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RIPOSTE
     
by RIP RENSE

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LAST MEXICAN OF VENICE
(Oct. 18, 2015)

          The Last Mexican of Venice is gone. The flippers got her. Yanked her like a rotten, smelly tooth. Sent L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies to do it.
          Jeannine Mendoza grew up in Venice. She and her four siblings waded in the marshes before there was a Marina, built bonfires on the beach before it was illegal, delighted in its unpretentious working-class Little Rascals streets. Her parents bought an unassuming house in what avaricious realtors would one day dub “The Golden Triangle,” but it was just a sidestreet niche in 1957. And Mom and Dad had grown up in West L.A. and Santa Monica.
          For that matter, the Last Mexican of Venice was descended from the Marquez family, recipients of an 1839 land grant that included Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades.
          You want your “roots?” There are your “roots.”
 

RIPOSTE EXTRA!
MUSIC FOR THE GOOD PEOPLE here

          But Jeannine Mendoza, a great-granddaughter of Old California, has been kicked out, under threat of arrest, from the home she and her late husband, Aaron Hassman, bought back in the ‘70’s. A 500-square-foot matchbox on Superba Avenue near Lincoln where they somehow managed to raise two boys, while Jeannine’s Nana lived in a mother-in-law apartment out back. Typical circumstances of old Venice, long replaced by millennial tekkie royalty, movie royalty, developer royalty.
          Royalty. I remember an old bum I met on a pier long ago, declaiming. Everything in his speech somehow came back to the word, “rat.” “Royalty!” he exclaimed, spit hanging off his white stubble. “Roy. Al. Ty. RAT!”
          The RATs got the Last Mexican of Venice, which is how Jeannine wryly referred to herself in recent years, just as they have gotten countless others in her heavily white gentrified neighborhood, and flipper-infested neighborhoods everywhere. The RATs smell money, and nothing else matters. Not someone’s hard work or integrity, not suffering, not tragedy. Only money. It’s really just the old Vaudeville play, “The Drunkard,” on a huge scale. The poor widow (Jeannine lost her husband several years ago) being evicted by the rich landlord.

Read "Who's a Whore?" a fun little verse for all sellouts to, I mean investors in. . .China!
here

