Venice ‘Out Front’ Skatepark Opens on the Beach

October 1, 2009

By Amy V. Dewhurst

After 9 months of building, 10 years of lobbying, and 30 years of Skateboard History, Venice’s “Out Front” is finally being immortalized with it’s own park. This Saturday, October 3, 2009, The Dennis ‘Polar Bear’ Agnew Skatepark will open.

The much anticipated 2.5 million dollar renovation was made possible with funds secured by Councilman Bill Rosendahl, including; from Damson Oil Facility Restoration Funds,  Venice Area Surplus Real Property Trust Funds and The Quimby Fund (amongst others). RRM Design Groups, Wormhoudt, Inc and The VSA designed and constructed this iconic esplanade which includes a bowl, 5 mini-bowls with hips, snake run, combi-pool and street course (handrails and funboxes).

The fate of the 1500 square feet west of Windward has long been disputed. Local residents, city officials, multi-national corporations and even the LA Kings have struggled for control of ‘The Pit’ since the Venice Pavilion was destroyed in 2000. The completion of the first sand-built Skatepark on American Soil (which will forever change the silhouette of a Venice Beach Sunset) is a true testament to the power of intention. For the past decade the Venice Surf and Skate Alliance (with the help of Heidi Lemon/Skateparks USA) has worked tirelessly, lobbying, organizing, acting as city-planner and working with the (sometimes ignorant) demands of The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.

In Masao Miyashiro and Ian Congdon’s documentary “1500 Sq Feet” (slated to premiere 2010), viewers are lead through a series of interviews outlining the Skatepark’s history from conception to birth. Among the culturally defining interviewees are Zephyr Team co-founders Jeff Ho and Skip Englebloom; Original Z-Boy and Horizons West Savior Nathan Pratt; Curator of the sub-culture and Z-Boy, Ray Flores; Famed photojournalist and Dogtown historian Craig Stecyk; Legendary skateboarder Jay Adams; Local icon and co-owner of Venice Originals Cesario ‘Block’ Montaño; Dogtown Skates Owner and Original Zephyr Team Shredder Jim Muir,; Venice Cruiser’s Thomas Duggan; Thrasher Magazine Photographer Chuck Katz; and Professional Skaters including Pat Gnoho (Santa Monica Airlines) and Christian Hasoi. A recurring sentiment amongst these pillars of Skate culture is one of gratitude. Gratitude to the two men who, against all odds (bureaucratic, financial and logistical) are responsible for the Skatepark’s assemblance, Geri Lewis and Jesse Martinez.

Life-long Venice Residents (and skaters) Lewis and Martinez formed the VSA in 1999 in an effort to bring a park back home (to Venice, where it belongs!). Ten years has a tidy ring to it. However, in practice that’s 3,650 days of “Bringing the park to what a consulting firm would charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for. Campaigning, lobbying, planning, to reviewing designs, in conjunction with architects, to getting community input, inspiring the kids to having our hands in the construction, hands literally in the concrete. Establishing a safety patrol, around the clock, someone to deter vandalism, graffiti” says Lewis. It is the hope of the VSA that the skatepark will serve the community, “not only by creating jobs and programming, but by giving local youth a sense of ownership, a sense of pride.”

This Saturday, when that ribbon is cut, not only will America’s premiere Skatepark open it’s doors to skaters worldwide, but if you are lucky enough, you can watch as two people (with unparalleled commitment to this culture and this community) have their dream come true…

Infinite Thanks to Geri and Jesse. Love, Venice.

For more info on the VSA go to; For more info on 1500 Sq Feet Check out;

For more info on the Skate Park Stop by Venice Originals! 1525 Pacific @ Windward.

Fight Crime: Read the Beachhead – Stolen Bicycle Recovered After Last Month’s Article

October 1, 2009

By CJ Gronner

The hills are alive … with the sound of bike bells! Everybody! You are not going to BELIEVE this! So … pretty much everyone knows I had my bike stolen last month and that it was very sad for me. Really. I’d never had a bike stolen, not even as a kid, so I didn’t know how bad it felt, especially for someone who is constantly on hers. I would like to apologize now to anyone who ever told me their bike had been stolen that maybe I didn’t give deep enough sympathy to. It sucks.

