Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day In Venice - No Permit

It was kind of a drag to wake up on Memorial Day morning and find that it was completely socked in with fog, not remotely the beach day I'd had in mind. It's always nice to have a day off, even if it's just to catch up on reading or whatever else doesn't require sunshine. But then I remembered that my former neighbor Karen was hosting a block party over on Victoria, and we would certainly be making our own sunshine over there.

Karen's house is a landmark in Venice because it has had a big boat docked there in the yard for at least the last 20 years that I've known her. I've never been inside of it, it just sits there, looking great. We call it yard sailing.

This is a tight block, one of the good ones where neighbors look out for each other. Where Karen will leave you some produce from her garden hanging on the fence in a bag with your name on it. Where kids can bang into other kids' houses without knocking, and parents know they're all being watched in the village that it takes. Where kids wear tie dye.

As it was a holiday, there had to be live music. Nocona had us all stomping our feet and clapping along to their rock with a twang, and as they played this front yard hootenanny, that sun finally came out.

The grills were set up in the street, and as Karen said, "This is real Venice. No permits." Perfect. Neighbors grilled and shared their favorites there on the avenue, as kids and dogs raced around underfoot.

The dining table was a surf board, or your lap. Little babies and old ladies and everyone in between sat and chatted and told stories about how they'd met and funny things that had happened in the neighborhood over the years. It was exactly the kind of block party you want on a holiday weekend, all ages, and the more the merrier.

Paul Chesne played all afternoon, and was as great as ever, maybe even more so because we were all outside, enjoying being alive together. We actually toasted that fact many times, and also poured some out for those who are gone but not forgotten, especially on Memorial Day.

I hadn't been over to my old neighborhood to hang out in a while, and it was so nice to see old, familiar faces, and meet new ones - fun ones with eagles on their jackets. There was plenty of holiday spirit to go around, that's for sure.

I asked one old friend how her baby was, and she pointed to a grown kid and told me that the four week old baby was inside the house. Time is FLYING! Treasure it.

It was even trippier to find that the sweet little boy nextdoor was now 12 and a total ripper on guitar. Sean Vercos got up there with Paul Chesne and blew our minds. Someone yelled - as someone always does - "Freebird!" ... but I don't think they were prepared for Sean to tear that song's classic guitar solo to absolute sonic shreds. Like, jaws dropped. It wasn't like a novelty thing where he had it memorized either. He was in a musical conversation with the big boys all afternoon long, adding little bluesy flourishes in whenever they were perfect. I didn't see him look at an electronic device once all afternoon, he just wanted to keep jamming. Keep your ears perked for this little guy Sean Vercos is going places with that guitar (The video got cut off, but trust).

The sun began to set, people began to pass out, and the work week loomed over us as the morning would come fast. But there in the golden light, looking around at the dear friends and family that make up our fair town, it was all about being in the moment, and it was all good.

Thank you to Karen and everyone on Victoria who gave of themselves to make a wonderful day of Memorial memories for everyone!

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