ocean park, ca..the first 21 years in an L.A. beach town

remembering venice

at the far end of today’s
flash and glam movie-set soundstage caricatures,
lived the 1950’s venice beach
ocean front walk          low-rent slumtown…
muscle beach founding father gym rats
held court     cartoon-ish weight lifters
greased like coppertoned monoliths
grunting while sweat dripped down unworldly torsos
as they lifted steel and flexed
for the men, the women
and each other

**************

further down to the handball courts

a small child waited on a scratchy
blue wool blanket
playing with toys and her dollies
in the sun
while daddy tossed a small black hardball
into concrete walls with his gloved hand
handball they called it
and, at the end of each day
he’d take her to the sand at the water’s edge and she’d sit
waiting and watching her daddy braving the sea
while, as more exercise, he would wrestle with it
swimming horizontally against
the sea’s logic of lapping, cresting waves…
when she was old enough to hang on
he placed her on his back
as weight for that saturday swim
that child got it then
her love of the sea
the honor and thrill of its depths

**********************

later in that decade
in between handball sets
but still every single saturday
of her life so far
he took her up to the playground
swinging on the baby swings, ‘higher daddy’, she shrieked
hot steel sliding boards burned her tender thighs
and she dizzily spun on old bent merry-go-round, as it dragged
some unfortunate ones
each and every time as it spun
’round and round…
there were plastic horsies to bob on      and the scary big-kid swings, that took her higher and higher
terrified, she bravely swung back and forth,  yelling more daddy, please more, even when her allotted playground hour ended

************************

in venice ca circa later   she was a little older    and was allowed to go on  her own to the playground, while her father played his handball on those concrete walls     “stay away from those weirdos on that boardwalk,”  he gruffly warned
but these dark beats with forlorn jazz and horns
blaring from curtained art studios piqued her curiosity
and she watched, while the gas house and venice west beatniks corner-jived
and she listened, while bleary-eyed beats in black screamed
raw art onto walls, it pierced into her heart    her skull, while poetry burned
sizzling words through the fires,  something awakened inside of her and like a fierce tsunami
waves of art and poetry flooded and slammed into her and into a beach town’s west coast
creating, defining and answering:

what is hip

*************************

later haight street moved south
all the daddy’s little girls snuck out of bedroom windows at night and in every moment of every day they could find, they rode their
bikes over howland and linnie canal bridges
back to venice beach
with flowers in their hair
seeking a new hip
amid this new free love and peace of the day…
music and bells tinkled and permeated
in the summer’s air singing songs of us                 like no other
while this new life teemed in and out of
the boardwalk, those miles of sand and that pacific ocean, while in and out of our minds
we swam
burning our naked feet crossing hot sands and concrete
no where, but nowhere, man
could you find LIFE like this!   love like this! drumbeat bongo sounds
echoed as heartbeat/ companion keeping time
keepin’ a perfect rhythm of us      with us
like this!
in the faces of
the crowd there were no strangers
soon all were brothers and sisters
like this!
smoke this! drop this!
need a place?
need a hit?
need some food,
some free-box clothes?
need me, baby?

on scratchy wool
blankets and un-sheeted funky
mattresses, girls, too-young  lost their
virginity to vagabond boys
with beads around their necks
their long hair tickling in places
their daddies never told them about    while these boys’ indifference after the act   offered a first real taste of  heartbreak and most of the time   culminated in the early-stage aches of rejection

*************************

old clanky trams hit the pavement
with one nickel rides from venice’s
oceanfront up the ocean front north
to santa monica pier’s
merry-go-round and back all day long
in venice then, the beats sat on worn green sidewalk benches
next to retired
old synagogue refugees talking story
watching the freaks’ sideshow
our poet elders in black sat nodding
from the excesses
they too had
discovered

***************************

like all good things
somebody’s gotta take it down
gotta take paradise
and fuck it up
the next gift haight street sent south
were nasty, mean biker boys in black carrying bags
of crystal meth
speed shootin’ through too many veins
too many vietnam vets comin’ home
to that first hit, the last dose that sent them spinning over their precarious edges,
while all the true hippies dismantled their magic theaters,
their howland canal houses, linnie canal shacks, 27th avenue and west washington communes          everyone saw the writing on the wall and began
headin’ north for the hills, farms, country mountaintops and the hawaiian islands–  still pristine paradise then–  all called our names   the call was answered        and slowly we left, leaving venice behind..

there was land to work        babies to birth       promises to keep     a culture to try and save and  love still called from far away    there was a waning magic like no other to try and preserve     yet slowly, yes, we packed up and left venice  behind…
**********************

soon all that remained
were the empty-eyed and strung out
shuffling up and down venice’s
empty sidewalks     the dark, meth energy seeped into sidewalks and empty apartments    there was no more groovy music blaring   no more peace and love   no more free press concerts on the beach   no more happy, shiny stoned out of their mind hippies    even the pacific was unnerved, spewing unusual waste onto its once-sparkling shores

**************************

then greed knocked
developers got wind of a beach town
slum ripe for the pickin’
houses on sidewalk streets
sold for a song were remodeled
venice became”revitalized!”         come buy your new condo
build your four story beachfront homes!
the realtors and the land barons
became the new culture  even changing the names of the old streets
blocking all the views of the sea  that the cheap funky shacks used to have
building monster high-rises
that nobody could afford
except for movie stars and millionaires

it was then

that venice

lost its soul

**************************

metamorphosis, again
venice ca died then rose up like an odd phoenix from smoke and ash
reborn          rebirthed         shape-shifting again
into something unrecognizable
to my eyes
movie sets,  rap blarin’   roller-skatin’ models
in bikinis   rent this!  buy that!
everybody hawkin’ and selling somethin’ while
tourists  crowd “the now famous” ocean front walk
while holding children close       protecting them from the old crazies and new sideshow freaks, not quite normal
while uneasy gangstas and wannabees
eye each other’s signs from low-ridin’
old cars cruisin’ speedway alley
and all the little girls who used to
ride on their daddies’ backs in that blue pacific
are gone now too
in their place remain a handful of slightly damaged old women      as unrecognizable as the new streets and vibe of venice
revisiting  their past and venice’s as if it were only

an odd dream

remarkably odd, and yes, dreamlike

like venice
circa today

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About lindalou5150

as exercise or exorcism, i write...for the eyes of others, for my eyes and heart only, for the love and the rage, i write...to release the gamut of emotion...to tell the truth and say what's often thought but not written...
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3 Responses to ocean park, ca..the first 21 years in an L.A. beach town

  1. Karmanot says:

    The banner is gorgeous!

  2. Karmanot says:

    Oh,— at the end, I could only think ‘A Death in Venice’ And weep.

  3. David Garcia says:

    wow…is this new? did you just write this…??? it is sooooooooooooo good, you are really on a roll here…I mean, In my thinking, this is first rate stuff and should be published….somewhere…where?…at least I hope you are keeping all of these pieces together in some way…there is a whole series on many different areas…but I am think just the venice ones, the bench ones, what a collection those would make…you have been busy…I guess that was your dad, right? out there playing handball and swimming in the ocean and you were on his back? first rate work…congratulations…thanks for sharing…xd

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