Take a Bath You Stinker!

April 1, 2015

By Marty (Shtunken) Liboff

There is an old joke about a little boy and girl taking a bath together and the little girl sees the boy’s penis and says, “Can I play with that?” and the boy says, “No! You already broke yours off!” Long, long ago in ancient Rome they built huge bathhouses where people of all classes would go to bathe and mingle. In early Santa Monica and what was to become Ocean Park and Venice, many of the early beach shanties had a toilet but no baths or showers. Sometimes our hotels had a shared bathroom and shower on each floor of a building. As many of you know, our beautiful ocean rarely ever gets warm enough for swimming without a wet suit. Swimming in the ocean in the good old days was dangerous since there were usually no regular life guards. An amazing craze began in the late 1800s with beach bathhouses that had swimming pools filled with ocean water.
In 1876 on the north beach around where Chautauqua Blvd. is today a small bathhouse opened with showers and baths. Soon another bathhouse opened next door with an indoor pool using ocean water. In 1887 the Crystal Plunge opened with an open air seawater pool by what is now the Casa del Mar Hotel at Pico Blvd. In 1890s the huge Arcadia Hotel in Santa Monica had a large bathhouse. In 1894 the North Beach Bathhouse opened just north of the early Santa Monica Pier. It had a large salt water pool and had many dressing rooms and a restaurant. Soon several bathhouses opened along the beach. You could bathe and swim in ocean water without even sticking your toes in the ocean! Most cost about 25 cents, which wasn’t cheap in those days.
In the late 1800s, Abbot Kinney and his partners were busy building Ocean Park on Santa Monica’s southern border. They sold lots and built a pier and resort with gambling. They faced some opposition from the city and the railroads and Kinney and his partners were not getting along together. His partners were Thomas Dudley who sold his interests to Alexander Fraser, Henry Gage and George Merritt Jones. Some streets around the beach were named after them. The story goes that in January 1904, Kinney and his three remaining partners all agreed to flip a coin to see who would stay in Ocean Park and who would leave and take over some land a ways south of Rose Ave. This land was considered worthless swampy marsh land. The coin was flipped and Kinney won the toss. To everyone’s amazement Kinney took the worthless marsh! He proceeded to clear the land and create his fantasy world that he called Venice of America. Some called it Kinney’s Folly.
Abbot Kinney’s ex partners decided they needed to spruce up their Ocean Park resort to compete with the amazing new Venice with its canals, pier and beautiful Italian Renaissance style buildings around what is now Windward Ave. They erected an enormous bathhouse on the Ocean Front Walk at Navy Street. A.E. Fraser hired builder Joseph C. Newscom to construct it. They spent $185,000, a fortune at that time. It took 18 months to build. Back then, everything north of Rose Ave. was still considered Ocean Park. Today the Venice border is just north of Navy St. and the bathhouse would be in Venice. The huge bathhouse opened the same 4th of July weekend as Venice of America in 1905. It was the 8th wonder of the world!
Just north of the new bathhouse the large Hotel Decatur was built. The small Denver Hotel just south of it at Ozone Ave. is now the Israel Levin Senior Center. I still remember the Levin Center many years ago with a second floor. The second floor apartments were removed because of earthquake concerns.
The gigantic new bathhouse was made to look like an enormous Moorish mosque. It resembled the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, Turkey. The indoor sea water pools came to be known as plunges, and this one was called the Ocean Park Plunge. It was also referred to in its early days as the Natatorium in Ocean Park. A “natatorium” is from the Latin and is a building with a swimming pool sometimes enclosed in its own ornate building. It became one of the main tourist attractions in southern California. There were more postcards and photos of it than anything else around here of that era. It had an enormous indoor swimming pool that they claimed was the biggest in the world. The heated salt water pool was 70 by 70 feet. Back then the ocean was much closer to the walkway. They ran pipes under the sand and pumped in ocean water. The water was heated and so you could very comfortably swim all year in sea water. There were filters to clean the sometimes murky sea water that was being pumped in. The filters had to be cleaned regularly. It was like a very early water park with slides, ropes, swinging rings and diving platforms. There was a large staff of lifeguards, matrons, janitors, massage workers and sales and restaurant personnel. After a few years the outside front was lined with shops of all kinds just like the Ocean Front Walk has today. You could buy the latest swim gown and bloomers or buy a hotdog. It was quite an enterprise. Tourists flocked from all over the world to the bathhouse and the Ocean Park Pier and the new Venice of America. At night the bathhouse and the piers were all lit up in a dazzling display of lights.
People have always believed in the medicinal properties of mineral baths and sea water. Tourists were led to believe that basking in the heated ocean water was beneficial to your health. It gave you strength and vitality. Now you could swim all year in warm ocean water. Along with the giant pool, the bathhouse offered lockers and showers. There were hundreds of dressing rooms. You could rent a towel and swim suits so you didn’t need to bring anything with you to the beach. There was a sauna and massage rooms. There were individual hot sea water bathtubs to soak in and then you would jump into a fresh water bath to clean your pores. There was a restaurant and bleachers to watch the swimmers. There were fancy lounges to relax. The new trolleys could bring you in from downtown L.A. for an amazing day at our beach resorts.
When Venice of America opened they had the Surf Bathhouse near the beach by Windward Ave. but it just had changing rooms and showers and no pool. Then another bathhouse opened in 1906 called the Lagoon Bathhouse with a 70 foot by 70 foot heated salt water pool like the Ocean Park Plunge. It was about where the northwest corner of Windward Ave and Main Street is today. Most locals are shocked when they learn that back then the Venice Circle was under water in a big lagoon.
