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Letter about the Lit Show.

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 17:23

Dear Beachhead,

The “Lit Show” last Saturday night at Beyond Baroque starring Suzy Williams and Brad Kay, was one of their best efforts. The house was packed. Their annual event has entertained us for 12 years giving us the best of the Venice we know and love. Suzy and Brad out did themselves with musical wit, charm, talent, craft so unique to them. The band was perfect. They are all truly a Venice treasure. An unfortunate incident at the end of the show that occurred was terrifying and gives us pause to think about how our society does not address and care about mental illness.

A man in an obviously, agitated altered state came into the show. He became enraged and started to attack the people around him with a table cutting knife. People surrounded him with folded chairs and tried to subdue him. They chased him out the door and he was arrested a few blocks away. There was a lot of chaos but the drummer and others took charge, the paramedics arrived
immediately, and the police soon after. A witness noticed that the man’s shoes were marked county issue which meant he had recently been in jail or a county institution.

Fortunately, although one man had small cuts on his arm, no one was badly hurt and there was no great damage. This was a random attack by a person out of control. But an alert!!

When you see a person who is abnormally agitated, who do you tell? What do you do? What kind of security do we need, where and when? Homeless people occasionally wander into Beyond Baroque generally looking for food. They are pleasant and not a problem. This event is not usual for Beyond Baroque!! A first as far as I know.

Despite this tragic end, I have great warmth and pleasure in my memories of the “Lit Show”

– Emily Winters

Some notes from Eric Ahlberg: I was right there as all this unfolded.  At Time Warp Music today Shane told me he has had similar troubles with unruly people.  The only solution, short of hiring a security guard, is to designate a house manager, and a couple of muscle people, willing to throw people out if there are warning signs, like a terrible smell or intoxication, or bad aura, so everyone else can enjoy the show. We owe this to our guests. Gerry Fialka tells us that at SPONTO, the houseless he let in would themselves expel the troublemakers.    OK, now let’s have a big hug.


Jason Davis Memorial

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 16:15

It would mean so much to me, I really wish that people by Groundworks know that he was a kind, good, person that was so painfully lonely and so despondent, that he thought his life was worthless. He came there the day before, took pictures of the place on his tablet and wrote Jason C Davis, do not resuscitate

We had many conversations about how bothered he was about how some police treated the ne’er do wells. I believe in my heart he was upset over the death of Brendon Glenn, and Afrika was a freind before he took a downward spiral.

It has been increasingly hard for me to deal with it, I am know to be a strong individual, but, oddly, in the way of the universe, the same week I lost Jason, I also ‘lost’ his two sisters, the oldest lived across the street and was relocated by her company to Boston, and the youngest is in the Navy and is often out at sea.

I wish I could be there, and go to all the places that I had been with Jason. He worked for a long time for Ramone at Star liquor on Bay and Main Street, many many people knew him there.  I had asked Ramone (the owner) if he could put fresh flowers in the original memorial when I came with his sisters to pick up the ashes. He had told me that he would send someone to do that because he did not have the heart to go where Jason had died. Ironically, Jason knew many of the Santa Monica police that frequently stopped in to Star and a woman that was a customer and one time City Counsel member had written me a very nice email telling me what a fine son I had raised, she had sent her phone number and we had talked for a bit, she also talked to the reporter from LA times,  Matt Hamilton. He had asked his editor if he could do a story on Jason, and homeless, police involved shooting, the editor had agreed, but then, there were the shootings at San Bernadino, and news moves fast. I drove all the way to California a couple months back because Jason had his laptop computer and his precious camera and all his lenses at the pawn shop on Lincoln and the owner Alex had told me and his sisters that he would keep them until I could come for them even if it took 10 years, but as I came with $700 to get them, he told me he didn’t keep them, as he promised us several times over that he would.

I know this seems rambling and long, but I wish I could print pictures of the real Jason for you to put there so people could possibly think a little differently toward the people they see on the street struggling with life, hoping to get the smallest but of acceptance and understanding. I still hear the anguish in his voice when he would talk about not fitting in, and there was nothing I could do to help him but listen to him. If it was at all possible to put a link to his Memorial page on Face Book, I would appreciate it. His sister and I both put one because Face Book would not let us have his page, because when he became so despondent he shut it down, so all his pictures are lost to us also.

