Absurdism and Reality TV

(Venice CA) While standing in line at the Cow’s End Coffee House waiting for my turn to order a white hot chocolate drink, the TV monitor featured CNN’s coverage of the barf boy and balloon dad. They were relaying the information that last week’s scientific experiment gone bad might have been a publicity stunt that failed. It seems balloon dad is more than just an amateur clone of “Back to the Future’s” Dr.Emmett “Doc” Brown (Christopher Lloyd); he actually is more of a combination of Cuthbert J. Twillie (W. C. Fields), Orson (War of the World broadcast) Wells, and Rosie Ruiz all rolled in to one. [Why can’t the news shows play “Up, up and away (in my beautiful balloon)” as background music when they give updates on the “balloon boy” story?]

It seems that the “Let’s revitalize the concept of Zeppelins” guy is a bit disappointed by the prospect that his chances to land a reality TV gig have just gone down the toilet. Well, this columnist came up with a suggestion that should leave balloon dad flush with excitement and get his spirits flying higher than the Hindenburg on a cross ocean trip to New Jersey. Since it looks like he’s going to “the joint,” “the big house,” or the place where Johnny Cash recorded a live version of “A Boy Named Sue;” why doesn’t he see if the reality TV production company would like to put some video audio equipment in his cell for 24/7 coverage of him paying his debt to society. That way folks could participate vicariously in his attempt to become rehabilitated.

The only possible objection to such a venture would be that it would set a precedence and that would open the possibility that some other company could up the ante by initiating pay-per-view access to Charlie Manson in his cell.

After getting our drink, we talked to some of our fellow Cow customers and in doing so we came up with a curious local belief. According to a reliable source, if a person says a prayer to Bob Marley, within five minutes, someone will offer that person a joint. No! Not Q or “the rock” (isn’t that a national park and not the slammer these days?) a joint as in marijuana.

Now some cynics might suggest that in Venice even if you don’t say the prayer, it’s still gonna happen, but we’re just relaying the local lore.

Actually, we hear that the fire escape to the rooftop crib where (allegedly) Jim Morrison crashed has been removed because so many tourists have been attempting to visit that particular location, the means of getting there had to be removed but that, in turn, has angered the fire inspector.

Speaking of smoking that exotic herb, we heard a rumor that one of the local legal medical dispensaries for that very kind of medicinal cigarette has provoked the usually tolerant and liberal local artists into making a concerted effort to close down one of those angels of mercy (?) efforts because of the fact that they have been a bit rude in chasing away some of the world famous Venice Beach street performers working in close proximity to the “legal medicinal pot” location’s front door.

Isn’t one of that folk remedy’s effects to make the “patient” mellow and easy going? What up with the “scam, kid, ya bother me” type attitude?
There was a time, many, many moons ago, when the “hang-loose” attitude was one of the area’s trademark attributes.

There was a local fellow who would sit on one of the benches and ask for money. On occasion he would use his discretionary funds to purchase a liquid libation which might leave him in the prone position in the middle of the Ocean Front Walk. This columnist can remember seeing a police car drive around the guy and leave him taking his afternoon siesta unbothered. We were never able to verify the local urban legend saying that he was given every possible break because he had won a Medal of Honor during the Second World War.

Guess who is supposed to have been a Venice resident for a mere six weeks (or so) before trying her luck further up the coast where she joined a band called “Big Brother and the Holding Company.” Ironically the singer who became synonymous with the San Francisco sound of the sixties, died in Los Angeles.

It was on Ocean Front Walk where (according to Danny Sugerman’s biography) John Densmore offered fellow UCLA student, Jim Morrison a chance to fill-in that evening for hid band’s singer.

Venice also was home to the only bar in the world that intimidated us away. That didn’t happened in Casablanca, but it did happen when we had the opportunity to have a sarsaparilla at “The Sand Bar.”

This columnist can personally vouch for the inexpensive but filling breakfasts which were offered by the Layafette café.

The Catholic Church displayed a bit of civic pride by naming the local one “St. Mark’s.”

Just about the only thing missing in Venice CA is a bar that could boast that it had been (one of) Hemingway’s favorite gin mills.

Just across the border in Santa Monica, the legendary pioneer punk venue called “Blackie’s” is now a chic restaurant run by a world famous chef.

Don’t get the idea that his columnist has gone Yuppie just because of his visits to the Cow’s End. When this columnist recently chatted with Caleb, the owner, we asked where the cow which was on top of the building many years ago went, he pointed to the cow and immediately knew this columnist was not a “johnny come lately” newbie. We got extra points for knowing that the place, which attracts laptop owners with wifi access, could boast that an episode of “The Rockford Files” had done some location work on the premises.

Do the hippies in Venice refuse to abandon their attachment to the past? Recenlty we saw a young fellow in his old car. He was driving up Lincoln in a green four door convertible 1927 Bentley. Can’t he, at least, get into the Sixties frame of mind and upgrade to a VW bug?

Aimee Semple McPherson did better than balloon dad when she told newsmen: “It’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

Now, the disk jockey takes great civic pride in playing “Down on Me,” “L. A. woman,” the “They shoot horses soundtrack album” and “the Lawrence Welk Show” theme song.

This is the world’s laziest journalist reporting live (via wi-fi) from our source for white hot chocolate drinks. Have an “out of Vietnam now!” type week.

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