Friday, July 30, 2010

Ponds, Lakes, Rivers, and Oceans

Ah, what a gift it is to return to the remarkable Venice after a visit somewhere else. We always say, "Thank Goodness we're coming back to Venice", after a trip somewhere cool ... like Jamaica ... or Hawai'i ... or The Virgin Islands ... or Minnesota, because if it wasn't Venice you came back to, you might be bummed to be back. Instead, you just appreciate it more.

The same goes for my home state of Minnesota. I just got back and it was so great, it was like the Chamber of Commerce put on a special show - starring people AND place - to lure me back. From my very first awakening after a quick nap post red-eye, it was magic.

I always make my pilgrimage to Wood Lake Nature Center, a few blocks from the house I grew up in. The main freeway (35W) is literally right next to this blessing of a place, but you would never know it. It is a pristine refuge of wildlife and peace, smack in the center of the city. I said out loud to my Mom and Brother, "We're going to see deer" ... and - three minutes later - two twin fawns stepped into the dappled sunlight of the woods.

(*Note: my photos are just for visual aid. Just WAIT until you see what my brother, Paul, got up to with his camera! They'll make mine look like I took them with a Fisher-Price camera.)

I went and checked out the gorgeous (and roasting hot in the bright sunshine OUTDOORS) new Twins Stadium, Target Field, where everyone was in a good mood, all Minnesota Nice.

I went to the best music club in America, (Happy 40th Birthday!) First Avenue (The Purple Rain club for the uninformed), where I spent countless hours and had transcendent rock show moments that give me chills to this day. They have a new diner attached, and I swear that when I walked into the open garage door of The Depot, Kris Kristofferson was playing. First Ave had just re-painted the stars on the outside of the building, naming just some of the classic bands that have graced the stage ... I was happy to see some of my favorites right next to the front door.

I ran through a sprinkler in the middle of the city to cool off from the sweltering heat, that just a few short months ago was only dreamed of, as everything was covered with feet of snow. Seeking relief from almost-sure heat stroke, I found another sprinkler in the Walker Sculpture Garden.

When I was completely wet, I went and sat under the shade of a new sculpture made up of tree after tree filled with chimes, and let the variety of tones and cool umbrella of the leaves lull me into a lush, reverential trance.

I surprise partied my dear, sweet, beloved Mother (the whole point of the trip) for her 70th (crazy and unbelievable!) birthday, and saw the love shining out of everyone's eyes for a lady with a life well (and selflessly) lived, filling my heart to almost bursting.

I spent time with friends that I love as much as I do myself, and played with their kids that I now feel the same about.

I caroused with friends from birth, kindergarten, high school (a rare bunch that still all show up and WANT to hang out together, from every walk of clique), college, and beyond. We laughed and told stories, old and new, until a thunder and lightning extravaganza blew us outside to run around in it.

Speaking of extravaganza, I saw the best fireworks - I believe ever - in front of a gigantically full Moon as I floated on the St. Croix with friends for life, as a Led Zeppelin cover band played on the shore, and actually sounded great. Afterward, we cruised down the river in the path of that moonlight, smelling the fresh, clean mud and green, as stars shot about like the earlier pyrotechnics. I'll never forget the serenity of that moonlight drive (so serene that I didn't even take pictures).

I walked around my favorite city lake, Lake of The Isles, and loved every leaf, blade of grass, puffy cloud, and yeah, even the lake scum the good people canoed through. I licked an ice cream cone (Bailey's Raspberry Truffle. I'm not kidding. mmMM!) from Sebastian Joe's at a table outside, remembering Liquor Lyle's tomfoolery. I loved the wit and sense of fun of my hometown, as I beheld the Sea Monster of Lake Harriet.

