June has arrived and it is time to really get serious about revving up the plans for the Venice Centennial.
It is timely that The Argonaut has two Centennial-oriented items this week — a lengthy letter to the editor from an optimistic Venice Beacher who looks ahead and sees great promise and opportunity for his vision of Venice Beach.
And the wonderful new book by the artist who designates herself Maryjane, who looks back on the history of Venice and obviously rejoices in a different vision of what makes — or made — Venice unique.
George Drury Smith reviews Maryjane’s book this week.
Before he joined The Argonaut, George started Beyond Baroque. Both he and Maryjane have lengthy associations with Venice.
Our letter writer, on the other hand, comes with the enthusiasm and ideas that could help the future of Venice and its residents, but which tend to ignore the input of those who have been here, contributing for decades.
There is always a danger that newcomers with big ideas sometimes arrive believing nothing really happened until he arrived.
Sort of reminds us of the scene back at the Ballona Wetlands, where folks who had worked for decades to ensure that the wetlands would be saved were suddenly looked upon as being “in the way” of those who with new vigor and energy would surely finally get things done.
Alas, getting things done in Venice is not as simple as our letter writer suggests.
Those of us who lived through the 27 years it took to get Venice Boulevard improved or what seemed like decades to get the Venice canals refurbished can only smile at such enthusiasm.
But we old-timers also remember the energy that individuals and such groups as the Venice Action Committee, the various Venice Beach merchant groups and the up-and-down Venice Chamber of Commerce contributed over the years.
In spite of ourselves, things in Venice did get done.
If and when our letter writer plunges into the economic efforts that he envisions in this week’s letter, he will discover — if he has not yet rubbed elbows with — the diverse elements of the community who do not share all of his concepts for “progress.”
We hope he pursues his effort to stimulate the present government leaders to give Venice and Venice Beach their due.
We encourage everyone to jump in and contribute, of course, even as we admit that not all new ideas arrive with merit.
The letter writer’s concept that city police should be apportioned out equally to each City Council would make sense only if crimes were also so apportioned.
While we in the Pacific Area of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) can squeal and whine when they take officers out of our LAPD area, the fact is that the crime rate in the Pacific Area is far lower than in those sections of the city where the officers are being sent.
We won’t even begin to comment on the suggestions of gentrification that he offers for his new Venice Beach.
Fortunately, we have Maryjane’s book to remind us of why we came to this area in the first place.
For anyone who has lived in Venice for any length of time, the names of neighbors and past friends and the lovely drawings of their Venice homes will certainly draw out many personal memories. As will the coming Venice Centennial, already beginning to stimulate local events and gatherings.
The big events are planned for the July Fourth long weekend but there will be a few this month, such as the auto show being planned for later this month.
Even those busy looking forward to the future of Venice will benefit by taking some time during the Venice Centennial to look back on what made Venice such a wonderful area in the first place.
And as our letter writer suggests, this is a time when locals need to think about the future of Venice and Venice Beach.
It’s fun to look back on the first 100 years. But the Centennial is also an opportunity to ponder where the community is going in the next 100 years.