Bins Are In at Gjusta

January 1, 2015

THEATER OF THE ABSURD
By Roxanne Brown
THE SCENES:
320 SUNSET – GJUSTA
Architect/Representative: Stephen Vitalich
Former Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) Case Manager:  Jim Murez,
Current LUPC case manager Mark Kleiman
Owner: Fran Camaj, Owns Gjelina, GTA, Gjusta and 1301 & 1305 Abbot Kinney
Zoning Administrator (ZA): Maya Zaitzevsky – Currently awaiting decision
600 MILDRED – KIM’S MARKET
Architect: Stephen Vitalich
Former LUPC Case Manager: Jim Murez,
Current LUPC Case Manager: Kathleen Rawson
Owner: Alicia Searle
Zoning: No Hearing to date
259 HAMPTON – SAUCE
Architect: Stephen Vitalich
LUPC Case Manager: None – case never went through LUPC or VNC
Owner: Richard J. Gottlieb, Dune Investments LLC
Zoning Administrator:  Linn Wyatt, Chief Zoning Administrator signed off on project
Zoning Appeal:  January 7th in West LA
THE DIRECTORS – MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI’s Administration and CITY COUNCILMAN MIKE BONIN
THE PLOT – All three of these projects are proposing change of use to restaurants with late night hours serving liquor to patrons; most will be seated outdoors (where sound is not contained). These projects are as close as 3 feet from some residents’ homes and 12 feet six inches from some other residences. Sound travels farther and wider at night. Why? Google it.
LIQUOR LICENSES – Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) states: “ABC will not license a new retail location within 100 feet of a residence unless the applicant can establish that the operation of the proposed premises will not interfere with the quiet enjoyment of the property by residents. (Section 23789 and Rule 61.4)” https://www.abc.ca.gov/questions/licenses_faq.html see Q18. LAPD’s Captain Brian Johnson testified at Gjusta’s ZA hearing that ABC allows 5 liquor licenses in Gjusta’s tract area. That tract currently has 14.  Add Gjusta, and it’s 15.
BUILDING & SAFETY – Sauce at 259 Hampton does not have a permit for restaurant and tables and chairs outside. Yet, they have been operating as a sit-down restaurant for 4 years with no penalty. Gjusta has a permit for a bakery/bakery equipment/no seating/no eating– inside or in the parking lot.  Yet, prior to opening, Camaj built a full restaurant with commercial kitchen equipment, opened in October and began encouraging people to sit and eat.
At Gjusta’s ZA Hearing on November 13th, Building and Safety’s representative, Avi Sargsyan, confirmed the above. Knowing this, Camaj went back to 320 and didn’t change a thing. Camaj was cited by Building and Safety at the end of December with an order to comply within 30 days.  Since the citation, he hasn’t changed a thing.
Waiting for Camaj to comply is like “Waiting for Godot.” In seven years at Gjelina, he has flouted laws, codes, rules, and regulations with no penalty.
PROPERTY GANGSTERS- One resident testifying at 320’s Zoning hearing accused some owners of being “property gangsters.”  They do what they want to with their property, blatantly disregarding laws and facing no penalty.
MAXIMIZE PROFITS – Why are these projects going into residential neighborhoods? Could it be that the cost is less than going on Abbot Kinney, Rose, or Main – which have properties for lease?
At GTA and Gjelina, we see patrons sitting and eating on milk crates in an adjacent alley, on the sidewalk and in the street. Camaj told neighbors (at his owner outreach, VNC, and LUPC meetings) he would do the same at Gjusta.  It appears he will do this at 1301 Abbot Kinney as well, since the inside is limited in size, but there’s a very big rooftop parking lot.
Just think how much more money you make without paying for a permit, without building an enclosed space, no cost for tables and chairs – just a milk crate.  Charge $16 for a brisket sandwich, two sides at $10, add an $8 dessert, and a $4 small black coffee – lunch for two – on milk crates in a dusty parking lot – with tax and tip – $80 – $100.
Gjusta’s patrons are convinced this is “cool” while Camaj seems to be laughing all the way to the bank.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT- Gjusta’s first health department report came out. They found flies on meat and bread and asked workers to dispose of it, which they did. They found equipment not sterilized at recommended temperatures. This is public record. Anyone can obtain it.
YELP also records this with less detail.  Google Gjusta Yelp, go to the upper right corner and click on Health Report. You will find several notations– including “standard not met” for unadulterated food and vermin-proofing. Yet, Gjusta got an “A” with those observations and with patrons eating in a dirty, dusty parking lot.
CHEERS or JEERS Do you want to support this? If not, vote with your dollars – dine at restaurants that are responsible neighbors. Each dollar spent at Gjusta, Gjelina, GTA and Sauce seems to be funding a very bad neighbor policy.
People may say I don’t want to be involved in the politics – I like the food. Do you know that with every bite of food and every dollar spent at 320 Sunset and 259 Hampton (600 Mildred is on pause), it appears you are emboldening those who: Flout the law, put up a restaurant serving liquor with late night hours next door to residents’ and their children’s bedroom windows. Chase Venice artists out – all artists at 334 SUNSET have been evicted
WATCH THE VIDEO – DISCERN FACT FROM FICTION
Gjusta’s Owner Outreach Meeting: http://youtu.be/fpiUiG0BIsk
Gjusta’s ZA HEARING: – Zack Galifianakis has a cameo appearance
Part 1: http://youtu.be/8rY7c5Mk_v8  
Part 2:  http://youtu.be/K_FFSh02Zi4  
Part 3:  http://youtu.be/gwq6lviSiR0

