Letters

June 1, 2015

Thank You, Venice! – Greta Cobar
Dear BH – Marty Liboff
T-Shirt Fraud on OFW – Rachel Bloomfield
Attention LAPD: We Need You to Defend Us – Shane Williams
Bonin Unable to Solve Venice-Centric Issues – Nick Antonicello
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Thank You, Venice!

The time has come for me to step away from the Beachhead and give others the opportunity to rise to the occasion.
I have been part of the Collective continuously for the past six years. For the past three years my duties escalated to include doing layout, keeping track of sustainers and ads, and facilitating meetings. While at the same time I continued to write, do distribution and attend meetings. Oh, and I also held a full-time job.
It’s been a bumpy ride through which I grew from both positive and negative experiences. I am proud of each and every edition of the Beachhead that we put out monthly, for the past six years – we never missed a month! That accomplishment involves getting enough content to fill the paper, which ranged from 12 to 16 pages; raising enough money to pay the printer; and distributing all 8,000 copies.
As you all know, the Beachhead is never perfect and always late. With all its faults, I am especially proud of the past three years of Beachheads because I managed to put it together, and I know I did my best. It wasn’t that things didn’t come up (or they weren’t already going on), but I made the Beachhead my priority.
For now I feel that I had put in my time and effort into this beautiful, historical Venice community endeavor that is valued and unique. I gave the current Collective two month notice of my departure, and now that the time has come, I continue to look forward to many, many more Beachheads to come.
Thank you, Venice, for allowing me to be part of this great adventure.

Sincerely,
Greta Cobar
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Dear BH,

I’m an everyday regular on the Ocean Front Walk. One day a couple years ago a very sweet gal rode up on a cool bike and asked me if I read the Beachhead? I had an old “Free Venice” button on and we talked about Venice and the newspaper and she invited me to submit something. Her name was Greta and in the last two years she inspired me and other friends to submit poems, art and articles. I know many people on the OFW and the ONLY member of the Beachhead staff that anyone knows is Greta. Even those who don’t know her name know her as that Beachhead gal on the wild bikes! A few Venice old timers like me remember Jim Smith, but he moved up north. The day to day work and compiling it was left up to dear Greta. She slaved and ran around for interviews and came and picked up and edited articles for those submitting work. She was a one woman dynamo for the Beachhead! All for no pay and little recognition! The founders of this paper, John & Anna Haag would be totally proud of her contributions! I have since met a couple other Beachhead members but I rarely see any of them on the OFW and nobody knows them in connection with this paper. The one and ONLY is Greta the Great!
The REAL everyday Venice people are sad that she is leaving because of petty criticism from other Beachhead members. Attacks on the paper’s content are one thing, but this paper will suffer greatly because of needless personal attacks. I worked on the Beachhead 35 years ago and I also quit when a couple new members began editing my work. Greta convinced me to try again and it has been a lot of work but was fun with Greta putting up with my many rewrites. Let us hope Greta will reconsider leaving and the Beachhead staff will stay out of other member’s personal business. I hope everyone will cry out, “Greta, we love you, please don’t go!”
– Marty & Pharoah
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T-Shirt Fraud on OFW
Dear Beachhead:

A total of eight T-shirt shops owned by the same person have opened on OFW recently. They sell the same generic merchandise, which is offensive, especially to women.
Owned by Liran Azoulay, an Israeli immigrant, these businesses were able to multiply so quickly because of the higher-than-average rent payments he offered to the owners: upwards of $10,000/month. Vendors of stores that own the lease of their shops were approached and offered upwards of $100,000 to sell the remainder of their leases.
When contemplating how someone can afford such high rent payments and enormous buying-out sums, the word on OFW is that some type of money laundering is behind the operation.
This business scheme had the ripple effect of raising all OFW shops’ rent payments. The remaining old-time vendors are considering selling out while worrying whether they’ll be able to make it through the summer.
Several tourists reported buying a shirt for $20 to have their credit card charged several hundred dollars. Because this is a civil case, as opposed to a criminal one, the LAPD won’t help them. And the tourists don’t have the time or the know-how to go through the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs to sue the unscrupulous business owner. Several warnings against these custom T-shirt businesses have been published online, on sites such as Trip Advisor and YouTube.
What the LAPD is required to do is not allow these eight stores to play music with offensive, X-rated lyrics. They tend to do this loudly and obnoxiously, with no fear. Also, they stay open long after all other stores on OFW have closed: as late as 11pm. It was reported that some of the workers live in the stores, which is of course illegal.
We call on the LAPD to address and investigate this high-level crime that is infesting all OFW businesses and customers, local and foreigners alike. And we call on you, locals, to boycott these eight businesses.

