Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Days In May

We're just wrapping up one of the most gorgeous Mays ever here in Venice. A lot has been going on, so much so that there isn't always enough time to spin all the tales I want to in a timely fashion. But I just feel so grateful and lucky to be alive to experience gorgeous evenings like this ... on a friend's rooftop in Venice. You breathe it all in deeply and know that these moments - with great people and good food and stiff drinks with no alarm the next morning and sunsets - are what truly matter the most. Always.

* Beautiful photo by Jennifer Everhart

Monday, May 21, 2012

Solar Eclipse Of The Heart!

I was in project mode one recent Saturday, and found myself poking around in Lincoln Hardware, getting ready to paint a chair bright red. I looked up from my deciding to see my friend and Venice impresario, Danny Samakow, all excited and on a mission. He told me that the next day was going to be the best solar eclipse of our lifetime, and he was on his way to the Valley to buy a whole bunch of special glasses to view the spectacle through. Awesome. I told him I'd see him tomorrow, and we split our separate ways. I painted and thought about how much I love Danny's sense of "School Spirit", for lack of a better term.

He is always organizing and facilitating fun in the name of Venice and its people. I mean, who wants to and then actually DOES drive to the Valley on their Saturday to get special glasses to make something more fun for others? Then offers up special Eclipse drink deals at Danny's Deli and gives any glasses donation money to AIDS research? Danny, that's who. He reminds me of a friend of mine from college who once showed up with massive amounts of glow sticks that we broke open to fling the light stuff around our walls and play (toxic) glow tag with. He would say, "There's nothing worse than running out of fun". Danny is that same type of dude. A real gem, and Spirit of Venice preservationist who we should all thank every time we see him and his wonderful team/s. For real.

Sunday was weird out all day, alternating fog and sun. Most Venice people I spoke to were Art Walk crowd avoiding, and doing their own thing. Which is why it was so great to get down to the beach just in time for the apex of the eclipse (6:38 pm!) and see absolutely everyone gazing skyward, collectively sharing the phenomenon.

And a phenomenon it was! The fog muted the whole thing, and made it so you didn't really need the special glasses (but probably should have worn anyway) to see the super trippy eclipse go down. People were sharing the glasses bought at Danny's Deli (About $1,000 bones made for AIDS research!) with strangers and passersby. It was hard to capture in photos, as was the electricity you felt in those moments of group excitement.

There aren't that many events, especially natural ones, that bring a whole people together in the name of just seeing something cool, and way bigger than us. This was such an evening, and the beating of the drum circle in the distance only made it all feel more tribal. Heavy and joyous at the same time, which is what life itself is, after all.

To celebrate, we hit all three of Danny's joints, and wound up at the Canal Club inventing what may be the drink for Summer '12. A mango margarita with pepper infused tequila! So it tastes just like when you get a mango from a fruit cart person and they put the chili powder on it, and it's a perfect fiesta in your mouth. We called it "The Eclipse". Try it. And HAPPY SUMMER 2012 in Venice!!!

Here's to never running out of fun!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Moods of Norway Celebrates Norwegian National Day - L.A. Style!

Norway celebrates its National Day (Syttende Mai) on May 17th, and for the third year in a row I got to throw down with the Norwegians of the super duper clothing brand, Moods of Norway.

They are the best people ever, and really know how to throw a party. Judging from the line outside, the word is spreading that Norwegians are the jam.

The place was packed with real blondes, and a lot of scenester people that had never heard of Syttende Mai before. And that's ok ... One Love!

Moods of Norway founder and owner, Stefan Dahlkvist, was the host of the evening, and was having as good a time as anyone there. He told me they're about to open their summer ski resort in Norway, and that is HIGH on my list of must life experiences. Ja.

This was a very L.A. Norwegian experience, from the long line out front, red carpet deal, the Moods blue limo parked out front, the sparkly gold tractor (MON's logo), some iffy plastic surgery, and everyone taking phone pictures.

But the warmth of the store's wooden walls, and homespun photos and embroidery placed around cozied it right up, in spite of the pressure to be a scene.