ATTEND 259 HAMPTON (SAUCE) HEARING
West LA Planning Commission Appeal Hearing
Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 4.30 p.m.
Henry Medina West LA Parking Enforcement Facility
2nd floor, Roll Call Room
11214 West Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90064
Applicant: Richard J Gottlieb, Dunes Development LLC
Representative: Stephen Vitalich
THE ENDING? – It seems Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Bonin support these “property gangsters” rather than tax paying, voting citizens in residential communities. Councilman Bonin is nowhere to be seen. Neighborhood associations have asked to meet with him and he refuses. Far from improving our communities, Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Bonin seem to be destroying Los Angeles neighborhoods one block at a time.


Bird Totems of Venice: The American Coot

January 1, 2015

By Krista Schwimmer
Winter is one of my favorite times to walk along the beach or to hang out on the Venice Pier. The light that reflects back from the ocean waters is often so dream like that I find myself wanting only to spend more and more time simply gazing, an ancient soothsayer scanning water for prophecy. The rewards are often great: seals, dolphins, and even a whale now and then swim by, breaking through the hypnotizing waters to snatch my soul momentarily. Birds, too, are part of this parade of paradise. One such bird, though more commonly spotted along the canals and wetlands, is the American Coot.
There is no mistaking these short winged birds with their bobbing heads. Their white, frontal shields contrast well with their black plumage, making them easy to spot from a distance. The saying, “as bald as a coot,” comes from this particular characteristic. Often found with ducks, but classed in a different family and order, coots forage by diving to the bottom of ponds, marshes, coastal bays and inlets, as well as by grazing on the land near the shore. They are even known to steal from other diving birds!
Recently, however, I discovered another interesting physical characteristic of the American Coot. I was walking along the canals, south of Washington Boulevard, when I spotted a group of coots, known as a covert. As one of them walked up to the shore, I noticed its surprising legs and feet. From leg to toe, they were pea green in color. The feet were partially webbed with separated toes, known as fissipalmate feet. On top of it, they seemed disproportionately large. The lobed toes help the bird to run, as well as forage on the top of vegetation in the marshes. Their feet also are made to withstand higher temperatures than a webbed version.
There are eleven known species of coot, many residing in South America. They are omnivorous, eating primarily plant material but also small animals and eggs. Although they lay 8 to 10 pinkish eggs spotted with brown, they may only raise two of them. One of the coot’s more disturbing behaviors is around brooding. If a hatch-ling is found in a coot’s nest that is from a different coot, the parent will violently kill this baby bird, a phenomenon called brood parasitism. Oddly, coots will do this only to other coots, and not other bird species.
When working with any bird as a totem, there are different ways to decipher the meaning. First, look at the known behavior of the bird. For instance, in the case of the coot, one of its characteristics is to dive to the bottom and forage. Water often symbolizes feelings. So, if you see the coot diving under the water, it can mean it is good for you to take the time to explore your feelings. Another valuable way to work with any totem is to explore the ancient tales and mythologies associated with the creature. In the case of the coot, there is a wonderful Ojibwa legend that Valerie Connors recounts called “Waynaboozhoo and the Great Flood.”
In this tale, the creator sends a great flood to purify the earth because men and women had lost respect for one another. A lone man named Waynaboozhoo survives. He builds a raft and shares it with other animals.
The water, however, does not recede on its own. So, Waynaboozhoo asks first a loon, then a beaver to dive deeply to fetch mud from the Old World. Neither succeed. A coot named Aajigade manages to retrieve a small lump of mud, but dies as a result. Luckily, Waynaboozhoo brings Aajigade back to life. Out of this mud, the New World is created, then placed on the back of Mikinaak, the snapping turtle. At one point in the story, the other animals laugh when they discover that Aajigade thinks he is going to save the day. The coot, however, pays no heed to their mockery. This reminds us that serving a greater cause in life can give us great faith and determination. Never let anyone underestimate your abilities!
Becoming kin to a bird, however, means understanding not only the bird itself, but its habitat, its prey, and even its predators. For instance, in the case of the coot, studying fox, coyote, skunk, crow, owl, eagle, alligator or gull can give you meaningful insights. Look especially at any predator that naturally appears in your life alongside the appearance of coot.
Kinship implies a give and take. A really fun way to give back to all birds is to participate in the next “Great Backyard Bird Count” (GBBC) from February 13 – 16, 2015. Hatched in 1998 by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the GBBC is the “first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time”. In 2014, the count included 135 countries. 17.7 million birds from 4,296 species were counted then. Our hero, the American Coot, showed up #8 in the “10 most numerous birds in 2014″ with a count of 454,169. To participate, simply go to their website, http://www.birdcount.org, register, and download the instructions.
Like many birds, the coot is unfairly judged. Take, for instance, the phrase, “old coot.” The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang defines a coot as “a harmless simpleton, especially an old one.” The more I have studied and lived with birds, the more I find that no matter the species, they all have intelligence. More likely than not, those hunters in Louisiana, California, Florida, Wisconsin, and Minnesota that kill these birds for sport are the true simpletons. How else can one explain the wanton killing of innocent creatures?
So, next time someone calls you a “crazy old coot,” don’t let it get you down. In a world where police get away with murder, and developers push out the elderly, the time is long overdue to consider just what constitutes intelligence anyway.