But the Ocean Park Plunge was right on the Ocean Front Walk and looked so awesome. So, not to be out done, Abbot Kinney built another large bathhouse just north of Windward Ave. by the beach. It was about where the the Sidewalk Cafe is today on the beach side. It was called the Venice Plunge and it opened in 1908 and cost $100,000. He combined the Surf Bathhouse with its changing rooms, showers and lockers with an enormous fancy new building. It had an even larger pool than the Ocean Park Plunge! The large, heated, salt water pool was 150 by 100 feet and could hold 2000 people. It was the biggest in the west. It had filters to clean the incoming ocean water. There was a large balcony with seats for 1500 people to watch all kinds of aquatic events below in the giant pool. They staged water polo and swimming and diving contests. Jeffrey Stanton in his wonderful book describes a stunt man who dressed up in a chicken suit and set himself on fire and then dove from the high rafters into the deep pool! What a show! Jeffrey says there was a heating plant near the lagoon at Windward Ave. that kept the place nice and warm. There were both a deep and shallow end. Over the deep end was a high swing. Also at the deep end was a large diving platform with several levels of heights to dive. There were also diving boards and slides. Around some sides of the enormous pool were small fountains shooting up geysers of water. In the middle of the great pool was a big heated fountain where several people could sit and warm their tushies. Abbot Kinney had built a fun aquarium with all sorts of fish by his pier. In his new bathhouse swimming pool he put a large glass window where viewers could watch the swimmers from under water. It was Kinney’s human aquarium! We can imagine this was quite risque for that time watching young men and women swimming underwater in their bathing suits! I wish I could have seen that!
The Venice Plunge had an upstairs that originally had a gym and exercise rooms. Later the upstairs was converted into hotel rooms. In its declining years, the rooms were turned into cheap apartments. It outlasted many of the bathhouses along our beaches and even escaped an arson attempt in 1914 and the great pier fire in 1920 that destroyed most of the original Venice Pier.
From photos and post cards I see there were several bathhouses built within a few miles along our beaches. There was one in Malibu that looked like a beautiful little castle. There was the one by Chautauqua Blvd. and another near Topanga Canyon called the Santa Monica Canyon Bathhouse. There was the North Beach Bathhouse next to the Santa Monica Pier and the one in the Arcadia Hotel. There was the Crystal Plunge and later there was a bathhouse south of Pico Blvd. around Bicknell Street and another around Ashland Ave. on the north side of the Ocean Park Pier. There were Kinney’s bathhouses and maybe even more. However, the Ocean Park Plunge at Navy Street in Venice that looked like a giant, ornate Muslim mosque may have been the coolest looking. Beach bathhouses became the in thing for a while. Many were built after this along the southern California coast. Large ones were built in Redondo Beach and Long Beach. One of the most famous was the Sutro Baths in San Francisco that was built a couple years before our Ocean Park Plunge. The Sutro Baths had both a large ocean water and also a fresh water pool. Some were financed by the new railroads to promote tourism. Soon the fad was picked up on the east coast and large bathhouses were built at Coney Island, New York and in Atlantic City. Soon every beach resort town wanted a bathhouse. All of them were modeled after our bathhouses. Some pools in conservative towns separated the sexes and had one side for women and the other for men.
I don’t know if they were segregated, but I only see White people in the photos. The bathhouse south of Pico Blvd. at around Bicknell Street was next to the beach where Black people congregated. I imagine they may have had minorities at that nearby bathhouse? This beach area by Bay Street and Bicknell Street where Black people went was called the Inkwell. There is a historic marker in stone there at Bay Street commemorating the Ink Well.
About this time much of the new construction of homes and apartments began to have baths and/or showers. Locals could then take a bath at home. With the dredging to build the canals and the building of Venice, more sand was left on our beach. A couple of break waters were added to slow beach erosion. The new sewer plant and the combination of several piers began to allow the sand to slowly build up over time and the ocean began to get farther away from our Ocean Front Walk. Much more sand was added years later when the Marina was built and dredged out. This made it harder to pump in fresh salt water. Also by the late 1920s the fad was losing its appeal. There were so many bathhouses that the novelty soon wore off. The flappers or sexy girls from the 1920s and early 1930s began hanging out and strutting their stuff on the beach. Even though our ocean is cold much of the time, people began to venture out into the surf more. Plus it was free to just go down to the ocean and jump in. Life guards were hired and trained to watch out for swimmers on the beach. Thousands of people had flocked daily to our bathhouses until the mid 1920s, but by the late 1920s many began to close from lack of business. Maintenance costs for the large pools was high. Just the heating bills alone were enormous. Then the Great Depression hit in 1929 and business at the piers dropped considerably and didn’t begin to pick up again until 1935. By the beginning of WWII most of our giant bathhouses closed from high costs and lack of business. In 1943 the Venice Plunge was closed because the city declared the building unsafe from dry rot. In 1946 the Venice Pier lease wasn’t renewed by the city and the pier was demolished.
Time moves on and waits for no one…fads come and go – styles change – tastes evolve – movie stars and singers change every minute. And so went the great age of the dinosaurs – the massive, expensive to operate plungeasaurus became extinct. The great age of the ocean side plunges was no more…
Our amazing Ocean Park Plunge Bathhouse at Navy Street in Venice was sadly torn down. A new smaller building was put up where different variations of bingo were played. Bingo and gambling had been outlawed in L.A. but they tried to get around the anti bingo laws by creating new variations on the game. They invented funny names like bridgo and tango. Finally in the late 1940s the city closed the last of them down. My mom ran the bakery in Ocean Park and later at the Cadillac Hotel at Dudley Ave., and she used to say that when they closed the bingo parlors the money left the beach. After the bingo parlor closed there I remember it was empty for some time with the big sign up saying bingo. For a while it became a fun slot car racing place where you could rent or bring your slot cars and race them. Unfortunately our beach area kids were mostly poor like me and we couldn’t afford to spend much money there. It closed and was vacant again. It was torn down and it became a parking lot. Some years later they built the Adda & Paul Safran Senior Housing that is there now. Their arched front door is the same shape as the old front door of the wonderful old Ocean Park Plunge bathhouse that once stood there. When I tell people today about the bathhouses with heated ocean water many think it would be a fantastic idea today! However, our board of health would probably never allow it.
Why did the robber take a bath? He wanted to make a clean get away! Well, it’s time for me to try and make a clean get away until I shower you again with more of our amazing local history!
Marty Lboff - Lagoon bathhouse2

