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Valentine’s Day Mixtape

Venice Beachead - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 08:45

by Eric Ahlberg

It’s Valentine or Valentines or Valentine’s Day and LOVE is in the air. Love makes the world go round. What the world needs now is love sweet love. All you need is love. How much of this can you take? I believe it is the world going around that makes love, because without that, we’d be half frozen and half incinerated.

 

I love everybody, even the police as they kick the shit out of me on the street. (The Mothers – Hey Punk) I’m another white middle class white boy(Mose Allison), that never happened to me, though I did see it happen to a friend who insisted on taunting them with “Pig!”. The LAPD Intelligence division did try to set me up with a drug bust when we had the Midnight Special Bookstore on West Washington Boulevard, back in the days when Venice WAS shit, and the cops were infiltrating the anti war movement and setting up entrapments. But that’s not what we are here to talk about today.

 LOVE 

Some Questionable Terminology:
Long Term Relationship=LTR=>1year,
Medium Term Relationship=MTR =<1year,2+dates,
Short Term Relationship=STR=Hookup

Valentine’s Day is the ultimate Hallmark Holiday for Love. Dating standards fall all over where Valentine’s Day rules. Flaky male LTR or MTR are put to the test, can’t you just go out and buy a box of chocolates you lump. Yes Valentine Love is fine, but love is the first reductionist consumer fantasy, hand in crotch with the oldest profession. It was internet porn that built the Internet, and today apps like Snapchat are built on sexy pics, made to disappear so as not to affect your mayoral candidacy later in life. The Erotic drives the wheels of commerce and the ultra-erotic violence of the cinema.

We are talking about love, wholesale love. We are talking about online dating.
Certain basic facts(!?) about online dating must be made clear so here are some questionable factoids from the internet, to get the ball rolling.

Total number of people in the U.S. who have tried online dating = 49,650,000
Annual revenue from the online dating industry = $1,935,000,000
Average spent by dating site customer per year = $243
Percent of people who believe in love at first sight = 71 % (25-35 year olds)
Percent of women who have sex on the first online dating encounter = 33 %

Any man I can get = 6 % – these are the truly desperate.
By 48, Men have twice as many online pursuers as Women.
Percent of sex offenders who use online dating to meet people = 10 %

33% first date sex? That is encouraging. Not my experience, but I am not that slutty. Slutty women dress slutty in their profile pictures, lots of cleavage. They show up for dates in fisnets, dead giveaway. Some of these are working girls. Hey, Venice loves its sluts. Are we our own porn?

“The fact is that online dating is, well, complicated. There’s a whole range of difficult human emotions to contend with: insecurity, disappointment, rejection, maybe heartache. Not to mention it’s a ton of work.” – Consumer Reports

Twelve Chinese dating apps run by 21 firms in China have been shut down amid allegations of fraud for using bots posing as women. – This was the plot of the film Her, and Metropolis. We’ve been hoping for a hot android who comes pre-loaded with our preferences. I believe it will allow me to empower my erotic fantasies while avoiding the baggage of the emotionally and dharma bound humans…on my spaceship to Andromeda.
53% Of People Lie about: Age, Height. Weight, Job, and Income, on their online dating profile. – fake it til you make it..

My daughter said I should lie and say I have a Masters Degree. No “Some College” matches. She’s looking out for me. I think the MSs and PHDs can sniff me out. I am certifiable, but not certified.

Putting “Pumpkin Spice” in your profile increases your chance of getting laid 8%. Hah, Somebody test this.

There is an entire report by Consumer Reports here: https://www.consumerreports.org/dating-relationships/online-dating-guide-match-me-if-you-can/.

Satisfaction rates 56% to 37% ‘…low satisfaction scores may be that “most dating sites have some misalignment between profit model and user experience because they are financed through subscription fees or advertising,” says Scott Kominers, Ph.D., a junior fellow in economics at Harvard University.’ – Better to fail to match you, but keep you hooked on the chase. Love crack?

Research shows that many of these people on dating sites are cheating! Well is it cheating, or is it seeking passion lost at home, or just out to mess around, and consentually quickly forgotten? Is that so wrong? I hate to say it, but a lot of people are boring, even if they’ll fuck you. How can an old lefty like me say that? Jesus folks I’m just trying to get this paper done. Look around on Zoosk and Plenty Of Fish. It is a eye opening look into how people represent themselves nowadays. On the upscale sites, match, tinder, eharmony, and meetingmindful, there are many more well groomed, and naturally beautiful professional women, who have perhaps gotten profile advice. On the down scale sites it is bad pictures, sketchy profiles.

Netflix and chill: An invitation to watch Netflix together, which has become slang for coming over to have sex.

I had a dry spell for a while, it felt like my libido was getting pretty low. I started taking a DHEA supplement for its reported ability to enhance hormonal activity. That and a hot online date, a 44 year old special education teacher, helped me realize that hey, I still got it. This 66 year old dude, veteran of 4 LTR in Venice, has been on 6 or so different dating services for years. Match.com, eharmony.com, meetingmindful.com, zoosk.com, pof.com, and most recently tinder.com. Look around among our Venice friends, I find many a couple who met on match.com.

Match has a new feature, missed connections, it lets me know that beachbabe666 has driven down my alley 18 times in the last 2 weeks, livelovelaugh 10 times, and “alive” 5 times. This is actually helpful because geographic desirability is important. You don’t want to date someone from Riverside or Fresno unless they are really special…but aren’t we all. Match.com seems to have the best locality (more Westside members).

Tinder.com has the reputation as the hookup app, but they want you to see it as a dating app, for a bigger market. I have been swiping right like a pro stroker but no hookups yet, might have to go back to beachbabe666.

Via match.com, I have dated a famous comedienne, one of the singers from the Manhattan Transfer, artists, general creatives, and received “Not A Good Match” rejection messages, but slip out the back jack, after saying you’ll call. No fuss no muss, lie and GTFO, move on dot orgasm. I am looking for an LTR, and I have gotten laid a few times on the way there, but usually under the spell of Cupid. I’ve been out on three dates where I realized in the middle that they were transsexual or at least a cross dresser. It’s fine it’s not my thing, and they were very intelligent, uh, and good lookin though they were Monets, had me going there for a while. One ran a makeup company, seemed to be a sort of alchemist about it. Funny if you’re not sure, but you can’t ask, or you tell yourself you can’t ask, that’s the kind of mental torture fun liberals have.

When it’s been a long time, and it feels right, then doing it on the second date just feels so right, to let the passions flow. I am not talking about straight-up fucking I am talking about the gorgeous sensuous lovemaking that may not even involve penetration. I have enjoyed meeting lovely forward women and we enjoyed having a lovely Medium Term Relationship, and no one got hurt. Can we have love on a trial basis? Is there love after breakup? Is there a no fault clause? I like to think so, but then, if I am too busy, what is that? Men. They just don’t call. Dicks.

One lover dumped me for warts. I quit another over Ambien. I feel that if the love you need is close, then enjoy it, but no is no. I’m not the aggressive type, I’m more gentle, windy, and thunder. Better to just relax and be available, and give her the power, it’s much more exciting that way.

I vaped weed with a first date, at Superba, and she lost it, we left and she followed me to my car, looked at my bumper stickers, and said this will never do. I felt sorry I had contributed to her stress. She apologized later for being an Aries.

Two of my dates were into Orgasmic Meditation. It turns out that right out north eastside of Lincoln and Victoria is One Taste, where they teach Orgasmic Meditation=OM. Now I have always been a big supporter of women’s orgasms, you can ask any of my exs. The OM technique of assuming a comfortable position to carefully connect and stroke a woman to orgasm is also something I like. Check the Youtube videos. The man would not get aroused, it is not at all about him except in his role as a stroker. They say it is not sexual. If sex means an act of reproduction, then indeed a women’s orgasm can be without that. There seemed to be little going on about male orgasm there, which I appreciated,; Men are dicks. I understand they had some trouble with the authorities for doing group orgasmic meditations. They must have been good. I envy the Denobulans of Star Trek with their three wives and three husbands.

First dates with an internet dating newbie, it’s hard to face that much optimism, but often they are ready to quit the dating site. She has little idea what to expect, but she could be my shero.

Well all that’s a fine body commercial for me, but the deeper consideration is if this is the person you want to be spending all your time with, helping you when you are throwing up or being a complete idiot. With all the divorce and relationship turnover, romance runs headlong into reality, reason, caution, and slow is advised. ease into love. People have extended family and friends and a new LTR has a gravitational effect on that.

Women in their 50s, who to me are extremely hot, often have a young child by the last relationship gone wrong. An LTR becomes a relationship with another family. There shall not be any STR daddies, not anymore. In your 60s and older, the kids are in or out of college, and empty nests abound, divorced or widowed.

Now suppose you were a hustler, I mean an emerging artist, looking for a sugar momma or sugar poppa. There are some very rich people dating online if you know where to find them geographically.

There are a lot of painted up middle class housewives, divorced or widowed, house(s) and Trust. There are a also lots of lonely homely home girls out there, and many of both have been abused, and in Landmark Forum for some self esteem. While people have their game on when they meet, some are just weird, but when the times are weird… Every further date becomes a reevaluation, as more of the other becomes revealed. MTR in slow motion stall.

Ok so suppose you liked, you chatted, you set up a Coffee Date. This is a date at an open public location, like Starbucks, where you meet and just talk. There are a lot of interesting and beautiful women to talk to, and many artists and activists with a commitment to political change. I like to find women who are doing something worthwhile with their lives.

Eharmony.com has a questionnaire that you can use to send canned questions to someone you are interested in. One question I received recently asked: “What childhood memory would you like to relive?” My answer: “My childhood was filled with abuse, racism, near-mortal illness, death, traumatic pain, and being shunned, I do not want to relive any of it.” I enjoy too much honesty. Dick.

I call three foundations of marriage. One is the day to day support and caretaking, the basis of true nurturing and strong love. Two is the recognition by community, some sort of ceremony, be it in front of an Elvis Impersonator in Reno or at the Lake Shrine, or on Venice Beach, an acknowledgement for your community. Third is private property and the state, marriage license, prenuptial agreement.

Here, from my match.com profile:

Artist and engineer seeks creative love partner for entertaining and creative life together, making trouble and raising eyebrows. I am passionately involved with friends in creative and social change activities. I love to throw a dinner party and make all the food. I will sing you love songs with guitar or piano, and you would sing with me, deep, slow. I love exploring and investigating the world with cameras and discovering what is in people’s hearts and finding ways to represent this, in many arts. Love is the fabric we weave. You are skilled, sharp, generous and kind. A singer, a craftsperson, and a writer. Able to leap rhetorical constructs with a single metaphor. Has let go enough to find their own personhood entertaining. Ambitious and demanding, or chill and whatever, as per the situation. Major computer or theatrical or technical skills are a big plus you beautiful geek. I like natural women, lovely in natural and minimal makeup, beautiful natural clothes, with creative taste in their appearance, thrift store chic.

So if you are feeling lonely this Valentine’s Day, remember that your love is driving down your alley nearly every day.

Passings: Roxanne P. Brown

Venice Beachead - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 08:21

Roxanne P. Brown

Community activist Roxanne P. Brown died on Jan. 10 at her home in the Beverlywood neighborhood of Los Angeles. She was 62.

Roxanne is survived by Marc Spigelman and her cherished family: her brother Bruce (Pam) Brown; her nieces Holly (Tim) Oten, Rachel (Tim) Mitrovich and Bonnie (Josh) Judson; grand-nieces Violet, Leah, Camilla, Cora, Adeline and Aurora; and grand-nephew Remington.

