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Free Venice Beachhead - Text of 2008 to present Articles
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NOTHING CAN

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 20:32

NOTHING CAN

BY MIRA WILDER

5 angel lamps,
a micro wave oven
old apples shrinking in a bowl
a wooden Buddha
2 trumpets
and a random Beach Boy drumstick
strewn clutter flaws of imperfection
aged in an aging apartment
Nothing can fix this mess up.
Nothing can.

Odd matching chairs
a shaky worn table
an old curtain cover
glass floating atop
legs unstable
random chords
broken frames
bills scattered unpaid
remind me daily
typing away
Nothing, can fix this mess up.
Nothing can.

Books piled high
metaphysical eye
a bronze statue of Tara holds bracelets,
sweet tea by my side
a silver tea pot filled with change
a keyboard and a recorder
a mandolin hardly played
years of collecting cds
a 60 inch television.
gifted as a joke
to choke my life
as I lay watching
Nothing can fix this mess up.
Nothing can.

What’ll I do with all my junk
years from now it’ll still be crap
clothes from the 80’s
Mothers jewelry
given in guilt for pedophilia
photographs
strewn broken frames
from my last matrimonial disaster
Nothing can fix this mess up
Nothing can.

I don’t take care of my hands
No patience for that
barely hanging on.
ruminating the past
invisible apparitions
never dared anything
or got out of my own way
afraid of my own shadow
yet here I am today.
Nothing can fix this mess up.
Nothing can.

I could call a maid of foreign descent
call a hauler or file a complaint
I have this neighbor a hell bent bitch
locks me out of the apartment
while my dog takes a piss,

and I know…
I’m the only one who can deal with this!
Nothing can fix this mess up,
Nothing can!


THE DIN FROM MY DEN

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 20:27

THE DIN FROM MY DEN

BY MIRA WILDER

I imagine in this world
There are places of silence
Peaceful, serene
No sign of violence,
Maybe the sound
Of nature to ponder,
Is out there,
Somewhere,
Way out yonder…

But not from my corner
Of life where I’m living,
Rife with the noise
Of everyday minion…
And I might go crazy,
If I let it bother
The decibel level
Exceeds any standard…

Small craft Airplanes,

rumble overhead.
Sounds of scratchy raking,
Leaf blowers blowing at 6 am
The racket here is deafening.
Radio stations blare the beat,
Engines clank, N tires screech,
power tools, grinding, obbligato.

TVs blasting throughout the day…
then I hear a hubbub
shouting…slamming doors!

yelling ‘I’m gonna put you away’…

Lawn mowers put-ting, hammers hit the head

all in the name of progress…
police and fire trucks and an ambulance to the scene…

Helicopters circle,

the criminal fleeing…

12 gang motorcycles race around
A dog is barking out of control
the owner Yells… God dammit NO
Someone singing…a little off key…
Adele; ‘Hello’…

A baby having his daily cry.
the grating cacophony of Jets in the sky
Wind chimes tinkle in the trees…
4 different languages
Yell from the street,
English, Spanish
Persian, Chinese…

The cats are meowing…
Birds of variety tweet,
A car pulls up, someone gets out
And revs the engine as he leaves…

The city tried to get an ordnance
but nobody listened to that
too busy making noise themselves…

to give shit
about any of it!
in the midst,
My ears could bleed,

for some much needed quiet and a semblance of peace…

But instead, I’m drenched,
In gratitude,

It’s all in the change of attitude!

from my desk by the Window,
the Din from my Den, My Ears are Ringing…
While Taking it all in….
These glorious sounds of life
letting me know, loudly as possible
That I am well and alive.!!!

——————- (This is the complete version, the version printed in the June 2017 Beachhead was truncated – oops!)

Roger Houston

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 20:12

May 22nd, 2017, Lord Byron

Apartments ….. We serve our watch in silence. Boy and I.
We breathe away the hours. Quietly. South of the One-o-one.
I hear it pass. It’s barely audible beyond the glass.
St-Remy. Mixed with water. It’s enough. To bring me to
submission. Call my bluff. The early morning silence. Takes
me back. To ancient times. Was planning an attack. Survival
was so stubborn. Was the stuff. Of legend. To a youngster.
Took a puff. To counter the insomnia. The gas. Is filling up
the room. The Sunday mass. Makes way for Mondays June. To
have a try. A brand new month. It’s too soon to deny …..

Roger Houston


oh you

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 20:09

oh you

by alan rodman

oh you we do the morning right
all your jewels are polished bright
your little cough has had enough
your pretty head has been to bed
your wrist wrote me a list
your back is getting slack
your eye is seeking pie
your lip is on a trip
your legs
would go for some eggs
your pink epiglottis
is among the hottest
dreaming of you
has kept me active
your intangible quality
makes you attractive
your je ne sais quois
isn’t wearing a bra
it’s filled with awe
from what i saw
your very soul is on a roll
and so says the latest poll


Child of the Ride

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 20:04

Child of the Ride

by Joanna Silva

You see the river and are in.
Your eyes skip over the dock, dismiss the boat,
were amused at the raft, but you abstained.
That water’s life – fierce, breathing, beautiful.
It kills, it welcomes, and it is blind.
Unbroken knowing. One moment is plenty.
It is sad, good, it’s too heavy, and funny, all in between
and including the cutting, floating, choking,
the punches and the falls.
You’re not bothered. You’re blessed by what is sandy, where
is slippery, why is scraping, when is stopping, what is peaceful
is not easy, how is what we need to forget.
Everything is wet and you’re grateful.
Face above whitewater is joy, currents
simply do nothing, or bully, implore, enlist.
Serve. Truly. Survive and be gone.
You are in the Water.
Go with friends, go cursing, alone, go crashing,
be clear, be amazed, be bruised,
be firm, flow unsinkingly.
This…
You stop speaking now
everywhere has no words
this is arrived


Sandy

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 20:01

Sandy

by William Moore

The lucent stars and endless sky Won’t ease the pain, though I try My only ally is my youth
Yet deep cuts are left to soothe And here I stay
For five dollars a day

Working in the luscious green fields This painful beauty never yields From dawn ‘till noon I must endure As my life aches without a cure And my hands bleed away
For five dollars a day

In the face of cold and rain
The biting cold cuts my soul again
I own nothing but my words and actions I obey and work without distractions And my family can eat and pray
For five dollars a day

I am just a child wanting to be free
Of the incessant labor that condemns me I work, and work against the heat
The days are a blur, as they repeat And I fade away
For five dollars a day


The Candle and Shooting Stars

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 19:58

The photo was taken in september 2011 at Kamchatka peninsula (Russia)

The Candle and Shooting Stars

By Larry Li

 

Our children cannot dream unless they live,
They cannot live unless they are nourished.