Marty Liboff - Lagoon bathhouse1


Above: The Lagoon bath house at Main St. and Windward Ave.

where 1501 Main St. is now (north, west side)

Marty Liboff - OP bathhouse2 favorite

Above: The Ocean Park Plunge at Navy St. and the OFW

where the Paul and Adda Safron Senior Housing is nowMarty Liboff - Venice bathhouse1

Marty Liboff - Venice bathhouse2

Marty Liboff - Venice bathhouse3Above: The Venice Plunge exterior and interior

on OFW in front of the Sidewalk Cafe (on the north side of OFW)

Venice Fights Back: NO Short-Term Rentals

April 1, 2015

By Mark Lipman and Greta Cobar

On April 1 over a hundred angry Venetians marched down Electric Av. to the Globe Homes and Condos (GHC) corporate headquarters to demand that the largest player in Venice for short-term vacation rentals take some accountability for running an underground hotel in our residential neighborhoods.
As a direct result of this action and the growing pressure from many communities in our area, Airbnb, within hours of the Venice protest, dropped Globe from its service along with a host of other “management companies” in Los Angeles, proving once again the power that ordinary people have when they work together as a community to bring about real change.
A coalition of Venice residents, along with the community groups Keep Neighborhoods First, Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-LA),  People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER), and Unite Here, squared off with GHC and launched a city-wide campaign to stop the short-term rentals, like Airbnb, from gutting our affordable housing.
Talking with Sebastian de Kleer, the owner and operator of GHC, he agreed wholeheartedly that “something needs to be done on a city level,” and that “short-term rentals do take away our affordable housing … but not me, it’s not my fault.” He consistently deflected any personal responsibility for the affordable housing crisis, even though his company manages over 90 units, saying things like, “I pay my employees well and give them health care,” but stopped short when confronted by the illegal nature of his enterprise and how he’s already been cited by the city for one of the illegal units he’s running on Dudley Ave., saying that he established the Los Angeles Short Term Rental Alliance to directly deal with these issues.
However, when speaking to the Director of Operations for LA-STRA, Robert St. Genis, he said, “We go into the neighborhoods and communities and help residents understand how short-term rentals work.”
“So,” the follow-up question was, “basically, you run Public Relations for Globe Homes and Condos?”
“Yes, that’s what I do … um,” was his response.
Later, when speaking with Judy Goldman, of Keep Neighborhoods First, who has been investigating short-term vacation rentals in Venice for the last three years, she had a much different story to tell.  “Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway, Globe Homes and Rentals and numerous other online brokers profit when commercial ventures stockpile affordable dwellings in residential neighborhoods and convert them into de facto hotels. These practices exacerbate the affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles, disrupt permanent residents’ quality of life, and pose public safety hazards for hosts, guests and neighbors.”
“We do not oppose legitimate home sharing. Rather, we aim to bring together the concerned, ignored, evicted, and deceived community members who are ready to stop commercialized short-term rental abuse,” Goldman stated.
“These guys think Venice is a money-making scheme, but Venice is a place where we have to live,” said Pamela Anderson, a long-time resident and member of POWER.
When pressed by Jataun Valentine, a three generation Venice resident whose family built their home here 99 years ago, concerned with the changes she sees happening in her neighborhood, Mr. de Kleer finally agreed to sit down with her and the community for a meeting to take place in the coming days.
“This is just the first step,” said organizers from POWER, who are working door to door in Venice on these issues. “We’re organizing with our allies around the region to build a city-wide campaign to stop the theft of our affordable housing and we’re not gonna stop until we get those affordable housing units back – every last one of them. It’s time to put our people first.”
Airbnb is a $20 billion corporation that just last year spent $100,000 lobbying city officials. Overall, it took 7000 houses and apartments off the Los Angeles market. All of its short-term vacation rentals are in violation of zoning codes, as a business cannot be legally operated in a residential neighborhood. When it does, the quality of life of the residents decreases due to noise, traffic, strangers and other common inconveniences such as bed bugs or theft. But the main culprit of short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods is a significant decrease in affordable housing. Us Venetians have become very familiar with that over the last few years.
As an un-regulated business, Airbnb does not have to pay taxes, follow health regulations, or be concerned with workers’ rights. The low-wage workers it employs for cleaning and management are a slap in the face to the hard-fought victories of hotel employee labor unions.
Venice Management, Inc., a provider of vacation rentals in Venice, stated that vacation rentals have a “negligible” effect on housing availability, and that the real problem is lack of new construction. The fact is that while Venice constitutes one percent of the city of Los Angeles as far as population and space, twenty percent of all construction currently taking place in Los Angeles is in Venice. That means that Venice is suffering from twenty times more construction than the rest of the city. Meanwhile we also have 12.6 percent of our homes and apartments listed on Airbnb or other similar short-term rental providers, the highest percentage in the city of Los Angeles.
On one end, we’ve got major corporations buying up entire streets and city blocks to jack up our rents and push us out of our apartments through illegal evictions, so that their high-paid employees can sit in our living rooms and homogenize our community.
On the other end, we have illegal underground hotels, like Globe Homes and Condos, operating through Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms, to literally steal our affordable housing. Because of companies like Airbnb, Venice has lost over 1,000 affordable housing units. Think about that … that’s one thousand families evicted from Venice to make way for the Big Money of short-term vacation rentals. And that ain’t right!
And if you think that’s bad enough, between all of this we have Big Developers and Real Estate Agents – like Tami Pardee – and foreign land speculators, literally bulldozing our neighborhoods to build up mansions for the super-rich.
All the while, our Councilman, Mike Bonin, sits silently complicit – DOING NOTHING – while the theft of our community takes place on his watch.
This is about our community. This is about our housing. And contrary to what they want you to believe, this has nothing to do with home owners versus renters; it has nothing to do with landlords versus tenants. This is, what it has always been, Big Money versus all of us.
So let the politicians and their Big Money buddies be put on notice. Venice is organizing to fight back – to protect our community and take back our affordable housing.