Sources: http://www.10000birds.com; http://www.audubon.org; http://www.birdcount.org;
http://www.bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/2010/spohnhol_cait/facts.htm;
http://www.uwosh.edu/coehs/cmagproject/ethnomath/legend/legend9.htm


The Christmas Massacre of Trees – 2014 – Oxford

January 1, 2015

By Marcia Hanscom

Most people in Los Angeles remember the huge public outcry in December, 2012, when the US Army Corps of Engineers decided to bulldoze a portion of the Sepulveda Wildlife Reserve in order to “restore” it. LA City Councilmembers expressed outrage, as did CA Senator Fran Pavley; and the LA Regional Water Quality Control Board brought out its regulatory knives.
December seems to be a good time for agency bureaucrats to carry out such unpopular plans. This time, in 2014, it was the Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Works, and this time it was Oxford Lagoon, a beloved bird sanctuary, appreciated by neighboring Venetians walking or cycling by on the Marvin Braude bikepath.  
Oxford Lagoon was one of the few natural features remaining when more than ½ of the historical Ballona Wetlands was dug up in order to build Marina del Rey. Oxford was designated by the LA County Supervisors in 1963 as a “Bird Conservation Area,” in an era before environmental laws required mitigation and as a nod to local Audubon groups that decried the destruction of the Ballona bird haven. This designation has never been rescinded, even though Public Works bureaucrats insist on calling it a “basin” – looking at every landscape feature in L.A. for its utilitarian, engineering function, and ignoring any natural or ecological values.
A few years ago, LA County Supervisor Don Knabe, in his quest to “polish the jewels” of private developments on our public lands of the marina, decided that the renewal of Oxford Lagoon was important. However, citizens, local democratic club leaders and environmental groups like Ballona Institute, Sierra Club, and Grassroots Coalition learned only in early December that this meant more than 650 trees would be chopped down and killed, and they were horrified.   
Oxford Lagoon is a roosting and feeding site for numerous resident water birds, like the Black-crowned Night Heron, Snowy Egret and Great Egret and also for migratory and wintering birds, like the White-crowned Sparrow, Osprey and Belted Kingfisher. The lagoon is especially important as habitat for juvenile waterbirds as they explore safe shelter near their original nesting sites.  Many of the trees slated for destruction have been important for these birds in terms of roosting and hunting for food.
Activists mobilized and, as a result of numerous phone calls and email messages to all five County Supervisors and newly elected representatives, CA Senator Ben Allen and Assemblymember Autumn Burke, local Democratic Club leader and new Marina City Club resident Kathryn Campbell, organized stakeholders to meet with Dept. of Public Works officials and Steve Napolitano, Knabe’s field deputy for the marina.
While the meetings did result in one Deputy Director of the agency agreeing to call the area Oxford Lagoon instead of Oxford Basin, not much else was accomplished in the two marathon meetings that activists were summoned to in Alhambra at the DPW headquarters.
One important fact learned in the meetings was that the contract for the largest part of the project has not yet been approved by the Board of Supervisors. This means that the treeless soils will be left bare, subject to erosion in the rainy season, and new plants for a theme-park, manicured fake restoration will be planted during the summer  – which is the worst time to plant southern California-adapted native plants (if the Supervisors approved the contract).
In between the two meetings, about 50 trees were already clear-cut, yet the activists did their own due diligence in seeking professional recommendations from restoration ecologist, Dr. Margot Griswold and from biologist Robert “Roy” van de Hoek. An alternative phased-approach to restoration, which would mean that new trees would be planted while only a few were removed at a time, was rejected, ostensibly because of deadlines for project completion (March, 2016) and grant requirements. It became clear that the tree killing would continue with no relief in sight for the birds.
As of December 31, the LADPW’s scheduled date for completion of tree removal, most of the trees have been eliminated. Residents of the Marina Peninsula (represented by County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl) and other adjacent Venice neighborhoods (represented by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas) have expressed shock and disgust at witnessing this project moving forward, seemingly only with Don Knabe having a say in what would go on at this sensitive wetland ecosystem.
Robert van de Hoek, a wildlife biologist and restoration ecologist with the Ballona Institute, has been researching, monitoring and studying the Monarch Butterfly in Los Angeles and beyond, being particularly interested in the “assists” being given to this declining species from local residents growing Milkweed in Venice, Mar Vista, Playa del Rey, Westchester and Del Rey.
When Ballona naturalist Jonathan Coffin sent a photo of a couple of Monarchs roosting on Eucalyptus at Oxford Lagoon, van de Hoek rushed over and, began dedicated morning and late afternoon observation watches, as the butterflies would warm up from the sun, leave to find nectar in the area and then return to their roosts to rest together, where scientists think they congregate in order to keep warm during the cold winter nights. The California coast, being warmer than inland areas in the winter because of proximity to the ocean, is an important winter roosting area when tall, suitable trees are in areas shielded from high winds.
Van de Hoek counted enough butterflies each time to be able to verify to state wildlife officials that the Oxford Lagoon site is an important new winter roost site for this imperiled species. It was announced this month the US Interior Dept. is considering listing Monarchs on the federal endangered species list. Unfortunately, on December 29th, after numerous appeals were made to wildlife officials and county bureaucrats, the county contractors decided to chop down the two most important trees to the Monarch Butterfly. Activist Patricia McPherson, observing in the rain, said the sky lit up with orange wings when the largest of the two trees was felled.


