Monday, April 24, 2017

A Prince Memorial Party In The Canals

Last Friday was the one year anniversary of the death of our beloved Prince. Minneapolis people feel the loss harder than anyone, and those of us who live in California feel extra homesick when we see all of our hometown people gathering to celebrate the life of the once in a lifetime musical genius that was Prince. So we have our own gatherings.

This year the tribute party was held at the home of our friends, Danielle and Rick, who live in the Venice Canals. Danielle went to my same high school (Go Richfield Spartans!) but we met right here in Venice at the beach. That was a happy day, especially because Danielle feels the same way that I do about Prince.

We had to school her Aussie husband Rick a bit about him, but now he totally gets it. Has the shirt.

Last year we sat on her couch sobbing and watching the hometown news together in total disbelief. This year, we're still sad, but it was more of a party. And Danielle finally got her wish to dress up like Apollonia.

Everyone got the memo and was either in purple or something Prince related.

I wore the shirt I got at last fall's Prince Tribute show in St. Paul, that gave me my hometown collective mourning moment that I needed. Even Danielle's little puppy Lexi was in her Prince shirt. Feeling it.

The soundtrack was all Prince, of course. At one point, Danielle got our attention and asked for a moment of silence while we listened to "Purple Rain" - the signature number that always gets you crying again.

When the opening notes began, we turned around and Rick had rigged up a thing with pvc pipe and a drill and a hose and all of a sudden we had a sheet of purple rain across the entire front of the patio! It was awesome.

Neighbors would row past in the canals and take pictures, and at one point the sound from Danielle's speaker went out and we could hear "Purple Rain" playing from other houses around the canals! The familiar chords rang out across the water, and it felt like the entire world was sharing our memories of this legendary entertainer from our hometown of Minneapolis. It was special, and made us feel a little bit closer.

We sang and shared Prince stories late into the night (sorry canal neighbors!), and everyone vowed that it must be an annual event each April 21st. This way, we'll keep the music of Prince alive forever. And one of these years I'll be back at First Avenue dancing with everyone there all night long. Let's Go Crazy!

It's really still hard to believe. Thanks to Danielle and Rick for a great party, and to everyone playing the music for making it easier.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Music Connects Us: The Venice Art Crawl Fundraiser At The New Hal's- Playa Vista

Last night was a wonderful celebration of Art and Venice, when the Venice Art Crawl had its big art show fundraiser, held at the brand new Hal's in Playa Vista.

The show was titled "Music Connects Us", and featured works of art all based on music and the people that make it. Hal's Playa Vista is now not only a restaurant, but they have a huge event space next door, where this massive (75 Artists!) art show was held.

The place was already packed when I arrived, and musicians played outside on the sidewalk while people got checked in. It was very festive, and not just because it was 4/20. People were ready to party. The art show part was a sober party, however, as the big space is not zoned for alcohol use, I guess, so the bar in the space was only serving kombucha drinks. Some Venice folks had flasks for this rock and roll show. Bless.

VAC organizer Sunny Bak was there, and so were her excellent Beastie Boy photos ...

Co-organizer Neely Shearer from the wonderful Venice shop, In Heroes We Trust was there, looking great and making the rounds among all the artists she had helped compile for this extra-impressive show (here in front of Jules Muck works). John Hartman, pictured here with Neely, was responsible for the design of the space, which was great.

Today is the first anniversary of our beloved Prince's death, which I'm really still not ready to face, if I'm honest. The show last night seemed to agree with me, as several of the artists had pieces featuring our Minneapolis legend. I wish I could have bought them all. Like "Prince of Rock" by Todd Goodman ...

Or "Prince The Vegan Rebel" by Le Fou/Vegan Club (my favorite, I think) ...

Or this angelic Prince by Made Of Hagop ... I'd take any of them, for sure.

I also loved the rare, casual photo of another life-love of mine, Mr. Leonard Cohen, by Ivy Ney.

I loved the colorful music posters by another Minneapolis fellow, Kii Arens, who also did the poster for this show.

Fantastic, bright paintings by Oliana Afano lit the place up ...

