If you're flying down Venice Boulevard too fast, you might miss this great mural of Jay Adams and the Dogtown boys tucked in on a wall behind a fence ...
One of my favorite things about Venice is all the street art all over the place, with hidden treasures popping up around nearly every corner. This one is behind a wall, so I couldn't see who it was by (who knows this info?), but it's a wonderful tribute to one of the true legends of skateboarding. As it's on private property, I'll let you go out and find this one yourselves. Enjoy!
And thank you to all the artists that make Venice such a colorful, creative place to live. We need you now more than ever!
We love our Venice community. We all know it's been in jeopardy ever since big money came in and is trying to profit off of our cool ... but it's still here, and it's still strong. Because of the PEOPLE. Just like our Country.
There's a great mural by marioetheartist on the side of Trading Post Liquor on Main Street, made up of the names of some members of the neighborhood community that have helped to make it so cool here. In recent days, with rumors like the former Hal's space being turned into an Adidas store (WHAT?!), and friends being pushed out of their Penmar bungalows to make room for more BUBs (Big Ugly Boxes), it can sometimes feel futile to fight on for our Venice way of life. But it's not. It matters, and it's worth it - again, much like the resistance happening all over the country right now in opposition of the new Administration.
The Community remains. When one Venice man heard of the renters being booted, he offered his professional legal services to them, free of charge. When the power went out for hours the other night, neighbors were out on the sidewalks, offering candles and the use of their gas ovens to cook. When it was raining and I found myself caught out without an umbrella, an acquaintance driving by slowed down to offer me a lift. Just now, walking home from taking these pictures, my friends Niceley and Kailani drove by and slowed down just to say "I love you." That is our community that we are fighting to protect. And will continue to do so. Because indeed, Venice is a city that binds us. You can feel it.
The Women's March on Los Angeles took place on last Saturday, and it was one of the most incredible, beautiful experiences of my life. 750,000 women and the people who love them took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles to make our voices heard, to stand up for social justice for EVERYONE, and to show that we are all about love. My heart swells anew just thinking about that glorious day.
My friends and I had attended the Anti-Inaugural Ball with Prophets Of Rage the night before, and got a room at the Ace Hotel so we could stay over and not have to deal with getting into downtown the next morning. This turned out to be an extra-smart decision, as the lines to get on trains and buses were hours long, if you could get on at all. We got up to go down and have breakfast, and were delighted to see that the lobby was FULL of people dressed in pink and carrying their hilarious, pointed signs of protest and solidarity. It was already excellent before we even stepped out on to the sidewalk.
Our gang all met in the lobby, took some group photos, and then headed out to the start of the march at 6th and Hill streets. Before long, we were sandwiched in by several thousand people deep on all sides. The remarkable thing about the entire day was the love and support given and felt by everyone. It was extra polite, extra compassionate, and overwhelmingly wonderful all day long. It's not easy to stand in one place for so long, and the only complaints I heard all day had to do with full bladders. One guy in the crowd declared that on this day all bathrooms were for ladies first. Bless him.
We stood at Pershing Square and listened to speakers for so long (Venice's own Lydia Ponce among them!) that the crowd began to chant, "Let's March, Let's March!" only to find out that we couldn't march forward at all because the City Hall area we were meant to be marching to was already full of thousands, so there was nowhere for us to go. Rivers of humanity began to branch off into all the streets and alleys, flowing as close as we could toward the general area of City Hall, chanting all the way.
The signs were so clever, witty, and creative that we were pointing them out and cracking up all day. Someone absolutely has to make a book of them all compiled, as one was better than the next. I loved the one that said "I'm with Her" and had arrows pointing out in a circle around it to all of us. There was so much solidarity and love flowing through the city, that I caught myself choking and tearing up about every five minutes or so. People shared their snacks, made way for people to get through, gave each other shirts and stickers and fun stuff, and generally smiled ear to ear in awe of it all. There are some who say marches don't matter, but to anyone who was there, they know better. We know that the entire world is watching, and that they saw who we really are on this wonderful day. That the good in us vastly outweighs the abysmal. That we will stand up and speak out against prejudice and hate. That love will always prevail and that the People will always have the Power. And the entire World had our back, showing out in nearly every country in solidarity, even down in the Antarctica!
