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Poster of the Week

Center for the Study of Political Graphics - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 19:49
Obama...Give Me Five!
Jorge Martell, design
Gonzalo Canetti, photo
Digital Print, 2012
Oakland, CA

CSPG's Poster of the Week celebrates the release of the Cuban 5 and Obama's move towards normalizing relations with Cuba.

The Cuban 5, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, were arrested by the FBI in 1998. All were convicted in 2001 of conspiracy to commit espionage against the United States. The trial was held in Miami, Florida, a center of Cuban exile hostility to the Cuban revolution, where no fair trial was possible.

The Cuban 5 neither committed nor intended to commit espionage against the U.S. They were sent to the U.S. to monitor anti-Cuban terrorist organizations in Miami responsible for bombings and deaths in Cuba.  Since the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959, Cuba had been the victim of more terrorist attacks than any other country in the world, killing 3,478 and injuring 2,099. The vastly majority of those attacks originated in southern Florida, by groups tolerated and partly financed by the US government.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review their case in 2009. Fernando González has been on parole since October, 2011 after serving every single day of his 13 year term. René González was released from prison earlier this year, but remained on parole.  To avoid being forced to remain IN MIAMI ON PAROLE, Rene, a natural-born US citizen, had to give up his US citizenship. As of December 17, 2014, after more than 16 years, the 3 remaining members of the Cuban 5 were finally freed and all are now home in Cuba.

Next wish for the New Year:  End the Blockade!

For more information on the Cuban 5:
http://www.thecuban5.org/the-case/

Holiday Gift: L.A. Politicians Want More Digital Billboards

Ban Billboard Blight - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 17:57
Christmas came early for Clear Channel and other billboard companies when a Los Angeles City Council committee decided Tuesday to press forward with plans that could allow hundreds of new digital billboards throughout the city and grant “amnesty” to more than 1,300 billboards that are either unpermitted or in violation of their permits. The three-member […]

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Center for the Study of Political Graphics - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:59
POSTER OF THE WEEK:

 

 
Torturing Detainees Off of U.S. Soil Since December 2001
Mike Gavayan
Digital Print, 2005
Frostburg, MD
24908

The nation is currently shocked by the grisly revelations contained in a Senate report released this week of the torture carried out by the CIA. Yet CSPG's Poster of the Week was made nearly a decade ago. The awareness that the U.S. has long been torturing people is known to the world. To be outraged now is not due to historical amnesia, but due to purposeful obfuscation by politicians and the corporate media.

The Guardian (London) commented, "While parts of the programme had been known - and much more will never be revealed - the catalogue of abuse is nightmarish and reads like something invented by the Marquis de Sade or Hieronymous Bosch." Although the report is highly redacted, the tortures it lists include waterboarding, rectal feeding, sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, mock executions and Russian roulette, sexual abuse, threatening detainees' parents and children, and more. The report also describes how the CIA gave inaccurate information to Congress, to journalists, and that White House wanted to ensure that Secretary of State Colin Powell be "kept in the dark."

In spite of escalating calls to punish the perpetrators, the Obama administration continues to wage what journalist Glenn Greenwald called, "aggressive, full-scale whitewashing of the war on terror crimes committed by Bush officials."

When will we demand justice!

CSPG's Poster of the Week was made by Mike Gavayan, at the time a student in Fereshteh Toosi's Introduction to Graphic Design class at Frostburg State University, Maryland. Gavayan places the horrific photo of the hooded man, the most iconic of the photos of U.S. torture victims from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, in front of red, white, and blue, to refer to torture as an American tradition. The only thing missing are the electric wires dangling from the victims fingers, featured in the original photo.

To read more about how this poster came about, read Fereshteh Toosi's letter below, in which she describes the assignment and the students' reactions.

Sources:
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/09/cia-torture-report-worst-findings-waterboard-rectal

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/31/obama-justice-department-immunity-bush-cia-torturer   [Glenn Greenwald]

Fereshteh Toosi is an interdisciplinary, Chicago-based artist.  In 2005/6  she taught a Graphic Design class in Maryland.  Her students were asked to create posters for CSPG's Prison Nation exhibition.