If there were anyway that I can help please let me know, you can use any of his pictures. I have more pictures that I will be posting on Twitter, Instagram, and the Memorial page in a couple days.

When UCLA Ronald Reagan hospital contacted me for permission to do a brain scan, Jason had already been languishing on machines for 2 days. When they told me what had happened, I instinctively knew he had deliberately acted to end his life because he was 100% positive his actions would cause the police to shoot him. I remember the social worker saying ‘during surgery, they removed parts of his intestines, his liver his spleen’ and I responded ‘but a person cannot live with those things’ and they gently told me they were asking for permission to remove the life support. I remember ever synopsis in my brain firing rapidly, trying to find a path as the pain became overwhelming and I tried to think straight. She said the doctor would call me back. I needed to be there, I needed to hold him, I needed to tell him I understood that his pain was so great that he had looked for release. I asked the doctor . I said I don’t understand, what do I do? Do I come there? The Doctor said ‘ I can keep him alive, even if it takes you three days to get get here, but I am asking you to respect your son and let him go’ I knew he was right, I asked if I could talk to him, the doctor said he didn’t think he could comprehend. The room is dark, Jason has tubes and wires, there is a person sitting with him and we have turned down the noise on the beeping machines and keep the door as closed as possible so he would not be agitated. I said, do you know how they say a persons spirit hovers over and they see what is happening to them? The doctor said some people believe that, and I told him I was one of them, and could I talk to Jason. The doctor said we will hook up the speaker near his ear and then you can call that number directly to his room it will let you talk to him. I got his sister and we did that and then we tried to get the sister from the Navy to call that number but she could not reach anybody so she didn’t get a chance to call him. When we were done the doctor sounded stunned and said I’m glad that you did that because when you had talk to him all of the monitors on him became calm and less and agitated I’m sure that Jason heard you told him that we loved him, I told him I understood what he had done. His sister told him that he would now get the chance to meet Nikola Tesla, (who was Jason’s all time hero)

The chaos in the news has my head reeling and spinning, police involved shootings, killing people because of who the are Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter,

Jason used to say his life did not matter. I said it matters to me. He said you don’t count, you are my mother, it is your job to love me, you don’t have a choice. I feel like I let him down in so many ways from the time he was a little kid. He was so curious and fascinated about everything. He talked about solar power before it was a thing, he was over the top angry about what Edison did to Tesla, he had an understanding of Black holes that I did not get but listened to him talk about the stars and the planets with such a fascination. I remember thinking years ago that it sure would be nice if he could get an opportunity to spend some time chatting up Stephen Hawking. And when we talked about God he talked about an energy, a source and how we assign that energy to be mail or female and it is neither. I wanted him to get involved in volunteering and helping others. He was annoyed by religious constraints by people that didn’t see the bigger picture. He was a compassionate person that loved animals.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to unload, it is very deeply appreciated, here is a link to the Facebook memorial, I think

Jason Charles Davis Memorial Page

Paula C Laroway


A letter from neighbors complaining about Safe Place For Youth

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 20:27

– The following letter was written in response to last month’s article about Safe Place for Youth (SPY). The author asked for anonymity lest she be shamed for complaining about a social service organization.  Below it you will find a response by Eric Ahlberg

Dear Beachhead,

In the last Beachhead, there was an article written about Safe Place for Youth, which offered a biased opinion of the nonprofit. Neighbors of the author expressed their unhappiness with SPY being located in our neighborhood and offered specific examples of incidents. However, our points of view were censored from the newspaper, even though we gave our opinions before the deadline that was stated to us. It would be an understatement to say that we were extremely disappointed in the article that was published.

Within a block of SPY, there are 14 young children who reside there. SPY is also situated between two schools with hundreds of young children attending each school. Whoever thought it was a good idea to put an organization, that attracts thousands of homeless young adults, in such close proximity to two schools, clearly wasn’t thinking about those children. While we have compassion for these young adults, we are also concerned about the negative impact it is having on our neighborhood. Many people have chosen not to come forward with their complaints of SPY because they feel like they will look like they don’t care. But we can have compassion for these young adults and be concerned about our neighborhood -the two are not mutually exclusive.