          Jeannine Mendoza grew up believing that you should give back to the community, the world, in some way. Most people used to believe this way, before college kids answered “icon” or “rich” when polled as to their career ambition. She went to Cal State Northridge on loans and financial aid for minorities (Educational Opportunity Program) in the early ‘70’s,  got a degree in education. Then a Master’s degree. Eventually, an Ed. D. Right. Dr. Mendoza.
          And she taught. . .kindergarten. Occasionally first or second grade. She believed this is where she could make the most impact, and that the most impact should be made here, when brains and hearts are so malleable. She was dedicated, she was effervescent, she adored her students. Many came back years later to thank her. Radiant reviews from supervisors. Always.
          And so it went. She taught, she raised a family, she paid off her gigantic student loans. Her husband taught grade school, and supplemented income by becoming a boat captain for hire, piloting outings to Catalina, Baja on weekends. The Hassmans got by. They were a happy couple, in love with each other, their kids, their home, their work.
          Except. . .
          Aaron decided to more than double their living space by adding a second storey. He maxed out credit cards and took on an enormous new mortgage, and the work was done. Finances were tight, but it was all do-able, he said, as long as he and Jeannine kept working.
          Except. . .
          One day Aaron broke up a fight between a couple of kids on the playground, in the process falling and injuring his back. The pain came, and no amount of therapy helped. As anyone with chronic pain knows, it destroys functionality, life, sometimes sanity. Aaron turned to prescription pain-killers. As anyone who takes prescription pain-killers knows, the addiction is insidious and personality altering. After a few years of valiant effort, he quit teaching, went on disability. Not long after that, he quit his marriage, and went on a spree with other women.
          Leaving Jeannine behind to pay the massive new mortgage, which was more massive than she had been led to think. And estranged and drug-deranged hubby continued maxing out credit cards.
          It was around that time that Jeannine suddenly began getting complaints from her new principal. Completely unfounded, ridiculous, trumped-up, trivial complaints that could, of course, be justified with administrative double-talk. She was baffled, she was deeply hurt, she was outraged, and then she wasn’t. As it became clear that the complaints were, in fact, concerted harassment, she realized that LAUSD wanted her out because she had maxed out her salary. Get rid of the veteran, selfless teacher who has given so much, because it’s time to bring in a kid and pay next-to-nothing. (Note: a billion-dollar class action suit over this tactic was just filed against LAUSD by a longtime teacher.)
          She fought for a solid three years. She consulted her essentially useless union, she talked to attorneys, she countered every tacky charge the principal dreamed up, and she did so with dignity. Something you should know about Jeannine is that she does everything with dignity, courtesy, optimism. She is upbeat, sunny, and never-say-die, always has been. It seems to be innate.
          Then, after 18 months of separation, Aaron returned, apologized, asked to have his home and life back. He missed wife and teenaged sons, he tearfully confessed; he missed himself. Jeannine tentatively welcomed him, provided he got help kicking drugs, left him to sleep in the living room and went to bed. The next morning she found him dead. Didn’t bother with an autopsy.
          There is a Grateful Dead song lyric apt
to this story: “Can’t close the door when the walls cave in.” Jeannine was now a widow, with two teenaged sons at home, aiming for college. She was being driven out of her beloved career after nearly 35 years by what she saw as administrative bully instructed to cut costs. One of her sons was horribly scalded in a home accident, and spent weeks in hospitals getting skin grafts, his mom frequently by his side. (The principal exploited this incident, claiming Jeannine was taking excessive time off.)
          Somehow, Jeannine found ways to cover expenses, to cope, plugging ever-springing leaks in the dam with a finger, a thumb, an elbow, an idea.
          To meet her mortgage, though, she would have needed Batman.

The California Ethical Real Estate Funding, LLC (CEREF), whose guiding principle is the “preservation of homeownership in California accomplished through ethical and fair dealing with homeowners and our investors," refused to modify her loan.

          Menacing letters on legal letterhead came like junk mail. Threat after threat of foreclosure and eviction. It was in this atmosphere that she retired from LAUSD, unable to tolerate the harassment, figuring she could substitute teach and still bring in enough money to maybe hang on to her home.
          One problem: she was barred from substitute teaching in LAUSD because of all the complaints from her principal. And you wonder why the school district is so broken.
          That’s correct: a wonderful teacher with a doctorate in education who taught in city schools for 35 years was blackballed by the district. Not exactly a gold watch. So she asked for help from her siblings and her sons, and they rose to the occasion. It was a small version of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” really, such was the rallying spirit of the Mendoza clan, cousins and nieces and nephews included.       
         And she managed to make payments, or withhold them if her attorney advised it during times when her mortgage was bought and sold again and again, passed from one “private equity” firm (read: foreclosure vultures) to another like a mad football play. There were periods when she didn’t actually know who to pay. Something called the California Ethical Real Estate Funding, LLC (CEREF), whose guiding principle is the “preservation of homeownership in California accomplished through ethical and fair dealing with homeowners and our investors," refused to modify her loan. So much for "fair dealing."
          At one point, she declared bankruptcy---something she felt deeply ashamed about--- essentially to stall foreclosure and hang on. She wrote to Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez for help, knowing full well that she was hardly alone in her circumstances. Lopez, who sets himself up as a champion of the “little guy,” wrote back a terse note saying that he didn’t see what gentrification had to do with her problem. Never mind that most of Venice has been gentrified, and the working class folk long driven out. So much, apparently, for the columnist championing the “little guy.”
          Yet her plan worked. Substitute teaching in private schools and tutoring brought in nearly as much as her old salary, never mind that she was driving (when the car was running) or taking buses all over the city, regularly putting in fourteen-hour days while in her early ‘60’s. Renting a room to college students helped. In the end, it was really a sort of miracle: she had just managed to put enough money together to buy her house back, when the flipper got her. One can only wonder if someone got wind of her impending bid, and moved in for the kill. She’ll never know.
          “Alex Middleton III bid $1.4 million dollars on my house in June,” she said. “At the time I had secured funding from a different source to buy my house from the investment group that held the mortgage. It took a day longer than I planned to get out of bankruptcy, and in the interim my house was auctioned off. I tried to stall the inevitable but last Thursday (Oct. 8)while I was subbing, the sheriff came and evicted us. We were allowed to come back and get some stuff and today I was there today from 7 a.m. until 8 at night. This Middleton wants to fix up the house and flip it before El Nino starts up and his profit margin slips, that’s my guess.”  
          So as The Last Mexican of Venice sinks slowly in the west, and someone with the caricaturish rich-white-guy name of Alex Middleton III prepares to gut and flip a home for a crass profit, Jeannine Mendoza has moved in with a brother, temporarily. She gets $400,000 out of the deal (the “overage”), which sounds pretty good, until you think about what $400,000 will buy you in L.A. these days, and you think about losing not a house, but a home where your kids grew up, and you spent your happiest times.
          On top of losing a career of 35 years. On top of growing up in a neighborhood that has all but disappeared under a hurricane of flipping, exploitation, greed, gentry. After your ancestors essentially settled the region in the first place.
          RATs.

