A sociologist has released a book on Venice’s dichotomy between its gritty urban nature and its financial exclusivity.
Andrew Deener, a University of Connecticut assistant professor who lived in Venice for six years while receiving his Ph.D from UCLA, describes the tension facing Venice – and many American cities – between cultural diversity and urban grime and the recent influx of wealthy residents that have renounced the suburban lifestyle but may still expect many of its benefits – like clean streets, low crime rates and good schools.
In his book “Venice – a Contested Bohemia in Los Angeles,” that was released in July, Deener attempts to relate the new issues facing Venice to explain a cultural phenomenon that is taking part throughout the country – new wealthier residents sometimes clashing with established lower and middle-class residents.
“Urbanites generally give lip service to their search for diversity, but when they see what it means to share spaces – especially with individuals of different socioeconomic backgrounds – they become more cautious and critical,” Deener found.
Deener lived about five blocks from the board-walk in what he describes as an apartment with “warped wooden floors and loose and cracked kitchen tiles,” and spend much of his time at Abbot’s Habit.
In his book, he tells different stories from five different neighborhoods in Venice: Oakwood, Rose Avenue, the Boardwalk, the Venice Canals and Abbot Kinney.
One such story is of an African-American woman, who grew up in Oakwood and is now in her fifties, about adults sitting on their front porches to ward off gang members by yelling to them “You get away from those kids, you leave ’em alone!”