A Midwest native, Roxanne’s life had many rich and fulfilling chapters. She was born on Sept. 29, 1955, in Stanley, Wis. Her parents were Bernetta Lucy and William Andrew Brown; their first child, Bruce, was born eight years earlier.

The family moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., then to Red Wing, Minn., where Roxanne graduated from high school. Roxanne often talked about spending summer days with her grandparents in Stanley and she was especially close to her Aunt Yvonne.

After earning a bachelor of science degree in business, graduating with distinction, from the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis, in 1978, she embarked on a highly successful business career – starting as a secretary in New York in the early 1980s.

As extroverted and charming as she was persistent and hard-working, she had an aptitude for sales and became a top performer in the domestic and international markets for home-video entertainment. Much in demand, she held positions at Viacom, Worldvision, Family Home Entertainment and Hi-Tops Video. She started an East Coast division for one employer, selling children’s shows, and singlehandedly brought in $2 million.

In 1983, Roxanne took a yearlong backpacking trip, during which she visited China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and India.

Over the years, she also went to Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Tanzania, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Cuba, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Greece, Turkey, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Russia, England, Ireland, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Monaco, Mexico, the Caribbean islands, most states in the United States and many provinces in Canada.

Perpetually upbeat, energetic, full of fun and ready for adventure, Roxanne was “wowed” by the world and, in turn, made a deep and lasting impression on everyone she met. She was hard-wired to help, giving freely of herself, and delighted in meeting new people, offering advice, sharing a meal or providing a place to stay.

In the late 1980s, her work brought her to the West Coast and she became a Californian, settling in Venice. Not long after she arrived, she met Rick Schaaf and began a relationship. Together they bought bungalow cottages three blocks from the ocean. After they went their separate ways, Roxanne stayed close to Rick’s children and their families.
Walking along Venice Beach was one of her favorite ways to spend an afternoon.

Another much-loved pastime was to linger over coffee and pastries, then scout the resale shops for neglected treasures and astonishing deals. Often, she would find a quirky gift for a family member or friend – she was exceptionally thoughtful and had a knack for remembering birthdays and other milestones.

She continued to advance in her career. From 1989 to 1993, she was the Western Regional Sales Manager for a creative directory produced by California Design Publications. Under her leadership, the publication’s advertising more than tripled in one month. Known for her ability to launch new products and revive underperforming operations, Roxanne was featured in Success magazine and in a book called “The Sales Athlete.”

A natural go-getter, she was headhunted by Unique Homes Magazine in 1994. During her six years there, she was the top salesperson and turned the least profitable territory into the most profitable.

In 1997, on a blind date, she met Emmy-winning writer Steve Brown – they shared the same last name – and eventually they fell in love; marrying in 2005. The two also shared a passion for the arts, especially theater. Steve and Roxanne lived in London and Paris, and spent summers in Florence and Rome. (They divorced in 2012 but remained good friends.)

Long after she left corporate life, she retained the ability to think big, overcome obstacles and defy limitations. In 2001, she received her master of science degree in career counseling from California State University at Long Beach.

Roxanne loved to connect people, tout their achievements and brainstorm ideas. She coached job-seekers of all ages on career issues and life goals. She worked in a variety of capacities at Loyola Marymount University, Jewish Vocational Service, the Actors Fund, Beit T’Shuvah, Cerritos College and the University of California at Irvine as well as in private practice. She especially enjoyed encouraging other women to pursue their dreams and helping at-risk individuals, such as addicts and felons.

As a star salesperson, Roxanne prided herself on developing thick skin – it was a quality that would serve her well in the next phase of her life. Upon finishing medical treatment for breast cancer, she published a self-help guide for other women: “Chemo: Secrets to Thriving” in 2011. The book, which she wrote in collaboration with noted cancer specialist Dr. John Link, became a top seller on amazon and was featured in “Women” magazine. Roxanne was active in cancer support groups and, as usual, made many new friends.

She continued to work and to be of service. A strong supporter of social justice, peaceful protest, protecting the environment and working to eradicate poverty, she was affiliated with the Heroic Imagination Project, Kindness Rocks and Oxfam, to name a few.

In 2014, spurred by property overdevelopment and increased commercialization in Venice, she co-founded Concerned Neighbors of 320 Sunset to help protect her beloved bohemian neighborhood. Roxanne devoted countless hours to rallying residents to the cause, questioning city government officials and staging protests. Additionally, she wrote numerous editorials for local press outlets and shared information with fellow citizens about ways they could air their views and help preserve their community’s unique character.

Meanwhile, Roxanne never gave up on the prospect of romantic love. She met Marc Spigelman in the spring of 2016. They connected instantly and began a relationship. Marc and Roxanne took several trips together and she moved into his home in 2017.
Roxanne lived life on her own terms and refused to acquiesce to negativity, even in the face of her cancer’s recurrence. Her brilliant smile, sweet laughter, uncommon generosity and soaring spirit set her apart. Her exuberant confidence changed lives. Her fine-tuned empathy saved lives – in one instance arranging for an ailing friend to seek medical treatment at world-renowned Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

If only the world could stop, just for a long minute, to mark her passing. It won’t, though, and she knew that. But those who loved Roxanne will think of her often, holding her memory dear – honoring her matchless grace and emulating her remarkable humanity.

The Hack: Living In Your Car

Venice Beachead - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 08:10

Pat Raphael : 420wPat@gmail.com

You are here. You’ve arrived at the beautiful seaside paradise of Venice, California. Only you didn’t get here by buying one of these million-dollar beach pads, in LA’s hippest zip code. You are here because you want to be nowhere else, and not letting the inaccessibility of supply and demand economics stop you from being here, you are willing to exist on the fringes of Venice society as one of the hordes of Street People — finding a supportive community posture for we who choose to be out here, on the Venice fringes. Yes, there’s a bit of a learning curve, to get with the vibe of what The Venice Way is all about. But once you get it — that it’s all about coexistence, artistic creativity, positive cultural contribution and free-range freaks… that it’s all about having a good time and enjoying the moment — you will find your place here in Venice. Many who find their Venice place choose to do it while living in their car. Yes, by having the “more” that the car offers, it brings with it more responsibilities and hassles to keep & maintain the “more”. But the significant measurable advantages of having a secure place to store belongings and shelter from the elements, makes it quite the no-brainer to put up with the costs, and enjoy the benefits.

We who have the space to live in our vehicles, do so with a grateful indebtedness to the legacy of activism that stood up and fought short-sighted pushes to eliminate vehicle dwelling through legal and legislative maneuverings like neighborhood parking permits and excessive pay-metering. Groups like L.A. CAN, Occupy Venice, the American Indian Movement along with the welcoming vibe of Venice and the predominant community sentiment of coexistence, seem a fitting legacy to the history of access planted here in Venice by Abbot Kinney. As things stand, there have been some victories and some encroaching losses, but living in a car continue to be a viable option in Venice, and may very well be where we would find undiscovered Jim Morrison or Marilyn Monroe, making their way among us, in 2018.

From where some strong lines seemed to have been drawn, the community sentiment shows the preference that people aren’t living in their cars right up on somebody’s house, or close to schools and day cares. The rule as it stands (which activists warned was too narrowly drawn), require that vehicle dwelling be five hundred feet away from any one of these sensitive use properties. The problem with that, though, is that the remaining available spaces are far fewer than the number of vehicle dwellers in our community. Add to that, that those spaces (rightfully) are also available to others who are not vehicle dwellin’, we are left with a quasi-legal state where anybody can live anywhere they park, as long as they do it smartly, FIRST with coexistence in mind.

Like every other instance in life, vehicle dwelling is most clearly seen through the lens of the individual. Some who started in a mansion and lost it, then a regular house and lost it, then a seedy apartment in a “bad” part of town then lost that too, may “end up” in their car, hating every minute of it. Another might have started on the pavement, then got a bike so they could be more productive and work harder. By the time that person hustles and saves to finally get a car… then navigate all the layers of obstacles laid out by local/state/national governments, to finally have a piece of security to park on your street, there is such a greater appreciation for what the car offers them in Venice.

The hack is to navigate this fortunate space in such a way that community is accentuated. veniceToo $hort: Get In Where You Fit In, …beach! It’s like how nature offers the example of different species of plants, in a vertical canopy of light sharing, where each gets what they need, and none encroaches on the other. In this mindset, a vehicle dweller recognizes the great advantage they have in being able to pack up and find new neighbors, whenever they choose. With that, it is important to always move in respect, so that the whole city is open to your presence. A car dweller that does not piss and crap every where, nor leave messes for people to clean up, and is never excessively noisy at all hours… this guy is welcomed to park wherever he finds a good fit. These are the neighbors who understand their vehicle is an extension of their very self, and find ways to keep their car clean, inside and out.

These compassionate neighbors understand that housed Venetians can not get up and leave, so they come to an area and are polite & friendly, and go out of their way to make sure our housed neighbors never feel like their block is being taken over.
In spite of all efforts to coexist, there are times, though, when a vehicle dweller still has to navigate a few passive aggressive notes, and the obvious feeling of not being welcomed on a particular block. Mostly, that’s when my great advantage kicks in, and I get the hell on up the road. Leaving them sad angry people to their little circle of negativity, to go chill somewhere else. But we in Venice are here because we are free people. Sometimes free people don’t feel like getting pushed around. At times it becomes important to assert your right to exist. Yes I am here, I have biological functions, I take up space, I enjoy a social circle. I have drive and dignity and will make my life to fulfill my desires. I’m living my life. If this bothers another sooo much that their solution is to ban together and create legislative aggression, so that their LAPDogs can have legal cover to sick us with heartless ferocity… naw kid. Something in me stirs, and I start looking for ways to make my stand.

Of course your level of stand, is limited by the direct proportion to the steadiness of your vehicle’s legality. Don’t be one of those dumbazzes yelling and fuming about your rights, and get the cops called to a hot azz unregistered vehicle, with no insurance, illegally parked and a dozen tickets on your tag. At that point, the gleeful look on the neighbors’ face as the tow truck drives your bucket off, it’ll be like them creaming their pants. Till you show up next week with another fifty dollar bucket… because taking people’s cars is such big business, there’s an excess of old cars getting auctioned everyday from tow lots all over the city. It’s never more than a few hundred bucks to buy an old tent on wheels, and start the cat and mouse all over again. There’s gotta be a better way.

So from your car, DO NOT ENGAGE. A legally registered vehicle, lawfully parked on a city street, becomes your castle — if you choose to utilize it as such. Never forget that a vehicle dwelling citation can only be directed to the individual, not the vehicle. So if neighbors are being d!cks, and call the cops, take a walk… leave your lawfully parked vehicle, and enjoy a few hours on the beach. Or curtain up your windows, and never come out to uninvited knockers at your door (regardless of the costume of “justice” they might be wearing). Take note of how much resources the city is willing to spend, deploying a stake-out, just to try to catch you “living” in YOUR vehicle. Let your positive coexistence become the contrast to illustrate right from wrong. When power organize themselves to take a poor person’s blankets on a cold night, be the network of guys who always have a warm tent to share, or a new sleeping bag in stow. Keep showing what right looks like, and the heart of Venice will take note, and you will find yourself together with they who truly know what The Venice Way is all about, showing the haters all around another possibility of love.

The Crowd at the Women’s Revolution

Venice Beachead - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 08:00

By Henry Rosebuds
January 20, 8 AM I’m riding downtown in a standing room only pussy cap crowded Expo line car, and do not give up my seat to anyone. Right on, look how far we’ve come, right? Time’s Up for all that old timey gender-role shit.

