Fears of Germs
Concerns that Venice might be on the verge of a bacterial outbreak had neighbors living near Rose and 3rd Avenues worried.
Reports that a representative of Lava-Mae, the mobile hygiene organization that provides showers to those homeless in Venice, said they believed there could be as many as six of cases of the antibiotic-resistant Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in those who had been using the Lava-Mae showers on 3rd and Rose, raised a furor among neighbors.
Yo! Venice reached out to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to follow up on the report. The Department responded, saying it was investigating and that other bacteria and conditions could cause signs and symptoms that are similar to MRSA and only lab testing could provide a conclusive diagnosis.
Councilmember Mike Bonin said observations made by Lava Mae volunteers had been taken out of context, that some of the people who Lava Mae served in Venice had prescriptions for medication to treat staph infections. “This mention of medication has fueled a rumor that quickly spread in Venice about an outbreak of staph infections,” he said.
A Grabby President
Following Donald Trump’s election as United States President, a fierce contingent of local woman trekked to Washington D.C. to make a stand for civil rights and equality on January 20th for Trump’s inauguration.
When a leaked recording had the world listening to Trump telling NBC TV host Billy Bush that when you’re a star women let you do anything, even, “grab them by the p*ssy,” Bush lost his job. Trump went on to win the election. However, Trump’s self-professed genitalia grabbing antics did rub many up the wrong way, and as a result, there were a lot of pink beanies with pussycat ear styled peaks at 2017 inauguration day protests.
Political Organizer and Venice activist Nisa Kove traveled to D.C explained wearing pink hats helped identify those marching, “so they wouldn’t be seen as supporters of Trump.”
Locals Take on Bonin, Tommy Hilfiger Takes over the Beach, and Something is Cooking at Venice High.
Venice geared up for the Los Angeles County local primary elections with two locals, Robin Rudisill and Mark Ryavec, campaigning against incumbent Mike Bonin.
Tommy Hilfiger ditched New York for Venice Beach to launch his Spring 2017 collection. On February 8th, the Boardwalk turned catwalk and model Gigi Hadid showcased her collaboration with Hilfiger. Venice Paparazzi’s Edizen Stowell snapped shots from a prime position just a couple of seats down from Lady Gaga.
Venice High School invited Yo! Venice to a cooking class. Teaming up with the Venice Boys and Girls Club, Local business Gjelina offers an after-school program that teaches kids all about the food they eat, and how to cook it.
Venice High student, Imari found cooking to be a good metaphor for life. “It’s not really right or wrong when you’re cooking. Because, if you add too much seasoning or something, you can add everything else to even it out. And you never know, you may make a mistake, and then the food ends up turning out to be better than what you expected,” she said.
Six miles of roads on the Westside were car-free on Sunday, March 26 for CicLAvia – Culver City Meets Venice. Bike traffic filled the streets from Grand Ave., to Venice Blvd., to Centinela Ave., and all the way up along Washington Blvd., to Culver City.
Venice local Anne said she was a big fan of the bike take-over. “It’s amazing all these people came out. A perfect Southern California ringing in of Spring.” Anne had joined friends riding from the Venice Sign all the way up to Culver City and back.
Riding his bike on Pacific Avenue in Venice, Stewart Oscars noticed vandals had struck the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial a second time. “I’m just mad again. It’s so sad that people do this. There’s just no respect for what this is. I’m just mad and sad,” Oscars told CBS 2 reporter Jeff Nguyen.
In the lead up to Memorial Day 2016, Oscars reached out to Yo! Venice after noticing taggers had vandalized the mural.
Firefigher Killed in Crash on Washington Blvd
23-year-old firefighter, Ron Herens, in Venice from Georgia, was thrown 30 feet and killed, and two of his fellow firefighters, Dillon Guest and Doug Blanchard, were injured when the car they were in was hit by a suspected drunken driver on the border of Venice and Marina del Rey late Monday night April 10.
On Friday September 15, Benjamin Albert Seider pleaded no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter and DUI causing injury. A judge sentenced him to seven years and four months in prison, according to Deputy District Attorney Eva Jabber Stodel.
Pausing as he fought back the tears Guest told Yo! Venice, “We lost a good man, we lost one of our brothers. We can’t get him back because of the heinous act of a man who decided to drive drunk.”
Herens’ mother Cobi Koene told Yo! Venice the people of Venice have “carried us through” and have made it easier for the family to travel to the place they lost their son.
