Inside the TEDx Conference: A Speaker’s Perspective

March 1, 2015

By Brad Kay

Sunday, February 22, the former Laddie Dill art studio at Palms and Electric Avenue in Venice was transformed into a swanky TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) venue, with a high vaulted ceiling, stage, large video screen, grand piano off to one side, and enough room for me, Suzy Williams and 350 other lucky ticket holders. Seven hundred more were turned away, waiting hopefully at their iPhones for ‘no-shows’ tickets. On Oscar Sunday, yet. THAT should indicate how popular this TED business is.
As the day of the event approached, I was past being thoroughly convinced it was a Big Deal. My blood was up. I had my little entertainment rehearsed completely (I was practicing it right up till the ascent of the gallows). I chose my clothes carefully, and with replete advice from my couturier, Marbo of Mar Vista (Marea Boylan to you): A vintage blue serge suit, immaculately cleaned; brown, red and white zig-zag tie with a gold clip; white dress shirt, blue trompe-de-l’oiel cufflinks; dark brown pork-pie hat; new black leather shoes. And a haircut.
I only harp on my dress in detail because of the stark contrast to everybody else: There was exactly NOBODY attired as was I – in other words, for a formal event, a forum for the Best and the Brightest, where the latest Big Ideas were aired; the ultimate New Technology on display. I repeat: It was Oscar Sunday, the tickets cost a hundred bucks, and there were seven hundred turnaways. The fortunate ticket holders got an elaborate lanyard and placard with their names printed elegantly thereon and instant access to the free Whole Foods food and other goodies in the booths around the patio.
It was practically a substitute Academy Awards, lacking only the red carpet. And YET: The men dressed in T-shirts, jeans, cutoffs, sandals; the women all were in baggy clothes, again, jeans – not a dress or decent pair of gams to be seen – no makeup. In short, everyone was as casually garbed as if they were making a quick beer run to Wal-Mart during half-time. I don’t appall easily, but THIS was appalling! What were they thinking? I expected more from this TED crowd.
The actual TED show ran with clockwork precision. Each speaker’s slides, sound effects, et cetera were timed to the second and faultlessly executed. The staff was unfailingly professional, polite and chipper, even though pressed from all sides. My talk, for instance, involved a little stage business, with a toy piano moved onstage. The staffers took the trouble to rehearse the bit till it was right, and when the time came, it was done with grace and swiftness. Their efficiency impressed me to no end. When it started to rain, there were umbrellas for EVERYONE (!). There was a great “TEDXVB” (Venice Beach) logo all lit up on the wall behind the presenters. I counted 74 light bulbs in it.
The talks ranged in subject from a fascinating hologram deployment, to a pep talk on feeding the homeless, to re-purposing old airplane parts for architecture, to new ways to halt the spread of infectious diseases, to an electric skateboard demonstration, and, eclectically, much more. All most inspiring and mind-opening. However, the speakers’ connection to the theme of the conference, “Think Small,” was tangential at best. I think they mostly recycled their regular talks and shoehorned in “Think Small” where it seemed appropriate. I was chagrined, because I had developed my whole talk around “Think Small,” and was vaguely disappointed that the other speakers didn’t.
The conference was divided into three one-hour segments, with fifteen-minute intermissions between, when we could stretch our legs and partake of the amenities. During these, there was “background music” playing both inside and outside the hall. To me, there is no such thing as background music – I hear every note. You would think at a “haute” gathering like this, the subliminal music would be the very best, most mind-stimulating music in the world: Beethoven. Louis Armstrong. Edith Piaf. Chuck Berry. Caruso. Bix. Anita O’Day. Mozart. And so forth. Instead, it was the blandest, most forgettable and annoying “Indie Rock” imaginable. It failed, even as music you are not supposed to notice. I stifled the old gag reflex.
And then I gave my performance, the last act in the second round. If I dare say so, it went exceedingly well. For weeks, my whole being was focused on those seventeen allotted minutes. I would get only one shot at them, and I’d better not fail. Over-preparation paid off: I hardly stumbled; the piano was wonderful; I was even cute. I made the most of it. I could see several audience members standing at the end. Maybe they were stretching. (The performance eventually will be seen on YouTube. I promise to keep you informed when that will be).
Afterward, everything came up roses. The TED staff was all smiles; I got the “high five” from every direction. I was, as the old vaudevillians used to say, “in clover.”
Even then, there was a fly in the ointment. It pains me to say it – but:
At least forty separate people approached me, pumped my hand, and smiling, said, “Dooood! Your talk was AWESOME!! ” I inwardly winced after the third repetition, and went on inwardly wincing. Again: This crowd represents the Best and the Brightest. The most apt brains available. They Darwinianally selected themselves to be there, beating out the competition by a ratio of three-to-one, eschewing even the Oscars. And yet. And still. Is “AWESOME!!” the only word left to these poor adjectively-deprived blighters? I regretted that I didn’t bring an ample supply of “Awesome” cards. (see below).
I didn’t attend the after-party at Bank of Venice. I live only a block and a quarter from the venue. I walked home in the rain, toting the toy piano. There was a power outage on my block, so I returned to a completely dark house, except for Suzy Williams and a couple of candles. So I lit some more candles, got out the 78s, cranked the wind-up phonograph, and Suzy and I reveled in a concert by Sir Harry Lauder. We partied like it was 1899.
I am exceedingly grateful to Cynthia Rogers and Erin Stumpf, who (figuratively!) held my hand and were my guides throughout the experience; and Tom Sewell who sicced them on me.

