Oh, Venice. Venice California that is. What a crazy place. An awesome place but crazy. We got here two night ago. Down from Santa Monica, which is a mile away along the coast. Santa Monica is super ritzy. There is the Third Street Promenade, with Nordstrom and Louis Vuitton. There is the Santa Monica Pier (which is kind of fun) where Route 66 “ends.”
We talked to a guy across the street from a Vons. He was living on the streets. There were three people but we only talked to him because he came to ask us for a cigarette. They where hanging out behind a building and we were in the front along the street. We talk to him for a while and during the conversation while I was rolling him the cigarette he said he felt so exposed out here. Meaning, in front of the building along the main street.
That is what homelessness, or being unhoused, does to people. It disconnects them, makes them feel isolated, makes them feel like an Other or an outsider. A Them and Us kind of feeling. There are us who live on the street, begging, busking, spanging, etc. Then there are “they” who walk by and try not to acknowledge our existence. Now, I will say this is, a lot of the time, not out of a since of malice or hate, but rather out of fear or helplessness or not-understanding. Regardless it contributes to the feeling of separateness between Us and Them.
OK, so back to Venice. We came down from Santa Monica. Nice, pretty, clean, rich, Santa Monica. We were walking along the paved path that follows the beach. We thought there would be a sign to signify that we had gotten to Venice Beach, everything looked the same. I mean its a beach, right? Oh, no. We crossed over some line that cannot be seen with the eye. Some line that long ago was drawn on a piece of paper and that now has taken on seemingly magical attributes. We cross this line and we are in Venice Beach and we all know it. I am not sure what time it was but it was getting late. Oh, and it was Christmas. All the stores were closed. But, there were still people on the street. By street I mean the boardwalk. On one side are all the shops and on the other side the beach extends out towards the ocean. This was an entire community of homeless and street people. We walked down the boardwalk just checking things out and talking about how different it was from Santa Monica. We were in Santa Monica for about a day and a half and it had begun to take its toll on us. Now we felt better about the situation. We came to an opening in the boardwalk that went to the left away from the beach and opened into a road. It is funny that as soon as we crossed the pylons that block cars from driving in this area (except for the police of course) we came to a hostel were a bunch of Australians were standing outside about to go bar hopping. We talked to them for a bit (or rather they talk to us) and I soon was reminded of my time in Prague and roving bands of Australian and British tourists (males) that visit certain places in the world mostly going to get drunk and have sex. They tend to go to Thailand, parts of Africa, and South and Central America. Notice the trend? Anyway, apparently they come here too. But the interesting thing was that they were right pass these pylons. It was like as long as you were on the boardwalk you were OK, but if you went off of it then you were back in the fucked up world.
This is my impression of Venice. I have not lived here, well, more than two days. It seems like a nice/interesting place. Besides Santa Cruz this is the only other place I have traveled to in California that I have thought about living in.
- Santa Monica Pier (cathyjeffries.wordpress.com)
- Santa Monica, Venice Beach & a broken bus… (tashyrae.wordpress.com)
- On Being Homeless in Venice from Free Venice Beachhead