Do we still remember when we made the first wish,
In the front of the candle or the shooting stars?
But did they came true?
Or they have changed, lost and faded.

We lost the tiny little hope,
The hope that we can easily come up with,
And it is also easily to be forgotten,
Because we are dying for surviving.

Figure out how to live a meaningful life,
Not to become the machine of works.
Fill up our brain with literature,
Not the sly smell of opportunism.

Poetry is never luxury,
Happiness neither.
We can left our children not only wealth,
But also Wisdom.
Teach them with the spirit of brave,
Nourish them with the selfless passion.

Therefore, do not reject them,
When they say:”Can I kick it?”
Stand up and support them with:
“Yes, you can!”

Do not let our children lose the passion like we did,
Do not let them hide their hopes until they are lost,
Because our children cannot dream unless they live,
They cannot live unless they are nourished.

– Larry Li is 18 years old and has been speaking English for two years.


Unfadeable to the Ignorance

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 19:54

Unfadeable to the Ignorance

By Mike Sonksen aka “Mike The Poet”

In spite of prevailing fear and division in the state of the union
We are unabashed and unaffiliated with unethical living
We are unbreakable, unfadeable, unavailable to the prevailing fear
trying to strangle what is beautiful
We are unrelatable to the sickness, unattainable to wickedness,
we denounce your labels
We are unscalable, you cannot climb these tables
We are unphasable to your walls, no one is illegal
We are not unreasonable, we are unbelievable builders of bridges
We are unhinged in our vision, we are unbending
when it comes to decisions connected to citizens
We unlabel religion because we are all God’s children
We are unabashed in our love, unaffiliated with the fuzz
We are unbound to borders, unclouded in what we denounce,
We will not shut up
We are uncensored in the cut, unrelenting in the quest for justice,
we sing for Sandra Bland, we elevate Eric Garner, we remember Trayvon Martin
We believe Black Lives Matter, these are not alternative facts
We understand the American tradition is the lie of innocence,
We unsubscribe to the lie of the civil war that attempted to transform
enslavement into benevolence
We are unappeased to the powers that be
We can’t unhear their lack of sympathy for Black citizens killed by police
Or the two Indian-born engineers shot in Kansas City
Or the dozens of bomb threats on Jewish community centers
or the unconstitutional travel ban of immigrants
We can’t unhear the silence of so many, the unrepentant violence is too much
This is why we will not shut up
Remember that we are supposed to be the country of “give me your tired,
your poor, your weak,”
We are supposed to be the land of the free and an international sanctuary
though the reality is more like an imperial presidency
And so WE the people must forge new histories aligned with equality
Because WE the people are not the enemy
The future is unpaved and unmapped, we are unsatisfied with the past
We are unabashed in our quest to remake the world
Our activism is not blasphemy, it is the original spirit that started
this country
We are not on the wrong side of history
It is this confidence in true justice and what is righteous that empowers us
This is why we are uncensored, unbreakable, unfadeable to the ignorance


ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP HERALDS THE ARRIVAL OF THE TNA

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 19:22

ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP HERALDS THE ARRIVAL OF THE TNA (Trans-National Alliance)

The 420Box Calls for a Constitutional Convention

by Pat Raphael

The United States of America often proudly looks at its history, and see a country created as a result of governance unresponsive to the local population. Powers far removed, usurping authority derived from their very own pronouncements, granted themselves the right to tax the energy and value of the colonies, with no consideration of the colonists’ interest via representation in the decision-making bodies of those far-removed powers. As the creation lore lays it out, this was an unacceptable condition for the Seventy-Sixers to endure. Thus propelled by righteous zeal, they fought to create a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people. Brings a patriotic tear to the eye to see our grand experiment in democracy, grow and evolve by the might of history, to now stand as the preeminent world power. But oh the historical irony — that the root bears the fruit. We shook King George’s crown off our heads, and fashioned in Washington DC another powerful crown, far-removed and unresponsive to the interests of local populations all over our great land. Now Washington DC is taking the value of our taxed energy, to fulfill the special interests of the elite few who control all our institutions.

The election of Abu Ivanka makes clear that the process for choosing our Chief Executive is irretrievably broken. Right from the start, the rules of that process do not put the people front and center — thus the electoral college. Then, overlay on top of this undemocratic system, artificial gates raised by interested private corporations (the Democratic and Republican parties), we get in the end, election results deemed illegitimate by an increasing segment of the population. This time around, the objections to the result of Drumpf 2016 seem even more stark. After all, it is fashionable, here in Venice, to don the ‘F*ck Trump’ tee, since we share a similar distaste with all the other major American cities who overwhelmingly voted against him. And we look closer and see how the result was also affected by the many hands that tilted the process scale (Bern, baby, Bern…).

