Friday, October 27, 2017

A Maori Morning!

I was out this morning for my beach walk before the Farmer's Market, and hustling to get there before it was over (got a late start). Race walking down the Boardwalk, I saw a group of Maori people in full regalia heading for Windward. I followed them, of course.

The members of the Haka troupe began to chant, and then burst into a beautiful, powerful chorus that stopped people in their tracks to listen and watch. "Rejoice" was the word that kept running through my head ... and the reminder of that truth told me long ago by a shaman-type lady on the beach, that "Gratitude is the glory." I was certainly grateful to start my day with such a deeply moving performance to carry me off into what is sure to be a fun-filled Halloween party weekend.

The group is performing all weekend and every day until November 2nd at 11 am and 3 pm, so be sure to get down to the beach to experience it for yourselves. There is also an exhibition going on until the 2nd at The Rose Room (behind the Venice Ale House) called Tuku Iho - Living Legacy, celebrating the New Zealand and the Maori culture, as well as a sunset  Haka/Maori music session on Sunday evening on the Hotel Erwin rooftop.

Thanks to all the wonderful performers who made my morning, and Happy Weekend to all!


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Let's Go, Dodgers!

Make no mistake, I'm a Twins fan. But after watching that crazy World Series game last night ... I gotta root, root, root for my other home team. Holy moly! People think that baseball is boring, but last night's nail-biter was anything but. My palms were sweating as the Dodgers and the Astros traded home runs and strike outs right up until the last pitch of the extra innings game. It was everything you could ever want in a baseball game, and being there must have been crazy. They even brought out Vin Scully and Fernando Valenzuela to kick it all off! Larry King and Mary Hart were right behind home plate. A typically rabid Dodger fan jumped into the Houston bullpen! It was a million degrees at Dodger Stadium. Classic L.A. all.

The world itself has been so crazy lately, that these epic sports battles are a welcome distraction - which is, of course, exactly what they were intended to be. Distract the people by making them care DEEPLY (Seriously. Read the comments during live streams of these games. It's some fans' entire lives!) about grown men throwing balls or shooting pucks, and they won't pay attention to the nefarious things the governments are doing behind the scenes. We know this ... and yet it's still absolutely riveting and cannot be helped.

I'm rooting for the Dodgers - because, L.A. - but I wouldn't be mad if Houston wins either. They've had a real tough year and I'm sure their first World Series championship ever would make them all a lot happier ... but then, the Dodgers haven't won in 30 years, so that's great too. The truth is, everyone watching this epic battle wins, because it's awesome ball and incredible drama. Last night's game will be talked about for ages, and though the Dodgers ended up losing, they got to play in one of the all time classics. I bet it goes to seven games, and I bet the whole town will be both hoarse and clad in Dodger Blue for the duration.

Let's Go, Dodgers!

*Mural at 2270 Venice Boulevard.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Mystic Journey - Your One Stop Spiritual Shop

Mystic Journey is exactly the kind of store you want in Venice ... psychic readers, incense, tarot cards, chimes, books, crystals - all the groovy stuff any good hippie needs. It's also the rare indie success story on Abbot Kinney, where instead of being driven off of the block, Mystic Journey has actually expanded, and now has its second, enhanced Mystic Journey Crystal Gallery and Event Space on Lincoln Boulevard.

They've been on my list to write about since their original location opened further down on Abbot Kinney next to Principessa, and I finally tracked down owner, Jeff Segal, to hear his story just in time for his 9th anniversary today of opening shop on October 24th, 2008.

We sat down to chat in the Amethyst Room (the "stone of peace") at the Lincoln location, so called because of the purple couches and beautiful, gigantic amethyst geodes set up around the room. Segal was raised in California, and was a fan of collecting rocks and crystals from a young age, even showing me his labeled collection that he assembled at eight years old. "I guess it was always in my blood," he explained.