Poetry

January 1, 2015

A Visit – By Mary Getlein
The Blind Waltz – By Miles Krumpak
Not Responsible – By Alan Lewis Rodman
The American Dream Scheme – By Marty Liboff
Yo Saturnalia! (the original Christmas) – By Jim Smith
Roger Houston
—————————————————-
A Visit
By Mary Getlein

do you think:
jesus christ would refuse a visit?
1. a visit for a mother, who’s been told she’s no good
a visit for a mother – who just wants to hold
her child and smell her delicious smell
to hold her child & count the seconds, till she has to leave.
2. do you think jesus christ would refuse a visit?
a visit to a lonely guy, wasting away in prison?
put there because they slapped an answer on the
question of guilt – yeah, he did it –
he’s Black, uneducated, no lawyer, no advice
took the first deal they gave him
after keeping him awake for 2-3 days & nights?
do you think jesus christ would refuse a visit?
3. do you think jesus christ would refuse a visit?
a visit to an old and lonely person
who can barely see, or hear, or taste anything?
who wants only to complain
when her daughter calls, she gets overwhelmed with guilt & hangs up
The old folks living out the rest of their days
in isolation –
don’t know how to make friends anymore
they have a group they can go to, a senior place
but don’t want to take that first step
out of isolation and into a circle of friends
we all need friends –
the liar and the cheat
the liar and the media clown
the liar and the one who believes his own P.R. work
the man or woman who turns their back on one in need
you – who won’t see the homeless, the hungry, the scared
won’t see the “throw-away” youth that had to leave
because there was no choice?
getting beat up every day, sexually molested or raped
who never felt wanted or needed or loved
who believed their lies, any lie
to talk themselves into staying
only to be brutalized some more . . .
would jesus christ refuse a visit?
No, he would open up his heart chakra &
take them all in –
The Kingdom of Heaven is NOW. Now in this moment.
the homeless on the street
every day & every night, people living out their days
on Thanksgiving Day they can eat –
many loving people bring food & sometimes clothes to the homeless
but they are cold and hungry all the other days
What about those days?
The rich move in for their ocean views
and what they really get to see are the homeless
stacked up like firewood, against their huge heavy doors.
They have to leave their mansions by the back door
so many homeless have taken up residence on the front door
hoping for a glimpse of their good life
hoping someone sees them as a person –
a moment of recognition –
“This is me, mother-fucker!”
“I’m alive out here & I’m losing my mind
and there is no way out of here -”
do you think jesus christ would refuse a visit?
would he be alarmed at what he saw right in front
of him – a man, a woman, a child
being refused a visit, from humanity.
—————————————————–
The Blind Waltz
By Miles Krumpak

This is how the poor dance, the blind, the deaf
the dumb. The ones who sit on top of newspapers
and sleep under them too.
Why change clothes, why get up, why sit down
why play the blues, if you’ve never heard them in all your life.
And there he was on the steps
a metallic coffee jar taped to the top of the guitar
see through pink sunglasses. to cover but show
eyes that never have seen.
Casual he played but a tremendous amount of sound came out
and they say that in the absence of a sense or two
the others they become stronger.
I stopped to listen, behind a church pillar
where he could not see me. But a street dog
he had become and he could sense my presence
with the presence of his animal instincts.
He played the latin blues, I think it had an A min
and a C and an F, and perhaps a B7
or something like that, and after each chord
was a gentle melody that crawled up the neck
and told the story of life in Costa Rica
living on a farm riding horses, plowing fields
all by touch because touch is what’s real.
That is what the streets are missing: the touch, the feel
there is plenty of noise, some taxi driver somewhere
is shouting “mister! mister!” and then saying the wrong price
another one is honking his horn
at the bus trying to squeeze through a very small space
while somewhere out there lightning is in the distance.
There are lots of colors, variants of green
but also bright oranges and yellows
that painters try to imitate with their brushes.
And here is this man, unknown with his grey cap on
that says San Francisco and shows the lines where sweat reached
on hot humid days, and he has what everyman wants
for when one hears his music, one knows
exactly where it comes from, exactly what he wants to say
that he is from the earth and now lives on the street
that he knows better than anyone what happens there
that he need no newspaper, no radio, no cell phone
that he is the city and that is why his coffee jar
never gets filled.
Starving, deaf, dumb, blind, in good spirits
in good health, and otherworldly sense to feel
just what is going on, in San Jose
in Costa Rica
in America
in the world.
————————————————-
Not Responsible
By Alan Lewis Rodman

Not Responsible
Not responsible for lost or
stolen Oracles.
Rider assumes all risk
or benefit
of any unforseen eventuality
due to weather,
serendipity or
Act of God, whichever
comes first.
No addition or subtraction
can be made
to or from the
incomparable perfection of
who you truly are.
————————————–
The American Dream Scheme
By Marty Liboff D.2014

