Friday, September 22, 2017

Venice Homecoming Weekend!

I'm back in beautiful Venice, just in time for what I like to think of as Venice Homecoming weekend! The Abbot Kinney Festival is this weekend, as is the Venice-Brooks Festival, as is the Venice Afterburn art party at the beach, as is endless fun in the town that knows what that means. I'm so excited to see everyone out enjoying it all!

Let's show everyone what we're all about, and really make this one to remember. It's going to be awesome, and the perfect return to town for me, and to what I love about Venice. What a wonderful kick-off to Autumn 2017 - see you out there, friends!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Venice (Where Art Meets Eviction) - Updated Shirts For Now

My friend Gallo made a classic Venice shirt a bunch of years back, that everyone had/has ... Venice (Where Art Meets Crime). It was funny, because it was true. We all knew it, we all lived with it, we all tried to make the art supersede the crime. Well, now Gallo has an updated version of the shirt to better reflect our current events ... Introducing the Venice (Where Art Meets Eviction) shirt!

Only this time it's not funny, because it's true. And you think it's never going to happen to you - until it does. I was literally blind-sided by my situation, and now find out that my landlord super unlawfully filed my name on the eviction of my psycho roommate in order to get us both out faster ... so now she gets to go to court. And I get to keep looking for a new home in the town that I love that seems to be losing its cool. Money doesn't make a place cool - obviously. The people do. The art does. The traditions do. The beloved spots do (and on that note, Roosterfish re-opens this weekend for a pop-up party before undergoing a little spiff-up to really re-open. Awesome.). Tech companies, big ugly boxes, trendy hipsters, chain stores, overpriced billboard shops, over-hyped restaurants, and all that smack only serve to turn once edgy, awesome places into lame douchebag magnets. Venice is better than that.

Let's all work together to make damn sure that the art always wins over both crime and eviction - which is really the same thing.

Get yours HERE, because you continue to be awesome in spite of it all. TO spite it all.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Prophets Of Rage - The Debut Album Out Today!

Prophets of Rage are THE band for these times, as attendance at one of their shows clearly proves. It is pure energy, pure intensity, and pure rage aimed at the social injustices of now, delivered with the solid one-two-three punch of the classic rock sounds from three of rock and hip hop's biggest bands coming together as one.

Rage Against The Machine. Public Enemy. Cypress Hill = Prophets of Rage, and while we all miss the fiery teachings of Zack de la Rocha leading Rage, Chuck D and B Real bring a whole new vibe while keeping their own legendary personas front and center. It's something else.

The debut album, the self-titled Prophets of Rage is out everywhere today, and we finally get to hear the original songs that these music icons came up with together. I'm blasting it right now, and feel myself itching for either a big, crazy rock show, or an all out, take it to the streets monster protest. It will do that to you.

I was all ready to expose my Minneapolis people to this mind-blower of a rock show this weekend out at Canterbury Downs, but for some lame reason, the sponsoring radio station (93X) cancelled it. That's enough to start our own protest right there. Minnesota people will want to make the trek somewhere else to catch this. Lame.

The new album showcases each member of the band at their best ... from the power trio from Rage (Tom Morello, Brad Wilk, and Tim Commerford) to DJ Lord to Chuck D and B Real, all in firmly in their element. Standout tracks to me are "Hands Up", "Radical Eyes", "Smashit", "Unfuck The World", and "Strength In Numbers", but every song is gonna do some sonic damage, and absolutely rile up everyone within earshot.

There are very few recording artists putting their mouths where their money is these days, and POR doesn't care what anybody thinks - they just say it like it is. And they mean business. The music - and the movement - is crazy infectious, and unafraid to stand up and speak out to anyone or anything that is keeping the people down.

Guys ... Thank you. Thank you for Making America Rage Again. We need you!!!

Fans - Get it. And definitely catch it live if you can.

Related links:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Stay At Zeno Mountain Farm Venice For A Real Venice Vibe

I'm a major fan of Zeno Mountain Farm in Venice, and now travelers can stay there! The Venice location of this wonderful camp is now open for vacation rentals, and hosted by my lovely friend, Tawney, while they stay.

Zeno is a place where disabled people can go to have a blast, and you can get an inside glimpse of the place and their excellent work in the film that should have won Best Picture of 2014, Becoming Bulletproof

Zeno also has a camp full of tree houses in Vermont, so when the festivities are going off out east, the Venice location back west can be available for visitors to our beautiful town that want to have a truly real Venice experience.

