Wednesday, November 30, 2016

KCRW's Best Of 2016!

KCRW held a little soiree last night to celebrate its Top 10 list for 2016. The Los Angeles music tastemakers (and almost everyone I know's favorite radio station and all day companion) got a jump on the end of the year list making, unveiling their top picks before we're even to December ... and I bet most others will follow their choices pretty closely, as all are excellent.

The party was held at legendary producer Bob Clearmountain's Apogee Studios in Santa Monica, where KCRW often holds intimate live music showcases as well. The place is fairly small, so the place was packed with loyal listeners wanting to compare our lists. Whiskey drinks were served, and KCRW logo cookies were also on offer. As it was basically standing room only, things got under way quickly and moved along at a good pace. Morning Becomes Eclectic DJ, Jason Bentley, got the proceedings underway (in some very stylish pants), welcoming everyone and explaining the process. Each station DJ comes up with their own TOP 10 list, then the results are complied into the master list. With so many losses in the music world this year, the evening felt especially poignant. I choked up more than once.

A rep allegedly from the accounting firm of Deloitte comically brought up the sealed and numbered envelopes, and then Bentley brought up DJ Marion Hodges to unveil the number ten spot. #10 was A Seat At The Table from Solange. Hodges cracked everyone up saying, "Solange has her hands in a lot of fires ... wait, that's not a saying." but her point was made. Solange had a lot going on this year, music supervising shows like HBO's Insecure as well as releasing this really great piece of work. Hodges chose the track "Don't Touch My Hair" to play for us, and it was immediately clear both how good the album is and how incredible the sound system at Apogee Studios is. Wow.

DJ Dan Wilcox came up next (with his beer) to reveal #9 - Autolux's PUSSY'S DEAD. Wilcox said that it might be #9, but it was #1 as far as most awkward title to say on the radio - but that it's gotten easier since the election - sigh. This one is a ROCK album, that Wilcox said is the first one to really live up to the live show put on by Autolux. He chose the track, "Hamster Suite" to play, which really showcased the work of who Wilcox says is the best drummer in rock today, Carla Azar. I immediately added it to my list of year end must haves. Rock.

#8 was introduced by DJ Liza Richardson, and it was Bon Iver's 22, A Million. Richardson joked that this envelope should really have been opened by Wilcox, as he's obsessed AND hails from the same town as Bon Iver, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. "It's so different from everything else right now. It's hip hop meets folk, with really interesting samples, like Paulo Nutini," explained Richardson. She chose "33 God" to play, and it was deep, starting out with a beautiful treated piano that took you right into that Bon Iver world ... and made you want to go stay at the Ace Hotel.

DJ Eric J. Lawrence took the stage in a bright red holiday shirt to let us in on what was in the #7 spot ... but as he is the "Alternative to the Alternative" former music librarian for the station, he had his own choice first, and it was Future Of The Left's The Peace And Truth Of Future Of The Left. He did not have a track to play of that one, so we'll have to research that, but the real spot here went to Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool. This one was, of course, on my list as well, and had to agree with Lawrence when he said that they are the "Pink Floyd of our time." He played the opening track, "Burn The Witch". "It's a bit of a downer, Folks," said Lawrence by way of introduction ... but a pretty awesome downer, for sure.

#6 honors went to the newest KCRW DJ, Karene Daniel, and to Andy Shauf's The Party. This one I had never heard of, so it was good to get turned on to something new that I've clearly slept on. Shauf basically narrates a late night party throughout the album, and Daniel played the track, "To You". It's kind of a love confession that Daniel said was "Soft, tender, rare, and beautifully honest." I concur.

The resident DJ for the night was Raul Campos, and he left his post to disclose the #5 choice. He asked as he ripped open the envelope, "Is it gonna be a Latin Alternative album?" Bentley drily replied, "I doubt it", which got a laugh, though it was sadly true. Instead it was Wilco's Schmilco. Campos called it "An album from the heart", and named Jeff Tweedy as one of the best songwriters of our time. "If I Ever Was A Child" was the chosen song, and the first time I choked up. I don't know why really, it just touched me. It might have been the incredible sound in there. It felt extra intimate and sweet and simply moving. Another one that was on my own list of 2016 faves.