So then I got mad, and thought, I’m telling everyone about this and I’m getting that bike back. I don’t know if I really thought I would, but I was sure going to try. I wrote an article about my loss and the state of crime affairs in Venice (see below) and the Free Venice Beachhead put it on the front page of that beloved local paper.

Walking down the streets, people would yell, “Sorry about your bike!” or “I’ve got my boys looking out for your bike, if she’s in Venice, you’ll get her back.” A friend in Minnesota even wrote me to say he’d looked on LA’s Craig’s List to see if anything matching her description came up (Thanks, dear John Evans!). It was nice to know that people even still cared about such things, to be honest. But Delores was still gone.

Well … Blogtown is now THRILLED to report that we have our first neighborhood victory, and that our faith in humanity is RESTORED!!! OK … so last Saturday I came home and checked my email quick for an address to a party I was attending. At the top of my inbox was a message from Jim Smith with a subject line saying “DELORES ALERT!” WHAT?! I got chills before I even clicked it open. Inside, it said, “A reader called to say he thinks he knows where your bike is. Call Peter at #310…….”. I let out a scream with a pitch that drew dogs, and dialed Peter immediately.

A guy answered and I explained who I was and that I’d written the article in the Beachhead and understood he might have info on my stolen bike. He said that about a month ago, a guy came riding up to him and asked if he wanted to buy the bike he was riding for $40 (um … Delores would hate to know how cheaply she’d been sold for, so let’s keep that to ourselves). Peter asked if it was stolen, as he had a feeling it was, but the guy said of COURSE not. Peter and his girlfriend, Nancy, had both recently had THEIR bikes stolen, and were in need, so he bought ol’ Delores for the 40 bones. He said the guy was Caucasian, mid to late 30’s, salt and peppery hair that was kinda curly, decently/cleanly dressed, and a little jittery, “like he parties a lot”. I don’t think I know the guy, but look out for him and LOCK your bikes, or better yet, bring them inside. Peter thought he might steal a bike in the Marina, ride it to Venice, sell it to someone there, steal a Venice one and ride it to the Marina, try to sell it to someone he’d just stolen one from, and repeat. Supply and Demand. Quite a racket. Thief.

Then the plot thickened. Peter said he had Delores for a few weeks (“She rides great”. I know.), and then this OTHER guy came up and said, “Hey, that’s my bike. It got stolen a few weeks ago.” LIAR!! But Peter didn’t know that, so he said he’d bought her from some guy for $40, and sorry about that. The guy said he’d give him $20 to get her back. When Peter hedged about that, the guy shrugged and had the nerve to say, “Karma”! So they each were out $20, but the bike was back where she belonged. Or so Peter and Nancy thought.

Cut to: Last weekend, Peter and Nancy are enjoying breakfast aboard the boat they live on in the Marina, reading the friendly neighborhood paper, The Beachhead. The title Jim put on “Help! My Bike Has Been Kidnapped!” caught their attention and they read the article. Peter said to Nancy, “I think that was this girl’s bike”. He noted the stickers, etc … and was practically sure, so he TOOK THE TIME to track down a number for The Beachhead, where someone passed him on to Jim, who emailed me, who called Peter and jumped around and screamed like a Jonas Brothers fan-girl. I described every detail to him, and he’d been waiting for me to tell him about the seat, which is pretty distinctive, with inlaid black flame etching on it, and when I said that, he said, “It’s your bike”. There was just one problem … he hadn’t seen the guy who took her in a few days. We talked a bit more, he laughed at my total and absolute glee, took my number and said he’d call as soon as he saw the guy again. We hung up and I called my Mom, who said I sounded exactly like I did when I was excited about something at the age of 5. That whole night I told the story of the almost-return of sweet Delores.

Then three days went by. I left messages for Peter, un-returned. I started to get a sinking feeling, like, “Oh, NO. PLEASE don’t let this be a person who was messing with me, because that would be really, really dark.” I did not want to believe that would even be possible. Finally, I couldn’t take the not knowing anymore, so had my dear friend Nathan call up so it would be a different number calling. Peter answered and explained to Nath that he hadn’t seen the guy since we’d spoken and was feeling kind of nervous about it, and having gotten me all excited, but would call the minute he saw him again. I started to feel nervous too, like so close, but no Delores cigar-ette (both her namesakes were red-headed smokers, by the by. No nonsense broads).