Airbnb3Above: April 1 rally against short-term rentals

Photos by: Mark Lipman


Bed and Beer

April 1, 2015

By Carol Fondiller
This is a re-print from the July 1969 edition

According to the long-term tenants, some of whom have lived at the Ellison for over 15 years, 15 of the 60 units in the Ellison have been “rehabbed” into youth hostel accommodations. So 15 units times $1,768 a month equals $26,520 a month. If these 15 units at $98 per 4 people in a room were only fully occupied for three months out of the year, the landlords would be raking in $79,580 a year – taking into account the minimum repairs the landlords would have to do, payment of commissions to people who recruit the young travelers and minimum wages to the manager who oversee the youth hostel section only (though law requires a resident manager be in a building with over 20 units).
The building owners have about $70,000 profit.
The permanent residents of 15 Paloma are not happy with this arrangement, but their rents have been held down by rent control so the building owners can only gouge $500-$800 from them for rooms with antiquated stoves and refrigerators, cracked ceilings, etc.
The combination of long-term tenants and transients don’t mix.
“The kids aren’t bad,” said one tenant. “If I was young and was seeing the world on a budget, this would be ideal. But the elevator is out half the time because of the heavy usage, someone is always using the laundry, they party all night, and because they aren’t permanent, they don’t respect the property. They unroll the fire hoses, plants have been killed, the patio is always filled with motorcycles, etc.
When people used to move in they signed a lease promising to be quiet among other things. When complaining about a rehearsing Tunisian rock musician who moved in as a permanent resident, some of the tenants were told that the only thing the owners cared about was that the tenants paid their rent and minded their own business.
Councilwoman Galanter’s office is busy trying to find an ordinance that covers hostels in a residential zone. The impact on the surroundings are negative: parking, noise, congestion, fights, etc.
The Ellison might be the most spectacular in this new development. It’s not the only one. There are two hostels on Brooks Av., one on S. Venice Blvd., and one in the Oxford Triangle area – all of the above are located in residential zones.
Perhaps the landlords are working on the ol’ bad-driving-out-the-good ploy that many landlords have used to their financial advantage. That is, move out the long-term rent-controlled tenants by moving in noisy and loutish new tenants, thereby chasing out the old tenants without having to pay them relocation funds, and turning more living units into youth hostel rooms or vacancy-decontrolled units.
Besides being a pain to the tenants, there are 60 people more in the Ellison than there used to be. In other words, 15 units have multiplied the tenant population by about 100%. 120 people are living in a space meant to be occupied by perhaps 60-70 people.
The hotel on Lincoln Blvd. is in a commercial zone, as are the hostels on Windward and Dudley & Ocean Front Walk.
Because these hostels have been snuck in, no business taxes or hotel fees or health and safety inspections have been levied or carried out.
Seen a lot of unfamiliar faces in your neighborhood lately? Maybe some entrepreneurial absentee landlord-type is sneaking in a Motel Six up the block.

Above: 1969 flyer advertising short-term vacation rentals in the Ellison – which is currently renting out just as many short-term vacation units as back then. Time to once again put a stop to this illegal scheme.

