Thursday, April 10, 2014

Yo Bret! Farewell To A Great Friend Of Venice

Yesterday was truly a sad day for Venice, California. We lost our friend Bret Haller, founder of Yo Venice, the website that kept you in the know all the latest about what was going on around town. Bret and I became friends when he wrote to me complimenting me on a story I wrote here on Blogtown. That began a friendship, and mutual respect, with both of us caring deeply about our Venice Community, and doing our best to bring our fellow citizens together to keep that Venice bond strong.

Bret and I would stick up for each other when someone (usually nameless, using some lame troll handle in a forum) would go after us for something we'd written, we'd re-post each others' stuff, give each other more (or correct) information, and make electronic introductions for each other with people that shared our orbit that we thought the other should know. We had different things going on with our sites, so we were never in competition, and both thought our work complimented the other's.

This was the last email I got from Bret last month, and one that is a great example of exactly who he was ... always trying to connect the Venice dots, this time between myself and Paul Chesne:

Paul, you put out a new record and you didn’t email me a copy to review for Yo?

You on a bender of epicness?

Anyway, CJ, since Paul is such a Paul, can I use your writeup of “Downright Up & Left”? I wanna help him out even tho he didn’t send me anything! No morphine for you next time we hang Paul!


I am sure the new one is great, as yer the best boogie band in these parts!

Cool that you two are friends, I should have assumed so!


Of course it was cool. It always was. I texted Bret a few weeks ago to tell him I thought it was finally time for me to write a story about HIM and his Yo Venice that kept so many of us informed with what was going on up to the minute. He didn't get back to me, unusually, but I knew he was dealing with late stage cancer, so anything could be going on. He was so positive and upbeat every time we spoke or emailed - funny, even - that I thought he was probably just on a particularly rough bout of chemo, but he was for sure gonna beat that stuff.  For sure. Soon, we'd go meet up for that beer we kept talking about getting, and I'd grill him for a story. I'm sad that I'll never get to tell it now. Sad for me, and losing that supportive friend, and sad for Venice, that we have lost such an important member of our community. Someone that truly loved his home, and made it his life's work.

Rest peacefully now, Bret. You can be sure we're pouring some of that beer out all over Venice turf for you. Cheers, Brother.

1 comment:

  1. Hi CJ-super touching post on Bret. So sorry to hear about the loss that you, the Venice dwellers and frequenters have experienced. I've been reading about Bret's life and role in the Venice community-it's clear that he's made an immense impact on the neighborhood with his work. All of it, his photos, the Yo! Venice! site and concept, mention that he was a "dot-connector" seems more than apropos.

    I work for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, a non profit advocating for patients and their families touched by the disease. We're located a bit down the coast in Manhattan Beach. After reading all of the wonderful stories and sentiments attributed to Bret's life and work, I feel inclined to reach out to his friends and family. I'd like to offer my condolences to his loved ones, and was hoping that you might be able to steer me in the right direction. Feel free to shoot me an email if you're so inclined: The stats for this disease are awful and it breaks my heart to hear that it continues to take such incredible souls as Bret from our families and communities.

    Anyway, hope to connect with you, and sending love to all those close to Bret!