After a bit of an accidental trip extension, I was ready to return to Venice. Total exhaustion from no sleep at all, and multiple city stopovers, were no match for the excellence of Venice, California. I was met by fun friends pouring champagne, some catching up to the hometown people in years of friendship themselves. My first morning back on the beach this morning, I was greeted by dolphins leaping all the way out of the water to say what's up. I waved at all my pals at the Farmer's Market, and got my favorite mocha in town at The French Market. Which reminded me of the Garrison Keillor article I read as I sat outside in Minnesota, thinking somewhat along the same lines, and almost completely explaining humanity:

Some people believe that God has revealed Himself to us and not to the others, the barbarians, and it is His Will that our tribe vanquish the others and rain death and destruction on them. Others believe that our understanding of God is incomplete but that He has bestowed this beautiful world on us, and other gifts, which should be shared, and we should walk softly and praise His Name. I walk softly to the cafe and order a large mocha and pray for the forgiveness of incompetence and for mercy to children. And thanks for the day, which happens to be perfect.

Ponds, Lakes, and Rivers ... lead to Oceans, with all their vastness and possibilities. Which is the same as what happened to me. I love my beginnings dearly, and they are what pushed me on to bigger places and adventures. I love them all the same, with all their differences, as I do all the people who reside next to them. I am all of them. And Perfect Days happen everywhere.

*Thank you to Minnesota, for welcoming me home so spectacularly every single time. And Thank you to Venice, for doing the same exact thing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gone Fishing ... Summer Re-runs!

Ahhh ... Summertime. On a little hometown vacation, so you can maybe read some re-runs until I return to Venice. If you're a new reader, there are some gems of people and places back in the earlier history of Blogtown that you might have missed. Enjoy ... maybe with some iced tea or something, like I am right now. Minnesota is so hot right now. And I love it.

Oooh, is that a loon I hear?!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sponto Evolution

I hope you were lucky enough in your life to have crossed paths with our friend Mark "Sponto" Kornfeld, founder/owner of the Sponto Gallery in Venice. He was a true character, by and for Venice, all the way. We had the greatest of times in that space at 7 Dudley, and things just haven't been the same since our Sponti's death at the end of December in 2008.

That's why I was so happy to hear that the guys at Artisan Venice (Darren Hall and Steven Avila) were going to hold a "Sponto Evolution Event" at their corner of Windward and Pacific last Saturday night, to carry on the Spontification Ritual, with the spirit behind all the openings (Everybody WELCOME!) and parties we had at Sponto's almost fully intact. Sponto himself was about the only element missing ... and even he was probably there, hovering above, grinning like the Cheshire Cat in the swirling smoke.

There was live music by a bunch of little groups (so sorry, I didn't catch the names of the troubadours - Spontified - except for Suzy Williams was with one punchy little bunch, that was like jazzy Renaissance people.

A whole gang of us from the real Sponto Gallery days were there, pouring out some of our juice on the ground in front for Sponti. He curated a lot of art shows in his day, but more than anything, he curated FUN. I have so many quotes from him over the years, I'm going to have to do a whole story just about him soon, but I know he would have been cracking us up with his quips about the night, and all the fuss still being made over him. Which he would have adored, by the way.

The Tree Man was there (who we first met at Sponto's memorial service on the sand). They handed out 8 X 10 photos of Sponto in his prime. Sponto's great friend, Gerry Fialka, helped to organize this night at this space with the Artisan fellows, so it definitely had the core blessing needed to put on something in Sponto's name.

I commend Artisan, Darren, and Steve, for showing the reverence to someone who was so crucial to Venice as Sponto was, and also for keeping it REAL down there at their store. Art by LOCALS (most often being created right there in front of you, like it was again on Saturday night). Making every single person feel welcome, whether you lived on the street or in a big fat loft. Even streaming the event live, so that people who might not have been in Venice on this perfect July night, would also get to get a glimpse of how we do it. Sponto style.

I remember one time Sponto said, "My healer passed away ... Man, that sucked". I know what he meant, because he was our healer in a way. But nights like Saturday at Artisan Venice made it suck a little less, because the feeling of Spontification was intact. With all of us sharing stories, partying up so it spilled out the door and onto the sidewalks and streets of Venice, creating that fun and merriment in his name, and passing it on down to new generations ... Sponto lives on.


