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Please Help Save the historical IRVING TABOR homes at 605 Westminster, an important piece of the black history of Venice.

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 05:29

More Good News : Venice
History Will Be Saved – Come to Thursday’s Hearing

This is Even Better News!
Office of Historic Resources has recommended that the Cultural Commission support our nomination and consider it at Thursday’s hearing. (Staff Report)

We need your support.
We need everyone to take Action. We must convince the Cultural Heritage Commission and also the owner of the property who is hesitant to support it. We need to get our letters of support to the Commission and show up to the hearing on THURSDAY, MAY 18. We are the last project of nine to be heard. We should arrive by 11 am.



Write that letter now about this wonderful property, the role that Irvin Tabor and his family had in the founding of Venice.
Here is a simple note of support. Feel free to add to it:
Dear Commissioners,
I wish to register my support that 605-607 West Minster Ave. be designated as a Historic Cultural Monument. I was involved with the community action in favor of this on March third. It is important that we preserve the legacy of Irvin Tabor and the African-American community’s contribution to the history of Venice.

[Address or Venice resident]
Letters of support should be e-mailed to (CAN USE THE LETTER attached (Click HERE) or write your own personal letter of support (click HERE).


Come to the Meeting and Speak! We need Venetians interested in their history. We need Oakwood neighbors who grew up knowing about the Tabors or not knowing and glad to be supporting this nomination. We need to tell them that there is more Venice History to be saved and you will be here again. If you need a ride, we will arrange it.

(please come no later than 11 am)
City Hall, Room 1060
200 N. Spring Street
Los Angeles 90012

Please let us know if you are attending and is you need or can give a ride.

3. Tell Everyone. Get them to come to the meeting. Carpool. WE CAN HELP. IT IS JUST THAT IMPORTANT THAT WE GET OUR COMMUNITY TO SHOW.

Join our Facebook Group: Saving Venice History

As Jataun says, We are doing this so “That future generations should know and learn about how it was.”

We are so close.


The Media
LA Times Real Estate Pages
Dan Weikel, LA Times.
La Curbed LA Halts Renovation Work
La Curbed Owner Lisa Henson Defends…

Gary Walker, The Argonaut, Erasing Black Venice
Join us on Facebook.

There’s a Monolith at Venice and Lincoln

Sun, 05/14/2017 - 20:21
Click to view slideshow.

By Jim Smith, photos by Margaret Molloy.

The intersection of Lincoln and Venice Blvd. is now my favorite corner in Venice. It’s hard to believe, but there’s a shiny, new black monolith on the northwest sidewalk. If you haven’t been reading the Beachhead or didn’t come to the dedication, April 27, you may think it was dropped there by aliens to test our intelligence as a species. Will we pass? Well, if you understand that all humans around the world are basically alike, and if you are aware that the U.S. Constitution provides for due process, the right to a trial by jury and equality under the law, and further, if you can distinguish between nations that commit war crimes and innocent people whose ancestors may have been born in that country, then you may not go extinct.

The truth is the monolith, also called the Venice Japanese-American Memorial Monument, was placed there by Venetians, and our friends, to remind all of us that 1,000 local people of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated in the Manzanar concentration camp in 1942, even though they had done nothing illegal or anti-American. Most of them were confined there for up to three and a half, or four years. They lost their farms, their homes, their possessions and a total of 450,000 years of their lives if you add up all 120,000 people who were put into the camps, right here in America.

A few hundred of us gathered at the corner to celebrate the dedication of the monument, which we have been working towards for the past 16 years. It took that long to gather the supporters, raise money, get the monument and deal with city, county and state bureaucracies to make it legal to plant it next to a highway (Lincoln Blvd.).

If you’re wondering if this is one more trick to gentrify Venice, it isn’t. There’s nothing to buy here, folks. This is Venice history. The Japanese people who were taken to the concentration camps were almost all working class and farmers.

Likewise, the Committee (Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument or VJAMM) that worked tirelessly to create this living memory of our past included Kay Brown, artist; Nikki Gilbert, Sushi Girl; Phyllis Hayashibara, retired Venice High teacher; Mae Kageyama Kakehashi, Manzanar survivor; Arnold Maeda, Manzanar survivor; Brian Maeda, Manzanar survivor; Alice Stek, Venice Peace and Freedom and Beachhead; Suzanne Thompson, fundraiser; Yosh Tomita, Manzanar survivor; Emily Winters, muralist. Also, Don Geagan, Peace and Freedom and Beachhead; the late Fred Hoshiyama, Manzanar survivor; Marc Salvatierra, Venice Historical Society; and me, Jim Smith. Most of the above are long time Venetians who are fighting to preserve the Venice culture.

Seven of the locals spoke at the ceremony and another seven politicians and government officials also spoke. Fortunately we were limited to two minutes each. Warren Furutani, a former state legislator, school board member and community college trustee was the keynote speaker. Unlike some of the speakers who delivered large helpings of platitudes, Furutani talked to us about how the betrayal of the Japanese-Americans happened and what we need to do to prevent losing our civil liberties again.

The monolith is really a fine piece of work that was created by a very skilled artist, David Williams. You should stop by and take a look at it. The monument is going to take a lot of vigilance to keep it from being desecrated. Please let the Committee know if you see anyone harming it.

VJAMM – It’s finally here!

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 17:06

By Alice Stek

Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument.  Pictured are Jim Smith and Alice Stek.  Photo by Margaret Molloy

The dedication of the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument (VJAMM) took place on April 27, 75 years after over 1000 Japanese Americans from the Venice area were forcibly removed and sent to concentration camps for the remainder of WWII. In 1942, essentially no one tried to stop this injustice.

The monument is located on the corner of Venice and Lincoln Blvds at the site where the families were ordered to report, with only what they could carry, for “evacuation” transport. It took many years to accomplish, it looks beautiful, and the VJAMM Committee is thrilled to see it installed; please visit it.

In the months after 9-11 (2001, not Pinochet’s coup in Chile on 9-11-1973) members of the Venice Peace and Freedom Party were alarmed by the flag-waving hysteria around us. Calls for invasions of distant countries and crackdowns on groups that looked like those reported to be responsible for the attacks made us worry that something similar to the Japanese American incarceration could happen again to innocent Americans. Reminding our community that this could happen again was a good idea, we thought. If people understood the history of the Japanese American incarceration, this would encourage communities to remain vigilant, speak out, and organize against injustice, and we could prevent future violations of civil rights. In early 2002, the Venice Peace and Freedom Party circulated a petition to create a monument commemorating the removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans from Venice, Santa Monica and Malibu. We obtained support from our local elected officials. The Beachhead joined in.

After Venice High School students and their teacher Phyllis Hayashibara took up the cause and former Manzanar prisoners and the Venice Arts Council joined the effort, we were able to raise money and design the current monument.

The relevance of this monument is obvious in the current political climate of racism, intolerance, xenophobia and fear-mongering. We are shocked that almost half of American voters support politicians who so openly promote restricting civil liberties.

