Statue of Imitation
By Carol Fondiller
It must have been a slow news day for the L.A. Times on Saturday, April 16th, when it ran one of it's boiler plate "oh those Wacky Venetians" stories on the front page. Below the fold, but definitely on the Front Page.
This time, it was about the objections of the Venice Community to the placing of a torso on the Venice Traffic Circle. And as usual those funny zanies at the Times missed the point.
The point missed was a lack of process in the choice of art work, and the perception that if one were famous enough and had rich patrons, one could dump anything they wanted in Venice.
Were certain that Robert Graham is a sensitive artist. And, he is a resident of Venice.
But, just because he is an artist and therefore has elevated sensibilities does not mean that he or any other artisty-poo that inhabits Venice has get a right to shove his stuff on Venice. That Damned Masonic Symbol at the end of Windward Avenue is bad enough.
And bad enough is the fact that the statue is a legless armless headless torso but what's a memorial to Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, got to do with Venice?
Suddenly Mr. Doumani, a Peninsula resident, promises several hundred thousand dollars for this statue and the cash strapped city - can't afford beach benches - comes across with some matching funds. When people objected to the lack of process, they were threatened with the withholding of any more artworks in the future. Well if you bad little children dont like oatmeal, you wont get any more food in the future.
It isnt as if people in Venice didn't have Visions about what to do about the traffic circle. In previous issues of the Beachhead, many creative and wonderful ideas about how to make the circle outstanding were published. And the Beachhead is certain there are more innovative ideas out there.
But the process was ignored, and about six business people who form the circle business association decided what they wanted, and bedazzled by Mr. Graham's fame, accepted the torso statue.
But in a renaissance style mix of expensive art and high politics the L.A. Times pursued the matter in an attempt to shame the people of Venice. Venice aint what it was, the editorial (Thursday, April 21) claimed, no more free thinkers and diversity. Just soaring property values and gentrification.
The Times said that the protest was over morality rather than quality. No, not necessarily. It was a matter of having an art thing dropped in the middle of downtown Venice that didnt involve the community, nor did it represent the community. The proposed statue isn't even an original work. It looks like a knock-off of statues that he did that litter Beverly Hills.
A Little Bit of Amsterdam
By Bram Toker
The other day, a headline in the L.A. Times caught my eye. City to Limit Pot Clubs. said my recent acquaintance, I didnt even know there were any in SoCal! I thought only those lucky folks up north were civilized enough to have them. I read further into the articleno phone number, no address for any pot club.
I was about to dismiss the article as pure fabrication like the spate of young writers who made up their news stories. I reread the article, looking for clues. No, the club owners claimed they were closing a public service, made regulations; no toking on the premises or in ones car, no loitering or merchandising any other pharmaceuticals.
I interrupted my acquaintance, So are the pot clubs real? Well, according to the article I read,
he wiped off the latte foam from his moustache with his napkin
Wait a minute, I said, What article are you talking about? I hate to be outtrended by some absolutely inherently hip acquaintanceyou know the sort of person, when you mention you were at a party to honor Bill Maher, say, he would say, Oh, I missed that party. I was in Monaco at the funeral, Stephanie looked gorgeous. I wish Id been there, Bills a good head. And you know hes talking about Hillarys Bill.
The April 2, 2004 issue, L.A. Times California section
anyway, some cities are looking to ban the clubs
But theyre here? Theyre really here? My eyes welled with tears of frustration. And now theyll be gone before I even see one
What medical condition do you have that warrants the medical use of marijuana?
What medical condition DONT I have? I snapped. Several medical doctors have recommended ingesting ganga for the chronic pains that flesh is heir to. My acquaintance stared into space then refocused on me Theyre here. Proposition 215 that Californians voted for is HERE! Marijuana medication is legal in California. Compassionate care centers do exist and they exist in SoCal or will until the City zones out. He excused himself pulled down his fedora and slid out of sight on sneakered feet.
I sat at the outdoor table, panicked because I might never see Amsterdam with its Vlamink sky or its liberal attitude towards products cannabis, but also because my acquaintance left me to pay his bill. But my eye was caught by the back page of an alternative weekly paper. Compassionate care ads. Hmm.
So a few days later after calling the number listed in the ad, I called my M.D. Well yes, she said I do think reefer helps assuage the pain. I know it assuages pain. But no I wont write a recommendation. Crazy Im not she said. Click.
