Friday, March 24, 2017

Privée Social Club - A Cannabis Club For Now

When we all woke up on New Year's Day to see the Hollywood sign had been changed overnight to read "Hollyweed", you knew it was a whole new vibe in town following California's decision to Legalize It last fall. With everything able to be out in the open now, the cannabis industry is exploding all over the place. One of the true pioneer's in this field is Venice's own Sailene Ossman, "Mama Sailene", who started the first all-female cannabis delivery service in these parts over 16 years ago, and has been beloved by Venice ever since. 

Times have changed, and now it's all becoming mainstream, and it's great. With the passing in Los Angeles of legalization for recreational as well as medicinal cannabis, it's a whole new world, with something for everyone. Last night Sailene and her partner, Olivia Alexander, had a press preview for their new endeavor, the Privée Social Club, and all I can really say is WOW. Weed has come a long, long way.

Privée is a private, members-only cannabis club that holds events and parties, and once accepted (you need to be referred by two current members) members can gain access to the "Vault" on their website that allows them to purchase all kinds of cannabis based products, most of which are not found in your average dispensary. The events and parties feature products to sample and try, while learning through demonstrations, and mingling with a fine group of like-minded folks. You never know what might happen at a Privée event ... it could be a murder mystery, it could be a Cirque du Soleil type performance, you don't know until you go.

Last night's event was held in a private home on a walk street in Venice, and you could see from the sidewalk upon arrival that everyone was already having a great time inside. Inside, there were all kinds of different stations, from edibles to "Dabbing", all the way to bath products. There was even a CBD oil lubricant "for her pleasure"!

I was kind of a late bloomer when it came to cannabis, as all those "Just Say No" things in school worked on me. I never even tried it until I moved to Hawai'i and had a roommate that was a botany major (RIP Darren Sakai!). I can't tell you how many days I've spent in my life miserable from drinking the night before, but how with marijuana I've never had a moment of payback. None. I've never seen guys get into a fistfight at a party after smoking weed, but I sure have with drinking. Cannabis is just better all around, and better for you, so it's time to bring it out of the darkness. It's time to lose any stigma around it, and really, we should be celebrating it. What a miracle plant! That was the gist of the conversation at the party last night. One Love. Legalize It. Enjoy its benefits.

The nice thing about a thing like the Privée Social Club is that no one was sneaking around, it was all out in the open, and all very professional. Seibo Shen, from Vapexhale was there last night with his vaporizers and concentrates (this is the "Dabbing" part), and was so informative and well-spoken that I left his demonstration feeling like kind of an expert. I'm really more of a good old-fashioned flower enjoyer, but I can see the advantages to using this kind of a vapor situation - it's just a lot of apparatus for me (though Shen told me they'd be coming out with mobile devices soon. Still, vapor just isn't the same. For me.).

Once anything becomes socially acceptable, the money people are not far beyond. The line of products you can now get that are derived from cannabis is mind-boggling (literally and figuratively), and Privée makes it their business to include only the very best. The packaging these days is incredible. There were cannabis macarons last night that looked like they could be from Ladurée. There were sea salt caramels from Lord Jones that could have come from Godiva. This is not your hippie neighbor's baking, and it's all very scientifically dosed out and precise. No bad trips.

Gone are the days of smoking a grungy old one-hitter (though that's still fine too, in a pinch). Now they have bedazzled vapor pens and bejeweled grinders that are big hits with the fancy Bev Hills members of Privée, I'm told. Some people don't want to go to dispensaries or have some dealer come over, and Privée is perfect for them. It's private, discreet, beautifully packaged and delivered. It's all coming out of the Green Closet anyway. I had a P.R. friend recently tell me that she couldn't join us for cocktails because she gave up drinking, but now that marijuana has been legalized, she'd love to meet us for a smoke. Her smile was so liberated and happy when saying it, you could tell an old onus had been lifted from her conscience. It's totally cool now. Reefer Madness scare tactic days are over, no matter what this lame new administration has to say about it. Oh, and the Privée ladies are available for your own private parties! They'll come and set up a whole display of things at your own party - and I promise you it will be a hit. 

I think my favorite product at the event was the "Lit Kit" from Kush Queen Cannabis (another Alexander entity). It's a cute box with a cannabis bath bomb, a joint, and a cannabis chocolate, all meant to be enjoyed as you pamper yourself in your own little spa day. What an excellent party favor for your girls! (Not that all guys wouldn't love it too). Way better than a bottle of wine, though you could throw that in there too if it was a really rough day. But with the Lit Kit, you'll just feel excellent the next morning too, as an added bonus.

