INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Remembering Venice

Many thanks to Renee Blodgett for her warm account today of a recent stop in Venice Beach. Of course, Renee's a pro and knows how to paint a picture. She also provides some actual pics as well. Good stuff. Her positive reactions to this wacky scene tell me she's an enlightened person. Not that we really needed any further evidence.

I sent Renee a comment of appreciation because she stirred up some fond memories for this grizzled blogger. As chance would have it, I actually discovered Venice Beach way back before it was discovered. We’re talking 1958—my god!—I was fresh out of the Army and wanted to spend some time as a misfit before heading off to college.

Back then, Venice was just a beach slum with cheap rents. The primary inhabitants were body-builders; homosexuals who needed an obscure place to hide out (this was way before Gay Pride); impoverished and elderly Old Country Jews wanting to end their days by the sea and this being the only affordable place to do so; plus a scattering of wannabee beatniks like myself. Then, gradually, the real beatniks discovered the place, and then the press discovered the beats, and then all hell broke loose—reporters, TV cameras, druggies, hangers-on, you name it.

But as her post so eloquently illustrates, the place managed to leverage its new visibility and land on its feet. It became better than it was—which almost never happens in the case of discovered places. The only down note is that nobody can afford to live there anymore.

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