Development/Gentrification

Batman of Venice

By Krista Schwimmer

On the evening of Friday the 13th, I was home alone, preparing to take a delicious, soothing bath – (yes, I do know there’s a drought going on – so this was a bit of a selfish splurge.) I had just returned from a depressing meeting in Huntington Beach: the California Coastal Commission. Although the company I had gone with was delightful, the meeting itself was demoralizing and depressing. Property after property in Venice was set for demolition, no matter what anyone said. One Coastal Commissioner, Martha McClure, really began to question things – to the point where she even wanted to go back and change all of her votes to “no”; but she could not. And so, I was in sore need of some comfort when I returned home.

As I was undressing, I heard a horrific voice over the sound of my window air conditioner.“Get out of here you trespassing piece of shit,” the voice screeched. My newly acquired dove, Sister Clare, looked at me, perplexed and startled. I myself felt compelled to determine just who this piece of shit was. So, after considering running outside stark naked, I determined I should protect my neighbors and don some clothes.

I raced outside, easily determining the direction the voice was coming from: the homes where the development, 1414 Main Street, had hit a major snafu due to a well-organized, protest of the neighbors living in the Lost Canals District. Standing in front of the garishly painted 202 Horizon building, I immediately recognized George Francisco. He was grasping a baseball bat as he kept his eyes on a tall, bearded old man with a cane, stumbling away from Francisco.

I asked Francisco, “should I call the police?” “No, thank you,” he replied, then turned and went back into the house he was evidently protecting. I then rushed over to the old man and asked him if he was hurt. “No,” he replied, but then proceeded to tell me how he just did not understand what had happened. He said that his friend had told him it was alright to sleep there. In fact, he had the night before. He had no idea who this guy, Francisco, was. Still confused, he crossed Main Street and disappeared into the full moon night.

Well, dear reader, if you are like me, you are probably much relieved that our neighborhood now has a new hero, a man that not only is a recently elected Community Officer on the Venice Neighborhood Council, but has even been elected to Co-chair the Adhoc Public Health and Safety Committee. After seeing him in action myself, I am fully
convinced that we have our own super hero in our midst: the Batman of Venice.

You may ask yourself what led to this brave conversion by the Venetian, George Francisco. Could it have been the altercation he experienced only a few weeks earlier when, in broad daylight, he came across a different trespasser, a man passed out on the front porch of 202 Horizon?

On Monday, June 2, Michael Wamback was parking his car on Horizon Avenue around 1:30 pm when he heard shouting back and forth at the apparent flop house, 202 Horizon Avenue. Soon, police and fire truck appeared, including a helicopter. Another passerby, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he heard George Francisco taunting the drunken trespasser before the actual fight. This person later saw Francisco with
blood on his face.

Was it that Francisco was detained by the police that led him to his superhero conversion? Or was it that he let down Jason Teague, the mastermind behind the stymied development 1414 Main? A man who, after calling the neighborhood blighted, may very well now be proceeded with creating the blight himself?

Who know what lurks in George Francisco’s heart.

But rest assured, in his own statement made before the VNC elections, George Francisco, plans to “actively engage with as many residents and stakeholders as possible; (and) promote more civility and professionalism in our political process”.

And so, fellow Venetians, never fear! Batman of Venice has arrived – bringing civility, blow by blow, to the neighborhood as he protects the residents of the Lost Canals against the dangerous old man with a cane from sleeping in a compound where, only months ago, elderly tenants not only paid to sleep there, but actually kept the place neat and tidy.

Thanks, Batman! I’m glad to see that your sense of civility only extends to the political process, and not to the neighborhood. Now, I can sleep better at night, knowing that across the street from me, you weld a bat and are prepared to use it to engage with new stakeholders daily.

Portrait_of_George_Francisco_by_Jules_Muck copy

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