It would be a mistake to only be concerned with the obvious threats to justice by the current government. Remember that Executive Order 9066, which allowed the incarceration of Japanese Americans, was signed by the highly regarded President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who promoted many progressive initiatives. President Obama was a Democrat and a good orator, but in the meantime he also authorized NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, which makes legal many serious restrictions of civil liberties and includes such provisions as extended arrest without due process. Clearly, the people must remain engaged and vigilant, regardless of who occupies the government positions of power.

Our hope is the VJAMM monument will permanently contribute to this critical vigilance.

VJAMM website: Venicejamm.org

RIP Pano Douvos

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 05:41

Pano Douvos

Pano passed away yesterday at 3 p.m. at the Playa Del Rey Nursing Center.    A service at Beyond Baroque will be arranged in honor of Pano.

Here is an 2014 article about Pano, by Greta Cobar.

Not to Frown
By Pano Douvos

Life is a stage tis said
You cross it fast

Sheet life is no fucking stage
Man it’s for real one time

No trucking back
To pick off bad fruit

No way you should get seconds
Life is no fucking stage

Life is a pair of dice
Dig it snake-eyes for you

And snake-bit no foolin
But not to frown

By me it’s not all bad
All time but mostly

Goodbye Protest Venice Freakshow

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 05:37

by Margaret Molloy

Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument DEDICATION CEREMONY Thursday, April 27, 2017 from 10:00 am – 11:30 am

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 22:13
Click to view slideshow. Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument
Thursday, April 27, 2017 from 10:00 am – 11:30 am
on the Northwest corner of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards
Unveiling of the VJAMM

MC: Phyllis Hayashibara, VJAMM Committee

Jim Smith, former Free Venice Beachhead Collective
Ruth Galanter, Retired Los Angeles City Councilmember, District 6
Joel Jacinto, Commissioner, Board of Public Works
Zev Yaroslavsky, LA County Supervisor, District 3 (retired)
Rachel Zaiden, Senior Field Deputy for LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
Len Nguyen, Senior Field Deputy for LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin
Kevin McKeown, Councilmember and former Mayor, City of Santa Monica
Jeff Burton, National Park Service, Manzanar National Historic Site
Dr. Jimmy Hara, born in Gila River WRA Camp in Arizona
Dr. Thomas Yoshikawa, former incarcee at Manzanar WRA Camp in California

Keynote Speaker Warren Furutani
Community Activist and Manzanar Pilgrimage Pioneer

Brian Maeda, VJAMM Committee, introduction of Quotes
Nikki Gilbert, VJAMM Committee, VJAMM Text
Emily Winters, VJAMM and VAC, Design
Suzanne Thompson, VJAMM and VAC, Education and Maintenance

VJAMM Fundraiser today at noon and tonight at Hama Sushi
48th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, Saturday, April 29, 2017

This VJAMM Dedication souvenir program is made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs, and with the support of Community Partners.


Mon, 04/17/2017 - 19:17

By Marty Liboff

Everyone in Venice is familiar with the historic old Israel Levin Senior Center with its wonderful Marc Chagall style murals at 201 Ocean Front Walk. It has gotten the O.K. by the Coastal Commission to be demolished. In its place will be a modern structure and more of old Venice’s amazing history will be lost. However, membership has dropped sub­stantially in recent years and there are new plans for utilizing the space.

Click to view slideshow.

The Israel Levin Center is owned by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and is run by the Jewish Family Service. The planned new structure will have three stories and will be double the height of the present building. The bottom floor will be a large meeting hall or community room. The second story will have administrative offices and the top floor will have a rooftop deck and Jewish youth housing. There will be a kosher kitchen and many walls will be modular so it can have varied uses.

The historic old building is already there in a postmarked 1915 postcard. Before that there was a wood house similar to many one and two story wood houses that lined the beach front in those days. It was called the New Denver Hotel. The New Denver Hotel had two floors and advertised steam heat and hot water in rooms. Hot water and even any running water was a luxury back then in hotel rooms. It was built next to one of the most amazing buildings ever seen in Venice, the Ocean Park Bath House that looked like an enormous ancient Muslim mosque (image below). Today I’m sure that Donald Grump would scream and rant that the mosque looking bath house must be some sort of plot by Obama and Leftists and you will somehow be turned into an Islamo­fascist from the bath water.

Through the years there were dif­ferent shops around the front of the ho­tel. There was the Seaside Barbeque that served barbeque sandwiches. I’d love to eat one now! They also had chile and had big signs up advertising Tacoma Brew. Tacoma Brew has been long gone, but a new Tacoma Brew beer was started in 2012 and is sup­posed to be an excellent beer. There was an ice cream parlor, a drug store and for awhile there was an auction house selling local property. Land was still cheap and they auctioned off land around Venice and Ocean Park. Even in my time there were still big empty lots even on Main St. where we kids played. The block on Rose Ave. and Main St. where the  dancing clown building is and CVS Pharmacy was a big empty field inhabited only by birds and furry go­phers. You had to watch where you stepped or you would trip in a gopher hole.
During the 1940s the beach had gambling parlors with several games similar to bingo. They tried to trick the city’s anti gambling laws by giving prizes and calling them by different names like bridgo and tango. The hotel had bingo style gambling on the bottom floor and they may also have had dancing.

The second story was reputed to be a whorehouse. Then lady luck ran out. Fi­nally the city raided all of these establishments and ended the beach gambling. Many years ago my mother used to say, “When they closed the bingo parlors all the money left the beach.”

Ruthie Liboff

After that it became cheap apartments as I remember. The beachfront was predominately a Jewish area when I grew up here in the late 1940s and 1950s. There were several syna­gogues, kosher butcher shops and delis. We loved to get a corned beef on rye at the original Zucky’s Deli that was on the ocean front before moving to Wilshire Blvd. My mom, Ruthie Liboff ran a Jewish style bakery on the beachfront during my youth. I still dream of the thick cheese cake with cherries on the bottom and the yummy chocolate brownies. I want to write more about old Jewish Venice in the future.

In around 1964 an eld­erly Jew by the name of Israel Levin bought the aging building. My pal Mitch Lachman who has lunch now in the center tells this story: “My mom said I want you to meet this man who wants to do something nice for the Jews. She took me over to see Mr. Levin and he was expecting me. It was a hot summer day and he was lying there in his tee shirt looking like an old Cary Grant. He had a Zionist magazine by his side. He told me that he wants to do something good for the Jews in the community and to help society.” So he bought the building as a community house for mostly older Jews in the neighbor­hood and for others as well.

The bottom floor was used as a hall for food and events and the top floor remained cheap apartments. They served inexpensive lunches for seniors, and they still do. Most members think the food is pretty good most of the time. One member did complain that the food is good but could use more flavoring. I’ve eaten there and it can sometimes be a bit bland because some seniors are on low sugar and salt diets. However, I have always enjoyed the meal and the company is delightful. Seniors can be from any faith or ethnicity. My mom used to eat there for lunch when she got older.

