25 Years Ago in the Free Venice
John Hamilton Part 1
John Hamilton Part 2
Back issues in my
25 Years Ago in Call
Someplace Paradise and/or Ghost Town
Free Venice Beachhead
archives selected articles 1980-81
Beachhead Archives 1982
Beachhead Archives 1983
People of Venice (from Beachhead)
Windward Avenue Articles
Art in the Beachhead
from the Beachhead
Venice in Books A-C
Venice in Books D-K
Venice in Books L-P
Venice in Books Q-Z
Quotations about Venice
Venice in Magazines and other ephemeral
1981 Resistance Celebration
1981 Resistance Celebration
Birth of Venice:
1914-1916 Part 1
1914-1910 Part 4
1914-1916 Part 5
Destiny's Consent by
Lions and Gondolas
Poem about Venice
Tales of the Blue Meanie
by Allan Cole
Another Chapter from
Tales of the Blue Meanie by Allan Cole
Venice Historical Society
1969 Police Riots
Jack the Liar
Free Venice Beachhead
December 1983 #168
Beachhead - Inside to Out
"Write your feelings about the Beachhead,"
I was asked. "I've got mixed feelings," I said. They replied.
"Write whatever you want," they replied.
So how about a little history? The first issue of the
paper was green; an appropriate color since when it came to putting out
a community newspaper we were all as green as you could get. The "we"
I'm talking about was a group of radicals who happened to be working together
in the Peace & Freedom (PFP) - a new 3rd party dedicated to Peace
in Vietnam and Freedom for minorities here at home. It also happened that
we all lived in and loved Venice. We felt the best approach to building
a new party was to build from the grassroots. Everyone knew that there
had to be plenty of roots in Venice since there was so much grass around.
Our most pressing need was to reach Venice residents.
Sure we had meetings, I mean like very night, but you couldn't get all
the forty thousand Venetians in the PFP office; we figured it would take
about 2000 meetings to meet with all the forty thousand - we were just
too impatient - there had to be a better way. Some wanted to put out a
magazine; radio, one offshore past the three mile limit; a film would
be fun; but a newspaper was the obvious solution.
We conceived the paper as a poem. It had to be a political
statement about our thoughts on Vietnam, racism, sexism, police brutality,
land reform, etc., and since our politics included art, people's art,
we wanted a paper that would express that too; and we wanted it to be
free: rather than "sell" it to some of the people we would "give"
it to all the people. It would also be a collective effort where decisions
about the paper would be made by those doing the work - participation
was open to anyone ... people's democracy in action.
We named it the Beachhead because we felt we were
creating a beachhead in Venice from which to extend the struggle throughout
LA, California, and the US of A... a struggle to transform America into
a more humanistic society. Even though we were all in the Peace &
Freedom Party, we did not all agree on how the transformation would have
to take place. Some of us felt it could only happen through socialism;
some felt it would have to be an anarchistic society; and some felt, we
found out the hard way, it should be a libertarian society ... later some
of the libertarians suggested selling the beach to private enterprise
because it would be more efficient and cut down on the costs to the public.
NO, we were not of one mind. "Let a thousand flowers bloom"
was expanded to include bushes, weeds, stones, you name it, it was growing
in Venice. You can imagine, our editorial meetings were pure theater;
theater of the absurd, more times than not.
The staff of the Beachhead has changed over the
years. New people join as others leave - some leave Venice, others just
left Beachhead work due to more pressing political work. Venice
Peace & Freedom activists were running all over LA, California, and
the US, including Hawaii.
There was always a struggle to balance and integrate
the issues of the Vietnam War with the issues of Venice. We wore two hats:
Peace & Freedom and Free Venice. TO most of us there was a direct
connection between the policies waging the war in Vietnam and those trying
to drive people out of Venice, but it was not always clear to everyone.
More time was spent in political debate than the actual process of putting
out the paper. When it happened simultaneously it really showed in the
I continue to write and support the paper because I feel
it is important to have a people's paper - the politics of the, what's
its name ... the Evening Outrage, certainly aren't mine. And sometimes
the politics of the Beachhead aren't either, but at least I feel
I have some access (limited at times) to "our" Venice paper.
So I say thanks to those willing to spend their Saturdays
writing, editing, pasting-up, printing and distributing, as well as trying
to get funds to pay for it, but I do have a few criticisms I want to share.
(Of course, there is no page 28, since the issue only
goes up to page 16)
And Further Out
by Carol Fondiller
Write about the Free Venice Beachhead. Easy, I
thought. Well, it hasn't been. Something inside me skitters toward the
subject and then flits away.
