Update: Kim’s Market, Gjelina’s Gjusta, and Sauce (259 Hampton) Appeal Hearing

February 1, 2015

By Roxanne Brown
The Beachhead has been updating readers since April 2013 on some of the absurd developments that Mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration and Councilman Mike Bonin’s office seem to be approving and pushing through at the objection of residents.
600 Mildred (Kim’s Market): Proposed change of use from market to restaurant with alcohol and late night hours, three feet from residents’ homes with no on-site parking near coastal access route and intersection of Mildred, Ocean, and Venice. On pause.
320 Sunset (Gjelina’s Gjusta):
Zoning Administration (ZA) hearing was November 13. No decision was made as of end of January. In my view, it’s because Garcetti’s administration and Bonin’s office are trying to push this project on resistant residents.
Hundreds of residents oppose the proposed change of use from “bakery” to restaurant with alcohol and late night hours, 12 feet 6 inches from residents’ homes, providing limited parking, at a location where several streets and parking lots intersect.
A car accident at Gjusta occurred on January 9, Friday, at approximately 1 p.m. A woman driving a Mercedes sports car convertible was entering Gjusta’s lot. She thought the parking attendant was telling her to back up, so she backed up without looking and hit a parking enforcement vehicle. A police report was filed.
Residents brought this safety concern up at the ZA Hearing. The parking lot at Gjusta is dangerous. Drivers back out of the lot into oncoming traffic. This accident occurred in broad daylight under the influence of coffee. What might occur when drivers back out into traffic in the dark of night under the influence of alcohol?
Sauce at 259 Hampton has a permit for retail/take out, but has been operating as a sit down restaurant (with tables inside and outside on the sidewalk) for five years.
Without going through Venice’s Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) or the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC), the city approved “change of use” to restaurant with rooftop deck and liquor license. This was approved even though 259 Hampton is a mere fifteen feet from residents’ homes on a block with churches, synagogue, pre-school, and St. Joseph’s Center with religious services and day care. 259 Hampton would provide no parking, not even one handicapped space.
Ilana Marosi, appellant, Robin Rudisill, LUPC Chair, and I sat in the front row at the appeal hearing. Fran Camaj (owner of Gjelina, GTA, Gjusta and 1301 and 1305 Abbot Kinney) sat behind us with Stephen Vitalich (architect for 259 Hampton, 600 Mildred and 320 Sunset) and Sam Marshall (architect for 259 Hampton).
Chris Robertson, Director of Land Use and Planning in Bonin’s office, came into the hearing room prior to the hearing and asked Marosi to meet privately with the architects, Kevin Jones from City Planning, and Theodore Irving from Zoning.
It seemed that Robertson, city planning, zoning, and 259 Hampton’s architects were trying to coerce Marosi into not going forward with the hearing. The reason being they had two sets of plans and it was confusing. This “confusion” occurred with 320 Sunset and Gjelina’s Gjusta as well.
Two unidentified people (a man and a woman) were hovering on the edges of the meeting. The man came toward Marosi – who was openly recording the meeting – she asked his name, he refused to give it, and as she moved away from him, he pushed Marosi. We later learned he was the owner of 259 Hampton, Richard Gottlieb. Fortunately the entire conversation and the alleged assault were videotaped. A police report was filed.
Garcetti’s City Planning and Zoning employees began the hearing by confirming their approval of the project and urging that the hearing be delayed two weeks.
President of the Area Planning Commission (APC) Thomas Donovan noted that residents had waited more than three hours, and would be heard.
Commissioner Lisa Waltz Morocco began by stating the fact that 259 Hampton’s tract has almost four times the allowed alcohol licenses and four times the crime of the citywide average. She also had a copy (evidence provided by Marosi) of the LAPD’s letter stating that the LAPD did not want any more liquor licenses in the area. She asked, “How could the city approve this?”
Irving replied, “It’s a tourist attraction…we still stand by that approval.” Does that mean the city wants to add to the crime rate (which liquor licenses do) for residents and send tourists there?
Commissioner Esther Margulies asked, “How can you call for noise mitigation and then say it’s only required if it’s feasible?” The city’s response was convoluted.
Commission President Donovan asked why the Conditional Use Permit – Beverage (CUB) for alcohol license was for five years as opposed to the normal two years. Irving answered, “We don’t want to be punitive at this stage.” Do Bonin and Garcetti think it’s OK for residents to endure a nuisance for five years before anything can be done?
Vitalich was then able to present and urged that, “Appeal should be denied as the planning department recommended.” Marshall said, “The planning department, zoning department and council’s office took us outside, told us that this would be continued. As a result the applicant has left along with a lot of people that were going to be here. We just want this on the record. We were told [by Garcetti’s planning and zoning people and Bonin’s office] this was not going to be happening this evening.”
No worries: the hearing is on the city’s audio recording and residents’ videotapes contain the attempted coercion, alleged assault, and the hearing itself.
During the hearing, I pointed out an alarming discrepancy. On the CUB application, when asked whether 259 Hampton was within 1,000 feet of churches, schools, synagogues, someone had answered “No.” Garcetti’s administration and Bonin’s office approved the project despite the fact that maps show a synagogue and churches are on the same block as 259 Hampton.
Lori Geller, who owns a fourplex directly across the street from 259 Hampton said, “This is insane.”
The commissioners appeared appalled throughout the hearing. They unanimously voted for the appeal and denial of the project.
Some people in the Garcetti administration and in Councilman Bonin’s office apparently have forgotten that they work for tax paying citizens. Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Bonin seem to have forgotten this as well.

