Saturday, July 28, 2007

Life in Venice Beach

Across the street there are 6 cop cars parked back to back, blocking an alley. One cop went running back to his car for a moment, wearing a face mask indicative of a siege.

Venice retains its rough edge amidst the endless affluence of West Los Angeles. Once known as "the slum by the sea," Venice saw gang warfare for decades. The Shoreline Crips and the Venice Trece were the ruling parties. No one without a death wish ventured onto the boardwalk at night.

The eighties saw the Hollywood area reach capacity. With the film industry growing, people continued to move to LA in search of work. Santa Monica was the first beach town to be revitalized. Venice followed, as fresh money renovated the former slums. Crack houses were renovated into million dollar homes. Drab streets were filled with freshly landscaped palms and birds of paradise.

I live in the last frontier of Venice. Drug dealers spend the afternoons on a corner four blocks away. Police helicopters periodically circle the area in pursuit of some drug dealer or gangster. Gangs still periodically war for control of certain blocks. I have woken up to find blacked out drunk homeless people sleeping on my doorstep. A colony of seeming drug addicts living in dilapidated trailers has parked itself on the opposite corner. They frequent the Big Lots and 99 Cent Store along with the working class Mexican and black families.

It is rumored that Whole Foods is buying the aforementioned shopping center. And perhaps the arrival of the ever expanding bourgoise temple will transform the last remanants of "the slum by the sea" into the territory of the hip entertainment crowd.

Perhaps I am getting older and losing my love of grit, but the beautifciation of the area does not seem like a bad thing.


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