Only about an hour or two passed, and my sweet friend Erinn came by to go to lunch with me. As we were getting up to leave, Nathan’s phone rang. It was Peter, saying he saw the guy RIGHT NOW, and to come right away. One look at Erinn, who said, “I’m not missing this, I’ll drive!” So Nathan, Erinn and I piled into her car and sped to the Marina. Peter said to turn down Mindanao, so we took the right and rolled by slow, like gangstas. All of a sudden, I said, “Oh my gosh, I think that’s Delores!” It was like (um, kind of) when you hear of kidnapped kids being returned and they’re not sure it’s them at first, they look different, but you just KNOW. She was parked next to a scary rusty red van, looking naked and vulnerable. We then saw a guy in one of those sun-hats with the drawstring, waving his arms over his head. We pulled in and pulled up to him, and I said out the window, “Are you Peter?” He was, and he said, “She’s right over there”, pointing to the van and who I correctly thought was Delores. I had chills all over again. I jumped out and hugged him and his sweet girlfriend, who were all smiles, and could not have been nicer. They didn’t want any money, they just wanted to see a little justice, and make someone’s day, as they knew how it felt to get a bike stolen themselves. AHHH, the HUMANITY!!! In a good way.

A slightly different story was unfolding on the other side of the van. Nathan is a pretty straight-forward fellow, and he walked directly over there and said to the guy standing there, “Mate, this is my friend’s bike, and I’m taking it now.” The guy was not having it and said he was owed $20 and she wasn’t going anywhere until he got it. Nathan said, “It’s not your bike, it’s hers standing right over there, and there’s an article in the paper to prove it.” Basically, SEE YA.

He walked Delores over to me, and sure enough, it was her. Her basket was gone, her lock was gone, her bell was gone, her stickers had been scraped off, except for partial Heal The Bay, and the Obama one was still there, cool and collected, like the Man himself. Oh, and he’d also added some gross pigeon feathers or something to the front, which were immediately stripped away. After a good scrub, new basket, new bell, and lots of love, I am confident she will recover from her traumatic DOUBLE-theft experience.

I was seriously over-joyed, insisting that we get our photo together, and as they wouldn’t accept any money, Peter Anston and Nancy D’Aquino will soon be the recipients of one of my Key Lime Pies, which we will eat on their boat and talk about the GOOD in people over. Alan, the one who said it was his bike, will not be getting any pie, but by the end of it all, he wanted in on a photo too. Hilarious. When he came over to keep complaining about his $20, Peter said, “So we both paid $20 to do the right thing”, and then turned the tables on ol’ Alan, shrugged, and said, “Karma”. INDEED.

I hugged Peter and Nancy hard, and said, “You have made a lot of peoples’ days with this”. But they did more than that … they helped me to REALLY know that there is still GOOD out there. That lots of people still want to do the right thing. That a sense of COMMUNITY really IS alive and well out here … and that we truly are all in it together. And that feels so, so great.

I gotta go now … there is about to be a One Bike (DELORES!!!) Parade, up and down the Venice Boardwalk, smiling and waving to announce her return. Honestly, if this can happen in Venice, ANYTHING can!! ONE LOVE!

*Deep and heartfelt THANKS to Jim Smith & The Free Venice Beachhead, and the wonderfully darling Peter Anston and Nancy D’Aquino!!! Surface and begrudging thanks to that dude Alan.


October 1, 2009
Free Speech on Ocean Front Walk? – Lisa Green
Angry about Oakwood Article – Jimmy Riddle
  • Free Speech on Ocean Front Walk? – Lisa Green
  • Angry about Oakwood Article – Jimmy Riddle


Free Speech on Ocean Front Walk?

Dear Beachhead,

I am a free expressionist on Venice Boardwalk. I was in my van today resting and I heard boo’s. I looked out the van window and saw a number of LAPD on the west side of the boardwalk across from the Venice Bistro (corner of Dudley Avenue) with a sign that had been put up about the lottery. The yellow sign was about 6 feet in length and it said to call Bill Rosendahl with complaints about the lottery. It mentioned LA City Park and Rec, LAPD, and others that refuse to protect Free Speech by allowing commercial vending on Venice Boardwalk.

I witnessed about 6 LAPD standing together confiscating this sign. They looked dumbfounded at the moment, I suppose because the person who usually gets harassed in that area wasn’t around at that moment.

