Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring Swing!

Spring. It seems to be happening only here. I'm so grateful every time I take a deep breath of the jasmine busting out everywhere, with the sun warming things up a little more every day. I rode past this little swing in the sun today. The simplicity of times spent merely swinging made me happy enough to stop in my tracks to remember. And appreciate.

This e.e. cummings quote reminds me of the triumph of Spring over Winter ... and positive over negative in the whole wide world:

“I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
with closed eyes
to dash against darkness”
― e.e. cummings


Friday, March 22, 2013

March Venice Art Crawl - Fresh Air, Fresh Art

Last night was the March Venice Art Crawl, and it was great. It kind of felt like First Fridays used to feel, where you saw a lot of locals and neighbors, and places served up free booze and music. The Art Crawl is actually better than First Fridays used to be, because the whole point is to appreciate local art ... the very reason Venice became cool in the first place.

Cool doesn't begin to describe how excellent it was to approach the Venice Skatepark just after sunset, seeing it all lit up, with a DJ blasting out good jams over the entire Boardwalk. They built a little entrance ramp so that people could go down in the snake run of the park, where the art of Mark Farina was hung.

It was a party, seeing all sorts of familiar Venice faces and catching up, all while checking out the brightly colored and highly political pieces from Farina.

These are the kind of original, fun ideas that make Venice special, and the kind of things we NEED - to show the world that they can keep their corporate chain stores and hum drum sameness.

WE have art openings IN skateparks. Bam.

There was a lot to see and do, so I had to crack the whip and keep us moving along ... to Small World Books next.

Among all the zillions of books I covet every time I walk in the best book store in the West, I now also want one of the pieces by Christina Mills showing at Small World.

Her work feaures the typical Venice scenes, with surfers and the Venice sign type images, with scads of tweets from Venice 311 behind them ... truly an example of "Where Art Meets Crime."

On to The Gallery on Market Street, where we saw the gorgeous photography (featuring a bunch of Venice neighbors - Tawney! Shawn!) of Nicol Ragland.

The sign said, "A photographic exhibit raising questions about our ability to access primal and immaterial forces within the commercial ethos of western industrial society. The images stir a vital and confrontational animism by juxtaposing taxidermied wild animals in the arms of domestic U.S. citizens provokingly situated in the iconic centers of mass commerce." Phew. That's weighty stuff ... but the photos sure were lovely.

We stopped in to see my girls at Kiki Designs (and spied even more cool rings we all wanted) and raise a glass, then did same at Gotta Have It, where the lovely Venice native, Mattea Perrotta, was showing her work. I knew almost everyone I saw, making it such a delight to be out and about, among friends.

Art was everywhere, and it was hard to take it all in when there was also so much socializing to be done. We did pretty well, but did get to Shulamit Gallery a bit too late to fully enjoy it, since they were kicking people out.

James Beach had Shark Toof and Tom French work featured - always a pleasure - and across the street at the Canal Club, owner Danny Samakow showed his very Venice paintings, that he was auctioning off for his upcoming AIDS Lifecycle Bike-A-Thon. We drank champagne with "Team Venice" and I soon found myself being the person that drew the raffle tickets for the lucky winners of Danny Samakow originals. We had a blast with the boys, even more so knowing that it was all going for such a good cause (that you can still donate to. Contact Danny.)

We covered a lot, but we didn't cover it all ... so there will be a lot to look forward to when the next Art Crawl rolls around June 20th. The night was starry as we strolled back home, way later than I had planned. We passed underneath the Venice sign again, and I smiled to myself that I get to live here, where there are still staunch preservationists of what is truly cool, proven by nights like this.

I love you, Venice. (We say that a lot here)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pie Fidelity with Gjelina's Nicole Mournian

Nicole Mournian is a complete treat of a lady, which makes complete sense, as she is the creator of some of the best treats life has to offer. Namely, Pie. She is the masterful baker at Gjelina, and she's about to hit the road to the National Pie Contest in Florida on a mission she has dubbed "Pie Fidelity."

She embarks on this adventure confidently, having won (pretty much sweeping) the KCRW Pie Contest last fall, with Best In Show, Best Savory Pie, Best Fruit Pie and Best Crust ribbons all going home with Mournian. Now, I'm a pie maker myself, so I can rest you assured that Mournian's creations are the absolute top of the heap. Like, I'm intimidated. But mostly inspired.