Wishing they go away soon,
Rachel Bloomfield
T-shirt fraud

Above: One of eight generic and fraudulent T-shirt shops on OFW –

this one where Sea Horse, ran by Barbara Duffy for 15 years, used to be

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Attention LAPD: We Need You to Defend Us

Dear Beachhead:

The person pictured to the left, selling CDs on OFW, is extremely aggressive towards the people around him. He does not respect your personal space and conducts in-your-face panhandling. His behavior makes all of us who walk down OFW uncomfortable and ultimately annoyed. It also gives a bad image of Venice to the tourists. Why are LAPD officers so busy all day long harassing people for minor, insignificant infractions while this guy comes into Venice every morning to conduct the most aggressive panhandling on OFW, undisturbed? Some people get a ticket just for being a few inches out of the boxes marked on OFW, yet this guy travels the entire OFW, from Navy to Venice, all day long, unabated. It is time that the LAPD did something that we would all appreciate.

– Shane Williams

annoying rapper

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Bonin Unable to Solve Venice-Centric Issues
Dear Beachhead:
 
In response to Krista Schwimmer’s assessment of the job Councilman Mike Bonin is doing (Mike Bonin, “Technically” Doing His Job), this longtime government bureaucrat and political insider is simply long on rhetoric and short in results.
 A perennial “guide on the side” instead of a “sage on the stage”, Bonin’s leadership style or lack of one is evident for all to see!
 Bonin is clearly bright and articulate, which makes his tenure as an elected official so puzzling and disappointing to so many Venetians!
 As a resident insider who served as a staffer to a member of the United States House of Representatives as well as his predecessor on the Los Angeles City Council, Bonin seems lost in translating rhetoric into substantial public policy, especially in the area of crime and homelessness here in Venice.
 What you would consider his most reliable supporters within the progressive movement in the area of affordable housing, they too have become inpatient and almost hostile to his lack of action, solutions or support of the homeless.
 His inability to engage the community in a serious fashion is disturbing as he spends more time trying to create controlled environments versus simply listening and learning from those who elected him to solve complicated and challenging issues that are truly Venice centric in scope and detail.
 It was painful to watch him let the latest Town Hall meeting deteriorate into a shouting match of angry residents searching for answers as well as the truth.
 Why didn’t he moderate the event?  
 It was clearly his idea to stage this event, but political miscalculations on his part saw this three-hour slugfest revel in the politically absurd.
 As the only elected official in the room, it was his responsibility to grab the bull by the horns and let everyone know one thing, he was in charge and that the buck stopped with him.
 That he would take responsibility and he would listen.
 That did not occur.
 Instead, eroding public confidence will likely continue because of the utter failure of that evening to resolve anything at all.
 I don’t know Bonin, but his approach to governing and reaching out to those who do not agree is not working.
 Surrounding yourself with an echo chamber doesn’t get the job done and never will.

 Sincerely,
 Nick Antonicello


Letters

May 1, 2015

How about SOME short-term rentals? – Suzy Williams
Trees of Venice – Blanca Villabos
Evans Haas – Arlene Matteson
A Matter of Class – Brad Kay
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Dear Beachhead:

Re: “Venice Fights Back – NO Short Term Rentals” How about SOME short-term rentals?