"I felt as if everyone on the staff was fucking
each other and I was the only one who wasn't getting fucked," said
one ex-Collective member. And it is like that when one joins a small group
of people who have been working together for a long time. I feel like
that right now, having come back to the Beachhead after being away
from it for a while. It's true! It's true!! It's always been true! I've
always felt like that with one or two exceptions when I've been fucked
and fucked over. And oh, the stories I could tell if I didn't want to
live in this town any more! The little tensions and eruptions of ego!
"Tell that paper that Werner Scharf is wrong," said Anna Haag.
"I haven't changed. I still believe in what I believe. I wanted to
make a living (at the Venice West) but he stopped me. He said I sold dope.
Maybe I should have. I'd be as rich as he is."
Werner Scharf and Anna Haag. Werner and Anna have always
been around in Venice. One time as Anna and I sat in Hinano's, she told
me "I might love a man, but I love Venice more." My sentiments,
One night in 1968, we were at the Peace and Freedom office
wondering how to get the news out about the Master Plan and Venice. As
I remember it, every paper and media outlet either ignored us or they
portrayed us as a band of hippies, or as if they listened to Curt Simon,
Werner Sharf and other speculators, we were commies intent on destroying
the American way of life.
Jane Gordon, myself, John Haag, Anna Haag, Jay Jamieson,
and I think Rick Davidson and Phil Chamberlain were there. John Haag said,
"Why don't we start a paper?" Anna Haag organized fund raisers
and I helped. During the '60s and '70s, I learned how to witness police
sweeps. The LAPD's crack team was called the Metro Squad. I found that
some of the police thought the presence of a person with a pencil and
paper more threatening than a person with a gun.
The Beachhead has always been a renters' paper.
Always in search of a place with a large workspace. As rents rose, space
grew more cramped. So, there's always been an air of suspense about the
paper. Some people, looking at this gypsy paper, would say, "I can
do better than that," and would proceed to show those uptight politicos
how to do it right. For a while, their periodicals would show up beautifully
printed and laid out on good stock, with color and lots of advertising.
After a few months, despite the stylish print sock-'em-out layout, these
papers would disappear and that ugly, flimsy rag whose pages turned yellow
in the sun after one hour, would still be slogging along.
I set the record straight for Anna Haag, I might as well
get something off my chest that's been bugging me for years. I know that
this has nothing to do with the fifteenth anniversary of the Beachhead,
but when has a lack of relevance ever stopped me? I'd been working on
one collective for about five years when all of us decided w couldn't
do it any more. We were getting rigid. We were taking longer and longer
at paste-up. We couldn't stand the thought of taking the paper to the
printer. So we wrote an editorial titled "Beachhead Up For
Grabs" requesting that those who were interested come on over and
take it on. And they did! Imagine our surprise when we read an article
in the Los Angeles Times about alternative press on the West Side,
that stated that we broke up because of feminist issues. No way! At that
point, the people working on the 'Head happened to be women. Most of us
were and I believe are, feminists, but we put out a community newspaper.
This funky, grubby paper chock-a-block with grumpy, idiosyncratic opinions,
letters, poems, and reprints from other alternative presses, doesn't belong
to a soul, and therefore, has a Soul bigger than all its pages put together.
It belongs to no one, therefore to everyone. We have no editor, therefore,
everyone's an editor. I feel that for all the nitpicking, backbiting,
snarling and insanity that goes on in the secret meeting place of the
collective, that all the collectivites past and present feel they don't
own the paper, they only take care of it. The community, and when I say
"community," I mean those of us who don't have the ear of the
media or the government. Those of use who are sleeping in cars or who
are one step away from sleeping in our cars, which means anyone who makes
less than $30,000 a year and "owns" or rents their homes.
The problems that faced Venice in 1968, that brought
the Beachhead into being are still here.
As a matter of fact, the Beachhead speaks to everyone
who doesn't own their own businesses, isn't white, is older than 40, younger
than 21, isn't male, doesn't have adequate health insurance, is a single
parent who is still living in Venice because "ambiance" hasn't
been discovered on their street, and does not think life begins and ends
with how many people you have the power of eviction over. The Beachhead
is for people who believe that they have a right and an obligation to
make decisions about their destiny in the community they choose to live
in, even though they are thought of as expendable and undesirable by City
Hall and speculators because they can't afford the outrageously inflated
rents. They have chosen Venice as a place to live. Not a place to leave
when things get rough and return to buy up the place when the Olympics
The Beachhead is YOURS. USE IT.
Che Wah Wah!