With all that smoking and vaping and dabbing and eating, it was nice that Privée always puts out a nice spread, in the event of munchies. There was a Thai food smorgasbord, empanadas from The Empanada Place (yum), and cookies in the shape of weed leaves (that were not enhanced, they just looked good).

I think the nicest part of these events is the freedom. No one is sneaking outside to share a joint, it's all in the open. There were photographers present from all kinds of media outlets, from L.A. Weekly to Playboy, and no one seemed to mind at all that they were being photographed with marijuana. Like, it's 2017. Who cares?! Plus, these days, if you're not using cannabis in some form, you're probably going crazy. Stress kills. Relax.

I'm so proud of Sailene, because she was born to be doing this, and she's finally getting her recognition for always having been on the forefront of this world. She's a leader in this industry, and is shedding so much light on the entire industry. She even had a cooking show (Smoke In The Kitchen) on Snoop's Merry Jane website. She gets tears in her eyes when she talks about her mission in helping people, and making people feel better through the use of this true and natural medicine. There is a line waiting for her and her products when she visits her parents' retirement community, because the CBD creams and oils and edibles all help so much with everything from their arthritis to cancer treatment. I got some of the Sleepytime Spray, as I get insomnia all the time. I've shared it with my own Mother, who slept great and had no qualms about trying a CBD product, and she's pretty conservative. I've shared it with one of the squarest people I know, and they became an instant fan. Because it works. Because it helps.

It was so fun to have a bunch of our Venice friends hanging out and having a ball together, learning and feeling great. It got even better when we left and were presented with a Privée gift bag to take home, filled with all of the things we'd just learned about. Stoked.

It got better than that when we all strolled home together under the starry skies, with a final nightcap visit to Mona's house. Ahh, Venice. We just love you so much.

Congratulations to Sailene and Olivia, and all of the wonderful people associated with Privée Social Club. I don't know if I've ever attended a party where every last person was warm and open and conversational and fun. It speaks to the character of our hostesses, and also to the nature of the plant. It brings people together, it allows people to share, and it heals - body, soul, and perhaps even our society.

Privée Social Club - They're waiting for you.


Monday, March 20, 2017

The Cali Locos Hit The Manhattan Beach Art Center

The Cali Locos took the fun to Manhattan Beach last Saturday night, and it was definitely one worth heading to the South Bay for (which I don't say all that often). A nice Venice contingent represented, as we got to have the first Cali Locos show last Summer. The Somos Locos show took place at the Manhattan Beach Art Center, and was an all day affair for M.B. people.

They dedicated a new skatepark, they had a book signing of a new hard cover Cali Locos book (California Locos -from Coagula Curatorial), and then they had the one night only art opening in the evening, with live music and a bunch of good food and drinks.

It was a beautiful night outside, and art patrons enjoyed an indoor-outdoor party the whole time. The Cali Locos were all present, and basking in the congratulations of all of their friends and fans.

There was a new Dusters California skateboard released for the event, and they were displayed prominently in the center of the gallery. And everyone wanted one.

My brother, Paul, installed the art for the last two Locos shows, so he's pretty much an honorary Loco now, and was warmly greeted at every turn, especially by Locos ringleader, Dave Tourjé.

 John Van Hamersveld held court in the middle, shooting photos and shaking hands.

 I particularly love Van Hamersveld's Indian series. Clearly.

Gary Wong and Chaz Bojórquez were also there mingling and catching up with folks, while Norton Wisdom also made the rounds discussing his work. All had new pieces in this show, one better than the next. This group makes it tough for collectors, because it really is so hard to choose one that you like best.

Each of the Locos' styles is so different, but they compliment each other so well. Each piece in the show appealed to a different part of me, and I really had a hard time coming up with a favorite. I guess the best answer would be to aspire to own one (at least) of each!

Outside on the patio there was live music by a young lady on a ukulele (reminding me that I want lessons), and a bar set up with wines from Rebel Coast Winery that were really good. And so was the owner/bartender Doug, who gave us stickers that said "Don't Be A Dick". Right on.

Waiters were circling the place with trays of good stuff, like Chinese chicken salad in their own little containers, and doughnut kabobs. Yes, doughnut kabobs. My brother and Jeff Ho got down on that.

Juice Dan was there documenting it all for Juice Magazine, and comparing jackets with Paul ...