The rich get richer
The poor get poorer
The middle class
Get it up the ass!
The system is stacked against you
Ya gotta slave till you’re black & blue.
Ya have to fuck for a buck
The poor have no luck.
Yet the buck flies away
The capitalist dollar won’t stay.
Your kids are naked and need food
While your boss & the banks are just rude.
All your money just to survive
Doesn’t matter how much you strive.
We’re brain washed by movies & TV
You starve while the rich travel & ski.
The American Dream
Is just an evil scheme
To keep ya slavin so others get rich
Ain’t it a bitch!
The rich hate food stamps & welfare
They call it a commie scare.
The media continue the corporate lie
While the poor & homeless die.
Money, money everywhere
Yet all ya can do is stare, it ain’t fair.
Corporations get all the dough
While the homeless have no where to go.
The police & army to keep the masses down
They pay them well to protect the iniquity in town.
More & bigger jails for the have nots
While in crumby schools your kid rots.
Giant mansions, jets & a yacht
You’re judged by what ya got.
The rich say pick yourself up by the bootstrap
While they cruise all over the map, it’s all crap!
They say a rich man’s heaven is a poor man’s, hell
The rich spoil the earth & make it smell.
Work, worktill ya die
While your children cry.
The rich only want tax breaks
While they drink fine wine, lobster & steaks.
They claim this is a free country
But you’re only free ifya have money …
The rich get richer
The poor get poorer
The middle class
Get it up the ass!
———————————————-
Yo Saturnalia! (the original Christmas)
By Jim Smith

At the bottom of the year
we are soaked with fear

of economic loss throughout the land
and no leaders who will take a stand

The days dwindle away
And night comes to stay

Then festive Saturnalia arrives
and the social world comes alive

Yes, it’s true, this land is now quite a fright
But a new year is being born this very night

The Sun – and days of revels – are coming again
in our happy land where love is not a sin

A toast to a new year of kindness and peace in faraway lands
And all across our fair city, to the poor, a helping hand.

Citizens of the World, let’s end the strife
and enjoy another year of light and life
—————————————————-
14:41 Monday, December 22nd, 2014, Adullam
By Roger Houston, post-beat romantic

….. You’re right around the corner.
Januaire. You’re sure to flex your muscles. One to dare. To enter. Roaring.
Rattling your cage. You’re here before the ink dries on the page. Dear January.
Bringing a new year. And lots of rain and snow. A deluge. Here. It’s in your
nature. So predictable. It’s senseless to resist you. Hear the call. The slow
parade of months. Let us prepare. To welcome you. Professing that we care. But
should your sojourn turn into a siege. I hope that you won’t escalate and rage.
Well. Do your worst. In truth. Don’t really care. We’re waiting for you. Darling
Januaire ….. Happy New Year!


Harry Drinkwater Remembered

January 1, 2015

Harry Drinkwater was my friend and part of my life for almost 40 years. He was a total inspiration to me because he knew how to live his life to the fullest. He remained young at heart and was dancing and partying with friends into his nineties. He always had a reason to get up in the morning because he had his life’s work, his legacy of photography to work on. I enjoyed his company and had many enlightening conversations with him about astrology or philosophy. I always used to make cookies for him and he loved them. He will be missed by all who knew him.
– Nancy Reimold

“One, two, three, four. One two three four” he patiently whispered gently in my ear as he lead me around the dance floor. A row of women waited for a turn as a party raged on around us. Mr. Harry Drinkwater was the charmer of Venice and an integral part of every dance party. I even remember women circling him and chanting “Harry, Harry!” as he reached out for the next dance partner.
My husband, KPFK DJ Derek Rath, and I met Harry in 1981 when he came to our dance parties at our photo studio in the Venice Place on what was known then as West Washington Blvd. If he did not charm you with a dance he would with his historical photography. Harry’s famous  line– which he used on all women who asked him how he was doing—was always said with a sweet smile–“Better now!”.  I will so sadly miss Harry and our parties will not be the same.
-Sylvia Rath

In the year 1959, fifty-five years ago, I met Harry Drinkwater when I was a young thespian at LA City College. On Santa Monica Blvd., near the College, was the Xanadu Coffee House, where all of the “cool” people hung out. Many actors, painters and an assortment of other artists were always there sharing stories. When I first met Harry Drinkwater, and his camera, I assumed he must be a descendant from some North American indigenous group. I later discovered he had grown up in the wine country, the grape growing region with all of the vineyards in Napa, north of San Francisco. In l9l9 when Harry was born, that area was almost devoid of African Americans.
As an l8 yr.old, having grown up in South Central Los Angeles and never having spent much time in Hollywood, I was wide-eyed and open to new experiences. I was so flattered when Harry asked me to model for him and introduced me to many other photographers. I later learned there were times when he did not have film in his camera. We laughed because so many artists were attempting to make an impression. Working with Harry was effortless because he allowed me to be comfortable, and encouraged me to take charge of my work. One of the most revered memories was that he was never inappropriate. I felt safe when we worked. In l963, I met and married my present husband of fifty-one years, and Harry became a part of our extended family. He took numerous photos of our family and came and stayed with us when we lived near Yosemite and visited us for several weeks in December 2012 here on Maui.
One of the things he and I had in common was our love for dance. In Venice, there used to be the Taurus Tavern, with Sam Taylor singing. We danced until our feet were barely able to support us. Many times our clothes were wet with perspiration. Some of those times, our children and other younger people joined in. Those memories cannot be duplicated. Dancing was a release from the week trivia and other challenges. Dancing was our salvation. When there was racial disharmony, anti-war sentiments, environmental disputes, our way was to briefly escape through dance.
Harry was instrumental in the development of our underground classic feature musical drama LIVING THE BLUES with Blues Hall of Famer Sam Taylor, who was a friend of Harry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxOmEqo-Wk Now available on GooglePlay: https://earthspirit.pivotshare.com/
As long as I knew Harry, he was always planning for a show. Was he perfect? Of course not. Who is? He was, however, a gentle soul, always working on an upcoming project, a Getty sponsored Culver City Gallery exhibited his last show and a photograph book was published in the Group Show. At the end of our conversation, I would say “I love you, Harry.” His reply was “EASY.”
– Galyn Gorg

Harry Drinkwater was a warm hearted man with a sweet smile. He photographed some of my first baby photos. There were times when we danced and partied with the entire family on many occasions. What a blast we had. “How you doing, Harry D,?” After a while, he would look at you, or hear your voice on the phone, his response was, “Better Now.” Love you, Harry D.

