Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California, 2017. Land of douche crowned by the last barnacle tendons of a beachfront madhouse strip, where humans are still to be found among the tourists. The old man playing furiously-expertly on the grand piano on the wooden pallet on the wheels on the walk in front of the pizza ice cream surf board sunglasses sandals bikinis henna tattoos graffiti vitamin parlors muscle bound skateboarders meandering meticulously the tirade of obstacles such as: a shit ton of tourists. Couples and couples and children and sole travelers whose only tell is their non-native enthusiasm. Families spinning Michael Jackson tunes as their children break-dance for tips. Old homeless men muttering to themselves about Benjamin Franklin. There’s still life here. An unmarketable madness still brimming with absurdist commercialism.
The contrast – or something – drains me like walking up stairs through molasses. The beautiful beating sun scattering about the blue blue sky and the Dr. Suess palms pom-poming the canopy over douche den after douche den. The sole creative expression of culture beyond the boardwalk crust is the dozens and dozens of snarky sandwich board signs outside of every clothing store (there are a lot) and in front of every bored-modern restaurant/bar/cafe and douche service shop – oxygen bars, yoga, Pilates and Yogalates, organic non gmo facial specialists and antique shops, certified life coaches and spiritual cleansing… The sandwich boards are fierce. They accost you and vibrate like a neutron star broadcasting aggressive positivity in the face of crushing self disgust, self disdain and that general eons-old jaded undercurrent that is the byproduct of the glamorous monsters that feed the heart of Los Angeles. It’s pretty typical I suppose as a successful gentrification project. You can tell all of the magical people haven’t left yet. But good luck finding them. You have to walk for hours down the aftermarket modded suburbia streets behind the concrete and glass new block monstrosities that define early third millennium quirk/minimalist/cheap architecture. Here and there are signs of true ironies and ancient subversions peaking out over alley gates hiding the interesting abodes of those left from the decades before – when people came here to be free, not to be served. Absurdly large stag horns. Frog parking. Dadaist sun porch additions on already ridiculously nonconformist homes. But the rest is ladies and little dogs, or ladies and little dogs and children. Bland sedans, big box store illegal immigrant landscaping, dried out fallen palm fronds and dog shit everywhere. It’s a neighborhood tradition to only pick it up if someone is seeing. And that’s ok. People are too obsessed with picking up their dog’s shit in my opinion.
I will give Venice Beach a pass however in its continued existence. For it is the first and only place I’ve ever seen salad pizza. Some beautiful child of the unholy union of neo-age gentrifying industry yuppies and the last slithering creativity of the surfers, skaters and weirdos who first put the place on the map. Salad pizza. I mean it. Just you wait. It’s coming, and it is good.