*Since SPY moved in to our neighborhood, we have had a big presence of homeless young adults on our street. There have been young adults going up and down our street to get to SPY, even though they are supposed to use Venice Blvd., or Washington Blvd. There was an incident with a group from SPY blocking the driveway to our neighbor’s house, not allowing them to park in their driveway. That neighbor complained to SPY.

*There have been many incidences of young adults doing drugs while sitting on the sidewalk on our street, or in cars on our street. Many of our young children have witnessed this drug use.

*Many of the SPY young adults have older friends who will hang out on our street to wait for their friends to be finished at SPY -there was one fella who sat in a neighbor’s tree, waiting for a group, a few times a week -and we’ve seen many people in cars on our street (sitting in their cars for hours),waiting for groups from SPY. Meanwhile our kids are playing in their front yards while strange people are watching them from their cars for hours.

*Just the other day, one of our neighbors saw a SPY young adult using another neighbor’s front yard as a bathroom.

*A different neighbor saw a SPY young adult at the end of our street (near the SPY alley) with his penis hanging out of his pants.

*Lately there have been large groups hanging out in front of the empty pet shop on the corner of Lincoln.

*There have also been an increase in the number of packages stolen off of front porches.
As you can see, there’s no question that having SPY in our neighborhood has negatively impacted the families and children that live here. Some people may ask, but isn’t it worth it if SPY is helping young adults get off the streets? Good question. Well, according to their own website, in 2015, they had 1,855 connections made by their street outreach teams, and 57 young exited homelessness and entered stable situations -that’s only a 3% success rate. Yet they served nearly 10,000 meals. SPY is more successful as a soup kitchen, than actually helping young people exit homelessness.

SPY may have programs focused on solving the problem, but the numbers on their own website clearly show that they are not very successful. That’s not to say it isn’t a worthy organization, but really they are more about feeding people than actually moving people out of homelessness, which is different than how they are portraying themselves.

If SPY isn’t actually successful in getting these young adults off the streets -then you have to wonder if the negative things happening in the neighborhood outweigh the positives -and in this situation, they definitely do.

Sincerely,
Neighbors of Safe Place for Youth
Names withheld by request.

 

– not-the-editor, aka Eric Ahlberg, responds

Biased! Yes, we are biased in favor of local organizations who help homeless runaways.

Deadlines! We received the letter very late and felt we should discuss it first.

Censorship! We who fund-raise, write and publish the Beachhead are always entertained by this argument. We know that freedom of the press belongs to the owner of the press, and being a free press we can choose to print anything we want, or not. We allow collective members to veto stories. That can make for an interesting meeting. Once a Jason Hill story page about Jules Muck was vetoed because it spoke favorably about Jason Teague, whose developments at 1414 Main St were being actively opposed by the Beachhead in particular. Jason Hill accused us of censorship. Unintended consequence, he started doing his stories about some of our best friends in the Argonaut. A submitted story about Daniela Ardizzone, one of the core artists of the Art Crawl, was vetoed, she is a good person, the writing less so, and the Art Crawl, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, looks a lot like boilerplate gentrification psychological warfare. Some of us have lived here for 45 years and we know a lot of the local artists and many don’t pay much attention to the art crawl but for the occasional interesting happening which may ride its banner. So it was spiked.  Parallel to the Art Crawl, many Venice Artists have lost their studio spaces.  Accusing us of censorship is just entitlement speaking.

Disappointment! I can see your sour face. There there. I’ll let you in on a secret. The Beachhead Collective is really messed. Nobody owns the Beachhead. Yeah we were all just laughing about it.

FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt). This is the rhetorical poison, full of hearsay and innuendo, slowly dripped into our body politic. Made famous by Donald Rumsfeld with is global defense posture of preparing for the unknown unknown.

Children in the neighborhood. Children seem to be just about everywhere, however they don’t need to be sheltered, they need to understand how to engage and help. Protecting children is unopposable. SPY aims to serve children who were not protected, who have been abused and neglected.

