A true Old Venice Icon has died.
Carol Fondiller and I had a relationship that goes back to the early “70s. When I cooked at the Meatless Messhall she was already a stalwart of the OFW. We didn’t always agree (HA!) but she always had a point that made sense. She died January 9th and Venice is the worse for it.
She help start the Venice Beachhead. That in itself would be enough the admire her, but, she was so much more. A true poet, a housing advocate and a voice for Venice that extended far east of Lincoln. She was the queen Bitch of the Boardwalk, but always for the right side. If you disagreed with her, it was a job, but when she was right, she was right. She fought for the poor, the community and for fair housing. She never backed down or gave up.
She was rude, funny, sometimes loud, but always for the people, always for us. She wrote so many articles for the Beachhead, sometimes I thought she and Jim were all there were. When I was involved in legalizing the vendors on the east side of OFW, she offered invaluable help and advice on the ways to do it, and then pointed out how badly I was screwing it up. When I got too deep, she pointed out different directions. And, she never gave up on the community.
She introduced me to the Venice West coffeehoue and John. Later, we had many coffees and other recreations with Sponto and debated every issue available on the beach. When I became the GM of the Sidewalk Cafe she thought I had sold my soul to the devil, but, I redeemed myself. Sort of. When I worked to shut down and remove the Pavillion she called me a lot of names, some, maybe true. When I worked to shut down and remove the oil well, she loved me. Just typing this is choking me up.
I know that she helped found the Peace and Freedom Party, I was a member, she was a guru.
If there is any justice, there will be a plaque for her in the circle. I’m going to miss her, even though we haven’t spoken in several years. Goodbye, Carol. THANK YOU!
A Memorial for Carol Berman Fondiller will be held from 2-5pm, Saturday, Feb. 13 at Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd.
The Beachhead is requesting submissions for a memorial issue. The deadline is Jan. 27.
Carol Fondiller was the dean of Venice journalists, having written for the Free Venice Beachhead for most of the past 41 years. She was a writer par excellence, a poet, a thespian, and a political activist whose caustic wit made more than one politician and landlord tremble.
Carol came to Venice in the early 1960s and hung out at the Venice West Cafe where she met John and Anna Haag, Stuart Perkoff and the other Beat poets and artists. As the sixties progressed and became more political, Carol was an activist in the Free Venice movement, including the Venice Survival Committee and the Free Venice Theater Group, which put on plays at the Venice Pavilion. She was one of the Venice founders of the California Peace and Freedom Party. Carol was one of the last surviving leaders of the sixties movement in Venice.
Carol was involved in every aspect of her adopted city. She was arrested several times for standing up for free speech, including the right to distribute flyers on the Ocean Front Walk. She once ran on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket against Tom Hayden for state assembly. A couple of years ago, Carol was crowned “Queen of Venice” by her friends. Her coronation was endorsed by a resolution from the L.A. City Council. She said she had mixed feelings about the monarchy, but accepted the title in deference to her friends.
May 31, 2009
The Beachhead is out with a memorial issue about Carol. It's online now http://www.freevenice.org and will be on the streets soon.
There very few people left who actually helped create the Venice we love. Jim Smith, Arnold Springer, Swami X, Slavin David, Peter Damian, Jafferey Stanton, Harry Perry. Maybe a few others, but, it's a short list. The rest of us are latecomers who live in the town they created. Carol was a superstar. She deserves to be remembered. Without her, this would have been a completely different community. She can't be honored enough.
Go to the memorial and thank her for Venice.
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