DJs Garth Trinidad and Jeremy Sole shared duties for #4 (and it was cool to see what they look like, though Trinidad had a Movember thing going on, so I'll need to see him again. I think Sole's abundant facial hair is an always thing), and the honors went to A Tribe Called Quest's We Got It From Here ... Thank You 4 Your Service. This was my #1. I laughed when Trinidad said it was HIS #1 before he even heard it. He called it a "Legacy record", and it truly is. Sole added, "They didn't have to think outside the box, 'cause there is no box. The best thing about their new album is that it's an old album." Exactly. I didn't realize that they went into the studio to begin recording the album on the night of the Paris shootings last year. Heavy. You feel it. They spun bits of "We The People" and "Solid Wall Of Sound" and I think everyone agreed with Trinidad when he said, "I'd gladly give up the talking to listen to the whole record" after Bentley cut it off to chat. Plus it sounded EXTRA great inside those Apogee walls. Incredible, really.

One of my favorite KCRW DJ's came on to present #3, Anne Litt. Her voice is very soothing to me, and she again nearly reduced me to tears (OK, she did) when she revealed that #3 was David Bowie's Black Star. Losing Bowie earlier this year was a big deal to everyone, but it clearly meant a lot to Litt, who had even brought along her vinyl copy of Black Star. She said that she learned of Bowie's passing when Wilcox was playing a whole bunch of Bowie songs in a row last January, making her go "WTF?!", and then learning the news. "This album is focused in a way that maybe only a dying man can be," Litt mused, adding that she thought he was back in a way that she hadn't heard before. "I Can't Give Everything Away" played, and as Bowie's voice floated over us posthumously, well, I was choking back tears again. It was the last song on a final record, and fairly obviously set up as a farewell. This album is not on the list because Bowie died. It's there because it's great. (Oh, for the record, Litt's personal #1 choice was the Hamilton soundtrack!)

#2 was given to DJ Travis Holcombe to reveal, and it went to Kaytranada for 99.9%. This was another one I've slept on, so was surprised to hear that this one was the #1 choice for Bentley. We were told it was great as an album, or as all singles. I think I've heard like one on KCRW, so this will warrant further listening from me. They played the track "Bullets" (with guest spot from Little Dragons), which Bentley commented was a really cool groove for a really heavy subject (gun violence). Holcombe admitted to that being lost on him, and Bentley asked if he'd listened to the lyrics. "I haven't. I'm more of a beats guy, lyrics are low on my list." OK. Then I imagine his own #1 choice of La Femme's Mystere must contain some pretty phat beats.

DJ Anthony Valadez got to reveal the #1 album for 2016 ... after a room full of people rolled their tongues as a drumroll ... it was Anderson.Paak's Malibu! This was appropriate as I first heard of Paak on an MBE studio session, and he's since been pretty much everywhere, on every album, of everyone. Paak could not be in attendance so Valadez and Bentley shlepped out to Highland Park to record a video of Paak's receiving the news. A happily hyped Paak shouted, "Tight! I've always wanted to do an acceptance speech via satellite! Thank you! Yes, Lord!"

And there you have it! The Top Ten Albums of 2016 according to KCRW! Campos spun on as the party continued there at Apogee Studios. 2016 has been a brutal year in so many ways, that it was actually lovely and touching to focus on the good things like music that enrich our lives every day, and realize that it hasn't been all bad. In fact, a lot of it has been absolutely wonderful. Thank you to KCRW and Apogee Studios for having us, and for exposing us all to the best music in the world every single day. We're already looking forward to next year. Really, really forward.

Cheers to all the winners, and thank you to them too! Your art matters. Really, really matters.

*Photo courtesy of Brian Feinzimer for KCRW.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Show Me Your Mumu Opens In Venice!