Segal attended Occidental College, which led to law school in D.C., but three years in the east coast cold soon led him back to Los Angeles, where he practiced environmental law for 27 years. The stress of that job suing corporate polluters made him grow disenchanted with it all, he wasn't digging it, and knew he'd get sick if he didn't get out of it. And he did. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and after listening to his gut, decided against undergoing chemotherapy, and instead assembled a team of alternative healers. His best friend was his doctor and advised against that route, so they made a deal that if in three months there was no improvement, Segal would go the more traditional cancer route. Well, the acupuncture, Pranic healer, body workers, therapists, and everything else he tried, worked. The cancer had shrunk by 50 percent. Another three months, and there was no more sign of any abnormality. The cancer was gone, and beating it caused Segal to dig deep. These events made him realize that the important things were not material. He gave much thought to what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, and asked himself, "What do I REALLY want? What am I most passionate about? And that was my spirituality."

There was no equivalent to The Bodhi Tree or The Psychic Eye bookstores on the west side, so Segal set out to create a spiritual haven for people on this side of town. "It was Abbot Kinney or bust," Segal told me, and though he had no retail experience, he found a cool landlord (!), and opened the original Mystic Journey on October 24, 2008 - just as the economic crash was about to happen. The interesting thing was that as all kinds of other businesses were suffering in that climate, Mystic Journey only grew. When finances are difficult, people often turn more within, and since Mystic Journey offered everything you could ever want for your spiritual journey, the store actually thrived.

In addition to offering the products that customers would want to purchase, Segal also wanted to help people learn. To that end, Mystic Journey offers classes, workshops, speakers, psychics, astrologers, and teachers to help all find their way on their own spiritual journey. After five years in the original location, Segal felt it was time to grow - and his lease was up. He looked all around, but wasn't going anywhere other than Abbot Kinney. He had a great deal, which fell through at the last minute - and the lone hold-out on the deal was the surgeon that had operated on Segal's cancer! Weird. Even that setback worked out in Segal's favor, as the current space opened up just then, and Segal considers it the best space on the street.

Segal is aware of all the change on Abbot Kinney, but told me, "We'll continue to do well on Abbot Kinney because we present something that isn't otherwise here. We're unique." Which is exactly what we love about them, and what tourists want to see when they come to Venice - not corporate chain stores. "All I want is for whomever comes to be successful," Segal graciously said, adding, "Negative energy toward whatever business is not a good use of my time or energy. I'm here to be of service and to help people, and all of my energy has to go toward that." He has also made it so there is always something affordable on Abbot Kinney - "You can get a $30,000 large geode, or a $3.00 impactful stone." - Plus cards, candles, and a whole slew of things that won't set you that far back, but will absolutely bring the positivity. Whatever helps in these crazy, largely negative times. It really is time to go within and try to figure out what you really want, and go in that direction, because time doesn't feel as infinite as it once did. And Mystic Journey can help you.

And Segal has a lot of energy. He has to, as when he started having thoughts about expanding to be able to display his larger crystals and offer larger classes, the Lincoln Boulevard space that previously housed Venice Arts came to him.

They needed a bigger place to work out of, and once Segal saw their Lincoln space, he knew it was the spot to house his giant crystals, hold yoga and meditation classes, and even added a sound bath and color energy room (led by Jenny Deveau, Mystic Journey's woman of all trades). They've already hosted such events as a Dan Millman (Way Of The Peaceful Warrior) reading, CD release parties, and Sound Bath Friday Nights, among many others.

It's a wonderful vibe, and the crystal gallery/event space is something else. Segal's childhood rock collecting led him to learn about and acquire some of the most gorgeous specimens of crystals I've ever seen. After attending gem shows around the country, especially the big one held in Tuscon, Arizona each year, Segal made friendships with the gem dealers, and soon found himself traveling to the mines in Uruguay and Brazil to experience the origin of these precious gems.

"Crystals are natural art. They're created by God, or the Universe, and the force of Earth. You can feel the energy that they emanate, and it can really be emotional." When Segal's Pranic healer would wave a crystal wand over him, his body would begin to vibrate. "There's more than just the physical universe. I fully believe that there is a higher energy that people can tap into if they're open to it. You have to follow your intuition to take the right steps."