My gang never got close enough to the City Hall stage to hear those celebrity speakers and bands, but I heard all about it, and it sounded cool, but we were more than happy to see the regular, everyday people all in it together. I was impressed at the number of men marching together in support, and particularly loved one young man who wore a jacket emblazoned on the back with "She Is We!" Amen. Awomen.
The day was exhausting, but spirits never once lagged. When starvation began to set in, and the sun began to set, we stopped into a pizza place to grab a slice to tide us over for the journey back home. It took forever, as most everything did on this day of the incredible turnout that no one could have expected. Once we got our slices (burnt, after twice asking about them), I heard a young, black man in line yelling that he wanted his money back, that he'd been ignored twice, and was not leaving until he got his money back. He was upset, and it was the first inkling of any bad mojo I saw or heard all day. That didn't sit right with me, so I went over and asked him if I could help. He went off, chest all high and amped up, about how he'd asked twice for his calzone and they were ignoring him because he was black, and he wanted his money back. I told him that we too had waited long and asked twice, and that it really had to do with how crazy busy the day was, and nothing to do personally with him, I was sure. He eased up a bit, and I told him that we're all in this together, and the message I took from the day most was that we all need to look out for each other now, more than ever. I hugged him, and when I pulled away, he looked a little teary, and said, "That was really brave." I didn't feel that way at all, I just really felt like we're all one. It's about time we start acting like we're just one race, the HUMAN RACE. I think we both walked away from it feeling a little better about it all.
That's what the entire day was about, really. Making us feel a little better about it all. Letting us know that the People hold the power. That Love will always trump Hate, every time. I truly hope you got to be at a March in whatever city you're close to, because it was one of the most beautiful examples of humanity that I've ever been a part of ... that the WORLD has ever been a part of. And it MATTERED.
Venice had a strong showing at the March, as I ran into
friends all day, even in the crowd of nearly a million like-minded Los
Angelenos. There was not a single arrest among 750,000 people gathered together in tight circumstances. I only saw one traffic officer all day. No one was hurt. It was all love, as you would expect from an event organized by and for Women. The torrential rain we're finally getting took a day off and gave us the brightest, bluest skied day possible, only to return to downpours the next. It felt divine, and as a friend of mine said, "God knows what She's doing."
Eternal thanks and love to all who came together for the outpouring of love and strength that was the largest protest march in American history. It doesn't stop here. We must stay vigilant. We must stay united. We must resist hate and prejudice wherever it rears its ugly head, and we've got our work cut out for us with that one, for sure. We must always act with love.
The United States of America inaugurated the ridiculous Donald Trump as our nation's 45th President last Friday ... and the fine citizens of Los Angeles were having NONE of it. Prophets Of Rage organized an Anti-Inauguration Ball for that evening, to state loud and proudly that this is not our President. We will not stand for a racist, misogynist, hateful leader, and the gauntlet has been thrown on that now from Day One. The evening's proceeds would go to RAINN, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, showing that the people will take care of each other, now that we can no longer count at all on our government to do the right thing.
Trump wasted no time in eliminating pages for Climate Change, Native Americans, LBGT, oh, and for you GOP members, also shut down was the Veteran's Families page (explain that!), and is no longer available in Spanish. This President and his cronies fail to realize that he is meant to represent ALL of us, not just the ones he agrees with. And we are here to remind him of that, every step of the way. Friday night was just the beginning. We arrived late to the Teragram Ballroom in Downtown L.A., as you do on a Friday night. We missed the opening acts of The Los Angeles Freedom Choir, Tom Morello and his Freedom Fighter Orchestra, Jackson Browne, Jack Black and Tenacious D, and words from Susan Sarandon. Bummer, as I heard we missed "The Ghost Of Tom Joad" with Tom Morello's blistering guitar solo featuring the night's message of "Not My President" written on the back of his guitar. We walked in just as two young ladies gave a spoken word poetry performance that was as hard-core as anything we'd hear the rest of the night, speaking serious truth to power.