I'm not a big fan of Air BnB, as I feel that it wrecks neighborhoods and takes the authenticity away. Venice has gotten so expensive that people have been forced to rent their homes just to keep them, so I get it from their standpoint, but it also does a lot of damage. Communities fall apart when you never see anyone you know anymore ... but that's why I can endorse THIS Air BnB listing. They WANT people to know and experience the real Venice.

To that end, rooms are named after beloved Venice places that are no longer around, like Stroh's, Abbot's Habit, and Equator Books. They want visitors to know what came before them, what places helped to make it a cool place to come.

The space is on Westminster, right behind the corner where YAS used to be on Abbot Kinney. That's steps from shopping on a pretty cool street (that used to be a lot cooler before chains $omehow sneaked in), a brief stroll to the sand and water, and guaranteed fun because you're in the very heart of Venice.

You're also helping to keep a very important and beautiful space alive by contributing to it financially. Seriously, one viewing of Becoming Bulletproof, and you're gonna want to get involved - even if it's just by staying in their sweet pad while they're away.

Check out their listing HERE, and we'll all hope to see you soon here in Venice!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Great White Opens On Pacific Avenue - Get Bit!

A brand new spot just opened up in the space left vacant by Seed on Pacific, and Great White looks to be just what that little stretch of Venice needed - already.

Serving up healthy breakfast and lunch fare every day from 7 am to 6 pm, it's close enough to the beach that you can get both your pre and post-surf/beach day grinds on foot. It looks DELICIOUS - and I'm told IS extra delicious - with great service to top it off. It sounds like a home run right out of the gate, with unanimously positive reviews from all who have had the pleasure of trying it out in week one. Cheers to owners Sam Trude and Sam Cooper, Chef Alex Thomopoulos, all the staff, and to all in Venice that get to go here. Yum.

I presume they've named the place after the shark and not the band, and the beachy vibes are on theme. The drinks all sound incredible, and as it's an Aussie-owned venture, you absolutely will find a legit flat white.

There is no liquor license as yet, so they're only open for breakfast and lunch so far, but I can't wait to get back to town and try everything on both of those menus and chill on the breezy patio. Welcome to the neighborhood, Great White!

Great White
1604 Pacific Avenue (At Windward)

*Photos courtesy of Great White. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Rainbow Lifeguard Tower Stays! Roosterfish To Possibly Return!

9/11/17 Update: I spoke to Gary Mick, the last owner and he reports that it is not the original owners that are moving forward. He is now happily married and living in Kansas. I'm not there to go investigate today, but I'm told it looks like it's moving along, and I'll get the whole deal asap. Stay tuned! Exciting!

Good news travels fast! My sources in Venice tell me that the petition to keep the Bill Rosendahl Memorial rainbow lifeguard tower was successful, and the wonderfully colorful beacon of acceptance for all will remain in all its rainbow glory permanently! I love it.

A crew of Venice folks from the Venice Pride committee went and testified downtown, and received a unanimous vote to allow the rainbow-painted lifeguard to stay as it is, there on the sand at Brooks to show one and all that Venice welcomes everyone ... and is proud of it!

                                                                                                                              *Photo: Michael Brunt
This great news got greater when I heard that it's looking like the Roosterfish is going to re-open in its original location on Abbot Kinney! The space has sat there empty for well over a year now, and I'm told that they can possibly move back in! I hear the art is even still on the walls (though I've not been inside to see), so they should be back in business in no time! I need to get owner confirmation still, but my sources are thrilled and it sounds like it's real news. Yay! Taking back our town, one Venice victory at a time!

I can't wait to get back and toast you all with a very stiff Roosterfish drink in person - Congratulations to all the friends who made the Rainbow Tower a true Venice landmark, both in its physical form, and in this decision. Thank you for showing that the heart of Venice remains open and strong. Cheers! Love!


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Back To School/Real Life!

Hi Friends!

I had a wonderful vacation home to Minnesota, and now it's time for back to school for the kids here - and back to real life for me. I'm still in Minnesota, but the chill part must come to an end as I figure out what I'm going to do next in my crazy life.

Minnesota has been fully showing off, with absolutely perfect weather every day, and all the most fun things happening around this time of the year as the good NICE people of Minnesota try to cram in as much Summertime as they can. It's funny, it's the day after Labor Day, and it's like the state knows it. It's instantly about 20 degrees colder, and you can tell people are already beginning to think about hunkering down for the long winter.