She had a nice non Jewish friend who ate there who was German. My mom used to say that there were some good Germans and we shouldn’t hate them all for what happened to the Jews during the war. Although she got really pissed when I bought a VW…

Then the city decided the second floor could be dangerous in an earthquake and they forced the tenants out. For a while Morrie Ro­sen who ran the Levin Center for many years still had his little office upstairs but finally it was also taken away and the second story apartments were removed and the windows were sealed up as it is today. Morrie was a big activist for the poor and elderly, and fought for low cost housing out of the Levin Center.

Back in those days the center was usually filled with people getting lunch and doing ac­tivities. Several of the Jews were survivors from Nazi concentration camps. My aunt Adele Mark used to go to the the Levin Center years ago and she was a survivor of Aushwitz and had her tattooed numbers on her arm. She told many chilling stories of Nazi brutality. There used to be many benches on the ocean front and they were filled with old Jews. Now most of the benches are gone and I am one of the last (alter kocker = old pooper) old Jews sit­ting on the last of the old benches.

In 1972 an anthropologist by the name of Barbara Myerhoff did a study of old people in the Levin Center for a few years. She made a short movie called, “Number Our Days” in 1976. The movie was made by Barbara and was directed by Lynne Littman and it got an Academy Award for short documentary film in 1977. Then Barbara came out with a book by the same name and it got great reviews. The movie and book made the Levin Center known around the world.

The beautiful mural on the Levin Center was mostly designed by Christina Schlesinger and was painted by her and several local art­ists. Christina lived in Venice from 1971-1980 and was an artist and activist and daughter of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. who worked as a histo­rian and writer for both President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. When living in Venice, she came out as an outspoken lesbian and feminist, and was mostly doing erotic art. She returned to L.A. in 1991 to work on a couple of murals and painted with the help of some locals the mural on the Levin Center she called “Chagall Comes to Venice” in 1991. The mural has been retouched a couple of times since. Unfortunately some of the original mural is gone. After it had been redone following some damage it was renamed “Cha­gall Returns to Venice”. One of the last re­maining artists who went to the Levin for lunch and had worked on the mural, Fay Conn recently had to move to a rest home.

Besides having low cost lunches for sen­iors, the Levin Center has offered many free classes for seniors including art, music, sing­ing, exercise, dance and even Yiddish and Klezmer music. They have Tai Chi with wonderful Rosemary and Pilates with Phyl­lis. On Friday they hold a Shabbat service or Jewish Sabbath with a prayer and candle lighting. They are thinking of forming a jazz band with members and I may be one of the old farts playing music with them. They also have a little gallery and presently the great

Venice photographer Ned Sloane has his pho­tos on exhibit there. Mary Getlein is one of the present mem­bers going to the Levin Center and she said, “Going to the Levin Center has really helped me a lot! You can go there and rest and hang out and the people are so nice. The exercise class and tai chi has helped me recover from my injury from falling off a bike. A social worker comes in usually on Fri­days and helps with hous­ing and other problems we have. And Sherry the director is always so sweet and helpful.” I had talked to one of the previous di­rectors at the Levin Center a few years ago about the plans for it being remodeled. The final plans were still being worked on and at first they were going to keep the outside shell and not demolish the en­tire old structure. The new plans will have a completely new build­ing. The old director of the Center said, “You know Marty, this prop­erty is worth a LOT of money now and the di­rectors of the Jewish Federation want to do something with it and maybe put some of their offices here.” I said that, “When Venice was still considered a poor part of town they didn’t care, but now it is worth BIG bucks!” She said that the changes will make it better with more room and new activities and peo­ple. So now they can be neighbors with the Google and Snapchat billionaires. The Levin Center is also near the border of Venice and Santa Monica, and it is sort of a no man’s land there, where all the crazy drunks and druggies hang out. Venice Beach, where the surf meets the sand and the billionaires meet the homeless. Venice Beach, the out­door insane asylum…

According to the Jewish Journal magazine from March 15, Jay Sanderson, the President of the Jewish Federation, says they plan to break ground before the end of the year. The new building has an esti­mate cost of 7-8 million dollars and they hope it can be completed by the end of 2018. The seniors still going there now may meet at some other facility nearby until it is completed. Some members have told me that when the Levin Center was being renovated years ago, they had met at the Miskon Tephilo synagogue a few blocks away on Main St.

The poem by Dora Baycheck on the Levin Center’s mural says:

Roots will deepen, spread and sprout through the threatening heights,
through stormy seas. Youth on wings carried dreams
With Jewish faith and blessings with the flame of the young,
Braved wild virgin land to build a new free life
By the sweat of their brows, with strong, calloused hands.

Go by the Israel Levin Center and say goodbye to the old historic building and won­derful mural. Let us hope the new center will be as good for the future of Venice as the old one was for our past…

For more fun his­tory read Jeffrey Stanton’s Venice of America Coney Island of the Pa­cific


Sat, 04/15/2017 - 15:51

by P.S. Barber

Bruegel painted the banal innocence of unawareness: Icarus plunges head-first into the Mediterranean’s watery womb, errant feathers flutter as two splayed legs kick near the frame’s edge, disappear into darkening seas — a catastrophe unnoticed while the rest of the world goes blandly and blindly about its day; ploughman, shepherd, fisherman, the moneyed merchant ships under full sail — to each, the unseen fall of Icarus is insignificant.

A similar indifference holds true for America’s bloody involvement in the daily mass killings taking place in the Middle East’s poorest country, Yemen. Check the news – there’s practically a press blackout when it comes to U.S. complicity in Yemen’s civil war and the daily bombings of innocent civilians, including the use of illegal cluster bombs manufactured in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

In the media’s glut of real and “fake” news, there’s little mention of the wars’ effect on Yemen’s neighboring countries and the imminent famine of 20 million people along the horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Already 3 years into a devastating drought, the region’s evolving humanitarian crisis is leading to the largest refugee-migration in history.

Most of the good people in Venice, distracted by the quotidian demands of life, are like Bruegel’s working-stiffs more than the rich owners of sailing ships (Google, Snapchat, et al.); but we all should recognize that, while we argue about gentrification, eastern Africa stands to lose an entire generation; we’ll say more about Venice as a progressive force and how to persuade our local wealthy businesses to help raise social awareness, in a bit.
But back to U.S. involvement in Yemen’s civil war and the humanitarian crisis you won’t see on the evening news: tens-of-thousands of civilian lives already lost; one million children facing famine as 14 million more Yemenis go hungry in a country of only 25 million; another 10-thousand children die annually from preventable diseases as cholera spreads; 4 million civilians are displaced and seeking refuge; over 100 schools and hospitals purposely bombed in 2016 alone, including Doctors Without Borders, who finally had to pull-out for their own safety; more currently, due to a Saudi-led military blockade, half the nation’s civilians are being deprived of water, food, and electricity.
Now, it’s not like the U.S. government doesn’t pay attention to Yemen: it’s America who supplies Saudi Arabia, our great Arab ally in the region, the endless array of bombs and planes (as well as the technical training and know-how) to blast their destitute neighbor back into the Stone Age.