Neighborhood FUD. We are really short on facts here. People piss outside if they don’t have a bathroom. Loitering, indecent exposure, stolen packages, but no one seems to have filed a police report. From January 7 2017 through July 5 LAPD crime maps show no reported street crime at Lincoln and Garfield, nor is there much in the neighborhoods. If you are looking for burglary, and assault, go to Windward and Ocean Front Walk, or Abbot Kinney and California, and all along Rose and along Lincoln.

It can be very hard for service organizations to find welcoming communities. Every community seems to have it’s own set of NIMBYS (Not In My Back Yard), who often engage with FUD and sabotage, toward social service and rehabilitation programs. “What’s gonna happen to the kids?” “What’s gonna happen to the neighborhood?” “This might negatively impact the potential future value of your property.” They are afraid of what they don’t know may happen.  They easily turn into monsters. They have a way of being disruptive at meetings, not so graciously waving their faux entitlement while interrupting and shouting. They show up late to outreach meetings and refuse to sign in, to deflate the headcount. They insinuate the organizations are less than honest, inefficient, or incompetent. They don’t seem to be around for any other issues in the community.  There has to be a set of talking points for this stuff.

Property Value is another big FUD issue often played by interested parties, yet that argument is made ridiculous given the speedy rise of prices and rents for Venice properties.

This is remarkably similar to what Trump activists do, the little Custers and open-carry activists, but it is a odious partisan tactic deployable by anybody.

Kindness, compassion and service to others is the path to reforming this trembling world. Venice has, is, and will be a compassionate community, we are a part of the solution.

We ask our community to provide for the common welfare.

“when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” – Luke 14:12-14

“And He found you poor and made [you] self-sufficient.” – The Quran, Surat Ad-Duhaa 93:8

For there will never cease to be needy ones in your land; therefore I command you: open your hand to the poor and needy kin in your land. Deuteronomy 15: 4, 11

The rich will do anything for the poor but get off their backs. – Karl Marx


A DEATH IN VENICE

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 11:09

by P.S. Barber

“There is no such thing as society.”
— Margaret Thatcher

At the lowermost point of a southerly sloping intersection, California Avenue ends to form the bottom half of a long “T” with with its horizontal top, Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Situated at the northeast corner of that crossroads for the last quarter century, ABBOT’S HABIT has been a locals’ gathering spot, serving the community as the neighborhood’s primary nosh & coffee shop.
Every kind of anyone imaginable has passed through those doors, through the decades: Naked Poetry and Naked Bikers; sun soaked riff-raff off the beach; nascent lovers alongside the anguished unrequited; stars born, stars dying; poets, pimps, pugilists, priests and pirates; every stripe of wannabe or has-been; the profane and divine, musicians, miscreants, saints, sculptors, painters, writers; some taking their first steps, others on their last legs; tourists ad nauseam; junkies, gangbangers, surfers, skateboarders, people headed up and down, already lost or being found; the world’s hoi polloi California Dreamin’; those with way too much, those who‘ve begged their morning cup of joe.

We’ll look upon their like no more.

The doors to our local coffee shop will shutter soon, never to open again, taking with it the greater part of a spirit that’s been a beacon of Venice. Innumerable stories circulate of how the Habit-habit begins directly upon arrival to our beach village: the funky stop is the inevitable first place one lands when washing up on our shores. Its central location, like a vortex, draws people in; its welcoming brick façade and green awnings and red-neon come-on “COFFEE” as eclectic locals hang inside and out – all serve to make Abbot’s a natural meeting place for every soul strolling the well-worn sidewalks.

Nina Sant’Angelo has owned and operated Abbot’s Habit for the last 16 years, partnered with Noah Farrell, who originally opened the coffee shop with another partner in 1993. A few years ago, Nina bought out Noah and has, since then, run the shop by herself; but recently it’s gotten too difficult to make ends meet with rising rent and, at the same time, serve her community and employees.