I'm so excited to report that Show Me Your Mumu has opened their flagship store here in Venice, right around the corner from Abbot Kinney Boulevard on California Avenue (next door to Salt & Straw). This is especially great because Show Me Your Mumu is the company of my friend and former downstairs neighbor, Cammy Miller (and her partner, Cologne Trude), and because a big chunk of my wardrobe is made up of Mumus (most from the incredible sample sales that they throw fairly often).

Mumus are great because they have gorgeous prints, are super comfortable, ultra-stylish, and you can pack your frocks and pull them out of your luggage looking great and ready to go. Rare. The styles are pretty ageless too, as I've given them as gifts to everyone from tweens to my Mom, and they all look great. You can be skinny, big, short, tall ... you'll always look good in a Mumu. They're all extra versatile too, for instance, say it's a bit tight in front, you can turn it around and have the back be the front ... just be creative!

All the Mumus are made, as the say, "In the Gorge USA", in a warehouse in downtown L.A., but the spirit of the clothing is purely Venice, where the owners continue to live. From two college girls slinging dresses out of their apartment in New York, to having a tiny shed in Robin's Sculpture Garden, to them now having their first real brick and mortar location, it's all been a dream come true. And now, just walking across the street to check out the new 'Mu is pretty dreamy too.

Congratulations, Welcome, Love, and Happy Mumu Monday to Show Me Your Mumu!

Show Me Your Mumu
529 California Avenue

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Innocence On Abbot Kinney - Happy Thanksgiving!

Artist Hagop Belian recently sparked up Abbot Kinney with a new mural on the side of Gjelina.

Innocence is the new work Made Of Hagop that has already become a backdrop for the Instagrammers visiting Venice. Syrian-born Hagop told me the name of this piece when I ran into him at an In Heroes We Trust party a couple weeks ago, and I think it's perfect. And also something to remember as we celebrate this Thanksgiving. It feels like our country lost its innocence a long time ago, and recent events have shown both our government and our fellow citizens to often be anything but innocent. Perhaps it's time to get back to our basics, and remember that this holiday is about GRATITUDE and FREEDOM and being the very best we can be. We need to remember what we were founded for and what we're supposed to be about.

Let us celebrate the innocence of children during the holidays and make the world a better place for them to grow up in. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

"I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and new." 
             - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Silvia Estrada - Managing Venice Trim

When my dear friend and longtime hair stylist, Stephanie Hobgood, left to move to Oregon, I was bummed for many reasons, but one was certainly who was going to cut my hair now? A good friend and beloved Venetian, Silvia Estrada, manages Trim around the corner on Abbot Kinney. She always looks good and always has happy clients sitting there in her window station, so I thought I'd see if she could help me out. She not only really could, but it also gave us the chance to catch up and get to know each other even better.

Estrada was born in Guatemala, and is, as she says, "A proud immigrant". (And really ... we're ALL immigrants unless you're Native American. So there.) Her family came to California when she was three, and she's been here ever since. Estrada has done pretty much every job you can think of (Fashion, Dental assistant, Ball girl, Retail, Valet, Coffee barista, sold insurance ...) but the thing she always wanted to do was hair. She was always discouraged from it by her father, who didn't think she'd ever be able to make a living in that profession (because he always got cheap haircuts).

"My whole life I knew I belonged in Venice," says Estrada. "This is where the weirdos were, my people." Her Dad would bring here down to Venice on the weekends, and that began her love affair with this town, and made her sure that this was where she wanted to live - plus she loved Three's Company.

Estrada attended the Abbot Kinney Festival one year and had friends at the Trim salon on Abbot Kinney. They had a DJ going, and all the people were fun, and then owner Nik Falco told her that she needed to do hair. Her boss at the Insurance company had even been telling her that she needed to do something creative, so she quit, moved home to save money, and attended hair school in the nights while assisting at Trim during the days. One day after someone had quit, Falco told her it was time to get on the floor, and now she's been beautifying the people of Venice there on Abbot Kinney for 15 years. She is now also the manager, and says, "I love Trim. I owe Nik my life forever for helping me to make this happen."