Rock photographer Guy Webster's work was well represented ...

 Nat Fino had some great Bowie and Stones work on display, adding to the rock flavro ...

There were art installations set up around, like a big yurt with balloons and neon jellyfish by Shana Koenig inside and around it ...

There was a Plastic Jesus installation of a smashed piano that had a sign stating "Trump's Endowment for the Arts". Sad commentary on now ... but we were all there to fight exactly against that. Art is so important, and nights that brings everyone together to honor and celebrate it is what has to keep happening. Art is worth fighting for.

And so was a place at the bar at the new Hal's next door. There was a fancy VIP dinner for the event that I skipped, but the menu appeared to be the same good old Hal's fare. The Turkey burger is there, the Caesar is there ... the ART is there! Yes, the old familiar art from the original Abbot Kinney location is all there, the same staff is there, the jazz is there (last night played by Antonia Bennet - daughter of Tony) ... the only thing that isn't there is Venice. It's a little surreal to be honest, to have so much of the same feelings, but then look outside at a place that's kind of like The Grove. There's no chance of looking out the window and seeing a naked bike ride go by here, but then that's been happening less and less on Abbot Kinney too. This new Hal's is verrrry slick, with an open front with window tables, a big circular center bar, and even a state of the art screening room with the same fiber optics that the International Space Station has. Top shelf stuff.

It was fun to see so much of Venice together again inside a Hal's, and Hal himself was holding court all evening. The only thing weird was calling a car to go home, versus walking across the street. I'm not sure how often we'll make the trek to Playa Vista (Pleasantville), but it's nice to know that it's there. Congratulations to Don, Linda, Hal, and all the staff on a beautiful new venue that takes a little bit of Venice to the folks on Jefferson.

After all the art was seen, and the scene was made, it was time to head back to Venice for an after-party/420 jamboree at the Josa Tulum shop on the corner of Abbot Kinney an Venice Boulevard. There was more art, and more live music, and much more Venice. Lacey Kay Cowden had both her art and her music on display, as she played a live set there in the yard for the partiers.

Death By Politics were both our hosts and our headliners, as they played a spirited set for the crowd gathering. You could hear the music from blocks away, and it felt exactly how a Venice 4/20 should feel. Awesome.

Local legends Paul Chesne and Tom Freund tore it up together toward the end of the night, and all was well. Real well.

I walked the block home later, and could still hear the music from my bed for a while. That's a perfect way to fall asleep in Venice, California on April 20th ... on a night that was only about art, music, friends, and the Venice we all know and simply love.

Kudos to all involved on a completely wonderful event that will guarantee more nights dedicated to art for us all. The show was so dense it's nearly impossible to mention everyone, but everyone was more than worth mentioning and I loved it all. Everyone mark your calendars for the May 18th Venice Art Crawl! It's THE Venice jam.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Damian "Junior Gong" Marley In Conversation At The Grammy Museum

Music has really been stepping up to save me lately, and last night was no different. Damian Marley was at the Grammy Museum for a conversation about his new album Stony Hill (to be released July 21). "Junior Gong" Marley has been one of my very favorites ever since his Welcome To Jamrock album came out back in 2005. Because it's the best. As it's been so long since then, I was thrilled to get to hear the new music in a listening space fit for maybe 200 people ... and so was the superfan sitting next to me (Hi Shannon!). She could barely contain herself, and I totally understood.

Scott Goldman, the newly named Executive Director of the Grammy Foundation (which merged two days ago with the Grammy Museum), introduced Marley, who took the stage to a roar of applause, saying "Greetings, Everyone!" Dressed in a military style shirt and jeans, with his long dreads tied up in a cap, he settled into a chair on stage to chat with Goldman about the new album. Of course, Marley hasn't just been chilling the last twelve years, he's been involved in all sorts of projects, like Superheavy (his super group with Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, and A.R. Rahman), Distant Relatives (his album with Nas), recording projects with other members of the Marley family ... in short, real busy. Or in his words, "Just life."