The Stone Age, where many of the regions conflicts began and let’s face it, ideally belong: but millennia of tribal enmities, not the least of which is the ancient and ardent hatred between Sunni and Shia Muslims, drives this civil war with no end in sight. And while the U.S. press generally turns a blind eye to the slaughter our government enables, other entities are taking notice.

The United Nations and International courts have declared that the United States by its “direct involvement” is possibly guilty of War Crimes in supplying the Saudis with, “practical assistance, encouragement or moral support.” A 2013 U.N. War Crimes trial established a precedent holding secondary countries liable for civilian atrocities, even without direct involvement. Obama Administration lawyers were reportedly worried about the “legal blowback” of the U.S. being a “co-belligerent” under international law; and so the lawyers worked to limit “U.S. exposure” to the Geneva Convention Laws of Armed Conflict. Ironically and hypocritically, this very legal idea of “direct involvement” was used by the United States to hold detainees at Gitmo without rights: talk about pigeons coming home to roost.

Gore Vidal once named our republic the “United States of Amnesia.” An apt moniker since Americans generally have no memory of their own history, much less an awareness of other countries’ pasts or our nation’s imperialist leanings which often lead to military machinations in those sovereign nations.

After WWII, the United States along with Britain and France, began to divvy up the globe. In the Middle East, oil was an unambiguous desire; Saudi Arabia, with one-fifth of the world’s oil, was the crown jewel. So a conscious and fateful decision was made to reject those nations exploring secular democracies and instead support the Saudi Kingdom with their vast reserves of petroleum. That also meant acquiescing to the Saudi Wahhabist ideology, a cultural and political Sunni extremism that by all standards of human rights in the 21st Century, is abysmal and virulently anti-democratic.
Today, it is Sunni Saudi Arabia and not Shia Iran that is the largest funder of terrorism against the West, and of Madrassas which radicalize the susceptible; it is primarily Saudi Arabia that funds jihadists across the globe in their grotesque acts; Saudis regularly behead people publicly, impose Sharia Law at home, and internationally support radical Islamism with both means and material. It went barely reported, but WikiLeak-disseminated State Department cables confirm Saudi reluctance to turn off the cash-spigot financing attacks against the West.

As our bombs fall on innocent civilian populations in the name of protecting a diminishing resource which poisons the atmosphere and disastrously alters our world’s climate, the United States is considering a 300-million weapons package to Saudi Arabia. This will immediately up the calculus for mass violence in Yemen (the U.S. has sold Saudi Arabia 119-billion of armaments since 2009); and still, U.S. troops are stationed in Prince Sultan Air Base (since 1990 and the 1st Iraq War), those troops ostensibly the reason behind the September 11th attacks against America. Now, nothing will ever justify those terrible attacks, but it’s also essential to recognize that nothing political happens in a vacuum.

As I stated earlier, in the United States of Amnesia our murderous actions go unmentioned: out of sight, out of mind. During the Obama administration, for instance, internationally-illegal CIA drone strikes in Yemen and elsewhere became a daily occurrence, eventuating in what Noam Chomsky calls, “a global assassination campaign.” Hundreds of civilians were killed in these illegal bombings; it was swept under the rug. But let’s face it, most Americans feel that drone strikes are better than “boots-on-the-ground” – as if those were our only choices; but under-reported, there isn’t even a debate about illegal drones.

It’s easier when the violence goes unnoticed, as in Yemen. W. H. Auden wrote about it in his poem, “Musee Des Beaux Arts” —

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters; how well they understood
It’s human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just
Walking dully along…
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the
torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

So what can we do when there’s a sociopath in the White House overturning long-held human rights protections, cutting U.S. aid to NGOs who help the world’s needy, all the while demonizing the weakest of the weak – refugees fleeing violence – situations which America often helps create, but never acknowledges.

In this unsound Administration where “crazy” is the daily fare, bombast will certainly lead to more bombs in order to Make America Great Again. Illustrating this machismo not long ago in a callous cynical act of cowardice, five-time draft-dodger Donald Trump (betwixt soup and entrée at his rococo gold palace Mar A Lago) ordered an ill-planned ground attack in Yemen which unnecessarily cost the lives of numerous innocent women and children, as well as the life of Navy Seal Ryan Owens. The botched mission didn’t stop Trump from publicly displaying Owen’s weeping widow at a joint speech to Congress, heaving his chest and justifying his failure as a great success: “Look Ma, big hands!” And now, while U.S. bombs and planes pound the poorest nation in the Middle East into oblivion, Trump threatens even more ground raids.

And while America’s drone and bombing campaigns have done little to specifically stop radical Islamism, it’s undeniable that the violence has created more victims seeking revenge against the West. And in the vacuum created by Yemen’s civil war – some say a shadow war between Iran and Saudi Arabia – ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have set down deep roots, taking territory, greatly adding to the civilian catastrophe. All the while, America and Saudi Arabia have no shame in publicly naming themselves, “The Friends of Yemen.”

So as progressive Venetians – the kind of people who don’t turn away — we have to wonder what average residents can possibly do to stop U.S. involvement in Yemen, or forestall the famine threatening that country as well as Somalia (inching towards stability), South Sudan (in its own civil war of ethnic cleansing), and Nigeria (where Boko Haram holds power).

It’s important to remember that “famine” is a technical term for “tipping the scales” and that there are already millions upon millions starving in eastern Africa. “Famine” is merely language for what’s around the corner when the disaster hits its merciless critical mass and can no longer be stopped. So acting now will not only saves millions of innocent lives but, for hardcore capitalists, it’s also cost-effective in the long run.
The United Nations calculates that 6-billion dollars is immediately needed to stop the oncoming famine, which they acknowledge is an “entirely predictable and eminently avoidable” humanitarian disaster; there is less than 2-percent of those needed funds in the U.N. pipeline right now.

So I’d like to suggest several possible avenues of action:

Firstly, as Bruegel’s working-stiffs, we might turn to our city’s wealthy ship owners in order to support our political goals: let’s start with Google. Our billionaire neighbor has a corporate department called “Public Policy and Government Affairs.” Under Google’s PPGA’s “code of conduct,” they state that the “core” of their Code is the maxim, “Don’t Be Evil.”

Well… if mass murdering children each day, subjecting them to starvation and disease, orphaning them, forcing them and their families to flee 500-pound bombs falling from the sky, destroying everything human – if that ain’t evil, I don’t know what is.

So unless Google has a Malthusian perspective of the world – and that’d certainly be evil – they can’t seek refuge in “political neutrality.” It would amount to the same thing as turning away to purposefully let people die; not unlike, though the inverse, of the U.S. Government and its “direct involvement.” Nonetheless, Google incurs the moral culpability which accompanies willful indifference if it turns away from Yemen and Africa’s imminent crisis; to simply “go on with their doggy life” would go directly against Google’s stated tenet “Don’t Do Evil.”