When a pretty face flashes a smile, I immediately desire to wine & dine her, but I do not hit –there’s a wrong word—on her. Metro Rail’s male PA keeps saying: Do not sexually harass or touch anyone on this train, giving the sheriff’s number to text if someone does.
In the Times: “Paul Booth, Antiwar Figure, Dies at 74.” In 1965 in D.C., he organized the first major march against the Vietnam War. What a woke obit to wake up to today!

9 AM Wokest Pershing Square placard seen so far: “RESIST,” across a Star Wars storm trooper wearing a helmet with that yellowy you-know-who type of coif.

10 AM “Hey hey ho ho, GOP has got to go” is so last millennium. Come on! Another Spring Street chant, “Cheeseboiga cheeseboiga, Defenestrate Drumpf!” Tepid response.

10:30 AM Humongous crowd. Amy Goodman—radio goddess! —will report on Monday: “Tens of thousands marching in Los Angeles…” Try 700,000. (Or is that typical local hype?)

11 AM Wokest speaker: actor Viola Davis, who quotes MLK on how, “Time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively.” That if we don’t move it forward, time becomes “an ally to the primitive forces of social stagnation.” Time needs to be helped by doing right every moment.
Have you ever heard time described this way? Inspiring!

12 PM Idina Menzel sings “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. Melissa Ethridge rocks too hard for this gathering, which I think is the quietest 700,000 citizens ever listening. My Indivisible affinity group is called, “Woke West.” (We’re woke, but subdued.)

1 PM Two-dozen speakers so far. Not a single joke about King Idiot. Even Larry Wilmore is serious! Where are the comedians? Sarah S? Lena D? Willow B? (The last one is a friend who is a comedian and I just wanted to give her a shout out.)
Maybe Time’s Up sponsors are saying it just isn’t funny anymore. In New York in the 80s, “Time’s Up” was depicted on tenement and subway walls this way: an upside-down martini glass. Meaning: “the party’s over.”

2 PM Maxwell sings. Time to go.

3 PM From the back end of our westbound Expo Line car:
“Tell me what democracy looks like!”
“This is what democracy looks like!”

If that is what democracy looks like, what is to be done with our democracy?
Is Time’s Up telling us that time is of the essence? That time is the essence? Time only for love? I rallied downtown in hopes of rallying myself from being too much in mourning for my life, feeling that self-pitying-seeing-it-all-slip-away-unsatisfied thing, like a nowhere-going gondola-mucking-up-what-is-actually-a-pretty-grand-canal kind of feeling.

Hey hey ho ho, time’s up for that low. Happy Valentine’s!
The end

Venice Valentine

Venice Beachead - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 07:54

By Lisa Robins

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I interviewed a sampling of Venetians I encountered along my way: asking where they came from, how long they’ve been here, and what they loved and hoped for Venice.

At Manny’s bike shop on Lincoln, I bumped into an old friend and tested my questions out on him. He’s from the east coast and went to high school outside of Philly. Lived in Venice for almost 20 years. He makes a living as a television producer, along with rental income from his properties. When I asked what he loves about Venice he responded, its “eclectic nature…the combo of proximity to the ocean–edge of the US…it’s diverse…artistic…freedom of expression.” He wishes for Venice to downsize – curb development-“spend less time and energy regulating what people are doing on their own private property and improve public property…it’s shameful- the streets, pavement, public spaces.”

“I’ve seen people shot in the street, in front of the store”, said an employee who’s worked the same job on Lincoln Blvd. for 30 years. He declined to be interviewed – doesn’t want to anger any of the locals. A 30 year business owner on Lincoln also declined my questions, but said he “doesn’t like any of them…you know what I mean- the new restaurants…all of this- we gotta fight them…you know what I mean”.

At the Robert Levine (Venice Family) Clinic on Venice Blvd a young Latino man waiting for the mother of his tiny baby also didn’t want to be interviewed, but then said, “Venice is awesome…everything is in it…nice place…nice people…all the countries” He’s a tattoo artist, which is exactly what he wants to do.

I spoke to a young lady from Shreveport, Louisiana who’s lived in Venice for 2 years. Works at Burro, walks dogs, does pet and baby-sitting – dream job is acting. She moved to Venice to be with her boyfriend- wouldn’t have thought about it without him. He says “It’s more chill than anyplace else”…he likes to be close to beach because “he’s hot all the time”. She notes, “It’s changing fast”…she sees new houses, “huge things”, going up all the time. “It would be nice if some of the older places stayed.”

All the way from Istanbul, Turkey, a man I know has been in Venice 11 months. He doesn’t work here- goes to SMC studying ESL. He believes Venice is “like Paradise…good weather, people, neighborhoods…helpful, peaceful.” His hope for Venice is “mystery”.
A fellow activist friend, an immigrant in-utero, attended high school in Northern Ca. and came to Venice 20 years ago. She works as a physician at LA County USC Hospital, saying, “That’s the place I want them to bring me if I were in an accident or got shot”. What does she love about Venice? “A long list…ocean….canals (“like the Dutch”, a friend piped in)…big city but an enormous ocean in short walking distance…less to love about Venice than there used to be….diverse…lots of art-artists and political activity.” Her hope for Venice? Returning to what it was decades ago. “Restore all the canals. Dig up the streets…bring back the old canals.”

“We don’t need to know everything”, a Venice native told me. “I’ve created a system of bulwarks to make it difficult to inconvenience or do me any harm. Google me and you’ll run into scary people and organizations. If you ever approach these people you’re liable to run into some trouble….I’ve seen some things…I’ve seen some very cold and dark spaces…What do I love about Venice? Everything… What do I hope for Venice? A lot. A revolutionary government….single party rule with strong heads. Not the VNC. To drive the heathen from the land…like King David drove the Jebusites out of Jerusalem.”

I met a 47 year old man from SD walking his dog down a residential street near Lincoln. He’s lived in Venice/ MDR for 10years, Venice 5 years. Considers himself a “Virtual Native”. He’s in sales to pay the bills. His dream job is to not be in sales, and plans to retire and do “me stuff” and charity work. Loves Venice’s weather and relaxed culture, dog friendly, but it’s “getting a little more ruined…gentrified”. Loves that it’s central, 8 on the “walking score” (mentioned by several people even though I had never heard of the walking score). His hope for Venice is that we break off and pay our own police. “We have to deal with the homeless…don’t just push them to Venice.” He likes Garcetti, “at least he’s trying”. We discussed trying to balance politics in our community. “There’s plenty to be left leaning and still be fair”.

Next on my walk I met a mid-20’s Venice native, who was painting a beautiful mural on the home that’s been in his family since his mom and Grandma. They run a daycare for little ones up to age 3. He’s a photographer, architectural- like realtors/magazines… living his dream job. What does he love about Venice? “Everything…best city ever”. His hope for Venice? “I like the way it is”. But then he went on, “Homelessness out of control. The RV ban is good. Homeless sleeping on the street…”

His fellow muralist grew up in MDR. He’s an apprentice locksmith. “Venice is great-nice being by the beach. 10 minute bike ride”, lived here his whole life. Parents owned Mojo Clothing from 1985ish-2005. Wants Venice to stay small businesses. “People who want a mom/pop shop should be able to do it — not looking that way at the moment.” He wants to find a way to let corporations to do their thing, but not completely kill our small community vibe.

As I continued walking I met a person I had spoken to on other walks from NYC who has lived in Venice for 25 years. A reporter, actor, screenwriter — likes to change careers every 10 years. What do they love about Venice? “The weather”, they say sarcastically…likes to bike everywhere. What do they hope for Venice? “Deal with the homeless…it’s dreadful…not short term shelters…mental health facilities…drug help…garbage in alleys…police hands are tied… the homeless have more rights than me…homeless have a “free pass”…I’m not heartless…I care about the situation…two homeless threw glass bottles at me…police, fire department came…moron Bonin takes lanes away …traffic is terrible….City agencies services are understaffed…our mayor can’t figure out what he’s doing. The quality of life deteriorated in all of LA …keep allowing building…unstainable for workers to live here…allow people to build giant houses on lots…Airbnb is running illegal hotels (long term ok).” This person wanted me to not print what they said, but since they’re unidentified I choose to air the grievances since I know many share them, and their hybrid career choices also reflect our community.

Next, on my walk I met a mom and her daughter visiting friends in the canals. Mom grew up in MDR and has lived in Hollywood and Pasadena where they currently live. The young one is a 3rd grade student, and mom is an actress who works with kids in a pre-school and babysitting. She loves the “magical energy” of Venice. Her hope is “everyone keeps keeping it clean and sustainable, planting trees that don’t need much water”.

A dear friend I spoke to across a canal hails from Brooklyn, and has lived in Venice for 8 years. She’s a rabbi and a mom — exactly what she wants to be doing. When I asked her what she loves about Venice without hesitation she said, “The people…the community and people…living art…people living, creating….people come here to create…now it’s digital media-apps, start-ups, before it was acrylics and paint…new mediums — but people come here to create. Venice is “spiritually inspiring”…loves the egrets, the herons, sunsets, waves, moons …It’s all here- what’s not to love?” She wishes for Venice to create community for the 21st century. “Long lasting institutions with healthy eyes so we can continue meeting, observing, creating together.”

Next I met a couple of homeless guys camped out in front of the library because they can use the Wi-Fi. One was generous with his story, while his friend stayed focused on his I-phone. Originally from Fort Knox, Texas, he’s been in Venice for 8 months. He’s 40, unemployed, and would love to get a job at a head shop. He loves Venice’s ocean, temperature. His hope for Venice is for “all the meth to be gone”. He spoke of the frustration of trying to get work while homeless. “Have to watch stuff all day…What would help would be a building to store stuff with showers… Like KOA campgrounds…even a place that would supply power by the hour to charge stuff. There’s no solution…just because it works for one doesn’t mean it’ll work for all. Shelters are worse (than the streets) for some.” Needs his own little space…The food situation is such that food stamps last him 1 ½ -2 weeks –I brought up the 99cent store, where I get amazing food bargains, but he prefers the $1.50 hot dogs from Costco…plus to keep phones running are $60 month. Need meds, to get to the co-op- then he revealed that his friend suffers from epilepsy.

A 51 yr. old man from NYC has been in Venice since 1985- “a long time”. He works at the church for lodging-“I used to be a drug addict”. His dream job is to be a music engineer. What does he love about Venice? The weather — too cold in NYC! He made a pit stop in Florida…his sister talked him into Ca. Liked Minneapolis, but he was tired of snow. Watched the USC-UCLA game one day and saw the weather in LA. (weather is a common draw- ironic since I miss the seasons so much!). His hope is for LA to provide more jobs –train people. He wants the people in charge to put heads together for education. Parents should have a say in what school their kids attend. He feels that Venice can go further in the future to have politics completely dedicated to caring for its people. Don’t try to be greedy would be a blessing. Unhappy with the Democrats…not for Bernie since he’s against DARE. He’s a Republican, but not for Trump. He’s working on his GED.

I then bumped into another long-time girlfriend. Originally from SM, she’s lived in Venice for 35 years. She’s a PR person and a mom. I’ve known her and her husband for about 30 years, and known her beautiful daughter from birth. But I never knew her dream job was to be Huell Howser from the show, “California Gold”, who visits cool places, and meets and interviews cool people in California. She too loves the high walk score of Venice and the great weather. Also loves hula hooping with friends in their 50’s and 60’s at the beach, and boogie boarding after. (sounds like I might want to join them!) Loves that residents can have parties late without people calling the police (not the case if you’re an Airbnb owner). Her wish for Venice? “Frankly, a more reasonable short term rental policy”. More affordable housing…rentals…danger of losing all sense of community…many of her neighbors have moved, and Airbnb units have taken their place. She “loves tourists, but also love neighbors”. I look forward to seeing her at one of her remaining neighbor’s annual “show and tell” party next weekend.