*Photos by Jennifer Everhart and me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Danny's Venice Deli - Keeping Venice History Alive

I've been going to the Venice restaurants of James Evans and Danny Samakow for years ... James Beach, Canal Club, and Danny's Venice Deli ... and have enjoyed every minute of every time. Exchanging kisses and small talk over the years is great, but it was high time I explored the background of these Venice institutions a bit deeper. Up first, Danny's Venice Deli.

Danny Samakow grew up in Pittsburgh, but it wasn't long before he was off raising a ruckus with political demonstrations and anti-war protests as a Yippie Minister of Propaganda ("I"ll tell you my favorite riot ...") in Madison, Wisconsin during Viet Nam. From there, it was time to Go West, Young Man, and he went to Cal Arts to study Happenings and Environments (What a cool major). He was a painter, loved to organize fun events, was always very interested in his community and politics, and supported local artists ... all of which play a big part in owning a restaurant/s, he would soon find.

Backing up a second, Danny was living, painting, and running a cosmetics business out of his garage in a house right next to the West Beach Cafe (now James Beach) that is now the parking ramp. In 1982, James Evans came down from San Francisco to celebrate his birthday with a friend at the West Beach Cafe. That's where Danny and James met, and it wasn't long before they were inseparable, and James moved down to Venice. He was working as both everyone's favorite waiter, and then G.M., of 72 Market Street (now Nikki''s), when it wasn't doing so well and was going to close. Between Danny (who has keen artistic and business sides to his personality) and James, they turned that place around into a profitable joint in no time flat. Which led them to think ... Hmmm ... what about our own place?

It was then that the West Beach Cafe came up for sale. Boom! They would take over the very spot they met in! (In fact, the very bar stools where they met are still sat on there today). James Beach opened in 1996 ... then Canal Club ... then Danny's Venice Deli in 2005. The vision for Danny's was all about preserving Venice history, and creating a modern history to go along with it.

When creating the vibe for his namesake restaurant, Danny knew he wanted it to be a gathering place that would bring together the spirit and bustle of the world famous Boardwalk and its history, with the local people who live (and eat and drink) here. To that end, he got artist Allan Kaprow to do caricatures of local Venice characters. He got Rip Cronk to do a 40 foot mural on the back wall featuring Venice legends, past and present. He worked with the Venice Historical Society to get old photos of the Abbot Kinney heyday. He traded food for art with Venice artists like Ruscha ("Thanks For Being With Us"), Hopper and Graham. He found the last original gondola bought by Abbot Kinney from the Venice Pavilion at the 1900 World's Fair, and went around and around with the city permit people to get that one ton thing securely hung from the ceiling by the bar.

We were all enjoying Happy Hour there the other day after the Venice Eco-Fest, when Danny told a wonderful story about that gondola that I think illustrates the history and the special qualities of this place, as Danny said as preface to the tale, "Listen, there IS magic in the world!"

The bow piece of the gondola hanging in Danny's had been missing for decades, and no one had any idea where it was, or if it even existed anymore. On the very evening of the lighting of the VENICE sign hanging across Windward & Pacific in 2007, Danny was running around like a lunatic, as he'd been very active in actually getting that sign up in the first place. (In fact, he was the guy that pushed the button to light the sign!). Well, they were running low on cups for the celebration after the sign lighting, and Danny went down to the basement of James Beach to see if he could locate any more cups. While digging around, he saw a hunk of wood sticking out a little, wedged in by the furnace stuff. He pulled it out, and lo and behold, it was the long-missing bow of the gondola! Found on the night of the Venice sign lighting! Danny took it as a blessing from Abbot Kinney himself that they were doing the right thing for their community, and bow and boat were reunited back at Danny's Deli. As Danny is saying here, "On my life", about the veracity of the story...

That lovely tale goes along with Danny's philosophy that Danny's Deli would and should be about facilitating the history of Venice, as Venice is a "Magic Nexus". It's not that it's the best beach in the world, or the nicest, it's about the Spirit of the place, and that's what they're trying to capture there ... and they're doing a fine job of it. There is never attitude, no velvet rope line outside type stuff, and there's always a warm welcome. They emphasize connection, both as a local base of operations for locals, and a place for tourists to connect to our real community.