I propose that every Venetian who’s concerned, to contact REBECCA PROZAN at Google’s San Francisco PPGA offices; Ms. Prozan’s history appears progressive, having worked with Willy Brown and more recently, Kamala Harris. Ms. Prozan’s personal website is: Rebeccaprozan.com; her Twitter account is @prozan. Urge Ms. Prozan to use Googles PPGA in advancing the following:

1. Push Congress to enforce a weapons embargo against Saudi Arabia and stop the impending arms package.

2. Push Congress to stop Saudi blockade of Yemen’s main port

3. Publicly condemn U.S. involvement in Yemen.

4. Lead financing for the billions needed to prevent African famine.

Meanwhile and simultaneously, another route is to contact our Representative in Washington, TED LIEU; Representative Lieu has openly stated his opposition to U.S. involvement in the Saudi bombing of Yemen; Lieu is a progressive and seems to listen seriously to his constituents.

Here’s Liu’s address and number in Los Angeles: 5005 Wilshire Blvd. #310 Los Angeles, CA 90036 (323) 651-1040

Additionally, there are numerous non-profits which donate to Yemen and Africa famine relief including: UNHCR (United Nations refuge agency); Human Rights Action Center (HRAC) in D.C.; and UNICEF.


Wed, 04/12/2017 - 19:05

– by Jon Wolff

George Francisco is the Vice President of the Venice Neighborhood Council. Why is it that George Francisco doesn’t say much at the meetings?

Everyone else talks at the meetings. The Council President talks. He explains the issues and lays down the ground rules at every monthly meeting. Other Neighborhood Councilmembers express their opinions and debate each other over their microphones. Venice residents line up and speak from the podium for 60 seconds to plead their arguments before the Council and the audience. Developers and business owners put on big presentations with architects, lawyers, and young women holding large photographs of the ugly buildings they wish to dump on Venice. But Venice Neighborhood Council Vice President George Francisco is rarely heard in the meetings except to say “yes” or “no” when a vote is taken.

George Francisco has spoken in the past. He was the one quoted in a Washington Post article from August 10, 2015 about Gentrification in Venice. He said, “Progress is a train. You can be on it, or you can be under it.” Progress, in the George Francisco lexicon, means pricing Venetians out of their homes and businesses in Venice.

Before that, we read about him in the July 2014 Beachhead where he was quoted saying, “Get out of here you trespassing piece of shit” to an old man with a cane. There, George Francisco brought more than words to the conversation; he wielded a baseball bat as well. This earned him the title, Bat Man of Venice.

George Francisco has been cited in the local media as helping to organize events in Venice. He’s been photographed lighting the Venice Sign on Windward Avenue. George Francisco has even been interviewed by Yo! Venice when he ran for the office of Vice President of the VNC in the 2016 elections. In this instance, it is claimed, Yo! Venice received $200 from each candidate interviewed, in order to deliver favorable coverage for the candidate. Did George Francisco get his money’s worth and get elected Vice President?

George Francisco is now also President of the Venice Chamber of Commerce. He has stood, smiling, shoulder to shoulder with former Chamber President and Arch Villain Carl Lambert who is being sued by the City Attorney for illegal conversion of an apartment building into a hotel. As President of the Venice COC, George Francisco enjoys much influence with L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin. What would George Francisco say about his relationships with these local Principalities and Powers?
And what would George Francisco say about his close friendship with landlord Jason Teague? Jason Teague currently owns many properties in Venice and George Francisco manages some of them. These are Short Term Rental properties. If you’ve heard of Airbnb, then you know what STRs are. They’re rental units for tourists that used to be permanent homes for people. They’re, effectively, hotel rooms in buildings that were never meant to be hotels. They’re in neighborhoods that used to house families and form the foundations of communities. They now infest a large portion of the Land of Venice. And they’re illegal. What would George Francisco say about his role as an enabler of this unholy practice?

Would George Francisco tell about the properties owned by Jason Teague under the business name, Venice Local Living, LLC? Can he speak about the Short Term Rentals on 363 Rose Ave., 363 1/2 Rose Ave., 359 Rose Ave., 355 1/2 Rose Ave., 341 Rose Ave., 337 Rose Ave., 333 Rose Ave., and 333 1/2 Rose Ave. in Venice?

What could George Francisco say about Jason Teague’s property on 1414 and 1418 Main Street in Venice? You know the spot. It has the Jules Muck graffiti mural on the fence with an image of George Francisco in green saying, “I am not a crook.” This is the one where George Francisco facilitated the tenant move outs and subsequent demolitions. It was George Francisco who spoke on this occasion to tell the tenants that they had to leave. Here, he neglected to tell them that they were entitled to a year to move and substantial relocation fees as well. His words were heard by all and challenged by some. Namely, it was the English speaking tenants who were able to talk back and receive their just compensation. The Spanish speaking tenants didn’t fare so well.

At the meeting where the community came to debate this scheme, it was George Francisco who was seen slapping the signs out of the hands of women who had come to protest. Apparently, he disagreed with their words. We can be thankful that he didn’t bring his baseball bat.

George Francisco spoke fluently when he came to the aid of Jason Teague after Teague had started a confrontation with his neighbors. Teague had menaced his neighbors with his dog, a large mastiff. When the neighbors went to the police station to get a restraining order against Teague, George Francisco was there with Teague to get a restraining order against the neighbors. Perhaps George Francisco can explain himself sometime.

If George Francisco spoke at the meetings of the Venice Neighborhood Council, would the people of Venice know him better? Would they know more about him? We live in a time when a politician’s words are examined to the finest detail. Is George Francisco prudent in keeping his voice to himself? Is he just shy or is he shrewd? Will his words ultimately be his undoing? Venice is waiting. And listening.

David Busch on his FAST FOR VENICE

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 18:18

DAY 26 –FAST FOR VENICE It is such an honor to us all to live and take our stands for what we believe –in Venice.

Just to bring everybody up to date on “THE FAST FOR VENICE.” On Monday March 19th, my 20th day of the water-only fast, I collapsed twice in that morning: Since that morning, beginning with a 450 calorie peanut-butter sandwich meal, I’ve now been on a “limited calorie” fast now since.

I do intend to go back on the water-only fast –at certain points in the coming weeks, and primarily for the goals of the FAST FOR VENICE. But I want to make sure that I make it through the next 15 to 20 days on demonstrations at Bonin’s offices, LA City Hall, and The County Board of Supervisors.

Yesterday for the demo in front of Snapchat, I held vigil starting at 2am on the Boardwalk to make sure nobody else ( especially Snapchat proxies) tried to take up all the spots across from their store, in order to block the demonstrations. It is critical for people to understand two things about Snapchat:

I. They now occupy 25% of ALL commercial real-estate in Venice most of it with ILLEGAL uses and Conversions –and it is an utterly astonishing and frightening amount. They simply are THE BIGGEST THREAT to public access and the future of the counter-culture and working-class presence EVER in Venice Beach. Since Venice Beach’s founding, Venice has never faced a bigger threat to it’s unique character and diversity and community than Snapchat.