While Juice's Terri Craft  got us all caught up on the latest skateboard shenanigans. What a treasure Terri, Dan and Juice are to this skate and surf community. It cannot be overstated or mentioned often enough. Love them.

There's really nothing better than a good party in the name of art and creativity. Saturday night's Cali Locos shindig was one of the best. You want to make sure you get out to see anything this groovy art collective ever comes up with ... it's always something to remember. As is their philosophy, "Somos Locos". We are crazy ... about LIFE.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Venice Art Crawl - St. Patrick's Day Eve Edition

Last night was the first Venice Art Crawl of 2017, and it was a complete blast. The theme this time was "This Is Venice", and everyone did their best to show what that was. REALLY was. I'm not sure if it had anything to do with it being St. Patrick's Day Eve, but people were in the mood to go OFF. And did.

We kicked off the night at In Heroes We Trust with a little music and pre-party, as you do. This Crawl focused on the Venice Boulevard corridor (I've always called it the "Cultural Corridor", and in fact, this is the zone that Danny Samakow is talking about making our Venice Arts District. Solid.), from the beach to Beyond Baroque. With so much ground to cover, I had to kick in the spurs and wrangle everyone to go, and after zooming past the gorgeous Paris photos at Le Pop Up Gallery on Abbot Kinney, we traipsed through the walk streets to Beyond Baroque, who were hosting the Inaugural L.A. Punk Film Festival. How cool. The only thing was that we had no time to sit and watch films when there were still miles to walk. They might want to think about having it be its own event next time, so everyone can attend. Just a thought. It was fun just walking around last night, almost like Halloween for adults, with crowds of people walking the streets in clusters, letting everyone know which house/venue not to miss.

One not to be missed was  at the corner of Venice and Abbot Kinney, where the front yard of the new Josa store from Tulum was having a bootleg event, off the map, in true Venice style. Jules Muck was there doing a live painting of a big, beautiful flower on the building, and Death Of Politics played out on the front lawn, pretty much stopping traffic at that intersection. The Electric Bike Parade going by received an enormous ovation as they lit up the foggy night on their colorful cycles.

I heard a lot of friends saying this Art Crawl felt like the old days, and they were right. That's what I love about the VAC too, it always feels like it's about the Community, and you always see people you know. Oh, and basically everywhere is serving up drinks, so it feels like the old First Fridays when you could drink and have music in the stores. No one was feeling any pain last night (though we all are today).

As the clock was ticking, we headed off down Venice to the Library parking lot, where more live painting was happening.

The Boys and Girls Club had a community canvas going, where any and everyone was invited to pick up a brush and add to the masterpiece. We used to do this at Abbot's Habit back when my brother was the manager there. They'd put up big canvases and someone would do a sketch and then divide it into squares. Each person chose a square to fill in, showing how all our different styles made up the creative whole. They always turned out beautifully, and I could kick myself that the one I bid on was lost in one of my moves. Boo. We should do it again before Abbot's closes! O.K.

There was an interactive game set up where you could toss a bean bag and win a book. The books were all gone by the time I got there, which was fine because I was awful at it. But good times. The night only got crazier as it went, so I lost all my cards and map with notes and names on it, etc, but shout out to this stop where we had a lot of fun. Thanks!

Off we went to Sunny Bak's place, our tireless Art Crawl leader. She was showing her incredible Beastie Boys photos and her venue was stuffed with appreciators of the arts (on a day when the NEA is being de-funded, this Venice experience is more important than ever!)

They were also showing Harold Cleworth's fantastic car paintings at this stop, and I loved the Lowrider one that said, "Bless The Lowered".  Fresh.

I knew we could not miss the first time the Paper, Scissors, Rock salon was on the Art Crawl, and I was totally right. You could tell from a block away in the fog that this joint was going off. People were partying out on Pacific Avenue, in the street, like the good old days.

You could hear the music of Jeremy Parker and Masao Miyashiro setting the good vibes, and when we rolled up it was so tight inside you could barely move.

Great photos from Ray Rae and Josh "Bagel" Klassman were on display, and Bart Saric and Jeff Ho were showing their paintings, but the best part of this location was all of the extra fun people who came out. It was like a big house party in there, and this stop was a unanimous favorite.

We could have stayed at any one of the stops for the whole evening, as each of them were so fun this time. This is always a problem when you want to see everything, and having such a good time everywhere we went meant that there were some good venues I missed, and I'm sorry. By this hour, we had to hightail it over to Gotta Have It, where our friend's awesome band, Restavrant, was going to be exploding the place into smithereens, as they're known to do.