They do that by hosting local Chamber meetings (like the upcoming Art Crawl bunch), providing a place to watch the World Cup recently, promoting local artists and musicians (like Suzy Williams' regular gig there), and providing good quality food and drink at affordable cost. Danny said, "Life should be good, and abundant ... life's been good to us, so we want to pass that on, with big pours and good prices ... which is also a political statement. Venice is a seed that we need to germinate and spread .. we have our community because we believe in it ... it's a living, breathing reality". I could go on quoting Danny all day, such a positive and profound fellow he is.

One of the things I like most about Danny is that when he thinks things, he ACTS on them ("I had a dream about mini corn dogs for $4.00, so here they are!"). Like getting that Venice sign up and lit ("We took over the streets that night, and the police just let us. It was one of the most magical moments of my life ..."). That's just the kind of person that Abbot Kinney WOULD bless with success, someone who acts as a faithful steward of the whimsy and history of this crazy, unlikely FEELING of a place, that we're all participants in creating.

There are still blank places waiting to be filled, both on the walls of Danny's Venice Deli, and in the days to come in Venice. Stop in and have a drink, some good down home food (your place for Matzo ball soup in Venice!), and soak up a little local history and flavor while you're at it. Like Danny says, "You find yourself at the beach". Especially in Venice.

Danny's Venice Deli
23 Windward Ave.
(Corner of Windward & Speedway)
Venice, 90291

Monday, July 12, 2010

Venice Eco-Fest!

This past Saturday saw Venice become even greener than normal, with the 2010 Venice Eco-Fest setting up shop down at The Boardwalk & Windward. It's L.A.'s largest free outdoor Green Festival, and everyone seemed to be real into it ... and the timing couldn't be better, as our Earth continues to scream out for our help amid disasters both natural and man-made.

There were some 150 Booths and displays, all showcasing ways to be more gentle with our precious Earth. I chilled at the Free Venice Beachhead booth (who I also write for), and saw a ton of familiar faces, and met a bunch of new ones, as tourist season is in full-swing (even if the sunshine hasn't yet caught up). Everyone was very receptive, and inquisitive too, about new technologies and ideas to green up our lifestyles. Indulging in free samples of stuff never hurts either.

There was a Green Parade, an Eco Art Show, an Eco-Apparel Fashion show (bamboo is about the softest fabric ever ... get yourself something made out of bamboo, it will be your favorite thing you wear), a vegetarian food court, some kind of magic water booth that claimed to cure every ailment possible (I felt pretty good after a swig, but then I'd also just sampled some organic vodka, so ??), an eco-kid zone, and even a health and fitness stage at Muscle Beach. My favorite was a SOLAR Sound Stage, where I took a break from handshakes and paper distribution to catch the madcap antics of The Superbroke Brass and Tin and Strings Electric Marching Band Ensemble, who stand for "Truth, justice and the elevation of the human spirit", which I can totally get behind. Venice's own Suzy Williams also graced the crowd with one of her festive, jazzy sets of pure love and fun.

I saw my pals from Baykeeper, where we discussed me joining them for an eco-dive soon for a cool story. (If I put it in writing, it will come, right?) You could learn a whole lot walking around this festival celebrating Earth and our part in preserving it ... and people were. It was encouraging just to see that it's penetrating peoples' minds more. Many were the folks carrying cotton bags and aluminum water bottles, perhaps a tangible sign that it's all catching on.

A sudden - and completely weird, out of character, freaky for July (!) - rainstorm blew through the Festival towards the end, which was strangely appropriate considering the topic of the day. Climate change is no joke, and it really is now or never. I heard one scientist guy say that it's 10 years (10!) until the Earth might just kick us out (if 2012 doesn't go down first, as predicted). That's scary, and every time I see the giant gas-powered SUV drivers (Still, People?) and the balloon shards and bottles roll ashore, I think, Man. We might just have to have a weekly Eco-Fest just to drill it deeper into some of the thicker skulls.

