Honestly if it was ten years ago we would have never met but we both took steps to get out of the confines of our towns - we saw higher ceilings for ourselves both coming from places where ambitions are rather low - corners of Los Angeles consisting majority of simple minded people.
I was digging through all my old stuff and I found two of my old laptops from them I was able to recover some of my hard drives with photos from my late teenage years: pre-social media, pre-camera phones. The stuff I found was raw as fuck. It was real. It lived for no purpose just other than to document my surroundings.
Years later my friend tossed me a ricoh gr1 and told me that I saw a lot of interesting stuff in my life and that I should document it - the camera kind of turned me into an anthropologist. I started to photograph my neighborhood: the mom and pop stores, the old cars, the craftsmen homes, and the local people that still remain in Venice.
Back then it was all for survival and pride, not for likes.
“We all we got.”
As kids we weren’t looking out, but the world was looking in on us. In fact we were trapped. There wasn’t any clear way to get out of here. We were so prideful to be from Venice: it was taught to us by our elders and their elders before them. We were taught to live simple, that everything we needed is right here, the sun, the beach, and our families. We were told we were special, and that this land was ours and to protect it.
We had distinct style and mannerisms and the attention and the recognition we received for that shaped who we were.
“Never forget who was there for you when no one else was.”
More and more we grew into these roles and played up to them. Most of us didn’t fully understand that our beach city culture was such an influence on the world and that how heavily that had been initiated by those before us. We were just being ourselves, when in actuality our town helped define many corners of culture across so many mediums: the way we dressed, the cars we drove, the music we listened to, the graffiti the dogs we owned, the way we spoke, rode a skateboard or paddled into a wave.
“What a fool I used to be.”
But in the end, a lot of people that came from here became their own worst enemies, the pride didn’t pay off, sticking too close to our own, made it hard to grow.
People reference Venice as Ghostown, or a sunny place for shady people, a place where art meets crime (which I hate, it's some shit a tourist would say). To us, it was just home it was our bubble, we knew nothing else. Venice isn’t considered LA to us. Venice is a small town that falls within LA county. It’s a town full of big families with a strong sense of community and heritage, where all the kids don’t just know the other kids: they know their entire families of their friends, and vice versa. There was a level of courtesy and respect that is almost extinct, where we watched out for our own. We come from the type of place where if a family member or friend was in hard times and their son needed money for football equipment his mom would go to the park and collect money from all the homies towards his gear.
“I would tell you but I don’t know if you’d believe me.”
Information would travel by word of mouth, people playing telephone, stories about iconic members of the neighborhood exaggerated to point that they became local celebrities they became larger than life they were the role models of our generation.
Don’t think we ever foresaw then what is happening now, that we would slowly loose our small town to a bunch of outsiders. Maybe it’s our fault... We didn't care for it the right way. We let it fall, and everyday it seems to lose its identity a little more.