A Beachhead Valentine
by Lance Diskan
My time in Venice is a track that parallels the life
of the Beachhead - or as it's properly called: The Free Venice
Beachhead. (I've always liked the double meaning of the name, since
it seems both a call to action and a celebratory shout.) The week I arrived
in Venice, Issue #4 had just hit the streets, and I recall dropping in
at the cluttered house on West Washington Blvd. that served as office,
distribution center and crash pad.
Fearless Leader John Haag was on the telephone somewhere,
hidden amidst stacks of bundled back issues; Steve Clare (I think) was
just in with a report from the scene of a local political demonstration'
Earl Newman was upstairs pumping out posters.
Over the years I've put in my own two cents' worth: an
observation of the Venice Town Council (does anyone out there even remember
the Venice Town Council?); alarm calls about various matters coastal;
strange tidbits from the moldy files of The Obscure News Service; a verbal
reply to the chi-chi chic media as it analyzed us for the readers of Vogue
But aside from these minimal contributions, The Beachhead
experience for me has been one of lots of receiving, lots of learning,
lots of new perspectives, and - thanks to Carol What's Her Name - lots
Perhaps the most deeply I recall a painful series of
articles about someone called "Greenie" - that disturbing, provocative
true story of a local resident who broke the exceptionally flexible Venetian
standards of behavior and transformed this community of freedom into a
living hell for one of our more sensitive citizens. Sure, they made a
TV movie about her story. Sure, they even passed new laws to help change
an outrageous situation. But The Beachhead had the story first,
and told it better than anyone.
So, "congrats" and thanks to all the folks
who have been members of The Beachhead family over these many years.
And to those who read this newspaper but have never been part of the social
activities putting it together - you don't know how much fun you're missing.
All Hail The Free Venice Beachhead - fulfilling
the grand tradition of American journalism. Henry Pulitzer would be amazed.
All Hail The Free Venice Beachhead - fulfilling
the great American tradition of letting the good times roll! Abbot Kinney
would be glad.
by memphis slim
I am the voice of Beachhead present. While I'm
not the newest member of the collective, I'm the last addition to the
inner circle. Yes, Virginia, there is a GANG OF FOUR at the Beachhead!
But the Beachhead isn't us the people; it is a
living community institution. We, the present collective, provide the
necessary mechanics to keep the issues coming, but the Beachhead lives
like the GREAT OZ, independent of mere humans. But like the GREAT OZ,
the spirit that keeps the Beachhead necessary is the human spirit;
the human spirit provided by our readers, writers and the community itself.
The human spirit of Venice is best exemplified, I think,
by we the writers of the Beachhead. Nowhere is the eclectic, vibrant
and outspoken spirit of Venice shown more vividly than in articles in
I can read the cosmic space raps that Carol Fondiller
has with herself, read about the latest coastal development outrage courtesy
of Mr. Stavnezer and Bob Wells will keep me informed on which ethnic group
is revolting. I look forward to the discourses from Dr. Springer on our
local heritage and the latest update on the Peace and Freedom front by
John Haag. One of our fellows is now financially embarrassed and so I
can o longer look forward to travelogues about hating Communism in poor
East European countries. And sadly, I can no longer look forward to diatribes
from those masters of misinformation, the R.C.P.
On the more positive side, our galloping gourmet, Elizabeth,
is still with us and remember she virtually predicted the Grenada invasion
2 years ago. A former collectivist, Lynn Bronstein, still submits her
work to the Beachhead and with love and acrimony we usually print
These are some of the more regular writers I enjoy reading
but there are numerous others who submit equally outstanding work albeit
on a less frequent basis. Remember, Beachhead tradition means something
to us, that's why Larry Abrams always has a butchered article. Consistency
Those of you who've seen your name of facsimile in print
are too numerous to individually name, but you've helped make the Beachhead
a reflection or our outstanding community. You've made the Beachhead
one of America's best ever community/political/literary publications.
It's been an honor to be associated with you folks. Here's to 15 more
by Moe Stavnezer
About 10 years ago I wrote my first article for the
Beachhead. I don't remember exactly what it was about, most likely
development in North Beach (so what's new?), but I do recall that it was
pretty mediocre. I didn't own a typewriter then, and when it became obvious
that typing one's own article was greatly appreciated by that collective,
just as it is today, I went out to a local pawn shop (now gone) and purchased
an old Remington manual that worked most of the time. It and I produced
passable though smudgy copy with my normal, and only slightly decreased,
number of typos (still, not bad for a two-fingered typist.).
Well, I now use an IBM Selectric, still write about development
in Venice and still love the Beachhead as much now as I did then.
