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Venice has always been known as a hangout for the creative and the artistic. In the 1950s and 60s, Venice became a center for the Beat generation. There was an explosion of poetry and art. Major participants included Stuart Perkoff, John Thomas, Frank T. Rios, Tony Scibella, Lawrence Lipton, John Haag, Saul White, Robert Farrington and Philomene Long.
Venice is today a vibrant area of Southern California and it continues a tradition of progressive social change involving prominent Westsiders.
The Venice Family Clinic is the largest free clinic in the country. The Venice Community Housing Corporation, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the economic, racial and social diversity of Venice and the surrounding area, provides affordable housing, economic and community development opportunities and needed social services to low income residents. Women in Recovery, Inc., a non-profit organization offering a live-in, 12-step program of rehabilitation for women in need, was founded by a longtime resident of Venice, Sister Ada Geraghty. Geraghty and her organization on Coeur D’ Alene Avenue annually honor those who’ve made a difference in helping women overcome substance abuse problems. The 2006 honoree for Women in Recovery was Christopher Lawford; past honorees have included Jamie Lee Curtis, Angela Lansbury, and Anthony Hopkins.
Venice Beach is understood to include the beach, the promenade that runs parallel to the beach (“Ocean Front Walk” or just “the boardwalk”), Muscle Beach, the handball courts, the paddle tennis courts, Skate Dancing plaza, the numerous beach volleyball courts, the bike trail and the businesses and residences that have their addresses on Ocean Front Walk. The basketball courts in Venice are renowned across the country for their high level of street ball and numerous NBA players were developed or recruited from these courts.
The Venice Breakwater is an acclaimed local surf spot in Venice, located north of the Venice Pier and Lifeguard Headquarters, and south of the Santa Monica Pier. This spot is sheltered on the north by an artificial barrier, the breakwater, consisting of an extending sand bar, piping, and large rocks at its end. This spot has differing breaks depending on swell intensity, swell direction, tide and time of the day.
Prominent residents of Venice include actresses Julia Roberts, Kate Beckinsale, and Anjelica Huston, actors Tom Conway (brother of actor George Sanders), lived here in the 1960s, Nicolas Cage, Chaney Kley, Tim Meadows, Robert Hegyes, Mark Valley, Michael T. Weiss, Fairuza Balk, Taylor Negron and musicians Perry Farrell, Evidence of Dilated Peoples, Saint John of Saint John and the Revelations, Joshua Kadison, John Lydon (who owns a sizeable amount of rental property in Venice), Ozzy from Survivor, John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fiona Apple and Mike Muir and most of his Suicidal Tendencies bandmates. Photographer Lauren Greenfield has lived in Venice since 1972.
Actor Robert Downey Jr. kept an apartment on the boardwalk during the 1990s. Harding Avenue is also where the Lennon Sisters of Lawrence Welk fame grew up. Jim Morrison lived in Venice for two years where he met Ray Manzarek to form the nucleus of The Doors. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting career began after becoming a regular bodybuilder at Venice’s famous Gold’s Gym, whose present facility claims to be “The Mecca of Bodybuilding.” Restaurateur Wolfgang Puck has owned and operated noted eateries in the area since the 1990s. Other notables include actors Viggo Mortensen, Rutger Hauer, Bryan Callen, and Elijah Wood, and film directors Henry Jaglom and Paul Mazursky. For many years, pro wrestlers Hulk Hogan and Sting were announced as residing in Venice Beach as well. Standup comedians, such as Nick Swardson, Eddie Ifft, Paul Provenza, George Carlin and Zach Galifinakis and street performers have proliferated in Venice, Wavy Gravy and Swami X being two of the more recent hippie busker alumni. Political contributions have been sent from homes in Venice from the actor Dennis Hopper and Simpsons creator Matt Groening. South Park co-creator Matt Stone lives in Venice as well. Harry Perry, the famous street entertainer, is one of the boardwalk’s key performers. Photographer Helen K. Garber maintains a studio on Ocean Front Walk. Graffiti/Street Artist and painter Jean-Michel Basquiat lived in Venice in the 80’s. Immature, an R&B group from the 1990s, used to perform on the boardwalk prior to becoming famous. Other notable residents included comedian George Carlin.
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