Eric Ahlberg

Happy New Year Venice!

By Eric Ahlberg

Fellow Venetians you have passed the perihelion and have successfully entered the next years’ orbit. Massive forces are at work spinning you, flying you around our most holy Sun. Our daily presence is crafting our future from our inner fires. I think we have a lot of things to be happy about, unless you are really depressed, in which case there are also a whole lot of terribly depressing things going on. Is Venice dead? Don’t be silly. Venice is always dying and being reborn, just like everywhere else. Yet the present day artist refuses to die. We seek to restrain the market forces which would drive out the last poor person to further the ground rent extraction, the title privilege of ownership.
Let us bathe in the glorious lights of our ancestors and fill ourselves with the strong positive love we want to manifest, our golden vision, our vestments we wear inside our humility, while pirouetting naked atop a Shrine skateboard at Sunset on Ocean Front Walk. We also present as the superhero, saving the world from evil which will kill us all, while learning from the anti-hero that we can have our faults, but we will still save the world. We present absence, those days when you are not feeling up to it, those weeks, months, and years in entropy, chillin, hanging, no ambition, no future, blitzed, black-holed. We are the compromise between who we want to be and who we have become.
People with a lot of money seem to be vacuuming up a lot of Venice property at seriously inflating values. Jan 2012 $887K, Jan 2014, $1.3M, that’s a 46% increase over two years. This catches the attention of  the pure financial guys. It’s a good place to park your money. This is a no brainer investment for anyone using nearly free money from the Fed. 0% Mortgage Delinquency in Venice means the property sharks have already cleared out the weak property owners. Rent Nov 2013 $3730 Nov 2014 $4640. 24% in one year.  
Abbot Kinney Boulevard was called “LA’s Douchiest Neighborhood” in the LA Weekly. This year saw the departure of Carol Tantau from her wonderful store on Abbot Kinney. We are seeing a new wave of evictions from the lovely art studios on Sunset. There has been much concern about Airbnb rentals in all Venice neighborhoods. The City of Los Angeles’ Building & Safety Code Enforcement has been threatening to fine owners or other sub-lessors if they do not discontinue the use of their homes as “short-term rental” units.
Sometimes we weigh difficult ideas, like that Art is exploited by the Evil Rich, to look cool.  Specifically, Venice’s reputation as an “Artists’ Community” is used as marketing to inflate real estate and rents, driving out the artists. This is a trope of our civilization, and has it’s own literary genre. My Art Dealer friends sell to….the owners of Walmart, and other superrich. This is a hard conclusion for an Artist like yourself, but even more for the Cultural Anthropologist whose job it is to catalog these things. Sure commodification and mass reproduction have reduced the value of cultural messaging, but the need for Art is the most basic need for communication, you know what you like because it talks to you.
There are many worrisome things going on. We are drowning in messaging. We are being lied to all the time. Life takes visa, things go better with coke, torture works. I find it particularly disturbing that 59% are said to support torture to get intelligence. Look how terrible a nice word like intelligence has become.
Between the serial gunplay dramas and video games, many people are fantasy vigilantes. Blessed magic warrior or damned forsaken rogue, your killings are justified because you are fighting evil and eviler. Where are the engaging Peace and Communism games? Is this a terrible basic psychic need to destroy, a useful and entertaining release of aggression, or a commercial exploitation of the urge to violence? When can I roleplay as a Reichian-Tantric Sex Therapist in an Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game?
Your Internet is trying to turn into TV, with 5 intrusive commercials before content. It’s the slime coming out of your internet.
Your Government is taking it in the ass from the Corporate Oligarchy. All the cuts in taxes and cuts in social and infrastructure spending are degrading the commons of America, and the world. The two party oligarchy degrades programs that help people and programs that help build strong communities, and keeps feeding the Military Corporations. Because terrorism, my ass. While you were owning the flag online, these greedy asses have owned your government.
Your governments regularly send troops (cops/guards/army/swat) into neighborhoods to harrass poor people. Witness the Boardwalk Sweeps, and the Cops being used to harass Oakwood community members, to get them evicted.This is Broken Window policing.  If they see poor people living in poor conditions, the police harrass them until they move away. Phyllis calls them lying demons, to their face.
How can we possibly integrate this conspicuous destruction. The phoney historicism of the architecture and interior decor reflects the dishonesty of the people within. Like neighborhood council members who talk incessantly for their own pleasure, and they never listen. If you don’t like one thing, complain about its opposite as well. Of course there are certain types of building which aren’t designed to last. They must be rebuilt to accommodate changing patterns of consumption.
Will Venice always be traffic and parking hell? You can’t talk about traffic mediation, while the county is defoliating for density in the Marina. It has been suggested many a time that we just secede from this city or state. Then we could ban the cars, tear out the streets, and go extreme green. How long will it take until you are hollering “I’m not going to take it anymore!”?
Oh stately pleasure dome Venice you are a target for urban renewal. Global corporations are replacing nation states as holders of power. We now embrace the first stages of the automation of mind, language and emotions … the architecture of bio-financial power. Power, in fact, is no longer political or military. It is based more and more on the penetration of techno-linguistic automatisms into the sphere of language.  
What can we ask of the future year?  Everything. Our global heads are wired together, and we can witness almost anything, anywhere, anytime.  What should we ask of the evil “Don’t be evil.” Google? Should they provide free public shared self-driving cars and funding for preservationist art studios?
Some Venetians with the means are buying up lots to keep them basically as they are. We ask our anti-humanistic citizens to lay off the homeless. There are tens of thousands of homeless out on our streets every night in the greater LA area. Do something for them, don’t criminalize them.
We mostly live amazing beautiful sunshiny lives here. Share the love. Seas of change are upon us. We live the dream, seeking futures, for our repast.

Categories: Eric Ahlberg, Venice