Asking my students to create posters for the Center for the Study of Political Graphics' "Prison Nation" exhibit was one of the most valuable teaching moments from my first semester as instructor of ART 207: Introduction to Graphic Design at Frostburg State University. Located in a small rural town in western Maryland, students in the 2 sections of this class were a mix of art and communications majors at different stages in their academic careers. In terms of my pedagogical goals, it was important to provide them with a real-world design problem that was not directed towards a commercial end. The CSPG's call for entries seemed an ideal opportunity to direct the students in the importance of developing process, research methods, and techniques for idea-generation.

My own awareness about the prison industrial complex came about during my time as a student at Oberlin College, but it happened outside of the classroom. In the mid 1990s the Mumia Abu Jamal case was a popular cause on college campuses and I learned about the larger problems of prisons and prisoners' rights through friends who were well-informed and passionate about activism around this issue. I was lucky in this regard. Most young people in this country do not gain knowledge about the severity of prison issues through formal college education or mass media. It continues to be something many Americans choose to ignore. As an educator I was excited by the prospect of asking students to develop their design skills while addressing such a topic. 

When I initially announced the premise for the project, many students were disappointed and annoyed. Several dismissed it quickly, joking about the need to "lock criminals up and throw away the key". "Just kill 'em all!" or "I don't give a damn about these people" were common remarks. I had left the topic open to interpretation, but I was concerned that too many students had already made up their minds that it was not worth further investigation. I knew I needed something that would make an impact. In our small university video library I found only two videos with any mention of prison issues. The Eyes on the Prize documentary series addresses the 1971 rebellion in New York's Attica prison, which I chose to screen along with footage from the Stanford prison psychology experiment of that same year. My lessons included information on the parallels between then and now, as well examples of political posters from the last century. To this end we were very fortunate to have access to the art in the CSPG's on-line collection.

Students became more motivated to investigate the topic further, and this is when the real discoveries began. Comments changed in tone: "This is too depressing" was the new complaint. I'm not sure if anyone radically changed their viewpoint on any particular issue, but I was pleased to see them embrace the challenge to find compelling creative solutions to expose a very complex social cause. Also important was the way in which creating a poster for the CSPG expanded students' notions of the purpose of design. I am grateful for the teaching opportunity that this exhibit provided, and my students are proud to be involved. Thank you for including us.

Fereshteh Toosi
March 2006
 

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Center for the Study of Political Graphics - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:46

2nd Featured Poster of the Week 

The struggle for justice continues to be stymied.  Last week a Missouri grand jury declined to indict the white police officer who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.  This week a New York grand jury cleared an NYPD cop in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, also unarmed and black. Garner's death was caught-on-video and the only people arrested were the videographer and his wife.  As 1000s continue to demonstrate across the country against this blatant impunity, we must recognize that these events are not isolated incidents, but a consistent part of U.S. government policy, at home and abroad.  45 years ago today, Fred Hampton, head of the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party, was assassinated by the FBI.  His poster and story are below.

POSTER OF THE WEEK   
Fred Hampton - We, the People          Artist Unknown          Offset, 1970          United States          6225