So now what? An executive branch carrying an air of illegitimacy due to a flawed electoral process; maybe turn to the legislature? There too we look closer and see a walled city, well protected from the encroaching will of the people. How systematically convenient is it that the total population of blue districts is higher than the total population of red districts, yet there are more red congress members than blue congress members? …and not by a little bit either. Remember this is the same imbalance that created the 3-million vote difference between the winner of the popular vote and the winner of the electoral college. In this, the illegitimacy of the executive branch is covered and enabled by the gerrymandering illegitimacy of the legislature. That is how one party, with less popular support, have maneuvered themselves into a permanent majority in the House of Representatives, thus relieving the whole of the body politics from the push and sway of the people’s interest. Down goes another branch…

What about the courts? There are many historical instances where the last line of defense, where the people held one last hope for redress, rested with the courts. The powerful elites know this too. That’s why for years now a systematic campaign has been underway to maintain a conservative court, even as the people grew more liberal. It has been euphemistically called a lagging indicator to suggest that the courts take time to change, and that the lifetime appointments were meant to keep the courts reacting slowly. If foul play is not alleged in the case of scaly Scalia, it must be seen that the other side caught a break. Perhaps liberals would have wanted a better guy making the pick than the Droner-in-Chief, Barry O, but at least they can hope for a marginal move leftward. naw kid, they playin’ chess, while you playin’ checkers — reactin’! The rules are pretty clear: the presiding executive gets to fill any vacancies created during their term. Yet this lost of ground in the power game was just too much for them to take, and in all of our faces, the “original intent” guy’s seat was denied to whom the rules give the right to make that appointment. Can an observant public, ever put any confidence in the court as presently constituted? Now that one member of the court oozes that distinct orange tint (like he’s been rolling in cheetos dust or something), doesn’t that delegitimize every decision coming down from a court with a stolen seat? A trifecta of illegitimacy is achieved when the party who gerrymandered for themselves the control of the legislature, gives cover to the executive to ignore the constitution, so that the judiciary can remain in the hands of their partisan teammates.

Where do we turn for solutions? When we consider the imaginative ingenuity and problem-solving creativity of the American people, we recognize that often when problems fester in government, it is likely not because we can’t put our heads together and come up with a solution. Instead, the money trail usually leads us to a special interest that is actively preventing the people’s solution, in favor of whatever version of the problem best serves their bottom line. …and over time the people become awaken to this process, and the glare of our many problems insist too strongly for solutions. Here’s the trap: just when we can’t take it any more, and we are ready to insist on major changes, a bunch of solutions (which really aren’t solutions) begin to absorb that change energy… Suddenly, we’re out there marching every weekend, beating drums and yelling our throats hoarse, all the while dissipating and draining our change energy — and nothing changes. Or we put all of our hopes into a fringe candidate from the right or the left (think DocPaul or Kucinich or the Bern), but we get them to run in their electoral process — sometimes getting sooo close, but again and again, we only take moral victories to go with our heart-breaking defeats at the polls (we’ll get em’ next time), and NOTHING CHANGES.

While there are places in this country where people don’t know what is going on in our elections, we are fortunate that here in Venice, so many of our friends and neighbors have been paying attention enough to see clearly the true state of our democracy. When our nation needs thought leaders to re-imagine what a more locally-responsive, people-centered approach to governance would look like, it will turn to places like Venice where the pulse of creativity is flowing with living art, culture, and technology. It’s our country’s places like Venice, where men and women are undergoing spiritual maturity and are learning to co-exist and thrive together. These places offer a different type of dialogue in the midst of these growing spiritual beings, where conversation generates and dissipates a more refined purity of truth among the participants. We strove for many months to maintain such a space on the boardwalk, where we could refocus on the central value of dialogue, and create a safe space for conversation. We call it the 420box — that last enclave of guys and gals on the north end of the OceanFrontWalk — the first attraction coming in from Santa Monica. Over a period of many months during the last election cycle, we at the 420box engaged in a series of conversations during which we realized that we should find worthy outlets for all the positive change energy bubbling up here in Venice. We saw no value in the convenient channeling of our change energy into outlets of “the system’s” choosing. We were tired of protesting, and wanted instead to profess something in our gatherings. Stop coming together just to yell about what we’re against, but gather to dialogue about what we are for. One such worthy outlet, is to direct our change energy towards the creation of a Trans-National Alliance.

The TNA is a way to organize ourselves and deliver governance services (such as health care, education, social services, neighborhood security, etc.), to the members of the trans-public, with transparency and open-sourced efficiency, while being outside of the controlling hands in Washington DC. When the solutions (which are not solutions) manifest, they have a way of frothing up a whole lot of activity (like meetings and teach-ins and protests) without producing tangible, real-world results to which we can point. Chief among the aims of the TNA is to produce efficient outcomes that reinforce our collective will, and have those outcomes scale-able, with success building upon success, and a positive state of growth leading to more measurable outcomes. We have advantages that they did not have in Seventy-Six, that we can tap in to, to make our decision-making locally sourced and inclusive. Say a specific TNA function group wants to vote on a particular policy consideration. Since today, there’s an app for that (which we built, with code we sourced ourselves, during and open and transparent operation of that TNA function group’s work) we can use all of our input and include all of our votes and go forward according to the result of the “wise crowd’s” will.

The origin of the TNA, being dialogues we had hanging out, it must be clearly stated that many of the first principals that are the TNA’s core defining traits came out of conversations beginning with Michael “the lord jesus christ” Charles, with Don — low key in the background adding wisdom and insight, passion from clear voices like Anna (MC KOA), input from David “the love guy” Busch, Yetti (may he rest in peace), that crazy jew Jarrod (or whatever name he thinks the mossad got him operating under) — who always offers such interesting real world insight into a modern day operation of Mosaic law… now if he’d just stop with the self-sabotage! the guys at OccupyVenice, along with countless unnamed regulars and walker-bys to the 420box. Thanks too to Terrance, one of those true believers — he’s the guy who would stay orange even if The Boss shot a couple of tourists in Time Square. Voices like his adds to the dialogue, to have an otherwise smart guy, whose world has been conditioned to accept everything coming out of Washington now that it is his guy with the power. We also could not hang out at the 420box, there for hours at a time, having these awesome conversations, if Becky, and groups like CBC weren’t cooking… (we love you Becky — up to FOUR days a week now!).

