Friday, September 3, 2010

First Fridays, For Who?

"On my last First Friday I realized this: There are way too many food trucks, they are so marginally talented and they need to drive to Bakersfield and stay there. And also, people of Brentwood, Santa Monica and the Palisades, PLEASE NOTE: you are not cool for just coming to Venice one Friday of the month. Love & Hugs, as always ..."

So read the Facebook status
of one of my Venice pals the day after last month's First Friday. Yep, I think it's time for we citizens of Venice to have another little Pow Wow about it all. What started out as a thing to help out Abbot Kinney merchants at a slow-ish time, and have a cool hang for the locals to mingle and enjoy each other as they strolled along the Boulevard, has now become a bit of a monster that no locals seem to want to participate in.

August's First Friday was a madhouse. I helped out at my friend's store (Firefly) that night, so I was really immersed in it this time, rather than looking down upon it all from another friend's balcony, which has been the norm recently. The entire part of the evening that we stayed open after normal non-First Friday hours, I recognized not one single soul from Venice - and I know a lot of people. Not ONE.

When you ask Venice people these days if you'll see them on First Friday, the general response is "No way, I can't stand that mess", and it has actually propelled many of us AWAY from Venice (Helpful Hint: that would be a good day to try and lure us East of Lincoln, East side pals!).

And it really is a mess, literally and figuratively. A real mess, as people leave their food truck garbage everywhere (my bike basket is especially attractive to them for that purpose). A mess of people blocking the sidewalks, as it took me 20 minutes to get from locking Firefly's back door to get to my bike parked in front. A mess of traffic, as 40 (!) Food Trucks (the most ever, I believe) lined the streets, and a long queue more of them waited
their turn on Milwood to turn on to AKB. It's gotten to be where it's really just kind of gross, and not many locals want to participate in that.

People that live in Venice chose their home for a reason, generally, and that is that it is VENICE ... not Santa Monica, not the Marina, but Venice, and all that goes along with that. We don't want Abbot Kinney to be another cheesy Promenade. We like to support local businesses. We like to park somewhere near our homes. We like to ride our bikes or walk without a hassle. We like to recognize SOMEONE as we go about
our fun.

More and more shops and businesses on the block are talking about not staying open for First Fridays, as it doesn't seem to be that profitable. The permanent restaurants on the Boulevard are all great, and busy on Fridays anyway. With such a glut of Food Trucks that night, and locals completely avoiding it all, who really benefits from the thing - other than the night trippers that want to feel all cool and Venice for an evening, I mean?

Again, I don't have the answers, but we need to discuss it all, before the whole thing turns ugly. There's already anger with the food trucks, the crowds, the garbage, the parking, etc ... and that's not cool. I just want my friends and neighbors to be happy, and there hasn't been too much happiness (that I've heard of) with the whole First Friday deal. On the other hand, it's merely one night a month, and I guess we can all stomach that ... I guess. Most seem to think it's a passing phase/phenomenon, and we can just ride it out. People will find some other place to go litter and Twitter and get drunk at soon enough. Time will tell ...

It's a good time to talk about Venice Cityhood too. With autonomy from Los Angeles proper, we'd be more free to sort out what's best for us as a city, and as a people. FREE - that's a big big part of why I chose to live here, to feel free to live however I want to, with like sorts that also greatly value their freedom. That's why the paper is called The FREE Venice Beachhead. It's the core value, I believe, of Venice.

So let's talk about all of it ... First Fridays; supporting local business and the best ways to do that; if Cityhood is a real possibility that has support and benefits everyone, litter; parking; and anything else you want to talk about. Write to The Beachhead, or stop me on the street Monday-Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, since I probably won't be seeing any of you at First Friday (er, tonight).


  1. i visited Venice First Fridays as a tourist with a well loved Local.
    She was very excited that it was First Fridays and could show me the real venice community out and about celebrating their stores and local music scene.
    What i saw was scary.
    The Food trucks and trash was my first cringe. In couldn't find a trash can to put my ciggie butt in. Any trash can i saw was overflowing.
    If you could rid Abbott Kinney of the Food trucks then people would be lining up at the local stores for food and music and shopping.
    Keep the business local and keep the visitors welcome.
    Keep it clean.
    Keep out the food trucks.
    Welcome the buskers and street performers.
    Banning the food trucks aint gonna scare people away.. its gonna make it cleaner keep it local.
    Long Live The Loving Caring Venice community.
    donna x

  2. The food trucks embody the indomitable entrepreneurial spirit of America. Any immigrant/upstart food artist can start their own phenomenon without having to risk as much as a full service restaurant would. Resent it all you might. But it is novel and genius and tasty.

    It is totally lame that the cops have shut down all the music on Abbot Kinney. The last 2 first Fridays I played the cops checked my twitter and came and shut 'em down.

    It's lame.

    Now it is a food festival. You can sample foods from all over the world. It is a beautiful and evolving thing.

    As for your friend that says that the food trucks should drive to Bakersfield and stay there. That is a very ignorant insulting comment. That comment embodies the fake hippie persona that pervades Venice. The so-called open minded people that really just are more conservative and judgmental than anyone I know. Grasping hopelessly to the past.

    I've been playing in Bakersfield at least 6 times a year for the last 4 years. They are very kind people. And don't actually follow the trends of LA so closely. It's an oil and military town. They work hard and party hard. They are some of the kindest most supportive of the arts people I know.

    Here we are in the future. Enjoy.

    The trash: That's why we pay taxes. They clean the entire street before morning on Saturday. Yes there is trash on Friday. Check it out Saturday morning. The place is cleaner than it was on Thursday.

    If you don't like it don't go! That's another beautiful thing about America. Freedom of choice. Vote with your feet. I love Border Grill Truck, Green Truck on the Go, Calbi, Don Chow, The Greasy Weiner. And proud.

  3. I hear - and appreciate - both views. But there's not really one called The Greasy Weiner is there? Blech. xo.

  4. Yeah and I resisted at first but it was orgasmic.

  5. the people, that are coming to our city, are drinking to the point of being biligerant and eating, slothly and treating the streets and our front stoops like garbage, literally, dumping whatever they like onto and into our neighborhood, flowerbeds, bike baskets, patios, it has completely become un-fun for us locals,
    and no one is actually patronizing the actual businesses who are paying THE fuckin AK rents and trying to pay THEIR bills, (the reason for FF's, to begin with)...they get wall to wall trucks blocking, their flowage,and creating actual IMPOSSIBE clutter, you cannot even walk, a solid 3 or 4 steps, at any one time... disagree a million percent with you dear, above...cept the music...THE ONLY INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE, no music, thats like saying, no oxygen

  6. and garbage was EVERYWHERE, sunday, dude...i saw it personally, with my own two green eyes