Time to Take Back Our Post Office: Joel Silver Runs Out of Money

April 1, 2015

By Greta Cobar

The owner of our former, historic post office is being sued for close to $2 million in delinquent payments resulting from his renovation of the 1601 Main St. building. The lawsuits threaten foreclosure if not paid.
Following the purchase of our beloved post office in 2012, Silver’s luck in the movie business went south, with his current projects not even earning back their production costs.
Our beloved center-of-town gem has been an eye-sore ever since Silver’s purchase, covered in scaffolding and graffiti. The re-opening of the building is a year behind schedule.
Silver is currently in violation of the lease between him and the United States Postal Services (USPS), according to which the public should have access to the Story of Venice mural by Edward Biberman for a minimum of six days a year.
The Venice community was vehemently united against the sale of our 1939 Works Projects Administration post office, and was deeply hurt when our community’s mural was given to Silver for fifty years at no cost. We have not seen the mural here in Venice since.
The Venice community lost its historical post office as a result of illegal, behind-the-scenes transactions between Silver and the Los Angeles Conservancy (Linda Dishman!), the USPS, and real estate agents (Dianne Feinstein’s husband!), all of the above operating under the spell of private shipping companies that want to tap into the more affordable, more available, labor-unionized services offered by USPS.
A lawsuit was filed in D.C. Circuit Court in March 2012 challenging the sale of our post office, and more recently a petition for rehearing was filed August 2014.
When I incidentally ran into Silver during the 2013 Abbot Kinney festival and questioned his unpopular actions in Venice, he replied, with a severe case of entitlement, that whoever has the money controls the situation, and if I want to have a say I should pull out the money. If money is all he has to stand on, and the money is all gone, he’ll sink quicker than a piece of shit.


April 1, 2015

Dear Beachhead – Therese Daniels
Dear Venice Beachhead – Tina Catalina Corcoran
My Solution: Build a Wall – David Moeller
The Law of the Land – Rene Kraus
TEDx Event Review and Feminism – Teresa Carney White
Dear Beachhead,

I don’t know how I missed it, but yesterday I went to Gerry Fialka’s event at Beyond Baroque and picked up a copy of the March issue of The Beachhead. I was totally blown away. You people are awesome!!! It was one of the best Beachhead papers I have ever seen. Keep up the GREAT work!!!

Love to you all,
Therese Daniels
Dear Venice Beachhead,

THANK YOU for being the AWESOME VOICE OF VENICE! Issue 400 and Party were AWESOME! Issue 401 is AWESOME! Can’t wait for issues 402 – to issue 420 – which will be so AWESOME!

Tina Catalina Corcoran
My Solution: Build a Wall
Dear Beachhead,

I’ve noticed as of late that many people are not pleased with the direction Venice is heading. With gentrification, parking expansion and the commercial explosion on Rose and Abbot Kinney, our neighborhood is clearly at a crossroads. I have a modest, if maybe a tad extreme, proposal on how to save Venice.
 A wall. We build a giant wall on Lincoln, and don’t let anyone in (for free).
 I know it sounds ridiculous at face value, like I am an extremist conservative lobbying for a 2000 mile wall on the US/Mexico border. But really I just want a two mile wall that runs from Ocean Park to Washington. I think this will drastically cut down on the weekend overcrowding problem. Of course people are still welcome to visit, they must simply pay a fee to cross the wall. As for parking, charge $100 a space. People will pay it.
 What people you ask? The people that then shop at our restaurants, clothing stores and bars … not the folks that park for free outside our apartments and then walk to the beach with a cooler. 
Whether you be old-guard Venice or a USC frat bro that just got a job at Google, we are all neighbors bonding against a common enemy. There is a famous line in the classic scene Green Street Hooligans: “We don’t like outsiders.” Leave the restaurants on Rose alone, the real enemy is the East Side. Join me.

– David Moeller

The law can be ANYTHING, ANYTIME. The land is only ONE. It has been here for a long time and will be for a long time to come – contrary to humans.
So what is the land value? Who is dictating the price? Once it was $60,000, and in no time it was $300,000 and now $1.6 million. Seems to me somebody here is joking.
Sitting Bull’s proclamation that “People belong to the Earth, the Earth does NOT belong to the People” is certainly a way to put it. Many WARS have been fought over it, lots of blood spilled on the Earth. People are getting buried in the Earth. The man is sustained by the land, he is fed by it, so what is it worth? Is it worth Preservation and Availability for EVERYONE?
But I suppose this is a pretty far-fetched idea anyhow, the thing that whoever takes care of the land is his keeper – because nobody can really own it FOREVER and EVER. Let’s Keep it OPEN, FREE, BEAUTIFUL and SACRED. Respect the right of EVERYONE to enjoy it to the fullest extent. EVERY square inch of VENICE is worthy of preservation. Embrace the history of this unusual place. Let’s come together on May 2 at 733 Brooks Avenue at 5:00 pm to speak our minds and take back the land.
Let’s put the money where our mouth is: let’s support the Venice Coalition to Preserve our Unique Community Character.