Especially when she makes it all so fun. The trip to the National Pie Contest will be about winning (Mournian claims to be very competitive, but I've only ever seen pure sweetness) the whole thing, for sure, but it's also about the journey. She and co-worker/filmmaker, Casey O'Brien, will be road tripping all along the "Southern Pie Belt", interviewing and making pies with down-home bakers across the country, creating an oral history documentary of real pie in America. Pie Fidelity. I'm so jealous.

Mournian's own journey began growing up in San Diego, in a family that wasn't really too big on baking (dessert was often store-bought strawberry shortcakes). She went to the San Francisco Art Institute for photography, and while shooting a bunch of food for a project, she realized that she had a better time making the food. When she graduated, all the other students received cameras for their big gift ... Mournian got a KitchenAid mixer. Clearly, others were supportive of her talents.

She started lying about her kitchen experience and making up references to get jobs in kitchens where she could really learn her craft. She worked at Influx in San Diego, where she learned a ton, then moved up to L.A. and worked at Fresh in Culver City, then headed over to learn coffee at Intelligentsia on Abbot Kinney here in Venice. While working at Intel, Mournian met and became friends with Travis Lett, Chef at Gjelina. He offered her a job and she moved down the street to become "General Manager & Baker" for Gjelina, where she now blows minds daily with her perfect concoctions (like the cacao/avocado mousse she gave me to try while we were chatting ... oh my GOODNESS!).

Encouraged by Lett and the team at Gjelina, Mournian entered the KCRW contest the first time, and lost. Didn't even get an honorable mention. Competitive streak kicking in, she spent the next year researching and perfecting her recipes and crust. The day of the contest last year, she got stuck in L.A. traffic and got her pies entered just three minutes to the deadline, the last person to enter. All the other entrants must be bummed that the traffic wasn't a bit worse, as Mournian's savory pie (pork belly!) and fruit pie (blueberry/blackberry) took home all the top prizes. The famous Chef judges were baffled by her crust, and were offering her jobs on the spot. Gjelina knows what they have in Mournian, however, and everyone is all the way behind her as she heads off for the big National Contest in Florida.

But we have to help her get there! Please kick in on her Kickstarter page to help fund their great pie adventure, and celebrate all the bakers that make our country so rich in tradition and deliciousness.

Please go NOW (there are only 4 days left to contribute!) to Nicole's Pie Fidelity page:

... and contribute what you can to make this high in the sky apple pie hope come to fruition! I heard about the whole story on Pi Day (March 14/3.14, get it?), where Mournian was just taking the strawberry/rhubarb pies out of the oven, after getting back from judging Google's campus pie contest. There did not appear to be any real threat to the National crown over there, so we can send our Venice team off to the National contest on April 28th, feeling great about their chances.

Go Nicole! Go Casey! Go Pie Fidelity! Mmmmmm ... Pie.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Quarter Century of Hal's

Hal's Bar and Grill is celebrating 25 years on Abbot Kinney in Venice, and loyal fans turned out Wednesday night to hear Linda and Don Novack and Hal Frederick in discussion with Jeff Gordon from the Writer's Boot Camp (and Hal's regular) at the Electric Lodge. It was packed with the fine folks that you can regularly see bellied up at Hal's, eager to hear and share stories of the many years of fond memories.

They opened up with the question, "What was Venice like 25 years ago?" to which an audience member piped up, "It was GREAT!" You could tell that most in the room were nostalgic for times when it really was more about the people, and the art, than the great money grab of the present, which Novack commented on, saying, "The street's gone crazy." True story.

Escalating rents are pushing out many of our old standbys, and a rumor was flying recently that Hal's would be another victim of the greed, but that was put to rest with a relieved sigh. This night of story-telling was pure appreciation for a true neighborhood landmark.

I knew many of the stories from having done an article on Hal's a while back, but it was a delight to hear all the locals chiming in with their 2 cents, in what became sort of an open forum. Artist Ed Moses made the room laugh when he said, "The food is always B+, which is very good, always consistent, I love the Chef (Manuel), and that's why I like it." Meaning that Hal's food is very good, and he didn't WANT it to be A+, because that's for foodies and that's what makes you not be able to get a table, and what brings all the people from all over, not all your favorite people in town that you can catch up with whenever you want. For instance, Don got more laughs with, "I love Gjelina. If people can't get a table, they come to Hal's for B+ food." Which happens a lot. Which is great for everyone. (If they can find parking ... which is why locals should walk or bike and take it all back over again).