A representative from Mike Bonin’s office contacted the Beachhead and asked that we print a retraction to Roxanne Brown’s January article. We were asked to mention that Bonin is against the development at Gjusta. Although Bonin did take a stand against the patio at Gjusta, the more important issue that he needs to stand against is the alcohol license that the establishment is seeking. Even the LAPD recommended that Gjusta not be given the alcohol license. As our elected representative, we expect Bonin to take more action against all developments operating illegally in Venice.

The Illusion of Crime and Enforcement of Poverty

February 1, 2015

By Mark Lipman
A lot has been said in the chat-rooms of Venice regarding “crime” in our community. It’s no coincidence that every single incident of “crime” that is cherry-picked to report is about someone who is homeless. The comparison and subsequent demonization of an entire economic class of our society has become so prevalent that homelessness in people’s minds has become synonymous with crime. 
 It is no mystery then, when we find that 80% of our police “work” and resources are spent on policing “crimes” of status and basic survival, such as sitting, eating and sleeping. The police in Venice are so busy with their “work” of enforcing poverty on the weakest among us that when they are actually needed they’re never around.
 We have housed residents in a literal panic, fearing every shadow, calling for more and more police to prop up some illusion of security, so they can feel safe at night. No doubt their fear is real. However, fear is easily manipulated and way too often leads to irrational decision making that exasperates the problems we wish to solve.
 The false solution – the myth – that more police make us safe – must be exposed for the lie that it is.
 Police violence is currently at an all time high. We have had over 500 deaths at the hands of the police in this country every year for the last ten years. That’s over 5,000 people – Americans – killed by our police in just the last decade alone. So calling for more cops to prevent acts of crime and violence makes just about as much sense as does putting climate change denier Ted Cruz in charge of NASA. 
The last time we got “more cops” in Venice they attacked Venice resident, Ron Weekley Jr., a 20 year old college student – breaking his jaw – for the “crime” of skateboarding while black. If our goal is to decrease crime – and may I remind everyone that the greatest crime there is, is poverty – the last thing we need is more armed thugs with badges patrolling our streets, creating crime to fill quotas.
 If, as is so often noted, the targets of all this frustration are those who live on the streets; if no one wants to see homelessness, then why not do something to directly solve the problem?
 The only true solution to homelessness is housing. For a decade now, advocates around the country have been promoting the Housing First model, the same one that is currently being employed in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is on track to eliminate homelessness there – this year.
 Now, the very first argument we hear from opponents of this plan is that they adamantly do not want to pay for those who are homeless to be housed. However, what is so difficult to get these people to understand is that they – and all of us – are already paying much more to keep people living destitute on the streets, than it does to simply provide the housing.
 Many do not want to believe it; however, the fact is that Housing First costs less – a lot less.
 In Salt Lake City, the city is currently saving upwards of $12,000 per year for every person they move off the streets and into permanent supportive housing.  Here in Los Angeles – the L.A. County version which is already underway is currently saving the county $20,000 per person, per year.
 Yet, here on the city side of the jurisdiction – for the last ten years – all we’ve received is more police. 
 Mike Bonin recently released a very well crafted letter, where he acknowledged the concerns of both sides on this issue, and then cast Housing First as something long-term that will take a long-time to happen, but today, he concluded, “we need more cops” – and that’s the only policy he’s pushing … the exact policy his predecessor, Bill Rosenthal, gave us with his “Vehicles to Housing” plan that gave us more police and not a single safe parking place for those sleeping in their vehicles, who just a few short years ago were the targets.
 Something drastic needs to happen in the mindset of those who occupy Los Angeles City Hall. 
Did you know that last year the City of Los Angeles spent $1.2 BILLION on police and a paltry $700,000 on housing … and this year there’s nothing – ZERO Dollars for housing in this year’s budget? How do you expect to solve the serious economic and social problems we face, such as homelessness, when we invest all our resources into police to maintain and enforce the status quo of poverty, and nothing on the solutions?
 Mike Bonin and Eric Garcetti are directly responsible for implementing the solutions. If that means opening up the city budget to properly fund proven solutions; if that means simply paying market rate in order to get people off the streets and into housing, so they can get back on their feet and start making a positive contribution to our society; and if that means defunding the LAPD to do it – then so be it – that’s what they must do.

