one hand, the other held out.
He is deeply tanned about fifty, his cloths ragged and filthy.
I cross over with the red light handing him my change.
Better than nothing.
–Malcolm H. Ball

————
Venice West
Do you remember?
the chess game  in each reeling bar
on an oceanfront walk through surreal night
when the “gas house” was aflame
with ideas and smoke
from weak home-grown dope
and poetry was chanted
to the off-beat wail of a tenor sax
in the beat coffee-house  “venice west”
how you would call a party in your tumbling pad
haunted by psychedelic doges
of the grand canal & tributaries to a fix
and sing and party til next week’s dawn
cause neighbors never gave a shit
and if they did they would just fall by
and have a drink or toke
to ease their restive souls
or a bit of crystal to wake up
how when properly lit some would fashion a raft
from the front door to the pad
that was always open
and drunkenly float on this swamping craft
whimsical gondoliers
singing off-key grand opera arias
polling up and down the slimy waterways
where the cops rarely came
for at least “it” was contained
they figured
they had “it” pent up
in a place where the main stream didn’t flow
the infamous canals
where bikers   dopers   poets   drunks
and other misfits maintained
when venice was still
a restless slum-by-the-sea
no shit     do you remember?
–Don Johns  reprinted from the March 1987 Beachhead

————

Make me your lover
I will be most beautiful
built on each sequence fluently
watch me blossom between your weeds
nourish, cherish, keep me close
I will never wilt
give me passion
embrace me with words
And I will be the last rose in the desert of your life

–Jasper Schubert

———–

23:32 Tuesday, June 21, 2011, Behind the Talking Stick….. A solstice has occurred, the spring gives way To glorious summer in a single day. A solstice has arrived on fiery wings. A nightengale, far in the distance, sings. Concentric circles turn, change of the guard. Without discerning, noticing is hard. Eventual, inevitable, turn, And light this midnight candle, let it burn. A solstice has come forth to strike a chord. Millenia have passed, unspoken word. The shortest night gives rise to other things. The nights so slowly elongate, it brings December twenty-first, near Christmas Day, The opposite, a hemisphere away…..

rogerhouston

———–

Venice you bleed,
and your blood will not clot.
Your vital juices ooze
under the yellow caterpillar blade.
And I can not stop them.

The stormy husky brawling city of big
shoulders
is come to cart away your corpse.
They wait but for your heart to die,
your flame to go black,
And I cannot stop them.

With contracts and proposals they ploy
your evisceration.
When development has done with your soul
we will not need autopsy to ascertain
your cause of death.
The cause is plain as the smashed glass
and fractured rafters of a wrecked out bungalow.
As clear cut as the mighty cedar they doze up
by the root.
And why can I not stop them?

Philip Chamberlin
reprinted from the March 1977 Beachhead

———–

Two Lives Lost 

For Salvador “Junior” Diaz, age 18
       Allan Mateo, age 19

two lives lost at Penmar park –
two boys raised up by loving parents
cut down by another youth –
three lives lost, really
because the shooter is now a killer
and will end up in prison, if found
The parents of the slain boys
were anticipating graduation –
total horror, total chaos instead
in the tiny village of Venice
cries of sorrow and pain are heard again.
an altar is left on the bleachers
candles burning in the dark,
drinks and Gatorades left for the boys
flowers and rosaries all around.
prayers are our only consolation
children killed at our playground:
The obscenity of war come home to us.
–Mary Getlein

———–

Somewhere


By Jim Smith
Somewhere in this wide universe
There is a Venice
where Abbot Kinney’s son
is known as Thornton the Great
for saving the canals
for rebuffing the L.A. mob
for using the oil revenue
to build stately little bungalows
for one and all.

for teaching Venetians
how to keep their city

for endowing the arts and letters
for inspiring the entire world.

———-

Cool, Smooth, Nocturnal 
& Universal


By Hal Bogotch
It starts with low notes
barely a rumble
a melody flickers in
what’s being played
is more
than what’s on the page

it’s the clink
of champagne glasses
it’s horseshoes
clopping on cobblestone streets
it’s a tinny tiny bronze hammer
chiming the hour in the park

it’s the dim roar
of skywriters
pumping a pair of white heart clouds
it’s the arcing spray
from a broken hydrant
on a noon hot august night

it’s the twirl of unwinding
a bandage    after a baton
busted a post-bop blower’s top
it’s miles away from birds
and dizzy dreamers
it comes clean in the night

it’s nothing but
nothing but jazz.