These comments are just a brief sketch of Harry Drinkwater. Enjoy the photographs.
Harry, wherever you have traveled to in your new assignment, we will just say, “HEY DUDE.”

– Regina Barton


This Paper is a Moebius Loop!

December 1, 2014

By Erica Snowlake

The Beachhead is celebrating its 46th birthday this December, and a party for its 400th issue will take place at Beyond Baroque the first of February. I am fortunate to have written for the paper from 2006 – 2010, and consider that experience one of the highlights of my life. I’ve since become an ideological refugee, and organic gardener, in Canada (the Govt. squeezes the same, only Nature and Idle No More are gaining!).
Retaining ties to the Beachhead Collective, I recently spent 11 sun-blessed days in the Fair City, which passed bittersweetly, as the Spirit of Venice’s vibrancy and authenticity seemed to me, sorely set upon, by the same forces, throughout the years, that so many have actively engaged to resist : an unprecedented run-for-the-money. As I walked down Abbot Kinney, in shock at all the high-end clothing stores, a woman, accessorized-in-gold and sporting an immaculate tan, shot a victorious smile in my wake. On Rose Avenue, remnants of the dispossessed silently commiserated. Two sides of the same coin – ever-entangled – the haves and have-nots, existing in their prospective, peaking whammies of Rise and Fall; disproportional extremes, and sad follies of a system based on competition, greed, and cruelty. Where do you and I, and freedom, fit in?…. expressing ways out! swaying with the Venice Drum Orchestra, and the Drum Circle, watching sunsets on the beach, glorying in creative realities nobody can own. Does our comfort burn so brightly?!!!…that we are loathe to share?
Thank Heavens! the Beachhead’s still at the forefront, fighting the good fight, for social justice and equality (The Lady, as the Beat Poets affirmed, still exists!). In service of This Paper Is A Poem, former Beachhead collectivist Jim Smith and I are curating a project to record each issue in the online archives (www.freevenice.org). A totality of time-traveling fun! – scanning Beachheads of yore, page by page (some of the Seventies’ issues were 24 pages!), marveling at the scope of human endeavor and decades of organization, coalition and co-operation, evident in articles, letters, and listings of happenings and events, by the diverse groups and individuals who have dedicated themselves to unite their community / home (a particularly unique beacon of hope). This little paper (distribution 8,000 a month) is testament to the creativity and ingenuity of Venetians, to resist the mainstream, political and capitalist dogma, and racial and gender inequality, of our times, with humor, spirituality, and courage! The Muse remains sacred to the task! The Word burns!
From 1974, forty years ago, the headline “Should Venice Secede” demonstrated one of the hotter issues of the day. It was reported that, in a secession “investigation” at the Venice Pavilion, involving 100 people, “50 per cent were vehemently supportive of separating from greater Los Angeles, 40 per cent were inquisitive about the possibilities, about 10 per cent wanted to secede from California and/or the U.S., and the other 10 per cent were looking for the bathroom or didn’t know what secession meant.” The Seventies’ Beachheads featured “Dr. Zane’s Lobotomy Column” by Jim Zane (“A Monthly Column of Advice on All Subjects the Doctor Knows Absolutely Nothing About”), updates from the Peace and Freedom Party (founded in Venice by John Haag in 1967), Coastal Commission hearings, and the timely articles and comical rants of BH staff writer, Carol Fondiller, (“Invasion of the Afflu-Hip”,”Poop on Bike Path”, “Nude Beach : On Again Off Again”). Carol’s column Harpy Droppings was a staple of the paper for years. Antics of the people revolved around the canals, which were an undeveloped haven for hippies. The 5th Annual Venice Canal Festival, promised a “Saturnalia! of barges filled with drunken, stoned, and singing revelers, Hare Krishna food feasts, baroque music, and wares of all description.” Photos in the Beachhead express hedonistic, tribal pleasure; respite, perhaps, from impending evictions.