The %22Awesome Card%22 back The %22Awesome Card%22 front

Mechanical Car Lifts in Venice?

March 1, 2015

By Ilana Marosi

FEB 17, 2015 Venice – the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) approved the addition of thirty (30) automated car lifts at the surface parking lot located at Windward Ave and Speedway, Venice Beach. The 30 automated/hydraulic car lifts will ONLY increase parking capacity from 38 to a MEASLY 68 spaces!
“The most important issue facing Venice is parking and, tonight, we helped alleviate the lack of parking right at the Windward Circle,” offered President Mike Newhouse. “This kind of NUTS (and bolts) problem-solving is at the heart of why we have grass roots representation here in Los Angeles with neighborhood councils.” [Thanx, Mike, we think it’s NUTS, too!]
Why is the VNC endorsing a private entity to operate the mechanical car lifts being proposed at Windward and Speedway? They will be adding spaces for a private company to pocket the $$$ – so, what does that do to benefit our community?
Where does it end? What if a neighbor wants to build a car lift parking lot within two blocks of the beach, or anywhere else in Venice, for that matter?  Is VNC going to endorse that?
Isn’t that playing right into the hands of the city by legitimizing the CAR LIFT DEAL (near Abbot Kinney) which the City has been accepting proposals on????? Meanwhile, the City continues to approve commercial developments across Venice WITHOUT PARKING (hundreds of ‘virtual’ “grandfathered” spaces per year) which only serves to make the situation cumulatively worse. Surely if our representative Mike Bonin and the City Council are serious about solving this parking problem, they would put a halt on these damaging approvals UNTIL a viable solution is formulated and activated. Thirty PRIVATE spaces does not provide a solution make.
This most recent proposal could be the worst precedent EVER!!!
Logical solutions are needed to the parking problem in Venice. These solutions could include expansion of public transportation; more and safer bike lanes; as well as possible utilization of near-by parking lots (schools, churches) with shuttle service between the lots and the beach here in Venice.

Car lifts

Net Neutrality Update: We Won!