When Goldman noted that the new album had been delayed with its release since last fall, he asked Marley how he knew when a track/album was ready. Marley replied, "You just let go. See how it feels. We're perfectionists, so when the music feels right, it feels right." Marley mentioned how he has also never released a song without his brother, Stephen Marley's thumbs up. "We have that trust from growing up together, from him tying my shoelaces until now." When asked how his songs start, Marley said that they were mostly an idea or a thought, and that he mostly begins with the music. He's now into experimenting with "Jamming in the moment" - which I would love to be there for.

We started the listening party with the track called "Caution", which is Marley's homage to Black Uhuru, whose music he grew up on. His main inspiration after his own family's music was the 80's Dancehall music coming out of Jamaica with musicians like Shabba Ranks, etal. The song definitely had that feel, and I was/we were immediately transported to a mellower time. A FUN time.

Goldman and Marley next talked about his video for his the first song released off the new album, "Nail Pon Cross", and the religious imagery it contains, which Marley has received some heat for. His main idea about it is "Judge not before you judge yourself. Check yourself." Right on. Marley also noted that crucifixion was the way of capital punishment back in the day, so Jesus Christ was just one of many that was nailed to a cross. Also, he's more interested in how people interpret the music for themselves vs. him telling them what to think about it, as all the best songwriters are.

With the worldwide acceptance and love of reggae, Goldman suggested that Marley might be in a unique position to make social commentary, and maybe speak out more than others. Marley explained that for him it's just organic to address important topics, and he feels he has a responsibility to stand up to oppression. Goldman asked why that was important to him, and Marley replied, "Because I don't like it." It was so charming and honest and kind of "Duh", that everyone laughed, and loved him even more (I know because it was stated several times).

We next heard a track called "Here We Go", that featured a Dennis Brown sample. This one sounded like Jamrock Gong, and it was both fun and kind of weird to listen to it with him sitting right there, nodding along with us.  One line goes, "I'll finish what Bob Marley started", and he's doing just that. It was RAD. He explained that with samples, it's mostly just vibes he gets, what catches his ear, but with this one, it was what Brown was saying ... "Here we go". And we will gladly go along with him, as when Goldman asked Marley if he ever worried that his audience would have moved on in the last decade, one woman correctly yelled, "Never!"

"Everybody Wants To Be Somebody" was a Wailers-esque track that Marley intended to help connect generations. "It's important to know your roots, not just in music, but in life." So very true, and those Wailers roots are clearly strong. "Medication" was next, and an obvious love letter from Marley to marijuana. He sings about its fingers running down his spine and croons, "I love you, Maryjane". At the song's end, Goldman said, "This is a topic you know a bit about", which got laughs because we could all smell it lingering in the room, but also because Marley is in the actual business of cannibas. He has a dispensary in Colorado, where it's already legal, and has turned a former prison in California into a grow house. "I got a prison to grow weed in where people used to be locked up for weed. A new frontier is happening in real time now. I'm looking forward to Jamaica legalizing it." - which I cannot believe it is not, having spent time in Jamaica with abundant ganja. It's time, Jamaica.

Marley lives in the dichotomy between two worlds, his Uptown comfortable upbringing and his family's ghetto roots, which he addresses in his track, "Living It Up". This one has a kind of 70's disco vibe, verrrry groovy. It features shout-outs to the townships in Jamaica that made up Marley's childhood, and is an answer to those who think Marley doesn't have any business talking about the ghetto. "In Jamaica, there is nowhere far. You might be living in the ghetto, but you can see it." Marley sees both sides, and indeed, has family and friends make him remain a part of both. His album Halfway Tree was named for the spot halfway between both, and Marley's hope is that he can get other people to that level too. "The greatest thing you can do as a person is to help other people", Marley stated sincerely, to appreciative applause. It's the best when the artists you love are also good people.

"The Struggle Discontinues" is Marley's attempt to get people to see themselves not as strugglers, but as conquerors. The song asks, "If the struggle continues, then when will we overcome?" A perfect question for now. JA Mon. "I don't want to sing a song that says the struggle lives on ... Right here and now the struggle ends, prosperity from now on." I am fully on board with that, and with this song with its classic reggae beats. The album was recorded in Miami at the family studio, and at Henson Studios here in Los Angeles. Aston Barret, Jr. plays bass on it, and that helps with that classic Wailer sound. Marley has always been more modern, so with this one, he was trying something new by trying something old. It works great.