Bird Totems of Venice: The Gull

February 1, 2015

By Krista Schwimmer
If there is one seabird that defines a shoreline, it is the gull. Prolific, noisy, pesky and personable, the gull appears in a variety of cultures as hero, trickster, or villain. Sailors say it is unlucky to kill a gull as it could be the soul of a dead sailor returned. Native Americans believe that a flight of gulls wheeling high in the sky indicates a storm is coming.
There are around 28 species of gulls, with at least 22 of them either residing in or visiting North America. Part of the family Laridae, these birds are most closely related to terns. Although known by many as seagulls, birders call them gulls, as most feed inland. They are medium to large, grey or white birds with black markings on their heads or wings.They range in size from the Little Gull, with a body length of 12 inches and wingspan of 24 inches to the Great Black-backed Gull with a body length of 30 inches, and wingspan in the mid-60s. Not surprising, these scavengers are the least speciali

zed feeders of all seabirds, gathering their food through hunting in air, on water, or on land.
Gulls are long lived. One Herring Gull was documented as living 49 years. They are also, curiously, monogamous for life. Now and then, a pair may “divorce”. This, however, is frowned upon by the pair’s colony. The happy couple breeds once a year, with a breeding season of three to five months. The number of eggs range from one to three, depending on the species of gull. Both sexes incubate the eggs. Females even form bonds with other females to help raise the young.
Most species of gulls have black wingtips aiding in resistance to wear and tear. The Tsimshian of Alaska say the reason for these tips was that when a Raven caught the gulls eating all of his food, he threw them in the fire, singeing their feathers.
Because of their inter-breeding and change in plumage, gulls are not always easy to identify. Walking along the Pacific Ocean here in Venice, some of the species you may find are: the Black-legged Kittiwake, the California Gull, the Great Black-backed Gull, Heemann’s Gull, the Herring Gull, the Mew Gull, Thayer’s Gull, and the Western Gull.
Like other birds, gulls have great eyesight, due to an extra cone in their eyes that allows them to see infrared. A gull looking at a blue sky actually sees a violet one. They can drink seawater due to a special pair of glands right above their eyes that flushes the salt out through openings in their bills. Some people see them as pests – and they certainly will steal your picnic food if left unattended; but they serve an important role as scavengers, cleaning the environment of dead animals and litter. In many countries, too, they are protected by wildlife conservation laws.
Those of you who lived through the ’70s most likely remember one of the most famous literary gulls of all times: Jonathon Livingston Seagull. In 1970, Richard Bach published “Jonathon Livingston Seagull.”With fewer than 10,000 words, and black and white photographs by Russell Munson, Bach’s allegory on death and the after life became a bestseller. Hardcover sales broke the record set in 1936 by “Gone With the Wind”. The author had a unique background in flying, having served in the United States Navy Reserve, later in the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 108th Fighter Wing, 141st Fighter Squadron as a F-84F pilot.
In this same decade, the Free Venice Beachhead’s Masthead was redone by Brice Wood. His first rendition came out in April 1974, issue #54. A colorful Masthead with a central sun that remains the same today, his first drawing included a little house with a lighthouse behind it being struck by lightning, just to the right of the Masthead. Three issues later, in the July 1974 edition, Brice had taken out the lightning struck lighthouse (reminiscent of the Tower card in the tarot) and replaced it with the “Chee Wah Wah” squawking gull.
One of the more interesting tales associated with gulls is how the California Gull became the state bird for Utah. According to the Mormons, when the first Mormon settlers in Utah were experiencing a plague of katydids in the late spring of 1848, California Gulls mysteriously appeared and ate them all up. To this day, there is a monument to the California Gull located in front of the Salt Lake Assembly Hall on Temple Square. When gull appears in one’s life in a significant way, Ted Andrews says this bird brings lessons or abilities in proper behavior, courtesy, and communication. Because they are often found along the shoreline, a place considered to be magical because the land meets the ocean, gull can teach a person how to communicate with the world of water sprites.
Whether it is a California Gull you see, or a Laughing Gull you hear, don’t underestimate these seafaring birds. After all, legend says they even fooled Raven once. Instead, remember the Old British story of St. Kenneth who was said to be raised by Black-headed gulls. As a baby, these gulls found him floating off the coast of Wales in the year 550. They took him to their colony, where with the help of a doe and her milk, and an angel, they raised him. As a result, St. Kenneth became a kind and joyful man.
So go ahead. Mingle with the gulls. Or, like Venice’s Poet Laureate, Philomene Long once did, put on a bright, pink raincoat and become their sunset.
(Sources: http://bit.ly/1CzBiKF (Birds of NA); http://bit.ly/1xNz6tw; Rosemary Drisdell at http://bit.ly/1EcY8cI: Audobon.org; “Animal Speak” by Ted Andrews; wikipedia)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