Fred Hampton (1948 -1969)  Born in Illinois, Hampton was a student leader in high school and an activist with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1968, he joined the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party, and quickly became the Illinois State Chair of the organization. Hampton organized weekly rallies, taught political education classes, attended the Breakfast for Children program daily, and helped establish the Free People's Clinic on Chicago's West Side. A powerful and eloquent speaker, he was set to be appointed the Party's Central Committee as Chief of Staff in November 1970. Fearing Hampton's ability to spread the Panther's message, the FBI, through an informant, obtained a floorplan of his apartment. The same informant gave Hampton a drugged hot chocolate before he went to bed on December 3 to ensure he wouldn't wake up. At 4:30 a.m. on December 3, 1969, the FBI raided the apartment, killing Hampton and Panther Mark Clark, and wounding several others.
This poster merges the assassination of Fred Hampton with images of the My Lai Massacre. On March 16th, 1968, U.S. troops arrived in the village of My Lai in the northern province of South Viet Nam. The soldiers opened fire even though they had not come under attack. The violence quickly escalated into an orgy of killing. More than 500 villagers were murdered, most of them women, children and the elderly. The massacre was kept secret from the U.S. public for over a year, until investigative journalist Seymour Hersh broke the story about the massacre and its cover-up on November 12th, 1969. When the massacre was uncovered, it proved to be a turning point for American public opinion about the war. Hersh was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his expose. Fortyfive years later, Hersh is still breaking stories about war. In 2004, he exposed the Abu Ghraib scandal in The New Yorker magazine, also a turning point for U.S. public opinion about the current wars.  When will we ever learn? 

Westside Impact and Venice Bridge Project Meeting

Venice Neighborhood Council Events - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 13:47

The Westside Impact Project aims to reduce the rates of underage and binge drinking in Santa Monica and Venice. The Project’s ultimate goal is to promote healthier, safer communities in Santa Monica and Venice by reducing a range of harms associated with alcohol, including drunk driving, DUIs, traffic crashes, violence, crime and public nuisance issues such as littering, loitering and vandalism. The Venice Bridge Project is a community effort to reduce teen marijuana use through education and policy in Venice. The Project's ultimate goal is to ensure that there are sufficient controls in place to keep it marijuana out of the hands of youth under 21. The belief is that harms associated with underage marijuana use can be contained through regulation. The Project does not have a position on adult marijuana use.

 

“Homelessness & Mental Illness” Summit in Van Nuys

Venice Neighborhood Council Events - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 22:27

The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council is pleased to announce the involvement of Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer in the "Homelessness & Mental Illness" Summit this December. The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council is hosting this Special Council Meeting on Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 at 6:30 pm to address homelessness in the San Fernando Valley and throughout Los Angeles.

"It is a significant and exceptional opportunity to work alongside Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and his office on this important issue.  The City Attorney's office writes every municipal law, advises the City Council, Mayor and all city departments and commissions, including neighborhood councils.  I look forward to addressing and proposing new ideas and approaches to this continuing matter facing our society, and to working with the City Attorney's office for months and years to come," said George Christopher Thomas, President of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has long been one of California's leading lawyers and lawmakers.  He has brought a collaborative, problem-solving focus to the City Attorney's office, emphasizing quality of life improvements in L.A.'s neighborhoods.  Already Feuer is expanding the Neighborhood Prosecutor Program, leading efforts to prevent gun violence, developing innovative approaches to gang violence, domestic abuse and school safety, and aggressively pursuing environmental justice and other efforts to protect vulnerable Angelenos.  

Feuer previously served as the Majority Policy Leader of the California Assembly and Chair of the Assembly's Judiciary Committee, writing many of California's most important public safety, children's health, transportation, consumer protection and environmental laws.  Feuer jointly-authored the Homeowners' Bill of Rights and the Iran Contracting Act.  He wrote the Crime Gun Identification Act and the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act, as well as the nation's most comprehensive law to remove cancer-causing chemicals from consumer products, the law requiring insurance companies to insure children with pre-existing conditions, the law authorizing L.A. County's transformative transportation initiative, Measure R, and much more.

As a Los Angeles City Council member, Feuer chaired the Budget and Finance Committee, delivering on-time, balanced budgets, fighting successfully for anti-gang and after-school programs, jobs for disadvantaged youth and meals for indigent seniors.  Feuer wrote some of America's toughest laws to curb gun violence, initiated L.A.'s 3-1-1 non-emergency services system and spearheaded ethics and business tax reforms.

A champion for senior citizens, Feuer served as Executive Director of Bet Tzedek Legal Services, one of the nation's leading public interest law firms.  Under Mike's leadership, Bet Tzedek helped more than 50,000 indigent, primarily elderly or disabled clients on crucial cases involving nursing home abuse, consumer fraud, access to health care, housing, Holocaust restitution and more.  The Los Angeles Daily Journal wrote that Feuer turned Bet Tzedek into a "national success story."

