Carol Fondiller died last Jan. 9 after working most of 41 years on the Beachhead. Here are her comments from March, 2005:
By Carol Fondiller
The voice on the other end of the phone said, “Rumors are whizzing “round, noisy as skeeters on a stagnant pool spreading west Nile disease. Billy’s apartment building is up for sale.”
Fighting through my friend’s hyperbole, I asked ‘say what? Who’s Billy? And what’s love got to do with it?”
“Well,” said my friend, hereinafter known as Gary, “Billy’s apartment building is located on the Ocean Front Walk between Park and Brooks Avenues. About 8 units, 10 people, right next to one of the surviving single family houses on the Front and Billy’s…”
Oh yeah, “Billy’s Apartments.” Well. There’s a strip mall on Park Avenue that sells nothing useful to the surrounding community, the two-story single family house, Billy’s Apartments—which is painted a sort of pinkish brown, has what Easterners call a stoop, and what God-fearing heartlanders would call a small porch, is three stories high. It’s just north of a tattoo parlour and the Café Venezia on Brooks Avenue.
In the late 50s the Ocean Front Walk had a varied streetscape of former hotels turned into permanent apartments, bars, single family houses, a few Mom “n” Pop stores….Excuse me while I brush away a nostalgic those-were-the-days tear.
Well, things do change, sometimes for worse, and sometimes for the better. And sometimes it’s just change. As in decay, rebirth, and all that Karmic stuff.
But to me, the sale of Billy’s Apts. signals a real change.
This is one of the last apartment buildings that have moderately priced units on the Ocean Front Walk, perhaps in Venice. Some of the tenants have lived at Billy’s for twenty years. Years ago, developer wannabes dreamed up a plan for Venice that would, in the words of one developer, “Make Venice a Miami Gold Coast.”
This plan included a freeway that ran west of the beach onto the ocean, the taking of property east of Speedway by eminent domain, in order to facilitate two-way traffic. (It’s estimated that the proposed plan to widen Speedway would have taken about 20 percent of the properties abutting Speedway.) Not just the Hippies and Commies opposed that plan. And, of course, there’s always been controversy in regards to development on the O.F.W.
To put it delicately, Venice is entering another phase.
To my way of thinking, there is a plan to eliminate all dwellings on the Ocean Front Walk. Billy’s Apts. and the single family house next to it can be consolidated. And with claims of hardship exemptions, easements, setbacks and other development goodies, to combine with the property that includes the tattoo parlour, Mom “n” Pop shop and the Café Venezia into one helluva package for plasticized quaint B”n”Bs or Hotel California for discreet business meetings.
As it is, the Ocean Front Walk and the adjacent walk streets are barely livable now.
The uh, gee…dare I offend the west side artistes? I can find no other description—NOISE from the Ocean Front Walk 8 hours a day or longer, 7 days a week, and the fumes of endangered sage, gasoline emissions from huge buses with faulty engines, and the stench of rancid oils that emit from our many fine restaurants. I understand that much of this will change after the Ocean Front Walk ordinance is in place, but I am skeptical. The charms of Venice were the juxtaposition of seedy apartments next to one family houses next to bars and groceries, fruit stands, synagogues, tabernacles, etc.
There was also the mix of Bohemian outcast, orthodox Jew, fundamentalist, etc., workers, poets…; well you know the drill—diversity.
That’s coming to an end now, and not only because of the developers, real estate and the Artbunkers that are popping up like giant pustules. J”accuse some of the aforesaid Artisty–Poos that have invaded the Ocean Front Walk. They seem to think that just because they are poor like Van Gogh, unrecognized as Van Gogh, they automatically have the genius of Van Gogh.
They seem to think that because they claim to be artists, they have the right to annoy and denigrate all the Philistines and greedy money grubbers who have the nerve to live on the O.F.W.
Well, cheer up. Within a few years, with some exertion, Ocean Front Walk will be lined with charming air conditioned hotels and condos converted to “boutique” hotels. Those units facing the Front will have windows that open, so as to be able to throw money to the buskers, hucksters, etc., that will line the O.F.W. Visitors will enjoy the “ambiance” of the O.F.W., because they will be leaving after a short visit, to go back to their homes that do not have a Loud Noise Free Speech area. They will show videos of the man and his rubber snakes, the people who keep assassinating John Lennon over and over every day for 8 hours a day. Those hotel visitors will be able to open and close their windows at will and still be comfortable in their air-conditioned units, free of the concert stage amps used by the exhibitionists to extort money from them.
Debit cards will be issued by the Dept. of Entertainment division of Recreation and Parks. The cards will be issued in varying denominations to be used for entertainment expenses ranging from $1.00 on up—to throw at the hucksters.
But best of all, the residents, or most of them will have fled from the Front inland, east of Lincoln, so that the walk streets can be converted to parking palaces for the hotel patrons. These palaces will be disguised as quaint beach cottages. The end result will be an Ocean Front Walk free of those annoying residents.
The Artisty-Poos will be free to bray bleat whine, sell incense, etc., without any interruption. They will have become part of the establishment that they profess to loathe.
But like “artists” before them, from Michelangelo to Warhol to Kinkaide, they go where the money is.
As I was writing this I heard a noise on the Front, no, not the Lennon-McCartney assassin, but some guy who was lecturing the customers at the café by my apartment building—he was yelling at some of the patrons. A bouncer came out and chased the man down the Front.
The “musician” who was singing applauded. A customer rebuked the exhibitionist for cheering as the man was chased off. The exhibitionist yelled at the customer for ‘trying to dominate my space. This is MY space!” he yelled through his microphone, ‘this is my show! I get to perform here! You don’t like it, leave!”
So much for love, camaraderie and caring by the sensitive (only to their own needs) exhibitionists on the Ocean Front Walk. Did it ever occur to the exhibitionist that if this man’s two-minute tirade so disturbed him, what must it be like to listen to his atonal renderings (and I mean rendering) of the Beatles” songs over and over again five hours a day five days a week?
Someone takes over on the weekends, and after the Beatle Killer and his Arnold Schwarzenegger imitations (another reason to vote out Arnold!) someone who kills off Bob Dylan comes on to commit more auditory rape until it gets dark.
Perhaps the proposed Robert Graham statue for the Venice Traffic Circle is a fitting definition of Venice after all—a stainless steel cunt.