By Philomene Long

“As for me, I delight in the everyday way,
Amidst wrapped vines and rocky caves.

Here in the wilderness I am completely free.”
Han Shan, Cold Mountain

Silver days at the Ellison
Longest rainstorm in ten years
Beneath the slippery sky

The Ellison glistening
Dangling raindrops

Silver sounds


I slip out to the sea

I am the only person

On Venice Beachhead

Grey sea, grey sky, grey sea gulls

I am wearing a bright pink raincoat

The seagulls believe I am the sunset

They turn their backs to the sea and face me
They assume their sunset viewing positions
Chests forward

Motionless. Except for

An occasional scratch of the ear

The flutter of a wing

We watch each other

I act like the sunset for them

I raise my glowing pink arms

I stand motionless for a long time
Kneel, then recline upon my heels
Alone on Venice Beachhead

It is all so slow, so simple

Being a sunset

Back at the Ellison.

Alone at the black iron gate

I look up

Soft rain sliding

Over the red bricks

Two red brick wings open

As if to embrace me

Two ghostly shimmering red wings

We watch each other

I look at the Ellison

As the sea gulls looked at me
I love this old building!

I love this old building!

Ah! yes, Kukai, the gulls and
Yes! Even these stones

Will become Buddhas

Bringing Home The Beachhead

February 1, 2015

By Brenda Harvey

This is a re-print from the April 1978 100th edition

It is 10:30 at night and we are exhausted and waiting to pick up a borrowed truck to drive out to Glendale.
“I can’t find his keys!” my friend’s friend moans. “Can you start it without keys?”
I sigh, knowing I’ll never be able to hot-wire a pick-up. “Wait a minute – here they are.” She hands us an enormous ring full of keys, selecting one that looked right. “I think it’s this one.”
Great. We can get started after all. We are on our way to pick up  this month’s Beachhead from the printer. All 10,000 copies of it. The printer is out in Glendale, and every month a good friend of the Beachhead volunteers her time to drive the box of pasted-up pages out to an old bricked industrial building off an alley in downtown Glendale. A few days later, someone from the collective goes out to pick up the bundles of printed papers.
Up to now this rather grubby job has fallen to one member of the collective who has a van and who has had access to a functional truck. The van isn’t available this time and the truck is out of town – and this particular collective member is ready for the relief crew.
We are it. We’ve both gone before, as co-pilots, but we’ve never gone by ourselves.
We feel like we are soloing. I am pretty tall – but my friend is taller. The pedals are so far in front of me that I must extend my legs straight to make contact at all. And there’s no adjusting the seat – it has long since rusted in place. So I scoot forward and struggle to find the accelerator.
The engine turns over three times before it catches, and it sounds downright reluctant. It dies at every stop sign as we head over to pick up the list of directions to the printer. I remember my friend’s admonition when I’d asked if we could borrow the pick-up: “It drives like a truck,” he’d said, with an air of concern. l always expect a pickup to drive like a truck – as long as it drives.
We head for the San Diego Freeway.
“What’s the gas gauge say?” Olga asks me.
“Quarter of a tank.”
“So we have half. Your friend said the gauge registers a quarter tank less than it has.”
“Hope that’ s right…”
I struggle to shift into third and realize that it is an automatic after all. That’s OK, I need both hands on the wheel. At the on-ramp I can tell the steering is shot. To keep the thing straight in the lane I have to turn the wheel as if I were doing a slalom.
The rig shifts into high gear and the whole cab begins to vibrate. I can’t see a thing in the rear-view mirror – it is a vibrating blur.
“How’s it drive?” Olga shouts. The off-road tires are making so much noise it’s like being inside a blender.
“Just barely?” I shout back. I am concerned about the wild ride – there is a lot of traffic – I am nervous.
We get hysterical, and I am not sure if we should have volunteered to do this after all. That truck is downright dangerous, and neither of us is really sure where we are going.
Still, it is the first of the month, and the Beachhead has been waiting for us 24 hours already. And in Glendale, at that. We do at least feel we want to bring the Beachhead home.
When a Bekins truck roars up beside us, I pray there will be no stray hub cap in the lane ahead. The steering can’t take a sudden swerve, and traffic surrounds us.
At cruising speed the sound of the off-road tires diminishes somewhat and we can communicate in a casual shout. So we shout and laugh and miss the turn onto the Ventura Freeway. With a bit of encouragement I make a U-turn and we are back on the Freeway – no cops in sight.