Segal is big on intuition, and it has served him well. When he thought about where he wanted to open his new business, he waited to feel what resonated with him - a word that he feels is not used enough. Things have to resonate with him, and it's good advice to follow. Things should resonate with you, which is basically the same deal as following your intuition. Things should feel right. For Segal, that means being near the ocean. "My energy loves the ocean. It's the place of balance on the Earth. It's my peace." Segal wanted a single digit address (because that meant it was closest to the water) and a space for his business on Abbot Kinney, and he manifested both. He loves Abbot Kinney and Venice, because "You'll see every color, hear every language, and it's a true place for people to mix and interact, and everyone accepts everyone else - that's the beauty of Venice to me. The most important thing in the world now is tolerance." Segal explained things to me like, "There's the center of the Universe, and everything else is spokes coming out of different ways to get there. You do whatever is right for you." And Mystic Journey has pretty much all of the spokes to lead you in the right direction.

Segal loves the community of Venice, and loves seeing its members at places like Wabi Sabi and Hal's, and of course, when they come into either Mystic Journey location. "Mystic Journey Gallery and Yoga Studio is an extension of the book store, but more than that, it's a transformational center. The crystals are awe-inspiring. They have an energy that is truly moving. I'd like to see them in hospitals, law offices, hotels, any public space that would allow people to feel their energy. There are energetic modalities for people to experience and grow from. It's truly a unique space, that I believe is unduplicated in the world." Lucky for Venice.

Both Mystic Journey locations are open every day, to bring as their motto says ...

Peace to all Beings.

Mystic Journey Bookstore
1624 Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Mystic Journey Crystal Gallery/Yoga & Meditation Studio/Event Space
1704 Lincoln Boulevard

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bioluminescence - The Northern Lights Of The Ocean!

I've been a little bit of an evening hermit lately, with all the sports and stuff happening, spending most nights at home with friends, feeling the onset of what passes for autumn in California. Minneapolis friends came to town last night, though, and you gotta take them out. After a stop at Wabi Sabi, we hit The Townhouse. It was the kind of night you do shots. After a while, my friend needed some air, so we went outside, down to the water. I swear, JUST as I was saying that sometimes at night you'll see the bioluminescent plankton glowing bright blue in the water, and one second later, BAM! Waves of neon blue! It was so exciting!

We ran back to The Townie to get the boys, and drag them back down to the shore with us to see this natural phenomenon. As we raced back down there, our Minneapolis friend revealed that he'd never in his life even seen the ocean! To stand there and watch him watching the absolute beauty that is this sight was just the best ... it really is like seeing the Northern Lights, but in the water instead of the skies. The bioluminescence usually occurs during a red tide event (I looked it up), and usually lasts a few nights at least. It's so SO cool. I've lived here 22 years, and this was only like the third time I've ever seen it, and it was for sure the most spectacular time. If you're near the beach tonight, do yourselves a favor tonight and go down there to check it out. We stood there like we were watching fireworks, oohing and aahing for a long time, and when we finally decided to split, it was still so mesmerizing that we had to walk backwards across the sand to keep watching it.

Mother Nature is awesome. Get out there while we've still got her! And have an excellent weekend.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Find People On The Same Wavelength

The waves are big again today, and it was a beautiful morning out there watching the surfers catch actual air. On my way back, I saw this big sign on one of the Boardwalk shops reading, "Find people on the same wavelength." It's an ad, of course, for some business networking app, but the sentiment is exactly why I first moved to Venice.

I was living in Beverly Hills when I first moved to California, and though I had a great roommate in a great pad on a great street, I didn't really dig it. B.H. wasn't me at all. I'd find myself coming to Venice every weekend, both to soak up the beach atmosphere, art, and fun, but also to find a place - which I ultimately did, and was so happy! For two decades.