The recipient of dozens of awards for his achievements for seniors, children, environmental protection, gun violence prevention, access to justice, transportation improvements, civil rights, education reform and more, Feuer has taught at the UCLA School of Law and the UCLA School of Public Affairs.  He practiced law at two prominent firms, Hufstedler, Miller, Carlson & Beardsley and Morrison & Foerster, and was a commentator on NPR member station KPCC.  He began his career as a judicial clerk for California Supreme Court Justice Joseph Grodin.

Feuer is a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School.  He and his wife, Gail Ruderman Feuer, have been married for thirty years and have two children, Aaron and Danielle.

"It is a great honor and privilege to work alongside all of the high profile speakers we have scheduled for the summit this December.  Each one brings an interesting and unique perspective to addressing homelessness in the San Fernando Valley.  This is a major issue in Van Nuys, as well as throughout the Valley and Southern California.  This summit is a perfect opportunity to come together with community leaders in our area, and really tackle this terrible problem head-on," said George Christopher Thomas, President of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council.

A list of confirmed speakers include but are not limited to: Don LeStrange, Van Nuys LAPD Volunteer and Community Police Advisory Board (CPAB) Homeless Committee Chair.  Representatives from the Office of Councilwoman Nury Martinez (CD6).  Anthony Gonzales from the Village Family Center in North Hollywood.  Ryan Bell from Community Outreach for PATH in Los Angeles.  Representatives from the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission.  Representatives from the National Coalition For The Homeless.  Representatives from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.  Representatives from the Weingart Center Association.  Representatives from the Homeless Health Care Los Angeles.  Representatives from the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.  And representatives from the Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger & Homelessness.

The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council meets at 6262 Van Nuys Boulevard and the Summit will take place in the Council Chambers starting at 6:30 pm. If your Neighborhood Council or organization would like to co-host this summit with the VNNC, please email Council President George Thomas at george.thomas@vnnc.org. For more information please visit www.vnnc.org.  The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council is the largest Neighborhood Council in the San Fernando Valley, and the second largest of all 95 Neighborhood Councils in Los Angeles. (http://www.vannuyscpab.org)

All media and the general public are invited to attend.  Please email any questions or comments to george.thomas@vnnc.org.

Event coverage

Venice Papparazzi - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 15:34

VenicePaparazzi updated gallery 'Event coverage'

VNC ARTS MEETING

Venice Neighborhood Council Events - Wed, 12/03/2014 - 18:07

VNC Arts agenda 12.10.14

 

Arts Committee Agenda

 

Location: Hotel Erwin

1697 Pacific Ave, Venice CA 90291

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

 

  1. Introductions & Welcome (Co-Chairs: Eduardo Manilla)
     

    1. Introduction of Committee Purpose and Mission

    2. Introduce current Members, Greet New Members

    3. Overall – latest with the VNC (general, arts related)

 

  1. Committee Business

 


A. #VNCarts – Instagram Photo Contest
1. Select theme for January/February
2. Re-Launch Date January 2015/Deadline February 28th


B. Committee Project: Venice Neighborhood Music & Arts Fair
1. Overview/Timeline
2. Potential Motion to VNC Board

 

C. The Power Of Art
1. Overview/Timeline
2. Potential Motion to VNC Board

 

 

  1. Arts-Related Volunteer Oportunities and Announcements.
     

    A. The Venice Art Crawl
    - Upcoming Event on Thursday December 18th

    1. - Potential participation by VNC Arts Committee members.