2. The biggest threat the Snapchat presences poses is especially to the poor and working-class youth of color who have come for several recent decades to Venice Beach –to enjoy the ocean, learn to surf, swim skateboard, and skate–all the opportunities that wealthy white kids in Palos Verdes and and other places up and down the coast get:

To have a beach that is accommodating to THEIR culture.

It is disgusting that privileged upper-class college-educated yuppies, (mostly white) are putting in the old American Apparel Store this “Spectacles” gimmick. They are displacing the $ I snow-cones and $2 hot-dog stands that could be in those spaces; they are taking over the premier beach in all of Southern California that poor kids, mostly black and brown could come to every weekend and hang out and not feel “out of place.” This is disgusting that Wall Street would prop up spoiled self-absorbed over-privileged and arrogant rich white kids to come in and crowd out the poorest youth and struggling families that have had, until now, Venice Beach –as a place that they could also call their bit of Southern California Beach Culture.

And act like they don’t know what they are doing–and don’t give a damn.
What poor kid walking past that filthy Snapchat “pop-up” insult –isn’t going to feel a little bad that they can’t afford $140 “Spectacles” to be “cool” enough to fit into this “white” world. The arrogance of this makes me sick. I was really proud of the fact, that especially moms with kids of color, would tum away from this Snapstore by the dozens yesterday when I pointed this out!

Additionally, the disgusting absurdity of coming to the one beach in LA that prides itself on it’s street artists and real live hand-made art and REAL OCEAN, and REAL BEACH, and REAL PEOPLE OF ALL KINDS–to put on “augmented ‘dis”-reality” and watch computer-generated crap clowns and phony faeries and washed-out “rainbows” skitter across your vision and block it out, is asininely pathetic.

The fact that Snapchat seems especially to hire people of color to sell-out their own younger generation as the pathetic sell-out tokens to shill this crap to kids of their own color is pure racist exploitation at this pop-up store makes one sick. Go check out their perfectly coiffed “corpo-dreads” and nice light-skinned model-women. And Look at the founders, funders and owners of Snapchat stock–overwhelmingly this is a white-culture ruled company –with “diversity” as their “cheap trick.” I made sure that these “uncle and auntie Toms” shilling for Snapchat there as their “representatives got an earful yesterday.

I hope they laid awake last night thinking about what they were selling themselves for. The fact is, Snapchat itself has a warning label on it’s “Spectacles” that they are so addictive to young minds that no child under the age of thirteen is recommended to go near them. Snapchat Spectacles are the CRACK of addictive apps. They are the “Camel Cigarettes” of apps–and shouldn’t even be allowed to put up colorful displays that purposefully are AIMED at CHILDREN.





Go up to Santa Sell-out Monica: Patronize Snapchat at the Plastic Malls; with their plastic products, and plastic over-priced, unsustainable, dangerous, insulting arrogant out-of-control greed fulled capitalist excrement there:

OR stand and resist with all your LOVE and POWER. And it for the humanity and love –of Venice Beach.

FACEBOOK: #unhousedvenicelove FACEBOOK: The Alliance For the Preservation Of Venice LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
( :
hey, hey, ho, ho … Snapflap, “popup” from the Venice Boardwalk has got to go!!!!!!!
( :

Letter to the California Coastal Commission

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 18:01

Judy Esposito has consented to letting us publish her letter to the California Coastal Commission.

– Beachhead

Dear Mr. Hudson and Ms. Henry, California Coastal Comission.

I represent a large group of people, some of whom were appellants of several of the coastal exemption cases a year ago in Santa Rosa. You may remember me from our coastal meeting in Santa Rosa, where you went to bat so brilliantly for us when you and the Commissioners declared several phony “remodels” here in Venice to be what they truly were–demolitions requiring a coastal permit. Thirteen other properties were recognized to be the same, thanks to Robin Rudisill and yourselves. There just aren’t enough words of appreciation from us to you !!!!!

Now we are so very much in need of your expert help again, and on an even bigger and more dangerous issue. Our neighborhoods here in Venice, WEST of Lincoln Blvd., are not under any protection from the constant devouring of our homes and construction of homes grossly out of scale with our existing neighborhoods. Small homes are being demolished and replaced by McMansions. It’s a fast spreading cancer, ensuring the sure death of our Neighborhoods if we can’t stop it very soon!

Neither the City nor the Venice Neighborhood Council are taking into consideration the compatibility of new OR remodel projects’ mass, scale, and character to the existing neighborhoods! The result is ruinous !!!

We have been told by the City Planners responsible for the local CDP’s and related Findings that it is not required that the City or the Coastal Commission analyze projects for protection of neighborhood character or visual resources via an analysis of compatibility of the project to the mass, scale and character of the existing surrounding neighborhood.

Is this true? Has the law changed? Or has the interpretation of the law changed?
Are there ANY controls over projects that don’t get CDP’s? I ask because everyone is cheating on size of developments. It is up to average citizens to follow up on these developments and it becomes a full time job, and one that I feel very ill equipped to tackle (though I have no choice but to try). My efforts thus far have failed to limit the size of these ever-encroaching McMansions.

The land use process is completely broken in Venice.

Our Council District 11 councilman is completely unresponsive to multiple requests for urgent meetings re. our serious land use concerns. I was told that he is unavailable because he is so busy meeting with developers and even going out to lunch with them….when we, as residents, have no access to him at all. Our councilman is supporting developers 100% at the complete and PERMANENT ruination of our precious coastal neighborhoods.

My neighbors are terribly concerned that the Coastal Commission does not add the expected layer of regulation in the coastal zone (except for the dual zone areas right next to the ocean and our canals), and so our neighborhoods are WORSE OFF than neighborhoods not in the Coastal Zone. This is because although we have laws to protect our coastal neighborhoods, not only does the City not follow these laws, but we don’t even get the benefit of the FAR limits put into place elsewhere in the City. Our politicians, especially our councilman, harm us by saying that we don’t need those FAR limits as we are protected in the coastal zone, and then they do NOTHING when the City does NOT follow the coastal zone laws, such as assuring compatibility of massing, scale, and landscape (i.e. “character”) to the existing neighborhood, for all new development and renovations (Certified Land Use Policy I.E.2.).

We had understood that a good part of the reason for the Coastal Commission and its California Coastal Act is because it is known that corruption and political interference has in the past occurred in this regard, especially in the extremely valuable coastal areas. Thus our Coastal Act legislation limits what can be built. Even with this protection, this is a difficult task, up against such obstacles as corruption, ideological entrenchment, and special interest lobbyists/corporate power. This is why we NEED the Coastal Commission to take their role as regulator of the coast 100% seriously and to invoke the law and require the City to do the same! The coast is too fragile and too vulnerable to allow “home rule” to take priority and thus allow the statewide public interests to be overruled for purposes of a local government’s needs or wishes. The safeguarding of the broader public interests must be given overriding consideration.