“Highway to Heaven” or “Roadmap to Hell?”

April 1, 2011

By Jim Smith

 

On March 22 the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) took another stab at addressing the biggest controversy in our community in recent years – RVs and homelessness. Some outraged voices maintain that the treatment of those living in their vehicles by the L.A. Council office and by the Los Angeles Police Department amounts to a human disaster for the poor. Others object to the presence of RVs anywhere in Venice and blame the occupants for criminal behavior.

Advocates of compassionate treatment of homeless people and RV live-aboards were given an unequal playing field at the council meeting. Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and his chief-of-staff, Mike Bonin, both of whom seem to have catered to those who want the homeless removed, were given unlimited time to present their arguments, as were representatives of “People Assisting The Homeless,” (PATH) including its Chief Executive Officer Joel Roberts and others.

When “the public” got to speak, they only got one minute each, not enough time to present a cogent argument in opposition to the plan, now dubbed “Roadmap to Housing.”

The next day, the same scene repeated itself, although in miniature form, at the Los Angeles City Hall building, which is about 18 miles to the east. A handful of pro and con Venetians managed the trip to the City’s Transportation Committee, where they were rewarded with a whole two minutes of speaking time. Nothing much happened except that Rosendahl asked the assistant city attorney to take language out of the proposed “Roadmap” ordinance about legal parking on the streets because the anti-homeless residents didn’t like it. Another meeting of the Transportation Committee will be held on April 13.

For the past several months, the LAPD has been implementing Councilmember Bill Rosendahl’s “carrot and stick” approach which includes citing RVs for vehicle and parking infractions, banging on their RVs in the middle of the night, making threats of arrest if they remain in Venice, as well as towing their vehicles to a San Fernando Valley storage yard where the nearly indigent are charged around $800 to reclaim their vehicle/home. Some have called this a “streets to jail” program.

As a result, the number of RVs in Venice has shrunk from more than 200 according to a survey last July to around 20 today. This reduces the number of potential participants in the “Roadmap” program, which is now designed to accommodate only eight vehicles at each of Rosendahl’s two offices, one in West L.A. and one in Westchester.

Even residents who do not live in their RVs report harassment and unfair ticketing of their vehicles. One couple in central Venice who use their RV daily to go to work have found tickets on it for parking in one place for 72 hours when the actual time parked was between eight and nine hours.

In addition, new signs have sprouted up on streets around Venice that prohibit vehicle taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet from parking from 2 – 6 am. This restriction of access was done without Coastal Commission approval.

Some of the RV live-aboards, harassed on all sides, have exchanged their large vehicle/homes for vans, pickups with camper shells and other cars that are not too tall or too long.

The subject of the VNC meeting was a new proposal from Rosendahl for a “Roadmap to Housing” program, formerly called “streets to homes.” Initially, it included provisions for some legalized street parking but was modified after complaints from anti-RV residents. It now includes only the two office sites outside of Venice.

Some anti-homeless residents had been vocal during the past several years about Santa Monica “dumping” its homeless on Venice. None of them objected to Venice RVs being “dumped” on West Los Angeles or Westchester.

Opposition to the “Roadmap” and accompanying 85.11 ordinance came from RV live-aboards and supporters who said that the program would remove the poor from Venice. None of the housing being sought for live-aboards is in Venice, apparently. Nor is there much of an outreach program to local landlords to sign on to the program even though it can give them a guaranteed rent payment. Also called to the VNC’s attention by several speakers was the alleged misuse of the public Venice Area Surplus Real Property Fund, which is to be used only in Venice.

The arguments seemed to have an effect on the Board, which had been prepared to vote in favor of the “Roadmap.” In the end, no vote was taken. Another meeting will be held in April.

About 85 people packed the meeting. Attendance slowly dwindled during the three and a half hour marathon. One of those staying to the bitter end was Rosendahl.