March 1, 2015

By Anthony Castillo

In January the Beachhead ran my article on Net Neutrality and the non role Google was taking in the fight to stop the corporate takeover of the internet. On Thursday, February 26, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held its highly anticipated vote on Net Neutrality. The vote pitted big telecom companies like Comcast and Verizon against true grassroots organizing. And in an historic victory, organized citizens beat organized money! The vote was three Democrats in favor to two Republicans against treating the internet as a public utility under Title II of the Communication Act. When the voice vote was held and the motion passed, the gallery of fighters for a free and open internet gave the FCC commissioners a standing ovation. When was the last time you can recall that any regulatory body of the government received one of those?  
This huge victory was a long time in the making, spanning over ten years. Organizations such as Credo Action, Free Press, Center for Media Justice, Sum of Us, Open Media and many, many more along with the likes of Netflix, mobilized literally millions of folks just like you and me to write, call, comment and picket in favor of a single tiered, one speed for all, rich or poor internet. After FCC chairman and former cable company lobbyist Tom Wheeler introduced new rules in April of 2014 that would have created a fast lane, slow lane, tiered internet, the outcry from the public was a resounding NO! I guess after Thursday’s vote Tom Wheeler can kiss that cushy cable company job after he leaves the FCC good bye? He didn’t change his mind on his own. We made him blink. It was also our voices that made the President speak out in favor of Net Neutrality late in the game. But of course we need to stay vigilant because the corporate telecom push-back has already begun. They don’t take kindly to not getting their way in D.C. But for now let us all savor this very sweet victory over corporate power. Hipsters, your iPhones are safe for now.
All of this leads me to think about how many more battles that are currently ongoing we could be winning if we just get motivated, educated, organized and mobilized. The laundry list is almost endless. For instance here in our beloved Venice the battle to stop greedy gentrification, ending the demonization of the homeless, open beach access, stopping our pro-corporate, pro-development City Council representative Mike Bonin from selling out Venice even more than he already has. Better yet, we could find a viable, progressive candidate to run against him in the next election who would voice the concerns of the Venice Abbot Kinney had envisioned. It is all possible. And now that we still have the tool of the internet at our disposal, what’s stopping us?

UPDATE: Gjelina’s Gjusta, Sauce, Kim’s Market, Rose Cafe

March 1, 2015

By Roxanne Brown

Gjelina’s Gjusta – 320 Sunset (Fran Camaj, owner; Stephen Vitalich, architect) was cited by Building and Safety on December 19 for being in non-compliance. Gjusta has a permit for Bakery/Take-out/No Eating or Seating on premises. Today is March and Gjusta is still in non-compliance, as it’s been since opening October 2014.
Still no decision on change of use to late night restaurant/bar with full alcohol license. At the November 13 hearing, a parking plan was “missing” and multiple site plans were “confusing.”
LAPD’s Police Captain, Brian Johnson, attended Gjusta’s hearing for change of use on November 13, and told the Zoning Administrator that the LAPD wanted no more liquor licenses in Venice.
The LAPD’s position seems to be in opposition to Bonin’s position. Bonin seems to be advocating for more late night restaurants/bars– more liquor licenses, which results in more crime.
Rather than increasing alcohol outlets and increasing the City budget to hire more police in Venice, Bonin might want to support the LAPD and put a moratorium on liquor licenses in Venice, thus reducing crime and the need for more police, reducing the City budget, and making Venice a safer community.

Sauce – 259 Hampton (Richard Gottlieb, owner; Stephen Vitalich, architect) has a Retail/Take-out permit, but has operated as a sit-down restaurant for five years with no penalty.
After the city had approved change of use for 259 Hampton from “retail/take out” to late night restaurant/bar with full alcohol license, providing no parking, residents won a January 7 appeal. Now there will be a rehearing due to a “missing” audio report and two sets of contradictory, “confusing” plans.
Please attend this important hearing. Your support is vital to prevent reversal.

WEDNESDAY APRIL 1, 2015 @ 4:30
West Los Angeles Planning Commission
Henry Medina West LA
Parking Enforcement Facility
2nd Floor, Roll Call Room
11214 West Exposition Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Richard Gottlieb, owner of 259 Hampton, allegedly pushed Ilana Marosi, President of Concerned Neighbors of 320 Sunset (CNS) and appellant, at 259’s Appeal Hearing. The incident occurred on January 7 at the Henry Medina West LA Parking Enforcement Facility and was openly videotaped. A police report was filed. The assault is under investigation.
At 259’s Hearing, a copy of the Conditional Use Permit-Beverage (CUB) application for liquor license was given to the commissioners. The application form asked whether 259 Hampton was within 1,000 feet of houses of worship, schools, or childcare. Someone answered, “NO.”
That’s quite a “mistake” when Hampton’s 200 block contains the historic synagogue, Temple Mishkon Tephilo with pre-school, St. Joseph’s Center with religious services and day care, and two churches.