Ah, but hope abounds. For a fee, a moderate fee, a doctor, an M.D., would be at the compassionate care center to examine. After selling my first born, I left the stultified atmosphere of Venice and headed east to a recently incorporated city. On a sunny patch of street which housed a health food super market, thrift shops and cottages looking like Nathaniel West just left was my grail Compassionate Care Organic Farmacy (I.P. Cit.).
A large imposing security guard was standing by the doorway. I walked inside. A young woman asked for my California I.D. She was, I could tell, an aspiring actor. She asked me to sit in the waiting room. Some were already patients and were greeted with collegial warmth. Black softly dressed couple on a sofa, Native American décor, subdued lighting, an ear-ringed man with intriguing tattoos thumbed through a magazine.
Every once in a while a name would be called. They were escorted to the mysterious back section. A young Asian woman came in to see the doctor and was directed to an ATM machine discreetly stashed between the puffy couches. After a short (for a doctors visit) wait I was escorted to the doctors office.
He didnt look like an M.D. but there was his diploma. I told him my doctor said I should use marijuana for pain and anxiety. He recommended chiropractic. He noted my doctors name and gave me a certificate complies with prop 215 the Compassionate Use Act of 1996Bram Toker is under my medical care. I have evaluated the medical risks of cannabis use with him/her as a treatment pursuant to 1136.2...I recommend/approve of my patients use of marijuana
etc., etc. Signed Dr. yes medical license #.
Back to the waiting room. Copy of certificate plus the original, and my California I.D. card, and a list of other organic pharmacies and centers from Long Beach to San Francisco all handed to me including a ticket to wait to go into the farmacy.
I was escorted into a place that was as quiet (even with the Rolling Stones in the background) and discreet as Cartiers, Tiffanys, or a Beverly Hills plastic surgeons office.
I was handed a menu. Mountain High, Red Beard, Budda varying prices well within street price, Im told, never having bought any cannabis since the late 50s. After studying it, I went up to the glass enclosed counter. Never had I seen such a variety of leaf and plants. Oils, infusions, distillations and edibles were also for sale. The slender curly haired man, one of several clerks (bar tenders? dispensers?) behind the counter weighed out my purchase carefully and put it in a sturdy bag. As I left I noted that the atmosphere of the waiting room was one of optimistic anticipation. And those exiting including myself looked complacent. The tall broad guard smiled and nodded as I left.
When I got home there was my small packet of legal high. In the brown paper bag along with the packet were rules regarding behaviorno driving while using, no heavy machinery, no smoking in the parking lot, no loitering, etc.
How civilized, I thought. Just to go in assisted by knowledgeable clerks (assistors? dispensers? Weediesters?), courteous and friendly receptionists, and interesting, diverse and articulated clientele. I almost felt legit.
But there are many clouds on the horizon.
This June, a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court might determine the future of such, as the L.A. Times so inelegantly called the compassionate care centers, pot clubs, not to mention the effect the federal Controlled Substances Act might have on the future of medical marijuana in California as well as several other states.
Where are those Confederate flag waving states rights patriots when we need em?
The case is called Ashcroft vs. Raish and involves the rights of a physician to prescribe what she feels will improve her patients health.
Maybe Venetians in the near future will have their own dispensariesor get busted for one seed.
Oh Wheel of Fortune
A Warm & Fuzzy Mothers Day
By Theresa Hulme
The U.S. Supreme Court presently hinges threadlike in a delicate balance of right, middle and barely left. Of the 9 justices on the bench today, 4 are over 70 years old. 2 are over 80. When one or more of these justices retires within the next four years, the already conservative majority that sometimes swings, will most definitely swing to the ultra- conservative right with a Bush appointee.
The present justices are responsible for selecting George W. Bush for President after the election scandals of 2000. Supreme Court justices dictate many laws that affect our daily lives and are appointed for life. Theirs or ours.
Of the current 9, 3 support women's rights, 3 oppose and 3 vacillate in ambiguity. Strangely, only two justices are women.
Though many in California live under the myth that the Golden State will be protected from the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, we need look no further that the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Having displayed and admitted more respect for Hitler than for women and their bodies, the Gropenator, in his short time in office, has already openly attacked female majority professions such as nurses and teachers.
Mom, I feel sick. Though the writing is on the wall, many women are passively accepting the demise of their basic civil rights. Hidden under the cloak of Christianity, Bushs ultra fake wing Administration is using empty religious rhetoric to vehemently defend a child before birth.