Chairperson Linda Lucks maintained her streak of throwing a stakeholder out of each meeting. This time it was Ocean Front Walk vendor, Mark Herd, who was apparently too impassioned in his one-minute comparison of the treatment and removal of the poor to the 19th century treatment of Native Americans and to the Nazis’ treatment of Jews. His expulsion was the only action seen by any of the 18 LAPD officers who stood in the back of the room for the first two hours. Their presence added more than $2,000 to the cost of the meeting and lessened the number of cops on patrol in Venice.

 

Problems with the “Roadmap

to Housing” program

1. It increases gentrification of Venice to the detriment of the poor and working people.

2. It is at least two years too late to resolve the RV parking issue without dividing Venice.

3. Its housing component takes long-time residents out of their community.

4. It is paid for out of a fund which by ordinance can only be spent in Venice.

This “roadmap” is part of a larger city effort to rid Venice of those who are forced to live in their cars. At least one-third of RV live-aboards previously had an apartment in Venice, according to a survey by St. Joseph’s Center.

A major part of the reason for a growing vehicle-as-a-home phenomenon is Rosendahl’s failure, and that of his colleagues on the L.A. City Council, to lobby the legislature to repeal or modify the anti-rent control Costa-Hawkins Act, which prohibits vacancy control of rental units. As a result of exorbitant rents, a growing number of Venetians have found it necessary to live in vehicles or even the streets.

Growing hostility toward those without fixed addresses from some homeowners and some of those still able to pay their rents has played into the hands of developers and city officials who want to divide Venice. A number of Venetians have met with Rosendahl and his staff during the last several years to urge him to create a program in which those living in RVs could be safe from individual and police harassment.

They have suggested to him numerous lots and streets away from residences without result. Meanwhile, through Rosendahl’s notorious “carrot and stick” program, he has encouraged the police to become involved in a social issue that has taken them away from fighting crime, e.g. robberies, break-ins, assaults and murders. He has let the divisions in Venice fester while trying to increase city revenue with overnight pay parking schemes which most Venice residents did not want, but had to spend two years defeating.

Now, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), a public agency, has been given $750,000 by Rosendahl and the Council to implement the “Roadmap” program. LAHSA subcontracted to People Assisting The Homeless (PATH), a nonprofit group, and gave it $650,000 (What did LAHSA do that allowed it to take a $100,000 cut?).

Joel Roberts, the CEO of PATH, says that permanent housing is the goal of this program. This is a laudable goal, particularly if it is coupled with public assistance, jobs, health care and educational opportunities. However, there is no emphasis in Robert’s approach, nor in the entire “Roadmap,” to assisting vehicle live-aboards in their own community. For many potential “clients” in this program, occupying a Section 8 housing unit in the San Fernando Valley, or other distant location, means being torn away from their friends, their neighborhood, and indeed, all that is familiar to them. If this program is to be successful it must include an active effort by the Council office and by PATH to contact Venice landlords and get them to agree to provide at least one Section 8 housing unit. With enough effort, sufficient housing units surely can be found right here in Venice.

Misappropriation

of Public Funds?

Finally, the majority of the funding for the entire “Roadmap” program is illegal. The Venice Area Surplus Real Property Fund can only be used within Venice. None of the major expenditures of this program take place here. PATH does not have an office in Venice. It’s staff are not from Venice. The parking lots under consideration for RVs are not in Venice. And now, because of aggressive policing, most of the RVs are no longer in Venice.

In short, little or none of the activities or expenditures fall under the definition of legitimate use of the Fund. Yet, $450,000 has been appropriated to LAHSA for a program that largely takes place outside of Venice <http://bit.ly/b26FiD&gt;.

The “Roadmap” can by no stretch of the imagination be considered to be “generally within the Venice Area,” as defined in the ordinance. The Fund is also known as Los Angeles Administrative Code, Section 5.121. See Sidebar for its exact language.

Further evidence of the Venice Fund misappropriation is contained in the draft 85.11 ordinance itself. It refers not to Venice or the Venice Area but to the 11th Council District as a whole, a clear misuse of the Fund.