So she’s done. And importantly her decision has to do with not just being beat up by the economic vicissitudes of the changing boulevard, but with the colonizing of it by CORPORATE RETAIL, altering the street’s innate and naturally-evolved identity, original culture, its authentic Venetian look and feel.
It’s no mystery what’s happened these last few years, the transformation taking place right before our eyes at an ever more accelerated rate. Nina seems like a modern day Cassandra, her store’s closure a warning to Venetians about the grim fate facing their neighborhood. And like Cassandra, Nina is excoriated by some residents while others blithely disbelieve her dire portents. But make no mistake — closing Abbot’s Habit is a significant sign that the founding and unique BOHEMIAN SPIRIT of Venice is palpably coming to a very quick end; unfortunately, many other Venetians feel the city’s essence is already long gone.

Talking with Nina, one’s reminded of a time when the boulevard housed watering holes like the original Hal’s, where world-class jazz was played live, Joni Mitchell’s art hung on the walls, Gregory Hines danced on the bar and Chaka Khan sang spontaneously; today, a smaller and frankly anemic version of Hal’s is stuffed and all but lost at the far end of Abbot Kinney, while other corporate stores, now centrally located, boast other retail locations like Paris, London, New York, Rome. “Soon,” Nina says, “all of Venice is going to look like Miami.”

Adidas, which colonized Hal’s old location, had the chutzpa to claim on its construction boarding that it was, “Defining Venice” – until unknown but heroic residents corrected the spelling to read, “DEFILING VENICE,” forcing Adidas to take down their arrogant and untruthful assertion of ownership to our neighborhood which is, in fact, a fundamentally anti-corporate culture.
Back in the fecund days of the Fifties and Sixties, when Venice was primarily an African-American community, there WERE locals like the Reese and Tabor families who began businesses which served their neighborhood, which were staples and necessities to the community; they’re long gone now, too. In fact, the African-American residents were the very first people driven out by well-tested political machinations that unfairly raised taxes, issued spurious property fines which drove out the POORER homeowners (wealthy homeowners now, instead, like to call themselves “stakeholders”). The STAKES they hold, unfortunately, are all too often driven straight into the hearts of vulnerable Venetians.

Until recently, until the suddenly increasing and overwhelming influx of high-end shops that have zero connection to the community, the Reese-Tabor spirit ran through the veins of Venetians, was reflected by the local stores which served the neighborhood: dress shops where everything was hand-made and no single dress was alike; The Sandbox, a local gallery below, where the artist lived above; even Abbot’s Habit was designed to be “of the people,” a place where, as Nina points out, “everything you get here, you can make at home.” At Abbot’s, the coffee is “damn good” and affordable for all, employees and patrons know each other’s names, and whoever enters immediately feels welcomed.

Not so on Abbot Kinney Boulevard anymore and, likely, never again. It’s the way of life, many say, an unstoppable tide of rapacious and predatory capitalism which can’t be rolled back at this late point in an inexorable process of “economic progress”. Besides, it’s the American Way and laissez-faire entrepreneurialism is the most democratic of forms, isn’t it? And doesn’t it, in fact, IMPROVE the quality of Venice? Property values go up, crime goes down, the neighborhood dies but big business thrives?

And what’s good for business is good for Venice, or so the refrain goes; little comfort to the hundreds of locals and others who daily depend on Abbot’s Habit and are going to be left out in the cold. And though it’s too late to save Abbot’s Habit, we residents must ask: is it still possible to save Abbot Kinney Boulevard?

Is it possible to still save our neighborhood from this organized movement of stakeholders renting their properties to the highest bidder, regardless of the cultural and social effects on the neighborhood, regardless of destroying the ETHOS and SPIRIT of Venice, obliterating its phenomenal diversity until the place becomes a dulling, homogeneous grouping of brand-businesses and box-houses where no one actually lives but ubiquitous Ubers shuttle visitors in-and-out of what once was a distinctive neighborhood and common community.
This crisis which Venice faces is existential, a life-and-death struggle as ancient as society itself. Thomas Mann, in his novella, “A Death in Venice,” based his theme on Nietzsche’s inventive battle between the Dionysian spirit of passion and unreason (which drives art and creativity), and which is in direct conflict with the life-force of Apollo, where restraint and well-structured forms (economics, in this case) take precedent.

