Photography and Text by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2018
VENICE BEACH TRASHED
OK, like the way most things go in Venice, we should hope too that this is transitory. God only knows it ain’t normal this blight. Walk out onto the sand, step in someone’s shit, maybe get stuck by a syringe flung out from someone’s tent. This group shows literally no respect. For half a century I’ve floated in and out of Venice Beach, California. LA’s ghetto on the sand. I’ve watched it change. Every time it seems when an uproar over one group is raised and the group gets run out, something worse always fills the vacuum. What i’m seeing today, for tomorrow is scary.
House keeping on the sand. Yeah, thats right. Weekly maid service for the homeless. What happens each Friday, people camped out on the sand, camped out on most all the side alleys connecting the Speedway to the Ocean Front Walk. They gather up whatever belongings they wish to keep, then move it up and out of the way, while waiting for the mess they don’t want to be taken away. So, I wonder whether this “Every Friday Morning Venice Beach Cleanup Routine” might just be feeding a vicious cycle of co-dependency. These kooks, not cleaning up their own mess, leaving their trash all over the side streets and sand, should be fined handsomely, then run out of town.
Certainly what we’re seeing here is a public health problem. However, I’m guessing some of this situation could get resolved soon. After years of blocking chainstores from occupying any boardwalk storefront space, Starbucks is helping out by contributing some decent restroom facilities. Lord knows, the public bathrooms haven’t been able to handle the homeless load.
In other news, Snapchat employees moved in to town. The rents went up and the price for a regular cup of coffee went up too. I recently went with a friend for some lunch. New management at an old spot set in. We ordered a couple chicken enchalada’s, each with rice and beans, no chips, no salsa, no service, no cheese, $26 bucks, yes,… $26.00 bucks! I said no cheese on the beans! With Snap Inc. grabbing up all the space on market street, acquiring so many of the storefronts/properties along the boardwalk, prices for everything, everywhere across town now seem to be double what they used to be! They ran the artists out. A few were able to find other spaces, but Market Street was gutted, for years this Venice Street was filled with studios and galleries. Well that ended quick. Snapchat has decided maybe it be better now to move their urban campus to the Santa Monica Airport. It goes without saying things are really hurting here in this little gem of a beach town. I’m praying for life to get better, not continuing to get worse.
Ya really gotta watch your bike in Venice Beach. Seems a lot of wrenching goes on down by the Ocean Front Walk. One could lose a wheel or a seat as fast as a blink of an eye. Early in the morning, right after the first of the month, out on the boardwalk riding, you see signs that people out here been spinning in circles all night, all sprung, so much random stuff flung everywhere. Its sad. Seems anymore all of this is just accepted as normal. ITS NOT!
Please don’t let me be misunderstood. I’ve at times come back to Venice homeless too. Almost anyone can be chopped off at the knees. The Venice Beach community has always had compassion for the down and out. A diverse community of locals, some of whom I’ve known near 40 years in Dogtown all have a home. I know this guy, this old friend is a savant. I was hanging with him just the other day. We were talking about all this mess left out all around his home. You don’t see any tents pitched anywhere near his spot. His oasis. He keeps it clean. So we were talking, I told him my birthday was coming up in a few days. That I was turning 66. He said “your a Dragon”. I said yes, a Water Dragon. His eyes lit up. He said “interesting you know that, I then said my Mother was an Earth Dragon”. Then we started talking about the order of elements in the Chinese Astrological Chart and how it represented a cyclical world, then “The Boy” took off on an oratory of both Chinese Astrology, the Zodiac, then finished up with a Miles Davis primer. That old friend I admire. He ain’t letting go of his Venice Beach. Much respect for him!
About The Author: Ed Simmons is a documentary photographer and assistant to Tony Ward, based in Los Angeles, California. To access additional articles by Ed Simmons, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/ed-simmons-jay-adams-local-hero/