However, after the child is born, shell be born into increasing poverty with no health care, no living wage and attend the worst public education system in the industrialized world. Shell breathe toxic air, drink dirty water, and have nursed from mothers milk laced with rocket fuel, thanks to the nuclear weapons manufacturers and military bases that are her close neighbors, anywhere in America.
The scheme is simple yet frightening and deadly: slowly chip away at civil rights (Patriot Acts I & II). Build-up the prison industrial complex and fill it with minorities, mostly blacks, Latinos & immigrants. Strip them permanently of the right to vote or participate in a democratic society. Dismantle the middle-class, shifting power and money to the corporate elite, less than 1% of the population. Create desperation among the working class by cutting social programs. Make education out of reach to those that cant afford it, offering the military as bait for college funding. Exploit women and children through cheap, slave-like labor. Control media outlets, feed lies, and dumb down. Send in the corporate suits to push fancy drugs, numbing a majority of the population. In true capitalist fashion, fatten everyone up with fast food junk that sickens and isolates.
The nucleus of this scheme? Women comprise about 51% of the total population. If this segment can be controlled, restrained, manipulated and power over her body seized, the patriarchy reigns and only small fringe groups remain to fight a colossal evil. With women dependent, disgraced and demoted to second class citizens, the empire is easily able to continue its violent imperialist agenda.
Some sources report the actual death toll in Iraq exceeds 100,000, mostly women and children. If Iraq is a microcosm of U.S. social/foreign policy, it can serve as a reflection of whats in store for American women under the new Regime: Corporate controlled patriarchal capitalism.
With no respect for Mother Earth, depleted uranium now permeates Iraqi soil and water. A generation of Iraqi babies drink poisoned mothers milk. In Texas, mothers milk is found laced with rocket fuel, from U.S. weapons corporations recklessly ejaculating poison into the earth.
Though the bombs on Americas women may not explode instantly with depleted uranium, the parallels are clear. Our demise is slower, sneakier and sugared with the empty rhetoric of freedom and democracy. However, the end result is painfully obvious: the rape & destruction of our Mother Earth. Mom, now I REALLY feel sick. Anyway, to her and all Earth Mothers, Happy Mothers Day!
The Decline and Fall of Venice
By Ed Gibbon
Poor Venice, so far from the Goddess, so close to Los Angeles.
Abbot Kinney had a vision. It wasnt from what he was smoking, Sweet Caporal tobacco, a deadly drug that ultimately killed him and many other users. Kinney turned a swamp into a mini-Venice, Italy, complete with canals, gondolas and high culture, and named it...Ocean Park! It wasnt until 1911 that Venice became Venice. No matter. Its the myth that counts.
On June 30, 1905, the canals began filling with ocean water. Thousands made the long trek from Los Angeles, but alas, for cheap thrills, not high culture. The amusement park, the beach, bars and gambling attracted the Angelenos, many of them just off the train from the mid-west.
Incessant fires, stagnant water in the canals and civil corruption were the main attributes that Venice shared with its namesake (at least the canals didnt double as sewers in Kinneys rendition).
Kinneys smoking ultimately caught up with him in 1920. A month after his death, the pier burned down. The imperialists from Los Angeles saw their opening and began agitating for annexation of Venice. Promises of cheap water, civil improvement and a booming business climate were all the urging the Philistine businessmen needed to join the new residents sent to Venice by L.A. in voting for annexation. In 1925, Venetians lost their independence and are suffering yet.
Instead of civic improvements, Venices decline gathered speed under Los Angeles rule. The new hook-and-ladder truck owned by the Venice Fire Department was taken away and replaced by a clunker. The famed Venice Miniature Railroad was uprooted.
Los Angeles sent an army of occupation the LAPD and theyve been with us since.
Fortunately, Abbot Kinneys will stated that he was giving the canals to the city of Venice on the condition that they remain canals forever. Unfortunately, Los Angeles sued to break Kinneys will and won in the Supreme Court. Traffic replaced serene gondolas in central Venice.
In 1930, oil was discovered in Venice. The Peninsula became a giant oil field. Had Venice still been a city, it would have been fabulously wealthy. Instead, it became a dump.
By Venices 50th anniversary, Kinneys dream could pass for Tijuana. In fact, it did, in Orson Welles movie, Touch of Evil. But the worst was yet to come.
