Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Gløgg Fest 2016!

Gløgg Fest 2016 is on the books, and it was a grand old time. So much so that I took almost no photos, and just kept the gløgg flowing. Venice always feels like such a community to me at the holidays ... we all come together to spread good cheer and let each other know how much we mean to each other all year long. At least that's how I see it.

Friends came and raised a glass by the fire as we all hoped for a better 2017, and bid a kind of fond farewell to the crazy year that we're just wrapping up. Cookies help. Especially if they're cherry chip.

We love to share our Norwegian heritage with folks who often have never heard of lefse, and some were treated to their very first cup of the Viking mulled wine concoction we call the gløgg. Shout out to my friend Mira for bringing the true Viking spirit and sporting braids with sparkly bows. Viking horns and costumes are always encouraged.

I'm heading back to the North Country tonight to be merry with the hometown crew, and feel so happy that my holiday finale in Venice was spent with such a wonderful crew of good people. To those that couldn't be there this year, you were missed and loved and felt.

God Jul/Merry Christmas to all! Love for an incredible new beginning in 2017, with the knowledge that the People have the power to make things good. We can do it.

* Group photo update coming as soon as Paul Gronner Photography edits them up!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Venice Sign Is Lit

I went out for a full Supermoon stroll last night, which was spectacular and enormous as it rose, then was quickly swallowed up by the clouds. I wandered over by the Venice sign, and had to smile to see what a popular photo background our sign is for people, especially at this time of the year.

The Venice sign is all dressed up in red and green for the Christmas season, and though I couldn't be at the sign lighting this year, the festivity is felt all over again every time you see the lights.

As we bustle around getting ready for the holidays and trying to get it all done before we leave town, it's nice to remember and be thankful for the community that we still have to return to. The Venice Community. Love to all, that we may get it all done, and have the best time doing so! Cheers!

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Annual Venice Canals Holiday Boat Parade - Where The Palm Trees Glisten

One of my very favorite annual events in Venice is the Holiday Boat Parade in the Canals. Each year locals rig up floating vessels to traverse the canal streets and bring holiday cheer to all the people lining the lining the sidewalks and bridges.

Many canal homes are hosting parties on this day, and it always seems to be a fairly open door policy, with people opening their doors to friends and strangers alike. The boats line up just before sundown, and this year seemed to be particularly packed with revelers. I think we were all ready to blow off some steam and have some holiday fun to remember this year by, instead of all the mad/sadness. It worked.

The bridges were decorated in addition to the boats, and one was more adorable than the next. My choice for best bridge this year went to the charming little house facade that went up over one bridge, reiterating that this is our HOME.

One house had a live band playing mainly classic rock covers and The Doors (appropriately), and the jams echoed all throughout the waterways. As most of the boats were caroling along with Christmas tunes, the absolute metal was kind of great in its juxtaposition.

My runner up bridge was the Venice sign bridge on Linnie Canal, that as the sun set revealed lights and icicles dazzling up the colorful letters of the sign. This one was a popular photo backdrop all evening long.

The parade entries were all great this year, with a palm tree chill pad and a floating stage with a lounge singer trio competing alongside a floating manger scene and a dove offering world peace (my favorite), among many others.

Battery life on lights and iffy floatability made some entrants more precarious than others, and soon a friend of the manger scene had to jump in to tow the floating creche back to its dock. That is some serious community support.

My dear friends, the Revelins, were again our gracious hosts for the parade, which was even more generous of them this year as they had lost their beloved little dog, Lola, just the day before. 2016, Man. But, as in the general atmosphere of the country, the show must go on. We have to make the best of it all. We have to remember the good within the bad. We have to come together to create joyful moments that radiate so much light that the darkness is obscured, especially during the holidays where the important things are meant to be more illuminated.

The holiday spirit was tangibly felt, as people walked by with their roadies and shouted greetings to the boats and the house partiers. One group shared their 3D glasses with us, and it definitely made all the Christmas lights look even more enchanting. As did the wine.

As the skies darkened, the lights came on, and the entire Canal district was twinkling. The little house facade on the bridge lit up, and the moonlight shone down on it, bringing this year's theme "Where The Palm Trees Glisten" beautifully into reality.

It was all so pretty and enchanting that it was difficult to tear ourselves away, but a whole bunch of friends (Blue Eyed Son, Lacey Cowden, Matt Ellis, DJ Bright Moments, National Anthem) were all playing at The Cinema Bar, and we had to get there for more holiday cheer (and to celebrate this dang year being almost over).

I'm now all the way in the Christmas vibe, and I have the Venice Canals Holiday Boat Parade to thank. There's no way you could be standing there, watching all the fun and wholesome holiday hijinks, without feeling your heart swell with the happiness that the holidays - and Venice itself - brings to your soul at this event each year. Thanks so much to everyone involved for making it such a special and beloved holiday tradition for Venice and our friends.

