Let me start by saying as a native Floridian, I know what great beaches look like. As a world traveler, I’ve seen them all: nude beaches in Spain, jaw-dropping coastlines on the Amalfi coast, palm-lined jewels on the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Black sand. White sand. Red sand. Green sand. Deserted. Over-developed. Laid back. Sophisticated. First world and third world.
But what I’d never seen before I visited Venice Breach in the Los Angeles area was a beach so disgusting that even as I approached the water’s edge, where you’d normally get a refreshing sea breeze, all I could smell was the strong scent of urine. In fact, the closer I got to the beach from the landward side, the worse it got, until finally I found a neighborhood so vile and disgusting that I couldn’t wait to leave.
First understand that you must pay to park here. Then you can saunter down a boardwalk that contains shops selling cannabis, tattoos, fast food, and souvenirs, but not without being hassled every few minutes by Rastafarians hawking CDs, which they try to thrust into your hand as you pass them by even as you try to avoid the homeless and hopeless laying sprawled out onto the streets and sidewalks that lead to the beach.
I’ve read that you should visit Venice Beach because it’s “vibrant” and “diverse”. What the author that pens those lies really means is that you’d be crazy to go there at night. Hell, I didn’t feel safe there in broad daylight. But that author did get one thing right: this is the true face of the “vibrant” culture we are heading toward everywhere if we don’t change our direction…a Dystopian universe of freaks and ne’er-do-wells shitting in the streets and passing the time by throwing their garbage into piles on the sidewalks.
None of this should surprise anyone, though. On my recent (2019) LA trip, I visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There, the most popular star embedded in the cement appeared to be the late, great pedophile Michael Jackson. If this is a sign of our times, and I think it is, then we are all more likely headed toward Venice Beach than the nearby Santa Monica Pier, which is fun, safe, and clean. Too bad. We have a choice, if only we can tear ourselves away from selfies and Starbucks long enough to make the right one.