The draft ordinance states in section C:

(6) In order to qualify for eligibility to enroll in the Roadmap to Housing Program, a person must establish one of the following conditions:

(i) The person resided in a vehicle in the Eleventh Council District as of July 20, 2010; or

(ii) The person resided in a dwelling, not a vehicle, in the Eleventh Council District as of the effective date of this Section and later became homeless and forced to reside in a vehicle.

 

In summary, the “Roadmap” and the draft ordinance, 85.11, both show misappropriation of public funds, to wit, the Venice Area Surplus Real Property Fund.

———–

SIDEBAR:

ARTICLE 5
VENICE AREA SURPLUS REAL PROPERTY FUND

Sec. 5.121.  Creation and Use of Fund.

All net proceeds collected from the sales of real properties located in the Venice area of the City of Los Angeles and such grant funds as approved by the City Council, shall be placed in a trust fund to be known as the “Venice Area Surplus Real Property Fund,” which fund is hereby created and which fund shall be used for the purposes as set forth hereafter.

1.     The “Venice Area” is hereby defined and described as being that portion of the City of Los Angeles bounded northwesterly by the common boundary of the City of Santa Monica and the City of Los Angeles, northeasterly by the center line of Lincoln Boulevard, southeasterly and northeasterly by the City boundary adjacent to the county’s “Marina del Rey,” southeasterly by the entrance channel of the “Marina del Rey” and southwesterly by the last natural mean high-tide line of the Pacific Ocean.

2.     “Surplus Real Property” is defined as those parcels of real property owned by the City of Los Angeles and neither dedicated to public use, such as recreation and park use or public street use, nor permanently devoted to some public use.

3.     “Net proceeds” shall mean the gross sale price received for a parcel of real property minus escrow charges, title policy charges, appraisal charges, advertising costs, and any and all other costs and expenses attributable to conducting the sale and/or leading up to the sale of the property.

4.     Upon adoption of a resolution by the City Council, the net proceeds from the sale of any of the properties mentioned above shall be devoted exclusively to capital or non-capital projects or purchases generally within the “Venice Area” for purposes which will be of benefit to citizens of the City of Los Angeles or tourists to the Venice Beach area.

5.     The Fund shall be administered by the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Financial Management and Personnel Services, in accordance with the prior approval by the City Council pursuant to Subdivision 4. of this Section.

 


Who in the Heaven is Larry Bell?

April 1, 2011

By CJ Gronner

Renowned artist, Larry Bell, is a true Venice treasure. His profile, with hat and signature cigar, has been sighted all over town for decades, and is now the inspiration behind a new neighborhood hang about to open at the corner of Windward and Speedway, the aptly named “Larry’s” (Currently featuring a sign outside reading “Who in the Heaven is Spanto? [sic]”, which used to say “Larry” until someone graffiti’d over it with the name of our dearly departed friend, Sponto).

I got the chance to sit down and chat with Mr. Bell the other day in his Market Street art studio, and discover that he’s even cooler than I already thought he was. Surrounded by his beautiful works of art, both finished and in progress, we sat and talked about his Venice, then and now.

Bell was born in Chicago in 1939, and moved to L.A. with his family at the age of five. He always had an interest in art and music, and thought he’d get into animation over at Disney. As part of his art school (Chouinard Art Institute) curriculum, he had to study painting, which soon became his focus … to the extent that now his painting and sculptures can be seen in museums all around the world – and in his big, well-lit Venice studio, where he likes to “meet the people who want to own my stuff.”

At 19, Bell moved to Venice … “because it was cheap.” At that time, it was full of empty storefronts and considered dangerous, so he was able to secure his studio space for a mere $70 a month. Perfect for aspiring artists. A group of about 6 to 10 people started from scratch what became a true community of artists, and put Venice on the map as an art destination. Much of the gang became “The Cool School” (see the documentary of the same name to really get it), and gained fame worldwide. As we spoke about his work, Bell told me that “I’m interested in creating images I haven’t seen before … It’s an organic cycle, I’m not in control, I’m more like the middle man.” Interesting, as I’ve heard guitarist Leo Kottke say about the same thing, and it was then that I noticed Bell’s 12-string guitar standing by. He claims to only noodle on it, but I have a feeling he’s being overly humble, considering the concentration he seems to apply to everything.

