NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Maybe there really is no there here -- not now – and maybe there never was. Did we just all fall in love with the irascible Venice of our dreams? We imagine ourselves as the unique ones, the interesting doers, basking in the idea that we are the vibrant happening town overflowing with artists, one-of-a-kind, seriously intent on cultivating the feeling of being in a real place.
We smugly look at the “others” with sad eyes. They, who hold urgent meetings to deal with a cracked sidewalk. We, the noble ones, superior human beings determined not to be swallowed up in that “good life.” No utopia for us here! We’re Venetians! We thrive on the internecine development fights occurring on a near daily basis. We live for the latest outrage inflicted on us by the city. We beat our chests to get the LAPD to take a report about a mugging on “the coolest street in America.”
And, we remind you, some schmo just paid eight million bucks for a tear-down. We can only guess that he thought it was worth the price of admission to drink the best wine, eat the best sushi, crow about the endless new restaurants selling one kind of faux food or another -- and who gives a damn if he has to wait a couple of days for the LAPD to get an officer out here to take a police report?
Over there, where the sidewalks don’t have a crack, three cop cars respond at once to the most minor crime and the biggest story is the guy with his RV parked on the driveway for months. Who knows, maybe they Airbnb there too. But us unique ones, we’re tough! We’re tolerant and patient and loyal and we take all comers. One moment we grouse about the kid sleeping on a shop’s front porch, the next, we are trying to figure out if his puppy is getting its shots.
Maybe that’s our secret. We are not a myth. You can throw anything at us and we deal with it all like conquering soldiers. We don’t quit, but just don’t make us live where all the houses are white and the roofs are red. We reject their architecture police. We crave the distinct place, the big idea! Where else will you find impromptu cocktail hours forming on a Sunday afternoon where regulars migrate like they’ve been magnetized -- all living the idea that this place is real?
In this topsy-turvy world our craziness is almost charming. No matter how Aspen-like we are becoming, the kernel of uniqueness is alive. But we sure have to put up with a lot of **** to live this vibrant madness. We don’t want a groomed HOA-controlled neighborhood here. Please don’t clean or polish us!
Corner lots sell for eight million, lofts rent for 40K. One creative marketing company is even renting two of them on the street now. Hot dog trucks are parked illegally for days and the line is around the block for $5 ice cream scoops and $4 donuts. And yet, they come. They come because they feel alive and that’s why we are not a myth. Where else can you say that?
We old Venice denizens just want the cops to show up when we call them… and the Rooster truck to take a hike.
(Marian Crostic and Elaine Spierer are Co-founders of ImagineVenice.) Photo by Elaine Spierer. Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.)