Community is special to Estrada, as she has raised her son Kai here since he was born in 2009. She loves her local clients, watching them grow and have kids and share in the stories of our lives here in Venice. People move away and come back, and one of Estrada's favorite things is when she sees a familiar face show up from "Old Venice". "No amount of money can ever take away the reason why I fell in love with the old Venice. If you saw Venice through my eyes growing up, you'd know what I mean." I know exactly what she means. Fancy houses and greedy businesses can't take away the vibes that make Venice special. Estrada wanted to be sure to shout out Jesse Martinez for all of his hard work in creating and maintaining the Venice Skatepark, which her son Kai loves loves loves.

I get what Estrada meant when she said she loves running into friends from back in the day ... I feel that way every time I see her.

You too can get your hair done beautifully by Silvia Estrada at Trim by calling to make an appointment at #310-396-3330.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Annual Venice Oceanarium Moby Dick-A-Thon - Plus

It sure was a beautiful weekend in Venice, highlighted by the annual reading of Moby Dick on the sand at the Breakwater. It's an all day/all evening affair put on by the Venice Oceanarium each year on the sand.

There are maritime props set up like a whale bone and a harpoon next to the chair and microphone for the readers. Listeners post up in the sand, and there's something just so lovely and mellow about lying on the sand and being read to as the sun sets.

It all got even lovelier as the sun sank below the horizon, when the kind folks from Enterprise Fish Company showed up with their donated delicious clam chowder and warm bread from Bay Cities. As the evening had turned chilly in the sea air, this was a most welcome warm up.

Several young students were sprawled across the sand, probably to get extra credit for a class, but it was nice to see all of them so eager to participate in a quintessentially Venice tradition. All read with gusto, and most likely also created themselves a wonderful memory. I know I did. Thanks always to the Oceanarium's Tim Rudnick for being such an advocate of the sea, and for putting this on each year.

I had a birthday party to get to, but along the way there was something I wanted to check out in the Canals. I'd seen on Facebook that there was to be an interactive tap dance light show at a house on the canals, and everyone was invited. Of course, I was there.

A gracious host called Hilary invited us in to his gorgeous home (bedecked with a big Jules Muck cat portrait on the side), offered us libations, and introduced us to the friends gathered for the performance by Laura Kriefman of the Guerilla Dance  Project. They brought out a bunch of containers of dry ice to create a smoky stage outside, then Kriefman tap danced in an LED light dress that changed colors as she danced. The music was controlled by the tap shoes and the lights were controlled by the music. It was interesting and cool and the kind of out there experimentation that I love to see continuing to thrive in Venice. Thank you to Hilary for his true kindness and generosity in opening his home to a bunch of stranger Venetians. That's how we all build bridges. I loved it.

Sunday finally brought sorely-needed rain to Venice, and a farewell to Danny's Deli closing party that I totally blew it by missing. I had in my head that it was a night-time affair, but it ended at 4. Shoot. I'm so sad to have missed the chance to celebrate all the good memories created in those walls over the years. We're all very sad to go, and can only hope and pray that whatever replaces this Venice institution will do right by it and honor its history. Please.

Thanks to everyone for another classic Venice weekend! We can all use all the fun we can get these days ... keep up the good work!

Friday, November 18, 2016

An Evening With Kris Kristofferson - American Hero

If there is ever a chance of seeing Kris Kristofferson live, my friend Sweet D and I take it. He has been our main man since the 1970s, and at 80 years old, he is still as incredible as ever. After a week that seriously saw Donald Trump became our nation's President ("Elect") and dreadfully lost the legend that was Leonard Cohen ... hearing Kris Kristofferson sing to us was exactly what we needed.

The Rose in Pasadena could easily be a venue inside a casino like Morongo. We did not realize it was a dinner theater. Or that we would be the youngest Kristofferson fans in the house. Septua/ Octogenarians were chomping down on wedge salads and steaks, washing it down with martinis, and waxing poetic about all of the times they'd seen Kristofferson, and "Did you know he was a Rhodes scholar?" I did. He took the stage with no introduction or fanfare, taking the diners by surprise. They all leapt up and gave The Silver Tongued Devil a standing ovation immediately - and appropriately.

