Monday, June 30, 2014

Sunday Get It Done Day

What a great Sunday we just threw down. It was one of those days that was so nice out and so great feeling, that you just had to cram in as much good fun as you possibly could. After perfect coffee in the bright sunshine at The French Market, it was on to perfect Bloodies at very dark interior of The Townhouse. It was far too nice out to stay inside (though it was very tempting, George), so we blinked our way back out into the ideal beach day.

The water is so warm right now (almost tropical, I swear. You people that don't swim in the ocean because it's too cold, it's bliss right now, and one of the great pleasures of living near the coast. Go!) that we got right in - and stayed in. The only reason good enough to get out was that the ice cream guy was pushing his cart down the sand, and that hard work needs to be rewarded. And a Bomb Pop must be had to officially commence Summertime.

After that sheer delight, we dried off in the sun for a little while and then pedaled over to Mercede's Grille, where they were celebrating their Sweet 16th Anniversary with a proper Jamaican-themed party.

Cesario Montano was spinning all the very best reggae, and all the drinks that began with an "M" were half price. Moscow Mules, Margaritas, and Mojitos went down smoothly, and were the perfect accompaniment to the all jerk menu (the flavor, not the clientele). Yum.

The divine Miss M (Mercede Ahrablou) was the stunning hostess, and made the rounds of the place, accepting congratulations for keeping this end of Washington Boulevard so much fun for all these years.

The staff was in full rasta mode, sporting the knit hats with rasta dreads attached, and having a blast as they attended to the packed house of revelers.

I could have wiled away the entire afternoon and evening there, but we had a Devo show to get to!

The Wiltern was packed with the Devo faithful, and the old punk jams from the band's basement years were a special treat for the fans, many of whom (more Venice on the east side!) dressed the part.

I could have packed even more in, as this is that time of the year when there is always too much fun going on to do it all. Very good problems to have.

I hope your Sunday was awesome too ... and that the rest of our Summer Sundays keep topping themselves. Go!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June's Venice Art Crawl - All Mapped Out

Thursday was the June edition of the Venice Art Crawl, and it was as much fun as ever. It was also - as ever - nearly impossible to see it all, though I did keep on trucking enough to get a good bit in before just giving in to the party of it all.

It was not even dark out yet when I hit the information booth to pick up my map and they were already all gone. This is either bad planning or so wildly popular they ran out even before nightfall. Probably both, but VAC, you need more maps. The various map locations should have stacks of them too - none did. This makes it hard to know where to go ... luckily, I cajoled one from a couple that could share. The very last one. The volunteers were a little snippy about it too, saying to me, "Take a picture (of the map), it will last longer", and to another person, "It's not my job to give out information." Um, yes. It is. Anyway, it was good that I made new friends sharing my map and pointing people where to go, but a map would have been way better for them. Next time ...

I hit the Art Walls first, as there was a group called the "Setting The Pace Foundation" painting on the walls for the Art Crawl. It was cool, and the sunset is always a wonderful backdrop.

I always have to swing by the skatepark to see what's going down, so I did.

Small World Books is right there, so I went in to check out the new works by Deb Loucks, get a new book ...

... and say hi to the artist, enjoying friends and family at The Sidewalk Cafe.

 The sunset was now threatening to outshine all the art, so it's good that it all carried on after dark.

I headed over to "Emerged at Alpha," a space on Market Street that had girls selling flower crowns, live music and a whole bunch of art. It was cool, but I didn't recognize anybody.

It was fun to see a great mix of people, once again coming together all because of art.

I knew there was a Venice Symphony Orchestra fundraiser going on over at Horizon, with a group show curated by Jules Muck behind the house with her mural on it.

What I did not know was that the Orchestra wasn't really playing (only a 3 piece could make it this night), but there were naked ladies getting body painted in there, so that seemed to satisfy all who strolled through looking for some classical music.

It looked kind of fun. I may volunteer next time (for being painted on, not handing out maps).

I always enjoy chatting with the artists that set up in the parking lot next to Hama Sushi, but I always feel bad for them because it is almost pitch dark in there, nearly impossible to see the work. We need to get some lighting in there for them next time. Arist Niciforos had little tiny painting that had 3D waves coming off the beach scenes ... I got one for $5, and was happy to see that it can be a magnet on the fridge art piece.