Venice people were on my same wavelength for sure. That's why it's so sad to see the recent influx of people that are mainly about greed and self-consumption doing their best to take over our bohemian lifestyle by the beach. My brother left Venice a few years ago, and as we were looking for parking the other night for dinner, he said, "I can't stand Venice. It's all douchebags now." Ugh. Gut punch. We know he's not correct about it being ALL douchebags, but he's got a point. That's why I continue to seek out and write about those who remain on my wavelength near the waves ... and pretend like the d-bags don't exist. Kind of like we do here in our Venice bubble anyway. I know many of you in my community of similar souls are still here ... and I thank you for it. As for the rest of you ... try OUR wavelength. Present day hippies are happier.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

An Ocean Avenue Installation

 *Update 10/18: I walked by this morning and it's all gone. Even the bushes. In less than 24 hours.
   Sorry, dudes. I was into it. Keep your art going!

Over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed an increasingly larger homestead/art installation growing at the corner of Ocean Avenue and South Venice Boulevard. It's clearly a little colony of houseless neighbors, creating their shelter in the bushes located there ... and decorating it for passersby to enjoy.

Not everyone is enjoying it, however. A woman at the Farmer's Market last Friday told me that she'd been making calls to have it cleared out, but to no avail. She said she was told that you can actually get arrested yourself if you try to remove the things from the property. She felt it was a more nefarious deal, and that police might have been told by council people and/or those who want to see the big homeless housing development happen on Venice Boulevard to leave it be. To let things get as bad and obvious as possible to get more people to sign on for the housing project. Hmm.

I don't know about all of that, but I do know that it is some of the more creative construction happening around Venice these days (other than the Frank Gehry house finally going up!). I'm about to make friends and ask if there's room for me, as it seems to be about the only remotely reasonable housing currently available around these parts (Seriously. Where are all my cool landlord friends hiding?!), and this is where I want to be. What are the rules, anyway? You can just put up a tipi wherever you want and live in and landscape around it? Cool. I had an offer off an unused geodesic dome that its owner said I could borrow if I could find land to put it on ... out of the box, but at least some people are still being innovative in Venice.

My friend said they must be rookies, as no one who lives on the streets is ever trying to attract that much attention to themselves. I've seen police there talking to the residents a few times now, and have thought their time there must be up, only to pass by the following morning to see it all still intact. I'm not mad at it. We all know Venice real estate is almost evilly ridiculous as of this writing, and you do what you have to do. Venice has long been a beacon for travelers of all kinds, and certainly one for artists. This corner appears to be for both. And art is for everyone.

I'm curious what other Venice folks think about this ... let's discuss.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Go Fwd!

Sometimes in life you get little messages from just paying attention, and sometimes they're perfectly timed. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I feel like a lot of times things feel real hopeless lately. Two halves of the country are fighting with each other. A new natural disaster seems to happen almost every day ... to the point where my little 8 year old friend commented on how there sure does seem to be a lot of awful things happening in the world, "like storms and stuff." And he's right.  It can all feel like an awful lot, and never mind even bringing your own stuff into it all - which can also be a lot. So, when you catch a license plate telling you to "GO FWD", you stop. You think about it ...

... and off you go. Forward. Thanks, Landrover in Venice. I will. As we all will. To better days ahead. I just know it.

Friday, October 13, 2017

An Art Benefit For Planned Parenthood In Venice - Women Power!

There was an art benefit at the WNDO/Budman Studio on Vernon (that still has a lease sign on the front after kicking all the artists out last year) held last night to raise funds for Planned Parenthood, and it could not have been timed any better. Venice artists came together to show their art and support the more important than ever Planned Parenthood organization. The whole world is abuzz with the "news" that Harvey Weinstein has been sexually harassing women for decades, which only sheds more light on how women continue to be mistreated. There is far more regulation over our bodies than for the guns that are used in mass shootings all the time, and we're fed up. We're taking matters into our own hands. From the wonderful Women's March in January in opposition of the awful current administration, to last night's focus on Planned Parenthood, this has been a year that has shown the endless power of Women united.