Full disclosure: Dr. Mendoza is a longtime friend of the writer.

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ClownA Verse to You:
Starring Rip Post resident laureates:
 the late great Scott Wannberg (Salud!), Jack Oakes, Charles Bogle, Raj Bavnani, even Rense himself.

Enjoy samples below, and. . .
visit the poetry archive

VAGINA HOTEL
I walked into the Vagina Hotel
just because of the name
Tell me, I said, why is this hotel named for a vagina
and the proprietress
who claimed to be a poetess
said, why, does that threaten you
No, I said, I've never been threatened by a vagina
but then, I've never met one that could talk, either,
so I can't be sure
Misogynist loser, she said, so I moved on
Feeling hungry, I stopped at Vagina Burger for lunch
Tell me, I said, to the waitress,
Why is this place called Vagina Burger I mean
that's not very picturesque
Oh, she said, are you threatened by the word, vagina?
No, although I admit I find it a rather ugly sounding word
I mean, couldn't they have called it a morning glory or a midnight moon or something
She snorted and walked away, mumbling "asshole"
So I left and went to Starbucks where a woman on a laptop
had a bunch of books next to her called My Vagina, Your Vagina, Our Vagina, The Cat in the Vagina, Of Mice and Vaginas, Huckleberry Vagina, and The Vaginas of Wrath
Oh, and that one by Naomi Wolf called Vagina: a Biography
What are you staring at, snapped the laptop woman
Oh, sorry, I said, I couldn't help but notice your books
Do they threaten you, she said
No, books don't threaten me, I rather like them
Then why are you staring
Oh, well, I've never seen so many books about vaginas, and naturally
it piqued my curiosity
Are you threatened by vaginas, she said
No, I'm threatened by aggression, mostly, at least to some extent
But I do wonder how a vagina could have a biography
Does that threaten you, she said
Well, let me think about that, seeing as this question keeps coming up
Stupidity and arrogance threaten me, and hostile, defensive people threaten me, and guys with lots of neck tattoos of bloody knives and Jesus threaten me, but a biography of a vagina, no
that's too ridiculous to be threatening
Laptop woman's eyes got as big as ignorance and she said
What do you mean, ridiculous!
Oh, well, it's like this: the idea that retreating into a frame of mind where one's sex organ is exalted, where one's very self-worth is focused on one's sex organ, where an obsession with one's sex organ is conflated with philosophy, and in the case of the vagina, is somehow construed as "feminism" and "empowerment," well
this strikes me as asinine and puerile
and a mite indelicate
Laptop woman's eyes got as big as vaginas and she hissed get away from me you fucking pervert or I'll call security
I momentarily wondered what security's phone number might be, and happiness's, goodness's, and joy's
Then I moved on because I felt threatened
---
Charles Bogle