    B. The Great Venice Toy Drive

    1. - Holiday Festival and Toy Drive at Oakwood Recreation Center on December 20th 2014

      - Potential Participation by VNC Arts Committee members

     

  2. Open Discussion

 

  1. Meeting Adjourned (8:30 PM)

 

Poster of the Week

Center for the Study of Political Graphics - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 20:27
The Real Face of Globalisation
Raghu Rai
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Offset, 1983
India
17152

Continuing the theme of the Good, the Bad & the Ugly, CSPG's Poster of the Week commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal tragedy, the worst industrial disaster in history.  More than 20,000 people died from toxic gas that leaked from Union Carbide's pesticide factory on December 2& 3, 1984.   500,000 more were poisoned.  The story becomes even more profoundly Bad & Ugly as Union Carbide and its parent company, Dow Chemical, have refused to pay for cleaning the site or face charges in India's court. 

The only "Good" part of this story was the brilliant prank performed by the Yes Men, a culture jamming activist group. On the 20th anniversary of the disaster, Andy Bichlbaum, one of the leading members of the Yes Men, impersonated a Dow spokesperson and took full responsibility for it-including setting up a multi-billion dollar compensation package.  Dow was profoundly (and deservedly) embarrassed.  Although that doesn't help the victims, posters like this keep the story alive, reminding all of us and teaching new generations that we will not forget.

Poster Text:
The real face of globalisation. This child died in Bhopal, India, in 1984, killed by the greed of Union Carbide (a Fortune 500 corporation now owned by Dow Chemical) and the negligence of the Government of India. Lust for profit that ignores people, safety, health and the environment -- and the blind eyes of politicians -- this is what Globalisation really is. 20,000 people have died in Bhopal since December 1984, tens of thousands are still seriously ill, and the killers are still absconding from justice. Contact the nearest Dow Chemical office and your nearest Indian Embassy or Consulate and ask them what they propose to do about it. Please act now. Bhopal Group For Information And Action justiceinbhopal@yahoo.co.in www.bhopal.net, www.bhopal.org, www.bhopalexpress.com Bh?pal 1984 Till When?

Additional Reference:
http://www.democracynow.org/2004/12/6/yes_men_hoax_on_bbc_reminds


Poster of the Week for Nov. 25

Center for the Study of Political Graphics - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 20:22
"I Don't See an American Dream, 
I See an American Nightmare"
                                   Malcolm X

Scott Braley
Fireworks Graphics
Prairie Fire Organizing Committee
Offset, 1992
Berkeley, CA
9482

Ferguson, Missouri continues to burn after a grand jury decided not to indict police Officer Darren Wilson who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager last August 9. CSPG's Poster of the Week reminds us of another act of police violence 22 years ago, when rioting and burning took place throughout Los Angeles and other cities after an all-white jury acquitted the four police officers on trial for brutally beating Rodney King, an unarmed African American motorist. But at least there was a subsequent federal trial about the police actions regarding Rodney King. In Ferguson, following a highly criticized grand jury process, no charges were filed.

This poster was produced in Berkeley, California and shipped down to Los Angeles, while Los Angeles was under curfew during the 1992 uprising. It was going to be distributed at a demonstration held in front of LAPD headquarters at Parker Center, downtown L.A. As hundreds of protesters arrived, the LAPD rescinded the permit and declared the demonstration to be an illegal assembly.

Rodney King background:
Glen 'Rodney' King, an African American motorist, was beaten repeatedly by Los Angeles Police officers on March 3, 1991. Unbeknownst to the police, a bystander, George Holliday, videotaped the beating and it aired on television throughout the world. The incident raised an outcry, as many people, both within and outside the African American community, believed that the beating was racially motivated, excessive and an example of police brutality. Although 27 officers were witnesses and/or participants, only 4 were brought to trial. The trial was moved from Los Angeles to Simi Valley, because the defense argued that it was not possible to have a fair trial in Los Angeles. The defense team also preferred Simi Valley because its population is more affluent, contains a much smaller proportion of African Americans, and contains a disproportionately large number of law-enforcement officers.

The April 1992 acquittals in a state court of the four officers triggered massive rioting in Los Angeles, which left hundreds of buildings severely damaged or destroyed and dozens dead. Smaller riots occurred in other U.S. cities. King made an appearance before television news cameras to plead for peace, saying, "Can't we get along here? Can't we all just get along?"

