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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.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
aghrivaine
Jul. 17th, 2007 05:35 pm (UTC)
Your theories fascinate me. How can I subscribe to your newsletter?
catrionamacnair
Jul. 17th, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC)
Baggy pants held up by sheer willpower = expression of the day

Do you think the Replicants would side with the Pirates to kick the awful people out of Venice?

Also, you deserve a medal for civil courage. *applauds*
aghrivaine
Jul. 17th, 2007 05:43 pm (UTC)
How do I know the awful people aren't Replicants? How do I know I'm not a Replicant?
catrionamacnair
Jul. 17th, 2007 05:58 pm (UTC)
1. The code doesn't say anything against replicant pirates iirc.

2. The cool Replicants can still kick the awful Replicants out. It's like throwing EETC collaborateurs out of Tortuga.

3. Knowing that you are awesome is enough to kick awful people regardless of their construction or programming.

QED.
nixieq
Jul. 17th, 2007 06:03 pm (UTC)
you = Good Citizen. seriously. a lot of people would've just shaken their heads and walked away, so good on you for being concerned for someone else's safety.

i second the above in re: enlisting FF-B unicorns against the terrorists.
lacyintx
Jul. 17th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
So.. are the thugs worse than the gypsies? Do the thugs hog all the good parking spaces?

And good for you for looking out for the young lady.
aghrivaine
Jul. 17th, 2007 06:29 pm (UTC)
I'd take gypsies over thugs - at least the gypsies don't deface artwork and menace young ladies.
lacyintx
Jul. 17th, 2007 06:31 pm (UTC)
This is true.*nods*
aghrivaine
Jul. 17th, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)
Mind you, I'd rather it was neither!
blanchemains
Jul. 17th, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
My opinion is that gangs are just another form of terrorism. I suppose that Islamic cells try to attach some higher cause to their crimes, but the bottom line is that they are all thugs looking to promote violence and feel like big, scary men.

I just don't see how counter terror initiatives are very different in aim or application from what anti-gang task forces did. And the gangs are part of the landscape in LA all day, every day- unlike shadowy terror cells that may or may not be ready to attempt an attack. Maybe it's just that gangs kill their victims one or two at a time and spread their terror one city block at a time- though the end result is the same.
aghrivaine
Jul. 17th, 2007 06:45 pm (UTC)
How many terrorist attacks have there been on LA? How much gang-related violence? If de-funding gang task forces increases gang-related crime, with no appreciable decrease in terrorist attacks - is it even slightly rational?
blanchemains
Jul. 17th, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
I think that's the point I am trying to agree with. It's important to protect our city from people we actually do know are out there waiting for an opportunity. But the money shouldn't be diverted from things we already have a pressing need for.

Tracking down terrorists isn't really in the scope of training for the average beat cop patrolling our streets. Our national guard should be helping with the anti-terrorism duties, but they can't very well do that over in Iraq, can they? The whole system is in disarray, made worse by half assed legislation rushed onto the books in the post 9-11 frenzy in Washington.
aghrivaine
Jul. 17th, 2007 07:13 pm (UTC)
Well, the National Guard can't do domestic police work, due to the Posse Comitatus act - which is important, and should be upheld. Using the military as a police force is a very dangerous precedence - and while acceptable for short term emergencies, is definitely not desirable long term.

But yes - spend money on the things we KNOW are a problem, instead of the magical, flying, fire-breathing unicorns which have never been a problem.
recoveredweasel
Jul. 17th, 2007 08:14 pm (UTC)
Davy, you're my hero. Thanks for helping that woman out. Most people turn and look the other way when shit like this happens and you did not. If more people were like you, far less shit like this would happen.
joemorf
Jul. 17th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
I'm just bummed that you didn't upload a pic of the origami you made out of a straw wrapper while calmly preparing to dole out the harshness.

~j
aghrivaine
Jul. 17th, 2007 11:24 pm (UTC)
Actually, I had left over garlic chicken, and a big fat volume of the Aubrey/Maturin books. Between that, and careful honing of my skills in "The Game" I pretty much had a game plan.

"Excuse me sir, rather than molest that young lady, would you like to have some of this garlic chicken?"

Open chicken, show to masher. With off-hand, use spine of heavy volume to devastating effect. Who's your Master and Commander now, huh, buddy?
nephandi
Jul. 18th, 2007 02:05 am (UTC)
Dude, you have now officially FOUGHT CRIME on the nighttime streets of your hometown. You're a goddamn superhero now!

And I TOTALLY have the firebreathing flying unicorns covered. With both restraining orders AND Sumerian curses! Hey... I should apply for Department of Homeland Security funding!
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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