All in all, it was a highly successful and great day, both for seeing your friends and neighbors, and for sounding the alarm about the absolute necessity of a Green Revolution.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Robyn Frazar

Oh, Man. I've been rocking it a bit much lately, and my face was starting to look like Keith Richards (maybe it was the scarf I had wrapped on my head, but still ...). Fortunately for me, I have a friend in one lovely Robyn Frazar, Licensed Esthetician. Robyn works at Alexandra Wagner Skincare, conveniently located on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, so all I had to do the Saturday after an insane last Friday night was teeter my bicycle up the road a short spell.

I managed that, and was so delighted to see what a lovely space Alexandra/Ally Wagner has created for her skincare clients up a flight of steps from the bustling Boulevard. Airy, sunny, crisp, soothing ... it was calming before I even stripped and laid down on the cozy white sheets of the facial table.

Alexandra is a Philly girl, who came out to L.A. via New York City six years ago. She had a painting business and found herself beating up on her body a lot, which led to a new awareness for her own well-being. When you realize how much some TLC helps your mental health, via facials, massages, good diet, exercise, all those good things, then you do your best to give yourself that treat once in a while, the best you can. Alexandra had that light-bulb, got her esthetician license, worked in NY and LA (at Jurlique, where she met Robyn), and then took the plunge into owning her own business.

Alexandra Wagner Skin Care was located above Colcha up the street for four years, until moving to the current location this past March. And it's gorgeous. You can wait for your appointment with a little people watch on the sunny balcony overlooking the Brig end of Abbot Kinney, and then go inside and forget all about it.

I certainly did. Adorable brown-eyed blonde Robyn heard my tall tales of the night and wasted no time in showing me to her facial room, instructing me to undress and get comfy. No problem. The music was good, the air was fresh, and I was almost out before she returned. That was short-lived though, as while I'm usually a lady that loves silence during any service, Robyn is so fun and insightful to talk to that I found myself jabbering away the entire time. Even during the very thorough extraction segment of the deal. Yep.

They use EmerginC products in their "Signature Facial", all of which smell delightful and leave your face sparkling aglow. That probably also had a lot to do with the enzyme peel, microdermabrasion, , those darned but vital extractions, mineral mask, "Gommage" (stuff that super-exfoliates with balls of goo that roll dead skin off your face - awesome), and even a cooling oxygen treatment that was a bonus tingling of fun facial first aid.

My favorite part - aside from the chats - was when Robyn applied this enzyme peel stuff that kind of stung, and then fanned my face as my eyes were closed, like with a fan fanned. I fully expected to open my eyes to find a glistening manservant there with a sprig of grapes to feed me. I shared this folly with Robyn and she replied, "If I have grapes, I'll feed 'em to you!" This is one of many reasons why we love her.

More of those reasons: A born and bred California girl (Encinitas, and now West Side!), Robyn is a truly lovely soul. When asked about what got her into her line of work, she said, "I want to establish REAL connections with people ... My whole purpose is to be an example of love, and put that forth in my every interaction." Which she does. She plays guitar beautifully, and is an avid supporter of all her musician friends (a point we bonded over early on). She loves Yoga, and the whole mind/body/spirit school of thought. She got her Esthetician License, worked for a Doctor in a medical spa, and then found herself at Jurlique until she was snatched up by Alexandra. Venice's gain!

She has recently thrown most all of the vice-y stuff in life out the window, to research for herself (and how she looks and feels) what doing without alcohol, sugar, processed stuff, and I forget what all else, but she wants to explore the more radical approaches to skincare issues through how we operate on the inside. She means business too. Meaning, you can't buy her a drink, but you can buy her a Kombucha! (though recently that seems to be slightly alcoholic too, I was surprised to find out).

Even after all that Robyn did to my now seriously soft and beaming face, there is still a bunch more things to try, like Micro-current treatment that tones facial muscles somehow, high quality waxing of both brow and bikini, multiple kinds of facials, and I'm still hoping for those grapes ...

Both Alexandra and Robyn adore working on Abbot Kinney, and support all the local businesses ("Most of our furniture is from Surfing Cowboys."). Though clients come from all over (even Orange County!), they love that the local clientele mostly show up and park their bikes out front. I forgot where Alexandra lived and asked her if she was in Santa Monica, to which she replied, "Absolutely not". She is firmly a Venetian. A girl after my own heart.