That night I rendezvoused with a friend at a Brobots’ gig, who was originally from Miami, Fla. He came to LA in 1984-34 years ago. He’s a writer who moved here to attend UCLA Film School, and stayed to work in the film business. What does he love about Venice? “Venice is the coolest place in LA”. But he “Wouldn’t do it again. If I was 23 I’d have gone to N.Y…More independent, more serious”. But it’s “Hard to leave…get seduced…easy to live…I have a lot of friends.” I can vouch for that. He loves that Venice is “Diverse and anything goes and people are cool…Hope it remains like the old Venice at least in spirit”.

I ran into another Venice compadre originally from New Jersey- has lived in Venice since 70’s, at Suzy Williams’ Monday gig at Surfside. He “Came out for a trip and got stuck. You can visit for a week or two…If you stay longer you’re stuck here…How you gonna go back to New Jersey when you’ve been here?” He’s a retired electrical engineer…Electronics…on the team that developed an early video game system called Vectored. “It was a big flop, but now it’s popular…all over Facebook…Selling on eBay like hot cakes. …Love being able to walk out the door and there’s always something great to do and the weather is great, right?” What do you wish for Venice? “That it doesn’t get destroyed and keeps the basic thing that attracted me in the first place which is it doesn’t get all built-up and skyscrapers everywhere – keep the lid on the store…don’t take over anymore…what I hope for Venice- that some of the people that have been kicked out lately can come back”.

I took my friend who lives in Chicago and South Haven, Michigan, but sometimes stays at my house, to check out the music at Surfside. He used to work around the corner on the beach at Coney Island Hotdog, better known as Meatless Mess Hall, 40 years ago. He sees a lot of Venice as being the same as what he loved in the 60’s. He hopes Venice “stays the way it is or gets the way it used to be again which isn’t going to happen at all…slow down the forces that are making Venice a harder place to live.”

On the street near the club we met a young man with a guitar. He asked me for money to buy crackers to go with the cheese someone gave him. I went back to my car and found some crackers and a protein bar to give. He came to Venice for “The things that ignite your soul”. “My city is South Bronx…hitchhiked all the way here…stopped in Nashville, Tennessee, Atlanta, Georgia, New Orleans, Texas, and New Mexico…I’ve been in Venice for three years living on the beach trying to play my music to try to, you know, make myself, you know, some money for food or … hygiene products.” I asked him if he’s familiar with SPY (Safe Place for Youth). His eyes lit up- he tells me he’s a regular… I told him I’m a volunteer- planning to start an open mike once a month. He liked that idea. I told him I can’t wait to hear his music. He said, “I love that Venice is a place where artists can come together and coexist and feed off of each other’s energy to constantly progress the next artist to be coming the next stage and hence breathing life into Venice….giving Venice a culture because that’s what I like about Venice… has a culture has a past history…a story… something not to be ignored but to be acknowledged… I hope that Venice starts remembering its roots and stops most of the gentrification going on and start to bring back the artistry…”

So there you have it…a Venice Valentine from all walks of life.

For myself I love that I can see a different style of music every night with world class musicians like Suzy Williams and Brad Kay, the Brobots, The Gumbo Brothers in local hangs with no cover like Hinano’s and Surfside. I love that within an hour walk I can talk to rich locals, nutcases, a rabbi, a homeless guy, a Republican drug addict in recovery, and no less than 2 close friends. I love the sunsets, walks on the beach, the tumultuous ocean, and the peaceful canals where I walk and work on whatever I’m working on. I love watching the cool new places open on Lincoln like Abbot Kinney used to be and pray they stay local and don’t all get taken over by chains and corporations. I love the library, the farmers market Friday mornings, the elementary schools. I love the bohemian spirit of Venice, and my home and family living the Venice dream. And I hope this valentine reminds both longtime and recent residents why we all chose to come here, and to cherish our community which is like no other….Venice! YYYYYY

Jerde Leaving Venice, Snapchat Moving In, The Freak Show Still Homeless

Venice Beachead - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 07:49

by Venice Dawgs
Within the next month or so, and after almost 30 years, world-renown architecture firm Jerde Partnership will be moving its global headquarters from their location at 913 OFW to an office Downtown. “Moving to Downtown from Venice Beach reestablishes our company as a Los Angeles architectural firm,” Paul Martinkovic, an executive of Jerde, said in a company statement. “In Downtown, we have 360 degrees of quality of life, better commutes and accessibility to more affordable housing for our existing employees.” What Martinkovic did not mention is the stress and legal battles that Jerde has had to endure ever since Jon Jerde passed away and Snapchat started gobbling up every property they could find in our beloved town.

Most people know the Jerde location on 909-913 Ocean Front Walk as “The Freak Show” building. The historic Freak Show was there about 12 years before they were unable to renew their lease this past April of 2017, and the changes within the building owners, land owners, lease holders, management companies, parking spaces and tenants the last few years is the epitome of typical real-estate collusion and is confusing to say the least. Confusing probably for a reason – confidentiality.

Real estate developers nowadays are shadier and slimier than your average car-salesmen and unethical lawyers. They are heartless and pick on the little guy and use smoke and mirrors to gain greater wealth and control and are the loudest to cry when something doesn’t go their way, all while sitting on more money most people could dream of. They continue to tear down things most people love and replace them with something everybody hates while side-stepping the laws and using shell companies and trusts to hide owner identities. According to Zillow, many luxury property purchases over $3M in the US have been built by shell companies and LLC’s rather than people. The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Unit says shell companies are one of the most common ways of laundering money through real estate and more importantly they can provide an extraordinary level of secrecy, making it impossible for even the seller to know who they’re making a deal with. When the Bush administration pushed through the Patriot Act after the 9/11 attacks, it essentially gave big property sellers a pass. Under the law, banks have to find out who owns shell companies before doing business with them, but the real-estate sector got a temporary exemption. Seventeen years later, that exemption is still in place—despite the fact that almost half the expensive residential properties in the US are owned through shell companies, according to a 2015 New York Times investigation.

The Jerde/Freak Show building was built in 1984. Thirty years later, Snapchat’s VP of Operations and head of monetization, Phillipe Browning, was visiting every real estate office in town each week asking where there was more office and residential space in Venice. The OFW building was owned and used by famous architect Jon Jerde since 1990 who then died in February 2015. In the following months, his wife Janice Jerde then sold the building (probably without knowledge of exactly who she was selling to).

It’s no secret that Snapchat has wanted to get into Jerde’s space for quite some time now, even though Jerde has been there for almost 30 years and Snap says they’re only leasing the top floor and that’s it. Even Snapchat employees themselves made it known around town that Snapchat wanted Jerde’s space. One employee at Jerde who wished to remain unidentified stated they had to get a lawyer to protect Snapchat from moving into their space. “They [Snap] purchased the building in March of 2016 and then proceeded with very harsh eviction proceedings. We fought back hard and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting back to protect our legal rights. The building was owned by an investment company called Foothaven, LLC which we believe to be controlled by Snapchat key executives. Snap subleases 5,000 square feet in the facility with a right to assume the remaining term of the lease should we vacate earlier. It’s sad – we’ve been a great Venice neighbor for 30 years and contributed to the community in many positive ways.” An article in the LA Business Journal on June 10, 2016 titled “Snapped Up” also stated that Snapchat has a right of first refusal for the full 33,000-square-foot space when it becomes available.

On June 28, 2016 a Property-Commercial Eviction case was filed by Foot Haven LLC against The Jerde Partnership Inc in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County Superior Courts in hopes of evicting the famous architecture firm. Foothaven LLC is one of the many spiderweb of names that have some type of interest in the building. In fact, there is so much changing hands of the inner workings of that building the last few years that even LA City (Miranda Pastor, Mario Montez & Rita Moreno) & Tara Devine of LA Strategies had a hard time figuring out whose signature was needed for the Venice BID! The Scharff family, the Ekker family, the Jerde family, Cambra Realty & Snapshot Partners LLC (Michael Schlesinger), JSB Trust (Jonathon Brooks), Mike Kafka, Hancock Orange LLC, Foothaven LLC and variations of all the above have all had their names on it the last few years. The information that is of public record is scarce and to do a thorough investigative report on the all the lease holders, building owners, land owners, trusts, management companies, LLC’s, and the people behind them would cost anyone many long hours leading to many frustrating dead-ends, especially without the cooperation of being able to talk with the named individuals, who may be in litigation at the time or simply unwilling to disclose details.

The Venice BID was finally signed in June of 2016 and Snapshot Partners LLC was listed as the legal owner when they voted YES – it was signed by Robert Minsky. They have a 65-year ground lease on a parcel owned by Ekker (aka Scharff) and refused to give the city a copy of their lease for the BID. Eventually a copy was given but was missing pertinent information due to confidentiality concerns.

Todd Ray, who founded Venice Beach Freak Show, says he learned in the fall of 2016 that the building had been sold and that the new owner would not be renewing Ray’s five-year lease on the first floor. After that, Ray says, he was paying rent to Snapshot Partners LLC, an investment group that, according to the “Snapped Up” article, was hired by Snapchat to acquire the leasehold interest in the building for $32 million in March 2016. The article also said that the site sits on separately deeded land and that Snapshot LLC is controlled by Cambra Realty’s Michael Schlesinger.

Then in January of 2017, Hancock Orange LLC acquired the property along with partner JSB Living Trust (Jonathon Brooks) and then took out a 20M credit a month later. Some believe that Hancock Orange is one of Snapchat’s capital partners or simply a shell company that is also controlled by Snap, Inc.

In February 2017, parking tenants of the building began sending their payments to Snapshot Partners LLC, with Lincoln Property Management overseeing management and operations.

And then in April of 2017, after trying to renew their lease in every way possible, The Freak Show was forced to close. The events leading up to the last days of The Freak Show are of typical developer/real estate conduct. Many months before when Ray tried to renew his lease, he was told from building management that Snapchat bought the building. Not only was he told that, but all the other businesses on the ground floor were told that. In addition, residents who live nearby that have inquired about monthly parking were also told that all the parking spaces, over 100 spots, were all for Snapchat even though most of them are sitting empty every single night. Despite everyone from neighboring tenants, parking lot attendants, building management, and immediate residents all pointing to Snapchat as the owner, Ray still couldn’t get in contact with anyone that actually owns the building for him to negotiate with as he begged management to at least let him stay through the summer months when the Freak Show makes most of their annual income. He was repeatedly denied and eventually even threated litigation if he stayed 1 day longer. Mysteriously, no one would admit to the ownership. All of this was going on while everyone knowing Snapchat’s desire to get in Jerde’s space and seeing them gobbling up property all over town. He was sending his checks to Snapshot Partners, LLC who claimed they have nothing to do with Snapchat and the similarity in name was a coincidence. In mid-March, Ray finally got a call from a representative of Snapchat claiming they have nothing to do with Snapshot Partners LLC and they can’t help him. Ray referenced the “Snapped Up” article and the Snapchat representative told him “not everything in that article was 100% true.” Ray even told the Snapchat representative he would use his platform to praise Snapchat if they could help him to stay, but obviously to no success.