I readily agree that management companies like Globe Homes and Condos that buy up buildings only to push existing renters out on their ears, and disappear peoples’ future affordable housing, so they can create illegal hotels, are very bad.
But there is another side to this short-term rental stuff, and it has brightened my life. I am a maid for my friends who often have to leave town on work (or vacation) and they can really use the bucks to help pay for the rising cost of living – and it isn’t getting cheaper here! And my rent (eighteen years in Venice and counting) is getting higher and higher and I need about three hundred more dollars a month to live than I did ten years ago.
So, through Airbnb, online, my friends have the opportunity to get to know the character of prospective short-term tenants. And the renters get to read reviews of the place that’s being offered. My buds pay me well, I love communing with their stuff, and, as the maid who comes around, I’m quite impressed with the humanity I sometimes get to meet through Airbnb. There is a universal giddy gratitude, and almost always, they leave the place pretty damn neat. I met an Aussie family with an autistic sweetheart of a kid; a pair of charming Japanese young lovers; some hippy kids still raving about Burning Man.
There is something so different about staying in a home that reflects the vibes of the community, like my pals’ places do. It’s a whole lot better than staying in a cookie-cutter hotel room.
AND I can afford to still live here in my beautiful Venice!

Love,
Suzy Williams
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Dear Beachhead,

For more than 30 years now I have walked children to Walgrove Elementary school. I noticed that yet another Venice home is scheduled to be destroyed and another McMansion (block) will be built!!!
What is truly upsetting me is that on this property there are many old, beautiful trees which have been homes to many birds and animals for many years. This is a treasure that should be kept for as long as possible. Many children  who walk to school enjoy looking into this property that they have called “the jungle”. I myself am envious of what the last owner (Whitey) had maintained for so many years.
As we all know Venice is changing very fast and new buildings and homes are being built. But we can’t keep allowing the trees to be cut down. We are in a drought as it is. If we continue having the trees cut we will never have enough rain. We need to remember trees give us life and they are a big quality of what gives Venice its charm.
I feel that as a community we need to fight to keep what was once Venice.

– Blanca Villabos
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Dear Beachhead,

You truly are the greatest!
I heard today that an article on Evans Haas was in April’s issue. While I have not seen a hard copy of it, I reviewed it online, and my heart smiled.
On behalf of Evans’ friends, family and The Venice Square, I want thank you for writing and including the wonderful article on Evans, it means a lot to us.
Venice is so small yet so large, with Venice Square a tiny warm and tight knit section of its own.
We appreciate and love THE VENICE BEACHHEAD.
Also, thank you and the VENICE BEACHHEAD staff for highlighting the real issues of Venice, especially real estate purchases, mass overkill construction by individuals and corporations, that are not from here and have the finances to take over and change Venice (don’t get me started!)

Sincerely,
Arlene D.Matteson
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A Matter of Class
By Brad Kay