– Rene Kraus
TEDx Event Review and Feminism

I’ve just been reviewing my first edition of the Beachhead, the March 2015 International Women’s Day Issue. As a Venice resident and a woman, I was excited to read more about some local heroines through the eyes of the Venice Beachhead. Imagine my disappointment when I came across this quote in Brad Kay’s TEDx Venice Beach article in the same issue: 
“The men dressed in T-shirts, jeans, cutoffs, sandals; the women all were in baggy clothes, again, jeans – not a dress or decent pair of gams to be seen – no makeup.”
I think it would have been sufficient to simply write that men and women alike were dressed more casually than Mr. Kay felt appropriate. Further noting that the women were lacking tighter clothes, dresses and makeup implies that they should have been dressed that way. And the “decent pair of gams” comment is simply sexist and gross! 
Did no one review that TEDx article and find that offensive? I found it especially troubling to see that sort of a comment about women featured in the International Women’s Day issue.
Would Mr. Kay make those same comments about his female guides for the event? Or would he say the same about the women you featured on the Beachhead front page, and imply they should have been wearing more revealing clothing and makeup? I would like to hope he would give them the respect of focusing on their contributions to the community.
The women at TED events, like the men, are there to learn and inspire and build community. Surely he knows they can accomplish that with or without makeup on? TED events are supposed to celebrate brilliant new ideas and forward thinking. Mr. Kay seems to be missing the point entirely, at least in regards to feminism. 
The female TEDx attendees, just like the male attendees and the women featured on the front page of your paper, deserve to enjoy a local Venice event in comfortable and event-appropriate clothing. Please inform Mr. Kay that if he would like to see a decent pair of gams and some makeup at a TedX event (or anywhere for that matter), he can wear a dress and put on some makeup himself!

Teresa Carney White

Where Have All the Neighbors Gone?

April 1, 2015

By Krista Schwimmer

On an evening when many residents were out celebrating St. Patrick’s day at local bars, perhaps even “drowning the shamrock” at the end of the night, a small, but vocal group of concerned residents attended the monthly Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Board meeting held at Westminster Elementary School.
Chairing the meeting that night was Marc Saltzberg, Vice President of the Board, rather than President Mike Newhouse a.k.a. the Dictator of Time. Without the Dictator of Time, community voices were heard sometimes even going over the normal strict one minute time without any scoldings.
The agenda included important matters such as a ReCodeLA Presentation; a Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) Short Term Rental Presentation; and a motion concerning an Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) for the Venice Coastal Zone.
The first of the presentations was ReCodeLA, given by Sharon Cummins, Zoning Advisory Committee Co-Chair. According to the ReCodeLA’s website, LA is in desperate need of a “comprehensive revision” of their zoning code which dates back to 1946, and has grown from a “simple, 84-page pamphlet to an unwieldy 600 plus page book.”
This update of the zoning code is basing itself around form based code. In form based code, Cummins said, there is a big emphasis “on the relationship of the building to its environment rather than sorting specific uses for specific building types.” According to Cummins, “form based code is basically a means of regulating development to achieve a specific urban form.” Now in its second year of a five year work plan, ReCodeLA has a cast of thousands, including fifteen consultants who recently recoded Denver.
From the start, Cummins reassured the community that “specific plans will stay specific plans.” Although what Cummins shared was somewhat complex, she stated that it was “critically important to be introduced to it” as it would define how neighborhoods looked.
Like the majority of current development through Los Angeles, Venice, and other neighboring cities, ReCodeLA does nothing to address the vulnerable, the displaced, and possibly even the working class. For instance, conflicts have already arisen on how to protect “jobs generating lands”. Land grabs have included flipping industrial areas into residential homes, as in the case of Santa Fe Lofts.
When asked by Board members about such issues as “less expensive housing” and the thousands of homeless downtown, Cummins had no answers. Although sympathetic, she said that ReCodeLa was not the answer to these questions. Low income, very low income, and even work force housing would need to be subsidized. ReCodeLA has no inclusionary zoning ordinance. “What ReCode is doing is addressing the Code alphabet soup, the pattern of zones, moving it to a form based zone and creating a website. We are not rezoning the City,” Sharon stated.
As for the thousands of homeless downtown? Cummins told the story of how one city planner commented that they “have given away every negotiating tool except for parking” and have not gotten a lot of low income housing or housing for the homeless – just three projects in total. Although Cummins called a potential displacement of the homeless “cruel”, her lack of answers was not comforting.