We have people like Martha who love us, and keep us informed about every little decision made in the halls of power, that may affect us on the beach. We’d never know how entrenched the problem really is, if people like her weren’t trickling down the information. And Saffron, who saw the value of this paper, and connected us to the BeachHead, so that now we have a platform to reach a mass readership. Thanks, also to the staff and money contributors of the Free Venice BeachHead for staying in the fight and doing it for the right reason. Keep on keeping on, is what the old hippies told me…We herald here the arrival of the TNA, because it is time to open our ranks to the community at-large, and tap in to the great capacity contained here in Venice.

We call, together, for a gathering of the Trans-public, to dialogue into a working model, the creation of a Trans-National Alliance constitution. Yes, it’s shadow government time, people. But we do this not as a replacement or challenge to current or existing local, state, or federal government. The spirit of the TNA is active disengagement from a dysfunctional and illegitimate power structure. We purposely want to STOP GIVING THEM OUR ENERGY. We’ve come to realize how little we want or need from Washington DC, so we are now accepting to let them do as they will, while we actively gather here presenting our own solutions, aiming for the most local impact. This is just us, asserting that we can peaceably assemble, and that assembly has the aim of enabling collective decision-making. We want to put on paper, our principals of inclusivity, personal freedom, and collective service to community. We want to elevate and centralize human rights to be our chief consideration in the most transparent operation of our open-sourced governance and decision-making, so that whatever we do, we’re doing it together, for us all.

Bring some herbs (or not), let us sit down and have a conversation. Offer your ideas, your capacity, your resources… help us document this process. We need AV equipment to faithfully capture what is taking place so that members of our alliance who are not in attendance can access these dialogues. We need digital real estate (web site, hosting, social media management, etc). We also need to create a TNA app. We need visual aids and art, to express the TNA to the public passerby at-a-glance; we need printing. We need to be able to capture our spirit on many platforms, and make the transparent operation of our intention, the main driver growing our alliance.

This is the season to do all this. At a time when our government is headed by the greenest orange menace to ever sit in that chair (yes, he’s sooo in over his comb-over, and that inexperience is dangerous to us all), but let us replace that anxiety with positive action. Let us take back our creative power and let us come up with a digital document that reflects our spirit, then let us make it available to the weary public, looking for an outlet to express their heart of positivity. The process will remain open all summer and input is sought from as many sources as are willing to contribute. By the end of the Venice season (say around halloween), we should have wrapped up our constitutional convention and have a final document to print on the pages of The BeachHead. Yes, join us!


Safe Place For Youth – Heroes

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 18:43

There are new kids on my block. Actually, they don’t really look like kids. They look like they could be threatening… streetwise, dirty, some with an attitude…like they’ve been living in the urban jungle…they have.

One time I found a vape pipe on the ledge of my daughter’s window. Another time I found sneakers in my tiny front lawn next to the circle of chairs around our fire pit. For a while someone was stashing their sleeping bag in our bamboo. I wondered if they were sleeping in our yard.

They congregate in what appears to be an alley near my house a few days a week. Lots of them. Playing their music…hanging out…waiting.

For SPY to open.

I think…this is dumb…they bring the homeless into my hood, but they don’t house them…place doesn’t open till 1…do I really want a bunch of down and outers right across the street?!
There’s a part of me, a part I’m not too proud of, that goes “Oh my god…look at all those scummy people loitering near my house”. Hey, not in our backyard! I feel myself turning into one of those people…the NIMBY’s.

But wait a minute. Why did I move to Venice? What kind of a person am I??

One of the guys who work there parks in front of my house. He’s super cool…extremely friendly and respectful…I tell him that I’m finding stuff in my yard…he listens sympathetically and assures me they take the concerns of the neighbors very seriously, and coach the kids to respect the neighborhood. The problem eases up… Turns out he’s one of the Spy “outreach” people…those who go into the homeless community and spread the word. I’m really glad, because the guy is so friendly and likeable I can’t imagine anyone turning away from his help. He lures them into this alley in Venice. Across the street from my home.

It’s the back door to 2469 Lincoln Blvd. the home of SPY, a drop in center for street kids

SAFE PLACE for YOUTH provides access to critical resources for young people ages 12-25 experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

SPY is free and low barrier with no requirements (like being drug free) kids can use services no matter what shape they’re in

SPY’s mission is “to inspire, nurture and empower the resilient human spirit of homeless youth by providing immediate and lasting solutions, one young person at a time.”

SPY saves lives.

It was founded in 2011 by Alison Hurst who moved here from London in 2001. She saw all the homeless kids, with little to no services. Her response to a system that doesn’t work was to take action.

Alison, along with members of her family and friends, began by offering food and clothing from the trunks of their cars, graduated to Oakwood Park, where she and her team of dedicated volunteers rented space in the church to cook meals, which evolved into a drop in center at Westminster Sr.Center. From there, Safe Place for Youth (SPY) was founded, modeled on programs provided in England, with its more socialist economy.

Five years later, under her leadership as Executive Director, Alison has been joined by a team of 15 staff members and 15 regular volunteers. SPY is regarded as the lead agency for homeless and at-risk youth in West Los Angeles.

Late Councilman, Bill Rosendahl took notice and helped them obtain their current space on Lincoln 2 years ago, forged connections with business partners, and advocated funding from government agencies.

SPY has now been on Lincoln for 2 years enjoying great rent, a great location near transportation, and most importantly near homeless youth congregating on the beach.
I crossed the street to meet with Rachel Stich, SPY’s very lovely and compassionate, very pregnant, Deputy Director of Development and Administration.

Originally from La Canada, she’s lived in Venice for the past 10 years. One of the lucky ones, her parents raised her to believe that “everyone deserves the same opportunities”. After receiving her degree in communications and PR she didn’t know what she wanted to do. But Rachel feels the injustice, the failure of society and feels she can make a difference

She worked for non-profits, and has been with SPY for 1 ½ years. I ask her why ages 12-25? I understand 12-18 (although honestly I’ve never seen really young kids) But 18-25? They don’t really seem like kids to me at that point.

Rachel reminded me that those are vital years for making the transition from child to adult. High school ends, and many kids from troubled homes are kicked out or run away. Foster care ages out at 18, and those kids have a 60% chance of being homeless.