The news cycle is all about the filthy Jabba the Hutt resembling Weinstein's predatory ways, but every woman in the entertainment industry has a story. Many of us have several. I know I do. There was the film director in Minnesota I met at a local event who invited me back to a crew gathering in the lobby of their hotel. I was fresh out of college and trying to get a foot in the door of the film industry that I loved, and was eager to make connections that would lead me to work when I made the move to Los Angeles. I arrived at the hotel to find the lobby bar empty. A woman working at the front desk told me the party had been moved up to the director's room upstairs, and gave me the room number. I took the elevator up, and knocked on the door. The director answered and invited me in. There was no one else there, because "they were all tired and left, but would you like some wine?" I uncomfortably said sure, because I didn't want to offend this guy that could easily give me some work in the field that I loved. He went around the corner to presumably get wine, still talking the whole time, as I sat there, fully bundled up for the Minnesota winter, mittens and all.

He finally came back around the corner of the bathroom hallway, fully naked, with an erection and a wine bottle. I immediately stood up and said I had to go, with my mittens raised in the air, like "Whoa, dude." I walked to the door and sped down the hallway, with the director sticking his head out the door, telling me to call him. I couldn't believe it. But I could. He left several messages after that, and I returned none. I never got a job on that film. I saw him years later at a premiere in L.A., and avoided him completely, but I know he saw me. I still had the creeps years later.

I had a producer boss that took closed door "meetings" with young hopeful starlets all the time, even though he hadn't produced a film in years. I could often hear his porn playing through the door after he'd return to the office from lunch. He had exactly no shame.

I had another female boss that I lived with in Hawai'i (bad decision) - until her live-in boyfriend hit on me, making a bad situation worse. I had to move out in the middle of the night (to crash with friends) when they were out of town, I had to leave the job and scramble for another one, and we never spoke again.

I helped host a party with a producer I was working for to honor Oliver Stone years ago. He arrived very late, and seemingly very coked out. I greatly admired his work up until then, and was honored to get to meet him. When I went to shake his hand, he grabbed my hair and pulled my head back with it, saying, "I love this hair!" As a hello. Because he was Oliver Stone, and he felt he could do anything he wanted, appropriate or not.

I've had too many meetings to count where you could feel the eyes roaming over you, as you just hoped they would talk about the merits of your script and not hit on you. One meeting stands out in my mind, where as I was going into the good part of my pitch, the guy interrupted me and asked me to come behind his desk and look at how good the view of Hollywood was from his office. I was like, "Yeah, I can see it from here. It's nice. Thanks. Bye." That was our last meeting about a script he'd been very enthusiastic about, and it has still not been made. *Female producers, we should talk! I could keep going, but I think the point has been made, and I'm getting nauseous and mad thinking back on this junk. I'm glad that I was born pretty strong-willed, and unafraid to say no. Many were not.

It's been an epidemic since film was invented, and as I said, every woman has at least one story. But when even the current President of the United States is a known and proven misogynist, the Boys Club thinks it's all acceptable. It is not. Nor is any man telling any woman what to do with their own body. I have a friend who was given a free abortion from Planned Parenthood, for all intents and purposes, saving her life. Women need Planned Parenthood. Women need support from good men (and I know there are some - some that were raised by good women). Women need to stick up for each other. To speak up when something is even remotely sketchy. To stand up to the b.s. men have been getting away with for years. To celebrate the absolute wonder that being a woman is!

It feels like a big sigh of relief to be experiencing the flood of women sharing their stories, like nothing has to be hidden anymore, and no one is alone. And no one will be putting up with it anymore. Thank you to the organizers of last night's event for Women - and to all the women who are now putting their collective feet down and saying enough. We're all better than that.

Resist. Empower. Celebrate Women!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Beach Walks Help

I like to start my days with a walk on the beach. It helps me think. It helps me to remember what is important. It makes me healthier. It forces you to take time to reflect and appreciate all that you have, and how very beautiful the big, blue sea is. It also makes you want to do all you can to protect it.