Ray was obviously frustrated and also concerned about his many employees who are specialists and would all be out of work, not to mention everything he put his heart and soul into for the last 12 years. Snapchat continued to deny anything to do with SnapShot Partners or the lease of The Freak Show and even put out a statement in the press relieving themselves of any responsibility saying Snapchat sub-leases a space on the third floor of the same building as The Freak Show, but the company does not own the building, “nor do we have any leasing rights to the ground floor retail,” the statement reads. “We have already said publicly that we intend to focus our future expansion outside of Venice.” Snapchat, as mentioned earlier, is the only one that claim that they do not own or have controlled interest in the building, yet all the retail stores, parking lot guys and security guards all claimed they do (and still do currently). In addition, immediate neighbors were told Snapchat owns the building and also Jerde who have been in lengthy legal battles trying to remain in that location. Some people within the community, including law enforcement and other local press outlets, just blindly believed Snapchat’s statement … simply because that’s what THEY said.

When the Freak Show closed, it was the talk of the town for many reasons and there was a lot of emotion from many people. It’s safe to say the most popular reaction was one of shock. The Freak Show was far from just another business on Ocean Front Walk. It’s hard to estimate, but it’s safe to say hundreds of thousands attended the show from all over the world and the loss of this local entity hit many people hard. On Sunday April 30th, the Freak Show had its farewell party complete with everything you would expect – live performances, local deejay music, stilt walkers, a wedding ceremony, and an influx of community love and support along with protestors holding signs that said “Snapshot = Snapchat”. Thousands of locals and tourists witnessed this event along with vast media coverage from all outlets. It was a day to be remembered unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. For many, this realization was a wake-up call to what’s been going on in Venice the last few years – that the “Snap-Effect” was in full force.

After the Freak Show left, local egotistical real estate developer and Snapchat-property owner Brad Neal of Gold Coast Properties insisted the protesters were wrong about everything and started boasting on social media that a restaurant was going to take over the ground floor – which of course never happened.

Which leads us to the latest title-holder Hancock Orange LLC which many believe is a shell company that is controlled by Snap Inc. “The fact that the lease-holders name coincidentally is Snapshot pretty much says it all” says a longtime local that lives behind the building, “Not to mention the continued ploys and constant refusal to publicly disclose true ownership.” In another conversation with a Snap Inc. representative, they said “We do not own that building. We have no business relationship with Snapshot Partners or Hancock Orange, other than being a tenant in a building that they own.” So… who do you believe: A billion-dollar company who has no logos on any of their numerous buildings and whose business model is built around secrecy or… literally everyone else?

Fast forward about 9 months after The Freak Show was ousted and everyone has been kicked out of the building EXCEPT for Snapchat, even though they continue to tell the press and community that they’re moving everyone to Santa Monica. Jerde Partnership is packing their bags and all that is left are “For Lease” signs in the ground floor windows. Where the liveliness of The Freak Show used to be is now a ghost town and Todd Ray is still looking for a new venue, hopefully in Venice. Some will say this is “progress” but how is “progress” pushing out beloved world-renown businesses and replacing them with a sign?? Undoubtedly, the community will watch that building very closely and have strong feelings about its future changes. It’s been rumored a Starbucks may go into the ground floor which would be worse than an Adidas Store saying they’re “Defining Venice” and would undoubtedly instigate another protest of some sort. A common thought in Venice is that there is an ordinance prohibiting national chains on Ocean Front Walk. That is unconfirmed as of the writing of this article.

Another issue within that building that deserves attention is the underground parking. Before the building was built, the California Coastal Commission designated 41 lower-level spaces in that building to be used on a lease-basis by residents of the North Venice area. Now, only 1 resident is known to be using those parking spaces while the lot basically sits empty every single night and other residents are forced to park on the street. More than a few residents were blatantly told to their faces that all the parking spaces were for Snapchat, and Snapchat employees have been seen parking there and then walking to other nearby buildings that Snapchat uses for offices. Phone calls are never returned when calling Peg Hale at Lincoln Parking at 310-393-4848 or they simply state that “parking is not available” and they supposedly put your name on a list. The California Coastal Commission and local law enforcement have done nothing to uphold this law that they designed over 30 years ago despite multiple phone calls and emails from the residents and the press in the past year.

And now, the big question after all of this is – will Snapchat take over Jerde’s vacated space or are they really moving to Santa Monica like they say they are? So far, their “moving” only looks like an expansion. Only a week ago, another person who works inside the building was asked if Snapchat was moving into Jerde’s space and their response was, “They own the building – what do you think?”

The Freak Show building is like the Alamo. Winning over that building is a big win for Venice. And the community wants it like it was before – without the hated Snapchat, with parking spots used for residents as they’re legally supposed to be, and the ground floor with mom & pop stores in addition to The Freak Show which was a perfect location for them. If it turns into a 100% Snapchat building with parking used only for their employees, and national chains or empty storefronts on the ground floor, it will almost be like our Venice has been lost forever to the Evil Empire of the tech world. It’s in the heart of Ocean Front Walk and is very sensitive to the residents given the recent history, and it will most certainly be watched very closely by our inquisitive community. The community watch on this building is so heightened that on January 31st, 2018 when the railings in the front were being painted a horrid Snapchat yellow and word spread around town, they were immediately painted back to white the following day.
And much like anything else the rumors are still flying, and many times, where there’s smoke there is fire. There was the Starbucks rumor, plus another rumor that Google bought the building and planned on bringing back The Freak Show. Then another anonymous source within the building stated that Snap Inc just bought the entire building with cash in mid-January 2018. Not surprisingly, a Snapchat representative denied that was true. The drama continues…

Remember the Alamo? Sure, but also Remember Jerde and remember The Freak Show.

Love For The Oakwood Church Continues

Venice Beachead - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 07:32

By Jon Wolff

The following is from a recent conversation with Venice Elder, Jataun Valentine about the fight to preserve the historic First Baptist Church on Westminster Avenue and 7th Avenue in the Oakwood Community in Venice.

Jataun Valentine: I was raised here in Venice. There’s a lot of History in Venice. I think that needs to be preserved. Especially something like First Baptist Church because it’s a black church and it’s been here for a while and a lot of people put their sweat into it. A lot of people. When it was a small church, the congregation got bigger. They put up their houses for deeds to get the church built. I think it’s a shame what’s happening now. It’s just being handled like it’s nothing. The Holmeses and the other people really put their heart and soul into it. It needs to be preserved. It needs to be told.

Jon Wolff: Yes. And the new owners and the Venice Neighborhood Council have plans to turn it into a single-family home.

JV: Now, the way the Neighborhood Council is, they’re not what you’d call the Heart of Venice. They don’t really know the History. Nor do they care. And too many things are going before them that they’re voting for, for the developers. I think things like the church need to be saved.

JW: Definitely. What would you say to the ones who bought it now? What would you ask for them to do?

JV: I would ask for them to find out if it was bought legally. That’s a concern of a lot of people.

JW: There’s evidence that it might have been a fraudulent sale.

JV: If it was, I would ask them to back off and admit that it was wrong and let it be a church.

JW: What other History can you tell about the church and about the area itself?

JV: Everybody knows who Irving Tabor was. And his wife, Ethel Tabor. She was one of the members from the very beginning. She put a lot of time and effort and money into the church. Like a lot of what I call the “Pioneers”. And it was a staple. It was something that was always respected. To the people that had lived here a long time, the First Baptist Church was their main hold.

JW: You’re related to the Tabors.

JV: Yes. My grandmother is a Tabor. Jenny Tabor, who is my grandmother, was Irving Tabor’s sister. Irving Tabor went on to become Abbot Kinney’s chauffeur. And also a friend. Even though California wasn’t a slave state, Abbot Kinney never stayed at a place where Irving Tabor couldn’t stay when they were travelling and going to different places. Irving Tabor was a businessman too. All the Tabors and the sisters, they all ended up having a trade. In fact, my grandmother’s husband was Alphonse Joseph Henry. That’s my grandfather. He was the first black cement contractor. Irving Tabor found a way to have a place for the family to stay. Because remember, it was covenanted then that the blacks were all on certain streets. The church has always been a mainstay, especially for the black people going way back into slavery. It was one of the mainstays. Everybody has always had respect for the First Baptist Church and all of the churches that are around here.

JW: What do you think makes it so easy for the new owners to just paint over all that History?

JV: Well, they don’t really know the History and they don’t want to hear it. They don’t try to find out. It’s just a building; it’s not a church, something to be respected and to worship in.

JW: What do you think it will take to change their minds?

JV: If they know the truth and if they listen. That’s why, every Sunday, someone is down there at First Baptist Church to let them know what’s going on.

JW: And all the people that are passing by every Sunday get the information.

JV: They’re getting the information and, hopefully, the ones that own it now will find out if it was bought illegally.

JW: Maybe more and more people in Venice that learn about this will make a difference. And they can come out for the events at the Venice Library this month.

JV: We’ll continue doing things every Sunday down by the church. We’ll reach out with Black History Month there at the Library and they’ll go to the Library and ask questions.

JW: The gatherings on Sunday are getting stronger and more people know about it. We’re not slowing down.

JV: We can’t. That’s what they probably think we’ll do. People here in Venice usually keep on until there’s some sort of answer or conclusion. So we have to continue.

 

JW: Yes ma’am.

The Trans-National Alliance Constitution

Venice Beachead - Sat, 01/06/2018 - 12:20

by Pat Raphael

…then we saw Venice, and it was a good land, so we said let’s take this land. All while blazing a jay at the 420Box with a bunch tactical thinking strategists, spending more of the day than you might imagine, in deep thought about how to earn and keep their lot of this good land. These earnestly searching neighbors are creating the Trans-National Alliance, as a means to offer their great talents to Venice. Our creation is such a locally scalable way for the people to reclaim their inherent powers, that our conversations soon began to refer to the TNA as the fourth branch — the people’s branch. And that’s when the true strategy really became clear to me — it is “we” who are the “people”. That’s when I came to know that seeing the vast goodness of Venice, and desiring to be part of it, is not enough to have our lot in this good land. We also have to identify the great strongholds and powerful chiefs who now reign and occupy within the land, and as overcomers, wrest from them their grip that is leading our paradise away from it’s history and course of goodness.

The true strategy is to see what (or who) the vast and good land, over-flowing with such awesomeness, really is. Once we understand that great awesomeness is gushing out of every block of our seaside paradise because of people who fill these blocks, it becomes clear that the vast goodness of the land is contained within the vast goodness of Venetians. There was goodness in Abbott Kinney, a vast goodness in his vision to creating a cool and unique place for families to come and have a good time. History shows that the exact vision did not materialize as ol’ Abbott saw it, but he still left us a vast lineage of goodness as we see Venice morphed into becoming the people’s beach, highly influenced by the middle class black folks of Oakwood. The lineage was kept by these hard-working professionals and service employees (many in the swanky hotels and beach resorts of Santa Monica), who maintained and cultivated the vast goodness they inherited, by keeping a different character alive on this beach than the “feel” of SaMo to the north nor the vibe of that monied yacht life to the south in Marina del Rey. Then came the artists, the musicians, the poets and loud talkers, along with freaks from A to Z. And they brought with them their own vast goodness too; not finding a place anywhere else, yet here in Venice we found a spot for every misfit. It took years, going on like this, before they with all the dollars decided that they just had to buy up Venice. But the roots of goodness run deep here. So deep, that dollars can not come and easily transform or corrupt what generations of good people have built with their lives.

