The Mauling of the ‘Coolest Street in America’

Or is it malling? It’s both. And it’s bad.

Neon lights and mall glitz is what has now been inflicted on Venice residents’ most important commercial street. Neon.

When avariciousness runs amok, we get what we just got this month: two mall stores normally found at the likes of the Westside Pavilion or the Santa Monica Promenade just opened for business on the street. We’re talking about the huge Adidas and the ubiquitous shiny Smash Box make-up purveyor. It’s not just the newbie property owners bringing in these corporate mall stores. Those owners who used to see themselves as shepherds of the street have succumbed to the big bucks too. That is just a sweet memory now. The syndicators and the money guys have taken over. This is a takeover by the corporate dis-engaged who don’t know or care about the community they have just settled into. Their trash piles up uncontrolled in the alleys, graffiti remains on their newly painted building, and the sidewalks are mucked up with filth. This benign neglect is on every block where you have a dis-engaged corporate operator — donuts, coffee, makes no difference. They are pretty much all the same. We know corporations have no soul. Around here they are blind too.

It is ironic that the Adidas operation opened in the former space of the most local and community-committed restaurant, Hal’s. Smashbox encamped in the old classic Bountiful space. No Venice funky anything in these two operations. No committed anything in these corporate entities — just young beautiful sales people who are here today and will be gone tomorrow. These two, new shiny objects all replace long gone icons. It is stunner. Anyone who still believes there is a chance in this era of the Snapster to retain some, just some, of the authenticity that made Venice a truly unique local town, forget it.

That Venice is over.