As a member of the collective, for the past 3 years, some of my reasons
have changed though the bottom lines remain the same. Some years ago,
when someone from the O.P. Perspective described the Beachhead
as a bulletin board (compared to the Perspective which was a "newspaper")
I took it as an insult. Now I think it's a compliment. People whose views
and ideas might never see the light of day anywhere else have written
important and interesting articles for this paper. Poets have had their
works published here for the first time. Photographers and other inventive
media people have been given space and credit on these pages. Not bad
for a bulletin board, not bad at all.
And for a political activist, like I sometimes am, unaccustomed
to seeing one's work actually produce something, the Beachhead
is like a miracle. Every month there's a product, the tangible result
of work - it's refreshing, gratifying and damn good for the ego! The first
issue of the paper described the paper as a poem. I think of it more as
a piece of graphic art that constantly changes form in order to present
information in an interesting and rather eclectic format. Sometimes it
fails terribly but more often succeeds wonderfully (pardon my blatant
bias.). Now I don't claim that the Beachhead is beautifully laid
out graphically, but it does seem to have a "sense of itself"
that is accepted by the collective staff and the community.
In the past few years 3 other local newspapers have come
and gone (The Ocean Front Weekly, The Perspective and the
S.M. Free Weekly) On its 15th birthday the Beachhead continues.
One of the oldest of its kind of papers in the country. To the whole Beachhead
family, Happy Birthday and many more.
by Elizabeth Elder
When I left New Mexico, I made a "solemn oath"
to myself. Having lived up to that point in my life in only two houses,
one of them for 16 years, I told myself I would never live in one place
for a long time again.
I landed in Venice in 1971 and have called this "home
base" ever since. So much for "solemn vows" at the ripe
old age of 21.
It wasn't long after coming to Venice that I began contributing,
sometimes under pen names, to the Beachhead. It seemed especially
fitting that the very vocal and unorthodox folks have a community "voice",
a forum like that provided by the paper.
The paper has gone through a lot of incarnations since
it began, people have come and gone (and come back), and the look, feeling
and substance of the Beachhead have changed considerably from time
to time, but throughout its changes and frivolity and seriousness, and
places in between and elsewhere, there is a certain, almost indescribable
thread that has continued.
Call it structural integrity if you tend toward adult
definitions, or just its basic "ness," if you don't. But it
is a continual source of amazement that a group of people with often very
different realities and priorities can sit down with each other for 3
Saturdays a month and, using "fuel" supplied by an intense and
colorful community, cook up a stew like the Beachhead and serve
it up to the people of Venice.
Venice itself is pretty amazing. There's something about
the spirit of the place that is a genuine miracle in a time of alienation,
overconsumption, high-rolling real estate and high tech insanity. There's
always something new to be learned or seen or experienced, though not
things easily seen by mainstream eyes.
This summer in Sacramento a young woman was telling me
how she had insisted that her fiancé' give up his apartment on
the Ocean Front in Venice. (She and I were virtual strangers and I doubt
that she even knew I lived in Venice.) When I asked her why, her response
was, "Well, I absolutely wouldn't live there. I mean, have
you seen all the dog shit?" All I could say to her was, "You're
probably right, Nancy, you shouldn't live in Venice." And I thought
to myself, that's one reason I do live, in Venice, honey, to get
away from people who have so little imagination, they can look at a place
as dynamic and interesting and unique as Venice and not see any of it
because they're looking at the ground.
Well, friends, Venice is still alive and the Beachhead is
still alive. If it had been left up to the "wango uprights"
to decide, we all would have been plowed under long ago. So here's to
the next 15 years. Viva Venice! Your spirit is free.
In the deep, dark recesses of my mind nowhere in
the shadows of the lost City of Industry... it was a gray day. The presses
of the old LA Free Press lay silent after running a slew of anti-war tabloids
and other stuff that newspaper printers wouldn't touch. In those days and
because of the Freep, the CIS, FBI and others would simply go to these people
and tell them... fall in line or we destroy your action... have little talks
with your clients and like that.
Standing there in the front office, staring out through
the front door I was a man with the presence of an ancient warrior, John
Haag. John carried the boards for the Beachhead tenderly and firmly
toward the counter and laid them down. We acknowledged each other from
other times and this day in 1969. We took the boards and the presses did
their work 10M times. I was proud to be a small part of the Beachhead
then and Anita and I have long been supporters and boosters. To the staff,
past and present we salute you! To the readers, 1984 may be the most important
year of your lives! Help the Beachhead grow and spread the word!