Set up next to him was a very smart guy whose name I lost, but whose art reminded me of Gaudi. In fact, he told me all about the church in Spain designed by Gaudi that has taken 100 years to build and it still isn't. The conversation was enlightening, even though I could barely see them.

Set up outside the parking lot, getting some street light on the subject, was a guy who said his name was Ant, who had some "controversial" pieces. I just found them to be true. Another good conversation was had, and then I was late to meet friends at The Townhouse.

After some catching up and refreshments, we had more ground to cover. I wanted to see the "Skate The Sky" pieces at Venice Originals, but the place was all locked up tight, so I stopped by the packed Lightning Bolt shop, where people were crammed in listening to Kathleen Myers, but too full to really see the art. Next it was Gotta Have It, who featured work by Theresa Flowers and music by the ever-ready Paul Chesne.

We watched Chesne's set from up in the new little nook gallery overlooking the shop, which was great.

It became kind of our own headquarters that we could shout out the window from to people on the sidewalk to come up and join us.

As always happens, we'd again forgotten to eat, and that had to happen before anymore art (or drinks) could be had). As happens while you look at the art, kitchens tend to close, so we looked at more art anyway. The guys that set up out in front of The Bank Of Venice were doing cool stuff with spray paint...

But this guy (whose card I also lost) was on a new level, with a laser pen thing that colored in the images as a black light showed it appear. It was trippy, and I'm always a sucker for live painting.

There was SO much to see and do, that it was funny when I met a reader of mine (Hi!), who asked if I would see more this time than I did last, since I'd mentioned in that article the difficulty of getting around to it all when you keep bumping into friends to catch up with and stuff. The answer was that I believe I saw even less this time, but had even more fun! After a quick bite at Hal's (where they launched their new gallery), we went all the way over to West Adams, but still kind of Venice, as we visited the Mid City Yacht Club, owned and operated by Commodore Noah Farrell (of Abbot's Habit). Venice is a feeling ... of people being free and expressing themselves through their art, whichever medium it takes shape with. And you can take it with you.

Another whole night of art and expression, wound up with all Venice people all the way across the city, but that feeling carried with us the whole way. And next time ... I promise to see way more. With the help of the ample maps that I'm sure will be available to all.  Thanks again, VAC!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Solstice - Sun Rainbows and Paul Chesne

The Summer Solstice went down in spectacular fashion in Venice, with all the very best things about Summer ... the beach, friends, barbecues, music, sunshine, and fun you could actually feel in the air.

After a particularly wondrous swim in the Pacific, I collapsed on my blanket and stared at the sky as the saltwater tingled on my skin. Directly above us, a complete circle rainbow took shape around the sun! It was magical, and I took it as a pretty good omen for our Summer ahead ...

After a few more sessions in and out of the water, it was time to go get ready for that day's barbecue. As we pushed our bikes back across the sand, I heard the unmistakable sounds of live music being played nearby. That could only mean Paul Chesne.

I love when my friend Paul just sets right up anywhere, and this was the 10 year anniversary of the Paul Chesne Band, and they were celebrating by kicking out their jams right there on the sidewalk, to the delight of all the passersby. Here they are playing my favorite, "You Owe Me"...

Getting to hear one of your favorite tunes live just moments after stepping out of the sea, as a friend hands you a cold beer as you dry off in the sun ... is just perfect.

Summer 2014 ... we're off to a great start!

Friday, June 20, 2014


I was writing a song the other day for my project with the wonderful and genius Matt Jennings (who is in from Minneapolis and treating folks in the Solana Beach area to a fresh show tomorrow night at Belly Up - attend!), and as it progressed along, the word that kept coming to mind as the point of it all (for the song, and probably life itself) was Grow. I was all wrapped up in the idea that nothing else much matters besides loving and growing.

Then I walked over to my friend's house on Nowita that evening for a barbecue, and saw this rad little bungalow, with the very word that had been ringing in my head all day right on the front of the house.