Cummins concluded by saying that Central City and Central City North will be the first to be recoded.
Following on the heels of the ReCodeLa presentation was a brief, powerful presentation on the relationship of Airbnb to the housing crisis in both Venice and Los Angeles.
Judy Goldman, Chair of LUPC’s Short Term Rental Work Group, began by stating that “No matter how you might feel about short term rentals, the issue affects us as a community and I believe warrants more education and vigorous debate.” Goldman then introduced a video, created from the research of her work group and a recent, 49 page report released by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). She also credited James Adams with helping put it together.
 Entitled “Short Term Rentals and the Venice Housing Crisis”, the video was no more than five minutes; yet, between the staggering statistics and the remade Seeger song, “Where Have All the Neigbors Gone?”, it had the punch of a mixed martial art’s fighter. Did you know, for instance, that in Venice as many as 12.5 percent of all housing units have become Airbnb units, all without public approval? Or that there are 360 Airbnb units per square mile in Venice?
The majority of these so-called shares are run by commercial management companies. Companies like Globe Home and Condos (GHC) that has 92 listings; Venice Suites, with 32 entire rental homes; and Air Venice with 60 entire homes!
Shockingly, these “De facto hotels” are even spawned in rent controlled apartments.
Not only is development demolishing low income, and affordable housing, it is also taking away a chunk of what remains: “The 7,316 units taken off the rental market by Airbnb is equivalent to seven years of affordable housing construction in Los Angeles.”
Goldman concluded by encouraging community members to let Councilmember Mike Bonin know how they feel.
The third agenda item that night related to development issues and was a motion to draft an Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) for the Venice Coastal Zone (VCZ). The motion requests that LUPC immediate draft an ICO “in order to assure that development prior to and during the current ongoing coastal planning effort to prepare the Venice Local Coastal Program (LC) does not prejudice, impede or negate the goals and policies of the ultimate certified LCP. ”
The motion easily passed. Just eight days later, on March 25, the Los Angeles City Council passed its own ICO, a victory for some neighborhoods, but ironically not for the Venice Coastal Zone. Introduced on May 16, 2014 by Councilmember Koretz, the ordinance helps slow the mansionization happening around the city by prohibiting “the issuance of building permits for the construction of one-family dwellings on RA, RE, RS, and R1 zoned lots in designated neighborhoods where the proposed construction does not meet certain neighborhood specific criteria.”
Fifteen neighborhoods were chosen due to the rate of construction in them that is greater than that city wide. Although Mar Vista/East Venice is one of the neighborhoods, despite the proliferation of development West of Lincoln Boulevard, the VCZ is glaringly missing.
With the countless meetings through the past few years regarding the hyper-gentrification of Venice, and the huge outcry by the residents, it is truly perplexing why Councilmember Bonin does not support the community efforts to impede the wrong kind of development. On his website, under “Venice Beach Solutions” Bonin states that “Venice has two big problems – homelessness and crime.” Nowhere does he even mention the obscene rate of development. Nowhere does he truly connect the housing shortage with tenants being evicted due to these developments. Nowhere does he acknowledge that the over-saturation of alcohol licenses, connected to the development happening, contributes to the crime he wants to stop. Instead, he continues, “It is cruel to equate the two issues and to criminalize homelessness, but it is foolish to think the two issues do not at times intersect.”
One of the legends connected to Saint Patrick is that he chased the snakes out of Ireland. Taken at face value, this deed makes Saint Patrick a hero. Ireland, however, did not have snakes; the banishment of the snakes refers to Saint Patrick’s successful conquest of the Druid people and their pagan ways as snakes were associated once with wisdom, healing, and divination.
Venice is not a Celtic land, but the analogy is fitting. What the City of Los Angeles calls snakes, many long time residents of Venice call sacred. And, if the VNC is truly the Neighborhood Council that everyone looks to, then let’s see them take real action in response to the over-saturation of Airbnb short-term rentals and the hyper-gentrification of the coastal zone. Or, we’ll all soon be singing, “Where Have All the Neighbors Gone?”
Feel like giving Councilmember Mike Bonin a piece of your mind? email him at mike.bonin@lacity.org
Want to watch the “Short Term Rentals and the Housing Crisis in Venice” video? Go to: http://youtu.be/lqIRug4jaY4
Suffer from “Ophidiophobia”? Move to Hawaii, Ireland, Iceland, New Zealand or Antarctica.There are no snakes there – at least, the reptilian kind.