It's been a little strange being here and watching the scorching heat wave and wildfire news coming out of L.A. I mean, Venice almost never gets HOT, and I've seen all my friends back there freaking out about it. I currently have a sweater on, with a blanket on my lap ... but the windows are open.

My roots, my family, and my hometown friend and favorite spots have all been making me feel so welcome and at home, that I'm actually feeling pretty torn as to where I really belong. After looking at a studio with a hot plate in Venice for $3,000 a month (!), super awesome Minneapolis pads for nowhere near that are starting to sound more interesting. But I've made Venice my home, it's super important to me, and I don't really know  - I don't know! Anyone who would pay that much for a shithole apartment in Venice is an idiot ... and I don't fancy myself to be one.

There are so many cool things to do in and around Minnesota, just as there are in California. I was here for the State Fair this year, and it's truly the very best one around. The people watching alone!

The crafts, the food, the animals, the art ... it's all just so great. Everyone loves it, and is so happy to be there, you can feel it in the air. And it's been said many, many times, but the people are SO nice here (aside from murdering cops, but that's another story). Just checking out at a store can launch a brand new friendship - and often does.

There is so many good music and art shows that it really does rival L.A. In fact, I'm currently torn between watching some bands here or there - as better seats can often be had here. The Walker Art Center is top shelf, and I checked out the newly renovated sculpture garden during their Garden Party with my Mom, and it was great - in fact, every precious moment I get to spend with my beloved Mother is great, and that's a big part of it too. When you're away a while ... you can tell that time is passing too quickly. And that time is increasingly precious. My love swells, and I can't imagine leaving. And then I can't imagine not ...

The Jimmie Durham exhibit inside the Walker was fantastic. What a cool artist that I didn't know of before! Very witty, very insightful, very cool.

As was the interactive exhibit by Teamlabs that let you color your own art, scan it, and immerse yourself in it as it bloomed all around you in a dark room. Frrrresh.

The natural beauty is art unto itself in Minnesota, and it's everywhere you look. 11, 842 lakes beckon you every day, and you can't go very far without falling into one of them in your path.

My dearest friends are big boaters, and I've spent a bunch of time the last couple of weeks on both the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers ... and at this spot where the two meet. The Mississippi mud makes it very clear which one is which!

I spent my birthday on the Mississippi too, clinking glasses with dear friends from high school, college, and from my time in Hawai'i, and when I looked around at their wonderful faces, my heart felt full. Well, almost full, as my Venice/L.A. friends weren't there, and I've spent nearly half my life there now too. Where do I belong?! I'm thinking maybe both ... !

So now it's the Tuesday after Labor Day ... the freelance job I was going to rush back this week to start has been pushed once again. I don't have a new place yet in Venice (again, not willing to shell out 3 G's a month for basically a storage space to live in!), so there's really no rush to get back ... other than that I miss it and as of today I'm already freezing here in the North Star State.

I've spent a lot of time in my life thinking in the woods at Wood Lake Nature Center. It always helps me, calms me down, makes me feel better, and I'm so grateful for this wonderful resource of nature right in the middle of my hometown of Richfield. It's exquisite, and the place where I get a lot of my best ideas. It will likely provide me with the answers I'm searching for within this story, and within myself.

A gentle rain has just started up, and I can hear a little roll of thunder in the distance, as well as a train horn further off. The high school marching band was practicing earlier and I could hear their instruments in the wind, and a massive wave of nostalgia nearly made me cry. Then I saw some Venice photos on social media, with all those friends having a blast over Labor Day weekend, and I felt extra left out. I've gotta figure this out. Thank you for your patience and support, and your love and friendship, as I navigate a very unsettled and strange time in my life, though it's also one that is very liberated and wide open and possibly exciting. I've been thinking, we only get one turn in this body, maybe it's time to live somewhere foreign? Be a Dreamer somewhere else? Why not? This planet only has so much time left, if we're being honest, so maybe live nowhere and just check it all out? Or explore SPACE!!! Lots of thinking, I tell you what.

I promise, I will always continue to be your very own Pueblo style storyteller Kachina doll, wherever I may be. But Venice ... I sure hope I'm back with you very soon!


Monday, August 21, 2017

Gone Fishing! Time To Reflect ...

There is a lot to reflect on at the moment, both in my own life and on a global scale. In both cases, I don't really have any idea what's going on, which is both liberating and a little scary. I'm headed back home to Minnesota in a couple of hours to get back to the roots, to try and figure out where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing - and have an excellent birthday week with my lifelong friends and family!