The most absurd part of this event was watching an officer rip a smaller sign that stated “Free Speech is Right Not a Lottery Prize” off the tree.

As I walked up they were leaving and I asked, “Why are you removing the signs?” An officer said, “It’s a City tree, and it’s in an ordinance.” I thought, that’s not an answer. Then I replied, isn’t it the people’s tree?

So as the LAPD passed a commercial vendor with the signs reflecting Free Speech, I looked at them and wondered?  What does that say for the LAPD officers that work Venice Beach?  It makes me wonder why my father ever became a police officer. He’s much too smart and much to caring to have ever been a police officer but he was raised by a brutal, hateful man so I guess it was his way of policing the “bad dad” in his head. Unfortunately, I would suspect that didn’t mean people were given their First Amendment right to Free Speech??

Lisa Green


Angry about Oakwood Article

Dear Beachhead,

Apparently the message of love in your last issue (Say What You Will: We Live It Everyday In Oakwood by Lydia Ponce, Jataun Valentine and Laddie Williams) didn’t include the white community.

Racism is present in any community, but I don’t see how it can be fought in Oakwood by making ridiculous misstatements of facts.

Those kids hanging around the Oakwood Park entrance are all good kids harassed by the evil police:

I suppose the Hispanic male who told me he was pulled off his bicycle by a group of kids, who went through his pockets and stole his money, must have imagined it.

The police raids of two years ago drove innocent families from their homes on trumped up charges:

I’ve heard all the ridiculous denials made by the drug dealers’ families. I must have imagined seeing those gangbangers selling drugs at the crackhouse right across from the Oakwood Center.

The Venice drug ring just busted by the cops didn’t include Venice residents, but gangbangers from Los Angeles and Inglewood:

I guess the Shoreline Crips are not based in Venice and those members busted just came into Venice to go to church.

The kids breaking into homes are from Inglewood, not Venice, and it’s not their fault anyway. The kids are very desperate for their own reasons:

Could one of the reasons be they’re just bad kids?

Ninety-one-per-cent of the VNC is white:

So what a shame one of the black members hardly ever attends meetings. Isn’t that the waste of a seat that the black community could use to get something done?

Full credit to Liska Mendoza and her staff for cleaning out the center. They’re doing a great job. But they’re doing it by working hard and facing reality, not just sitting around and blaming all the ills of the community on racism.

Jimmy Riddle

The return of Ali Katz – Out of the Litter Box

October 1, 2009

By Ali Katz

This cat’s been mewsing about strange human happenings – Seems the Venice Historical Society, aided by former resident of Venice Ray Bradbury, the cat’s meow of speculative fiction, has started a drive to restore the columns that used to line Windward Avenue. The V.H.S. and Mr. Bradbury deserve a pat of the paw for their efforts.

But this ol’ feline’s fur is up. Robert Graham, dead you know, was the creator of the Torsos that grace the entrance to the Olympic Colliseum. This kitty wonders why, headless, legless, armless statues were chosen to represent the 1984 Olympics. This cat always thought that athletes needed brains as well as limbs to function in Olympic sports. Guess he had a few statues left over, and with the collusion of former unelected Councilwoman Miscikowski and some prestige hungry, great art lovers, dumped one of his surplus seconds in the middle of the traffic circle on Windward Ave., thus creating the illusion of art patronage along with a healthy tax break. Prior to this, great artist Mr. Graham ripped out and off two of the original columns that used to form the colonades on Windward Ave.

When questioned about this destruction/abduction of City Property, which by the way was done without permits, knowledge, or permission of the City of Los Angeles, he said he would replace them with a contemporary version of the stolen columns.

Instead, he built a windowless concrete above=ground bunker complete with overhang (MORE code violations?) right over Windward Ave, for his surveillance cameras. When questioned about the location of the pillaged columns, Mr. Graham consistently avoided answering the question, and at one meeting was reported to have said that it would be an engineering impossibility to restore them. According to the Venice Historical Society, the cost of replacing the columns would be $7,000 a piece. Surely, the relict of artist Robert Graham could dig around in the property and return the stolen artifacts, or at least cough up enough money to replace them.