But the laws are NOT being followed, which is criminal, and the City and State each know exactly what each other is doing and they are LETTING IT HAPPEN. We see it clearly, and we know you see it. Please take steps to stop this.

Lastly, do you think it would help us to contact those in the current U.S. administration that are so frustrated with the politics of the City of L.A. and their Sanctuary City issues? Perhaps they would be sensitive when learning of the crime that is being perpetuated on all of us by the Mayor, City Attorney and Councilman and perhaps they might be willing to help by investigating it. We assume that this would mean working with the U.S. Attorney and the FBI re: ongoing RICO Act violations. We cannot live with this, and you are in a position to stop it and prevent this.

As you know, when massive structures go up, we not only lose our coastal neighborhoods’ charm and put our Coastal Commission-designated status as a Special Coastal Community at risk, but we lose our views, LIGHT and even AIR FLOW. It IS CRIMINAL AND WE MUST STOP IT. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO DO SO.

Please let me know when I and some other representatives of the Venice neighborhoods can meet with you to discuss what we can do to address these crimes against our neighborhoods.

With most sincere appreciation for your time and understanding,

Judy Esposito

Black Legacies Of Venice Ignored: City Letting Historic Irvin Tabor Family Compound Be Destroyed

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 17:54

Venice community members met in front of the historic early home of the Irvin Tabor family to protest the destruction of this home through negligence by the city. This property, purchased in 1916, by Venice historic figure Irvin Tabor with the support of his friend and employer Abbot Kinney, founder of The Venice of America. Tabor developed it into an eight-bungalow compound to house his extended Louisianan family arriving to work on Kinney’s The Venice of America. “The family compound is an important part of Venice’s cultural heritage and should be preserved,” says Amanda Seward, a preservationist who worked to save Lincoln Place Apartments, designed by African American architect, Ralph Vaughn.

The community met in front of the property at 605-607 Westminster Avenue, in the heart of the Oakwood neighborhood, to bring attention to how the city is ignoring the role of the Africa-American community’s role in the early history of Venice. Jataun Valentine and other descendants of Irvin Tabor talked about the history of the residence and share reminiscences growing up in Venice.

Tabor, the chauffer and confidant of Abbot Kinney, founder of Venice, along with his cousin Arthur Reese, Kinney’s valet and designer, were one of the first African-Americans to be able to buy homes in Venice, up to then restricted by covenant.
Community groups and residents have long complained that the city fails to follow and enforce its own rules protecting historic structures as well as preserving community character amid growing development.

Community groups have also long complained that the city is ignoring the history of Venice in its rush to redevelop this area as a tech community and as the well-heeled flock here attracted by Venice’s trendy reputation. The result is that Venice is also suffering a great loss of older affordable housing which is less expensive to buy and more profitable to redevelop.

The community is demanding that the city strengthen its programs created to support older homes and communities and to enforce the rules that exist so that this and other historical properties will not be destroyed.


Tue, 04/11/2017 - 20:49
A How-To-Lie Primer for Anyone Who Wants To Be President of Anything, Anywhere, Anytime

a satire by Larry Hankin

Larry Hankin

The current President of The United States of America is writing a book to be published when he leaves office. It’s going to be titled: “THE ART OF THE LIE: Presidential
Lying for Dummies: A How-To-Lie Primer for anyone who wants to be President of Anything, Anywhere At Any Time”. The following is The President’s personal
forward to his book, which was presented to me by one of his assistants.



“First of all, I don’t think lying is a bad thing. But then, I don’t think evil is a bad thing either. When I think of “lying”, I immediately ask myself the question: “Which is better: The Whole Truth – Or a Really Great Lie?”

Very few people know or realize that lying, as President of The United States, is easy. Much easier than lying as an ordinary American citizen. All you have to do as President is do it: just lie. Lay it out there. Either it sticks and you get on with your day – or – there are well-paid people to back it up or walk it back for you. But, frankly just telling a bigger, different lie works just as well.

Though, having somebody else walk it back for you has one advantage: accusing someone of lying about lying about somebody not lying raises such a quagmire of govt.-called witnesses and committees that it’s just not worth the trouble to even bringing it up. You’re treated nothing like a crackhead lying to the police.

We all know that every president has lied at one time or another. Take George Washington; The Father of our country: Remember: “Father, I cannot tell a lie. I cut down the Cherry Tree.” I say, “Bullshit”. I have proof he lied!

Yes: The Father of Our Country. “Lyin’ George.” I have people researching it and we’re turning up a huge amount of proof about all his lies – stuff I can’t tell you, but believe me, lyin’ George is a dead man. The first thing I’m gonna do in my second 100 Days is to sign an Executive Order stating that : “It’s perfectly all right to lie anywhere, any time, under any circumstances, including, but not limited-to: under oath, on a whim, or at 4:30 in the morning – for no fucking good reason whatsoever.”

To begin with: In doing research for my book “THE ART OF THE LIE”, I found out the real reason why Homo sapiens lie: It’s not because of a deep-seated power grab – or sinister ego-trips – or greed – or paranoia – or even survival. Homo sapiens lie because The Whole
Truth is just too long and involved.

Too long. Telling the truth means you gotta have facts, references, video tape, corroboration, verifiable research, witnesses, gravitas, time, money, energy, and on & on & on. The Truth never stops.

But: with a lie, it’s just: “What do you want to know?” BUDABING! And you get on with your day.

LYING SAVES TIME. It’s not brain surgery. Little kids master it in two seconds. No sweat. A lie is quick, it’s easy, it’s serviceable. It’s just a quick flick of a Paradigm Shift whenever you’re confronted with Facts and or Proof that doesn’t fit your point of view. Here’s 2 sample Paradigm Mantras you can shift into when confronted with Facts and/or Proof that don’t agree with your belief.



Personally, I don’t see myself as “A Liar” per se. I’m simply saving time and cutting to the chase: Look, I’m President of The Whole United States of America, I have Hotels all over the world, I’ve got Lawsuits to delay, I’ve got people to sue. And all the press needs is a 10 second sound bite? Easy-Peasy: YOU MAKE IT UP. The press needs to stuff to live, and I can to get on with my day.

Let me tell you something else about “Facts” and “Proof”: some of my best friends have facts and proof.

Let me tell you something about The Facts of Life and Nature: If you have facts and proof: you don’t need to lie. Hey, if I had facts and proof, I wouldn’t lie either. I’m not stupid. But if you’re The President of The United States and you don’t have facts and proof – What’re you gonna do? DUH!

What I’m saying is: lying is simply a political tool to level the playing field, that’s all. Lying simply gives you a little breathing room: a second shot. No biggie.

Also, with lies, there’s a simple, finite amount of answers you have to know: “8”. “The Golden Eight”: Yes; No; Maybe; I don’t know but I’ll get back to you; I know but I can’t tell you; you look great in that; I’ll be right back; and: That’s not mine.”