So if it’s the people who make up all that is good about Venice, we squeeze the greatest good out of Venice by creating conditions for more of the people to come together and act in unity. Pursuit of this unity, have left me sensitive to the influences and mindsets that make it impossible for us to achieve this unity. We are too often bound in powerlessness, and recognize that as long as we remain divided, we can never grow into any sort of effective operation of the great potential for good contained within our TNA. And this was the overarching goal of our alliance right at its inception — to unify our voice into a positive execution of our goodwill: an app that can tap into our power to do better, together. Standing in the way of this great good from taking place, are the great strongholds and powerful chiefs (now choking the good land with their occupation), that we must identify and overcome, so that in their absence, we can fully occupy and inherit this vast and good land of Venetians.

These powerful chiefs and strongholds now choking the good land, really do fully occupy the whole land. They have such a full lock on they land that they work together to support each other in maintaining a solidified grip over the whole land. Say a growing Venetian works to take ground of their good land, and begins to overcome some of these powerful chiefs… their reign is such that this growth is noted, and quick reinforcement is sent in other areas, so the land can continue and remain in full control of these powerful forces. Don’t forget, the land is the people, so the stronghold forces we describe here are mental conditions that reign as chief over how (even good) people think.

The first of these powerful forces, now choking the good land so that its vast goodness is not available for us to enjoy, reigning as chief over much our land is KING FEAR. This truly is the first strongholds to overcome. And these cats at the 42Box, a bunch of strategic tacticians, understand what a military stronghold is: it’s a fort from where the king’s Generals deploy their troops. So just imagine coming at you: fear of dying, fear of getting hurt, fear of missing out, fear of looking stupid, fear of the government coming to take your guns, fear of the white supremacist agenda (which deep down, is the fear of a black planet). Don’t forget the pesticides in the food chain, infections that resist antibiotics, the U.N. Troops, FEMA camps, climate change, and that angry orange finger on the button. Add to that, the fear of not being liked, fear of getting old, fear of making the wrong life choices, and on and on and on… The list of fears (as a negative emotion) that can occupy our mind, and leave less of our essence available for positive considerations, can go on forever. This truly is a hard stronghold to overcome, since fear keeps itself rooted in our psyche by making us feel like our survival depends on it — and we continue in fear, perversely thinking we would not be here, if we didn’t go around all scared… thus fulfilling a negative feedback loop. Fear leaves our nerves on edge, and keeps our minds working overtime as we seek a strategy to assuage or counter the involuntary live wire of negative poison fearfully flowing into our soul. And fear-rooted calculations to solve our problems, never seem to add up. Like fearful people talking loud and beating their chest about what they can do. More often, the louder the braggadocio, the more scared the shouter. And scared people are dangerously unpredictable — how often does that loud talkin’ actually makes a hearer afraid, and their reaction catches the loud talker off guard? It takes a level head to come out from under dominion of KING FEAR, but since much of what moves fear may be involuntary, the only attack on this chief, is to rightly place our fear on a proper outlet. All other fears begin to recede, when we learn to only fear God, and missing out on what God is doing in the land today. That one little adjustment in our outlet of fear will start us on a path of wisdom — the will to DO what we KNOW is right.

With fear reigning over much of the land, and nerves on edge from an endless stream of frights flowing in, we quickly cede some of the good land over to KING ANGER. Walk around afraid enough, for long enough, you will eventually become a mean and angry person. How can the Trans-National Alliance ever work together as a unified group of activists, if we are all short-fused and continually in angry contention with one another? I’ve seen first hand, in dialogue, how members who are on the same “team”, get so angry with one another that they start speaking to each other in the worst, most biting language they can come up with… then later to see them come back, and say they didn’t mean those angry things. Even if apologies are exchanged and we go on together, too often the shattered remains of anger can never fully be repaired. Just like fear-rooted calculations never seem to add up, you also can not think clearly, when thinking in anger. This is how we overcome our good land: we learn to take true stock of our mental state, and put positive effort to our intention of addressing the shortcomings we see.

Dealing with anger, we’ve come to see that this is a chief that can best be defeated with time on our side. When we get a stimulus that triggers our anger, growth in this area will teach us to do a mental 10-count before we respond. After that 10-count, even if we use the same initial words that came, a ‘lil time buffs out some of the sting in the delivery… and sometimes a 10-count gives us time to do a 20-count, which then tell us to sleep on it, before reacting. A response in the right time is often more measured and well thought out, then the blurt exploded out in anger. And don’t let one of these angry outbursts blow up when it is clearly seen that we are rightfully angered… if we’re not measured, nothing will survive our megatons of wrath… but in the aftermath, it’s never as satisfying as we sort through the rubles, huh? That’s why even when we are right, we gotta learn to forgive each other, rather than that easy, satisfying blow up.

Now we growin’! we are starting to rightly place our fears, and are taking control to properly react when anger stirs. We takin’ back more of that vast good land for positive use! Venice who have grown in these areas begin experiencing enough positive outcomes from their growth, that it is easy to get all puffed up, and think ourselves such exalted hot sh!t. This hard-to-spot stronghold manned by KING PRIDE is an operation obscured by deploying from behind the cover of perspective. Our I (our eye), can be so big, that we only see our own point of view — becoming egocentric. From there, it is just a few short hops, (like not being able to listen to others or only thinking about our own need), before ending up inside of everything-I-do-is-right town, a place where we are of little value to Venice… captured by this able General, deployed by KING PRIDE. This is also the tricky part of the good land, because it is so difficult to see our own I, from there we might get ambushed with thinking we are more special to God than anyone else, or have an indispensable piece that only I can deliver to the universe, or are connected to an inside track that gives special knowledge. If any ONE of us, have ALL that is right and good and true, we have no need for a TNA. We can only work together, if we can learn to overcome the instinct to only see me me me, and see we we we, through the humility of service.

We are not likely to overcome all of our land’s strongholds in one swoop, because there is just so much of that vast good land for us to grow in to. It takes patience time, for her to do her perfect work. As the TNA grows forth in Venice, we will come against, and defeat the stronghold of KING SELF-INTEREST. And we are an awesome good land, so we have tons of interest to man this fort. Our personal beauty, our personal possessions, our money, our houses, our cars, our kids, that killer smile, our opinions, our personal safety, our reputation, our self-respect… how dare they! don’t these asses know who I am! Real clear here we see, how troops from this barrack, man and reinforce the stronghold of pride, just when we thought humility had razed that high place low. Suddenly all of our identity is tied to the rise and fall of our personal self-interest, and we cut off much of the good land’s energy to occupy the pursuit to save this fort, using endless troops of worry on assignment from king fear, with our imagination in overdrive, all about how to keep the petty interests that we have accumulated. If fifteen of us join the alliance, and pursue fifteen sets of interests, we will probably get one-fifteenth of all those goals accomplished. We’ve come together to take the good land, because we want to be a part of the next greatness to happening here in Venice. By learning the balance that it takes to develop a measured equilibrium with all that we have accumulated, we will never be so tied to our small personal interest, that we lose sight of the big point of it all, which is to effect a greater good, together. The genius of the TNA is that it is a freewill association with no dues or taxing system, yet every service we seek to offer is totally free of charge. This model would be insolvent before it ever got established, if we were not in such a vast and good land, overflowing with so much excess capacity. In this the common interest grows, as members freely volunteer to the alliance, every need supplied.

The next stronghold to defeat is way out there, with a 360 view from every vantage to see any advancement and dig in a resistance: the stronghold of KING HYPER-INDEPENDENCE. The growth it takes to even have this as a foe, means that there is access to great capacity, since without that great capacity, we could not for long, think that we can do it all by ourselves. An overcomer who is gaining ground in their land — or whose soul is in the process of growth — attains a proportional personal gravitas that causes people to be drawn to that overcomer. In essence, growing leaves even more of the good land within our reach, to have and to manage. The trap at that point is to take a little clique of adoring fans, and make yourself a closed circle, and start building a kingdom unto you. But right from its start, the spirit that attracted me to the Trans-National Alliance, is its emphasis on the little guy, a branch for the people. We saw that the big corporations and the one-percenters had enough allies and outlets for their voice. We recognized that the only way for our voice to register is if we speak it together. But the price of tapping in to that invaluable synergy, is putting up with one another. And we are all here in Venice cause we grown… so who the hell can make us stay together if we don’t want to? In spite of all the great benefits we gain communally, who is willing to put up with the fiery stings that come with coexistence? It takes vision, learning to keep loving our thorny neighbors. But putting up with those stings lets us use each other as mirrors to see ourselves and measure our spiritual growth, granting our I the potent force of community, in the face off all that seeks to blindly keep us weak and separated.

The vastness of this good land can only be conquered by a people whose intellect is vast enough to contain the eternal wellspring flowing in abundance here. When life and experience has cause a person to become narrow, they bring that smallness with them to every outlook their perception conceives. With no vision (or a small vision) our mind creates a stronghold for KING IMAGINATION. Consider the imagination as an extension of the dream world, where we are master and creator and have every single power that real life does not now grant… what fun is it to live in THIS real world where life is stepping all over me, when I can remain in that mental place of my own creation where I reign supreme? In our imagination we can be in the past, in the future, in outer space, under the ocean, in the senate chambers — all while our full essence is needed right here, right now. Add to imagination pride or fear, we can make in our own mind, all types of preoccupations to lead us off a productive course. When our learning, and life experiences are all that informs imagination, keeping to our own counsel denies us access to valuable ideas that can broaden our own perspective. That’s why we have to replace the idle churning of imagination with the focused determination of a common vision. Just like an imbalanced attachment to my small personal interest leads only to me me me, a narrow focus only on the mental movie that I am directing will only shows I eye I. When we crack a blunt at the 420Box, and begin to dialogue about where we see this Venicessance that we envision is taking us, the disparate divergence of our imagination which forks into so many branches begin to converge into a common vision… Only dialogue can.do this work, but only if we learn to listen and open ourselves the value of each other’s counsel.

We advance on, to arrive at the stronghold of KING LOGIC. A mind full of reason, will justify their every action with that slippery self-centered logic. All of the sudden, faults that we would crucify another for, finds a logical reason for why it’s okay, when they are found in me. This fort becomes even more secure when it is operating in the mind of a high IQ. Logic is a product of our preconditioning, and is powered by the judge of our conscience. A lifetime of thinking for our own good may leave us unaccustomed to thinking for the common good. When logic is thinking for self, we are unable (or become unwilling), to make that faith leap into seeing why “we” should matter to “me”. It gets downright counter-intuitive and illogical (in our selfish mind), to develop the pure reasoning that informs us to take care of our own small needs, by devoting our energy to solving our bigger collective needs. And this last fort to overcome, can not be taken be force. Selfish logic can only topple and fall when we willingly go past all our reasons to be small, and still grow on to we.

The  is the sum of all who choose to contribute energy to our goals, plus that synergistic margin added only when we make up our minds to stay together. Access to this synergy has eluded us thus far, and every fit and start that falls apart, only drains more from us the will to try again. Many thanks to Bro Lyonel Joseph for his study, “Defeating the Seven Canaanite Nations”, which lists the strongholds detailed above. These were just ideas in notes, until Venice offered me a real world look at the kings and strongholds in operation in my life, and in our group dynamics. The first audience for the essayist is always the writer himself. It is easy to see the failings that others don’t measure up in, while we go on oblivious to our own condition. Knowledge of these kings should let us understand that we are all ruled (to varying degrees) by all of these forces — though we each may see one or two of them that may be a bigger defining stronghold to overcome. For me, I am dealing with (and striving to overcome) these too — paying close attention to the internal forces that pull me apart from the strength of community, and the selfish logic I use to justify remaining in that condition. When I read Wendell Berry’s “In Distrust of Movements” I quickly see that the TNA is an operation happening on the INSIDE of the members. Venice has shown that instead of creating a movement, with some stale documents and organizational hierarchy, seeking the big operational budget; it must be people’s hearts that lead them to act from a purer place of love. I look forward, in 2018, to seeing what awesome ways we fulfill our heart.