They sleep under freeway bridges, in cars, at the beach…I see encampments on Lincoln Blvd and 3rd street to name a few.

According to the Los Angeles Housing Authority’s 2015 Homeless Youth Count report, there are approximately 6,150 homeless youth on the streets any given night in LA County.

Very few are homeless because they believe in an “alternative life style- living out of the box”. Most are there due to layers of trauma, and many have no support system.

“One of the fastest growing unhoused populations, transition-aged youth (TAY) are at-risk of becoming chronically homeless without sufficient resources and supportive services. The young people we serve at SPY find themselves homeless or at-risk of homelessness through no fault of their own. Of the youth that we engaged with in 2016, 59% reported being kicked out by a parent or caregiver or running away from unbearable home environments that includes physical and/or sexual abuse, homophobia, parental mental illness, or substance abuse. 23% reported becoming homeless as a result of their previous involvement in the foster care system. Youth experiencing homelessness deal with a complex set of issues related to disconnection from family and community, abuse and neglect, significant past trauma, grief and loss, mental illness, criminalization, a history of low family income, and exclusion from education. This translates into few prospects for education, employment, or social participation, and can manifest into psychological distress and trauma.”

Additionally there are the “hidden homeless” such as those living in their car, or sleeping on a friend’s floor.

Rachel’s noticed how her lack of sleep (due to pregnancy) has changed her own mindset and attitudes. “Imagine”, she mused, “never being able to get a night’s sleep. One thing leads to another… sleeping on sidewalks, worried about theft, scavenging for food, dealing with the elements, trying to keep clean..it all becomes a full time job leaving little time to take the steps required to lift oneself off the street. These kids aren’t lazy…. nobody wants this life, no one chooses to be homeless.”

Loss of dignity coupled with exhaustion exacerbated by untreated mental illness or mental health issues and/or substance abuse, along with a severe lack of affordable housing create a recipe for this epidemic of homeless youth.

The rift between the rich and poor widens and our youth falls into the crack

“It’s a victory for these kids to be able to take a nap in a safe place” Rachel points out.

I feel ashamed that I judged the sleeping bodies on my street.

It’s heavy stuff…But Rachel tells me this age is still so resilient, have their lives ahead of them, providing the opportunity to intervene. The chronically homeless are harder to get off the street.

The top priority is care and connection, knowing that someone’s on their team.

I asked her what she thinks it would take to get them off the street?

She showed me around.

The drop in center is open T, W, & Th. from 1-5 –for meals, clothing, shower, or just a nap.

M & F mornings SPY hosts other programing.

My new friend, Rob, along with other staff, volunteers, and the LGBT center engage TAY through street outreach and direct them to SPY.

Kids check in, then sign up for services. Everything’s on site.

New at SPY is a sit down case manager to assess needs and offer services, like a concierge.

There are 2 showers, and a large closet providing clean (donated) clothes.

Meals are 100% donated, homemade, and served by volunteers in an outside space. Snacks, hygiene products, sleeping bags and backpacks are given to go.

A Wellness Center sponsored by Venice Family Clinic provides health and dental care, and

MediCal enrollment is provided.

A caring case management team offers support for pregnancy and parenting.

The Healing Arts Space uses art as a way to connect, including music groups, meditation and yoga, and the UCLA Creative Minds Project provides UCLA undergrads who facilitate creative arts therapy groups and drumming circles.

Additionally, there’s a Digital Art Space: featuring music production, graphic design, and 3-D printing.

Life skills workshops can lead to paid internships to build resumes and adopt professional etiquette (currently there are 4 homeless interns with paid internships for 6 months. I met 2 and never would have guessed they were homeless)

For kids ready to work there are job postings, and help in applications and building resumes.

5 youth recently got jobs in urban farming/gardening through the Urban Farmer Workshops.

5 Keys Charter School provides education specialists for a GED high school diploma: currently 10 youth enrolled.

Mail and phone services, computers and internet access are available.

Within a legal clinic, Public Counsel assists with ticket clearing, legal advocacy and “Know your Rights” workshops.

Family reunification can sometimes be achieved by helping to find family, and pay for the trip home.

Limited transportation assistance is given along with bus tokens.

LA County Department of Mental Health provides weekly mental health information, support and links to mental health services.

Exceptional Children’s Foundation- Provides mental health services through counseling, crisis stabilization, mediation, grief and loss support, and anger management.

Los Angeles LGBT Center- joins outreach as well as offering support to drop in youth

Recovery meetings are provided once a week in a 12-step format tailored for youth.

“Spy Squad” empowers TAY by inviting their input into their own recovery.

Pet care is provided by Animal Wellness Center, MDR, and Karma Rescue

THERE IS VERY LITTLE HOUSING ANYWHERE in LA, but Spy has connections. The St. Joseph Center provides weekly Rapid-Rehousing assessments to ensure youth have access to available permanent-supportive housing, SPY has some relations with landlords. When possible, SPY connects kids to openings at shelters-SM, Harvest Home (Prenatal). The Youth Coordinated Entry System increases access to housing. 14 youth were housed last month

All stepping stones to changing their lives.…

Who knew all this was hiding behind this unassuming storefront?!

Having this home, across the street from my home, gives SPY the ability to expand and grow their programs. Their budget in one million dollars, with 94% privately funded. 75-105 youth utilize their services per day

“I won’t stop”, Rachel vows, hope keeps her going. And it can keep the kids going too.

In 2016, 1,132 kids received support through their range of free services and low barrier programming.

No one else is doing this on the Westside. SPY partners, and does joint street outreach with My Friend’s Space, a similar organization based in Hollywood, and the LGTB Center, while Westside adults are served by the St Joseph Center.

The good news is that our politics are finally beginning to be more proactive.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl was a huge supporter, and Rachel tells me that Mike Bonin has picked up the ball and has done a great job at prioritizing the issue. Sheila Kuehl has stepped up homeless prevention and given funding.

County Measure HHH is giving funds for upcoming housing projects- The city is currently looking at all property they own and every city property has to find a place for housing. This includes the parking lot at the west end of Washington and the old bus depot on Pacific.