All in attendance agreed that Hal's has been the center of the Artist's community in Venice, and as Linda Lucks of the Venice Neighborhood Council decreed (with certificates handed out), "Hal's is the unofficial City Hall of Venice." Another audience member said that no street has gone through as much change, so quickly, as Abbot Kinney, not even in New York ... and the locals come to Hal's to feel comfortable. And they do. Because of the consistent menu and local favorites - we learned that their famous (it has its own Facebook page!) turkey burger is due to Stockard Channing wanting a burger back when they were not on offer - to the familiar faces and warmth extended from everyone involved in the operation. Hal's is clearly a local treasure, and has been since they opened their doors back in the 1980's, when its address was the hard to locate West Washington Boulevard.

Local artist Peter Lodato spent a lot of time in New York, and he said that when he arrived back in L.A., Hal's became his spot because, "It felt like home." Don Novack added to that, saying, "Venice has STUFF. Grit, like New York." At least it always has, and God willing, that will remain in spite of the best (worst) efforts of the developer vultures circling.

Certificates were given, lovely Linda Novack got a beautiful bouquet of roses, and all the artists and locals in the Electric Lodge were thanked by the grateful panel from Hal's. Then we all ambled across the street, to get swept up in what Frederick called "The Mix" in the bar at Hal's. "It's ALWAYS been about the mix." By which he means, everyone is welcome ... struggling artist, millionaire artist, all ages, all races, all genders, all sexual orientations, any and everyone is in the mix. ALL will be welcome, at this beloved place that is "just a restaurant, but NOT just a restaurant ... it's so much more." It's Hal's.

Congratulations to all the Hal's family on 25 years of great times in Venice! And many more.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Organic Bling By Kiki Designs In Venice

Sisters Kiki and Kenna Pagador were born and raised on O'ahu (Mililani), and you can feel their Aloha Spirit the instant you enter their darling, golden-floored jewelry store, Kiki Designs, on Pacific. They have the Hawai'ian tunes playing, they welcome you with warm smiles and open arms, and the gems they work with all have that organic feel that comes from the love of nature the ladies developed growing up on the island.

They came to the Mainland for school, attending Santa Monica College and Loyola Marymount. At LMU, Kiki developed a non-profit called MAD IDEA (Making A Difference Initiating Dialogue on Equality for All), where she ran the program with speakers and panels discussing equality in race, gender and sexual orientation. I knew there was a lot going on with these girls from the moment I met them, but just now found out exactly how much.

 From the non-profit, Kiki went on to work at an Arts and Healing center in Santa Monica, and then when Kenna came over for school too, they both got jobs at Ritual Adornments, the late, great bead shop on Main Street (which has since moved to New Mexico, and is sorely missed). There, they learned the craft of jewelry making, as well as a deep knowledge of the various gem stones out there, and began making their own pieces. They would sell these at trade shows and through word of mouth. After repeatedly being accosted by ladies' boyfriends to meet them in alleys to buy the things their girlfriends wanted without them knowing, the Pagadors decided it was time to have an actual store front where they could sell their wares without the covert ops.

Kiki wrote in her journal about exactly what she wanted in a space ... small, foot traffic, cool neighborhood ... and just like that, she found a sublet space on Abbot Kinney in the half of Urbanic that wasn't being used. That is where I became friends with the sisters, after nearly fainting over their insanely gorgeous jewels, right from the beginning. Jewels like big hot pink agate rings that cover three knuckles. Necklaces made from stones with great names like "Aventurine." Some pieces are so big you might need a weight belt to counter them, like the one Kiki was wearing on this day (Rudilated Quartz, for creative meditation) ...

Like Kenna said, it's "Organic Bling," which couldn't be more perfect for the Venice of now. "We love our stones," she explained, and told me about their semi-annual trips to a master cutter in Arizona, and New Mexico, to find new gems to work their magic on. People often stumble upon Kiki Design, coming from the Boardwalk or wherever, and ask, "Is this a magical shop?" It certainly feels that way, with the sparkling gold floor and the glistening stones hanging all over the shop (from the creative displays that are Kenna's domain). There is even a "Gratitude Tree," that customers adorn with leaves indicating what they are grateful for.