Happy New Year!

Draining Ballona Wetlands Stopped by Coastal Commission

Venice Beachead - Sat, 01/06/2018 - 12:08

By John Davis

Finally, after decades of environmental abuse, the California Coastal Commission put a stop to draining the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. The proponents of the garguantuan Playa Vista Project installed the illegal drains over a decade ago.
It appears the developer wanted to degrade the value of one of the last vestages of freshwater coastal wetlands in the State by drying them out so it could build a private flood control system. The claimed reason was the wetlands were so badly damaged, they would have to be restored. But restoration was not the true plan, it was to build a private flood control system, euphmisticlay named the Freshwater Marsh System, and it was not finished.

Now, the State Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) is recycling the same sorry lie again in its current plans. This is the case of a fireman starting a fire and then reporting it. It should not happen this way, and the public should not be duped again. What is currently being branded a wetlands restoration is not that at all, it is a creation of something new that was not there before, and it is illegal to do that according to the California Coastal Act.

The State purchased the land West of Lincoln Blvd from Playa Vista, but then allowed the massive development to continue using it for a private purpose, with no benefit to the public. It was cleverly disguised as a benefit to nature. In reality, the Playa Vista Development has been draining the wetlands upstream by pumping public ground water into the sewer and directly into Ballona Creek, disallowing recharge of the water table.
It is illegal to draw down groundwater beyond its historic average according to the State Water Code, but this appears to be exactly what the developers and elected officials have been hiding from the public. In long droughts such as the one California is now experiencing, groundwater can be used for public purposes, but not if it is flushed down the sewer by a private business to the detriment of the owners of the water, the people of the State of California.

The sad truth is elected officials, like LA Council Member Mike Bonin, who was there at the beginning in 1991, acting as Chief of Staff for then Council Member Ruth Galanter, have perpetuated this legacy of deception into real-time.

Other elected State representatives have all helped hide it too. Currently, paid employees of the State Lands Commission (SLC) and Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) are deeply involved in the cover-up. Both agencies own part of the flood control project. And, both are now trying to assist the developers in doing it again, in order to complete the unfinished private flood control system on purpose on public land.

In order to accomplish this despicable act, SLC Executive Officer Jennifer Lucchesi is remaining quiet and DFW Executive Director Charles Bonham claims that the wetlands are so degraded they need to be restored. Both are now responsible for maintaining this false claim to the public.

After a local non-profit, Grassroots Coalition, sued and beat DFW in court, the agency was forced to apply for a Coastal Development Permit to cease the drainage. To avoid the inevitable, Executive Director Charles Bonham’s staff lied on the application claiming the drains were not in a wetland. Adding insult to injury, the Developers of the Playa Vista Project submitted fraudulent methane, groundwater, and wetland delineation reports to the Commission.

The Long Beach staff of the Commission, Teresa Henry and Mandy Revelle did everything they could to assist the cover-up by claiming the Developers submitted those reports on behalf of the State, which was patently false. Staff of that office have been directly engaged in the deception since 1991. This is the power of money speaking.
However, in December, the Coastal Commissioners recognized the nefarious assertions of its own staff and ruled against what DFW Director Charles Bonham wanted. They unanimously required the offender to immediately place a cap on the drains to stop continuing damage to the resource and to prepare an Environmental Impact Report in 180 days, so the drains could be completely removed.

Kevin Taki, the attorney for DFW begged the Commission to wait until the new process to “restore” (DESTROY), the wetlands was under way and then take them out.
Commissioners then asked him how long it would take, and all he could do was trip over his own tongue, trying to provide an answer.

All Commissioners then agreed that draining the wetlands for over-twenty years was enough, and the structures had to be removed. This has rocked the plans to finish the private flood control project on public lands because the DFW failed to even acknowledge the drains were there in its current proposal.

Now, this new honest process will legally interfere in the dishonest plans the Playa Vista Developer, SLC, and DFW have worked so hard to promote for the last five years, by revealing the truth to the public. The proposed “restoration” constitutes a gift of public funds prohibited by the State Constitution and the Coastal Act disallows creation of a big hole and 40ft levees along Lincoln and Jefferson Blvd to replace existing wetlands.

DFW then tried to foist its last desperate argument, and said it would cost too much to comply with the law. None of the Coastal Commissioners bought it. The Executive Director of the Commission, John Ainsworth, finally said what was on his mind, that the DFW should sue the Playa Vista Developers to get the money to pay for removing the drains, since that private business built the illegal pipes in the first place. In this case, speaking truth to power really worked.

Grassroots Coalition Website – SaveBallona.Org

THE FIGHT FOR THE OAKWOOD CHURCH CONTINUES

Venice Beachead - Sat, 01/06/2018 - 11:51

By Jon Wolff

The following is from a recent conversation with Venice Activist, Naomi Nightingale about the fight to preserve the historic First Baptist Church on Westminster Avenue and 7th Avenue in the Oakwood Community in Venice.

Naomi Nightingale: The church has always been a part of Venice. It’s been here ever since I was a part of Venice. The church, which was across the street, was a smaller church of Reverend Holmes. I visited that church on a number of occasions. The church and its members were people who lived in Venice, residents. The congregation outgrew the church and moved across the street and it’s been there ever since.

Jon Wolff: The location of the present building.

NN: Right. So, it was just like stepping from one side of the house to the other side of the house.

JW: The church has been there for over a century now. The Foundation of the church has been there for that long.

NN: Right. 1912, I believe.

JW: What is going on right now?

NN: I know Reverend Horace Allen. I know him from when he started working at the church because he was involved in a lot of the community meetings that I was involved in. We worked on the Police Community Relations Committee, so I know him from there.

JW: He’s the pastor of the congregation that met in the church building?

NN: Right. Now he’s called a bishop. I don’t know how that name change occurred but I knew him as Reverend Horace Allen. He came out of Los Angeles. I think the Compton/Watts area. And he was initially requested to be the pastor of the church. There were many pastors at the church after Reverend Holmes passed away. Mrs. Holmes was the CEO of the church and she’s the one who made the decisions about who the pastor would be, along with the Board of Directors of the church.

JW: And the current situation with the church is that it was sold to new owners?

NN: As I understand it, the church has been sold. Fraudulently sold, because Horace Allen did not have ownership or legal authority to sell the church.

JW: The legal authority… That would be with the Trustees?

NN: With the Trustees. With having the deed. With having the legal authority that was granted, not only by the Trustees, but by Mrs. Holmes.

JW: And in the bylaws of the church itself.

NN: Right. And when did the transaction occur? How did it occur? Was it legal? I understood, that because they were feeding homeless people there, that Horace Allen had some of the individuals sign as if they were on the Board, that they were members of the church. And that was one way that he was able to move through some of the legal processing. But I don’t know that they ever did any title changes or looked into the titles to find out who the legal owners were. I understand that this is something that the court is looking into now. My position about the church is from its historical, social, and legacy standing in the Community. I don’t know who they want to say owns the church. The fact to me is that the church should not be torn down, demolished, or… what’s the other word?
JW: “Re-purposed” is the word they use.
NN: “Re-purposed” for residential use or a use other than that which serves the Community, which is why it’s there in the first place.
JW: Absolutely. How it got there in the first place.
NN: And so, any movement on the part of anyone to make this into a residential building or a commercial operation or to remove it and put anything else there is what I am fighting against. That’s my ultimate position: that the church needs to still be there for the purpose for which it was built in the first place. I see too much of Structure, Culture, and Legacy of the Black Community, and other people who built this Community, simply removed as if it never existed, and substituted by a two-story or three-story concrete glass-fronted building and, most of the time, sold. There’s the footprint, the imprint, the Legacy of those people, like my grandparents and other people’s grandparents, that worked hard to build this Community. They made a Legacy here to give us stories to tell about how we grew up here and the things that we went through, the schools that we went to, the events that we had. The annual activities became a part of where we are, and many of them occurred right here in this church.
JW: Do you think that some individuals would like to erase all that right now?
NN: I think they don’t care. I think they don’t have a clue. It doesn’t matter to them. And that’s the real crime. Another real crime is from Horace Allen because he knows all of that. He was here in this Community for a number of years. He served on committees. He interacted with people. He knows those things. So, for him to set them aside, and for him to sell out the Community in the way that, apparently, he has, is disgraceful.
JW: And, most likely, fraudulent.
NN: Fraudulent. That’s the reason why it’s in court right now.
JW: It looks like the people on the side of preserving the church, the good guys, have a good chance of having the sale declared fraudulent.
NN: Oh, I believe they do. My understanding is that there is no document that legally says that Horace Allen had a right to sell the building.
JW: In the meantime, there have been gatherings in front of the church every week, every Sunday, plus the big one that happened on Saturday a couple of weeks ago.
NN: December 9, yes.
JW: We had a number of speakers that day.
NN: We did. We had some great speakers that day.
JW: You spoke yourself.
NN: I did speak that day. But I speak just about every Sunday. That day, Dennis Moore spoke.
JW: And Pastor Rhone.
NN: Yes. Pastor Rhone was our keynote speaker that day. Pastor Rhone grew up in this Community, and so he had a lot to say. I remember the key part of his address was that: if the Foundation be destroyed, then what can the righteous people do? That resonated with me deeply because I think that those of us who continue to come out every Sunday are representing the righteous people. Because our effort is to ensure that the Foundation of that church still remains, that the church still stands.
JW: And, in turn, the Foundation of the Community.
NN: Absolutely.
JW: Do you think that this is part of a larger picture? Is this happening because it’s part of a larger effort to upset the History of this Community?
NN: Oh yeah, definitely. I think it goes back many years and it’s part of the City’s long reach plan. Part of the City’s 30-year plan was to get to exactly where they are, in terms of Venice being a greater tax base for the City. It stood to reason that this Community, as it was, with low and middle income people living here, a diverse Community, shouldn’t stay as it was for very long, with Santa Monica to our north and Marina del Rey to the south. Here sits this little beachfront Community. That’s a prize.
JW: But the efforts on Sunday and the efforts in the Community are gaining strength right now. What outcome do you see for this in the long run? Does it look like we have Hope to turn this around at this point?
NN: I never give up Hope. Because I’m a person of the 60s, and you just keep fighting. Even when the days look dark, that is not something that deters you, because you know that you can continue to fight and move through the darkness. I think that there’s Hope. And we’ve already started talking about what we would like to see happen in that church as a result of it remaining there, and what kinds of services would the church provide to the Community. There really isn’t a nice place to have Community events. You could have family events, family reunions, Christmas events, things like that. We don’t have a really nice place. Perhaps the church could be used for events like that.
JW: The projected use for this building is for a single family dwelling. And it’s something like 13,000 square feet. Is that right?
NN: That’s what I’ve heard. And that they would be using all four lots, which is prohibited by City Planning. How would they do that unless they got a waiver? We know that the City’s not beyond giving waivers. Neither is the Coastal Commission. Neither is the Venice Neighborhood Council. After all, the Venice Neighborhood Council voted to approve the sale of the church. So, how are they in support of the Community? I think it’s incredible, reprehensible, and absolutely… I can’t even really find the words.
JW: Anti-social maybe?
NN: I think it’s deeper than being anti-social. It’s like taking a piece of the Community that’s been a vital organ to the Community and throwing it away on the surgeon’s table. They can’t continue to just drive through the Community with their bulldozers and their million dollars and say, “You don’t matter. Your voices are put aside and the Legacy that you want to leave here in the Community is meaningless.” This is best demonstrated by the City agencies that should be looking out for us. They see the new sources and say that they need the tax base and that this is going to be a better look and an upgrade and, besides, you people don’t really need to live here, you can’t afford to live in this Community anymore. What I hear over and over again is that it’s “Supply and Demand” that’s driving it. Well, whose supply and whose demand?
JW: We’re gathering support in the Community. More and more, there are people walking by on Sunday and finding out what’s going on and picking up literature.
NN: Right. And contacting us on Facebook. The more we can get people to come and hear what’s going on and to spread the word and tell the stories, and the more we can contact people who are no longer living here in the Community but who are part of the church and who grew up here and are concerned about what’s going to happen to the church, the greater is our strength. Then, of course, with our endurance, we’ll continue to fight.
JW: What sort of leverage do you think we have with local government? Like say, Councilmember Bonin? Is he going to take notice at some point? I know he was confronted a few months ago about this. If people call his office, will he be inclined to take a position?
NN: I think he’s a political person, so he is swayed by voters and pressure. We have to keep the pressure on. We have to give him good cause and reason as to why he should be supporting us. I believe that we’ll continue to provide him with information and put pressure on him. And we’re also going to include talking to Sheila Kuehl.
JW: Get the County involved in this.
NN: Absolutely.
JW: There’s a good chance we’ll get what we want with this then.
NN: I have to believe that we’re going to get what we want. I can not believe anything else at this point. I know that we’re making some headway because we’re getting all kinds of accusations levied against us by those who support the sale and purchase of the church. So, we must be getting on someone’s nerves.
JW: They’re starting to kick because we’re making a difference.
NN: We’re making a difference and they’re getting a little nervous about what kind of inroads we might be making.
JW: I get the feeling that they, and the VNC, think that they were going to do what they wanted to do more quickly than they have and, because the Community’s fought back on so many issues, they’re starting to realize that they may have bit off more than they can chew.