On May 1, 1992 as the unrest continued, President G. H. W. Bush announced that he would most likely charge the officers with violating King's civil rights. King testified in this Federal trial on March 9, 1993. Then on August 4, a federal judge sentenced LAPD officers Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell to 30 months in prison on this charge. The other officers were not convicted, and there was no rioting.

This Paper is a Moebius Loop!

Venice Beachead - Mon, 12/01/2014 - 10:50

By Erica Snowlake

The Beachhead is celebrating its 46th birthday this December, and a party for its 400th issue will take place at Beyond Baroque the first of February. I am fortunate to have written for the paper from 2006 – 2010, and consider that experience one of the highlights of my life. I’ve since become an ideological refugee, and organic gardener, in Canada (the Govt. squeezes the same, only Nature and Idle No More are gaining!).
Retaining ties to the Beachhead Collective, I recently spent 11 sun-blessed days in the Fair City, which passed bittersweetly, as the Spirit of Venice’s vibrancy and authenticity seemed to me, sorely set upon, by the same forces, throughout the years, that so many have actively engaged to resist : an unprecedented run-for-the-money. As I walked down Abbot Kinney, in shock at all the high-end clothing stores, a woman, accessorized-in-gold and sporting an immaculate tan, shot a victorious smile in my wake. On Rose Avenue, remnants of the dispossessed silently commiserated. Two sides of the same coin – ever-entangled – the haves and have-nots, existing in their prospective, peaking whammies of Rise and Fall; disproportional extremes, and sad follies of a system based on competition, greed, and cruelty. Where do you and I, and freedom, fit in?…. expressing ways out! swaying with the Venice Drum Orchestra, and the Drum Circle, watching sunsets on the beach, glorying in creative realities nobody can own. Does our comfort burn so brightly?!!!…that we are loathe to share?
Thank Heavens! the Beachhead’s still at the forefront, fighting the good fight, for social justice and equality (The Lady, as the Beat Poets affirmed, still exists!). In service of This Paper Is A Poem, former Beachhead collectivist Jim Smith and I are curating a project to record each issue in the online archives (www.freevenice.org). A totality of time-traveling fun! – scanning Beachheads of yore, page by page (some of the Seventies’ issues were 24 pages!), marveling at the scope of human endeavor and decades of organization, coalition and co-operation, evident in articles, letters, and listings of happenings and events, by the diverse groups and individuals who have dedicated themselves to unite their community / home (a particularly unique beacon of hope). This little paper (distribution 8,000 a month) is testament to the creativity and ingenuity of Venetians, to resist the mainstream, political and capitalist dogma, and racial and gender inequality, of our times, with humor, spirituality, and courage! The Muse remains sacred to the task! The Word burns!
From 1974, forty years ago, the headline “Should Venice Secede” demonstrated one of the hotter issues of the day. It was reported that, in a secession “investigation” at the Venice Pavilion, involving 100 people, “50 per cent were vehemently supportive of separating from greater Los Angeles, 40 per cent were inquisitive about the possibilities, about 10 per cent wanted to secede from California and/or the U.S., and the other 10 per cent were looking for the bathroom or didn’t know what secession meant.” The Seventies’ Beachheads featured “Dr. Zane’s Lobotomy Column” by Jim Zane (“A Monthly Column of Advice on All Subjects the Doctor Knows Absolutely Nothing About”), updates from the Peace and Freedom Party (founded in Venice by John Haag in 1967), Coastal Commission hearings, and the timely articles and comical rants of BH staff writer, Carol Fondiller, (“Invasion of the Afflu-Hip”,”Poop on Bike Path”, “Nude Beach : On Again Off Again”). Carol’s column Harpy Droppings was a staple of the paper for years. Antics of the people revolved around the canals, which were an undeveloped haven for hippies. The 5th Annual Venice Canal Festival, promised a “Saturnalia! of barges filled with drunken, stoned, and singing revelers, Hare Krishna food feasts, baroque music, and wares of all description.” Photos in the Beachhead express hedonistic, tribal pleasure; respite, perhaps, from impending evictions.