Kim’s Market – 600 Mildred (Patricia Searle and Michael Stein, owners; Stephen Vitalich, architect) – Kim’s market closed February 25. Abraham, Joy and their son ran it for 12 years. We hear Searle and Stein will begin running the market and will be trying to convince their customers how wonderful their proposed restaurant with late night hours and full alcohol license will be (providing no on-site restaurant parking – but, possibly valet) at this congested corner, surrounded by residential homes. Their proposed restaurant was not approved by the Venice Neighborhood Council.

Rose Café – 220 Rose (Bill Chait, Kamal Kapur, Manhar Patel, owners) is morphing into a late night restaurant/bar with full alcohol license.
Local media reported that former employees (some with 10 and 20 plus years of service at the Rose Café) were being let go and given no seniority preference when re-applying to work at the new establishment.
After much local public protest, press is now reporting that “employees can work within the Sprout restaurant network” until they reapply at the Rose.
We hear there will be many more customers and significantly less parking. The long-time parking attendant told a Rose Café customer that he most likely won’t be rehired as the Rose will have valet parking.

GOOD NEIGHBOR POLICY: Do unto others as you would have them do onto you?
These new business owners claim to be good neighbors. But, many Venice residents want to know how can one be a good neighbor when one proposes late night restaurants/bars with full alcohol licenses and no or limited parking three feet to thirteen to fifteen feet (Kim’s, Gjusta, Sauce) from residents’ homes?
Would owners Camaj, Gottlieb, Searle, and Stein or elected officials Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Mike Bonin want a late night restaurant bar to be open seven days a week 3 feet to 15 feet from their or their children’s bedroom windows?
Do these owners not care about the employees who worked so hard to make the Rose Café and Kim’s Market into neighborhood magnets, when owners are willing to toss those employees (who built a loyal customer base) aside?
Under Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Mike Bonin, Los Angeles seems to have turned into the wild Wild West where developers have discovered they can do whatever they want without penalty. Many LA neighborhood associations are suing the City – so many that the City is outsourcing lawyers. Something appears to be very wrong. A “correction” is needed.
It seems Mayor Garcetti’s administration and Councilman Bonin’s office will reward developers and approve a change of use when developers disregard permits and laws and yes, even when there are blatant “mistakes” on application forms.
Meanwhile, Garcetti and Bonin want to extend their terms to 5 ½ years and continue to promote their self-proclaimed campaign of “Neighborhoods first with safe and fun streets.”
Many in Venice are wondering if LA can afford Mayor Garcetti’s and Councilman Bonin’s current terms in office, as City Hall policy seems to have run amok.


Above: Sauce on Hampton

Below: Gjusta on Sunset


Not An Interview With Paul Beethoven

March 1, 2015

You may have seen him around Venice. Short, stocky, sandy hair, thick glasses. Limping along with duffel bag slung over his shoulder.
Or maybe you’ve noticed him seated on the sidewalk at Rose and Main as he works on his latest Poem.
Perhaps he’s offered to sell you one of his efforts for a buck or two.
His name is Paul Beethoven and this is not an interview with him.
I’ve bought poems from him for several years. They come hand-written on lined, yellow legal-size paper. So one day recently I got the idea it might be interesting to interview this Venice street poet for the Beachhead. I was sure he’d find the experience validating or something.
But when I approached him and asked if I could interview him, he just smiled, pointed to his notebook crammed full with poems, and in a Texas-toned voice said: “If you want to know about me, it’s all in there. I’m in my poems.”
And I realized he was right. The artist is in the art. The rest is just bullshit. I put away my little note pad, realizing I’ve just been taught a valuable lesson.
However, I couldn’t resist one final question.
“How’s business, selling your poems to people?”, I asked.
“Not too good. But some folks show interest and that makes me feel good,” he said, gathering up his belongings to shuffle off into the morning.

– B. Meade

Poem to Philomene Long

Up, up and away like a red helium balloon
She flies so high as other balloons
Just get stuck up in trees
Barbed wire or get popped by powerlines!
Fly high disguised as a Nimbus Cloud!
Ramble over hill and dale
Til you reach Whimsyland
Where all the pink clouds are!

