Pfsuzy
9 min readAug 5, 2020

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V for Venice by Gerry Fialka Venice BeachHead August 2020

V for Venice by Gerry Fialka

One of the great benefits of being in Venice, California is that one can walk around and share fiery, funky and fun conversation every day. We run into our friends and take the time to be together. I ran into Zed, and he informed me of a BLM (Black Lives Matter) march. I went and was moved. We are blessed with amazing revolutionaries. I am grateful to hear the powerful speaker Chaka Forman, and the articulate teacher Soni Lloyd, who is the Howard Zinn of Venice High School. That day, and most every day, I experienced the “Vitality” of Venice. Venice is “IT” (Innovations & Transformations in the era of Information Technology).

I am grateful for the inspired and inspiring dedication of Venice people. I don’t need Facehook and Twitler. I thrive on direct experience, eye contact and live verbal exchange. Epiphanies in everydayness happen in Venice many ways, every day.

I asked two stalwarts — Mike Bravo and Lydia Ponce — to answer these 5 questions:

1- What is the difference between rights and responsibilities?

2- What is the difference between rebellion and revolution?

3- “Anarchy is making rules for yourself, not others.” — Utah Phillips. Who is entitled to make rules?

4- “Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.”- John Basil Barnhill. In the 2005 film V for Vendetta, this quote was paraphrased “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” How do you personally handle false fears (such as “the war on drugs”) ?

5- Discuss “them or us” and “divide and conquer.” “In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.” — Charles de Gaulle. Charles Baudelaire wrote that the devil’s greatest achievement was to have persuaded people that he does not exist.

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Mike Bravo responded:

  1. Rights evoke a sense of entitlement, an unearned privilege, perhaps in the case of US citizenship. Responsibility puts accountability back in one’s lap. As humans, we have rights to many things like, water, home, food, etc. Responsibility is making sure that those things are protected and available to us, and future generations.
  2. Revolution is a distinguished and pronounced process of progress and betterment. It is training for victory. Rebellion is more immediate. It is more like forcing an imposing power to back the fuck up.
  3. Who is entitled to make rules will always be debatable. What words and rules we accept as being conducive for the well-being of our spirit and our responsibilities to all life is up to us.
  4. I meditate. I pray for guidance. I listen and look for clarity and guidance. It never fails.
  5. They are us. The greatest gift one can have is a worthy opponent. A good opponent allows us to see the best we have to offer. Divide and conquer is how the oppressor wins. Age old tactic. The deGaulle’s quote is just a regurgitation of this idea from Tao Te Ching (Chinese classic text credited to the 6th-century BC sage Laozi) “He who is exalted by the people does so by serving below them.”

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Lydia Ponce responded:

Responsibilities are something you are taught within your culture and in keeping with your spiritual alignment to your Higher Power — in my case, Creator.

Rights are typically written and given, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) have demanded our rights since 500 years plus. What right do these so called Founding Fathers have to create a document that lies and says all men are created equal and we are not. There’s no mention of women. . . please look at how Indigenous People were written as merciless savage Indian in the Declaration of Independence (DOI). The Constitution and the DOI were not written to include us, BIPOC, and it was never meant for us.

Creator provides our inherent rights as human beings. There is no justice on stolen land and no justice in kidnapping, raping and killing Indigenous and Black relatives to dominate for profits. The Doctrines of Discovery and Manifest Destiny reveal the historical theft, blunder and racist dominance supporting whites supremacy and attempts to justify white history to qualify these documents as truth and justification…but we know better.

The revolution isn’t here — yet. The difference is great. We haven’t had a revolution — there’s only white men’s wars. Yeah you tell me about 1776!!! We are all arriving at new truths and closing gaps, the missing truth in U$A history. When I think of revolution, I think of it as Ché, the Zapatistas and of course Egypt. That’s a revolution. Revolution is relentless, altruistic, and some die on their feet for generations to not take shit any more from the power elite or the gooberment.

Rebellion is steady — we’ve had a recent uprising and the rebellion is currently the steady plan to continue to communicate that the fuckery must end: oppression, marginalization, false documents of ordinances, policies, and systems that support white supremacists’ capitalism and profits.

Rebellion and revolution is ending the continued genocide of BIPOC, U$A political ill will globally. Rebellion is other countries not taking D’uhmerikkka’s shit anymore, too.

The entitlement of making rules doesn’t exist for community of color. We have Elders. As Indigenous People — we look to do what’s best for the people. We have tribal leaders and Elders. What other people in the main stream society typically have hierarchical structures of organizing… of decision making. We must have community circles that over lap and are connected to each other.

Entitlement rule is typically white male- we ain’t doing that no more! Can you imagine commissions of Elders — aunties, uncles, grandpas and grandmas having community oversight for the local gooberment municipalities?

They’d get more done than ever and the budget would be proper, just and fair!

I see the damage done with the false war on drugs and the people that are slowly recovering from that. We keep that history in front so when the youth need to know, you have a grip of resources and information to share with them. We listen to the youth and we are available for them… we pass the knowledge and the skill set to research, READ, and how to discern. Discernment is priceless.

Keep the stories close to our spirituality because there will always be someone with a different version and that’s where we can co-exist. In the cross cultural differences to honor those differences, not to fear or hate differences. Take the time to find similarities… understanding offers patience as a side affect. Tolerance is temporary.

As these atrocities happened to the people living here, the torso on Turtle Island, we must heal together as more is been revealed, more lies, more hidden history and rebelling to put an end to the erasure of BIPOC history. It is our duty to care for the Elders who are our libraries and to nurture our children, they are the unwritten future.