On way my down to say peace out for a bit to the ocean while I trade it for the lakes, I saw this cool sign/mirror hanging on a wall, welcoming all to the beach. I took that as a sign that this truly is the time to self-reflect.

On my way back, I came upon a big scene at the Venice Library for the solar eclipse. The whole parking lot was full of Venetians hoping to get a glimpse of this extra-rare celestial experience. Everyone was sharing the special glasses, and freaking out equally, in a really good way. I got a little choked up, that people can still come together to view something special, and way, way bigger than us all, and any of our differences. That's the takeaway for me of the great 2017 Solar Eclipse ... Unity. We are all united under one great sky, and it's our job to do our best to take care of each other while we're here. And that's that.

I saw just a little bite out of the sun here in Venice, but it was enough for me to get the message. Now I'm off for a little Summer break ... hold it down here in the V for me until I get back, and know how very special this life is ... wherever you may be.


Friday, August 18, 2017

The Venice Art Crawl Turns 7!

The Venice Art Crawl turned 7 years old last night with a party at Canal Club to celebrate! The back room was jam packed with artists and the people who love them and their work. The entire mission of the VAC is to keep ART alive in Venice, and these are the folks that are making sure of that.

The VAC was the vision of Danny Samakow, Edizen Stowell, and Mike Newhouse, who came together to ensure that Venice as an art destination would remain so. They, along with tireless board member, Sunny Bak, were honored last night with a well-deserved certificate from the Venice Chamber of Commerce, and a big old 7th birthday chocolate cake.

A raffle was held all night, with winners claiming art by local artists, among other great loot prizes. Danny Samakow was sporting the bright pink VAC shirt from when the event was a monthly deal, and shared with me how happy he was to see how far it's all come.

Fun and familiar faces of Venice enjoyed themselves all night (and do be sure to check out the watermelon margarita across the street at James Beach while it's in season - delish!), and all looked forward to the next installment of the VAC in September for the Venice Afterburn - always a highlight of the year!

Happiest Birthday to the Venice Art Crawl, and endless thanks for all of your hard work to keep the art world in Venice not just alive, but thriving! Much, much love!

Next Venice Art Crawl - September 21st! 


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Venice Fringe At In Heroes We Trust - Every Wednesday!

I love In Heroes We Trust because it's an extra fly legit one of a kind store in Venice with the coolest clothes and art, of course, but also because its owner, Neely Shearer, is not afraid to throw a good shindig right there inside the shop. I've had many a good time and made many a friend just from walking by and joining the party. Last night (and now every Wednesday night!) Shearer turned her shop into a full on comedy club, when she hosted the first Venice Fringe comedy night for her excellent comedian friend, J.C. Coccoli.

Coccoli and I became instant friends  a few months back (at another IHWT jam!), because J.C./C.J. but also because she's awesome. Last night was the first time I heard her standup comedy, and now I like her even more.

I'm not the biggest fan of standup comedy, which makes me not the best audience for it, but I was happy to go and support my friends. I was both surprised and delighted that I actually laughed almost the whole time, and may have even gotten over my comedy glitch. People were cracking me up.

There was a good blend of men and women in the line-up, with Coccoli kicking off the proceedings, and popping the many bottles of complimentary rosé that may have also had something to do with my easy laughter. Good times!

Byron Bowers and James Davis held it down for the men, and I can't remember all that their sets were about (as I forgot my notebook - and did not forget the rosé), but I knew the joint was in stitches.

Brooke Van Poppelen brought it home with more hilarity, and confirmed my new status as an enjoyer of the comedy. Even this little girl was laughing - until it became past her bedtime.

The party spilled out on to the sidewalk - as it usually does - and the laughs kept on coming. What an unexpectedly stumbled upon fantastic evening of fun with funny people! Get there every Wednesday! The rosé is cracked at 7:30, the show is at 8 sharp, and done at 9, so it's a great time that allows you to keep it going, and/or not whine about it being a school night. For just a $10 donation - Fringetastic!

See you Wednesdays at In Heroes We Trust, friends!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Memories Of The Red Balloon

I was on my daily cruise around town this morning, when I saw this new mural on my way to the beach. A red balloon. It instantly reminded me of the children's book and film, The Red Balloon.

I hadn't thought of that book in years, but this mural brought it rushing back. I came back to look it up, and it's still as good as I remembered.

Don't you agree? Much like the red balloon in the book/movie, this morning's red balloon on the mural provided a welcome bright spot in otherwise gloomy damp of the seaside dawn.