I was away from the beach for a month, and though I also love my walks around lakes and alongside rivers, it's not the same. The sheer size of the ocean makes you recognize how little you are, and along with that, how not that important the little things that get you down really are. The whole world seems to have gone crazy at times, with big, bad, awful things ... a walk on the beach helps with all of that too. Trust me on this. You will always, always feel better about things after a beach walk. You just will. 

"The cure for anything is salt water - tears, sweat, or the sea." I've repeated this great Isak Dinesen quote so many times, because it's just straight up true. That trifecta of saltiness is the absolute answer for most anything that ails you ... or at least will make you feel better about it all.

I'm always amazed at how few people are down at the seashore doing the same thing. So surprisingly few that we pretty much all recognize each other and wave, with most only recognizing each other from being there. I've rarely, if ever, seen any of the beach walkers/runners anywhere else in town, and that's kind of cool. It's like our own little nature loving club - with no membership dues! It really has so many benefits, I don't even really think about it as exercise ... though it certainly is.

I recently worked on a show and a woman was there to promote her anti-aging games. She told me that the single most important thing anyone can do for their health and well being was to fit in at least a 30 minute fast walk every day. Everyone can do that - and when you do, it puts of heart disease, stroke, some kind of diabetes, dementia, and over just a short amount of time, makes your pants bigger. Just do it!

 On the way back today, I saw a little needlepoint pillow just lying there on the grass in a yard. "A true friend is a found treasure." I sure have been learning the truth behind that this year ... the value of having someone who is there for you, no matter what, cannot be overstated. The value of finding out who you cannot count on is also way up there ... and sometimes painful and surprising - but awfully good to know.

You true friends - and you know who you are, because you feel it too - are sincerely the wind beneath my wings. May we all soar together!!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Life Is A Beach. Grab A Bucket!

Man, what a week. Sometimes you just need to go to the beach. So I did. On the way down, I saw this person pulled over in the broad daylight pasting something up on the utility box. I liked that they were so brazen about it, and looked forward to what it would be.

On the way back, they were done and gone. There was some new street art there by MegZany featuring Strawberry Shortcake, telling us that "Life is a beach. Grab a bucket." I love it. I was a big fan (as was my brother) of Strawberry Shortcake and her gang (particularly Orange Blossom and Apple Dumpling), and everyone knows I'm a big big fan of the beach. But I also like the sentiment. Yeah, times are hard, but you gotta do something about it. Grab a bucket.

It's a glorious Friday, gearing up for another glorious weekend at the beach in Venice. There is much to be grateful for. Life is a beach ... !

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Made In Venice Out Now - On The Venice Skatepark's 8th Birthday!

On Tuesday, I was standing on the street corner talking to a former neighbor when a car drove by and someone yelled, "Nice hat!" I was wearing my Made In Venice baseball hat, and the yeller was one of the stars of that excellent documentary, Jesse Martinez. It was fitting that I would run into him on that day, as it was both the release date on DVD and online for the film, and also the 8th birthday of the Venice Skatepark - cause for much celebration!

This story had to lag a couple days as Martinez is not the easiest cat to get a hold of, and I wanted to talk to him about the State of the Skatepark today at eight years old, and we got to have a good chat about it all just this morning. Now that the movie is available for all to see, everyone will have a better idea about what all went into making the dream of a world class Skatepark in Venice become a reality. It was a years long effort by many, many people, and Made In Venice tells it exactly as it went down. 

The hope with telling this story is that audiences will know how much the park means to the people of Venice, and by sharing the story, garner more support for the people that continue to make it all happen ... especially Jesse Martinez. Though everyone knows Martinez as the Dogtown icon that he is, I'm not sure everyone knows how hard he works every day to maintain the park, and how little he gets in return. He has been there nearly every day of its 8 year existence, usually at about 4 a.m., making sure the Skatepark is clean and safe for everyone to use. He does it because it means the world to him, not because he's paid - because he's not. Martinez goes out of pocket for cleaning supplies, donates his time and labor, and put his own skating career on hold to see that the park is well maintained ... and it truly seems that the City of L.A. just doesn't care.