Marley is known for the massive energy of his live shows, and said he definitely thinks about how they'll be performed live when the songs are being recorded, but often when played live they almost become remixes, because they jam and change them all the time. No one in this room could wait to hear these songs live after hearing them being discussed with him, believe me.

The youth are important to Marley, and "So A Child May Follow" is a song that talks about the influence that musicians have on children, but also giving "Big Ups" to the young musicians playing themselves. It featured a heavy keyboard intro, and acoustic guitar that make it the most bare and raw track, standing out from the rest, as Marley urges the listener to enjoy the moments you have NOW.

In talking about Superheavy, Marley said that Mick Jagger has not lost his love for recording music, and is "still fit", earning some laughs. He said that Dave Stewart finally taught him why guitar players have so many guitars. The many different SOUNDS. Stewart taught him a lot about the sonics of guitars, Marley said, making us all want to be flies on that wall.

Goldman opened it up for a Q and A, that was mostly just everyone begging him to play somewhere - one guy even asked if he could do a little something a cappella right then, to which Marley simply said, "No." When asked what he was listening to, he said Third World, who he's working with in the studio, which was great news. He'll be playing Africa in May, Sir. He listens to West Coast Hip Hop, and his favorites are Snoop, Tupac, and Dre. There are no plans for a Distant Relatives 2 at this time, but they'd both love to. He WILL be at The Dub Club tonight. His family is so vast, he's not sure if someone is planning an Eco-Resort in Jamaica. He didn't put this album out independently because he's still on his Welcome To Jamrock label and owes them one. Contracts and all that. He keeps his faith by being himself, and family, friends, and Jamaica itself keep him down to Earth. He considers himself a Spiritual Revolutionary, and thinks it's important to have spiritual discussions evolve to be about now, not scripture from thousands of years ago. Amen. Awomen.

"Speak Life" was the final track we heard, and the final track on the album. Marley explained that "Word sound has power that goes out into the world and affects the energy around you. It's a very cinematic track, and you could see it as a montage soundtrack for a great movie about keeping your head up and focusing. It was great, and we all nodded along together in agreement until it came to it's end with a flourish. We all clapped for Marley and Goldman, and as we ushered out of the Clive Davis Theater, I was again reminded of the power of music. I hadn't thought about my own problems or the great problems of the world (outside the context of his songs) the entire time. I really needed that last night, and I don't think I was alone in that, as everyone expressed deep gratitude upon leaving.

I remember in Jamaica while staying at Jakes's in Treasure Beach, and one of the DJs asked if I liked "Traditional or Contemporary Reggae". At the time, my answer was probably traditional, but Damian Marley is the one who bridged them both together for me. Get Stony Hill, you will love it. And do not miss a chance to see Damian Marley live ever. It's something else.

Thank you to the Grammy Foundation for another wonderful night of music!

*All photos by Paul Gronner Photography.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Venice Skatepark Vandalized

OK. This is not good.

WHO in their right mind would vandalize the Skatepark?! All the work that it took to get built (See the Made In Venice movie), all the work that it takes to maintain it (Thanks to Jesse Martinez), and all the goodness it brings to kids and the Community, and someone is going to come in overnight and slegdehammer off the coping?! I can't even imagine how mad the Venice Skate Alliance is right now, and I can't imagine what's going to happen when they find out who is responsible. But I can begin to.

You know what though? Legends don't even need coping. So there.

Please relay any information about this to Venice Park and Recs down by the Skatepark. This is bad. 

*Top Photo by Juice Dan Levy/Juice Magazine
*Bottom Photo of Jesse Martinez by Bill Ferrell

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Adidas No Longer Defining Venice

Special Late Thursday Afternoon Edition:

Well, it took a week, but apparently Adidas is no longer "Defining Venice". They heard the People.