I want to thank Teresa Carney White for her well-composed letter in the last edition. It has given me the courage to do another column for the Beachhead. Never have I been called a “sexist” or anything remotely as juicy in print before, and it gave me great pride to be considered worthy of such an epithet. But much as I would like to accept the honor, I can’t really claim it. I could never live with the contradiction. My feminist street creed is too good. I honestly think that a woman has the inalienable right to smoke, cuss, vote, choose, get equal pay, be taken seriously and be called an asshole same as a man. Heartfelt though Ms. White’s letter is, its ire is misdirected.
To recap, I wrote in Beachhead No. 401, of the people attending the TEDx Conference held here in February, that “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.” Ms. White objected, writing, “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?” And: “Gams? Sexist and gross! And: “Please inform Mr. Kay that if he would like to see a decent pair of gams and some makeup at a TED event … he can wear a dress and put on some makeup himself!”
Ms. White, though eloquent and even funny, has missed my point. I merely was emphasizing what to me looked like a severe shortage of CLASS demonstrated by the TEDx patrons (in colorful language to be sure. I thought the quaint phrase “decent pair of gams” evoked Raymond Chandler).
By “class,” I mean in this case the quality hovering about a person who naturally dresses up for an event which is costly, anticipated, exclusive, rarified and high-minded. Ms. White said learning and inspiring need no special dress code. That depends: Casual is okay if one is in a lecture or a class at school. But it is not okay (or so I thought) for an elevated event like TED.
One would never dream of attending the Oscars, or the Nobel Prizes, or the Opera or an audience with Queen Elizabeth – ALL of which this TED event was likened to by people I encountered beforehand – without minding to every detail of one’s appearance. I might even, actually, have gone in jeans and a T-shirt, if it wasn’t for absolutely everyone I met, in hushed or excited tones, emphasizing what a BIG DEAL this TED thing was. Hence my astonishment when the big day came, and I looked around, and discovered I was the only person in a suit and tie.
Now, Suzy Williams, who also was there, and is my devil’s advocate in everything from personal hygiene to religion, said that in all fairness, the TEDx patrons weren’t ALL that slovenly. Yes, some were dressed in T-shirts and jeans, but others had on expensive long-sleeved shirts, and designer jeans. A few of the women actually did show some style. “It’s the dress code of this generation,” summed up Suzy. “Well, it’s a LOUSY dress code,” I grumbled. We have gone back and forth over this, and I now concede that MAYBE I was a trifle harsh on those poor TEDx-ers.
So, okay, it’s a generational thing. I am showing my age. After all, I was born in 1869, and we did things differently way back in the Olden Days. But still! I would ask, then, of this current generation: When IS it appropriate to dress up? Not necessarily formally, but expressing yourself, with care, with artistic flair, originality, humor, character? Is no event worthy of your sartorial attention? Does nothing qualify?
I was at the grand re-opening of the Orpheum Theater downtown about seven years ago. It had been meticulously and lovingly restored and refurbished (a job that took years), down to the last cuspidor and strip of wainscoting. The theatre was gorgeous, and they showed “Gone With the Wind.” But with a few honorable exceptions, most everyone hewed to the generational “dress code”: T-shirts or short sleeves, jeans, sneakers. I was taken aback even then. “These scruffy ruffians don’t DESERVE such a palace,” said I to myself.
My point is: have we gone too far down the “casual” road? Are our standards so completely lax? Do we even HAVE standards? Have we forgotten what “class” is? Are people dogmatically, determinedly, dressing down even when the occasion indicates otherwise? As James Thurber asked, “Why do you have to be a non-conformist, like everybody else?”
N. B. In writing this, I have stumbled onto a rule of thumb as to whether or not an event is worth dressing up for: If you are “going to” the event, go casual. If you are “in attendance,” do your worst.
Getting back to Ms. White’s letter. Honestly, Teresa, I WOULD dress in drag and show my “gams,” if it made for a good example. But I fear it would only drive the ladies in the opposite direction.
For a good look at examples of classy dress (or undress!), all over the world, in every situation, for the past hundred years, get a load of: http://bit.ly/1F1oka8.


Letters

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
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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
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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!

Love,
Tina Catalina Corcoran
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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
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THE LAW OF THE LAND

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
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TEDx Event Review and Feminism
Hello! 

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!

Best, 
Teresa Carney White


Letters

March 1, 2015

Anonymous
Albert West the Elder
Aura Goldburg
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Dear Beachhead,

Just let my donation be anonymous. Please send my copy to a prisoner in jail – I can easily score my copy on the street. Keep up the great work you do!

– Anonymous
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Who do you pretenders think you are, anyway? Probably just a bunch of losers that inherited a shack in the ‘hood from your mothers when she croaked back in ’82 when average home prices in Venice  were just 3o,ooo bucks! Besides, Abbott Kinney borrowed the money to build Venice from gangsters! Please stop jerking everyone off with all your liberal & pretentious bullshit about Venice! Homeless motherfuckers will respect you more!