We roar along to where the directions say we should turn. “The directions are wrong,” Olga says with conviction. “Don’t turn here.”
The gas gauge reads less than E.
We pass the turn-off and end up right where we want to be. The directions really were wrong – and we are really running on empty.
The directions say to go 7 lights to an Armenian restaurant and turn left on Broadway. We go 6 lights and it’s Broadway and we never see the restaurant. We pass the alley where we are supposed to turn, and owing to the peculiar pattern of one-way streets in Glendale, we must go around two different blocks before we can take a pass by again.
Finally we’re there. It has taken us a little more than an hour of pretty crazy driving, the gas gauge is below empty, it’s the middle of the night, and no gas stations are in sight, much less open.
Inside the printers the presses are idle. Stacks of white-ribboned bundles are everywhere.
“We came for the Beachhead,” we say to someone looking as strung-out as we feel.
“Well, if it’s done it’ll be here, somewhere.”
“If it’s done???”  We look at each other. The truck keys jangle in my palm.
“I’m sure it’s around here somewhere.”
An assortment of Valley papers and weekly LA throwaways were everywhere, stacked shoulder high on palettes and arranged around the presses in strict disorder. We search and hunt and read snatches of headlines above justified margins. Finally we find the Beachhead.
“Will your truck take the palette?”
“Sure,” I say, forgetting the metal frame over the truck bed.
An electric cart moves the palette, stacked sixbundles high, to the truck. Clearly it is never going to fit. The top layer will have to be moved. We shift ten bundles off the stack into the truck bed. The forklift eases the palette over the. center of the truck bed, then moves back. ·
The springs creak and groan and go all the way down, so that the fenders just clear the top of the rear tires. This is a half-ton pick-up?
Olga and I look at the stack of papers with satisfaction. We’d gotten them – and without moving them all by hand. Loading the palette onto the truck was a great idea. We cop a couple of papers to read on the road, and are closing up the tailgate when one of the printer people points out that with the papers stacked that high, they’ll be sure to fall off as we drive.
His point is well taken. Olga and I flash on a trail of Beachheads being scattered from Glendale to the San Diego Freeway. Then we move half the bundles off the palette and into the truck bed. Our hands are black with printers ink, and the bundles are falling apart right and left. The tying machine hadn’t worked properly., and the ribbon ties around the bundles come apart in our hands.
Finally we’re ready to go.
I hadn’t seen the paper at paste-up, and Olga begins reveling over this page and that I can’t take it and suggest we stop for coffee. Great. We park on a side street, wondering how it would feel to come out and discover that Glendale had ripped off the Beachhead.
The coffee shop is almost empty, and we take a table large enough to accommodate two copies of the paper spread-eagled across it. We are on page three before the waitress brings coffee to our grubby hands, and we go through the paper twice, anticipating a second cup. It doesn’t come, so we take our papers and our tip and split.
Back on the freeway, we shudder into high gear and lean back to enjoy the vibrations. The roar isn’t so bad the second time around, but the steering is worse. All that weight in back has created a new problem. The accelerator is working overtime. It has a life of its own now, pumping up and down under my foot whenever the hell it feels like it.
I steer for dear life, trying not to look at the gas gauge, which now reads about a quarter tank below empty. We’ll either make it or we won’t – so we keep on.
Usually the driver who picks up the paper does initial distribution, that is, drives a long route from Santa Monica through Ocean Park and into Venice, delivering bundles of papers here and there. The route takes at least an hour.
My driving nerves are long gone, we are definitely out of gas, so we make a collective decision to distribute tomorrow. We drive straight to the Beachhead office and unload the paper, bundle by falling-apart bundle. It is pretty late and the stars are out and we are glad to be back in Venice – in one piece.
When we get back to my house, my car is gone. My friend had insisted that I trade my key for his, so he wouldn’t be without wheels. He isn’t. He’s out somewhere on mine.
I am concerned about his judgment – he drives this monster to work every day, and now he is out in my little car. When he reappears and I express my concerns about his truck and his safety, he says only, “Well, I told you it drives like a truck.”
Well, I’ve driven a lot of trucks in my day, and this one is a bomb. Thanks a lot, Kane, but next month we’ll have to get another truck.
Anyone care to volunteer?

