Why Being a Venice Original Matters Why (Venice) History Matters

By Mike Bravo


“People don’t need your approval to move to Venice”

“Who cares how long you’ve been here.”

In the same arrogant spirit of their colonizer archetypes and ancestors, dismissive gentrifier remarks like the ones above should come as no surprise. Ironically, many of them even have their Westward Expansion styled mustache and hairstyles to go with such mentality for additional colonizer effect. In fact, most of the injustices you see happening here in Venice are right in pattern with the ill mindset that landed on this continent in 1492, albeit, in a more deceptive and adapted form.

Gentry responses such as the above usually come after Venice natives like myself question other “locals” who claim our heritage or when we voice our displeasure about unfavorable behaviours displayed by the gentry. “Who cares how long you’ve been here.” Those are the types of things Columbus said to the Arawaks, that Cortez told the Mexihca (Aztec), that Pizarro told the Incas, and now what gentrifiers tell Venice natives.
Being FROM Venice is a beautiful honor, especially for people like myself who’s roots run deep. Whose ancestors created the beauty, culture, and essence of the Venice community as opposed to those who now come to usurp and exploit it. It is only natural that us Venice Originals are critical and protective of our legacy, especially in the midst of this colonizing wave that has adversely affected our beloved town since the 90s.

These gentrifiers always exclaim their arrogant sentiments in a very upset tone. They infer that the problem lies with us “emotional natives.” But more accurately, they become triggered because they are forced to think about where they come from, their lack of roots. I feel something affects their intuition, whether or not they are consciously aware of it, and gives them a comprehending feeling for the dishonorable context which cleared out the neighborhood and enabled them to secure their Venice home.

Much like this current wave of colonization in Venice triggers the historical traumas of previous waves of displacement my ancestors faced in me, perhaps, and hopefully, our continued expressions of pride in being Venice Originals will trigger and chisel away the colonizer spirited contingent of our Venice community toward some heartfelt and honest retrospection and atonement.

In times of colonization (gentrification) history is not a valued asset by the colonizers. In fact history is an enemy to their efforts. It is why the Spanish burned the codices of the Maya, why the U.S. made it a point to bomb the historical museums of Iraq (Sumeria), why gentrification forces try to rebrand and change the name of our streets, and why the Penske’s with their gentrifier (read colonizer) neighborhood council clowns like Will Hawkins and George Francisco, among many others, wish to neutralize the historical First Baptist Church of Venice.

Everyone loves the Indian or Venice Native that speaks of culture, unity, and spirituality. But most don’t like the Native that reminds them of the historical pattern of White colonizers and capitalists that lied and manipulated their way across this continent to get what they wanted. Nor do the really care for the Natives reminding them that they continue to do so. We need to call out these neighborhood colonizers and their actions for what they are. If we fail to make historical connections, we will fail to fix problems. I dunno about you but I’m tired of this shit, come help a Native out.

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  1. My Life In Venice
    By Robert W. Race

    I’m not from Venice Beach, I’m from Venice.
    I’m not a tourist, that’s what tourists call it.
    Venice was the most awesome place on the planet.
    As the Hippies were pushed out in later years,
    the newer elites pretty much drove it into the ground and
    made it like everywhere else on the planet.
    But for us that lived there, swam in the ocean,
    laid on the beach, surfed it’s waves
    and hung out with crowds of friends on long summer days
    it was our paradise.
    Gems like the Gas House, Pacific Ocean Park Pier,
    The Cheetah Club, Rose Avenue, Head Shops,
    and the myriad of people;
    Holocaust survivors playing chess on a concrete bench along the strand,
    beatniks reading poetry out loud to passers by,
    wine-o’s passed out beneath a palm tree
    and society drop outs, aimlessly wandering
    all could be found along the sandy boardwalk,
    not asphalt like it is nowadays.
    Psychedelic songs from LP’s would be playing
    as one would walk by the scattered shops
    not a line, of one after another.
    The music… bands playing free concerts
    on the beach drain pipe at Rose Avenue;
    the Jefferson Airplane, the Doors, Hendrix
    all vided for our attention, as we sat fixated in the sand
    keeping to the beat.

    Warm summer nights
    walking along cool sandy shores
    the soles of our feet washed by the ocean waves
    while viewing the evenings setting sun
    it’s orange & red hues
    and in the distance the haunting echoes
    of long ago music from the Summers of Love
    escaping the windows of the old Aragon Ballroom
    even Janis singing in her raspy voice, as
    free spirited souls tripped out twirling in circles
    as psychedelic drugs took them away

    The nightlife of bars and scores of restaurants
    along the midway
    brought thousands in the early days
    now silenced
    all gone, no trace they had ever been.

    As one walks on a still nigh
    you can faintly recall and hear
    the echoes of glee from an amusement ride
    on the old POP pier

    Sneak a ride on the back of the electric trams
    running along the walkway boardwalk….
    not getting caught
    was a test of skill and stealth.

    And what of those single houses lining the sandy pathway,
    owners lounging in wooden chairs
    tanning their skin to a brownish leather,
    now all faded away, just memories
    of a long ago time in the past
    beach homes now
    replaced by endless walls of concrete condos,
    yet we remember back to that simpler time,
    a wave, a nod and a hello from the real locals
    as we passed with our surfboards
    to catch an early morning wave.

    It was our own private retreat,
    our escape from the daily life we each led,
    although some people thought Venice trashy,
    drug infested, even slum like,
    unkempt people
    days of beard growth,
    old worn wrinkled clothes, bare foot,
    even smelling a bit to much of wine or drugs,
    we on the other hand thought of this place different.

    Our parents never quite understood it the way we did,
    nor our times and culture,
    they thought this was
    a place where no one would want to be,
    and perhaps that was true in the cycle of life
    but it was ours…..our paradise,
    our escape from the every day…..
    and as we each return from near and far
    every now and then we
    each wish again for one more day
    to walk its sandy path,
    before we move on
    just one more time in…. Venice,
    to be carefree once again …..
    so was our life…in Venice.