Portent of a sustained, loud cry against rampant development and burgeoning rents, the first VTC (Venice Town Council) meeting took place in November, 1974, at the Venice City Hall. A petition to Councilwoman Pat Russell stated that the residents of Venice “should not have to submit to their neighborhoods being remade according to the whims of the City of Los Angeles Engineers.” This also foreshadowed the beginning of a long and ferocious battle, spearheaded by the Beachhead, to replace Councilwoman Russell!
In August 1974, the paper paid tribute to poet Stuart Z. Perkoff, filling the entire back page with his poetry. The Venice Chapter of The Temple of Man offered daily, 24 hr. religious and civil services, including legalizing common-law marriages. Food Co-ops, Civic Unions, and Free Clinics made their debuts. Advertisements, bringing in much-needed revenue to cover printing costs, highlighted the Fox Theater, the Meat-less Mess-hall, the Comeback Inn, the Midnight Special Bookstore, and the Feminist Wicca (see Krista Schwimmer’s August 2014 interview with former owner Z. Budapest). My personal fave ad design, for the intrepid Sandalmaker, appears below.
Thirty years ago, January 1984, opened with the prophetic headline, “God is Dead and the World is Corrupt” by Alice Cramden. The Eighties’ issues often featured two pages of poetry, and resounded with articles about homelessness; “L.A. Shuns the Walking Wounded”, “The Homeless Economy”, while denouncing its cause; “The Resurgence of the Right”, “Venice Land-Rush Continues”. Cartoon grotesqueries of President Ronald Reagan and still-in-power-but-going-down-hard Russell provided comic relief (the saga of her political demise culminated in a red-inked Beachhead cover, March 1987.) The Ballona Wetlands were an important local environmental concern. There’s great interviews (I enjoyed one with Ken Kesey, who lived in Venice, 1960-61) and extensive coverage of news on the national and international level. Back pages of the Eighties issues featured a lifesize drawing of Thomas’ World Famous Chili Burger, at 108 Washington, where breakfasts cost 99 cents! The Fox Theater was still cranking counter-culture films (and where the Beachhead meetings took place).
Do past Beachheads tell the Boardwalk’s tale? Yes! it’s a hoot, and spans, well, nearly a century, if you consider it an extension of Abbot Kinney’s freakshow / circus carnival on Windward! I’d rightly call the Ocean Front Walk, Venice’s most holy expression, and one of the most interesting places on Planet Earth; an epic, living theater of rebellion, desire, jive, performance art and musical manifestation, of psychic power and invention, a people’s sanctuary-by-the-ever-changing-sea, a kaleidescope trip into the subconscious, that twists and writhes with beatific and horrific dreams and nightmares; ultimately, a place to be free. The forces that have been methodically and brutally targeting its demise, by harassing the very soul of its artists and defenders, are not worthy of the ink on this paper, though they have been duly noted and recorded. More thrilling is the legacy of all-who-have-laid-their-hearts-bare…..in bringing the phenomena to life and sustaining it.
It is known that places change, and sometimes, not-for-the-better. We must ride this oppression out. In the Nineties, things plain got too weird and paranoia set in, resulting in a Beachhead hiatus from 1993 onwards, until resurrection redeemed the paper in 2002. One gets the feeling, perceiving the continuity of the magic, gleaned in the Beachhead’s body of work since 1968, that Venice habitually pops open, like a psychedelic mushroom, to spread its irrepressible charm and message of communal, higher consciousness – Peace and Joy and Love. Don’t forget this. Delight in this fact / fate, and see if it doesn’t ring a bell. The Beachhead is a Moebius loop, a divine overview of history / herstory, that we have lived and created and continue to create together, reflecting an infinite crazy-eight of reality. Free Venice, symbol of a democratic republic, on land seeded by indigenous Gabrielino/Tongva visions, will find ways to endure. For now, as Jim Morrison sings in “The End”: “Ride the Snake!”……with its tale in its mouth!
BH1974