– Paul Beethoven

Indian Paintbrushes

A virtual vampires banquet as red blood
Sprinkles across the landscape!
Beige peonies all over, and yet, a
Few Indian Paintbrushes here and there
A half sick joke, a joke name
Given as a gratuitous, small gift
To an entire race of people
Bowed down in humiliation and defeat.

– Paul Beethoven

Paul Beethoven


March 1, 2015

I know a woman – By Mary Getlein
Silent Bells – By Lynette
I’ve Known Freedom – By Ashkii Newton
Greetings from Slab City – By Dusty P. Greenhaus
A NEW BEGINNING – By Hal Bogotch
Mind Your Mind – By Ronald McKinley
“Abstractions on a Reoccurring Theme” – By Miles Krumpak
Poleece in Veneece – By Moishe Shmendrick
Roger Houston
I know a woman

She did her time with
each new love of her life –
two years with this one
one year with that
each one taking up valuable time
she could have used for herself
only when she was older
did she realize!
The one she needed to love the most
was herself
all along she’d been
de-luded, de-nuded, de-constructed
in the ways of the world
who had to be on top
who was the boss
it was never her
finally when she had nothing left to give
she decided to give at home –
to herself
all the love she had been giving out
she kept inside for herself
a miracle happened: she was happy
her will be done: at last.

– Mary Getlein

A thousand years and one summer.

The small wooden village church of my grandfather’s childhood,
Engraved and embellished with a vibrant history of a people,
Hidden behind rusting locks and angry steel beams,
Closed by government decree,
Condemned to the sound of silent bells.

Summer Sunday morning…
Pedestrians break the sanctioned stillness of Kiev,
Filing past the empty, cold market square
to the old woman’s house,
The criminals hide in her basement,
To pray before the makeshift altar,
Their tears calling on the spirit of Volodymyr the Great
to baptize a captive nation with passionate faith.

Celebrating the secret millennium.

They pray…
In basements,
In catacombs,
As churches stand garish museums of the spoiler’s culture,
The silent bells peal resonantly in their hearts.

– Lynette
“The jewel of no price which cannot be used up…
Its brilliance illuminates the Universe”
– Song of Enlightenment, The Zen Master Yoka Genkaku

I had dropped a can of Pepsi
in a Venice alley
They spray of soda shot up
Like the universe exploding
Boiling up into the cold sky
It was then I saw him
Black Buddha in a dark alley
He walked with stone solitude
Nothing held him
His young face eroded
An ebony rock
The black night on his tongue
He picked up the Pepsi
And began to drink
“Would you like one that is NOT broken?”
I asked this broken man
(This unbroken man).
My voice was an empty echo
As the night rolled over my eyes
His voice: “Thank you, Ma’am,
Thank you, thank you,”
His stone face smiling
Into the alley resembling a dream
Turned the night sky, gold
And cut the raging rock of the world

– Philomene Long
I’ve known freedom ….yes I’ve known freedom…
I remember when the buffalos were plentiful….
Yes I’ve known freedom….
I TrueLy remember when the horses ran free….
Yes I’ve known freedom…
I remember when the two spirits were grounded to Mother Earth and loved…
Yes I’ve dreamed and envisioned the two spirits were reborn to lead the people…
Yes I’ve known freedom….

With all my prayers….Ashkii Newton
Full blood American Indian….
Greetings from Slab City

To me this is a strange time.
I am not looking to create a rhyme.
Would like to talk about my life,
turning 69 and not having a wife,
not living in Venice anymore,
now in places with no need to lock the door.
But reading the stories in the Beach Head,
with Pioneer no longer baking bread,
all alone and slowly getting old:
Hurry back to the Boardwalk before it’s SOLD.

– Dusty P. Greenhaus
Jaws clenched.
One fist up in the air.
China doll on the fence.
Heart beat:  lub dub, lub dub.
Sound of rib bones
cracking, shattering.
Defiance to fill a galaxy.
Ripped underwear.
Desert tortoise
out on dry shoulder
of highway,
making time.  Can it all
come together?
I strip away
paint from the mask,
mask from the flesh,
flesh from the skull,
soul from the sticky lining
of God’s inner ear.
What has hardened,
can only melt.
Light shines through
to night sky
as if through holes
in Orion’s belt.
Drink, at long last,
clear water.

