Sometime between 2003, when I left the neighborhood, and now, something happened to Venice Beach. I am not too sure what to make of it. Venice was, and still is in parts, a grungy, artsy, funky and edgy famous Los Angeles beach town. Ten years ago it was mostly edgy with much of it a no go after certain hours of night.
The fact that Venice had this perception of danger made me always feel a little bit tougher for living there. Venice! Oh my that’s dangerous! How can you live there? Aren’t there gangs there? Why yes there were gangs there and they still lurk below the surface. There were certainly places in Venice that at certain times you were taking your life into your own hands by going there. I went there. I was younger and more fearless. And I got robbed at gun point….and laughed about it when it was all over. It all seemed part of the Venice experience so it was all good.
But now……What have they done with the place? This weekend’s Abbot Kinney Fest was absolutely everything that Venice never was. The annual festival on Venice’s previously sleepy little side street was well organized, trendy, hip, young, family friendly and….safe. What’s up Venice? When did you become Santa Barbara? They even have peddy cabs. Huh?
Sure there were a handful of what you go to Venice to see….really weird people. But not enough for my taste. Saturday’s festival had good food, really great art, and solid music. Of course if you weren’t shirtless, and wearing some kind of a corn cob hat, and had easy access to a razor you might not have fit in. I sure didn’t. And I felt so…..old. Venice Beach is now a colony of under 30 hipster D-bags. Yes I said it. D-bags. I loved Venice’s ethnic diversity and I had no problem with the bangers. They stayed on their side of the street and we stayed on ours. I saw one guy who looked like he might have been a gang banger at the Festival and he had the same look on his face as I did, utter confusion.
The D-Bagging of Venice was a long time coming. I always wondered when I lived there why the corporations and high end real estate people had stayed out of Venice. The perception of danger I suppose. No one likes danger or gangs, but there’s nothing wrong with a little edge. Keeps life interesting. The good news is, at least it’s not Manhattan Beach. Keep it funky Venice.