Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two (aghrivaine) wrote,
Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two
aghrivaine

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Venice in Summer

Venice has changed a bit, over the summer. What was once a charming collection of oddball individuals that ranged from the eccentric to the spooky has turned into a more sinister crowd. Where once cheerful drifters roamed the night, now hard-eyed packs of young men now slouch around in pants falling off their asses - talking in a ghetto cant regardless of race that is impenetrable to me. They stop to tag the beautifully strange murals that are everywhere with ugly graffiti. Graffiti as art is an interesting contribution to the urban space - graffiti as a bear's claw marks on a tree to mark territory is inevitably boring; just initials or a moniker in graffito font. It's boring, banal, and stupid - a scar on the city like a zit on the Mona Lisa.

Over night I seemed to wake up in an episode of "The Shield" - police presence is greatly increased, and on weekends cops patrol the streets, the boardwalk, the beach - on foot, bicycles, quad-runners, and horses. Gang activity has gone up throughout the city - apparently money that was once spent on anti-gang task forces is now being spent on anti-terrorism initiatives. In the history of Los Angeles there's never been a terrorist attack, so if we're going to spend money that used to make a real situation with real effects a little better, I think it ought to be on something more interesting. Anti-terrorism? Come on, what about the flying, fire-breathing unicorns? They've never attacked Los Angeles either, yet were are UTTERLY unprepared to deal with them.

Last night, walking home, I saw a young man wearing those goddam baggy shorts that were only held up with will-power, and a night-shirt sized T-shirt, with a sideways cocked Dodgers cap sprint down a street to accost an attractive young lady in a black summer dress. She flinched and covered her head as he came pelting up. I was walking away from them, but I stopped as it seemed a confrontation was taking place. He laid his hands on her, grabbing her by the upper arm - she shoved him away. He kept his distance but wouldn't leave her alone. She changed the directoins she was walking several times, and each time he followed her, hassling her. I called the police and followed at a discreet distance - if he laid his hands on her again, I'd intervene. Was he a random masher? A lover's quarrel? I couldn't tell, though she seemed to know him. She walked quickly along Main St. to Rose - and I followed. The young thug stopped to tag a dumpster with a paint-marker he was carrying in those goddamned shorts - I walked past and listened carefully for the sound of footsteps behind - in case the tagging was just a ruse to come up behind me. I think the girl had noted my presence, and perhaps he did too. She kept walking, but when he was finished defacing private property, he sprinted past me again, and continued accosting her. As they walked, they were joined by a seond young man, obviously familiar with the first. They took up flanking positions on either side of her - I closed to a shorter distance. The cops hadn't arrived yet, and if I needed to jump in, I didn't want to be half a block away. In anticipation of a struggle, my adrenaline surged and I started evaluating exactly what I'd do.

Fortunately the cops pulled up at just that point. I pointed out what was going on, and they asked me if the guy had hit the girl. I said he'd grabbed her. The cop said, "Yeah, yeah - but did he hit her?" No, he hadn't - but that doesn't mean it wasn't simple assault anyway, right? They pulled up and asked questions of the three, and I went back to my apartment.

Venice has changed. If Springtime in Venice was like a paradise, then Summer in Venice is like Bladerunner-by-the-sea.
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