Vietnam, Viet Nam

April 1, 2015

By Jim Smith

We never even learned the way the Vietnamese write the name of their country (Việt Nam), before we lost the war.
It was 40 years ago, April 30, that TV viewers witnessed our Vietnamese lackeys being kicked away from overloaded Hueys as the helicopters fled from the land our rulers thought they could easily invade and conquer.
It was 40 years ago, that shocked Americans saw on their TV sets those same helicopters being dumped into the sea because our offshore fleet didn’t have room to park them after they had disgorged their human cargo who had begged or bribed their way out of Viet Nam.

And, it was 40 years ago that a dedicated people, who wanted nothing more than freedom and independence, regained their country from the blue-eyed invaders.
We Americans are still struggling to regain our country from the bankers and generals who forced on us so many military adventures, then and now.
This “little” adventure in South East Asia cost us 58,303 dead and 303,644 wounded physically. We all know that many thousands more were wounded emotionally. PVS – Post Vietnam Syndrome – is a serious, and often lifelong, malady.

U.S. casualties were small in comparison with those of the Vietnamese who lost more than three million soldiers and civilians. The effects of Agent Orange continue to plague those unfortunate enough to have been in this beautiful land during the Sixties and Seventies. Land mines and defoliation persist through Viet Nam.
The arrival of hoards of racist U.S. soldiers on the heels of departing, and defeated, French soldiers meant that the constant warfare inflicted on the Vietnamese by the Japanese, French and Americans would now stretch 35 years.
After so many years of atrocities, the Vietnamese must be profoundly affected. After all, Vietnamese Lives Matter. Their only consolation is that they kicked out the most powerful country in the world.
On the other hand, nearly every one in America was affected, whether they went to Viet Nam, or not. U.S. draftees in particular, hated the government that sent them through hell in an effort to “stop communism.” They found solace in Vietnamese and Thai marijuana, which they promptly imported in duffle bags when they returned home.
Meanwhile, the formerly passive youth of America had a group epiphany that it was better to live a good life here, than be taken away to Viet Nam. Street demonstrations, riots, teach-ins, student strikes, pot, psychedelics, long hair, beards, denim and radical anarchist and Marxist groups can all be traced to the insane decision to send more than half a million conscripts, and the naive, half way around the world to fight a foe that had no designs on our country.
The student strike of May 1970 shut down more than 500 universities and was the largest strike in U.S. history. Perhaps more frightening to our ruling class was the growing unreliability of the army. When the military base, where I was “serving” in 1968, was put on alert to be sent to Washington DC to quell civil disorder, all the anger and frustration of the soldiers came to the surface. In small meetings throughout the base, it was decided by the “grunts,” that we would not go, nor would we be a tool of the generals and politicians any longer. Our deployment was quietly cancelled.
We also had some good things coming out of the Viet Nam War including music, films, consciousness raising, improved race relations, and the best new media ever (including the Free Venice Beachhead). For most of the young people in America, the culture flipped upside down, seemingly overnight.
The Beachhead was a dedicated advocate for ending the war, immediately. The April 1971 issue <http://bit.ly/1IKZpr9&gt; was one of the best ever. It was a special issue dedicated to the war in Indochina. It even had a people-to-people Treaty of Peace reproduced in full.
By 1973, U.S. forces began to withdraw. No one was surprised when the end of the war came in 1975. After years of struggle and millions of lives, Vietnam was united. Long time Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh was known for saying, “Nothing is more precious than freedom and independence.” The motto still rings true for those of us who care about saving Venice from the assaults of developers, whose treatment of historic Venice dwellings make them look like they were hit by bombs.
After I was “released” from the army’s clutches, me and some of my friends tried to think of a place that was the complete opposite of military life. We settled on Venice. We all arrived in the summer of ’68. Life was good. We sat on the beach, smoked a doobie or two, explored the world of psychedelics, returned to the beach for 3 a.m. romances, and generally enjoying the life we had been deprived of for two long years.
Also seeking refuge in Venice in the summer of ’68 were my fellow soldiers and friends: Johnny Jones, who still lives in Venice; Larry Green, the poet, who moved to Maine a few years ago; Louie Avila, who had a career in concert promoting in the Sixties; and also Nicky Whittle, who came cross country from Orange County and met me at Ft. Gordon, Georgia. This auspicious meeting ultimately led to her becoming the mother of my child.
After a couple of years on the beach, I co-founded the Venice Chapter of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Our chapter was active in almost every event in Venice including the Canal Festivals and the 4th of July parades. We were often called on to work security for visiting anti-war dignitaries under the mistaken impression that we must be tough guys. Our chapter’s repute rose when Ron Kovic, of “Born on the 4th of July” fame, joined our Venice group. He lived down on Hurricane Street for a number of years.
So what happened to Viet Nam after we ravaged it and left? I went to Viet Nam in 2011 and was greeted by friendliness, not the hostility I was dreading. Due to the millions who died in the “American War” and the population explosion, Viet Nam is now a very youthful country. The war that still haunts the American psyche is called “grandfather’s war” by the kids there.
Viet Nam was not “bombed back into the Stone Age,” as General Curtis LeMay reportedly urged. The country and the people give an impression of prosperity. They are well dressed and it seems that everyone in the country owns a motorbike. In fact, Viet Nam is number one in the world in motorbike ownership. When they are in motion or making a turn, the hundreds of closely packed motorbikes give the appearance of a carefully coordinated drill team, all leaning into the curve at the same angle.
Viet Nam, a third-world country, has a lower percentage of people living in poverty than does the U.S., according to the CIA Fact Book. As a country officially building socialism, Viet Nam has a large safety net including health care, housing and pensions. All this has been done without the U.S. contributing a penny in war reparations.
Now, 40 years on from our collective nightmare, we can begin to look at the war from a historical perspective. Has it had a lasting impact on American society? I would say, emphatically yes. Take a look at the oh-so-bland 1950s. Then take a look at the Sixties. There were other major events, of course. The civil rights movement, the women’s movement, a Native American movement, the assassinations, the beginnings of an LGBT movement, and many more. But all of them were inextricably linked to the Viet Nam war.
The pro-war faction among the 1 percenters never learned the lesson of Viet Nam. They have continued to trample upon people’s lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and are now poking a stick at the Russian Bear. The Victory-in-Vietnam group and Lyndon Johnson’s so-call “Wise Men” have become today’s neo-conservatives – now running the country no matter who is president. They, quite simply, believe America should rule the world. That pipe dream will end up just like the Viet Nam war did, but how many more must die?
Some of the anti-war veterans returned to hum-drum lives in the corporate machine, and have bought into the ideology of this dying empire. Others still heed the words of Free Speech leader, Mario Savio: “you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop!”
And make it stop, we will – someday.Jim Smith - Viet Nam pxAbove: Huey helicopters; Photo by: Henri Huet

Below: Vietnamese woman during the American war

Both photos at the War Remanents Museum in Ho Chi Minh City

Jim Smith - Viet Nam px2
Jim Smith - Viet Nam px3 - typical traffic jam in Ho Chi Minh CityAbove: Contemporary motorbike riders in Viet Nam

Photo by: Jim Smith



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