The Pagador sisters are nothing if not grateful, a trait we talked about as perhaps being one's most important in life. "We're already living the American Dream ... to create, to create our own store, as minority women, doing what we love ... You really can't ask for more," said Kiki.

They're also grateful that their Abbot Kinney customers have followed them to Pacific, a move that happened when Urbanic decided to expand and Kiki Design had to find a new home. At their current location, pretty much next door to Mao's Kitchen, "It's a whole different crowd," laughed Kiki, to which Kenna added, "And I love them ALL!" That love is evident here, even if there wasn't a sign reading, "Shower Me With Love." Interestingly, the ladies said that they have had no theft here on Pacific, while it was always a problem on Abbot Kinney. Sociology, man. (To that end, they have a sign in the window that reads, "Steal from WalMart" - ha!) The "Crazy diversity of the People," is what makes them love the community that they now call home.

In their new neighborhood, they frequent all the close-by spots like Mao's, Cafe Collage, Larry's, Danny's, Nikki's, Barlo, Seed, and PokePoke on what they call their "Sumo Sundays." I love them.

I love them because they are talented and fun, but also because they're always trying to improve the world, particularly in regards to women. To that end, they host Women's Empowerment classes in their upstairs room on the first Wednesday of each month, and also on Sundays (see their website or call for more info). They have jewelry making classes up there, and private parties where you can create your own pieces with their guidance - with wine! "On Friday nights, we drink," invited Kiki, and it's not unheard of that the shop turns into a dance party on those nights, after hours. Because that gold floor was meant to be danced on.

But it always comes back to the jewelry. Friends that know the sisters well can tell who made what pieces, as Kenna leans more organic, and Kiki leans more bling. "Our pieces are little pieces of ourselves, and they're meant for whomever is drawn to them. They call to people, maybe because they're drawn to something in their life that's missing ...," mused Kenna. Interesting, because on this particular day, I kept picking up things made from a stone called "Chrysocolla," which is meant to give you inner strength ... which I can certainly always use, but maybe particularly now, which is why I was drawn to it. Makes sense to me, anyway.

If you need something special for an occasion, or a ultra-unique gift for someone special to you, these dears can create something custom just for you. Specialty stores are hard to come by in these days of homogeneity and corporate take-overs. A friend's baby was being baptized recently and Kiki wanted to give them a rosary. Finding that nearly impossible to locate, she made one herself. She can do that for you too.

"We're just really grateful to be here. We love what we do, everything from painting the floor to creating the pieces, to working with our customers. Love everything with us!"

In this lovely little magical shop, that is very easy to do. Aloha!!!

Kiki Designs
100 Market Street (but you really enter on Pacific)
#310.581.7940 (where they have an online shop if you're reading this from Minnesota or somewhere ...)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Jessica Luk at Spa Sophia - An Oasis on Abbot Kinney

I'm a lady that enjoys a good facial. "Good" would not do justice, however, to the one I just had from Jessica Luk at Spa Sophia on Abbot Kinney, right up the street. I didn't even know the little haven of peace and beauty existed until my friend Jessica started working her magic there. It's tucked in up a staircase above Primitivo restaurant, yet you feel like you just wiped the sand off of your feet at a friend's comfy beach house.

Luk is a California native, who grew up in La Cañada. She always knew she wanted to work in the wellness field, but it wasn't until she had a corporate job (and all the stress that went with it) that she really honed in on what it was that she wanted to do. She found that her own facialist really helped her detach from the daily rigamarole and feel good about herself, and figured she could pass that along to her own clients one day. After attending esthetician school at the Aveda Institute (Great sign. I've only used Aveda ever since I had hair.) in San Francisco, Luk got licensed and moved down to L.A. with her new husband, Tyler.

Doing her research, looking for a place to work, Luk found Spa Sophia. It fit right in with her desire to work in a place that was small, intimate and holistic vs. some big scenester spa ... a place where you really know your clients, and what they need. She came in to meet with owner, Sophia Marzocchi, they instantly clicked, and Luk started giving the excellent facials I'm about to tell you about last fall. Then Tyler got hired as a bartender at The Tasting Kitchen, so the darling couple book-ends Abbot Kinney, and we're lucky for it.

I walked upstairs on a sunny Venice morning, and Luk showed me in to the light, airy room where I was to be pampered for the next 90 minutes or so. I wanted it to be my bedroom at the beach ... all painted white with exposed beams and black and white surf photographs on the wall. Sun streamed in and the trees outside waved their branches gently, already creating a relaxing atmosphere.