As a Mayo-Quechua woman, I have looked at the deeds of men with business plans on two continents — Turtle Island and Pueblos Indigenas de Sudamerica. My heart recovers more and more I heal from the trauma inflicted on my Ancestors. I rise to my day in pray and in gratitude, always.

I am honored you asked these questions and want to provide these thoughts in the VENICE Beachhead. Perhaps we can start a community circle for further discussion. We can imagine and create a healthy future for all.

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Another local hero for me is Eric Ahlberg, who does alot of the work getting this newspaper published. He is very smart. He loaned me his copy of the 2020 book Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties, by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener. It is the monumental Los Angeles history of rebellion and resistance, a “movement history” examining the history of Black, Chicano, LGBT, women’s, and student activism in the city. The authors probe the battles between young people and the LAPD on Sunset Strip and at Venice Beach. The counterculture provides another focus — the Ash Grove folk music club, the LA Free Press, the Venice Beachhead, and KPFK Pacifica radio.

This comprehensive 788 page book on local revolution includes a chapter that is essential reading for all Venice activists since its deep research covers Venice Beachhead history. Chapter 30 is titled The Battle for the Last Poor Beach: Venice (1969). These 14 pages are required reading for anyone who is really serious about change in our community.

Many literate folks know the importance of City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (1990) by Mike Davis. He often gets kicked out of LA because he reveals too much. Preeminent American writer, political activist, urban theorist, and historian Davis is not interested a “reformist” approach. He contends that most reforms have failed because they treat the symptoms rather than the cause: economic and political inequality. He argued in Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster (1998) that realistic solutions lie in a radical transformation of the city and of capitalism by the global working-class.

Davis, along with noted author Jon Wiener, provides “an indispensable portrait of an unexplored chapter in history” -Publishers Weekly. Read this vital primer Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties. They write: “We invite younger historians and activists to enlarge and revise our account of this crucial but misunderstood decade.”

Reinvent and reimagine. Re-evolution. Be bold. Be courageous. Be brave.

Davis & Wiener include the aspirations of the Beachhead’s founder John Haag: “Free Venice was the logical offspring of a vibrant neighborhood political culture. John Haag, publisher and editor of the Free Venice Beachhead, explained that their vision went beyond stopping the bulldozers: ‘Would you believe dancing in our Venice streets? Non-violent police? An art festival the length of Ocean Front Walk? A Venice radio station? Cooperative, low-cost housing? An art cinema and sidewalk coffee house? Experimental theater in the Pavilion? Schools that could teach what the kids wanted to learn? Venice planned and run by the people in it? A newspaper created by Venice writers?’”

Check out Sasha Frere-Jones’s review of Set The Night on Fire entitled “Los Angeles Is Burning” in Bookforum April/May 2020 issue. His thorough coverage includes mention of Angela Davis. I wish she’d run for President. He writes: “Some of the pressure that built in Los Angeles during the ’60s was released in the moment of Davis’s flight and subsequent acquittal. Her widespread popularity represented a turn in opinions about the police and the justice system. None of which ensured any long-term relief, in the black community, from police pressure, but all of which changed the nature of consciousness around these issues, laying the groundwork for a new audience, like the one that greeted Mike Davis in 1990. Everything is still on fire, and more people can see that now.”

Davis & Wiener write: “Venice was the kind of place where windows would display posters reading ‘Angela Davis: Sister You Are Welcome in This House’ while she was underground.”

How do we change consciousness now? Frere-Jones recommends watching Angela “in The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975, a 2011 documentary that used footage shot around the time of her trial. Davis is as calm and collected as she is polymathic and fearless, an American template for the revolutionary life.” What does the revolutionary life mean to us now?

Davis & Wiener write: “Art Kunkin’s LA Free Press (aka the “Freep”) sponsored free music festivals. The 1968 ‘Bastille Day Bash’ on Venice Pier featured Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and other bands, including the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. ‘Wear costumes and masks,’ the Free Press poster said. ‘Do your thing on the beach: swimming, body painting, sculpture, sand castles, listening, loafing, dancing, playing, freaking… Be kind, be pure, avoid busts.’ 25,000 people showed up.”

In the 60’s, Frank Zappa declared “I’m not black, But there’s a whole lots a times I wish I could say I’m not white!” and “I will love the police, as they kick the shit out of me on the street.” How do YOU update these words for our current times? What does courage mean now? How are you seeing and creating a new V for Venice?

Laughtears.com invites to join in our weekly Zoom Chats. More real than reel. Delve deep into politics, humor, music, art, film and current events. Reword McLuhan’s Why must we continue to mow down the Kennedy’s in order to illustrate that the hot politics of the old machines won’t work on the cool and involving TV medium?” into Why must we continue to watch protesters snatched off the streets in order to illustrate that the tactics of the old machines won’t work on the evolving social media?” Invent new tools? And use the old ones, too? What is your rewording? Send to pfsuzy@aol.com

Gerry Fialka, artist, writer, and paramedia ecologist, lectures world-wide on experimental film, avant-garde art and subversive social media. He has been praised by the Los Angeles Times as “the multi-media Renaissance man.” The LA Weekly proclaimed him “a cultural revolutionary.” Gerry has hosted the McLuhan — Finnegans Wake Reading Club since 1995 in Venice California, now in its 25th year. Laughtears Press is proud to announce the new book, Strange Questions: Experimental Film as Conversation by Gerry Fialka, Edited by Rachael Kerr, Foreword by David James. Laughtears.com

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