 

Il perche non so
mi chiamano mimi
il perche non so
my name is this
I don’t know why
things pump into
neurons
sensory flesh
groceries into bag
dogs play in yard
bestial shouts from windows
supernova roses expand
petals to Betelgeuse
super apes trail offspring
hungry
no cookie
love pondered
gland obeyed
sun nuclear fire
moon barren
little mites feast
littler mites
amoral
pernicious
chanters hum
terrified pray
wail impotent trill
murders of joy
painter wipes fix
moment gone and beauty
crack and fade
universe and skin
blue eyes and harlequin
il perche non so
---Charles Bogle

Raj Bavnani Reads!
Heard it once? Hear it twice!
Listen to Raj Bavnani's
 end-of-year poem, as read on KPFK-FM.

 

Listen at:
 
http://rense.gsradio.net:8080/rense/special/Raj_Bavnani.mp3
Raj read this epic poem for 2010 Jan. 3 on "The Music Never Stops," with Barry Smolin, on KPFK. He is available for private readings. Bookings: Charles Bogle at boglepr@yahoo.com slums of gold
the slums of gold
are having open houses for all the affable c.e.o.'s and financial wizards who have taken their bailout money to build shiny brand new executive bathrooms and finance relaxing weekend retreats far from the noise and fear of the street.the slums of gold have king size beds that will make the most tired and achy executive feel so human and tender.
special guarded elevators will take these new stylish tenants to the penthouse,but wait a second, sometimes the penthouse has no roof and the vultures soar overhead awaiting their next happy meal.
the slums of gold find themselves eventually under a fierce rain which washes that fake gold off revealing corroded iron and brokedown wood.
it's a new year
homicide will soon reach its deductible
and its bills will reduce greatly.
the slums of gold are having a block party.
bring all your favorite yes men and women,executives.
bring your bylaws and meeting minutes.
you'll have to budget the air
inhale just so much oxygen.
the banks glow in the dark.
they begin to pull up stakes
and slither across the earth
looking for food.
meanwhile,all humans with no health care whatsoever become kings and queens for one day.
they are asked to pose for high profile pictures.
as soon as you're through coughing up blood could you smile and say cheese.
the c.e.o.s have blood in their underwear.
should they panic?
should they take a happy pill?
all the happy pills forgot their distemper shots.
they are not agreeable this morning.
when you go to open them up to ingest one they bite your fingers.
---Scott Wannberg, 1/24/09

i didn't see all that much but boy do my eyes hurt
in the hallowed building
that forgets where it lives
i saw a way of life
try to shove itself into a tube of toothpaste
the teeth of the world
chatter
when love runs naked
through the battle
that dances up and down
the road out of town.

periodically the reaper fellow
comes through selling subscriptions
but frankly his pitch needs grease
and the navy can't tread the water
you shower in.

i didn't see all that much
honest
but boy do my eyes hurt
every time you ask me to leap off the ledge
i remind you i still haven't earned anything
resembling a wing

tell the rage
to act its age and smile
once every now and then
anything it can throw at me
i've already fielded
in a time
when popcorn fell from the sky
and wounds grew gardens.

going home time
finally slipped through the wire,
treat it gentle,
pass the veneer
ache no more
for at least a minute, anyhow
heard a rumor
we were being pulled back
to a rhythm
that wouldn't break us.

killers will eventually get monuments erected in their honor.
and the pigeons will rejoice
through impending snarling weather
asleep on the side of the road
you will find civilization
rolling dice in pitch black night
one more round for the survivors
wherever they crawled off to

the highway refuses to comp you
pay as you attempt
anything
meteors aim their best profiles
at our hacienda
raise your vulnerable face
to their fire
tell them the story
you never finished
the one about the woodsmoke
the shiny people
and when its time
to wander upstairs
to a room that goes on for hours
place your heart on mine
make some music
they claim vaudeville is coming back
together
we'll bring down
the leaking
roof
---scott
florence,oregon
10/27/09
tom russell
blood and candle smoke

 

Going to Townes
The latest failure
turned the curve
You're travelin'
with the herd.