We squeezed up into the balcony, basically to save our own lives, as it was getting pretty heavy metal down on the floor, with the entire square footage pretty much the pit. It was practically a green house in there, as the joint was packed and sweaty with people venting their rage. Prophets Of Rage took the stage to their original tune, "Prophets Of Rage" and from then on ... it was ON. The momentum never let up for a second, and as much of a nightmare as the day began, it was being wrapped up in a gigantic fist of opposition. And it was powerful. At the end of that one, the mighty Public Enemy's Chuck D said, "Make America Rage Again! Make Racists Afraid Again!" to massive applause. It really felt in there like we got this.
Rage Against The Machine's "Bombtrack" was up next, and it was pure molten lava in there. Sheesh. If we could only bottle that energy in there! "This is the Anti-Inauguration Ball with Prophets of Rage and great friends, and we're gonna continue to fuck your heads up!" shouted Cypress Hil's B Real, Co-MC for POR. Which they did next with "Guerilla Radio", and the ecstatic fans of Morello's guitar solos down front were visibly face-melted. Rightly so. That led into "Shut Em Down", another POR original, that features a crazy battle between DJ Lord and Morello on guitar, shredding back and forth. It was something else.
Morello gave a fiery speech with a five point plan to defeat the ugly injustices that are already going down ... following is the paraphrase of that incendiary moment:
Show up! Keep showing up!
Join up! Together we shape the halls of power!
Freedom - remember you have it!
Stand up! For minorities (who are now the majority anyway), LBGT's, Muslims, Women, ALL!
Rise up! Don't settle for what they spoon feed you, fight for the world you want!
"This is a No-Trump Zone! If someone tries to grab your pussy in the pit, it's your patriotic duty to break their fucking arm!" - this was met with hoots and hollers from both genders in solidarity. And it's about time.
"Take The Power Back" ruled, of course. Then B Real said the whole thing was live-streaming on Facebook (and we all shouted out to those viewers) and said, "When you tell your friends that you raged the fuck out, you know what you did, you TESTIFIED!" - and they lit into Rage's "Testify", which tested the venue's earthquake fitness. It survived, just barely.
Vic Mensa rapped his "16 Shots" and then joined Chuck D and B Real for a medley of the Cypress Hill/Public Enemy hits that made them the legends that they are. "Can't Truss It/Insane In The Membrane/Bring The Noise/Ain't Goin' Out Like That/Welcome To The Terrordome" kept the place hopping until they brought out Everlast (!) for "Jump Around" and then it was JUMPING. All around like crazy. People were so happy to be blowing off the steam of this crazy election and awful injustice happening right in front of our faces, the joy in being together in solidarity was tangible. It only got better with the Rage classic, "Sleep Now In The Fire" when we all sang along, fists raised.
There was no time for a breather, as B Real said, "You're all in for a treat now..." and Morello began the instantly recognizable guitar intro for Audioslave's "Cochise"! People went absolutely mental when Chris Cornell bounded on to the stage and jumped right into the lyrics asking us to "Take it out on me!" It was awesome, and you'd never guess that 12 years had passed since they'd shared a stage together. Cornell's voice is as virtuosic as ever. They gave us a three song set with a melodic "Like A Stone" singalong leading into a fiery "Show Me How To Live" that made us all realize how much this band - like Rage - has been missed. It was capped off with a Cornell stage dive into the audience, punctuating the point that he was back, and happy to be so. The crowd went legit wild, and I was tempted to join him from the balcony.
"Bulls On Parade" was all-time, and when we all screamed "Rally 'round the Family!" it was even cooler than ever because that's exactly what we were doing ... rallying around the American family that WE believe on ... as one, indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL. Like we learned in Kindergarten. It's not that hard, GOP. You recited that same Pledge Of Allegiance we did. Back to basics, Everyone. Golden rule time.
Jack Black came back to bring on and thank everyone involved, and the stage was soon almost as packed as the audience. The All-Star finale was - and had to be - Rage's "Killing In The Name" that climaxed with the entire building screaming "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!" at the top of our collective lungs. "Now is not the time for silence, make your voices heard!" insisted Morello, and that we definitely did. This evil new administration doesn't have a chance when the People unite. And I think they know it. If any one of them had been in the place on this night, they would be quaking in their boots, because as stated at the outset above - we're NOT HAVING IT.