— H A L B O G O T C H
Mind Your Mind
By Ron McKinley

Why are we here now
Are we here to watch
Flowing with the befouling
Do you feel it
The sense of wrongness
When you think about it
Does something manifest
The taste that will not go away
Talk and talk and whisper and whisper
Your clothes don’t seem to fit
The integument has cracks
Light leaks thru sometimes
That feeling that tingle in your belly
That ripples across your fell
The connection that binds all things
We have been here before
Surveying the suffering and death
Mind your mind
Work for more than just money
Put fire back into your soul
More than just sex
That just doesn’t last
Waiting for the big sleep
Don’t forget to feel
Entangle with the Cosmos
Mind your mind
“Abstractions on a Reoccurring Theme”
By Miles Krumpak

Everyone works but Me.
The concept simply unattractive
what is it that all these people see?
Why even leave the womb?
Heat, shelter, food, a place to sleep…
Men below rake leaves
the wind blows constantly from the trees
and Sisyphus smiles at great depths
knowing that one man is all man
and riddles are told just for fun.
The wind is extra strong today
much more than yesterday
and I suppose this is good for it beckons work
and work beckons man and his motorcycle
and his rake.
Oh there are so many things I can not understand!
And the thinking makes one go crazy
and perhaps envy the man, and the leaves
that fall. Gently…
Poleece in Veneece

Police police police in Venice!
Police pick on the homeless
kick the ass of the desperate & helpless.
They beat, hogtie mace & kill
the poor, minorities & mentally ill.
Our city leaders cry
we want to clean up the beach so let em die!
Police searches & sweeps
think they’re good guys but are creeps!
Prisoners & homeless have no say or vote
politicians want to ship em to Antarctica on a boat.
It’s so sad & tough
life is already cruel, cold & rough
being homeless & poor
without pigs lockin ya behind a jail door.
Jesus said to care for the sick & poor
businessmen & politicians won’t help the poor
they only want money, more & more.
Our police need to carry food & flowers
not guns arresting homeless at all hours.
We need love armies & police
the jailing, shootings & searches must cease.
A love police & love armies
giving out food & clothes to the poor & crazies.
We don’t need no more police brutality
give us food, shelter, jobs & hospitality!
Kindness & compassion is the way
to give us a brighter day.
Police police police in Venice!

– Moishe Shmendrick
22:22 Sunday, February 22nd, 2015, Adullam, to George Washington and Edna St
Vincent-Millay ….. As good a time as any. Don’t you think? The rainy night
looks down. Gives me a wink. A rainy night in Hollywood. I guess. It’s Oscar
night. Academy. Regress. I tried. In vain. To find it. Televised. Oh well. It
got away. Was compromised. Of no concern. At this point. Let it go. The winners.
And the nominees. Don’t know. Why I felt curiosity. Down-sized. Obscurity. To
me. I have surmised. Fits snuggly on my shoulders. I digress. Those old familiar
spirits coalesce. Condensed into a raindrop. Down the sink. I’ll write them down
as fast as I can think (22:33) ….. Roger Houston, post-beat romantic

400th Edition Song: The Old Beachhead

March 1, 2015

The Old Beachhead

Words and Music: Sam Clay
Additional Lyrics: Suzy Williams
Arrangement: Brad Kay

1st verse
In this life we suffer the slings and arrows,
While corruption and injustice may block our way.
That’s been our strife since before the kings and
When questioned what to do, here is what we say…

2nd verse
Nineteen-sixty-eight was a time of turmoil
When John Haag and some Venice free spirits said:
“We’ll build a people’s paper upon this soil!“
Voila! Chee-wah-wah! The Free Beachead!

3rd verse
Come meet the collective and get to know ‘em
The artists, visionaries and scribes
Rally round the paper that is a poem
And help preserve these fantastical Venice vibes!

Four hundred times we’ve fought the fights
And we’re not giving up yet.
Four hundred times we’ve read our rights
The people won’t forget
We’ve staked our claim
On the sandy plain
Dug in at the water’s edge…
We rally around the old Beachhead
We rally
We rally
We rally around the old Beachhead!


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