The calamity
called humanity,
claims unfounded
rejected, rebounded.

Snapshots, scattered,
the last thing,
failed to compose
a photographic
memory,
why don't you
recall it?

You'd prefer
to let it fade
to sepia like
rotogravure
eidetic reveries.

Going to town
world-renown
clown obit
proclaims
legends
offered,
chiseled
visages
proffered

Old man of
the mountains
Fountains
of youth
eluded

Cantankerousity
has replaced
curiosity
Verbosity has
replaced
perspicaciousness.

No lines left to
rehearse, no
time to slam
into reverse.

Call it a day
Ave, universe!
I've seen my day
no more struggle
for one last verse

I'm checking out
without a doubt
Will survey landscape
one last time, not a
pleasure trip, not even hip.
Down with the ship
Chilly winds blow
Closing the show,
last one tonight.
---Jack Oakes

A Verse to You Archive


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 Brand Smokin' New!

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the greatest grateful dead album
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20 TRACKS. 2 CDs. 12 GUEST ARTISTS.
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Sheer poetry, meet sheer melody.


"enchanting!"
---grateful dead lyricist
 robert hunter.

produced by Rip Rense
 mixed by Marc Doten


SPECIAL GUESTS ARTISTS: Country Joe McDonald, Mark Karan (Ratdog), Jackie LaBranch and Gloria Jones (Jerry Garcia Band), Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick, Dongming Qiao, James King, Alyn Kelley, Eric Thompson, Peter Rowan,  Pete Grant, Mary Schmary.

"Deadheads, take a hit from this double disc dose of the real thing. Persuasions fans, this may be the last time you'll ever hear a Persuasions line-up with original lead, and once-in-a-lifetime talent, Jerry Lawson. . .These tracks are stories that happen to have been set to song, not songs that happen to have a story."
---Jonathan Minkoff, Recorded A Cappella Review Board.

"Album producer Rip Rense calls the marriage of these two acclaimed artists "a surprisingly natural fit." He couldn't be more right. It works because these tracks are more than just covers; they're tributes. Each arrangement is designed to draw something new out of the original. Many of them include actual instruments, such as piano, guitar, and baritone saxophone."
---Nicole Maria Milano, Recorded A Cappella Review Board.

 ZOHO ROOTS
 AND RENSART PRODUCTIONS

LISTEN TO SAMPLES AND ORDER
 

THE PERSUASIONS
LIVE AT McCABE'S GUITAR SHOP!


The Greatest A Cappella Group in American History
in its only LIVE NIGHTCLUB ALBUM.

Everyone knows, or should know, that as great as Persuasions studio albums were, you did not experience The Persuasions unless you saw them live. Rip Rense set about capturing this vocal lightning in a bottle at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in 1999. Yes, it’s just like being there.

NINETEEN SONGS.
70 MINUTES OF MUSIC AND JOY.
5 SONGS NEVER ON A PERSUASIONS ALBUM.

PRODUCED BY RIP RENSE AND MARC DOTEN
FOR RENSART RECORDS.


"The Persuasions have come to save your soul. America is safe again."
---The Bluegrass Special


"Live at McCabe's is a great find, a reminder of this act at its best."---Soultracks.com

"You need to buy this album!"
---
Contemporary A Cappella Society

"We came out smokin'!"
---Jerry Lawson.


 listen to samples
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MEMORIES OF L.A.'S ALL-BUT-FORGOTTEN MOST BELOVED NEWSPAPER.