Portent of a sustained, loud cry against rampant development and burgeoning rents, the first VTC (Venice Town Council) meeting took place in November, 1974, at the Venice City Hall. A petition to Councilwoman Pat Russell stated that the residents of Venice “should not have to submit to their neighborhoods being remade according to the whims of the City of Los Angeles Engineers.” This also foreshadowed the beginning of a long and ferocious battle, spearheaded by the Beachhead, to replace Councilwoman Russell!
In August 1974, the paper paid tribute to poet Stuart Z. Perkoff, filling the entire back page with his poetry. The Venice Chapter of The Temple of Man offered daily, 24 hr. religious and civil services, including legalizing common-law marriages. Food Co-ops, Civic Unions, and Free Clinics made their debuts. Advertisements, bringing in much-needed revenue to cover printing costs, highlighted the Fox Theater, the Meat-less Mess-hall, the Comeback Inn, the Midnight Special Bookstore, and the Feminist Wicca (see Krista Schwimmer’s August 2014 interview with former owner Z. Budapest). My personal fave ad design, for the intrepid Sandalmaker, appears below.
Thirty years ago, January 1984, opened with the prophetic headline, “God is Dead and the World is Corrupt” by Alice Cramden. The Eighties’ issues often featured two pages of poetry, and resounded with articles about homelessness; “L.A. Shuns the Walking Wounded”, “The Homeless Economy”, while denouncing its cause; “The Resurgence of the Right”, “Venice Land-Rush Continues”. Cartoon grotesqueries of President Ronald Reagan and still-in-power-but-going-down-hard Russell provided comic relief (the saga of her political demise culminated in a red-inked Beachhead cover, March 1987.) The Ballona Wetlands were an important local environmental concern. There’s great interviews (I enjoyed one with Ken Kesey, who lived in Venice, 1960-61) and extensive coverage of news on the national and international level. Back pages of the Eighties issues featured a lifesize drawing of Thomas’ World Famous Chili Burger, at 108 Washington, where breakfasts cost 99 cents! The Fox Theater was still cranking counter-culture films (and where the Beachhead meetings took place).
Do past Beachheads tell the Boardwalk’s tale? Yes! it’s a hoot, and spans, well, nearly a century, if you consider it an extension of Abbot Kinney’s freakshow / circus carnival on Windward! I’d rightly call the Ocean Front Walk, Venice’s most holy expression, and one of the most interesting places on Planet Earth; an epic, living theater of rebellion, desire, jive, performance art and musical manifestation, of psychic power and invention, a people’s sanctuary-by-the-ever-changing-sea, a kaleidescope trip into the subconscious, that twists and writhes with beatific and horrific dreams and nightmares; ultimately, a place to be free. The forces that have been methodically and brutally targeting its demise, by harassing the very soul of its artists and defenders, are not worthy of the ink on this paper, though they have been duly noted and recorded. More thrilling is the legacy of all-who-have-laid-their-hearts-bare…..in bringing the phenomena to life and sustaining it.
It is known that places change, and sometimes, not-for-the-better. We must ride this oppression out. In the Nineties, things plain got too weird and paranoia set in, resulting in a Beachhead hiatus from 1993 onwards, until resurrection redeemed the paper in 2002. One gets the feeling, perceiving the continuity of the magic, gleaned in the Beachhead’s body of work since 1968, that Venice habitually pops open, like a psychedelic mushroom, to spread its irrepressible charm and message of communal, higher consciousness – Peace and Joy and Love. Don’t forget this. Delight in this fact / fate, and see if it doesn’t ring a bell. The Beachhead is a Moebius loop, a divine overview of history / herstory, that we have lived and created and continue to create together, reflecting an infinite crazy-eight of reality. Free Venice, symbol of a democratic republic, on land seeded by indigenous Gabrielino/Tongva visions, will find ways to endure. For now, as Jim Morrison sings in “The End”: “Ride the Snake!”……with its tale in its mouth!


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