Invasion of the Afflu-Hip

December 1, 2014

This is a reprint from the December 1974 edition
Washington Blvd. was renamed Abbot Kinney Blvd. in 1990

By Carol Fondiller

About a year ago at a meeting between the affluent residents of the peninsula and the not-so-affluent residents of North Beach, a resident of the Peninsula looked at me with wide eyes. Walter Keane hurt, and after hearing our fears of the poor and not-so-poor being squeezed out of Venice by the Condo-Conspiracy, she reached out her well-manicured hand and timidly touched my nicotine-stained fingernails and said: “but don’t the rich have the right to live here too?” She had been reproaching me earlier for not being able to appreciate the simple values of the Waltons, i.e. Money isn’t everything, goodness of heart shall win the day over shrewdness or brain.
Several months ago I stopped in a boutique on Washington Blvd. It had a small restaurant in the back and I ordered a cup of coffee. The boutique had the quaint homey atmosphere that costs the customers an arm and a leg. There are no second-hand stores anymore. It is Memorabilia Lane – re-cycled clothes – nostalgia. It is chic to be second-hand. The man behind the counter was “creating a stew.” He told me this with a straight face … his earnest eyes looking at me with admiration and friendliness from under his carefully tousled locks.
“I used to be in Aero-Space, but I chucked it all, I was tired of selling out. So I bought some property – and now I have time to be creative. The arts are wonderful. It’s great to be creative … it’s groovy.” I liked the man, because – well, he liked me, so I bit back the reply that creativity was as much fun as a cancer experiment. But, because I liked him, we just kept mumbling creative shit at one another – just living can be an art, living art was a living and ah, la vie Boheme.
I tasted his stew. It was picturesque and exotic, lots of flair, a real fun stew.
I walked down Washington Blvd. Though some of the more necessary, scruffy shops still remained, a market, a plumbing shop and one of the few remaining junk shops, most of it had been turned into quaintiques selling things that used to be sold to the poor and imaginative for second hand necessities were now selling these same things as Metataxis for the fun set. For some reason, though, I love these shops, I began to feel hostile towards them.
A clothes store that sells imported clothes is on this street. When I first went in to buy I was told where things came from and what they were called – the last time I went in I waited and waited though I was first, while a young woman pulled out her designers discount card and proceeded to turn that nice little place into Beverly Hills by her uncenciously arrogant attitude.
A friend told me of a conversation he had with a french artist. The artist predicted that Venice would become a watering place for the Jet Set. “Venice will be gone. When the Jet Set comes into a place they ruin it. Look what they did to Saint Tropez and Puerto Vallarta. Venice is being talked about in Cannes and Niece and Majorca. I give Venice two more years.”
I read an article about Venice in L.A. Magazine, “Venice Opens Up.” It burbled to its upwardly mobile chic-in readership about the boutiques in Venice, the quaint houses and hotels being refurbished, and renovating and evicting of the quaint but not so clean or creative tenants so that Venice could become a center for the arts.
Now, I have nothing against restoration and preservation of old buildings. I am glad that Windward might be saved from condemnation and that the arches and gargoyles of Venice will remain. But I think a case might be made for preserving the present inhabitants of Venice no matter how uncreative they may be. In a way I think we should all stop “being creative” for a while just so the word doesn’t strangle on macrame plant holders. And perhaps a choice will have to be made between people who aren’t so wonderful and cute chic houses.
I met a woman who thought the Vietnam war was ghastly. She taught school in Watts. And yet when presented with the problem of walking wounded that roll down from broken homes, marriages, wars, and dreams down to Venice, where at least they can look at the ocean and think “the shit stops here” and are forced to relate to people, not sit tranqued out in a “convalescent” home where no one ever convalesces. They have to go out and get groceries and pay rent. This piece of reality is all that some of them have. And I speak for myself at times in that last sentence. Well this comfortably well off woman, this sensitive articulate human looked at me and smiled sadly (maybe she’d read Chekov) and said “You can’t stop progress.”
I was leaning out my window one quiet night and I saw a young fun couple walk by my apartment house. They walked by and yanked some flower roots and all from the flower box. Now the box had been built by the landlord, but all the tenants in the building had contributed plants and time to making things grow. “Hey, don’t do that!”, I yelled. They turned their shiny mass-produced faces towards me. Ken and Barbie in funky drag. “Oh wow, take it back,” they laughed and they threw the not so prize marguerite over the fence with easy contempt. I tried to replant it. The little shrub didn’t cost much. It was just that easy way they destroyed it.
It then occurred to me. L.A. Magazine, whose style tries to be New Yorker, aims at a particular audience – they make on the average of $29,000 a year, own at least two cars, eat out a lot, buy scotch by the case (and grass by the pound?).
They are the Afflu-Hip.
They like Venice because it’s quaint, it’s funky, it’s groovy. Artists abound. They can be far-out and study astrology. But they feel uncomfortable when they see a literally dirty old man sit next to them at the “in” place where they eat. A vague resentment when they see someone pull out food stamps in J. Allan’s Safeway.
Venice should be cleaned out and cleaned up. It should be sanitized, Bowelderized. It should be a Thousand Oaks barbeque where grass is smoked. And “creativity”? Well, isn’t that what it’s all about? But please, no troublesome art – just gentle mediocrity. Nothing to clash with the wall paper.
It’s alright if a crazy sings and throws flowers. The Afflu-Hips can relate to that. But don’t cry too often. And I like some of these people – the Afflu-Hips. Some of them are embarrassingly impressed when they find out I write. “Oh, how creative!” they moan. “I wish I could write.” “Well, so do I,” I answer. And they think I’m being falsely modest. But lemme tell ya, ya don’t count for nothin’ with them if you aren’t creative or at least a character with an ‘interesting face’.
But the Afflu-Hip still come by the gross. And the quaint streets will be widened for their two or more cars and the craftsman artist living quarters will be filled with candle dippers, furniture makers and painters of white on white canvas, and oh God macrame and splotchy tye chics. And in time parties will abound and Venice will be Laguna-ized.
The article on Venice in the October ’74 Beachhead issue says “Luxury apartments and condominiums fill every available beachfront lot … It’s still Venice though, the tenants all wear levis.”
Ah yes, the people that ruined Greenwich Village are now camping in Venice – they want to live the life of an artist or the simple life the same way a family drives to a national park and complains about the lack of toilets and electrical outlets.
Yes, the rich have a right to live here, but so do the people who’ve made a choice not to be rich, or those who have no chance at all of making it – they have never had a choice of selling out – no one wanted to buy them. The not-so-rich, the non-affluent need the ocean also, and they don’t need the gargoyles. Not only are the Afflu-Hips driving property values up, they are distorting mine. The rich need more room than the poor.
Another story. I was on Ocean Front Walk when I saw an exquisitely groomed middle age man focusing a camera on a “quaint old bum”, who was sleeping one off. I was fascinated by the fact that both men were wearing levis. The middle age man’s, however, were tailored, and he had a beautifully cut denim jacket. After shooting his shot the man walked by me. I nearly fell off the bench. Mr. Middle Age was not wearing simple denim. The suit was suede, dyed and cut to look like a levi outfit.
But you know what? He missed being funky by that much.
What the Afflu-Hips better realize is that they’d better keep all of us around – I mean who would they have to coopt ideas from if we were pushed out?
Venice might be saved from the Hell of High Rise, but the world is well lost when all we’ve gained after our struggles are refurbished historical monuments inhabited by people who could have afforded to live anywhere they wanted and yet chose to suck the sub-culture dry and throw out the husks.


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