As far this cat knows, the City has not acted on the many violations that Mr. Graham committed. Now, Ali has many 2-legged friends who would be cited if they built a flower box on their window sills without a permit.


This pussy is sooo pissed-according to a PBS newscast, there are more medical marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks in the City if LA. According to the report, there are 180 dispensaries to 160 Starbucks outlets. Ali has always thought that a Latte and a splif was a great way to keep bipeds (including humans) alert and mellow. It certainly has benefitted Ali when a human under the influence has stroked this cat’s irresistable fur. The petting is so smooth and…ahh bliss for the kitty. There is a move afoot to close down the dispensaries in Venice, particularly one on The Ocean Front Walk.

Kitty’s informant, Bram Toker says that the establishment is very conspicious and people are handing out leaflets as they loudly proclaim “The Doctor Is In! The Hash Bar Is Open!”

The City council is hastening to use this egregious example as an excuse to stampede an ordinance that would outlaw all dispensaries within Los Angeles City Limits. A hock of a hair ball to these folks. When there is a bar that is non-compliant with the laws that have been laid down, the city disciplines that one bar-the city does not close all the bars in LA, because one bar is breaking the law.

As a matter of fact, the city hands out permits for on-sale liquor as if they were Mardi Gras necklaces. When people complain about 4 or 5 bars, called restaurants, in a one block area, they are told that the establishments haven’t reached the saturation point. The city has been lax in enforcing the already existing laws on the books, regarding hours, noise, under-age drinking etc, but you can bet a lid of catnip that the cops will be wrapping up those dispensaries tighter than a tuna sushi roll, while the adjacent bars continue with noise, illegal parking, if any parking at all, so-called valet parking, the bars and “fine dining” establishments continue to proliferate in so-called residential zones, despite objections from the neighboring residents. Hold the bars, saloons, cafes,  “gourmet” dining establishments to the same standards that are going to be enforced on the dispensaries; if one bar is designated as an attractive nuisance, close ’em all down.


Prohibition for all! A purr of contentment for the return of Delores. That’s all for Meeow.

City, Neighborhood Council Apparently Give Up On Saving Postal Annex

October 1, 2009

“We give up” is something rarely heard around Venice, but it seems to be what has happened to the “fight” to save the publicly-owned postal annex at 313 Grand Blvd., also known as the old Safeway store.

As reported in last month’s Beachhead, the Postal Department is moving ahead with plans to sell the 1.78 acre site to a private developer. Do we need more condos?

Apparently the neighborhood council, our councilmember and our congressional representative don’t care.

People in the neighborhood have suggested multiple uses for the property if it remains public, including parking, social services, affordable housing, and a park. But lack of action by public officials, and wannabee public officials may eliminate such sensible ideas from becoming reality.

Here’s what’s been done so far. After the Beachhead broke the story that the post office was going to move mail processing out of Venice, Councilmember Bill Rosendahl wrote a letter to Congressmember Jane Harman asking her help in keeping the property in the public domain.

There is no record of Harman ever having responded to the letter, or of her doing anything to save the property.

The Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee (LUPC) got into the act last month by putting the item on its agenda. When no one showed up at the meeting, the LUPC and the VNC ran up a white flag of surrender. “There’s nothing we can do to stop a sale to a developer,” one Board member told the Beachhead. So much for the public option.

Venetians’ best hope may be that the economy has sunk to a level low enough to prevent bids on this prime property. But if someone does come up with the $20 million the USPS is asking for the property, get ready for something very big and very expensive in the middle of our town.

–Jim Smith

Tsunami Alert for Venice

October 1, 2009

A giant earthquake, measuring 8.0 and four Tsunamis rumbled through Samoa, Sept. 29, killing at least 200 people.

Venice, and the rest of the California coast was put on alert after the quake. In Samoa, the Tsunami generated 20 foot waves but in Venice, it was reduced to crashing surf.

The Beachhead had been instrumental in pushing the city to put up Tsunami warning signs. But as usual they screwed it up by not posting any signs on Ocean Front Walk where most of our clueless tourists hang out. Even though they take up most of our parking places, beach visitors deserve to survive a Tsunami. As it stands, they don’t know which way to run.

Only 6,013 Years Old!

October 1, 2009

Happy BEarthday. Bishop Ussher of Ireland in the 17th Century declared that the earth was created on October 23, 4,004 B.C.E.


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