Thank you.

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Werner Scharff Tribute Mural By Jonas Never

There is a new-ish mural of Werner Scharff tucked in at the parking ramp across from James Beach, in a wonderful depiction of the late patron of the arts done by muralist Jonas Never. A lot of people might be wondering who Mr. Scharff was to Venice, so here you go.

Scharff was a German immigrant who made his name and fortune with Lanz, his clothing company best known for its well-loved flannel "Granny nightgown". He saw a dilapidated Venice and began investing in real estate here, amassing a land empire that he had beautified along the way. He commissioned several murals to spruce up the joint, effectively launching Rip Cronk's career while creating Venice landmarks for generations to enjoy (The Van Gogh Starry Night one. The one of Cronk rappeling down the side of the Beach House Hotel. The side of the now Surf Side. Iconic all.) If you look closely, several murals around town feature the tag "Werner loves Simone" as a public declaration of his love for his wife. Sweet.

The L.A. Louver is a gallery that Scharff had built, and he owned the James Beach building also (among hundreds of others, including The Cadillac Hotel), so his memorial mural is exactly where it should be. The kindly looking gentlemen is there driving his convertible with the top down, cruising through Venice for always. A reminder and an appreciation for the history of a very special place, and the people who get it.

Tip your hat next time you're sauntering down North Venice.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

West Of Lincoln Project - By Ruth Chase

The West of Lincoln Project, the first solo exhibition by Venice born painter Ruth Chase had its opening reception last Saturday at Venice Arts, and I heard it was as big old party. I unfortunately could not attend, as I was working on a television shoot that wrapped for the day well after the opening was over. I was bummed to miss this extra-Venice event, so I headed over there to check out Chase's art as soon as I could.

The West of Lincoln Project has been a lifelong dream come true for Chase, as the paintings portray the citizens of Venice that grew up here, and their stories are of their entire lives growing up here in this diverse community by the sea.

The paintings and the stories that accompany them are what makes up the tapestry and history of this beach town so beloved by so many. Familiar Venice faces like Solo Scott are painted in all their youthful glory, showing the fun - and the wisdom - that came from living here in Venice all of one's life. My Life Depends On It.

Eddie Hadvina talks about his Second Chance.  

The portrait Place of Strenth of Gloria Olivas Omar is touching, as it shows her as a young girl at the Festival of the Chariots (which I also had to miss last Sunday), and how that was always her favorite event in Venice. Those memories gave her strength when she was dealing with stage four breast cancer (now in remission), and it's all there on the bright canvas.

In The Deeper We Go, The Brighter We Shine, Elaine Love Leslie is shown, and her story tells of how Venice is her greatest spiritual teacher. I get it.

Summer Breeze, Community Love shows "Miss P", the grandmother of Rhonda Lynn Wise, who showed her family the beauty of Venice when she moved here in 1967. Venice means SO much to generations of families, which is why it's so painful to see so many longtime residents being moved out of town by what boils down to financial genocide. Seriously.

Spirit of the Moment depicts David Fowler on a skateboard (a crucial component to any story about Venice), and the caption that sums it up. "Growing up in Venice is a metaphor for life. On a skate, you fall down and you get back up. In life you take your family with you. They are the ride. They fall, and you help them get back up." Exactly. That's Community. That's what's at stake here.

Leonard Duran is shown with a low-rider vibe that represents the V-13 people of Venice, aptly titled, Never Forget Where You Came From, Always Remember Where You're Going. Excellent advice.

Fernando Manzanilla discusses his sobriety in a story that breaks down his portrait, Not Just Me Anymore. There is much growth shown in every single painting, and growth might very well be the connective theme of the show. Growth, nostalgia, and love for a place and its people.

The one that moved me the most was Untitled. This one is for the Oakwood neighborhood, and as Chase wrote in the caption, it's not for her to portray. It's for the community itself to embody. I got a lump in my throat, as we all know how much history is being displaced, and this historically African American stronghold is no different.

The Venice tags by Ric Clayton are very cool, and very recognizable if you've ever cruised around Venice. It's a style -and a lifestyle.

The wonderful show of and for Venice will by on display at Venice Arts through September 1, 2017. It is a must-see for anyone that knows and loves Venice.

Congratulations and thanks to Ruth Chase for showing what so many are feeling. Love, concern, and gratitude for Venice, California.

West of Lincoln Project
Venice Arts
13445 Beach Avenue
Venice (ish)