NN: I think that the absence of voices at the Venice Neighborhood Council, for a term, has falsely encouraged them to think that no one cared, or that they weren’t going to have the kind of pushback or power, influence of action, that they are now experiencing. I served on the Venice Neighborhood Council for two terms, and that Board, that Council, has made a 180 degree turn. To me, they’re all focused on self. It’s about the money for them. And that the Venice Neighborhood Council was just an avenue for them to embellish their own private practices and network opportunities with the City and other entities, to help them gain what they needed to gain profit-wise. I don’t see anyone on that Neighborhood Council right now, that I could say, was absolutely for the People.

JW: And there are currently zero African-American members of the VNC.

NN: Absolutely true.

JW: Less than zero.

NN: And we’re looking to see if we can change that.

JW: So, the future is in our hands perhaps.

NN: Yeah. As far as the Venice Neighborhood Council is concerned.

JW: As far as Venice.

NN: As far as Venice is, absolutely. We’re here. We’re part of the current. We’ve been part of the past. And we will definitely be part of the future.

JW: Amen to that.

NN: Amen to that.

For more info on this: http://www.savevenice.me


Also, contact Councilman Bonin at: councilmember.bonin@lacity.org
and Supervisor Kuehl at: sheila@bos.lacounty.gov

March for Humanity on MLK’s Birthday!

Venice Beachead - Sat, 01/06/2018 - 11:20
MONDAY, JANUARY 15 @ 8:30 AM – 1:30 PM – Western and MLK Jr. Blvd. Los Angeles.

Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition of Greater LA in partnership with the Poor People’s campaign will be marching for Human Rights Issues in the Los Angeles Kingdom Day Parade.  Healthy California Campaign coalition have been asked to join them as they march the route. Let’s show our solidarity and join the Kingdom Day 33rd Annual Parade spreading the message of Healthcare for All & SB562 the HealthyCA Act.

Parade Start Point: Western and MLK Jr. Blvd. Los Angeles. Meet up point to be determined.  Please RSVP  to the FB event page so we know how many participants will attend.

Show your determination to resist police brutality, war, anti-Black, anti-Brown, anti-Muslim, anti-Indigenous and anti-Immigrant hatred, attacks on women, the LGBT communities, the poor, the homeless, the elderly, working people, youth and the environment!

Mark one full year of mass resistance to the Trump regime’s efforts to roll back civil and human rights across the board in the interests of racism and corporate power!
Join with the Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater Los Angeles and other civil and human rights advocates in expressing our on-going commitment to establishing and maintaining full social, economic and political justice for all!

Help us to alert our communities, at large, to the coming of the New Poor People’s Campaign and Moral Revival Movement this spring! More details will be posted soon!
— MLK Coalition Coordinating Committee.

Endorsing organizations to date:

MLK Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, Global Women’s Strike, Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace LA, Topanga Peace Alliance, San Fernando Valley Peace Alliance, LA Laborfest, SoCal350, Common Peace, Center for the Advancement of Nonviolence, CODEPINK, Peace and Freedom Party Los Angeles.

The MLK Coalition’s Justice Agenda for 2018 includes the following:

1. End Excessive Use of Police Force: Prosecute Killer Cops (Black Lives Matter!)

2. End Mass Incarceration and Criminalization of Communities of Color: We Want Education, Not Mass Incarceration!

3. Healthcare Access for ALL: We Support Medicare, Medicaid, Single Payer Healthcare and Expanded Public Health Services!

4. Decent and Affordable Housing for ALL: Expand Rent Controls; End Gentrification, Displacement & Homelessness in Our Communities!

5. Defend the Civil and Human Rights Gains of Communities of Color, Women, and LGBTQ People. Defend the Sovereignty, Cultural and Treaty Rights of Native Americans. Massive and Immediate Aid and Reconstruction Assistance to the Island of Puerto Rico. Adopt a Just Immigration Policy — End ICE Raids and Deportations of Immigrants!

6. New Jobs, New energy and A New Economy: Fight Global Warming and Climate Distortions, End Fossil Fuel Dependence, Support A Massive Public Investment in Energy Conversion and Jobs for a Green Economy!

7. Tax the Corporations: Reverse the Republican Tax Grab!

8. Raise the Minimum Wage in the Marketplace, Establish A National Minimum Family Income Policy: Defend Workers’ Rights In the Workplace and in the Community — Recognize the Value of Domestic Care, Child-Rearing, Labor in the Home as well as Labor in the Marketplace.

9. Abolish war and militarism, in all its manifestations, both at home and abroad.
If your organization would like to participate or endorse this event please post directly on this event page or send a private message to Kathleen Hernandez on Facebook.

Moe Stavnezer – Presenté

Venice Beachead - Sat, 01/06/2018 - 11:01

 

Moe Stavnezer was a tireless fighter for a Venice which is now gone but not yet forgotten.

It was a Venice which was a counter cultural mecca, a community of small individual two story or 24 foot high homes and duplexes, of homeowners with small incomes, working stiffs, professionals and students who voted Democrat or Progressive, or Peace and Freedom , of a community which was tolerant and supportive of dissent and outright opposition to moneymaking, greed, exploitation and racial and gender chauvinism. He wanted to see a Venice embedded in the City of Los Angeles, not an independent municipality of Venice (he had no faith that such a model could long survive in a hostile political environment where property rights trumped what he saw as ‘human rights’), but one with very significant autonomy, particularly in the crucial areas of physical development — de-emphasize new commercial construction, emphasize existing rent control on existing housing,and construction of new affordable housing.

Moe was instrumental, along with Lance Diskan, Jim Bickhart and myself in creating the North Beach Planning Task Force (about 1972), an alliance of small holders and Venice activists who were associated with the Beachhead, the Venice Town Council, and an
amorphous group called ‘Free Venice (Steve Claire, Bob Wells, Rick Davidson, Barbara Avedon, and others) who focused on trying to stop the re-development and gentrification of the North Beach area of Venice by actively working within the public planning process of the City of Los Angeles to set and hold to standards which restricted such redevelopment and also extensively and incessantly used the Coastal Act of 1976 and appeals to the Coastal Commission to stop the juggernaught of over-development. This North Beach Planning Task force was very successful and soon became the chief vehicle which the Venice Town Council (pre-cursor of the Venice Neighborhood Council) used to hold off gentrification and over-development all over Venice.

This Venice political alliance was very successful between 1976 and 1990 in ‘keeping Venice Venice’ and for about 15 years we all worked shoulder to shoulder to make this happen. In the end however this effort proved unable to hold back the tide and energetic vitality of real estate speculation (the lure of ‘filthy lucre’) particularly in the coastal zone of the westside.

Moe of course was also a big time environmentalist and well known among environmental activists in Southern California, and a big time supporter of rent control (I was not one of those people) but I will leave it to others to paint that picture of Moe and flesh it out. Moe is now gone, but he will not be forgotten. When Jim Smith finishes his work on Venice (focused on ‘gentrification’ I hear), Moe will certainly occupy an important place.

Arnold Springer Venice

MOE STAVNEZER, YOUR SPIRIT IS FREE

by Olga Palo

Moe Stavnezer, Venice resident, dedicated community activist and former Beachhead collective member during the 70s-80s died on December 28, 2017.

Moe came to Venice around 1970. As an energetic community activist, he contributed to the local Venice anti-development, affordable housing activism of those decades. In fact, his true dedication was to preserve Venice as a California coastal community that afforded poor and working class people accessibility to coastal living. In support of that vision, he also organized local support for the passage of the California Coastal Act which established the California Coastal Commission. He also worked for rental control in Santa Monica.

He was the pharmacist at Val’s Pharmacy on the Windward Circle for at least a decade.
As an avid writer, his articles appeared regularly on the pages of the Beachhead, informing readers of the activities of the many people who, at that time, tried to stem the impending tidal wave threatening to drown the funky kaleidoscope of humanity which was Venice. Moe’s perspective was always an endorsement of diversity, environmental preservation, affordability.

“Venice, your spirit is free” Moe would recognize that graffiti sentiment from an era of people’s struggle in Venice. Now Moe, your spirit is free.

Moe Stavnezer – 1949-2018

Activist, former Beachhead Collective member, and VCH founder, has passed on.
He was Treasurer of Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters. Below we quote from their website.

“Moe Stavnezer’s activism in California began as a member of the Venice Town Council and with the passage of Proposition 20 (The Coastal Act) in 1972. He appeared before the Coastal Commission numerous times as an advocate for affordable housing, coastal access, community preservation, and the protection of natural resources. For that work, in 1978, Moe was honored with an “Award of Merit” by the State of California. He was also a founder and board member of two statewide coastal organizations, PACE (People, Access, Coastal Environment) and the League for Coastal Protection that advocated for a variety of issues before the Coastal Commission and in the courts, most especially regarding the Ballona Wetlands.

In the 1980’s, Moe was a founder and board member of Heal the Bay, where he served as Vice President, and the Venice Community Housing Corporation, where he served as President. He also served on various boards of the Liberty Hill Foundation, including the Environmental Justice Board and the Board of Directors. Moe was also a founder of the Santa Monica Fair Housing Alliance, and Santa Monicans for Renters Rights which advocated for and won rent control in that city. In 1987, he was a member of the steering committee in the successful campaign to elect Ruth Galanter to the L.A. City Council. Moe has served on the LALCV board for over 20 years, including five years as President and currently as Treasurer.

Moe graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1963 where he earned a Bachelors degree in Pharmacy and still works as a Pharmacist. He earned a Masters degree in Political Science from California State University, Los Angeles in 1972. In 1992, Moe was selected to participate in the UCLA Community Scholars program where he co-authored a paper on manufacturing products from recycled materials.”

 

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