I got naked and climbed under the crisp white sheets and soft, furry blanket to settle in for this highly anticipated treat. I'm not one who really likes to talk - at all - during facials and massages and stuff, as I feel like it kind of defeats the purpose of total relaxation. Luk completely honored that, aside from gently telling me when things might tingle, "feel pressure" or freak me out. She was so gentle and calm, but surprisingly firm during the massage parts. She is so tiny and adorable, you wouldn't think she could get into those knots like she does. The perfect combo, really.

The products smelled great, the classical music played softly, and soon enough I started to melt away into the process, not even thinking about the myriad things I wanted to accomplish on this day - a real miracle! As Luk said, "The more relaxed a person is, the better the facial, the better their skin." Suffice it to say, the facial and skin were waaaay better after this business. There was a moment when Luk applied a "Cinnamon peel" to my face that it tingled/burned almost to the point of not being able to take it. I breathed deeply, and I swear to God, I focused through my third eye and went into some kind of mental tunnel that I can't even really describe because I don't even know what I just said means. But I did. Then Luk started fanning over my face and just as soon as I went into that wormhole, I was back, hearing birds chirp outside. I swear.

That trip out was followed by a mask that made me feel like I was devolving into an ape. As it dried, it felt like my face was turning into an ape snout. I know that sounds insane, but go get this done and tell me it doesn't. Luk told me later that as the mask dried, my face looked like a 98 year old woman. Awesome. But it sure didn't when all was said and done. My pressure points were pressed on and activated, my face was extracted and polished into a time-travel tween, pretty much, and now all I can do is gush and urge you to copy me.

One thing that I liked so much too was that I can't recall another facial in recent memory where the esthetician didn't leave the room. They always go out and leave you under the steam and do whatever while you lay there going ho hum. Luk was with me the whole time. If steam was going on my face, she was massaging my hands, arms and head. No time was wasted, and it was all sheer Heaven. Even my tunnel trip.

After I was back to reality - kind of - Luk and I talked about how great that facial was and why, and also about Venice. "My job is to make you feel comfortable and educated about your skin." She is excellent at that job. She gave me the "Epicurean Facial" (if you do indeed want to copy me), but like she said, your skin is always changing, so while that one might be perfect for me now, in the Summer, when I'm all beached out, I'll probably need something different, as my skin will have different needs. I thought that was great too, as many times, you don't know better, so you just get the same thing you always do. Luk knew my skin better than I did, and I felt totally at ease in her more than capable, soothing hands.

About Venice, Luk said, "I know it sounds like such a cliché, but I really like the community the most." Clichés happen for a reason, of course, and here it serves as a catchall for our people, businesses, and the neighborhood itself. "It's a proud little place."

That it is, and that it deserves to be. Especially when there are people like Jessica Luk making you feel beautiful and great, and friends waving at you on the walk home. There just aren't enough superlatives to describe how fantastic I felt, as I dreamily strolled home among the bursting out jasmine and tree blossoms falling around me on this bright, sunshiny day. Blessed is about the best I can do.

Book your own bliss (everything from waxing everything to microdermabrasion) with Jessica (or Sophia Marzocchi or Amanda Coggin  if Jessica is booked solid, as she surely should be) at or by calling them at #310.564.6676.

Spa Sophia
1027 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Suite B

Monday, March 4, 2013

Carol Tantau is Just Tantau ... And So Much More.

March 8 is International Women's Day, so I'd like to have March stories be for the ladies, and the gentlemen who love them. There is probably no one better to speak to about women and Venice than Carol Tantau. Not only has she owned and operated her shop, Just Tantau, on Abbot Kinney since 1982, but she also operates the advocacy program at Sojourn Services for Battered Women and their children in Santa Monica.

We sat down to talk in the back of Tantau's shop, as her cats, Ricky and Lucy, cruised around and walked over her bare feet, all totally at home. Tantau grew up in Northern California, and headed to Venice in 1971, like so many who found their way here, "because it seemed like a good idea."  She had her BA in music, (there is a grand piano in the middle of the shop) and was making her living as a seamstress, which led to a stint teaching quilting classes. Again, like so many who not only found their way, but MADE their way here, she often stumbled into her situations quite by accident. Like when she met her husband, Leon, who was making jewelry on the Boardwalk when she happened upon him.