CHEERS to all!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Holidays In Sheboygan

I had to miss a whole bunch of Holiday traditions here in Venice last week, as I was in Wisconsin on a shoot for the Johnsonville Sausage Company. I hated to miss the Venice sign lighting and the Snow Day at the Brig, and the Holiday Stroll on Abbot Kinney, but it was easier to miss when the entire time in Wisconsin was so charming.

We were in small town Wisconsin, rolling around between Sheboygan, Sheboygan Falls, Plymouth, and Kohler, Wisconsin mainly. As both of my parents were born and raised in Wisconsin, I speak the language. I get the folks. They are straight up salt of the Earth, and I loved it.

The Midwestern hospitality was on full display the entire time. By the end of our time in Wisconsin, I had made a slew of new friends, who gifted me with Johnsonville merch and so much cheese to bring back that we're good for a nice long while. Wine and cheese party at my house!

Christmas was also fully in the air, as all the little main streets were bedecked with wreaths and candle-lit lampposts. Shebyogan had a big holiday display in their downtown, synched to music, and their wonderful bakeries were stocked full with the happiest Christmas cookies and treats you've ever seen.

To be honest, I'd been a little disappointed in Wisconsin with the election last month, and couldn't at all believe that they would go for the "President-Elect" (I can't bring myself to type his name). I was shocked, and frankly, thought less of them. Then I was there, among the people, watching them watch Fox News above the bars, and realized that they're just getting the wrong information. Mainstream media has fed them all of this b.s. and fear, and they're swallowing it. They are wonderful, generous, hard-working people that care about their families and jobs, and I could tell they were skeptical of me too at first. Once bridges were built and laughs were shared, we all became fast friends and there were no differences at all, other than geography and the news sources we tune in to. We all want the best for each other, I think, and it's only fear that makes anyone act otherwise. They gave me presents, They made me a hot toddy when they didn't know how (even finding me a cinnamon stick), they let me take my drink back to my hotel and bring the glass back later, they loaned us napkins from their restaurant because we needed them for the shoot (Thanks, Brenda at Sweet Basil!), they gave us directions and recommendations, they told me their day was made just from meeting someone from L.A., they invited me to stay longer in town just so we could party together ... These were my People.

I'm grateful to be back in my Venice bubble, but I'm so grateful for the time I spent in beautiful Wisconsin with its truly wonderful people. The next time we grill up some Johnsonville brats, I'm going to appreciate them even more than I always have, because now I know the people that make them. They're my friends, no matter who they voted for ... and I bet they feel the same way, but opposite. As diverse as these States are, we really are United. Thank you for that important lesson.

On Wisconsin! Hi Venice!

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Christmas Penguin Has Arrived!

The Christmas Penguin (!) has arrived in Venice just in time for the Venice sign lighting tonight!

Sadly, I'm leaving town right now and will have to miss one of my favorite events of the year, as Venice becomes Bedford Falls there in the Windward Circle ... I just love it. I hope you all have so much fun, and please know that I'm fully there in spirit!

Happy Holidays, Venice! It's on.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

How Did I Get Through The Day?

There's a gorgeous, dreamy new video out from Har Mar Superstar for his song, "How Do I Get Through The Day?" and it was directed by my good friend, Phil Harder. It stars Minneapolis along with Har Mar, in all its fall glory ...

Harder is a veteran award winning music video director, always known for his stunning visuals. I hope you saw his sublime and just as gorgeous, Low: Movie - How To Quit Smoking, and if you haven't, I can wait while you do ...

Cool. Harder told me that Har Mar called him on a Friday saying he wanted to do a video floating down the Mississippi River while the fall colors were still in all their glory. They shot the following Sunday, after quick building a wonderful Huck Finn type raft/boat that Harder's wife Isabelle fitted with mirrors for Har Mar to stand on, giving it all a beautiful, reflective, mysterious wonder. Harder shared a making of video with me that showed how the magic was created, showing just how very close Mr. Superstar was to falling into the Mighty Miss. Many of the shots had Harder propping him up from below for safety purposes, as Harder told him, "Act like you're on a stage, but we're not." Interestingly, the iffy balancing act was because they had to go fast to create the slow motion effect. Some shots were also flipped in post. Simple (but not) as that. I love every frame (especially going by the Grain Belt sign and the bridge with a train going by).

I also love the tune itself. Aside from its cool oldie crooner style, with so much bad news going on every day, it really does beg the question some days of how in the holy hell did I get through today?! But you somehow did. Songs like this help. Beauty as seen in this video helps. Awesome people coming together to create something fantastic really helps.

Shout out to Har Mar and Harders (and crew) for this very special piece of work. And for helping me get through today.