Moods served up the usual champagne and waffles they're know for, but for the night party they had a Border Grill truck set up in the back, and Viking Fjord vodka drinks ("Grandma's Disco Fuel" - on the very day that Donna Summer died - RIP) getting the crowd all loosened up.

This was most evident in the area reserved for the Viking Photo booth. Folks of all ethnic backgrounds were transformed into ferocious Vikings via horned helmets, beards, Thor hammers, shields and Glogg mugs. Everyone had the Viking spirit, for sure, some (I'm talking to you, rosy-cheeked ass grabber) more than others.

Moods of Norway suits were well represented on the gentlemen in attendance,

And the ladies were mostly fancy, though one woman wore her traditional bunad costume, and I was jealous.

Norwegians are very friendly, and seem to get a kick out of my trying to speak my few bits of the language that I retained from college in Minnesota. They also get a kick out of the fact that most Norwegians they meet ARE from Minnesota. Similar climates, I guess.

One woman I met (Anna, I think - Viking Fjord fog) and I got to chatting and her son is going to college in Minnesota near where I went. We were talking about our various traditions and foods and stuff, and she told me that it's mandatory in her family that she make Norwegian meatballs each Christmas. I said, "How are Norwegian meatballs different from Swedish meatballs?" She smiled at me and very confidently said, "They're MUCH bigger."

We laughed and looked around at all the happy people ("Happy clothes for Happy People"), proud of our heritage, and also happy to be exactly where we were.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Alexander Calder at L & M, Venice

L & M Arts in Venice just opened their Alexander Calder show, and it is swell.

I don't know why that adjective just popped into my head, but maybe because Calder is from another time, but could still be hip now, like swell.  Anyway, I had an unbooked hour today for some weird reason, and jammed over to L & M to check it out. I was once again all alone in there to take it all in. I find that I now prefer this more holy experience there much more than the packed openings, where it's more about the outfits and looking around at who's there than it is the work. Fun, sure, but not the way to really get and appreciate how ahead of his time Mr. Calder was.

Born in 1898 in Pennsylvania, Calder's work - especially the gouache paintings (all Untitled) - could easily fit in on a building today, or the Graffiti Wall in Venice, and everyone would think it was done by a stealthy modern street artist.

Who would then be collected by all the hipsters and skateboard companies would hire him to design decks and tra la la la la, he'd be off to the races.

Only he died in 1976, and never heard about all of this stuff we talk about today. He was the real deal. Internationally revered art world superstar and innovator. The kids today could learn a lot from studying Calder, and right now it's right up the street, for free.

His fanciful kinetic mobiles (so-dubbed by Marcel Duchamp) and bright use of color was inspired by a love of the circus that Calder had his whole life. The stationary ones were named "Stabiles" by Jean Arp, but they still seem to be moving, in their grace.

It always puts a spring in your step when you come across one of his outdoor sculptures somewhere in the world (like the outdoor one from 1965 here, 3 White Arrows (3 fleche blanches) .

It's always child-like fun AND super sophisticated design, all at the same time.

Standing in the middle of the galleries, looking around at the various moving pieces floating around and all the carnival colors, made me think of a bunch of stuff.

Like dragonflies and cribs and Bazooka Joe and fireworks and ballet and balance and plants and planets and justice, for some reason, and love, always love. Of person, place or both.

Because you can't make things like this and not absolutely love what you're doing. It's evident, and it's free, yet the simplicity makes it all the more complex. Again, like love.

So there you have it. Over 30 years since Calder's death, he's showing in Venice and could easily roll with all the current urban/legend artist cats. That's cool. And so are my little getaways inside of L & M. What a great little neighborhood treasure that I hope you all frequent. Because you GET to!

Alexander Calder's cool can be seen right now through June 16th at L & M, Venice.

L&M Arts
660 Venice Blvd.
10 am - 5:30 pm, Tuesday-Saturday.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day Rebellion!

Happy May Day, 99%! On the same day that he led a GuitArmy through New York City in a May Day Occupation, Tom Morello released his jam documentary short, World Wide Rebel Tour. Here it is for your viewing pleasure ...

Whatever it takes!  Solidarity.