"Shipwrecked In The 80s" was the first number, and the listener is drawn in to the story of it all from the very first verse. Kristofferson has always been an activist and a philosopher, and his words are as on the nose in these times as they've ever been. Ok, and it must be noted - The Man is just as handsome as he's ever been ... just in a wiser, more seen it all way than he was when he first stole our hearts in A Star Is Born (which remains my favorite childhood movie). "Darby's Castle" was another from the illustrated storybook of this legend's mind, and then the retirees lost it when "Me and Bobby McGee" was next. As did we.

"Here Comes That Rainbow Again" gave us some of the hope that we so desperately need right now, and "Best Of All Possible Worlds" made us yearn for exactly that. Kristofferson was in fine voice, and his gently accompanying himself on acoustic guitar was all that was needed to bring these song stories to life. He was in high spirits, shouting little "Woos!" after songs, mugging to the lyrics and offering little asides like, "True story!" There were rare glimpses that he was really 80, like wearing a brace on his wrist to play, and when he said, "I had a clever ending when that was recorded, but I forgot it and I'm too old to care." Which only made us love and cherish him even more.

"Help Me Make It Through The Night" nearly killed Sweet D and I, and when I glanced over at her, I saw that she too had her hand over her heart, eyes glistening in full swoon. It couldn't be helped. We were already treasuring our memory while it was happening. I think everyone was. "Casey's Last Ride" was a vivid picture of outlaw love, and Wow - when he played "Nobody Wins" ... well, it could have been written that very morning. Give it another listen.

At this point an overzealous Busser was clanking dishes off the table right in front of us. Like DURING that song. Sweet D said, "Kris Kristofferson is playing RIGHT. THERE." to me after we shared our eye roll ... Kids today. They have no idea. This was followed by Kristofferson saying that a man up front had fallen asleep. Good thing I didn't see who. The venue was definitely beneath the absolute Mount Rushmore-worthy man that sings about our real America - and always has. The word I associate with him most (other than heartthrob) is "Freedom". To me, he embodies American freedom, and the struggle to preserve that sacred treasure.

"From Here To Forever" again made us wistful for the youthful Kristofferson, just so we could enjoy him longer on this planet. There were all walks of life in this audience, and I'm pretty sure we were all feeling the same way. "Broken Freedom Song" again spoke to my soul about that elusive freedom. "Loving Her Was Easier" ... Well, it really doesn't get much better on this earthly plane.

There was a brief intermission - where more dishes were cleared and more martinis were consumed - and then Kristofferson was back, again with no fanfare. "I'd Rather Be Sorry" was more of the hopelessly romantic genius that made us fall for KK long ago. Rita Coolidge was one of the luckiest women to ever live. I swear.

"They Killed Him" was a song that Kristofferson was proud to say had been recorded by Bob Dylan with a children's choir, and it was lovely. "Jody and The Kid" pulled on our heartstrings. "The Pilgrim" was perfect. "Jesus Was A Capricorn" earned shouts of approval, that we could all be more like Jesus right about now. "The Promise" made us love him even more, especially when he said, "It says I'm supposed to play harmonica here, but I don't feel like it. And I forgot the end. Too many blows to the head." Still ... fine by us. Kristofferson has chord changes that are very significantly his, and my heart swells at every one. And the minor notes - Ugh. They kill me.

"To Beat The Devil" showed off Kristofferson's wit, and "Sunday Morning Coming Down" showed off his history. That one was a real crowd pleaser ... but wait. They all were. Like "The Silver Tongued Devil" that is so perfectly his song. I'm well aware that I'm gushing, but when someone is your ALL TIME FAVORITE ... Oh, well. "For The Good Times" began the eyes welling, and "A Moment Of Forever" (my personal favorite) added the lump in the throat. "Why Me, Lord?" pleaded above for help, and again was completely perfect for a soundtrack of today.  People went nuts clapping and shouting as Kristofferson shouted a firm, "Thank you!" He left the stage, but came right back for "One more". Which was "Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends".