“Venice Dell Pacific” (Venice and Pacific) plans to provide low income housing developed by Venice Community Housing.

Here’s a link to the City website outlining some of their plans. http://clkrep.lacity.org

County Measure H- provides funding for supportive services (like SPY) HOORAY!

Local business connections include Snapchat (who funds SPY’s volunteer program, installed 2 bathrooms, has given bikes for youth, and provides meals 3 x month), and Google (who granted their digital arts lab).

SPY is raising its profile by hosting VNC community meetings, attending meetings, and hosting forums at private homes.

So perhaps there’s hope on the horizon.

On Mother’s Day, while walking toward my teenage daughter on our way to the beach, I came across a guy with a backpack sitting on the sidewalk on Windward. He asked me if I had a couple dollars to spare. I had no money on me so I told him no, and started to continue walking. I took a double take and realized he may be younger than he first looked. “How old are you?” I asked. “18”

“Are you homeless?” “Yes”.

“Have you heard about SPY? Safe Place for Youth?”

“Yeah…I heard of it.”

“Where are you sleeping?” “Oh, here and there… “

“Did you call your mom for mother’s day?” “I don’t have her number.” (Hmmm)

“So…did she kick you out? Or did you run away? Or…”

“A little of both..”

“You should go to SPY” I urged…”they could…they would help you …”

What could have been a threatening man became a boy who missed his mom right before my eyes and I so hope he’ll take advantages of the services this terrific organization offers.

What if this were my child???

I’m proud to welcome SPY as our neighbor and will look for ways to integrate them into our shared community. I contacted my neighbors to see if they had any thoughts pro or con about having SPY as our neighbor. One person reported that he, too, has noticed a bit more loitering, but no one has had any negative encounters or problems, and some didn’t even know they were there. Most enthusiastically responded to my idea to serve lunch there once a month. I spoke to Taylor, our rep from Councilmember Bonin’s office and he noted that SPY was obviously positive for the region, and the risk would be a negative impact locally. However, he reported that in his 1 ½ years as deputy there have been no complaints that he can recall…a remarkable thing!

He reiterated their enthusiastic support for the organization which has blossomed from a fledging seed of an idea to a self- sufficient organization.

It’s a respectful, safe place allowing the kids to exit survival/jungle mode for a while.

No longer a NIMBY, I Want to be part of the solution

I vow to become a YIMBY (Yes in my backyard! Well, maybe not in my backyard, but across the street? AOK)

If not us, then who? If not now? Then when?

Ways to help:

If you’re reading this and you’re homeless, or at risk of being homeless, check out SPY!

If you see homeless youth, tell them about SPY!

If you have money- give to SPY!

Donate cash, time, and/or talents. Give clothes, toiletries or commit to a meal once a month.

Organize a clothing or food drive from your congregation or whatever group you belong to.

Encourage a local business to give 10% of their profits.

RAISE AWARENESS

Not having the time to research England’s economy, I posed this question to our smarty pants friends:
Anyone know how socialist England is? Someone recently said that England had a more socialist economy than the US, with more services for homeless. Can anyone back that up, or refute it?

We append a comment we received.

  • Not very. Most of the socialist-flavored policies and programs introduced by the Labor Party after WWII have been systematically dismantled by both the Conservatives under Thatcher and her successors and New Labor under Tony Blair, including privatizing national industries and services and destroying the labor movement. In fact, Jeremy Corbin is running in this election on a more socialist platform than Labor has pursued since Blair, including re-nationalizing the railroads and providing free and universal education through university (the latter doesn’t seem very socialist, though, when you remember that capitalist Germany offers it even to non-Germans). The only major “socialist” program that still exists in Britain is National Health, and the conservatives and neo-liberals are doing their best to cripple that; and, anyway, how socialist is something that is offered by every civilized nation but us? That said, as far as addressing poverty goes, yes, the Brits have pursued programs over the past 20 years that have dramatically reduced poverty there at the same time that poverty has risen significantly here, even though many of the economic issues facing Britain and the U.S. are the same. The U.S. spends significant amounts to reduce poverty, compared to most European countries, Britain included, to little effect. One difference is that they tend to do much more than we do to prevent poverty from taking root in the first place. For example, it is much easier to rise in class in EU countries than here, which is a huge brake on the development of a culture of poverty. Many people are kept from falling into poverty by programs like guarantee minimum incomes. And, of course, no one in the EU (or Canada or industrialized Asia) is driven into bankruptcy by getting sick. Britain isn’t socialist, but it has many more social and economic safety guards than we do. –

Art, By Jon Wolff

Sun, 08/13/2017 - 20:22

We Love the Unurban Cafe.

Sun, 08/13/2017 - 13:35

We Love the Unurban Cafe.

by Phil Kimball

Pamela Stollings, the owner of the Unurban Cafe, has been hosting her open mic for 23 years this September. She has received prestigious awards, trophies, and universal accolades from everyone in this community, and outlying communities. No one shines with more love and generosity than Pamela, who usually starts the ball rolling with a phrase like “ Get your wah wah pedal in gear and be ready when your name is called.”

The Unurban open mic is held every Friday. starting with sign up at 7:00 PM, and first song scheduled for 7:30 PM. There is a five dollar charge, and each participant is allowed two songs, or ten minutes on stage, whichever comes first. The back room stage offers a brand new PA, engineered by a very helpful guy named Paul Kennard. Microphones and boom stands are provided, with multi inputs for standard guitar plug in jacks. The sound can be adjusted by Mr. Kennard to provide desired levels of volume, bass, treble, and reverb. A spotlight shines from an overhead light fixture, which can be adjusted by a dimmer switch to desired levels of brightness.

