March 2008 – Women are the Celebrities of the World

March 1, 2008
By CJ Groner
Women have much to celebrate these days … and also much to lament. 

We have the first female Speaker of the House in Nancy Pelosi – great.

We also have the first serious female contender for President of the United States in Hillary Clinton … who is desperately trying to scratch out a victory with negative attacks, her husband’s political clout (how feminist is that?), lies, stealing (words and votes), and trying to put her foot on the throat of what is FINALLY an actual MOVEMENT towards positive change in this country, just to “win” – not so great.

I just read an article about how a huge percentage of young girls have as their dream job, “Celebrity Assistant.” Not President, not Teacher, not Doctor, but someone who chases after the mental patient starlets of the moment. I’m still nauseous.

Sure, for every negative example you can hopefully find a positive … but when you get Miss Teen Whatevers getting up and showing the world just how very very stupid American women can be … and getting even MORE media attention to celebrate the fact – I’m going to start looking for someone to slap.

The Media? Parents? Society at large? What I DO know is that if we can IGNORE Paris, and instead we over-saturate the markets with women like Karenna Gore Schiff (yes, Al’s daughter) who wrote a remarkable book called “Lighting The Way” about the absolute BEACONS called: Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Mother Jones, Alice Hamilton, Frances Perkins, Virginia Durr, Septima Clark, Dolores Huerta, Helen Rodrigues -Trias and Gretchen Buchenholz. You might not recognize all of those names … but you should.

It’s always interesting to be a woman … torn between wanting to be special, and be equal at the same time. We can’t HELP but be special! We can create new life inside of us! We have marvelous mounds of flesh up front that can also nurture life! We have empathy and love and brains and beauty … with all of that already going for us, frankly, I’ve never felt UN-equal to any man. We ARE different, so let it be and rejoice in it!

Just a couple weeks ago, I was in Kaua’i and went on a zip-lining adventure. I have long blonde hair and a decent cup size, and that was clear enough permission for one of the guides to unleash a ceaseless string of “Blonde Jokes” and lewd-ish comments the entire time. When he finally asked what I did, I replied, “I’m a neurosurgeon.” (I’m not, but how would he know?) The look on his face was classic, and the jokes stopped. I can’t even blame him, really. 

The “Girls Next Door,” the old ladies walking around Beverly Hills looking like The Joker, all going to the same plastic surgeon (Google Lois Aldrin – wife of Buzz – for the best example), fooling no one but themselves … all of it is just so sad and surface, and only serves to perpetuate the empty headed Chick myth. And that is what we have young girls aspiring to! 

We’ve got a lot of work to do in this country, in a lot of areas. But maybe we can start locally … tell the ladies in your life how much you appreciate and respect them, don’t buy the Celeb mags (read the above book instead), be a mentor to a young girl that deep down might want to change the world instead of just her lip gloss.

My feeling these days is not Female, not Male, but People power! Let’s get things done TOGETHER! It really is the only way.


March 2008 – A Few Of The Notable Women Of Venice Who Are Involved In Their Community

March 1, 2008
Happy Women’s Month!
 Suzanne Thompson – Political Organizer; Fundraiser, Former President, Neighborhood Council
Navalette Tabor Bailey – Venice Historical Society; Oakwood Seniors
Sheila Bernard – President, Lincoln Place Tenants Assn; former President, Neighborhood Council
Yvonne Guzman – Director, “Reach for the Top” – Housing for homeless children, men and women
Carol Wells – Director, Center for the Study of Political Graphics
Challis MacPherson – Chair, Land Use and Planning Committee of the Neighborhood Council
Carol Tantau – 25-year-business owner, Just Tantau, and Domestic Violence Victim Advocate
Jataun Valentine – Vice Chair, Venice Community Housing Corp.; Oakwood Seniors
Bunny Lua – Abbot Kinney Blvd. Activist; Owner, Green House Smoke Shop
Pegarty Long – Film Director/Producer; Photographer
Judy Baca – Founder/Artistic Director, Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC)
Debra Bowen – California Secretary of State
DeDe Audet – Past President, Venice Neighborhood Council
Ingrid Mueller – Lead Plaintiff, Lincoln Place Tenants vs. AIMCO
Linda Lucks – President, Los Angeles Board of Neighborhood Commissioners
Lydia Poncé – Board, Oakwood Recreation Center; Community Activist
Peggy Lee Kennedy – Venice Food not Bombs; Advocate for Homeless
Nina Merced – Owner, Fruit Gallery; Organizer of Thanksgiving Day Meals Program
Amanda Seward – Lincoln Place Attorney; Won Historical Status for the Apartment Complex
Emily Winters – Artist/Muralist; Chair, Venice Arts Council
Carolyn Rios – Neighborhood Council Board Member; Teacher, Phoenix Continuation High
Suzy Williams – Singer/Performer