They love the Venice community (once again, the dominant feeling of Blogtown/Venice itself) and as Alexandra said, "There's not a lot of places like it left in AMERICA." Robyn added, "I love the progressive minds of Venice. People have art, flair, energy ... they value their friendships, they're free-spirited, and they, for the most part, want to make a difference in the World". Amen, Sisters.

When I wafted back down the stairs after my luxurious pampering and gab session, I was relaxed, refreshed, was told I had a "glow". Whether that was true or not, I at least no longer resembled old Keith. (At least on the outside). But better than that, I felt inspired by the knowledge that good people continue to share their gifts, make a living, and send people on their way feeling a little better about both themselves, and the world at large ... all in just over an hour.

Make your appointment now. Tell them I sent you. You won't have to tell me you went ... I'll know just by looking at you.

Alexandra Wagner Skincare

Alexandra Wagner/Robyn Frazar
1636 Abbot Kinney Boulevard (up the stairs)
Venice, 90291

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Live On The Sunset Strip ... JANE'S ADDICTION!

There may be no better way to kick off a weekend of celebrating Independence and Freedom than to have your mind blown by Jane's Addiction. BLOWN!

Juana's Adiccion kicked off the Bing Sunset Strip Summer Concert Series at The Roxy last Friday night, in a show for FANS, called "Fan's Addiction". They weren't fronting. The people crowding the house were ALL Superfans, - you could tell. Fans that may not have ever seen Jane's live, or if they had, it had been a loooong while. The only way to get tickets was to win them from the band's website, Tweeting with Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro to win, or standing on line at The Roxy all day long (Rewarded in most cases. That's how packed it was). That makes for an extra special show, as out were the jaded seen it all types, and IN were the fans that count Jane's as one of their ALL-time favorite bands.

Like me. At the first Lollapalooza I literally somehow healed myself from too much sun and tequila & oranges ruin just in time to squeeze down front and scream along with every word Perry sang. That was the only time I've ever bounced back so dramatically, and it was because of the music. Now THIS night, I felt great to begin with, so it was all even better. Years have passed, both since that first Lollapalooza Jane's experience, and since Jane's recorded their first album - Jane's Addiction - in this very same venue. I am now blessed to call (longtime/former Venice dwellers) Perry and Etty Farrell friends, but that hasn't affected the fervor with which I revere the music, not one iota. It does, however, help a bit to get in the door to such a memorable evening.

Not an easy task. Those people had been lined up all day with the hopes of getting in The Roxy, and they were going to go OFF once inside. To behold such a spectacle, that - leaping ahead - HYPER ... I heard a lot of chatter after the show saying it had been the very best show many had EVER seen.

That show began with an opening set, not by some random up and comer band like usually is the case, but by a custom-made (by Perry) revue designed to shock and awe, put on by our own Venice Beach Freak Show! Todd Ray yelled "Where are the Freaks in the house?!" to unanimous applause from the house, and his cast of characters - Larry the Mexican Wolf Boy, Murrugun the Mystic, Brett the Sword Swallower, and The Rubber Boy - came out and had the crowd screaming the entire time.

Larry was hairy, Brett swallowed three swords at once (!), the Rubber Boy was jump-roping with his own arms, but Murrugun was the craziest. He pierced his flesh with metal skewers, all the way through, to where you had to either look away or risk throwing up. Yipes. The screams and gasps were authentic, and there's much more of that craziness to be seen each weekend on the Venice Boardwalk.

The skewers did not stop there. As tangible excitement built (like that old feeling you used to get pre-BIG show), next to take the stage were two tattooed and lingerie-clad ladies, one of whom took metal longass needles and inserted them through one cheek and out the other, licking it when it came out for good measure. More shrieking went down for that, but NOTHING compared to when both girls were suddenly hooked up to harnesses attached to metal rods in their backs ... flesh stretched out and crazy to where I had sympathy pain in my own piercing the next day, no joke.