Venice’s Dark History Memorialized
During WWII thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to interment camps, feared spies. 75 years later, on April 27th, Venice memorialized the spot on the corner of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards where hundreds of Westside Japanese Americans were ordered to meet before being bused to Manzanar War Relocation Center.
Hundreds crowded the Venice Boardwalk on April 30th, 2017. The throng of fans booed as Founder, Todd Ray explained why the Freakshow was moving out of 909 Ocean Front Walk. “We have lost our space to corporate greed and development here in Venice Beach,” he said.
While rumors ran rampant, Snap Inc had nothing to do with the Freakshow loosing their lease. Yo! Venice learned one of the potential new tenants had been a well know ice-cream chain, but that deal did not going ahead. For now, the old Freakshow space sits empty.
Great Streets Vision Zero
The Los Angeles City Council approved an allocation of more than $27 million for Vision Zero projects on Thursday, May 18th. The decision meant more money to put towards reducing traffic fatalities, including those involving bicycle riders and pedestrians, in LA over the next decade.
And, the “road diets” pilot began.
A portion of Venice Boulevard between Beethoven Street and Inglewood Boulevard in Mar Vista was re-invented as a trial Great Street. Three lanes dropped to two and frustrated commuters fought increased travel times but zipping through back streets at speeds neighbors felt made traffic more dangerous than ever.
Sex on the Beach
Saturday, May 26th, hundreds joined the Venice Oceanarium’s annual Grunion Run Party. Cramming the shoreline, chasing fish with flashlights, neighbors watched the small, sardine-like, Grunion fish perform their fascinating mating ritual.
Found all the way along the coast from Central California to Baja, at various times during the Spring, female Grunions ride the waves and leave the sea to lay their eggs along the shoreline. Male Grunions follow close behind, chasing fish tail, eager to fertilize eggs. “The seashore is covered by hundreds of sex-crazed fish,” said Tim Rudnick, director of the Venice Oceanarium.
Missing No More
On Memorial Day, Monday May 29, Venice neighbors gathered to celebrate the newly restored memorial mural honoring prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Vietnam War.
Vandals attacked the mural, at 614 Pacific Avenue in Venice, almost a year to the day. Venice local Stuart Oscars first noticed the graffiti late Wednesday evening on May 25th, 2016. Big, white block letters sprayed over the mural covered hundreds of names.
It was no surprise on when results of the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count came out Wednesday, May 31 showing that homelessness in the city of Los Angeles had jumped by 20 percent in a year. The county saw a spike of 23 percent.
“We didn’t need a homeless count to know what we know, which is that Los Angeles is undergoing a housing and homelessness crisis,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
Rainbows ruled in June as Pride Month kicked off in Venice.
On Friday night June 2, a section of Windward Ave., turned into the Venice Pride Sign Lighting and Block Party dance floor to celebrate diversity and equality.
The Vaivao family made the trek from Ventura to join the fun. Victoria Vaivao said the event was an opportunity “to teach our kids about equality and to love everybody.” Vaivao is studying human rights law and said she believes the Pride movement is vital.
The Los Angeles Rams became the first National Football League (NFL) team in history to sponsor a Pride festival, and following the Rams sponsorship deal, the San Diego Chargers stepped up to add their support.
On the beach, Venice artist Patrick Marston and his husband Michael Brunt transformed the Lifeguard tower at the end of Brooks Avenue from its traditional blue to Pride Flag rainbow with the help of local volunteers.
Ocean lifeguard Wadley told Yo! Venice he tried conversion therapy as a teen. He had gone willingly, raised thinking it was wrong to be gay and led to believe he could be “cured.” “You would never, ever see this in Kansas. To come out here and then come out and work at a lifeguard tower that is a rainbow is kind of amazing…you’ll make me cry,” he said.
End of a Venice Habit
“Coffee is over,” Acupuncturist, Venice local, and Abbot’s Habit regular Andrew C Whitelaw told Yo! Venice of the Abbot’s Habit shuttering. “After this, we die,” added Geo Beck, a local blogger from The Abbot Skinny. Beck and Whitelaw were Abbot’s Habit regulars, a couple of characters who are part of the motley crew that were part of the coffee stop’s crowd.
On June 23, the café threw a farewell party so Venice can say goodbye to the 24-year-old AK OG. With rent going up the café, at 1401 Abbot Kinney Blvd., had to move out. There was a rumor that Malibu Farm was moving in but the “For Lease” sign hanging in the window suggests the landlord is still looking for a new tenant.
