VENICE BY THE SEA
By Mike Sonksen
Venice by the Sea was built by Abbott Kinney
at the turn of the 20th Century.
A Utopian community modeled after its namesake in Italy.
Canals were cut through marshes
as part of Kinney’s quest
to build Coney Island of the West.
Beach cottages replaced tents, gondolas were in the Canals,
roller coasters graced the waterfront,
gambling ships sailed in the ocean,
escapism the ethos in Prohibition.
Venice was a separate city for a generation, the inevitable annexation
into Los Angeles was because of politics.
The World Wars & aerospace industry left Venice a rundown beach town
affectionately known as the Slum by the Sea.
Poverty gave way to poetry, the affordable, empty streets
opened the door for a generation of Beats.
The Holy Barbarians of Lawrence Lipton, gathered in the Gas House & Venice West,
it wasn’t a place for squares to rest.
Stuart Perkoff yelled poems nonstop, poetry & Live jazz was with Kenneth Rexroth,
they almost banned the bongos.
The lights went dark at Pacific Ocean Park.
Jim Morrison & the Doors kept the flame alive,
Dogtown & Z Boys skated for their life
redefining skate cool in an empty swimming pool.
Poets like John Thomas & Philomene Long, seventies singers of the Venice song,
Carrying on the legacy of Venice beats, it’s always been Bohemia on the Beach.
The flame stayed stoked at Beyond Baroque with poets like John Harris & Michael C. Ford.
Wednesday Night’s Poetry Workshop bridged from Poetry to Punk Rock.
The Venice Boardwalk always rocks, Hollywood Blvd.’s evil twin sister,
Open-air vendors, performers, fortune tellers, beach dwellers, incense sellers, backpackers,
Roller bladers, tattoo artists & skaters.
Drummers in the drum circle, weight lifters, Muscle Beach: The Mecca of Body Building,
Abbott Kinney hipsters, homeless grifters, nomads living in vans, Transcendental vagabonds,
all composers of the Venice song.
Walking through Venice it’s a coastal village before redevelopment everybody was chilling
now Fortress Architecture is in the mix International style & New Brutalists.
The Shoreline Crips & Venice 13 have been on the scene for a few generations,
Oakwood’s seen gentrification.
Venice’s original area of African-Americans
now has wealthy landowners & McMansions.
Small World Books & the Talking Stick, bringing you back in the dense Mozaic
Respect to Ordell Cordova & Nickie Black, Venice beats off of Abbott Kinney.
Walking through side-streets to backyard parties,
barbecue after barbecue,
Venice Beach zeitgeist is nightlife & culture on the water.
Suicidal Tendencies to Teena Marie, a landscape for music & poetry.
Venice was lawless & still can be, poets wandering from party to party
yelling nonstop poetry, freestyle dancing & improvising
Venice vibes rising, Venice inspires vibing,
It’s been that way for a Century, Welcome to Venice by the Sea.