The incredibly insulting sign is now gone, with merely their logo in its place. This is encouraging. This means that we still have the Community here in Venice, and we will still stand up together when something is outrageously wrong. The real deal Venice neighbors came out of the woodwork with their displeasure on this one, spoke up, did something about it, and now it's gone. This has to keep happening, not only here, but in this crazy country right now. Unity creates change. WE create the Venice - and the World - we want to live in.

While we're at it, let's do things about the BIG things, not just signs. Help the homeless, stop the big chains and developers, resist Snapchat and their ilk ... you know. Stuff like that. We can do it. We've proved that Venice isn't "over", and many, many awesome people who have made Venice their beloved home are still here. Solid. 

Good job, Everybody! THANK YOU to everyone who made their voices heard. Don't let up.
Power to the People!

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band Live In L.A.!

I've been to Preservation Hall in New Orleans, but not when their legendary namesake band was playing. That's been an empty spot in my soul ever since, so when I received the kind invitation from KCRW to attend their private live session with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Apogee Studios, I leapt at the chance.

We were greeted upon arrival at the door to Apogee with Mardi Gras beads, and directed to the bar where authentic Hurricanes were being served up to set the tone. It felt festive before the band even took the stage, and only went up from there. The listening room at Apogee Studios is tiny, so we revelers were packed in hip to hip, heel to toe, ready to be dazzled. KCRW DJ Garth Trinidad was our radio host for the evening, and Bob Clearmountain was the host of the event, as Apogee is his excellent, state of the art, perfect sound studio.

Trinidad introduced KCRW jazz aficionado, Bo Leibowitz, to tell the tale of how Preservation Hall came to be. Leibowitz took it all the way back to the 1800's with his encyclopedic knowledge of this "Cultural mélange" of a musical genre. It went a bit long for a SRO audience who were antsy (and drinking Hurricanes), but I'd be into circling back to hear more about it some day ... because Trinidad finally had to cut him off and introduce the band people were fiending to see.

The PHJB took the stage, led by Ben Jaffe, whose parents founded the Preservation Hall, and who serves as bandleader and its upright bass player. Their brand new album - of original songs! - comes out the 21st of April, and we got to hear So It Is front to back, live (and so will you when it airs soon on Morning Becomes Eclectic!). The album was produced by Dave Sitek from TV On The Radio, so you know it's gonna be good. They kicked it off with the title track "So It Is", and the party was officially started then, but really lit up when they launched into the second number, "Santiago". It was pure energy, and featured blistering solos from every player, heavily influenced by their time recently spent in Cuba. These are virtuoso musicians we're talking about, and it was all basically a master class on what you can sound like if you practice your instrument every day of your life like you were taught. WOW.

The whole proceeding was held down by the excellent drumming from Walter Harris, who Jaffe called "the gas in their engine". Indeed. "Innocence" and "Malaga" were both outstanding, and really showed off what a hambone their trombone player, Ronell Johnson, is. His use of his mute and fully infectious enthusiasm was not only super impressive, but impossible not to smile at. This cat is INTO it, every note.

It was cool to see the conversation between the two saxophonists, Charlie Gabriel and Clint Maedgen. Gabriel is the elder, and you could see him flexing his experience to the younger whippersnapper Maedgen, who more than ably kept up, he answered with his own flair. Both of them made my brother wish he had kept up with his own sax lessons. Yep.

"One Hundred Fires" WAS that hot, and pianist Kyle Roussel made sure of that. I was watching the blur of his fingers and thinking simply "How?" - while wishing I'd kept up with my own piano lessons. Yep.

If you want to know what an awesome trumpeter sounds like, pay attention when Branden Lewis plays - though his playing demands it, so you won't be able to help it. Geez Louise! He's so good. All the guys not seated lined up at mics for their song "Mad" and sang "I ain't mad at you, no matter what you do" while we answered with the "Lalalala" chorus. This was the only song with vocals, and everyone was feeling it, and belting it out. It whipped up everyone into a frenzy, so much so that then when the guys left the stage, we could not accept that it was over.