Gotta Have It was also jam-packed, again with solid wall to wall friends. Restavrant does not mess around, and they had the room going crazy the whole set. Like, there was a mosh pit in a vintage store last night in Venice. Super, all-star fun.

The fog outside only grew thicker, but no one cared and the party spilled out on to the sidewalk out front, as it should. People were making liquor store runs, and passing out beers to friends and strangers alike. It was a good, old fashioned, sweaty, proper rock and roll jamboree, and every single person in there was stoked. It didn't appear that anyone minded that it was now officially St. Patrick's Day, a day on which you're kind of expected to party pretty hard. Again. No problem.

The walk home was thick with mist, letting you pretend you might be sort of Ireland-adjacent. All I know is that I was smiling, and today's text messages were all about how much of a grand old time everyone had. A humble and true thank you to all the participants, from artists to musicians, to planners to players. I love you all an awful lot.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, O'Venice!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Meow-ural On California

On my way back from the beach this morning, I saw a bunch of Missing posters up and down Venice Boulevard, looking for a lost cat. The reward for lost cats has really gone up, as this one was offering $20,000 for its return. Twenty G's. For a cat. OK. When I passed a human person sleeping under one of the signs. I hope a very poor person finds it and can afford their Venice rent this month, and there will be a very happy reunion with the very fancy cat and its owner. Everyone wins. Right? Wow.

Back on Abbot Kinney, I was waiting for my friend outside of Abbot's Habit and noticed a new mural on the wall outside of Salt & Straw. An old-timey milkman is now out there feeding some cats to entertain the long lines of sheep/people waiting for ice cream on California Avenue. They all appear to be strays, but you never know on Abbot Kinney. It might be where the $20,000 cats go to hang out these day. Keep your eyes peeled.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Somos Locos - The Cali Locos Are At It Again!

If you missed last Summer's party for the Cali Locos art opening thrown by Juice Magazine in Venice, well, you're bummed. The good news, however, is that there is another chance to celebrate this quintessential Southern California art collective's work this coming Saturday, March 18th, at the Manhattan Beach Art Center.

A day-long event will showcase the best of all the Locos' worlds, with a skate spot opening, new Cali Locos book signing, live music from Los Savages, Charlie Chan, and Steve Alba, and capping off with the art show in the evening, featuring new works by the guys in the Cali Locos "band" - Chaz Bojórquez, Dave Tourjé, John Van Hamersveld, Norton Wisdom, and Gary Wong.

Much has already been written about this storied group of artists and friends, with each member bringing their own aesthetic and attitude into the mix. The striking thing about them is that they really are a band of brothers. They don't compete with each others' work, they compliment it. They lift each other up and are in full support of the other, qualities that are often exceedingly rare in the art/entertainment worlds. Because these cats are more than artists, they are entertainers. They have influenced our culture in immeasurable ways. No ... they've helped to create it in the first place. As with most all of the cultural characters and styles I gravitate toward, their work personifies freedom. Freedom to create, to express, to translate, to comment, to politicize, to protest, to rejoice, to rock ... to BE.

Bojórquez's calligraphy and graffiti styles have been copied the world over, but they started in Northeast L.A. He is one of the first street artists to have made the transition to galleries, and his influence cannot be overstated.

Tourjé is also a product of Northeast L.A., and his art work reflects the pop, surf and skate culture that cemented Southern California's place in peoples' minds as the go-to for cutting edge style, music, and yes, art.

Van Hamersveld's graphic design is known the world over, most famously with his poster for the original Endless Summer. Shepard Fairey cites him as a major inspiration, and it's clear why. Iconic.

Wisdom is as much a performance artist as a traditional one, and he can often seen painting alongside Los Angeles bands, producing a completed work by the end of a set. These are truly rock and roll artists, and nearly all of them will be performing again at this weekend's shindig.

Wong's (aka Charlie Chan) collage and photography based work is another clear influence on the surf and skate culture that defines this wonderful part of the world, and he also plays music, which often finds its way back into the art work, completing the circle of creativity.

Though this band of merrymakers have been friends for decades, their collective work has never been more fresh. A collaboration between the Cali Locos and Dusters Skateboards has made available a signature deck for each artist. These decks showcase how different their individual styles are, and how well they work together, both the works of art and the friends. For this new show, "Somos Locos" translates as "We are crazy". Bojórquez clarified this by explaining that THEY aren't crazy ... they are "Crazy about life". And it shows.