In 1972, Bell “fell in love with a beautiful girl, and wanted to get her away from the competition,” so he moved with her to Taos, New Mexico, where he traded his art for his new property. The marriage ultimately split up, and it was time to return to Venice. By some strange stroke of kismet, his exact same studio space was open and available on Market Street, unchanged and ready for him to get to work.  He had built the doors on the front wall himself, in order to get large pieces and equipment in and out easier, and all remained intact. The only thing that changed was the Venice outside the doors.

About that, Bell says, “Venice inherited a mystique about being a creative place, which is extraordinary because it IS … Nothing lasts, and Venice is an organic, changing place, and you can’t stop that or it’s Knott’s Berry Farm.” The place remains special, and will always draw people because of, “The AIR! The ionized air from the sea … the weather is perfect here all the time” (Well … it certainly was the day we were talking). He also finds special that there isn’t high-density housing at the beach. It’s still mostly individual homes and small apartment buildings, adding to the neighborhood vibe. We talked about cityhood for Venice, which he doesn’t think possible for just the basic economic facts, like who would pay the cops, firemen, etc … and added, “The best way to protect the funky edge of Venice is to get it historical status.” Hmm … an interesting idea, for sure.

In the years that Bell lived in Taos, he would always stay at the Marina Pacific Hotel when in Venice. He became fast friends with the owner, Erwin Sokol, and when the Marina Pacific became the Hotel Erwin a couple of years ago, Bell not only moved in, but helped design the lighting, and each room in the Erwin now contains a work by Larry Bell. He was invited to the hotel meetings to offer his input on various issues, and when the time came for Mr. Sokol to open a bar/restaurant in the ideal, hotel-adjacent location of Windward and Speedway, they all met to discuss possible names. Bell offered up “Altoon’s” (after John Altoon, a fellow Venice artist in the 50’s and 60’s, who lived nearby and died in 1969) as his choice, but was out-voted by the eventual winner – “Larry’s”.

Bell drew the self-portrait in hat and cigar for the neon sign, and his paintings are featured inside. He also made a list of Venice artists, past and present, to be a mural on the outside wall of Larry’s – honoring the people and art that has made Venice the place that it is – wearing the very heart of Venice on its sleeve. I spoke to owner, Erwin Sokol, and he hopes that Larry’s will be open for business in the next couple of months, as they’re sorting out the Chef/kitchen part of it all now. It now looks like Larry’s will be open to greet the Summer along with the rest of us, and I can’t wait to watch Venice roll by as we sit on the patio and appreciate it all from the namesake spot of one of our coolest residents.

As we were wrapping up our time together, Bell’s son, Oliver, and beloved American Bulldog, Pinky, came back from a walk, and we all turned our attention to that sweet dog. Market Street was abuzz outside, with people getting ready for the Art Crawl, and soaking up the warm afternoon sunshine. Bell walked me out, and as we said our goodbyes, he saw a girl sitting in the next doorway, headphones on, a million miles away.  Bell held out his arms and said, “Look, beautiful girls sitting in doorways, on a beautiful day …”

There was nothing else for me to say but, “We’re lucky people.” He turned and smiled rakishly, “Yes, we sure are.”


The Tabor Family

April 1, 2011

The Tabors, one of the founding families of Venice had a reunion was held at the Pacific Residents Theater, March 2.

It was conceived and produced by Maryjane and included family photos, documents and other memorabilia.

Irvin Tabor, the family Patriarch, was Abbot Kinney’s personal assistant and chauffeur. Kinney willed his home to Tabor, who lived in it for more than 40 years.

John Quincy Tabor, II, who is Irvin’s nephew, entertained the audience with stories of the early days in Venice, including when his father won J.P. Morgan’s former yacht, the Sultana, in a raffle but couldn’t afford to operate it.

John Quincy, who will be 90 years old on June 1, was the first African-American lifeguard with both the city and the county.

The Tabor Family: 1st row- left to right- Sonya – Caroline – Jataun- Geisha- John Quncy- Francis- Ahimfa- Sia- Alvin- Allen  2nd row- Nolah- Clarence- Monque- George- Jay- Winola.

 


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