THE OAKS
A NOVEL
BY RIP RENSE

"Staggeringly well written. . .sweet. . .funny. . .sad. . .elegaic. . .not a thought nor sentence out of place."
---Keith Snider, San Francisco.

review: ''EDGAR SAWTELLE' VS.
 'THE OAKS,'

 by Barbara Weeks here.

review:Susan Christian Goulding's
Daily Breeze column on "The Oaks" here
.


FLASH! MAN CHAINS SELF TO OAK TREE, READS 'THE OAKS' AGAIN AND AGAIN! here


TO ORDER

"I stayed up to finish the last 100 pages.”
---Dave Allen, Thousand Oaks.

""This book deserves to be read by hundreds of thousands of people It is a gem that talks to a diverse group of people: those who grew up in dysfunctional families(!); Southern Californians who will love the suburban anecdotes; teens and everybody who has ever been a teen with all the awkwardness those years impart. It's also quite funny. Readers simultaneously laugh while groaning over these horribly insensitive 'adults' raising Charlie, who is much more adult than they are."
---Susan Christian Goulding,
columnist for the Daily Breeze,
 People Mag. Correspondent.

 REVIEWS, SUMMARY,
 SAMPLE CHAPTER


Rense interviewed about "The Oaks"
in Ventura Star
here.


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LESS THAN SATISFYING ENCOUNTERS WITH HUMANITY---ILLUSTRATED.
THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION. . .
Measured by its attitude.



"The greatest book I've ever read---in the bathroom."---Mike Ball, Glendale, CA.

"You have more 'less than satisfying encounters' than any three other people I know.  I've given this some thought and my conclusion is that it is your unhappy fate to be something of a "schmuck magnet." Unpleasant-incompetent-self-aggrandising people enter your close orbit with greater frequency
 than the rest of us."
---Bob Ballenger, Encino, CA.

230 pages of LTSEWH's.
 
WITH ORIGINAL ARTWORK

ORDER HERE
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LINGO CZAR

THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION---
Measured by its language.


The long-running column (L.A. Times, The Rip Post) is now 210 acid-dripping pages exposing rigidly conformist slang, pin-headed outbursts, 'cool' patois, abominable cliches, infantile drivel, smug rejoinders, mandatory peer-enforced buzzwords and iPhone-speak that Americans are spewing from their 500-word vocabularies as their knuckles hang ever closer to the sidewalk.


ORDER HERE

HERE IT IS: THE MOST IMPORTANT SPEECH MADE BY ANYONE IN THE LAST 60 YEARS. WELL, MAYBE. THE GREAT BILL HICKS.

The Rip Post Interview!
SHIN3

ALL FOR TAIKO, AND TAIKO FOR ALL.
How two educators and a scientist came to
 devote themselves to the drum.

HERE
also. . .

DR. HU!

CHINESE MEDICINE DOC EXTRAORDINAIRE!
HERE


AND. . .
SIMON LENG,
AUTHOR OF "WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS: THE MUSIC OF GEORGE HARRISON"

AND. . .
"Mr. Smolin:
teacher, deejay, recording artist--
on Mata Hari, Daktari, high school students, John Donne, the future of the planet, and his album. . .

HERE

plus: 'Breakfast With The Beatles' host Chris Carter, and more HERE

 

MUSIC BOX
HARU NO UMI
GRACE MOORE: UN BEL DI VEDROMO
GRACE MOORE: MI CHIAMANO MIMI
LAWRENCE TIBBETT: ON THE ROAD TO MANDALAY
CHALIAPIN: DOWN THE PETERSKY
GIULINI CONDUCTS FRANCK


FOR THE ENTIRE MUSIC BOX, CLICK HERE

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THE GREAT MCGONIGLE
W.C. Fields Fan Club
Great Quotes by the Great Man
Juggling Hall of Fame


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JOIN THE SONS OF THE DESERT!
Now Accepting New Members! Click here! Or here!

READ IT! THE GREATEST PORN NOVEL EVER WRITTEN!
 BY THE GREAT WALT VICKERY!


ORDER YOURS HERE!

 

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