Culture

A MEMORIAL TALE OF VENICE

img_0183by-Marty Liboff (with a little help from Gerry Fialka and friends )

Spirits of the dead- come forth and show us the way… Just a silly old man’s memories of Venice Beach. Ancient dreams- morning arises- tomorrow never comes. There are no yesterdays or tomorrows or as Janis Joplin once said, ‘’It is all just one long day!’’ In the shadows of Abbot Kinney’s folly have lived the souls of thousands of beautiful faces and characters. Venice Beach- my outdoor church full of love and madness and people of all walks of life from different lands and universes.

THEY KEEP TRYING TO WIPE US AWAY BUT WE ARE STILL HERE!

People and places of long ago still live and haunt the Ocean Front Walk. The rich and famous and the poor and unknown from the world over forever wash up on the shores of Venice Beach. Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Asians, Indians, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, communists and madmen all sharing life together in a melting pot of love. The high and mighty and the low and lowdown. So many have gone before us and paved the way and changed our lives and then went on their journeys to other planets or have sailed across the river Styx to paradise. The universal dance of life…

Sometimes a sadness comes over me. My heart still sees the old places and the ghosts of those we have loved and died; Eric’Big Daddy’Nord with the Beatniks in the Gas House, the old Saint Mark’s Hotel, my mom Ruthie and Harold and Moe selling bagels and chocolate brownies in the bakery, listening to poetry with the Beachhead founders John and Anna Haag in the Venice West Cafe on Dudley Ave., having breakfast at the Lafayette Cafe, Joseph selling falafel and playing belly dance music in his Finjan Cafe, Arnold the Kosher butcher, the L&M Market and Deli and Henry’s Market, Sponto doing art in his gallery, P.O.P. And the pier with fantastic amusement rides, the Aragon Ballroom with Lawrence Welk and later the Cheetah Club with all the famous rock stars, Al James sitting on his throne in front of the Phoenix House, Milton telling us stories about Miles Davis, Sidewalk Bob with his long beard doing Venice tours, Lawrence Lipton and Stuart Perkoff bringing the Beats to Venice, Miss Daisy singing gospel on her antique Gibson guitar, Jim Morrison writing a song by the shore, Werner Scharff buying up Venice for cheap, Dr. John healing people on Windward, Ted Hawkins singing the blues, Philomene Long writing a poem, Swami X standing on a bench and joking about the world’s problems, Dr. Geek with his big hat doing his rap, Uncle Bill playing his life on a piano, Tibor painting like his pals Chagall and Picasso, the mighty soul of Carol Fondiller, peace activist Phil Chamberlin tossing epiphany footballs on the grass, Hiya Norga Eric, kookie Cosmo, Swedish Lisa petting all the pooches, sweet wonderful Gail, Phoenix the sax man, Abraham’s wife Dianne walking her dogs and doing her art, poet and writer Steve Richmond, Sonny painting and playing guitar and telling how he wrote songs for Jimi Hendrix, politricks with John Thomas, Monae Lei Momi forever a child of sunshine and smiles, dancing with Betty the old bikini ukulele lady, that wild little brat Jay Adams creating the art of skateboarding, wacky Arthur walking like Groucho Marx with his false teeth falling out, Millie Mims a saint of Venice feeding the homeless, Bobby the World’s Greatest Wino, Ernie playing guitar, James Mitchell and the Muddy Bottom Blues Band, Danny’s Deli, and at the Levin Center there was Morrie Rosen helping the poor and elderly, Carol forever a hippie, and sunshine Pauline with a huge smile at 102. Venice Beach, the outside insane asylum with its nuts and crazy drunks like Riff Raff Ralph, J.C., Crazy Mary, Jo Jo and Zorro yelling profanities. The Venice dogs like Bagel the bagel eating basset hound, Danke Dankster with a frisbee in his mouth, and Lisa with dollars stuck in her doggy bikini. And so many, many more… Let us know who we missed. Our hearts break when we think back at all the angels of Venice who now sing and dance in heaven. Their wonderful spirits beam down on us from above. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust… All that they left behind is their love… I’m sure when we get to those pearly gates before Saint Peter he will tell us heaven is beautiful but not nearly as cool and fun as Venice was!

Everyday the beach front changes- someone new, someone dies, someone goes. The sea winds blow you away and the winds blow you back home again. Abraham took his drums and new wife Rachel and moved away. Rasta Randy moved to Hawaii and van-o-leer Patty moved back east. Majid the puppetman and his wife moved to Paris. Jim Smith and Erica from the Beachhead along with great artist Earl Newman and beautiful Gypsy Camille all moved to Oregon. Mesu drumming on Rasta Hill was deported back to Belize and so was cool Mervyn. Musicians and singers David and Rosalyn moved to New Orleans. Some we know not where they are like musician Butch Mudbone, and Sandman Scott making love to his sand babes. And a kiss to all those sweet Venice gals who left and broke my heart. All rivers run to the sea and someday your love will return. There are always new shops, artists, vendors, musicians, nuts and homeless with new art, songs and poems. Some move away, others die and more are born. It is always that way. And soon maybe the Beachhead may end… So it comes, so it goes. The ocean waves wash away the sands of time and someday someone will say, “Did ya hear that old dready with the one eared dog croaked?” And everyone will say, “Who dat?”
Spirits of Venice still haunt my life. Dreams of the dead still live on in my soul. The ocean waves wash away the tears and years- soon come, soon come. Let us give thanks and praises to those who went before us and showed us the way. Amen…

– Gerry Fialka adds:
Betty AND ELTON, Ralph, the cosmic king of the Boredwalk, peace activist Phil Chamberlin and culture jammer Gerry Fialka tossin epiphany footballs with Haley Damian (son of Margaret and Peter, who still serenades us) and Charles seaweed man Political Bill Mitchell soapboxin the truth, Sponto gathering the community.

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