Trinidad brought them out for an encore after all the screaming and whistling demanded it (you'll probably hear me whistle on the broadcast. Sorry.), and Jaffe thanked KCRW, saying they have a cool radio station that they also adore in NOLA as well (WWOZ) so they know what it means. Seriously, thank GOODNESS for KCRW these days! As Jaffe was saying his words of thanks, I was thinking how even as messed up as the world is right now, I hadn't thought about any of it while I was in that room listening to this remarkable band. I was purely in the moment, loving it, and so was everyone else, it appeared. Just as I was thinking this, Jaffe said, "When the world's got you down, think of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. We love you all." And we love them.

They blazed through an encore of songs from their Jim James produced album, That's It! and we all danced like there was no tomorrow. Because you never know ... and we want to go out dancing.

Thank you to the wonderful Preservation Hall Jazz Band and KCRW for a night of musical escape that no one in there will soon - or ever - forget. Laissez les bon temps rouler - all the way to L.A.!

*Photos courtesy of KCRW and Brian Feinzimer.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Venice Definers

I was in the desert over the weekend, and when I turned my phone back on there was a message showing that a friend of mine had altered the Adidas store "Defining Venice" sign to read "Defacing Venice". She (because all the best protesters these days are women) put paper over the glass, so no  damage was done, and the point was not only made, but applauded. By the time I got back, it was already taken down, but the completely insulting and totally audacious Adidas one was not. They're dumb. Shout out also to Skylark, who has a great "Already Defined (but Thanks)" sign in their window across the street.

This very blog was started because I wanted to tell the stories of those people, places, and events that have helped to define Venice over the years. To share the many story tiles of our Community that make up the entire beautifully diverse mosaic that is our home. I walked by Great Western Hoagie today when I was out and about, and remembered how much I love this mural on the side of their little hut that I also love. This mural made up of true Venice definers (after the one like it at the beach). I don't see one apparent tech person (there's a uniform), one apparent billionaire (because anyone might be in Venice, but it's cooler not to act like it), or any Adidas. Curious.

I will continue to tell the real stories of the real definers. You will never read about a corporate chain store or company here, unless it's to scold them. Or unless they try doing something good for once (not just for p.r. and cameras - that doesn't count). The good news is that this site for stories has been around since 2009, we're approaching 1,000 stories, and there is no end to good, legit Venice material in sight. Venice has so many stories it's actually impossible for any one to define it. (Ahem.)

Please always feel free to suggest subjects for me to explore. There are so, so many cool nouns (persons/places/things) to discover in Venice, it's hard for me to keep up! Thank you for that still being the case, everyone that is still cool! Love you.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Art Of Being Home

I was still pretty steamed up this morning over the whole Adidas "Defining Venice" thing (I can't even believe that stupid sign is still up after the Community outrage it's stirred up) as I was on my morning walk. I was thinking about a lot of the comments I got, about how Venice is already dead, and it's a lost cause, and remember the good old days, and all of the cool stuff is gone, and hipsters and techies and billionaires are taking over, and all that ... but you know what? All of the comments were from equally outraged, equally longtime (almost) or native people that are still here, that still care, that still LOVE it here ... so how can it be over? The answer is it's not. This encouraged me as I walked along, and I decided to take a different Canal home today, just for fun. I crossed a bridge and some color on a house up the way caught my eye, so I walked over to investigate.

One of the houses had a mural painted (by Venice treasure, Gary Palmer, I found out!) across the top of their place, spelling it all out for me. "The Art Of Being Home." With a beach and lifeguard towers! How perfect for Venice! It's an art just living here. It is our HOME. The only reason I/we get so riled up about things like a corporate behemoth thinking they can come in and define our Venice is because we chose to make this beach Community our HOME. Through history, that has always been the thing most worth fighting for ... one's home. It has always been special here, so special that many of us left our own hometowns and families because we were madly in love with this magical place called Venice. It was worth it to us to create our own new lives here far from our loved ones and places. It meant a lot to be accepted into the Community, but that happened because I got involved. I volunteered. I met my neighbors. I made friends with everyone from the most homeless of the homeless to the millionaires (this was pre-billionaires). I went to Neighborhood Council meetings. I shopped locally. I greatly respected all who came before me, and appreciated their welcome. I started this blog to tell all of their stories. To have this place now threatened with becoming like everywhere else is a call to action, a call for principles, and a call for our Community to stand up to it and say ENOUGH.