– Albert West the Elder
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VNC’S QUESTIONABLE MOTIONS
Dear Beachhead,

I am concerned with some of the motions passed by the Venice Neighborhood Council at the February 17 meeting. First, the mechanical car lifts in Venice are nothing but an ugly joke, as they will supply only 30 additional parking spaces for the up to 100,000 visitors who come to Venice on a busy day. The car lifts will provide expensive parking to very few while being an eyesore and providing noise pollution to many, many others.
Another concern that I have is over the proposed widening and illumination of the bike path. As someone who rides on that path on a daily basis and considers it to be the best thing about Venice, I am not excited about finding another route while construction is taking place – which could last many, many months. Making the bike path unavailable for any amount of time would be a major inconvenience for residents and tourists alike. Going from Venice to Santa Monica without using the bike path would all of a sudden become a very dangerous affair.
I also don’t see widening it as a solution to any of our problems. Yes, on the weekends people who ride it for the first time (or who ride for the first time!) are a danger to us all. However, we are stuck with them, and a wider path would not lessen the danger they pose. It comes down to riding smart and paying attention. Those of us who ride daily know this very well. However, here comes Shelly Gomez, been in Venice two years, never seen her on a bike. And she decided to introduce a motion before the VNC to widen the bike path!
It’s unfortunate when our grassroot representatives do not represent our community. Someone like Shelly Gomez, who is not familiar with the bike path, should not take a stand on this particular issue.
Sincerely,
Aura Goldburg


Letter for Marty Liboff

February 1, 2015

Dear Mr. Liboff,

I just read with interest and not a little bit of nostalgia your article about William Boyd.
I recently spent the afternoon with family wondering up and down Abbot Kinney Blvd. I was amazed at the changes 60 years have wrought. You see I lived at 1306 Washington Blvd. from about 1952 to 1956.
The cute one-bedroom house of course is long gone, replaced with a boring 2-story structure built up against the south wall of the Peacock Bar. The bar was there when I was a child and that south wall served as a fence of sorts for our front yard, the house being set on the back of the lot. I lived there with my younger sister, older brother and both parents. We were renting the home from my mother’s aunt. My sister was in love with horses from a very young age and had quite a collection of horse statuettes by the time she was three. Hoppyland of course was a necessary excursion for my horse-loving sister and my parents accommodated her and I got to tag along. One of my earliest memories is riding the ponies and later the “big” horses on the trails. The workers in the big corral even accommodated Chris by letting her ride standing up on one of the big horses. What a sight!
I have a cute story relating to the pony rides. My husband grew up on Green Avenue near Alla Road about two miles East of Hoppyland. He is eight years older than me so he was about 14 when he got a job working at Hoppyland, lifting the small children up onto the ponies. Of course the space in between was essentially farmland or vacant. He sometimes was allowed to ride a pony home and back again the next day to work. Of course we like to believe that I was one of the little girls he assisted on the ponies. He likes to joke that he gave me a dime and told me to call him when I grew up!
I remember seeing the rides in the park, but no memory of actually riding on any of them. The horses, for us, were the best part. I really enjoyed reading your well-researched article. I read the entire story to my husband. So thank you for sharing your memories and providing us a walk down memory lane.

Yours truly,
Ann Giroux-Ochoa


Letters

February 1, 2015

Hi Beachhead,

My name is Courtney. I’m an artist. Mostly I can be seen creating black and white doodles, sitting on milk crates on the sidewalk of Abbot Kinney Blvd. My doodling teacher, life partner, and veteran Venice artist, Von Paul, is generally seen creating art right next to me. Von Paul has been selling his art on Abbot Kinney on and off for over 5 years now and has become somewhat of a spectacle as such.
Von Paul and I have just completed a mural on Venice and Strongs Drive. And earlier last year, we painted one together on Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. My intention in informing you of this is clarifying that Von Paul is in fact a prolific, professional, beloved artist. He’s been supporting himself entirely as an artist for the past 5 and a half years and has managed to produce and sell/gift over 4,000 drawings in this time. In 2013, Von painted a joyously powerful, colorful mandala creation with brush. People around the world complimented him and thanked him for this work. The mural was on a purple building on Wicked hair salon, a popular part of Rose Ave. (405 Rose Ave), and thus enjoyed by many eyes.
Von Paul’s mural was photographed and viewed by thousands of people. If you hashtag Von Paul’s name, #VonPaul, on instagram you can see many pictures of his work taken by fans, including this mural. It uplifted people from all parts and gave them something to meditate on in the middle of Rose Ave.
Recently, this mural was painted over by another artist.
Because Von Paul has never used a computer in his life, and composing an email would be difficult, I adduce and quote these words from Von Paul on his behalf:
“Recently a mural I created was painted over by another artist in Venice. He signed his spray-painted, stenciled atrocity “Beautifyearth.org”. When I approached the owner of the Wicked Hair Salon about my mural being painted over, WITHOUT MY NOTICE, and she told me she was the building owner and she could do whatever she wanted. I was devastated.”
Venice murals are an important part of the community, and Von Paul’s was destroyed without cause or care. The artist who painted over Von’s mural, can be identified as “Wise Two” and has a website http://www.artofwisetwo.com/. He’s done some small projects on Abbot Kinney.
I sincerely hope this message reaches you in good health and high spirits,