In the early 60s, Los Angeles moved in for the kill. Using code enforcement, the building and safety department condemned 60 percent of the historic old buildings in Venice. Many of them housed bingo parlors and thousands of elderly Jews who were survivors of Hitlers concentration camps and garment factories in New York. St. Marks Hotel at Windward and Ocean Front Walk, easily Venices most beautiful building was obliterated by L.A. wrecking balls despite a determined fight by its owners to save it.
By then, Venice had become an oasis of culture, although perhaps not as Abbot Kinney envisioned. The Beats - poets and critics of materialist society - flourished in Venice. They became a particular target for the wrath the Los Angeles imperium. The Gas House at Market and the Ocean Front, one of the first coffee houses, was destroyed to force the Beats out. Up on Dudley Avenue, the Venice West Cafe, was closed when patrons rose to recite poetry without a city permit. The battle for free speech spilled out onto the walks and streets of Venice and is still going on.
As the 60s progressed, cheap rents attracted more free spirits to Venice, to the outrage of Los Angeles authorities. Rock concerts on the beach turned into police riots, living in Venice while Black became a crime, and smoking far less dangerous herbs than Kinney did was called a crime wave.
New schemes from the good citizens of Los Angeles to destroy Venice emerged:
Lets run a freeway through it. It could go right through the middle of Venice!
The well-named Venice Survival Committee, Free Venice, the Peace and Freedom Party and other efforts to stand up against overwhelming power were vilified in the L.A. Times, the Santa Monica Evening Outrage (Outlook), and on radio and TV. No one stood up for Venice except Venetians.
By the 1980s, Venice witnessed its first Yuppie invasion. The media stopped playing up how dangerous Venice was with motorcycle gangs, V13, and its own ghetto. Now, Venice was becoming trendy. Expensive restaurants opened on Market Street and West Washington (now Abbot Kinney). Instead of being one of the cheapest rental areas, Venice became one of the most expensive. Still, thousands hung on to their rent-controlled apartments in their beloved Venice.
Twenty years down the line, the transformation continues. Los Angeles has stopped trying to destroy Venice by simply tearing down our homes and colonnades. Now they destroy our once-unique community by granting permits for bland monstrosities devoid of character. Even beautiful Lincoln Place, home to generations of working class and retired Venetians, is targeted to be condo-ized.
Today, almost every street in Venice has one or more of its own fortress-like giant boxes looming over carefully-designed Craftsman houses. Nearly every day, another oversized fence goes up to shield new arrivals from their neighborhood.
Down the street rumbles a giant SUV. Soon, as if by magic, a garage door rises. Without a word, the glorified truck glides into the open cavity, and boom, the door closes behind it. Was there someone at the wheel behind the tinted window? Was it an alien being who can only stand erect in a 30-foot-high cube? Well never know. The curtains are drawn and the door remains shut behind a high fence.
Alas, the barbarians have breached the walls. Venice is doomed.
Out of the Litter Box
By Ali Katz
This cat is not a happy cat. It seems the rip out the amenities crusade is going full tilt Boogy in Venice, what with doing away with benches pay phones etc.
But in other parts of the city, according to the L.A. Times, March 28, 2005, such as Vermont Avenue, new get that? NEW bus benches are being installed. Ali called the council office about the theftthe taking of bus benches and Sandy Kievman said that iron (wrought) benches are being installedAnd, she added, they had nothing to do with the metal leaners. That was the province of the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Kitty called them, but they have yet to return the call.
Ali was also informed that those leaners are being used in EuropeWell Alis not going THERE any time soon, but isnt it sad that the Europeans always take whats tinny and cheap from the U.S. and use that?
Ali Katz is also vexed that streetlights are installed in certain parts of the city that are attractive and have a 19th century feel to them.
These lamps could be shaded so as to shine on the ground and not in someones window.
Several years ago this type of lamp was proposed for the O.F.W. refurbishment. No go said Rec and Parks.
Now this cat doesnt begrudge attractive pleasant lighting in other parts of Los Angeles. This feline just wonders why Venice doesnt Qualify.
Linda Lucks community activist and one of the founders of the Venice Garden Walks was terminated by the Gubernator from her position on the State Medical Board. She was outspoken in her support of pro-cannabis M.D.s.
This cat tried to call the Gov. to find out why. Ms. Lucks was not re-appointed
He could not be reached for comment
.What is that funny smell coming from the tent?
Could it be
CUBAN cigars? And arent imports from that commie island illegal? Oh, what to do.
And did you hear? The Gubernator got taken to task for using state employees to build sets for the Arnold to speak in front of, as he talks about cutting pensions for these very same state employees.