Please join the Cali Locos this Saturday, March 18th at the Manhattan Beach Art Center!

Manhattan Beach Art Center
1560 Manhattan Beach Boulevard
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

1 pm - Skate Spot opening
3 pm - Live music
5 pm - Book signing
6-9 pm - Art show
The whole time - FUN.

*Photos courtesy of the Cali Locos.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

International Women's Day - Venice Style

Yesterday was International Women's Day, and this year it was intended to be "A Day Without Women". Women were supposed to skip work, not spend money unless it was at women-owned businesses, have a social media blackout, and wear red in solidarity with other women. I began the day at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, and was disappointed to see hardly anyone in red. Myself and one elderly woman were in red, and actually hugged, because we got the memo. Solidarity. After a perfect outdoor lunch with women on a glorious day, I headed over to Abbot Kinney, where my wonderful friend Nana Ghana was hosting a celebration of women at Principessa.

LA Woman Rising is Nana Ghana's documentary film about 50 diverse women waking up in Los Angeles. It was the perfect project to showcase on a day that is all about Women, and the trailer was running on a loop in the back of the O. G. Venice clothing store.

In the front of the store, cocktails were flowing courtesy of Dulce Vida Tequila - and we know how L.A. Women like their margaritas.

The good vibes were flowing the moment you walked in the door, with a crowd as diverse as the women in the film. Rightly so, because many of the women present were IN the film, and in attendance to speak on a panel about the film.

But first. there were cupcakes.

The sun was casting a golden glow over the whole thing, and Nana thought we should show the town what we were all about ... by marching down the turn lane in the center of Abbot Kinney.

Rush hour traffic (which has gotten pretty much ridiculous on Abbot Kinney) was in full effect as our tribe of L.A. Women took to the street to march in a strong show of solidarity with women the world over.

Cars honked and people waved, some stopping to take their own pictures of the incredibly beautiful parade sauntering down the middle of the street. It was one of those wonderful Venice moments that take people by surprise with the sheer fun of it. It was especially special to be sharing it with such iconic and multi-faceted women as the ones walking beside me.

Once back inside Principessa, Nana had everyone take a moment to breathe it all in, saying, "Take a moment to feel Mother Earth, feel our breath as one with all the other women in the world right now." It felt extra meaningful. She spoke about how truly powerful  and limitless we all are, with each others' support. That when one woman wins, we all win. These are real facts.

Nana introduced her friend, the poet Yazmin Monet Watkins, who performed works of such depth and awareness, tears were brought to my eyes - and I wasn't alone. She read words of gratitude and love, saying she was "Grateful for my single mother upbringing". Me too. She read a poem called "Questions For The White Women I Marched Next To", asking "Will you be here tomorrow? Please stay." We will. She read one for her Grandma Lily, asking, "Grandma, how did you deal with the ignorance?" Yes, HOW?! Watkins finished with one that was called "Note To Self", reminding that each woman is brilliant, that Sisterhood lights our path, and that "This life is worth living. ROAR!" Yes. ROAR!!!

The LA Woman Rising panel was moderated by another friend of Nana's, Vic Styles, who asked the ladies assembled what made them an L.A. Woman.  There are so many parts to Los Angeles, just like there are so many parts to women, so it's a good analogy. L.A./Women can be nice, and it can be mean. It/We are all so different, but somehow we get along, and create culture here. It was discussed how L.A. is known for both its diversity and its entertainment industry, but that the two don't often reflect each other. It was asked if they considered themselves Feminists.

I've always had a hard time with special days like "Women's Day" or whatever, because I've never felt less than as a Woman. I think people are all created equal, and should be treated as such. Always have. It's only with the recent and awful new Administration in office that I've felt the need to stand up and speak out more than usual on the behalf of Women everywhere. But really, it's on the behalf of People everywhere, as we're all in this together, and that's just that. One member of the panel cracked everyone up by saying, "Go to a Rave!" The walls come down, and everyone is there just to have a good time! Everyone could learn from that. What a wonderful, inspiring afternoon celebrating and discussing women in today's world together! THANK YOU so much to everyone involved! I walked out of there feeling stronger, wiser, and more united with women than ever.

The unity continued when I found my ladies in red gathered for the evening portion of our Venice Women's Day at my dear friend, Sailene's pad. All of these strong and wonderful women were decked out in red, as we got a preview of things to come with Sailene's Privée Social Club (Stay tuned)!

After all this time, Helen Reddy might still have said it best ....

I am Woman, Hear me ROAR!