Ghost Town: A Venice California
on Ghost Town
Venice Festival at
Fox Venice Theater
Spirit of Truth (fiction)
A Venice Wedding
The File Cabinet:
30 Years Ago
Visions of Venice
To See Venice
Is To Live
Venice's True Sister City
Ghost Town: A Venice California Life
by Pat Hartman
Up close and personal with members of the Shoreline Crips
and V13 gangs and the LAPD. Burglarized, mugged, purse-snatched, held
up at gunpoint, vandalized, menaced, and visited by men in suits who travel
in pairs. The murder of Sarai Ribicoff, the senator's niece, one of the
most controversial and highly publicized murder trials in LA history.
The archetypically senseless murder of a convenience store clerk. An exceptionally
vile rape/robbery spree.
people and community dynamics
Few people wind up in Venice by accident. With its low
vacancy rate and high rents, you have to want to live there, and some
have for generations. How people wind up in Venice and how they manage
to stay: weird folk, professional characters, full-time eccentrics, grifters,
substance abusers, deadbeats, and families just trying to survive and
raise their kids. Neighbors who become wonderful friends and those other
neighbors, the ones from Hell. Vicious dogs, fires, ants, trash, noise
and bad plumbing. Block club meetings, block parties, extreme holiday
celebrations, a Venice wedding, activist organizations of many kinds,
cooperative efforts and hassles, child care, parks and playgrounds, animal
control issues, programs for the aged and disadvantaged, etc.
Posters, flyers, graffiti, the Free Venice Beachhead,
demonstrations, Councilwoman-for-Life Pat Russell. How Oakwood changed
me from a knee-jerk liberal bleeding heart hippie into some variety of
This chronicle is relevant to the marijuana decriminalization
movement. While the neighborhood was rife with problems related to hard
drugs, in the hipster community, marijuana was a social lubricant, part
of the everyday exchange of goods and services; the cement that, with
responsible use, bonded neighbors in benign mutual dependence.
Intense free-market activity and a flourishing underground
economy. Neighborhood cohesiveness based on sharing, barter, and co-operative
enterprises. Crumbling infrastructure, horrible HUD buildings, tenant
versus landlord wars, the impact of the Olympics, relationships between
haves and have-nots.
Krishnas, Sufis, Buddhists, fundamentalist Christians,
among others, including highly idiosyncratic individual belief systems.
Oakwood is one of the places where ghetto style (and
ultimately mainstream style, usually diluted) is born. Rasta dreadlocks,
backward baseball hats, break dancing and drooping pants show up here,
reggae and rap are heard here, way before almost anywhere else. Oakwood
houses and yards are often wildly individualistic. Public art and murals
are taken seriously.
Venice has been proclaimed the "Living National
Monument to the Achievement of the American Dream," the quintessential
American community, a microcosm of everything that's good and bad about
the country. In Oakwood as in the trendier and quieter parts of Venice,
the Sixties, everybody's favorite era, came to stay. At the same time,
Venice is heralded as the place where the future starts. Is it?
the aesthetic factor
Men have oftener suffered from the mockery of a place
too smiling for their reason than from the oppression of surroundings
oversadly tinged ...................Thomas Hardy
Nothing is harder to bear than a succession of fair
days .................... Goethe
Warmest climes but nurse the cruelest fangs ..............Herman
The working title of this book was Ghost Town 90291, a takeoff
on the TV show Beverly Hills 90210 - but then I figure, the book
will be around long after the TV show is forgotten. A hundred years from
now, nobody will get the reference or comprehend the finely-tuned irony.
So it's not called that any more.
or email the Webslave.