A few more notable women…
The Venice group, Adaawe. 

Top Row: 
Monique Afenjar, Anindo Marshall and Dayna Franklin.
Bottom Row: 
Joselyn Wilkinson, Bridget Graham 
(former Neighborhood Council Board Member), 
Phylliss Bailey Brooks and 
Nakeiltha Campbell.


March 2008 – Beyond Baroque Is Here To Stay

March 1, 2008
Beyond Baroque, the nationally acclaimed poetry and literary arts center, will keep its home in the former Venice City Hall, thanks to the actions of Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and the letters of support from a great many Venetians.
The City Council today unanimously approved a Rosendahl motion directing city agencies to renew and extend a low-cost lease, allowing Beyond Baroque to keep its headquarters at 681 Venice Blvd. through 2032.

“Beyond Baroque is one of the last bastions of the spoken word in Los Angeles,” Rosendahl said. “It is appropriate that it maintain its home and its special relationship with the community of Venice, so long a haven for poets, artists and writers.”

The council action came after weeks of intense concern by many in the literary arts community who worried that Beyond Baroque might lose its headquarters and be forced to close or move from Venice, which it has called home since 1968. City agencies had sought a new policy that would have prohibited low-cost leases with struggling arts organizations. Rosendahl intervened, effectively saving Beyond Baroque from possible extinction.

“We are extremely grateful to Councilman Rosendahl for his support and for his leadership,” said Fred Dewey, director of Beyond Baroque. “Beyond Baroque is part of Venice, and Venice is part of Beyond Baroque. I am delighted we will be able to stay there, and I am extremely grateful for the City’s continued support for the literary arts and for our public mission.”


March 2008 – The Venice Beat Poets – The Great River Outside The Mainstream – Philomene Long

March 1, 2008

By Jim Smith

Philomene Long came late to the party, but she soon made up for lost time with her dynamic personality and soaring poetry. The Beat scene was a decade old when she arrived in Venice, but Long gave it new life and energy.
Readers of the Beachhead will know that her death last August resulted in an outpouring of articles and poems reflecting the great love and esteem in which she was held by our community.

She was born in another bohemian community, Greenwich Village, along with her identical twin Pegarty Long. After growing up in San Diego, she decided to become a Catholic nun and lived in a convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet for five years. 

After climbing over the convent wall one night, Long traveled extensively in Europe and had two children, Maureen and Patrick, before settling in Venice in 1968. Here she met Beat Poet Stuart Perkoff, and became his steady companion. When he died in 1974, she was at his bedside.

Long continued to write. Some of her books published over the years included The Queen of Bohemia, American Zen Bones, and with John Thomas, The Book of Sleep, The Ghosts of Venice West and Bukowski in the Bathtub. An excerpt from her unpublished novel, Memoirs of a Nun on Fire, appears in The Outlaw Bible of America Poetry. She also made films and acted, often collaborating with her sister, Filmmaker Pegarty Long. Her films include The Beats: An Existential Comedy, with Allen Ginsburg and The California Missions with Martin Sheen.

In 1974, Long began the study of Zen with Master Maezumi Roshi. She continued with him until his death in 1995. She later described herself as a Zen Catholic. Roshi gave Long her Zen name “Gyokuho” (fragrant jewel). He said, “Your fragrance will permeate the universe. But there is a reverse side to this as well – Don’t Be Stinky!” (American Zen Bones)

In 1983, she married Poet John Thomas (see February Beachhead, page 9). Long and Thomas were together until his death in 2002. They lived in the Ellison Apartments at Paloma Avenue and Speedway for many years. “Cold Ellison” became a theme of a number of Long’s poems.

