Photography and audio by Genaro Molina
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Stand still in the crush of sticky, sun-screened bodies on the Venice Beach Boardwalk and you’ll experience a feast for the senses.
Listen for the lilt of Caribbean drumming. That’s how you know that the Calypso Tumblers are back on the Boardwalk, fresh from Battery Park or Texas or wherever tumbling took them.
Ease past musicians, artistes-turned vendors, and the man with the shock of white hair wearing an “Impeach Bush” T-shirt. Look at the Buddhas, the sunglasses, the gauzy skirts. Gaze upon the tattooed beachgoers.
Move through the bands of odors: incense, candy, something fishy and fried, salt air, cigar smoke, more sunscreen.
The boardwalk is an L.A. attraction whose popularity soars during the summer. Officials estimate that last year more than 3 million people walked among pamphleteers, musicians and chain-saw jugglers between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The scene remains eclectic, frenetic and thoroughly undomesticated.
So far, no one has tamed the Boardwalk, certainly not the city. A new ordinance is supposed to divide sidewalk merchants into a “p-zone” and an “i-zone,” but what’s to stop a Calypso tumbler from somersaulting right into the wrong zone?
What is Street Scenes?
Southern California is a vast land of neighborhoods. Drive along Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles, for example, and you’ll encounter industrial blocks, the garment district, Koreatown, West L.A. bungalows and the burgeoning entertainment district at the eastern end of Santa Monica.
But most of us don’t spend time driving from neighborhood to neighborhood--so L.A. Times photographers have done it for us. Throughout the summer, we’ll spotlight their portraits of a variety of neighborhoods, ranging from the Fairfax District to Newport Harbor.
Today we visit Venice Beach.