It's not over. It's not too late. Thousands of you feel the exact same way that I do, and told me so yesterday. I'm clearly not giving up. Neither should you. It's (past) time to stand together to preserve what we have left ... to maintain the wonderful art of being home in Venice.

Thank you all for letting me know you care like I do. We're still here. I love you, Venice - in complete solidarity.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sorry, Adidas. You Do NOT Define Venice.

It's true. The old Hal's space is going to be an Adidas store. ADIDAS! In a town where we never had chain stores, they now think they are going to DEFINE Venice. Oh, really? How completely offensive to everyone who ever made Venice what is is. The REAL definers of this Community. I'm livid.

Adidas, I have a suggestion for you. The first thing you should do is fire whatever marketing exec came up with this campaign, along with everyone who agreed to it. They clearly did no homework on the Community they're about to enter, or they'd know we would not take kindly to some chain claiming they define the legend that is Venice. A massive Germany-based global corporation is going to move on to Abbot Kinney Boulevard, and think that they are suddenly going to be "Defining Venice"?! Yeah. Right. This is as bad as the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad.

Venice has never been defined by any one thing, but it certainly wouldn't ever be a chain shoe store. It is defined by the artists, the skaters, the surfers, the gangsters, the beach bums, the regular bums, the free spirits, the hippies, the innovators, the edgy ones, the bikers, the teachers, the mom and pop stores, the laid back attitude ... the FREEDOM. How DARE some international conglomerate have the audacity to think they're going to come into a storied, historic place like Venice and DEFINE it. I could puke right on their doorstep. And probably will. That's as close as I'll ever get to stepping inside, unless I see someone I know in there and have to go drag them out by their ear in a big scene. *You've been warned.

I was ranting about it at the French Market after seeing this outrage of a window sign, and some affected girl behind me in line said, "Venice is all just Snapchat now anyway." No, it goddamn isn't, young lady. Go to an art opening. Go to a house party. Go to a non-chain store. Go to a town council meeting. Go to a school event. Go to the dog park. Go to the actual sand on the beach. Go to Hinano's. There you will find people that not only aren't Snapchat, but LOATHE Snapchat, and their ilk. I suggest you branch out. Learn your history. Have some respect.

I was walking home from a friend's last night and heard a group of Millenials sitting in the street talking about their NDA's (Non-Disclosure Agreements), and how they were so important they couldn't even talk to each other about their lame stuff. I have a feeling it was Tech stuff. Blech stuff. (I'm a known Luddite). I was so disgusted to think that this gentrification cancer has spread so much that youngsters think that his garbage IS Venice. It simply isn't, and those lame asses won't last here. Watch.

And I suspect neither will Adidas. No one comes to Venice, California to go to chain stores they have at their own mall in every city. They come for the unexpected. The weird. The "Freaks". The Art. The beach. The Boardwalk. The Skatepark. The Surf. The bike path. The beach. Not some store that the only thought I've ever had about them is that we used to think it stood for "All Day I Dream About Sex" as kids, and think that was racy. I certainly never thought they'd be so dumb as to come into Venice and have the utter nerve to think they can in any way "Define" this classic beach town. They're practically begging for vandalism (which I don't condone, of course, but would surely understand). The fact that all the good times we had inside that building when it was Hal's will now be taken over by corporate drones fitting people into overpriced sneakers makes me physically ill. WHO thought this could ever be a good idea? They were seriously misguided.

Just past the self-important Millenial jokers in the street, I saw this sidewalk chalk missive on Hampton Drive. "Try to not be a dick for once". I have a feeling it was meant for a specific someone, but it can sure apply to everyone doing their best to bury the Venice we know and love. Knock it off. Stop being dicks. For ONCE.


The Adidas boycott starts now. Not that we ever wore them anyway. This is a Vans town.