Courtney Lynne

MuralAbove: Von Paul’s mural at 405 Rose that was destroyed

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Dear Von Paul and Courtney,

By law artists need to be notified 90 days before their mural is painted over or otherwise changed or destroyed.
Considered the grand-daddy of the current mural movement, Kent Twitchell did sue the city of L.A. when his 3-story high Ed Ruscha (1987) mural disappeared in 2006. He got a million dollars.
More recently, Victor Henderson’s 15¢ wash and 5¢ dry mural at Brooks and Pacific, which has been a part of Venice since 1969 and was made famous when the Doors took a picture in front of it, was re-painted by Clinton Bopp at the instructions of Ralph Ziman, the owner of the building. Henderson is currently in a lawsuit against Ziman.
All artists can and should sue when their work is illegally destroyed.

– The Beachhead


Letters

January 1, 2015

Families and the Department of Children and Family Services

Dear Beachhead,

I am writing in response to “An Unnamed Writer on the Beachhead,” November 2014 issue, who wrote an article concerning the plight of a family with whom she is friends. She focuses her moral outrage on the Draconian methods used by Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to “kidnap” these children from their mother. While my heart goes out to the children involved, I’d like to offer a larger, but perhaps less popular perspective on child welfare.
I’ve spent most of my adult life teaching teenagers under every circumstance imaginable, including as a volunteer writing teacher working with incarcerated minors in Los Angeles. I want to make it clear up front that I do not and have never worked for any government agency, including DCFS. However, many of my incarcerated students are in that system, some their entire lives. In case after case, their removal from biological parents or other so-called guardians was really for their own protection. “Unnamed Writer” mentions that her friend’s daughter, “a victim of domestic abuse”, left her baby in the care of a drunken, abusive boyfriend. This was her choice, knowing full well what he was capable of. When her son’s school wanted to speak with her about the fact the boy was cutting himself, she didn’t make the school interview. Then her children were removed from the home – as they should have been. Until she can demonstrate parental responsibility, like the choice of a kind and loving partner and showing some concern for her son’s emotional state, her children are at risk. Unless there’s a trusted relative or friend to take those children in, DCFS must step in.
While it may seem heavy-handed to whisk children away from their homes, DCFS does not do this merely to make money, as “Unnamed Writer” suggests. I agree that it isn’t a perfect system. Cases of severe abuse have gone unchecked, and children have been harmed, even killed. I’ve worked with a very small number of indifferent social workers, but by and large, they are professionals with big hearts and boundless patience. One social worker specializing in runaways works tirelessly to locate and provide safe haven for her kids. She worries about them when their own parents are too high, drunk, or otherwise unable to care for them. DCFS social workers are also horribly understaffed and over-worked; they are required to keep tabs on far too many abused and neglected children who, if they make it into their teen years, become increasingly at risk for substance abuse, sexual trafficking, rape, pregnancy, gang involvement, and mental illness. The “mass incarceration of little kids” which “Unnamed Writer” accuses DCFS of is just plain inflammatory. I have students in juvenile hall who, without this agency’s involvement, would have no money for clothes, food, educational testing, birthday celebrations, or a roof over their heads. If neighbors, pediatricians, teachers, and other adults who live around or with children don’t report suspected child abuse, how can anyone realistically just blame social workers for the occasional abuse and deaths of children? When people refuse to get involved in cases of suspected child endangerment or abuse, we are all diminished. We are all connected.
While a few hours a week allotted for monitored visits with young children is not nearly long enough, it’s better than no contact at all. Young mothers without the resources to look after their children, in abusive relationships, fighting addiction, or the allure of gang life all need our compassion and our support, but certainly not any more than their children. People complain about juvenile criminals, and indeed Los Angeles is home to tens of thousands of gang members. However, are those complaining willing to do anything to change the horrendous circumstances under which children are presumably educated, housed, and cared for? The city also has a shameful problem with sexually trafficked minors. These are girls in our fair city as young as 10 and 11 abducted from bus benches or en route to school, forcibly hooked on drugs, and put out onto the streets by their traffickers. Some may have already been removed from their homes, others should have been and weren’t for whatever reason. Some simply fell through the cracks of a society too distracted by social media, pop culture trivia, and its own woes to care.