The Beachhead and Me

February 1, 2015

By Suzy Williams

September 11, 2011. Everyone I know had a big reaction to the falling of the World Trade Towers. Paranoia. One dear friend became completely unhinged. Heightened patriotism. A lot of people put two American flags on their SUVs. And renewed commitment to peace. Having been a New Yorker for 17 years, my heart broke when I learned of all the firemen who got taken out, trying to save the day. I knew a lot of those guys; they shopped at Jefferson Market on 6th, and would ask me for cooking advice. How handsome and strapping they were! The mustaches, the humorous twinkle in their eyes. They were so heroically upbeat! And they walked right into that white bomb, with the idea of saving lives as their last thought. I hurt hard about that. But what I felt most of all was that we as Americans should not blindly retaliate. That would mean the loss of more strapping firemen in other lands!
So here I was in Venice, looking for some kind of grassroots movement that I could join and en masse, (hopefully a very large masse), we could discourage the government from taking a warlike tack. Right about then I saw a flyer somewhere that addressed my soul: a gathering was invited to discuss what peacefully to do about the fall of the towers. After a brief meeting at 5 Rose (there was a public room on the ground floor then), there was an invitation to 533 Rialto, the home of Jim Smith and Yolanda Miranda. I walked in under a canopy of bougainvillea and past an Italian Zeus head fountain into a warm, brightly hued room with a big lit fireplace and a long, sturdy wooden table. The table was laden with sumptuous Mexican dishes and it smelled wonderful. Seated around the table were a handful of all stripes of folks. They turned to smile upon me and suddenly I was in love! There was Dr. Alice Stek, a Dutch OBGYN, who specialized in delivering AIDS-free babies from AIDS-infected mothers. Short-haired and strong-bodied, she nevertheless had a vulnerability that I could instantly relate to. There was Jeff Hirsh, an artist who specialized in comic drawings published in The Nation, among other venerable right-on rags. Joe Gross, a fine playwright who writes about workers and their plights. There was the Kahlo-colorful Yolanda Miranda, long-time activist for the United Farm Workers and family friend of Cesar Chavez. And there was Jim Smith.
I should tell you that I have a pretty good lefty pedigree. My dad, Dr. David Paul Williams, is what I like to call the Zelig of the Left. He was washed down the steps of San Francisco’s City Hall during the HUAC trials. His social work office in Contra Costa became headquarters for the Black Panthers. He knew Saul Alinsky, Cesar Chavez, Ralph Nader and “Bob” Scheer. He was in Selma. He organized the West Virginia coal miners. And, while he was a professor at Dalhousie in Halifax, he fought for equal pay for the women professors, his colleagues. He organized in Guyana and in Africa. My sister Jennie had Jesse Jackson rest in her home in Brooklyn between speeches, and worked for the Barry Commoner campaign and helped ban fracking in New York State.
But those east coast family members were far away and when I got to know Jim Smith even just a little, I realized I had a political home in 533 Rialto. Jim had been a labor union organizer most of his adult life. He could answer every question I had about who were our representatives, what was going on in Bosnia, and who read poetry at Venice West. His bookshelves were filled with political art books, Greek and world history and Venice history. He was fun and funny, and gave me a whole new, non-touristy perspective on my chosen town. I found myself joyously over at 533, sitting at that beautiful strong table till the candles burned very low, working to bring back the Free Venice Beachhead, which had lain fallow for a few years. We set up meetings with Beachhead founder John Haag and illustrious Beachhead writer Carol Fondiller to get their official blessing on the restart. Thus began a five-year Beachhead collective involvement and two or three years of marching on the boardwalk on Sundays to protest the war in Iraq. I had the pleasure of working with Carol Fondiller herself, homeless activist Peggy Lee Kennedy, and the charming and handsome Professor Karl Abrams.
For me, knowing the paper is still coming out every month with an entirely different set of collective members (Jim retired two and a half years ago) and that the spirit of the paper has retained the same injustice fighting, sunset loving vibe as it had at its inception is…well it’s just very heartening. I wish to thank the current and all former Collective members. But, especially, thank you… Jim Smith.