As Kristofferson brought the song home, he SHOUTED the song's title, signaling that he's been thinking about all of it a lot. The state of the world, and his own life ... and how it all ends. Like Kristofferson, I'm not ready. Don't tell me. And until then, let's celebrate living legends, music, and the FREEDOM that we all still have.

Kris Kristofferson ... Thank you so much for this wonderful, classic, moment of forever with you. *Oh, and PLEASE make some mercy for us to remember these shows by! There never is any and we can never believe it. We want to wear you proudly. Thanks! xxx

**Top photo courtesy of because it's perfect.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Save The Shasta Crayfish! And Ourselves.

I don't know know the Shasta Crayfish well, but it is apparently critically endangered.

A new mural by Louis Masai, The Art Of Beeing, is now on the back of the G2 Gallery, and features this fish and a bee, and now I'm glad to know about it. The Shasta Crayfish is not the only thing critically endangered these days. We all are. Please watch the climate change documentary Before The Flood (from Leo DiCaprio) and realize that it doesn't matter at all who political leaders are if there is no human life left to lead. It's seriously coming to that.

Let's focus on what is truly Important. Life on this planet.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Westside Collective - A Mobile Boutique In Venice

A while back I started seeing super cute stuff pop up on Instagram from a cute little mobile trailer boutique in Venice called The Westside Collective. I reached out to its owner, Heather Roma, to find out a little more about it and check out all the great stuff, and hear how it came to be parked there on Lincoln Boulevard.

Roma was born in the Virgin Islands, raised in Connecticut and Florida, and did everything in fashion that you can think of along the way. She got bored in Florida, didn't really have a plan, but knew she wanted to move here. She began a fashion consulting and styling business called Westside Consulting, where she helped people launch their fashion brands, and did styling for photo shoots and things.

Living in Venice was great, and then Roma got pregnant and moved to Topanga. She found a fantastic trailer by chance, and at 8 months pregnant decided to start another business. This was not planned, but that's how life goes sometimes. Baby Hendrix was born, and Roma loaded up the truck with beautifully curated pieces for women, babies, pets, gifts, and the home, and started hitting festivals and having fun with it.

Topping was a bit too slow to keep it open up there between festivals, so when Roma heard about an opening to park the truck at the Love Shack space at 2121 Lincoln Boulevard, she took it, and has been parked there since May of this year. Everything in the truck is California or American made, and everything has an ethical aspect ... and everything is adorable.

From Roma's own brand, Growler Goods, that makes tipis for dogs (and coming soon will be big ones for play rooms or outdoor/meditation spaces) to the highly covetable dresses by Pitusa, to the crystal trolls by Blonde Omen ... there really is something for everyone in this great little trailer. Roma also has her own line of dresses and bodysuits, all of which I loved.

"I love the community feel in Venice, and there's always something to do here," said Roma, "I just love it here." Like her store, she thinks there's something for everyone here in Venice, and there is. She loves getting her coffee at Deus up the street, checking out what's new at Golden State, and is generally so busy that that stretch of Lincoln is her main domain.

The Westside Collective holds monthly local designer residencies (this month is Blonde Omen's turn), where their goods are featured on a table out front, and coming up on December 17, there will be a pop up Holiday party with drinks and fun shopping (also available online if you're elsewhere).

Lincoln is really becoming a destination for cool and interesting spots, and The Westside Collective is a most welcome addition to the neighborhood. Stop in any day, 10-6 and see what's up on the best side.

The Westside Collective
2121 Lincoln Boulevard

Friday, November 11, 2016

Farewell To A True Gentleman - Retelling A Leonard Cohen Tale

In Loving Memory of Mr. Cohen:

From 2011.

