It's a teensy photo but maybe you can sort of tell what it is. This is, or was at least, the little beachside market here in Venice called, "Beachside Foodmart". It nestled right next to the parking lot of Venice Beach, across from the cutest little fountain park, Graser Park, at the bottom of Barcelona Ave.
It was roughly the size of a 7-11 store and had a little bit of everything within that relatively small space. Did you arrive at the beach and realize suddenly that you had forgotten to bring sunscreen? Beachside Food Mart had it. Or perhaps you lived a short walk away and halfway through a recipe realized that you needed eggs? Beachside Food Mart had it. Of course they also had beach chairs, lottery tickets, fruit, beverages of all sorts, ice cream and well, almost anything that you might expect any Beachside Food Mart to have.
I have no idea how long the business was in existence but long before we actually lived here and only visited now and again, it was around. It was especially handy for beach-goers but also for anyone who lived nearby. And this, being a small island means, almost anybody. Tim and I used to walk by it everyday as it is on our usual noonwalk route. What I'm trying, poorly, to establish here is that the Beachside Food Mart was firmly in place. Another part of the scenery almost.
And it's gone now. Of course I was not privy to the particulars of what happened behind the scenes but suddenly one day, it was empty. Closed. Done. Perhaps the owners wanted to retire and nobody cared to take it over. Or maybe the developer made an offer too good to pass up. Yeah, a developer. Of course a developer! This was beachfront property. That stuff is gold! And what, you ask, exactly is the developer going to put in it's place? A condo. Of course a condo. Because we don't have nearly enough waterfront condo's here in Venice. (she said with the words dripping with sarcasm)
I am told that there was a time, not really all that long ago, when most of the beachfront was undeveloped. That anyone could walk (or drive) down the Espalanade (the road that parallels the water) and then turn onto Tarpon Center Rd (which goes past the marina and all the way to the jetty) and admire the beach and the beautiful Gulf of Mexico the entire way.
It is not longer possible. Since the condo boom of roughly the 1960's through 1980's (and frankly some dang poor decision making as far as esthetics go) heading down those same roads now offers only a peek-a-boo view of the water between giant buildings at best. If I understand correctly, most of those condo units are either rentals or sold to snowbirds. Which means that off season, most of the buildings are practically ghost-towns.
And there are a lot of them, one after the other after the other. Tim and I have gone to Open Houses (out of curiosity) in many of them and they are very similar. Two bed, two bath, small kitchen, living/dinning combo and a balcony. The hallways are on the exterior of the building and there is one "laundry room" on each floor. Many units have been updated but some are just exactly as they were when originally built.
I do not begrudge folks the desire to have a beautiful place to live - even part time - or a place to vacation that had a view of the ocean. I totally completely and entirely understand that. But wow. That is a lot of condominiums. And I regret, I so regret, that I never saw for myself what it looked like or felt like to live here before they were built. I can only imagine it. Is there a word for having nostalgia for something you never experienced? Hmmm. I just looked it up! Of course there is a word for it! There is a word for Everything! The word is, "Anemoia". And I have a bad case of it.
The last time I walked by, the Beachside Food Mart was being torn down. I watched the big machinery at work.
Did you notice that beyond the protective temporary chainlink barrier that the beach is right there on the other side? How nice would it have been to be able to drive or walk past even that tiny little bit of space and see the water. I mean if the Beachside Food Mart had to go anyway, wouldn't it have been nice to have nothing at all built there and just a beautiful view? But I suppose there is no money to be made in leaving a beautiful view, right? Sigh.
Just imagine that view without the rubble, without the fence as you pass by. Just a glimpse of paradise. Wouldn't that make you want to be a part of it?
But alas, that isn't what's going to happen. Nope. That gorgeous view will, again, be blocked. Did I ever tell you how often Tim and I are stopped by visitors in cars asking us where the beach is? Seriously. It happens with ridiculous regularity. The entire freakin' Gulf of Mexico is right there but the guests to our island cannot find it because the view is completely blocked by buildings. It's a damned shame.
But it is what it is. So I guess, out with the old......
And in with the new.......
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.