It’s reflected in the long-standing struggle between the primal bohemian freedoms which have defined Venice up to now, and the corporate drive to control the assets and society which those bohemians built. Today this dialectic is misnamed, “GENTRIFICATION.” Misnamed because by now the word’s lost all meaning with its endless repetition, co-opting and purposeful misrepresentation. So let’s forget the word “gentrification,” stop using it: “gentrification” is the brand-retailer’s language, meant to sanitize their organized and well-laid plans for taking over Abbot Kinney Boulevard. “ECONOMIC COLONIZATION” is a more accurate term for what’s been long-planned and is being currently carried out.

This primal struggle for defining the soul of Venice, again, is between the Dionysian spirit, drunk with Eros and creativity – or the manufactured, corporate Apollonian view that organizes society based on, in this case, questions of capital.

Importantly, Mann asserts in his story, there’s a balance to be struck between these two opposing forces if society, or even in an individual, is to survive and ultimately thrive. Hegel’s Master/Slave dialectic, to which Nietzsche owes his theories, also makes it clear that without a balance, the assumed “master” himself becomes a slave to the dialectic: he NEEDS his slave in order to maintain his own position and so is enslaved by his own needs.

Similarly, Venice is of no use to Adidas if the community becomes a sterile town, fetid and coldly corporate, bankrupt of its natural bohemian influence and Dionysian soul. And while no good Venetian in their right mind will ever set foot inside the Adidas store, we can all continue to assert our indomitable bohemian spirits, fight the Powers That Be, let our Freak Flags fly, and be creative in our fight against the current corporate blitzkrieg.

One thing we CAN’T DO is fight each other: divide and conquer is the enemy’s long-term tactic and it’s been very effective. Venice is infamous for its internecine conflicts, numerous opposing positions that clash – meanwhile, the Brand Retailers waltz away with what they want.

If Venetians are serious about stopping the corporate takeover of their neighborhoods, they must start to work IN UNISON against those who would openly rape the city for their own profit, who have no interest, concern, or living investments in Venice.

Roger Webster, a long-time Venetian and partner in Perloff-Webster Realty (which owns the lease on Abbot’s Habit) also decries the changes taking place in the neighborhood, emphasizing the need for Venetians to fight from, “the top down,” meaning residents can only have an effect against the forces of corporate greed by addressing our representatives, like Mike Bonin, forcing THEM to defend our neighborhoods against international Retail Brands and their predatory goals.

But right now, Webster says, there’s too much, “inbred fighting” and Venetians are so polarized that, “the city’s not doing what’s good for itself.” He suggests Venice needs a new vision for itself, perhaps based in the old, but not simply for nostalgia’s sake; instead, as a flame for the future.

“I see Venice as an estuary. A spot where life replenishes and re-nourishes itself,” Webster claimed, “not a place that’s necessarily dying off, leaving one with bitter memories of better times.” The trick is to force our Representatives, using our power as citizens and as de facto Venetian visionaries, to serve OUR purposes or we’ll promise to vote them out!

If we simply give ground without fighting, Adidas wins. So in the memory of Abbot’s Habit, all its meant to our neighborhood the last 25 years, in the spirit of Dionysus, the Reese and Tabor families, the myriads of people who’ve passed through this soon-to-be-gone coffee shop – FIGHT FOR YOUR CITY!

The closing of Abbot’s Habit should MOTIVATE our community to fight the brand-name bullies who have no sense of what Venice is, ever was, or ever will be; resist the dulling influence of Google and SnapChat employees who hide out in their corporate bubbles, never venturing from their safe havens to become authentic Venetians; resist the pricy restaurants not truly intended for anyone who actually lives in town; resist the corporatization of Venice.

ALL VENETIANS need to UNIFY in COMMON CAUSE and SAVE OUR CITY’S VISION OF ITSELF! At the same time, we MUST NOT ALLOW outsiders to define our future as one which has no place for us. We bear a moral culpability ourselves if we stay on the sidelines and simply bemoan the current or impending state of affairs. We are Bohemians, Dionysian dreamers, artists, sinners and saints – but above all, we are Venetians. And the demise of Abbots Habit is our Clarion Call – either we put aside our differences or we risk losing everything. Because, as Ben Franklin wisely observed on the brink of an earlier revolution, “If we don’t hang together… we will surely hang apart.”


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