There is nothing I will be ever be able to write cooler than this, now, but maybe ever. If you know me, you know I love Leonard Cohen. LOVE Leonard Cohen. So imagine my damn struck dumb surprise when I was physically reading his stunningly gorgeous book of poetry and line drawings, Book Of Longing - super random, but the thing is so beautiful and meaningful to me that I get chills thinking back upon it now - and WHILST reading it, in walks Mr. Leonard Cohen to my physical human space. I felt light-headedly strange (in a good Doors kind of strange), but in an unexpectedly shakily, floored kind of way. I said to the living persona of artistic heights standing in front of me, on little Abbot Kinney Boulevard, "Mr. Cohen, This is crazy but look what I'm reading!" (And I struggled with bothering him even with that - not at ALL my style, but I had to, ala Kris Kristofferson life moments) "I think I conjured you up!". He looked me dead in the eye and said, "You did." And then proceeded to sign my book - without me asking - in the same lettering that features in the treasure of a book.

All I can say, All I can know, is that life is crazy, and deeply meaningful, and beyond what we let ourselves imagine. But than we do. And it happens.

Imagine if we could harness that for the good of the whole. I do. All the time.

In Venice, or wherever you are, let yourself believe in dreams coming true. All the time.

*Photo of my special treasure book by Jennifer Everhart

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Mural For Standing Rock - The Art Of Lehi Thunder Voice Eagle Sanchez

Hi! There have been some technical, personal, and national difficulties that haven't allowed me to be as prolific with Venice stories as I'd like to be lately, and for that I apologize, and thank you for being here to read again now. There is so much to say about the election nightmare, but I think it's really better to go forward now, and think and talk about things that we as people can do together in the name of good, regardless of whomever our leaders are. The climate is in deep crisis (Please everyone watch Before The Flood online asap), and it won't matter at all who's in charge for four years when no one is able to inhabit Earth anymore. So let's focus on what's really important. LIFE.

Water is Life. When we first started hearing about the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, everyone was appalled at the images coming out of there with Native Americans being tear gassed and attacked by police dogs. For peacefully wanting clean drinking water. Let that sink in.

Some people want to help more than look away, and Kim Michalowski is one of them. She owns the Ananda boutique on Abbot Kinney, as well as being a wonderful friend to all of Venice. We talked about the idea of having a mural done in support of Standing Rock on the front of her shop, and started reaching out to Native American artists. Friends connected Michalowski with artist Lehi Thunder Voice Eagle Sanchez, a Navajo from Arizona. Thunder Voice Eagle recently returned from Standing Rock, and after sitting down with him to talk about it all, I feel both inspired and encouraged, as well as super impressed with both his art and his humanity.

Thunder Voice Eagle worked for years with his father's organization,, a kind of Outward Bound type group that takes at-risk kids out into nature for 50 day trips (awesome). A few years back,  he had a dream that he had a message to help his people, and that his art work would be the best tool to do so. He did a painting for a family friend that was so well-received that he began to focus on art full-time, selling paintings through Instagram and his website, as well as through various galleries.

"Nothing has changed for the Natives, now it just feels like we have a whole bunch of new allies," Thunder Voice Eagle told me. "Every reservation has crazy stuff happening. There has always been corporate land grabs, it's never on the news, and we always lose. But now we have social media."

The U.S. Government separated tribes by design, so they wouldn't band together to oppose the stealing of their land and resources. Once reservations got cell towers, the people got cell phones. MySpace days started connecting people. Facebook has connected us all. Once the Facebook Live videos started coming out about elders, pregnant women, kids, everyone being attacked at Standing Rock by police in riot gear for peacefully protesting, tribes across the nation saw it, grabbed their stuff, and went to North Dakota. United.

Native leaders can also not always be trusted, and often take the corporate money to line their own pockets to the detriment of their people. Standing Rock is not like that because their leaders said no, and realize how this awful pipeline will affect the drinking water of so many people all over the affected area, not just those on the reservation that our government tends to dismiss. All Americans, all who deserve better. "This situation has stirred something in the warriors, it has become their top priority," explained Thunder Voice Eagle. He told me that the pipeline company took the information of where Native burial grounds were and dug them up so there would be no evidence of it ... it's really that sinister. And must be stopped, for us all.