A Reminiscence

February 1, 2015

By Jim Zane

I was part of the Beachhead collective for a 14 to 16 month period that spanned the end of 1972 through the first few months of 1974. I remember the Venice Pier, food buying clubs, the Canals before gentrification and the short-lived nude beach. I, of course, didn’t live in Venice at the time. I lived in Brentwood, a couple hundred yards from a place where a condo would be built in which Nicole Simpson would meet her demise 20 years later.
It was a thrilling and vibrant time. It was a time when the fire of youth colored my world. It was a time of right and wrong and life and death. It was a time when we were going to change the world for the better.
I remember the Beachhead monthly meetings, the discussion about articles, dividing up the typesetting, getting ads, doing layout and paste-up, driving to the printer to drop off the layout boards and then returning to pick up the paper a few days later to distribute it.
I had come to the Beachhead via Gail Williamson. I had fallen in lust with her the moment my eyes first caught a glimpse of her walking down the boardwalk on a warm, sunny Summer afternoon. I would follow this goddess wherever she chose to go. (Thankfully, stalker laws have been strengthened since those years.)
What my eyes couldn’t tell, my head soon would. Gail was a very strong woman. And strong women are my weakness. In those years there were other strong women involved with the Beachhead: Linda Lucks, Dawn Rouda and Carol Fondiller. In fact, I suspect, that if it weren’t for strong women, the Beachhead wouldn’t have survived long enough to come anywhere close to celebrating 400 issues.
Beachhead meetings could be volatile. That came with the territory because this was Venice. And in those years, there was the possibility that you might encounter a lunatic or two in the community. That, coupled with a lack of a sense of humor, could prove to be lethal.
I remember one meeting where tempers flared and tensions were rising at an exponential rate between Carol and a photographer named Jerry. Something had gotten out of hand between the two. Voices were raised in anger as both stood, facing one another. Because we were in the process of cutting out and pasting up the monthly issue, we all had X-Acto knives. Carol’s was in her hand and pointed at Jerry, and he clearly wasn’t intimidated because he was making things worse.
I don’t remember how things deescalated or how Jerry managed to get out of there with his balls intact. But he did. Somehow cooler heads would prevail and another issue of the Beachhead was put to bed without having to phone 9-1-1 for the paramedics. I learned a very important lesson that day: no one should ever be allowed to be part of the Diplomatic Corps without first having to work on the Beachhead for six months.
I am grateful for my time with the Beachhead, my fellow staff members and the community we served. My memories of that time are dear to me. I try to hold onto as many as I can as they relentlessly seem to churn themselves into the fog of the past.
Although I live on the opposite end of the country and am unable to physically be at 400th edition celebration, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to participate in this small way with this short reminiscence. And for those of you who are there that I’ve known, I’m grateful to you for touching my life in the sweetest ways possible; and I wish you the very best as we travel this most auspicious of journeys into the all that is.
As for the glorious Free Venice Beachhead, here’s to another 400 issues. Somehow, I have a sneaking suspicion I may miss that celebration as well. But if I still happen to be on the planet, I plan on being there. So please, save me a parking place and a seat.