In 2005, she was recognized as the Poet Laureate of Venice by the Los Angeles City Council. 

Long’s poetry combines a descriptive love of her community with a Zen sensibility that often takes her poems in directions that are both surprising and pleasurable to the reader. Jack Kerouac’s concept of beatitude also had a profound influence on Long. Kerouac said that “Beat” stemmed from beatitude, which he defined as “trying to love all life, trying to be utterly sincere with everyone, practicing endurance, kindness, cultivating joy of heart…”

Philomene Long is generally recognized as one of the major women poets of the Beat Generation. Even though the Beat milieu was dominated by men, many with inflated egos, she gave no quarter. It has been said that Long “filled up a room” when she entered, by virtue of the force of her personality. She was friends with Allan Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Charles Bukowski, Wanda Coleman, and with Venice poets Tony Scibella, Frank Rios, and others. 

At an inauguration ceremony for Councilmember Bill Rosendahl at Windward Plaza in 2005, Long was invited to read the poem she had written for the occasion (see Beachhead, August 2005). Much of the poem was a paean to the glory of Venice. When she read it at L.A. City Hall, to the City Council, at Rosendahl’s invitation, its celebration of Venichismo caused shock and consternation among the Los Angeles officials. 

Their reaction must have pleased Philomene, who once wrote: There is no comfort/In the poem./Expect to be seared/But to have entry.

•••••

Venice
Holy Ground
Stained with the blood of poets
City which lies
Beneath the breasts of birds
Guarded by cats
Behind every corner
The Muse, Angel of Surprise
Poems out of pavement cracks

–Philomene Long
Her poem, reproduced on the Venice Poetry Wall in Windward Plaza



March 2008 – Philomene Long’s Cold Ellison I

March 1, 2008
 “Cold Ellison,” the apartment building on Paloma Avenue where she and John Thomas lived, became a theme of a number of Long’s poems.
 Cold Ellison I
By Philomene Long

“Cold cliffs more beautiful
The deeper you enter
Yet no one travels this road”
Cold Mountain – Han Shan

In this old cold building
The Ellison
In this small dark room
I sit cross-legged
Upon an old stale mattress
The feathers are finally 
Leaving my pillow
To rejoin the birds of the air
At least once a month
The upstairs neighbor’s toilet overflows
Our ceiling bulges
The walls turn black and green
in this dripping room
All my clothes are torn
Our only guests
The ghosts, the mice
Only dust
Over dog-eared books 
And drifts of paper
Like dirty snow
My daughter stays away, says
“You were never a model
For a nine to five job.”
My son visits occasionally
Long enough to smile
And ask for an aspirin
In this cold room
The window is bricked up
The pipes leak
Puddles always on the kitchen floor
Never any rice in the pot
Once there was a view
A eucalyptus tree, a ghost gum
It was cut down in June
I, who once was proud 
That they called me
“The Queen of Bohemia”
Now blush, ashamed
“John!” I call
“I’m trying to bring myself
Out of something –
To nothing…
I’m going to pray
To embrace this poverty!”
“Pray to embrace silence
We already have poverty!” he says
“Hey. We’re doing pretty well
For a tired old man
And a crazy lady…
Tomorrow I’ll get you
A crown of rhinestones.
Do I give you enough?”
“John, to have you
For my companion
Through the glass centuries
Your diamond body
Calm, enormous land
This is the only center
That I seek.”
At night
The cockroaches come out
They walk across my neck
To get to Masami Teraoka’s print
“Zen Monk On A Blue Whale”
Hakuin contemplates death
They take refuge in the Buddha
Little insect eyes. Sad. Sad.
But too many. A thousand at least
So they must die
We’ll use the money from
Selling our books of poems
To purchase roach poison
There are no roads
From this cold Ellison
Better sit still
And quiet the ills
Of the mind
I sit high in this old building
Higher yet the sky passes slowly
The birds swirl
incautious, completely free
I climb the road
To cold, cold Ellison
The road that never ends
“Who can break the snares of the world
And sit with me
Among the white clouds?”