The evening can draw anywhere from thirty to fifty participants on any given night. Each person places their named receipt in a bucket, which will be chosen at random by the leader of open mic (usually Pamela). If there a large number of late arriving performers, a second bucket is created to accomodate them. By doing the selection this way, no one should wait over two hours to get their name called. Many times, participants are called to perform in a relatively short amount of time, avoiding the prospect of wait time.
Late arrivals will simply be called to perform, after the first bucket is completed. The evening usually concludes around 10:00 PM, but some busy nights have continued until 11:00 PM or later. If there is time after the last performance, a free for all hootenany sometimes assembles on stage, where everyone is asked to bring their instrument, and join sharing songs and harmonies. There is a round robin song selection, giving everyone a chance to contribute a favorite song.

The audience is always attentive and courteous to each performer, and talking is encouraged away from the staging area, to focus attention on the performance. The general atmosphere is very supportive to anyone who engages in the open mic, and each performer is greeted with a steady round of applause following the completion of their set.

This open mic originally began in the front room, and eventually moved to the back room for more privacy and space. A steady stream of performers have graced the event, including some well known local and national performers. What a perfect place to wind down after a busy work week! The Unurban Coffee House is certainly one of the most popular open mic locations on the west side of LA. Parking is readily available after 6:00 PM in the US Bank parking lot across the street. There are excellent choices of food and beverage on the menu for those seeking refreshments.

Here are some quotes from some of the most frequent performers at the Unurban:

Mike Simpson : “An eclectic plethora of artistry and Danish coffee Friday nights”
David Gaulkin aka David Tops : “Community spirit allows open minded musicians who can perform without judgement, and always supportive.”
Milton Dee : – “Great community support, always feel at home, where you can be yourself. And the chicks are great !”
Chris Nash : “Fun and eclectic”
Jenny Zepp : “A vortex of creative inspiration, all existing on various planes, serving as inspiration, assisting in networking artists of the soul-this-is-the-place-this-is-the-time- Unurban Cafe”
Geno Loia – “Real as it gets and better than good ! This is the place to get the best entertainment, raw talent, as good as it gets (and deserves more recognition)
Cella Mousso (Chris) – “There is no in crowd. It is egalitarian here, where everyone gets respect and love, with no bullshit games.”
Kate Isenberg – “I was looking for a good open mic, that was unique, open to diversity, all styles and perspectives, and a place that would view everyone with equal importance, from the advanced players to the beginners. I was looking for a place that would accept oxygen tanks on stage. I was looking for a place that would unite us, drive us to express personal ways of communication. I was looking for a place where everyone’s story is equal. I found it at the Unurban Coffee House”
Pepe – “This place makes me feel peppy. Great sharing of love, refreshing live music, high energy performances, really different and eclectic.”
Mike Talega – “The comraderie keeps me coming back. So much gratitude from the first time here, fantastic support. I could write a book.”
Kevin Gleason – “One of the last few place like this, not slick or commercial”
Kevin McCluskey – “Friday night at the Unurban is a caffeinated sanctuary where modern day songsters play to a diverse and supportive crowd.
Peter Goverts – “This place offers great performers and wonderful friends, who care about each other.”
David Barker : “Thank you to everyone for making this a wonderful place.”
Larry Jonas – “It’s nice after 30 years to have some place to come and play.”


VENICE BY THE SEA

Sun, 08/13/2017 - 13:27

VENICE BY THE SEA

Mike Sonksen – AKA: Mike the Poet

By Mike Sonksen

Venice by the Sea was built by Abbott Kinney
at the turn of the 20th Century.
A Utopian community modeled after its namesake in Italy.
Canals were cut through marshes
as part of Kinney’s quest
to build Coney Island of the West.

Beach cottages replaced tents, gondolas were in the Canals,

roller coasters graced the waterfront,
gambling ships sailed in the ocean,
escapism the ethos in Prohibition.

Venice was a separate city for a generation, the inevitable annexation
into Los Angeles was because of politics.

The World Wars & aerospace industry left Venice a rundown beach town
affectionately known as the Slum by the Sea.

Poverty gave way to poetry, the affordable,            empty streets
opened the door for            a generation of Beats.

The Holy Barbarians of Lawrence Lipton, gathered in the Gas House & Venice West,
it wasn’t a place for squares to rest.

Stuart Perkoff yelled poems nonstop, poetry & Live jazz was with Kenneth Rexroth,
they almost banned the bongos.
The lights went dark at Pacific Ocean Park.

Jim Morrison & the Doors kept the flame alive,
Dogtown & Z Boys skated for their life
redefining skate cool in an empty swimming pool.

Poets like John Thomas & Philomene Long, seventies singers of the Venice song,
Carrying on the legacy of Venice beats, it’s always been Bohemia on the Beach.
The flame stayed stoked at Beyond Baroque with poets like John Harris & Michael C. Ford.
Wednesday Night’s Poetry Workshop bridged from Poetry to Punk Rock.

The Venice Boardwalk always rocks, Hollywood Blvd.’s evil twin sister,
Open-air vendors, performers, fortune tellers, beach dwellers, incense sellers, backpackers,
Roller bladers, tattoo artists & skaters.
Drummers in the drum circle, weight lifters, Muscle Beach: The Mecca of Body Building,
Abbott Kinney hipsters, homeless grifters, nomads living in vans, Transcendental vagabonds,
all composers of the Venice song.
Walking through Venice it’s a coastal village before redevelopment everybody was chilling
now Fortress Architecture is in the mix International style & New Brutalists.
The Shoreline Crips & Venice 13 have been on the scene for a few generations,
Oakwood’s seen gentrification.
Venice’s original area of African-Americans
now has wealthy landowners & McMansions.
Small World Books & the Talking Stick, bringing you back in the dense Mozaic
Respect to Ordell Cordova & Nickie Black, Venice beats off of Abbott Kinney.
Walking through side-streets to backyard parties,
barbecue after barbecue,

Venice Beach zeitgeist is nightlife & culture on the water.
Suicidal Tendencies to Teena Marie, a landscape for music & poetry.