Synchronicity. Manifestation. Whatever, it was cool.

Treasures like these are what make Venice - and life - special.  As we cruise into Summer 2014 (HAPPY SOLSTICE TOMORROW!!!), that's what I'll keep in mind. GROW.

*Stay tuned for the tune it inspired!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

OP Memories Mural

There is a new-ish mural on the side of the Venice Suites Hotel, between Ocean Front Walk and Speedway. I love it.

It reminds me of old-school OP images, and I have a shirt just like it. For some reason, in my hometown in Minnesota, we had an OP outlet store that was on the way home from school. I think it used to be a dental office or something, and then one day it was an OP store. We'd spend ages in there going through the piles and racks of clothes, and we'd find something cool every time, usually for like five bucks. Then one day the store was gone, as fast and mysteriously as it arrived, but while it was there, it sealed the deal for me that I knew I'd one day live in California (an idea that began with listening to The Beach Boys and watching Sunkist "Good Vibrations" soda ads as a tiny girl). And now I do, and I see images like this in real life every day. And that is awesome.

Now, I wonder where all those fresh shirts wound up ... Hey OP, how about some re-issues? And thanks for the beautiful mural, Venice Suites. Love it.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Abbot Hipster

This made me sad when I was walking down Abbot Kinney over the weekend ...

Gross. Has it really come to this? Well, we've got some fun things in the works that will hopefully help to restore some REAL cool to our beloved community again. (Hipsters aren't really cool, fyi. Posers is a better word.) Please stay tuned, and stay cool.

Love to all of the real deal cool cats in town. See you soon.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Start Them Young

I meant to take a photo, not a video, but anyway, this made me laugh.

Some little kid taking care of business down on Speedway ... No one's gonna steal my trike! File under I Heart Venice.

Friday, June 6, 2014

To Protect And Untangle

I've been pretty critical of the local Police in the past, with good reason. Devin Petelski being killed by the police practice of "silent running" on Venice Boulevard. Ronald Weekley getting badly beaten by cops for skateboarding. Tough guy officers busting up the drum circle. Myself getting pulled over for giving away blankets to homeless people ... Let's just say I haven't been very impressed with our local authorities for quite some time...

But then recently I had an experience that was really nice, and in the interest of journalistic integrity and humanistic fairness, I'll give you the other side of our Venice Police.

I was running late for a birthday party in the neighborhood and zipped off on my bike to head over. I was wearing a new frock that had a kind of train in the back that I wasn't used to, and before you knew it, I nearly get yanked backwards off my bike when the train caught in the gear sprocket thing and stopped me in my tracks, nearly choking me. I had no bike light (stolen every time) and from behind, I must have looked wasted, swerving around all crazy, trying not to fall off.

A bright search light hit me in the face from a car behind me, and I just thought, "Great." I started in with my "Maybe you should go after the bike light stealer" speech when the officer asked, "What seems to be the problem?" I showed him how badly tangled my dress was, wound around and around the teeth of the gear thing, and asked if they might have a Swiss army knife or something in their bag of tricks, so I could cut myself loose and get to the party.

The passenger side officer got out, and while the driver officer held the light on it all, the first guy kneeled down and patiently un-wound the fabric, inch by inch, so carefully that there was not a rip or a hole to be found once he had me free. I was all set to cut the whole bottom off the thing the first time I wore it, and this guy did such a good job, I don't think there was even a wrinkle. I was stunned, both at how patiently and perfectly he worked to free me, but also that they'd stopped to help at all.

After effusively thanking them, I told him that in that night's paperwork they had to write up "Saved damsel in distress". He did wreck it a bit by getting all cocky and saying, "Yeah, I'm pretty good," but other than that, it was super nice and really did impress me. They really are there "To protect and serve," which I think often gets lost in the power trip of it all, but in this case was exactly what they did.

In the rush to not be even later to the party, I did not get the officers' names, but maybe someone will read this and tell them I really appreciated it. And the fact that we're all in this together. Being cool is actually a lot easier than being a dick, both on yourself and certainly on others. We'd all do well to remember this, no matter what our job is.

So, thank you, Pacific division helpers ... And let's all be safe out there.