A hoarse Morello shouted, "Take it easy, but take it!" as Bob Marley's ultra-appropriate "Get Up, Stand Up" filled the room with even more encouragement. This was about the best way I can imagine having spent the night of one of the saddest days in our country's history. Together with fellow Freedom Fighters, knowing the power is - and has always been - in our hands. It's up to us to continue to let The Man (which it mostly always is screwing things up) know that we're here. That we fight for what's right. That we will never be silent. That this Land is made for you and me and all of us. UNITED.
As I can't even begin to fathom that today is real and we really do have this ridiculous man as our new President ... I'll today mentally focus on my gratitude for the best President of my lifetime, Barack Obama, and his wonderful wife Michelle.
They handled everything that came their way with poise, class, and wisdom. They always took the high road. They were a beautiful example on how to lead with compassion and intelligence. That's all gone now, and tears streamed down my face earlier today when I saw them fly away. The only solace I can find is that those eight Obama years flew by very quickly ... let's hope the next four (if he manages not to be impeached that long) are just a blink of our collective eyes.
Thank you, President and Michelle Obama. You are the real deal, and we were so incredibly fortunate to have you as our representative to the World. You'll be more than missed. Thank you also for your continued gift of HOPE. We'll need it.
*Top photo from First Avenue in Minneapolis.
Although 2017 feels somewhat better mentally, I'm not sure I've ever felt worse physically. I cannot seem to shake the awful cold/flu/whatever thing going around, and feel like the spout in my head never shuts off, and the coughing is almost constant. It's disgusting. I've been passing by a sign on Abbot Kinney for a while now on my way to the French Market that had me intrigued. "Dr. Cory's Feel Better HQ". Well, last week all I wanted to do was feel better, so I dropped in to find out what was behind the sign.
Dr. Cory is Cory Reddish, ND, a fun and vibrant woman who is Venice born, and raised in the Canals. She was always the one bandaging the dog as a little kid, which led her to an internship with a doctor, and pre-Med at UC San Diego. A trip to Africa turned her on to other kinds of medicine, and she began learning about naturopathic medicine and using the healing power of nature. Reddish enrolled at the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, and soon became pretty much the town doctor of Port Townsend, Washington, where she moved to be near her sister.
"I just want to help people feel better!", exclaimed Reddish in telling me her story, and her enthusiasm is proof of that. While living in the Bay Area for 11 years, Reddish was all Naturopathy during the day and all party at night, when she was a candy girl in nightclubs to make ends meet. That got her thinking that those two worlds could merge, and began attending Burning Man and other festivals with her "Dr. Cory's Party Pax" - little bundles of herbal remedies that Reddish created for post-party hangovers, travel fatigue, food indiscretions, etc ... and became basically a healthy candy girl. After years of that, Reddish wanted to ground out and get back to Venice. She was craving our vibes, our air quality, and the beach and also wanted to crate a place that could be a healthy resource for the community that she hails from.
Before we even got to talking, Dr. Cory had me roll up my sleeve and get a B12/Immunity booster shot to try and put a dent in this monster cold I have. "I don't know why, but I love giving shots," said Reddish as she prepared to jab me. I barely felt it and got a sparkly star sticker for my bravery. I also got some natural cough medicine stuff, as Reddish stressed that it's important to "develop your medicine chest at home, so you have it on hand when you need it." Smart.
Located next to the Sarlo Real Estate plaza, in the old barber shop space back off the street, Feel Better HQ is a wonderful space, that Reddish hosts B12 shot happy hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and looks forward to offering music nights and collaborations to make the location truly a headquarters for good, healthy fun. Since Reddish opened her doors in September of 2016, things have really been picking up, as post-holiday, new years resolutions, and that dang bug going around have caused many more locals to seek out her services. In addition to those great shots and natural medicines on offer, you can get Vitamin IV Drips, food allergy testing, and health consultation. Dr. Cory is even available for house calls - on her bike! How very Venice!
And Reddish loves her Venice. From surfing at the Breakwater, to eating at Zinque and Gjelina and shopping at Burro (she was grade school classmates with Burro's Erinn!), Venice still holds Reddish's heart. "I've been really impressed with the quality of the people that I've met since I've been back," Reddish told me. "They're very conscious and kind, they volunteer, they give back, and they support other people trying to make it here. There is a vibrancy and a uniqueness to Venice that I want to be a part of and contribute to." The Feel Better HQ is both vibrant and unique, and perfectly timed to help us all dealing with the Great Cold of 2017.