If it involves Quantity, it’s even simpler: a reasonable number, plus a topic- related category: Exemplia Gratia: if you’re talking about scrap metal: “97 Tons” – not: “97
ounces”. Won’t fly. If you’re talking about milk: 3 QTS., 10 GAL. Not 97 tons of milk. Doesn’t work. But even so – as President – somebody else will walk it back for you, and you still can get on with your day. In conclusion: Here are my 3 Personal Cardinal Rules for Presidential Liars:

1. The bigger the lie, the better the lie (classic Goerbels).

2. If your lie is not believed, let someone else walk it back for you or tell a different, bigger, better lie.

3. Always be developing your brand.

Thank you and buy this book.
— POTUS / 2017

Copyright: L.Hankin 2017
street fables, homeless rants, & comedies

Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument – Dedication Ceremony April 27, 2017

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 19:26

We are excited as the monument’s installation and dedication approaches this month.

The engraving is completed,   the foundation has been prepared, the granite obelisk will be installed soon, the unveiling will be at 9:30 AM, followed by the dedication at 10:00 Thursday morning April 27 at the corner of Venice & Lincoln Boulevards.

The timing could not be more relevant – it was FDR’s Executive Order 9066, signed February 19, 1942, that allowed our government to forcibly remove and imprison 120,000 Japanese Americans in American concentration camps for 3 years during WWII. As in 1942, the current president’s executive orders are revoking civil rights and are disrupting our friends’ and neighbors’ lives. There has even been talk of creating camps to imprison perceived enemies; recently some politicians have referred to the example of the Japanese American “internment”.  Here is a presentation we made about this.

We must not allow similar injustices to happen again.

Banners representing the camps of Manzanar Pilgrimage 2013. A pilgrimage will be April 28-30, 2017.

Venice Celebrates International Women’s Day

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 18:31

By Suzanne Thompson

Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation’s International Women’s Day Celebration at Beyond Baroque, Sunday, March 12, 2-4 pm. L to R: Claudia Rojas, Gleydis Viera, Greta Cobar, Natasa Prosenc Stearns, Jacqueline Fuentes, Suzanne Thompson, Gloria Vando, Amy Kaps, Ruby Lopez, Bridget Graham and Emily Winters seated. Photo credit: Maureen Cotter

The Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation paid tribute to women around the world for International Women’s Day with an afternoon of music, film, poetry, performance and visual arts on Sunday, March 12, 2017 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice. The celebration brought together eight Venice-based women artists from five different countries with Cuban filmmaker Claudia Rojas to share experiences, challenges and beauty, through the arts.

The afternoon began with my introductory remarks as emcee followed by the Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation’s Board Member, Alice Stek, and a video clip from the Foundation’s website.

Presentations by Community Partners included: Beyond Baroque’s director Richard Modiano, Venice Arts Council Chair, Emily Winters, and Women In Film International Co-Chair, Ruby Lopez.

International Women’s Day celebrates and honors the role of women in people’s lives. Writer and educator, Greta Cobar, inspired by her Romanian heritage, shared the history of International Women’s Day with an audio-visual presentation of historic photos and events.

Greta Cobar

Puerto Rican-American poet, writer and publisher Gloria Vando, read her poem “Cardinal Rule” and stated why it was important for her to publish works by women. “I did it in self-defense…. publishers, curators… all choose to publish works by men”. Gloria has won many awards and her poems are widely published and included on the Grammy-nominated Poetry on Record: 98 Poets Read Their Work 1888-2006.

Gloria Vando

The first half of the show closed with Cuban filmmaker Claudia Rojas, the third participating artist in the Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation’s cultural exchange program. She premiered her short documentary film Window Seat, an intimate view of a young girl’s struggle to reunite with her family. The film features Claudia’s niece Gleydis Viera who flew in from Miami to attend the event.


Claudia Rojas and Gledys Viera

My initial work with Claudia Rojas began in March of 2013, on the Cuban Women Filmmakers U.S. Showcase Tour. She presented her documentary “Derecho de Ser” (Right to Be, 2013) in Los Angeles, New York City and Miami. In May, 2015 Claudia documented a performance by one of the Foundation’s cultural exchange artists Amy Kaps at the 12th Annual Bienal de la Habana.

A clip of Claudia’s documentary is featured on the Foundation’s website. Claudia is currently working on the production of her script “Repatriación” (Repatriation), which won best unpublished script at the Festival Internacional del Cine Pobre de Gibara, (International Festival of Low-Budget Cinema of Gibara, Holguin). “Repatriación” was also entered competition at the 36th Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano, (International Festival of New Latin American Cinema) held in La Habana, in December, 2014.

Artwork by Emily Winters, Kay Brown and Amy Kaps was on sale in the lobby and refreshments were available on the back patio during intermission.

The second half of the show opened with world music by AfrikaSa/Bridget Graham. followed by Chilean Singer, songwriter Jacqueline Fuentes.

Slovenian born, video artist and filmmaker Nataša Prosenc Stearns screened three videos of the series – Nucleus Brass, Humans Crossing and Deafening Whispers / Alternative Facts which she describes as “addressing the uncertainty of our physicality from an embryo to a robot, the rising and ever migrating population on a progressively more damaged and claustrophobic planet and the unreliable state of truth, which has been replaced by fiction so often, that it has become impossible to recognize one from another”. In mid-2016, Nataša noted, “my work spontaneously started to lose colors and that no matter what the initial idea was, every project adopted political undertones. Even though my work is never directly illustrative, relying on its emotional and visceral impact rather than on preconceived notions, my new series Nightmares of the New World is clearly a reaction to the bleak socio-political climate.

Experiments in Stripes – Encased in her signature black and white stripes, Amy Kaps acted as a projection surface capturing images and casting a shadow.

Amy Kaps

The event ended with a fabulous visual feast by interdisciplinary solo performance artist Amy Kaps. She is in constant dialogue with her surroundings and those who inhabit it to entice the viewer to question what they see. Highly conceptual with the intention of altering perception and provoking thought, her objective is “to create honestly and to question the status quo, while reveling in a feast for the senses. The challenge is to decipher the common denominators, recognizing the similarities within the differences that connect us regardless of age, race or gender”.  In 2015, Amy was sponsored by the Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation as part of our cultural exchange, to perform at the 12th Annual Bienal de la Habana.

The International Women’s Day celebration was free of charge and made possible by: Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation, Campizondo Foundation, a Donor Advised Fund of The U.S. Charitable Gift Trust, Edward Harris and Aris Anagnos. Community Partners include: Women In Film International Committee, the Venice Arts Council and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center.

Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation is a 501 C3, non-profit organization based in Culver City, California, with a mission to build a deeper understanding and dialogue between people through the arts.

The Foundation’s purpose is to foster opportunities for artistic, educational and cultural exchanges between artists, organizations and institutions, primarily from the United States and Cuba, to share experiences, learn from each other, explore cultures and heritages, exhibit works, disseminate information, promote dialogue, support actions and initiatives that contribute to the normalization of relations and for a better understanding between peoples. For more information visit: http://artsculturalbridge.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/artsculturalbridge/



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