–from The Queen of Bohemia, Philomene Long, Lummox Press



March 2008 – Swami X Speaks

March 1, 2008
by X Swami X

I don’t want to alarm you because I know you already have your share of problems. Nevertheless, I must inform you that you are utilizing the wrong calendar, the one most everyone else is using.

This is not a joke. Next to George Bush being in the White House, this is the most serious, bizarre and dangerous situation imaginable. The world is in “lethal disharmony” due to our disharmonious way of observing and measuring time. Seriously contemplate this idea, for you have the opportunity to bring about world peace, not to mention peace within yourself.

Alright, you’re going to pass on that. How about this. Two or three years of frequent cell phone use will bring about brain cancer. You’re already hooked and you’re not buying that one either. Oh yeah, TV is bringing about mass insanity.

Try this. George Bush is a reptilian, controlled by an alien civilization, the Republican Party. Ha ha ha. I thought I’d just call the whole thing off.

I’m sure you’re doing fine, enjoying life, looking forward to the next one, being a good neighbor to those maniacs next door, and looking forward to your vacation, retirement, demise,and next incarnation.

I’m having a grand time, alertly and adventurously approaching Death, that Grinning Sweeper, more joyously each passing night and day.

I am going to and enjoying movies, more than live or almost live human beings. My problem with live human beings is that I can see how, with just a little readjustment, they could be so much happier and at peace. 

The Mayan calendar for one, meditation for another; being grateful for life itself is a good one; seeing the humor in everything that happens, and accepting everything that happens with the inner serenity that comes with daily meditation. 

Seducing a good looking neighbor, reading or writing a best seller, playing chess, gin, or crazy 8’s while under the influence of a powerful psychedelic with good looking naked neighbors around a pool full of friendly piranhas, or naked skate boarding in Beverly Hills on a quiet Sunday afternoon in a light invigorating rain…on December 21, 2012…while having a relevant, two-way conversation with God (or OWow) while on a powerful psychedelic with no police around, and naked, of course. 


March 2008 – Long Road To Lincoln Place

March 1, 2008
By Ingrid Mueller

We are children of the Universe. This was engrained in my mind as of age 10. Who knows where it came from? My search for that meaning continues almost feverishly.

After a Hamburg(er) Scientific High School for Girls adventure, ‘twas obvious: this ain’t my earthly path. A curiosity for the human condition was deepened by the passing of my father after 7 years of MS paralysis. I was 16, had to become my own daddy.

England’s north and international student community opened many minds to comparative religions, cultures, foods.

Paris’ population very probably included relatives of my mother’s grandmother who married into the East Prussian State in Kaiser Wilhelm’s times. 

My language studies were personal and intense in that City of Lights.

Barcelona was my very first paid job site as a trilingual secretary to the owner of a small Blanes/Costa Brava hotel.

San Francisco completely sucked me in in 1964 (go ahead, smile). Straight off the plane, a job on Market Street and a turn-of-the-century-apartment downtown allowed amazing revelations in my new, consciously selected country of an admired idea of human equality.

But a quickie Las Vegas wedding swept me onto the African continent where my engineer husband helped build corn and flour mills across the South African veldt, as this child of the universe innocently stubbed toes and knowingly insulted Johannesburg apartheid laws right and left in the late Sixties. It was the very best social and human injustice education for four years.

Back in WA State with two daughters and eventually ‘on our own’, the professional and financial opportunity to be transferred to L.A. was happily grabbed in 1976 – after all, downtown’s Bonaventure Hotel couldn’t open without moi, child of the universe!

Alas, our car accident in late 1977 at the corner of Wilshire & 17th in Santa Monica stopped a whole lot more than my corporate job and my daughters’ innocence. A decade later, this ‘empty nester’ discovered a new home off the beaten track, speak: busy Lincoln Boulevard, at the now historic 38 acre Lincoln Place Garden Apartment complex. 

And here I’ve lived and loved and anxiously tippy-toed and complied and organized and protested since 1988. I hope I’ve helped advance all Los Angelenos’ Renters’ Rights in the face of rampant overdevelopment, and rampant overpayment for a CEO (for example, $4.7M for Terry Considine/AIMCO in 2007). All of which undermines every person’s right to housing.

Let’s stay Los Angelenos. After all, Children of the Universe know a little…



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