On Saturday, July 15, firefighters dispatched at 12:57 p.m. to an apartment burning at 33 E. Horizon Avenue. However, in the moments before Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) trucks arrived on the scene, Brandon Daniel and Jason Kirkham, two employees of Venice’s Sidewalk Café, raced toward the chaos.
While smoke and flames billowed out of the left side unit on the second floor, Kirkham jumped a gate and ran upstairs. “I started beating on the doors yelling ‘fire, fire, fire’ and this lady came out behind me, and she said ‘there’s a fire’ and I said “yeah, there’s a fire, yes ma’am, you need to get out of here,’” Kirkham told Yo! Venice.
After learning that a cat lived in the next unit and the owners were out for the day Kirkham kicked the door, “and I went in there, and I got their cat.”
Knocking back any suggestion he acted a hero, Kirkham said, “it’s just the way I was raised. When the lady said there was animals in the house I thought, my Mom would say the same thing. My Mom would say, ‘get the babies out. So that was my first thinking.”
Venice’s Fearless Activist Artists
Celebrating activism through art, Venice locals and Los Angeles art lovers filled the Durón Gallery inside Social Public Art Resource Center (SPARC)’s headquarters at 685 Venice Blvd., on Saturday, July 15, to witness the unveiling of a Canadian addition to Artist Judy Baca’s, The World Wall: A Vision of the Future Without Fear.
“The Inuit Send the World a Canary” by lead artist Tania Godoroja Pearse shone a light on the profound and uncontrolled destruction of Canadian life and landscape and made a powerful statement warning of the perils of global warming and the exploitation of natural resources.
Venice Man Armed with Rifle Shot by Police
Todd Hurlburt, 53, of Venice died at a hospital following a shooting, on Friday, August 4th, in the 800 block of Venice Boulevard.
Officers went to the location on a report of a man who was armed with a rifle and destroying property inside the home, the Los Angeles Police Department said. They were met outside by a woman, who according to sources, was Hurlburt’s girlfriend. Upon approaching the front door, Police discovered the man armed with an AR-15, and an officer-involved shooting occurred.
A source told Yo! Venice Hurlburt had no criminal history, but both he and his girlfriend had restraining orders out against each other, even though they lived in the same house.
Hurlbert’s girlfriend’s brother posted on his Facebook page the day after the shooting, “Pretty much every neighbor saw this coming.”
For two years, Yo! Venice followed Venice-raised artist Ruth Chase as she worked on a series of large-scale paintings, recorded audio interviews, and collected the stories of those who have, and do call Venice home. On August 5th, Venice Arts hosted the opening of Chase’s West of Lincoln Project and Venice OG’s turned out en mass.
As a young girl growing up in Venice Beach in the 80s, Chase says she would lie in bed counting gunshots. The artist said there was a “wisdom that came through growing up in a place like Venice.” Childhood experiences inspired her to create the Project and preserve the history of Venice through the people who grew up in the neighborhood.
Local Venice surfers held a paddle out at the Venice Pier on Saturday, August 26th in honor of 19-year-old Liam Alexander Taylor who died while surfing his local break at Moonstone Beach in Cambria on Friday, August 18.
Known as Red by locals, Taylor’s birth father lives in Venice, and the young surfer was attending Santa Monica College. Venice local Ray Rae described Taylor as a Great kid who was “always smiling, always respectful, gone too soon.”
Venice Flying Carousel
Yo! Venice shared news of local artist Robin Murez’s plan for a flying carousel calling out for locals to sponsor a carousel creature and be part of the art. Once complete the carousel will find a home in Venice’s Centennial Park that runs from Abbot Kinney Blvd., to the Venice Public Library on an island sandwiched between Venice Blvd., North, and South.
Feeling the Burn
For the first time in four years, the Venice Afterburn was recognized as an official Burning Man Regional Event. On Saturday, September 22 mutant vehicles, art installations, performers, interactive art, and musicians transformed the Venice Boardwalk at Windward Plaza between the skate park and the Los Angeles Police sub station for a post Burning Man celebration.
For 12 hours on Saturday, September 23, locals partied at a special one-off Venice Pride pop-up event at Roosterfish. The line was long from noon onwards.
Great Festival. Period.
Thousands flooded Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice for the 33rd Annual Abbot Kinney Festival, Sunday, September 24. It was blue skies, sunshine, and a whole lot of talk of periods.
“Thank you for taking care of vaginas!” Yo! Venice overheard one woman call out to the Tampon Tribe team. The local business had their organic tampons on display at the festival. Tampon tribe COO Gaby Alvez told Yo! Venice she is happy talking periods is less taboo. “Tampon Tribe wants to make the conversation lighter,” she said adding that for this, the Venice crowd was the perfect demographic.