Venice was lawless & still can be, poets wandering from party to party
yelling nonstop poetry, freestyle dancing & improvising
Venice vibes rising, Venice inspires vibing,
It’s been that way for a Century, Welcome to Venice by the Sea.


once sigh

Sun, 08/13/2017 - 13:06

once sigh

by alan rodman

 

once sigh built a railroad
made it run on time
buddy can you paradigm?

yesterday England burned no
coal for power generation
for the first time since 19th century

industrial revolution
can we still say revolution on here?

time seen sideways is meat
team spelled
backwards is really might

the roof is holding up the clouds
if the sky collapses
the roof will be superfluous

it’s? oh well
what is is what is
or will be in time

but time
backwards is Emit


War Pigs 2

Sun, 08/13/2017 - 13:00

War Pigs 2
(as sung to War Pigs by Black Sabbath) by, Moishe Tochis

Trump’s generals gather their shitty asses
Donald’s speeches are full of stinky gases.
Evil minds that plot destruction
Military Industrialists full of crap and constipation.
Drones, missiles and bombs the bodies are burning
as the war machine keeps turning.
Lies and hatred is how the road winds
poisoning their brainwashed minds. Oh Lord yeah!
Donald and wicked politicians hiding from gun’s sight
they only started the war
why should they go out to fight
they leave that role to the poor. Yeah!
Politicians and police take away our freedom
they think the public is real dumb.
Politicians spread more and more lies
while everywhere mother and baby dies.
War pigs bring the skull of Death
foul the earth with their poison breath. Oh yeah!
Putin,Islamofascists,N.Korea,China,Trump to battle
we will feel the death rattle.
Treating people just like pawns in chess
H-bombs will leave the world a mess. Yeah!
To the end of the world we’ve been led
nuclear fallout leaves everyone dead.
Armageddon coming all along the Watch Tower
the hand of God has struck the hour.
Day of Judgment God is calling
while Putin and Trump with bimbos are balling.
Annihilation blues the angel Gabriel sings
Satan laughing spreads his wings. Oh Lord yeah!


Roger Houston Poem.

Sun, 08/13/2017 - 12:57

04:55 Friday, April 21st, 2017, # 19, Lord Byron Apartments ….. The silence gently whispers in the dark. A mockingbird is napping. Let him lurk. Awakened this pre-dawn. Koreatown. Pale light beams south. From Griffith. I postpone. A mockingbird awakens. I can hear. Begins his pre-dawn set. What does he care? He entertains the neighborhood all night. Still blasting out his song by morning light. For now. The dog and I inhale night air. South of the one-o-one. We both are here. Both stabilized this moment. The unknown. Remains mysterious. This twilight zone. Stays open twenty-four. And so. We park. We listen to the set played in the dark ….. Roger Houston, missing Venice


MARCHING IN LINES

Sun, 08/13/2017 - 12:54

MARCHING IN LINES

marty liboff

Ants marching in straight lines- OBEY!
Off to work in lines of cars
Off to war in lines of tanks
Ants all dressed the same
Look alike and CONFORM!
You must not have an original thought
Don’t stand out in the crowd of ants
Be a good ant and walk in rows
All alike and think alike
Wear you suit and cut your hair-
carry your briefcase and laptop to work
Wear your uniform and cut your hair-
carry your gun and bombs to war
CONFORM! OBEY!
Be a good ant
A proper ant
Believe the lies and propaganda
March to school and sit in rows
March to work and sit in rows
A cell phone, wallet and credit card
so you know who you are
and where you are-
Our Fearless Leader ant may march us
into cans of Raid, Bug Bombs, Ant powder
But we must follow orders!
March in step
Be a good, upstanding ant
Don’t question-OBEY!
Marching in lines to oblivion
Marching in lines to Hell and brimstone
and never forget-
God Bless Antmerica!


Song of the Times

Sun, 08/13/2017 - 12:43

Song of the Times

-marty liboff-

Time is going
Time is slipping away
It is just slipping away
and it is gone…
The minutes are here
then they go, go, gone…
The moments come
then they go
go, go forever gone…
Our heroes are here
Marcus, Kennedy, King
then they are gone away…
Our musical heroes play
Jim, Jerry, Janis, Jimi
Bob Marley
then they just slip away
Our heroes just slipping away…
Time is going
Time is slipping away
and it is gone…
We will all be gone someday
gone, gone away…
Time is slipping away
Tick tock, tick tock
goes our Life clock-
The end of days
The end of Time
Time is slipping away
just going, going gone…
Mankind evolves-
bigger brains
bigger weapons
big enough to destroy all Life…
Time is slipping away
The clock to be smashed
Mother Earth murdered by Man
Time is slipping away
Time is ending…
We’ve all gone, gone away-
Dust to dust, ashes to ashes
Time is going
Time is slipping away
It is just slipping away
and it is all gone…


What is America to Me?

Sun, 08/13/2017 - 12:38

What is America to Me?

By Kyana Morgan 

What is America to me?
America to me is the land of the free,
But that was decided by my skin.
The color of my skin gives me first choice.
The color of my skin gives me privilege.
The color of my skin can make me rich.
The color of my skin can deem me a good person. But truly, the color of my skin can be a disgrace.
In America, I represent the trump supporters.
In America, I represent the anti-immigrants.
In America, I represent the racists.
In America, I represent everything I am not. Because, in America,
Even when whites do not admit it,
Whites have the privilege.
The whites see the blacks as lesser.
The whites see the Mexicans as lesser.
The whites see the Arabs as lesser.
The whites see the Native Americans as lesser.
The whites see all who are not white, as different. But the truth is, America,
That we are all the same.
The truth is, America,
That we should all maintain
The equilibrium of race,
Because we are all equal.
You see,
America is the land of the free,
But that’s just for me,
Because people who look like me,
Always seem to disagree
Saying they are for equality.
But really, America doesn’t seem so free
For all those who don’t look like me.
So let’s change, America.
Let’s change America
To the land of the free.


noting nothing

Sun, 08/13/2017 - 12:23

noting nothing

by alan rodman

 

nothing is cheaper
than feeding a goldfish
you can be sure
of one thing nothing
is certain – certainly
nothing from nothing
leaves nothing but
you’ve gotta have something
anything is better
when you start
from nothing allows
room for enhancement
and elaboration noting
that nothing
is simple,
as it looks.


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