Up they flew, swinging around from the ceiling, when the curtain dramatically rose and Jane's Addiction was revealed, blasting the opening notes of "Whores"!

To say that people went absolutely eyes-crossed crazy is too subtle ... all you could do was just scream senselessly at how Amaze-balls it all was. Perry dodged the girls as he sang, sometimes stopping to give them a swing push, as Dave tore through a possessed-like solo. I talked with many music biz folks after the show, and all agreed that it was one of the all-time Best Openings To A Show. Ev. Er.

The band was in perfect form from the outset: Perry smiling and having a ball; Dave skulking about the stage tearing his guitar to pieces, Stephen Perkins grinning like a little kid as he beat the daylights out of his drum kit, and Duff McKagan replacing Eric Avery seamlessly on the bass. The stage was done up as kind of an altar, with white Christmas lights hanging around a saintly painting and colorful Day Of The Dead-like accessories.

Awesome. (I'll be using that adjective a lot as we continue, I suspect).

"Ain't No Right" and "Had A Dad" immediately followed the spectacular opening number, and found Perry slapping fives with everyone down front, swigging from a bottle of red wine, and shimmy dancing along with the band he's fronted for over two decades, but performing his heart out like it was his first time.

He is the ultimate front man, he really is, and you can see the joy he gets out of these kind of moments coming off of him, like heat wave mirages (though it may really have been heat mirages, as it was a sweaty inferno of excitement in there). Dave calmly puffed away on a cigarette and shrugged his classic riffs out like it was no big deal. But it was.

Awesome. The crowd alone could tell you that, as they were SO into it for every last note and word played, you thought some would have to be carried out on gurneys.

Between songs, Perry said, "I'm talking to my homies in L.A. ... Kiss my ass, Boston!" (Referring, of course, to our recent NBA Smackdown with the Celtics - Ha!) L.A. was more than receptive too ... particularly when the "Everybody, everybody ..." opening to "Ted, Just Admit It" began, and Mrs. Farrell and her dancing partner, Stephanie Spanski, came out in black lingerie with feather butts, to bump and grind around the band. The guys (probably a bunch of girls too) in the place needed bibs at this point, so hot were these two.

Etty is a gorgeous woman - inside and out - and somehow managed to look like a wind machine was permanently on her - as cool and vampy (despite the heat), she pranced around her husband. The true love between them shone as bright as the spotlights. (I don't exaggerate in this case. They're the same at home as they are steaming up a stage. Theirs is a real and enviable love. So there.)

When the opening chords to "Mountain Song" started up, the audience was just GONE. Completely out of their minds. I personally was so happy to be there, I felt like I was vibrating like the breeze that comes out of speakers when you're too close - especially when I got a little Perry shout-out ("Cash in now, Carol ... Cash in now!") that pretty much made my Summer. When the resulting furor rose at that behemoth of a number's end, Perry said, "Do you know how much I love hearing that shit?!" Mad adulation - We meant the song, but he meant the cheering. There was a mutual love fest going on in the room, no doubt about it.

It continued with a crazy tearing through of "Been Caught Stealing", with Perry taking someone's cell camera and mugging for it, shaking his ass, and generally beaming throughout, while Stephen's curly-haired mohawk flopped around as he delivered a proper flogging to the song. Dave is just a blast to watch, and Duff is straight badass.

The slightly ominous tones of the dramatic "3 Days" started up, and Etty and Stephanie came out to flank Perry ("Three lovers in three ways ...") wearing black gags. Sexy, dark, edgy, DOPE as ever. For real, this band has held up almost miraculously, and makes a whole lot of newer bands seem like lint to pick off. Tight, almost telepathic tone changes, illustrated how being in it for the long haul makes for serious musical excellence. Duff as the new guy crunched out the bass lines like he was practicing them in night school after his GNR day job. Perfection. The song builds and builds, until Perry singing "All of us with wings .." felt undoubtedly true. Perkins took a blistering solo, and then it all exploded in such a way that left the room breathless ... but still yelling.