It is just untrue that the individuals who work for DCFS have “no training in child development or how to talk to a child.” The basic requirement to become a social worker is a Bachelor’s degree in social work, sometimes a Master’s, some facility with a second language, certification, internships, and so on. The agency does not “steal” children. They are working against a tidal wave of social problems so overwhelming it’s a miracle that any one of them lasts more than a year in that profession.
I would urge “Unnamed Writer” to spend a day volunteering in a battered women’s shelter or in a shelter for homeless teens. Or go on-line to such sites as Saving Innocence, Girls & Gangs, InsideOut Writers, or Alliance for Children’s Rights and educate herself about the larger issues of child abuse. It’s never just one “evil” governmental organization’s fault, never just the Probation Department or even LAPD’s “fault” for why children are removed from their homes and separated from their parents. Entering with guns drawn into a home with just women and children is undoubtedly excessive. To be fair, police don’t always know what kind of danger they’re walking into. I understand “Unknown Writer’s” anger – but it is largely misdirected. DCFS doesn’t just “kidnap” children. That’s absurd. One student of mine – in and out of incarceration for unknown crimes– struggled to regain custody of her baby, and DCFS, as well as her own attorney and mother, did all they could for over a year to facilitate that, but at 16 she just wasn’t ready to be a mother. The foster mom was poised to adopt her son, a much better option, at least in this case.
“Unnamed Writer” is correct that states offer social agencies financial incentives for adopting children, when they need to do a much better job at family reunification. And yes, there are far more children of color in the foster care and juvenile justice system than there are white and Asian children. We are a racist society, and not even the youngest American child of color can escape that insidious poison.
There are no easy solutions, and unfortunately children get caught in the middle as adults continue to mud sling and shirk personal and collective responsibility. In an ideal world, both parents should raise their children. But more importantly, they should be with those adults who unconditionally love and care for them, regardless of biological ties, skin color, or sexual orientation.
Criminal behavior usually bears a direct correlation to how criminals were treated in their early years. How can we demand civilized behavior (which must include compassion for the Other), when we don’t model it ourselves? This is an awful lot to swallow if you’re on the firing end of a gun held by a juvenile offender. A proper sex education, access to birth control, decent neonatal care, and parenting classes go much farther to stem the abuse of children than raging against a struggling government agency. I know it probably feels better to react with moral outrage and strike out at the nearest and easiest target. Truly understanding the complexities involved in child welfare, juvenile justice, and family dynamics requires patience and a desire for the truth, regardless of whether it supports your assumptions or not. There isn’t just one truth here, including my own.
Who has the presence of mind to connect the dots between an unstable home life, absent, addicted, or violent parents/guardians, and the shuffling game of where next to place minors no one really wants? Imagine growing up with that hanging over your head. Imagine devoting your life to trying to help track and find a caring home for these children.
– Nika Cavat
Venice resident for 22 years
Research sites: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/fostercare/inside/roberts.html
http://www.collegesanddegrees.com/programs/social-work/education
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Families and the Department of Children and Family Services: “Unnamed Writer” responds:
In defense of the victim, in this case and many cases:
  Do you think people consciously pick a guy that will beat them up, wreck their lives, destroy their property, terrorize their families? do you really believe that?
If so, you are blaming the victim.