Well, maybe steroids dont shrivel ones cojones after all.
Thats all for Meeow!
Oh Rats Dept.: Forgot to mention Ms. Lucks was also a Beachhead Collectivite in the Day.
GRVNC Bashing Built on a House of Cards
By John Davis
On April 5th a meeting of the Los Angeles Board of Neighborhood Commissioners (BONC) considered the fate of the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council.
At that meeting Commissioner Bill Christopher called the Final Arbitor of election challenges the cornerstone of the Neighborhood Council System.
However, this cornerstone is but a feather holding up a skyscraper of lies, all of which are based upon a fictional decision by the Human Relations Commission (HRC). The Executive Director of (HRC), Rabbi Allen I. Freehling only released a Staff Report from his subordinate Gary De La Rosa. That report claimed that a decision had been made regarding the GRVNC election of 2004. A STAFF REPORT IS NOT A DECISION.
DONE General Manager Nelson concocted a simple-minded scheme to get rid of the GRVNC.
Ask GRVNC to agree that the HRC would act as the Arbitrator and to Decide on 2004 election challenges. GRVNC at a public meeting agreed and took legal Action as defined under the Ralph M. Brown Act. Action has the same legal meaning as the term Decision under California law.
This is the core lie. This lie has caused Venice Stakeholders to be disenfranchised from a public process promised to them as voters reformed the City Charter to include local voices, Neighborhood Councils.
Without the approval of his bosses at the BONC, Nelson used his imperious pen to proclaim in public emails that GRVNC could not establish a quorum. He then revoked the Councils money.
Nelson said his department received the HRC report and he declared it represented a Decision and or an Action of the HRC. Blustering irresponsibly as if on a power drunken high, he sent a public email claiming the HRC Action could not be overturned even the by Congress of the United States.
The legal course was for the HRC to hold a public meeting during which they were empowered by the Brown Act to make a decision. Venice waited for that to happen and it never did.
BONC Commissioner Bill Christopher said the DECISION is unmovable.
But there never was a DECISION or ACTION TAKEN by HRC. A Staff Report of the HRC cannot crusade as a decision. The two are mutually exclusive.
At three meetings of the BONC I presented Commissioners with proof that the Human Relations Commission never made such a decision because it was not reflected in their official records, the agendas and minutes of their meetings.
So, the BONC made a decision and accepted the lie of Greg Nelson as their own and now claimed that DONE and BONC would take over the GRVNC elections to make sure they are fair this time. Of course this is like turning a pack of wolves on one chicken in a henhouse.
Schwarzenegger girly-mans under pension attack
By Marjorie Hinds
Bashing teachers and nurses is now well within the confines of acceptable political conduct. Schwarzenegger will, however, have to pay the piper for mixing it up with police and firefighters. April 7, 2005 the Gov. held a news conference and temporarily backed off his campaign to undermine California pension funds. While it is unclear whether the plan would actually tamper with police and firefighter survivor benefits, the suggestion of such was sufficient to force its withdrawal and retooling. This is only a breather, however. Hell be back and the stakes are high.
Why should those of us who are not public employees give a damn what befalls the state pension system? Well, as it happens, the outcome of this skirmish over the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) may well portend the future of Social Security.
Why, if this is a local pension matter is the funding, and cheerleading, for Schwarzeneggers privatization scheme coming from corporate interests and their allies nationwide? It appears these recalcitrant pension people are a meddling nuisance. Theyre buzzing like gnats in the faces of culpable CEOsjust yammering on and on about corporate this and corporate thataccountability, malfeasance and the like.
CalPERS and the teachers retirement fund are sore about losing a combined 1 billion dollars at the hands of Enron and WorldCom. Pissed off and taking names, the pension funds are throwing their weight around180 billion and 126 billion respectively. They are doing, collectively, what we are unable to do individuallytheyre kicking some corporate ass.
While dismantling an activist power base is a solid enough reason to privatize CalPERS, another incentive is, of course, the money. Wall Street bankers are down right orgasmic envisioning all of those dollars in the hands of novice individual investors. And yikes, what becomes of these individuals? With both Social Security and pensions up for grabs could Schwarzenegger be helping to create yet another special interest groupthe elder homeless?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) faces congressional cuts that would push millions of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities deeper into poverty. Your representatives are currently considering two options: reduce benefit amounts for everybody or cut benefits entirely for some. Individuals cut from the program will likely lose Medi-Cal coverage as well.