"Ain't life great?! I'm having such a fucking good time!", yelled Perry after that one, but it could have been said by anyone there. Strangers would pass by and high-five me, unprovoked. The resulting photos of the night show nothing but joy on every face you focus on. The real kind of happy that can't be faked. Shiny, excited, wild eyes were everywhere, and they lit up even more when the band revved up again for "Stop!" Perry was as dancing maniac, and the band showed zero mercy to the surging crowd. When it got to the "Hum ... along with me, hum along with the t.v. ... Whoa-oh-oh-oh, Whoa-oh-oh-oh, Whoa-oh-oh-OH-oh ..." part - ALL voices joined as one, and you could tell the entire band was thrilled, knowing that their heydays were far from over.

The entire Sunset Strip was thrilled (if the noise carried like I think it did) for "Ocean Size". It was done to epic proportions, and as Perry sang, "Wish I was Ocean size ...", I wanted to tell him, "Perry, You are." Nothing felt bigger at that moment in time, and as they rocked us to our collective cores, nothing but that feeling felt better. The stoke that comes from a good old- fashioned rock out cannot be diminished, nor can the camaraderie that comes from sharing that experience with a bunch of other like-minded new friends.

That was it for the regular set, but it started the frenzy anew, as rabid men and women shouted for more. Pretty soon, some roadies came out and set up some steel drums, which earned their own cheers. Uh-oh. That could only mean one thing ... and it did.

Stephen came out and stood at the steel drum set, Dave and Duff brought out acoustics, while Perry and the Girls danced around to the more than classic, "Jane Says". There wasn't one word of it that wasn't shouted along with by the entire room. Not one. When they brought up the house lights for the band to see the crowd sing-along, all the faces reflected the same pure giddy happiness. By the way, I don't care if you think I'm being gushy about all of this, I'm merely reporting the simple facts of a SPECTACULAR show. It was truly one for the ages.

"How are you all?" {{ ROOOOOAAAARRR!!! }} "Remember how vibrant the music scene used to be in L.A.? {{ WOOOOOOOOO!!!! }} "Well, I don't keep track, I just keep going!"
{{ AAAAHHHHH!! }} "We recorded our first album here in 1987, and I insulted every record executive in this whole city ... I invited 'em all to come check out my balls!" {{ A-HAHAHAH! }} "Tonight felt like the Good Old Days ... but these ARE the days!" {{ YEAAA-whistles-AAAAA-shrieks -AAAAAH! }} And with that, Dave, Stephen and Duff each began banging on big drums in unison at the front of the stage, signaling the opening to ... "Chip Away"!

You could barely stand how great it was in there then. That song has always felt just HUGE to me, and tonight it was that much and more. Like Ho. Ly. SHIT (That was the dominant phrase being uttered by nearby fans)! Etty and Stephanie were leading the clapping, the guys in the band were banging the drums senseless, and everyone else was just jumping up and down (waitresses, bartenders, security, EVERYONE!) as Perry screamed, "I don't, I don't, I don't feel easy!", over and over until the fever pitched and it all finally had to come to an end. Not that anyone wanted it to.

Jane's Addiction
came to the front of the stage, arm in arm, and stood there just soaking up the adulation for a beautiful moment of complete triumph. After all the years, hardships, fights, yes, addictions, memories, and completely righteous shows like this, they're still standing. And so are we. Not just standing either, but SOARING. The arms of everyone present did not come down and the throats did not stop straining with ragged effort and noise until the house lights came on, and we all realized that it was over over. And with that realization came the accompanying one: group-think/talk of it having been "One of the greatest shows I've ever ever seen, Man!"

It really was. Like old school shows, where people didn't want to leave, they just wanted to keep talking about it. When they were finally forced to leave, they kept talking about it on the sidewalk outside, and on up until right now, when I'm still talking about it. And I'll for sure never stop smiling about the memory of it.

So as the Summertime begins to roll, I thank Jane's Addiction for sharing their gifts, and that feeling of being rocked until you're hyperkid when relating the tale. For me, it's an escape, a treasure, and ...

"It brought peace to my mind in the Summertime ... and it rolled ...".

*All photographic excellence was committed by Paul