They married and lived in a little one room pad on the beach, where the jewelry manufacturing soon outgrew their place, and needed to find a space for a work shop and storefront. In 1982 there wasn't much happening on West Washington Boulevard (which you now know as Abbot Kinney) other than The Merchant Of Venice (open only for breakfast and lunch) and The Comeback Inn. That meant that they could afford the space they found at 1353, where Just Tantau still operates right now. They could afford it because then the idea was that rent was based on "fair market value" - meaning a rent that enables a business to survive. Ahhh, the good old days ...

Anyway, Carol and Leon made and sold their jewelry in the shop, never adding t-shirts and sunglasses to cater to any tourists that might have happened by, because "Why would you want to be the same as everyone else?" Another point that might be well taken today, People.

They attended trade shows all over the place and began to wholesale their wares, and began buying from other jewelry sellers to bring to their shop back home. The business grew and grew. Busy as they were, when The Merchant of Venice closed at three in the afternoon, that meant the work day was pretty well done for everyone, and they'd wrap up and enjoy the rest of Venice. They were good times. (Ok, and it was not a good neighborhood at all back then, so it may have had a little to do with safety too, as they slid the metal gates closed at 3 to be closed by dark. But still.)

Years of travel and trade shows went by smoothly, but then the manufacturing business started to tank, and so did the marriage with Leon. In 2001, they split the business and the marriage, with Carol keeping the retail store, and Leon taking over the wholesale. They remain friends today, and Just Tantau remains a crucial, ORIGINAL store on Abbot Kinney. I send people there all the time to get unique gifts like necklaces made out of old typewriter key letters, or Tantau's latest pieces made out of watch and clock parts. Timeless.

Not having to travel so much anymore, Tantau began to get more and more involved with the Venice community. She was the head of the West Washington Merchant's Association (and was instrumental in getting the street's name changed to Abbot Kinney, as well as getting the palm trees planted up and down the boulevard) and then became President of the Chamber Of Commerce.

That led to involvement in the Community Police Advisory Board, and after the O.J. Simpson verdict in 1995, it was made clear that there really was no domestic violence bridge to the LAPD. Sojourn Services (the second oldest shelter in the state) created an Emergency Response team to respond to domestic violence calls, and soon Tantau found herself not only training and becoming a volunteer, but suddenly in charge of the program! Once you know her, this is not at all surprising. As she said about herself, "I have the personality for  it." She now manages 35 volunteers, support groups, a legal clinic, court accompaniments, and acts as an advocate/liaison to the LAPD, where she recently began teaching about domestic violence at the Police Academy. Women, Carol Tantau has your back.

Tantau is able to do all of this important advocacy work, on top of being a small business owner on Abbot Kinney, which is a luxury she attributes to her "wonderful employees." They enable her to have the best of both worlds, and keep her perspective fresh for both. Obviously, Tantau has seen her share of change in Venice, as she has lived and worked on Abbot Kinney for over 30 years. The thing that keeps her here and that she loves the most is the diversity - endangered though it may be.

"I am in Venice by choice. This is my chosen home, I wasn't born here. There is a depth that ties me to this place ..." We share this feeling, and acknowledged the changes around here now. First Fridays and the food trucks have scared off a lot of old school regulars and neighbors from the shops because it's such a hassle, and not that fun when you don't see anyone you know anymore.

But as we were talking, Tantau made a great point. "We are still here. Real, true Venetians can still take ownership, but not if they're not here. Don't forget US." Yeah. C'mon, Venice! We can hole up and avoid the masses on Abbot Kinney, or go out there and take it back. Show THEM what Venice is about. Have OUR fun. Be nice, but don't kiss ass. Don't be all about the money, but about the sense of place. I remember hanging out once with Bunny at The Green House, and someone came in and asked if it was ok to bring in their dog. Bunny replied, "Of course, this is VENICE." Somewhere different. Somewhere special. Somewhere not like everywhere else. Somewhere with a strong history of that diversity, and somewhere that has always had our sense of fun.

Carol Tantau has so many stories of Venice through the decades, she really needs to write a book. But she's awfully busy, so take the opportunity to stop in to Just Tantau and hear some tales for yourself. Be a regular again. Be a neighbor. Share your stories. Take ownership of YOUR chosen home.