"No matter where you are on the health spectrum, you can always feel better," explained Reddish. Like maybe if I'd been on some of her supplements in the first place, I might not have ever caught this bug. As Reddish gets more involved in the community, cool things are coming up, like a wild-caught Alaskan salmon pop up at the space, a bone broth pop-up from Owl Venice, music nights, yoga events ... all good things. I think it would be a great idea for a film set to have Dr. Cory come by, or a work office morale thing, or a rock tour, or a booth at the street fair, or just walk by and drop in like I did, and feel better! Your health is the most important thing you've got.
Dr. Cory's Feel Better HQ
1842 Washington Way at Abbot Kinney
There have been too many good times to count at the corner of Penmar and Palms over the years. The little row of bungalows have hosted countless parties and gatherings of friends, and have been a headquarters for the community for years. As Gentrification continues to rear its ugly head here in Venice, now the Penmar bungalows are in jeopardy. The property has been purchased by an overseas investment group who intend to build more big, ugly, boxes (BUBS), and who could care less about the community.
So that Community came together on Sunday to have a fundraiser to help pay for legal fees as the residents prepare to do battle with the Man. Some may feel that it's just too bad, someone bought the property, live with it. But enough of that. If no one ever stands up to anything, the bad guys win. Penmar residents and their neighbors are standing up, speaking out, and it's a wonderful thing to behold.
Friends and neighbors gathered in the golden hour, and enjoyed a fried chicken spread donated by Hatchet Hall. Several different friends have lived in these bungalows, passing one on to the next friend when they moved, so there were plenty of stories being swapped about the good times had there over the years.
It was touching to see many residents of the surrounding neighborhood show up in support even though it's not their exact battle ... as one woman spoke and pointed out, "It's here now, but it will happen there." People are the fabric of our community, and if all our housing is unaffordable (and ugly with no sense of place or history) and owned by companies that don't even live here, it erodes the character of the neighborhood. And no one wants that.
Entertainment was provided by current resident Lacey Kay Cowden, who regaled us with her beautiful tunes as the stars began twinkling overhead. It was beautiful, enhanced by the knowledge that we were all together in solidarity for a meaningful purpose.
Former residents Matt Ellis and Vavine Tahapehi shared their songs in the backyard that they transformed into a lovely gathering spot for our family of friends, and it all felt timeless - just as it should.
Might as well be resident Paul Chesne brought it home with his custom brand of rock and roll, frequent visitor Paddy Wilkins (DJ Bright Moments) kept the party going with his spinning, and it was greatly enjoyed by all assembled, from oldsters I'd never met before, to our brand new friends that are looking forward to growing up in the uniquely wonderful Venice that we were there to protect.
This stupid project has already been approved by the City Of L.A. (seeing $$$ signs, no doubt), but the concerned neighbors are appealing it. There is a hearing TOMORROW JANUARY 18 with the West L.A. Area Planning Commission. All who care about the future of Venice are encouraged to attend and wear red in solidarity. The information is all on this flyer or you can contact the group at Palms.Penmar@Gmail.com:
This is a time of mass protest in America. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that the PEOPLE band together to accomplish that things that make life in American - and Venice - worth living. This hearing is a wonderful warm-up for the week (year, four years ...) of demonstrating that is about to go down. Please consider joining everyone in making your voice heard.
Save Penmar! Save Venice! Save The United States! Save The World! It all starts somewhere ...
"On The Scene In '17" is my motto for this new year, but I haven't been able to really execute because I've had this dreadful cold for pretty much the whole year so far. The show must go on though, so I headed down to the always great opening night of the 2017 L.A. Art Show at the Convention Center downtown, Kleenex in hand.
The line to get inside the hall was so long it was like we were trying to get into a Bernie Sanders rally last Summer (ahem). It went pretty fast, and there was good people watching while waiting, like this lady with a dress made entirely out of forks (who made it much easier for my friends to find me with her as a landmark - thank you!).