  Those social workers have no hearts, they are cold, arrogant women who sup at the government’s trough. They lap up their money while judging and condemning the people they are supposed to help.
  You tell me to go volunteer somewhere and I will learn more about this problem. Excuse me, I have lived this experience. I was with a man who beat me, followed me around Venice so he could beat me some more. Stole my kid & disappeared with her. Why did this happen to me and not someone else? You would have to go back to my upbringing – I was terrorized by a rage-filled father who got drunk and verbally and physically abused me and everyone else of the family.
  This was a guy who was well-respected in the art world and no one really knew what was happening – “behind closed doors”. So I split. I finally got the idea to get the fuck out of Virginia and ended up here, in Venice, CA, 1971. I was twenty years old.
  So you’ve spent 22 years in Venice? I’m sorry – but there is no requirement for length of time of living in Venice for any special wisdom.
  You think you’ve got the answer to domestic violence? 40 years ago – there were no shelters for women and children. It was the 70’s & Venice was pretty wide open – everybody was doing drugs, having children, getting evicted, had problems with drugs and alcohol, etc., etc. –
  It was extremely difficult to get into a rehab. It was not how it is now – rehabs are a real money-maker now. Insurance companies pay for rehabs and you can stay there really long times, in some cases. They are saving lives. Back in the 1970’s, people quit using drugs because they died. People would drag people’s dead bodies out into the alley, so no one would get arrested. It was a grim, toxic, scary dangerous place – to live with a drunk , a junkie, or a speed-freak. The drugs came first – little girls were put out on the street by opportunistic bastards who would beat them if they came back with no money.
  Wow, it’s really great you know enough about me, the “unnamed writer” to offer me advice. I lived this lifestyle, and I came back from the dead. I went to A.A., C.A., & N.A. And I met one of the best friends of my life in N.A. I choose to remain anonymous because I am in the middle of this – and it’s not over yet, until she gets the kids back.
  I lost my daughter 40 years ago. My social worker told me it would take 5 to 8 years to get her back. I said, “OK, I’m putting her up for adoption.” The social worker told me I couldn’t do that. But I did. And that was that. I was not going to watch from the sidelines, as the social workers and the foster care system destroyed my daughter. She went to a really good household and I have never regretted it.
  You, in your casual cruelty, saying that some little children end up damaged, beat-up or killed – you say that with such casualness – how can you live with yourself and express such cruelty?
  I would really like to know.
  You, educated woman – has this ever happened to you? You don’t know what terror is until some drunk-out-of-his-mind bastard is beating you & no one helps. Back in the 70’s, if a man’s name was on the lease, you could not legally kick him out. You (the woman) would have to get up (in the middle of the night) gather you & your kids clothes together and sneak out of there.
  It’s a fucking nightmare and you: are you a mother? Because if you’re not, I don’t really want to hear from you. You have made all your judgments on the victim, and you base it on all the bull-shit that this society has drilled into your head . . .
  Women always say: “why didn’t you leave?” If you have nowhere to go to, where are you going to go? Do you want to be homeless with your kids? I did that. That’s how I lost her.
  My kid did great. She landed in a loving family who saw her and fell in love with her. I did not do so well – I continued on, for years living a dangerous and scary life. I was on the streets of Venice, from 1978 to 1984. In 1984 my brother Karl came out here and got an apartment with me. I stayed in that apartment for 26 years. I had the kindest woman in the world as my landlady, Mormie Jamerison.
  Did I miss my daughter? Yes, always. But I gave her the best gift I could ever give someone: a kind, loving home. I got to talk to her a couple times on the phone and she sends me Christmas cards every year. Most people never get to talk to or see their children again.
  It hurt so much I had to drown it with alcohol. I really didn’t care if I lived or died. Then I finally got clean and called my brother up and he said he would help me and he did. I started writing poetry in 2006. And I do oil pastels, which makes me really happy. It is never too late to start over. This whole case is just a bump in the road, and we will get over this.
– Unnamed Writer


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