Photo by Melanie Camp.
1. Marley Powell, Feild Deputy for Sheila Kuehl’s office honoring Peter Ruiz for his work with the Venice Pier Project. Photo by Melanie Camp.
2. Pacific Division Captain Roberts said it was “absolutely not” murder on the Beach.
3. Neighbors worried about a future development at Thatcher Yard. Photo by Melanie Camp.
Photo by Rick Swinger.
Poop in the streets. Cleaning an alleyway off Rose Ave in Venice. Photo by Rick Swinger.
Celebrating the Pier
It is hard to imagine the beach without the Venice Pier, but there was a time when the landmark was no more than a blight on the Los Angeles county coastline. On Saturday, October 7, Venice locals and ocean experts joined city and county officials to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Venice Pier restoration.
Venice local Peter John Ruiz, who runs the Venice Pier Project and is unofficial guardian of the Pier, orchestrated the morning’s celebration and played emcee. Reopened on October 15, 1997, after being red-tagged closed for almost seven years the Pier had been “on the cusp of either being torn down” or saved explained Ruiz.
The body of a local homeless woman, Yvette Mills, 48, washed ashore in Venice. Discovered about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, October 12 at the Market Street end of the beach, Pacific Division Captain James Roberts told Yo! Venice that while West Bureau Homicide was in the loop, Mills death was “absolutely not” murder. He explained the rumors that it was foul play “probably surrounded the fact that she was partially unclothed, which was the result of the action of the waves and water on her body.”
The Future of the Thatcher Yard
In October, a new ordinance that plans to cut through the red-tape that impairs the construction of new supportive housing had neighbors near Thatcher Avenue in Venice worried about the ramification for their quiet community.
Bernadette Lee is a real estate professional and has lived in the Oxford Triangle near the vacant lot for many years. “The neighbors understand that we have a large issue with homelessness in the general city and Venice area. However, we would like to be involved in providing feedback to address density, parking issues, traffic impact, ingress and egress concerns, to name a few.”
Once used for city maintenance operations, for now, Thatcher Yard sits empty and in a state of limbo. Thomas Safran & Associates will develop the property, and so far no plans are with the city.
Hepatitis A Outbreak
After a Hepatitis A outbreak kills 18 people in California, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on Friday, October 13.
More commonly spread through contaminated food, in California, the outbreak spread from person to person worrying many in Venice, especially those near a homeless encampment on Rose Avenue where neighbors continually complain of people using the street as a restroom.
On October 25, a car hit and killed 40-year-old Damon Shear as he crossed Pacific on a crosswalk the Los Angeles Department of Transport determined was dangerous in 2014 and recommended installing flashing beacons to improve safety.
Neighbor Alexander Poe told Yo! Venice the crosswalk is notoriously unsafe. “The driver was going fast enough that the pedestrian flew 30 feet. The body is still there. His flip-flops are still in the crosswalk,” said Poe.
Council Member Mike Bonin’s office said, “red tape” is delaying installation of flashing beacons at the crosswalk.
Recall Bonin Campaign Continues
Despite hitting a roadblock, after failing to provide the necessary paperwork to the City Clerk’s office, the Recall Bonin campaign said it would continue with the recall effort, claiming that Councilmember Mike Bonin needs to be held responsible for the increased traffic in the district.
Beach Restrooms to Stay Closed at Night
The Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering approved a Coastal Development Permit which will keep the beach bathrooms in Venice closed at night. The decision was made in the midst of a Hepatitis A outbreak in Venice had some questioning the Bureau’s decision.
The curfew has been in place since 1988 to deter late-night crime on the beach, yet has remained in place even though crime levels have dropped significantly. Local activists said they believe the city does not have the jurisdiction to implement such a curfew and are thus violating the California Coastal Act.
’Tis the Season
Snowflakes from snow machines danced down onto Windward Ave., and mist rolled in from the Beach as neighbors gathered for a block party to celebrate the Sixth Annual Holiday Lighting of the Venice Sign on Saturday, December 2.
In previous years the Venice Chamber of Commerce has kept the celebrity guest of honor a secret, but this year the cat was out of the bag. Actor and Venice local, Matthew Modine pulled the lever and lit up the Venice Sign red and green for the Holiday Season.
Whatever the new year has in store, being Venice, it is bound to be out of the ordinary.
Big it up for 2018 Venice!