June 2008 – How Others See Us: Venice is seedy?

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By Clare Kitchen (from London, UK)

An LA resident told me that ‘Venice is seedy and a home of weirdos and don’t go.’ Being curious I went this week, stayed a night and found it to be full of warm welcoming people and a ‘seed bed’ for creativity. What I find ‘seedy and weird’ about LA is the obvious denial of the existence of people in vulnerability and an attitude of ‘survival of the fittest’.

As a lone female traveller I felt safe in Venice but remain appalled by the lack of shelter and social care for homeless, needy people. It made me ashamed to see people asking for money for the basics. Maybe Arnie when next jogging along Venice beach could ‘feel enough’ to address these social issues and by turning his ‘predator’ powers into serving the vulnerable in LA society. I was brought up loving the dream  and community of Martin Luther King – what is Arnie’s American dream? and how best does it serve people?

Lawrence Lipton, Beat Poet, once wrote about the poverty of Venice – what has changed? I leave LA hoping that Venice will be supported more fairly in future and that the next Beat generation of poets can grow, expressing the true diversity of voices in the community. The endowment fund suggested by Lipton’s late wife Nettie could be established to meet cultural aims and develop a constructive agenda for affordable, supported social housing serving the most vulnerable in our troubled society. Mental health issues must be a priority as well as respect of older people.

In Fairfax Village yesterday I saw motorists driving over a walking stick – it was tossed about with the traffic – I see that as a symbol of the attitude to vulnerability prevalent in LA. 

P.S. Thanks for a great read this month. As an outsider visiting from London I found the paper really helpful and inspiring and was a good intro to the Venice Community which I experience as a vibrant one. It inspired me to write today.

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