My Mom, Anna Haag-Ricci

February 1, 2015

Anna Haag-Ricci was born in Rome, Italy, on January 18, 1936. She grew up in Rome and spent the years during World War II in a small village called Agriano, Umbria, also known as the green heart of Italy.
My Mom was the middle child in a family of eight children, father Felice and mother Anonietta.
She often told me her brothers and dad were really strict, old-school Italian … in other words, kick your ass when you get out of line!
In 1960 she met an American, Rhodes scholar studying in Rome. His name was John Haag. He was loved and accepted by her whole family immediately. They married in Rome, lived there for a while, and packed it up and moved to Venice…
Venice in the early ‘60s was a far cry from the small village in Umbria where she spent so much of her youth. In Agriano she had to walk miles to get water in buckets to drink, cook, bathe, and wash clothes with. “Tough” is the word that comes to mind when I think of my Mom. She was Mom to many, in Venice, where she raised me and my sister Duanna.
She had a heart of gold, too… But wouldn’t take shit from anyone.
She and John did some really cool things together over their years in Venice. They were involved in local politics, and, eventually, national politics. In fact, John Haag ran for President on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. They fought for people’s rights, helped found the Peace and Freedom Party and the Free Venice Beachhead. They were a huge part of the political scene in Venice in the ‘60s & ‘70s…
They opened and operated a place at 7 Dudley called Venice West Cafe. It was a hangout for all the beatnicks, poets and political activists. I remember hanging out there when I was young, checking out all the cool artwork by Earl Newman and other local Venice artists.
At some point my Mom started designing and making jewelry, and selling it on Ocean Front Walk. In fact, she was one of the first artists to set up and sell down there. She made earrings, chokers, necklaces, and rings. Many times she would be the only person selling anything on the whole Ocean Front Walk. She would also sell at the Canal Festival as well as many other events.
One time she was selling her turquoise jewelry and a cool-looking dude with a big fro, wearing lots of jewelry came over and bought a bunch of stuff from her. The next thing you know, she sold everything she had. The dude turned out to be Jimi Hendrix. She was always meeting cool people and she never made a big deal of it.
Over the years she stopped making things and started buying them in downtown LA and importing from Italy. Many times, as kids, we all traveled back from our yearly summer months in Italy covered in gold and silver bracelets, necklaces, chains and such, walking like mummys through the airports.
She would hang out and sell her jewelry wherever she was. At friends’ houses, at restaurants, on the beach, or she’d throw parties and sell cool things to the Venice locals. I still have friends that tell me that they still wear things  they bought from Anna. Ask Andy or Debi Nevil, Solo Scott, or any other long-time local. If you’ve been around Venice a long time you probably bought something from the feisty Italian lady with jet black hair.
In ’64 she was hit by a car on Speedway, and bed-ridden for six months. She was pregnant with me, and gave birth while still in a cast. She had a steel rod inserted in her leg, so she walked with a heavy limp, from then on you could see her coming from a mile away, that crazy limp, and she always carried a big bag with all her jewelry. She’d always say she could feel if the weather was changing because she could feel it in her leg.
Over the years, if you ever ate at Lafayette Cafe, Hot, Juergen’s, or New Par’s, she probably fed you. Yes, she was the waitress that, if you took too long reading the newspaper (even if it was the Beachhead), she’d say, “Get up! I gotta make some money!” My Mom was never one to hold back! She also fed many people over the years, if you didn’t have enough money, she’d pay out of her own pocket. When she worked at New Par’s she often fed, and got to know people like Arnold, Ken Waller, and all the original Gold’s Gym guys. She was the favorite waitress of many musicians and artists. Dennis Wilson thanked her by bringing her a very special christmas gift: one of his framed gold records with a note to her on the back! He used to come to our apartment above Jurgen’s and play the piano for hours. The piano was on the opposite side of the wall from my bed and I remember screaming: “SHUT UP!”. Now I look back at those times and realize what a cool Mom I had.
Just like with her jewelry, years later I still have people telling me that my Mom helped them through hard times by feeding them. She also cooked up some damn good Italian food at home! It seemed like my friends would smell the food from down the street and come running or skating down to our house at the end of Washington, above Juergen’s or wherever else in Venice we were living at the time. She would feed them all, sometimes she’d serve up a big board of polenta and we would all eat off of it carving out the shape of the boot of Italy as we ate. She also made the best lasagna, pasta, chicken cacciatore, and some amazing split pea soup. In fact, every time she made it, my friend Joel would show up. I don’t know how he did it, but he would just show up in time to eat. Years later, she would make her cancer doctor and nurses huge pans of lasagna. If you were around our family, you never went hungry…

My son Jasen used to watch my Mom cooking all the time and now he’s a chef. I also learned a thing or
two, I love to cook for my friends and family. She taught us well.
Every year we would travel to that same village where my Mom spent so much time. We would leave Venice as soon as school let out in June, and not come back until September, when school started. In 1980 she decided to buy a piece of property  and build a house on it. She busted her ass and little by little the house was built. I still go there as often as I can, I love the place and, love to share it with my friends and family, many of who have made the trek over there. Even Jay Adams came through on the way to a surf contest in France once…  I take my kids there and I thank my lucky stars that my Mom was so determined to teach us about our Italian heritage because at the time, all I could think about was skating Marina Skate Park, or one of the many ramps we built around the hood, or at the Venice Pavilion, not traveling all the way to Italy with huge duffle bags full of gifts for our huge Italian famiglia. My Mom always thought of others first, making sure everyone around her was well taken care of. I always thought I was missing out, and maybe I was, but now I realize why she took us there…
And yes, I was the only long-haired boy for miles around … maybe in all of Italy, and when people made fun of my hair she backed me up a 100%. I could always count on her…
Anna Haag-Ricci was, and is, another  colorful thread in the fabric that we know as Venice.
Miss you and love you Mom!
Your son,
Thomas DugganAnna Haag 4

Anna Haag1

Anna Haag3


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