It's fun to attend this event with my brother, Paul, because he's deep in the L.A. art world and has a lot of great insight - but he also gets stopped every two feet to chat, so he needs to be abandoned at times if I was going to see any of the art in an already super-densely filled massive space crowded with art aficionados.
Aside from the intense line to get in at the beginning, the Art Show has figured out some things to make it go more smoothly, starting with several little bars throughout so you don't end up wasting all your art looking time in line for a drink. The whole thing seemed more spread out and manageable, even if I never figure out how to get to the food area before they close down. Oh, well.
I think I saw my favorite pieces right out of the gate when Paul showed me the sculpture works by Larry Kagan, where he bends wires in such a way that their shadow on the wall is the real image. How cool! It always intrigues me how artists come up with their art, and this one takes the cake. Like, "I bet if I bend this wire just so, it will look like a chair in the shadow on the wall." What?! Smartie.
... Or "What if I make sculptures entirely out of screws?" How do they come up with these things?! I'm actually always more interested in art like this than the classic landscape in a gold frame, but if that's your thing, there's plenty of that too.
I've always been fond of the quote from Bertolt Brecht when he said, " Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it." - because it's so true, and this show was no different. There was a ton of art that reflected our times and current events ... and the reporters from all over the world to cover it.
Much of art is derivative, of course, and there are many exhibitors who clearly have been majorly influenced by Warhol and Basquiat - like almost straight knock-offs - but then you get those bent wires and screws and the performance artists, and the relief that there is still some original thought and creativity left in the world.
The performance art was all at one end this year, and though we missed a lot of the action/performance of it by the time we got to that side, it was still cool to see what people are up to. An inflatable amoeba type thing with painted dancers cavorting around it was interesting ...
An invitation to destroy a couch had viewers sitting and watching the destruction while "Pennies From Heaven" played and pennies DID fall occasionally from the Heavens (ceiling).
There was a bloody forest where limbs were dismembered that we missed (and I'm fine with that), but we very much dug the pink carwash thing buffing out silver "LA." letters, that so perfectly matched my friend Deb's arty get-up that people thought she was part of the installation and asking her for photos. Awesome.
I very much enjoyed the live painting that featured street artists like bumblebeelovesyou (who I also love) creating one of his whimsical, happy childhood pieces ...
... and Venice's own Jules Muck there doing a self-portrait, showing this art world that she has indeed arrived.
My favorite section of the L.A. Art Show is always the Littletopia area, full of the latest, coolest stuff from artists who always seem to be the most up my alley.
Littletopia is curated by my favorite gallery at the L.A. Art Show, the Red Truck Gallery, from New Orleans. I love me some folk art, and Red Truck is probably the very best place in the country to feature that wonderful genre.
They had a bunch of new art this year, of which I think the one I most coveted was this piece that warns against the dangers of mixing Pop Rocks with Coke. Don't do it.
I loved the "Artist's Room" by the duo Dosshaus, where a couple hangs out and talks to you in an entirely monochromatic, colorless room where all of the items, including their clothes, were made from recycled cardboard. Deb also looked especially great here in her pink.
There was a surreal installation of stretched out, super-realistic people from Yi Hwan Kwon, that was also very popular with the Instagrammers in the house. To stand in front of them was to question your own reality - or sobriety - as so trippy were they.
Another really great installation was the big portrayal "Cut-Outs" by Ramiro Gomez of a Los Angeles home. It uses negative space very effectively when the housekeepers and gardeners are cut out of the piece and erected in front of it, proving their importance. It reminded me of the great and important documentary, A Day Without A Mexican from Sergio Arau. Crucial viewing, both.
Coagula Projects brought an installation from Fred Tieken that would be very Venice-appropriate as it portrayed birds and skateboards and said, "No birds on skateboards allowed on this beach". Only we would never stand for that.
There was so much to see and do at this year's L.A. Art Show that it insists upon a return visit, when it's not so full of opening night crowds and people to catch up with. For every piece I saw, there were probably 100 that I didn't - or more. It's always so gratifying to attend events that are all about the art and the people that make it, and that recognize the beauty and importance of art in our lives. The show runs through January 15th, so you have until then to be "On The Scene in '17" yourselves. No excuses.
Thank you to all involved for another wonderful showcase of the world's art and artists, indeed helping to shape our reality. Hooray for Art!