In talking about the mural and the message, Thunder Voice Eagle said, "It's really about hope. I believe that people are inherently good, sometimes they just forget. Like the mural says at the top, 'Protect the Sacred' ... People need to protect themselves, because they're worth it. You must remember that YOU are sacred. The more we remember that, the less things like this will happen." I love that. Remember that you are sacred. If you do that, chances are you absolutely will not put up with anything that harms anyone. Right?

"We have to learn forgiveness. Those police are scared too, they're doing their job that they've been ordered to do. But if we took off the riot gear and the headdresses, we're all just people. We can sit down to dinner together and talk about what's next, and how we can work together." I got a true sense of calm when talking with Thunder Voice Eagle, and am choosing now to look at things like he does. That we are now being forced into action as a people, and that we are in the time of being Rainbow Warriors - warriors of all colors standing together. We have to be to survive these times, and try to protect our Mother Earth. Nothing else is more crucial right now.

I could have sat and talked all day with Lehi Thunder Voice Eagle, but I was hogging him and others needed to hear his wisdom, so he left me with this ... "Have a heart at peace, but stand strong for what is right." And please, please remember what this wonderful new mural says ...

"When the last tree is cut down, the last fish is eaten and the last stream poisoned, you will realize you cannot eat money." - Cree prophecy

Support Standing Rock in any way you can. Support EACH OTHER any way you can. Now, more than ever.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween '16 - Rialto Avenue Does It Again

Venice is always a good time, but something about Halloween really brings out the extra fun in people ... especially on Rialto Avenue.

This year Halloween could not have been more gorgeous outside, so no one had to worry about getting chilly in their skimpy costumes or whatever. It was perfect. The little kids get an early start so Rialto started to get busy even before sundown, and this year the street was blocked off to make sure that everyone was safe as they ran around getting their tricks and treats.

One house really upped the game this year, and put up a giant bounce house maze inflatable slide thing that kept the kids happy all night long.

Almost all the houses on Rialto are done up in their Halloween finest, some more than others, but the spirit/spirits are definitely there.

The ghosts of Venice past were also remembered, with a graveyard of lost Abbot Kinney souls being haunted by the jerky Snapchat ghost (and a run over Abbot Kinney man under the wheels of a car). Funny, but sad, but true.

There has been a haunted house the past few years, and this year it was more elaborate than ever. It's pretty tame, but it is actually scary, because some of the passages you navigate are pretty narrow - and have bloody heads hanging from them.

There's good use of black lights and fluorescent paint, giving it all a very Fun House vibe, and everyone was all caught up in it, having a great time.

It was still scary when you emerged out the other side, because there you were greeted by a creep with a syringe of Zika that he wasn't afraid to "inject" the children with. It was awesome.

Also awesome are my friends Russ and Harry, who always go all out, with both their costumes and their hospitality. They have a big makeup table spread out, so anyone can do whatever they want, and they go all out with their snacks too ... I'm not sure if the brains ever got cut into, but the effort was certainly appreciated.

We had a great time on Russ and Harry's porch, watching all the kids come up to get their candy, one costume more fun than the next ... even all the dogs in the neighborhood were into it!

I think I was most impressed this year by two little girls  ... the first one was the famous "We Can Do It" Rosie the Riveter poster girl, who was just adorable.

Then the other little girl that had her own head in a glass jar that she carried around all night. How clever, and I loved that neither of these two little gems were anything close to a Princess. Love it.

My friends, the Oziers, must get honorable mention here for their version of Paul Bunyan and Babe his Blue Ox - Minnesota points, for sure.

The dragon house was again blowing fire this year, and you could tell that they've inspired their neighbors to bump it all up a little more.

There was a mad scientist laboratory, where a little dinosaur girl handed out candy ...

There was the traditional orange and black pumpkin house ...

There was more social commentary from some NAPL protesters who were a big hit ...

But most of all there were smiling faces on all the little kids dragging their bags of candy as big as them, and all the grownups that helped to make it another memorable Halloween here in Venice.