The city makes a lot of money off of that park, with filming fees, rentals, and tourist dollars, and none of it comes back to the park. Zero of it goes to Martinez and his cleaning crew (friends and skaters that just volunteer), not even for supplies. And it's just not right. There has been nothing but a run-around from the city, and Councilman Mike Bonin. Bonin promised to push through a contract for Martinez to be an official member of City staff to maintain the park ... well, that was three years ago, and nothing has happened. Nada. They won't offer a Skatepark budget of any kind, though Martinez has saved the city an astronomical amount of money by doing the work himself. The contract they would offer was so unfair that everyone urged Martinez not to sign it, and the City replied that it was that or nothing. Martinez thought about walking away, and did so for a couple of weeks, only to return to find the Skatepark in the absolute worst condition of its relatively young life. Which is dangerous for skaters, and bad for everyone. The park is a major tourist attraction, "the most commercialized Skatepark in the history of Skateparks," according to Martinez, and it's high time the City of L.A. recognizes the massive worth of both the park and Martinez.

"It's like they were kids that were bullied, and now they're trying to get back at us," said Martinez about the suits that make these kinds of decisions. Which is about the only thing that makes sense, as anyone who hears about the way Martinez is treated by the City finds it completely outrageous. Including the Pacific Division cops, who routinely stop and thank Martinez for the work he does, and for keeping all of those kids out of trouble while skating. Parents thank him for the same thing. Skaters hold him in the very highest regard, and follow his example of respecting those around them, as well as the park itself. "It's not a Me, it's a We," says Martinez. "It's a community that does this."

A community that Councilman Bonin and his cronies need to also respect, or soon find themselves out of their jobs. We're supposed to be talking about how great a film Made In Venice is, and how much it can help Martinez out (after paying back the investors, especially the mother of its director, Jonathan Penson), as he will see monies from the film returned back to helping maintain the park - but Bonin never even attended a screening. They've sent hundreds of emails to the Mayor of L.A. requesting a little help, without a single one being returned. "Everything changed once Bill Rosendahl died. He was such a Venice local, and such a good man ... everything was great when he was alive," Martinez explained to me. And I'm sure Councilman Rosendahl would be rolling over in his grave if he now knew how his friends at the Skatepark (that he greatly helped with bringing to life) were being dismissed. If you know anything about the history of Venice, you know it's not real wise to become the villian to Dogtown ... just saying. Especially when their backs are against the wall, which Martinez feels they now are. He can come with an army of skaters over 18 to protest all of this, and you can be sure that none of them will be voting to re-elect Bonin (who everyone knows can use all the support he can get these days).

To look at the positive side of things, I asked Martinez about the current generation of Dogtown skaters. "I'm more than proud to call these kids Dogtown boys {and girls}, I couldn't be any happier with them. My main goal was to assure that there would be a third generation {at least} of Venice skaters, and the new age of Venice skaters is out there just DESTROYING that park. Everything I've been working for, there it is! It's WHY I've been doing this for 38 years, why I put my own career on hold, why I've given EVERYTHING to that park ... but the financial hardship is too much, and I've gotta draw the line. I'd love to stay on at the Skatepark for the next 20 years, and then pass the torch to someone younger, but I don't know. The City has completely let me down. I'm a skateboarder, so I might move on ...". And no one could blame him.

Watch Made In Venice and you'll realize how much Martinez has given of his life to this wonderful Skatepark, but he certainly hasn't done it for the money - or the glory. Martinez has carried the weight of all of this around for years, but now says, "I'm beyond proud of how this movie came out. A lot of good has come out of it. I was worried because people take Venice very seriously, and I didn't want to disgrace the neighborhood. And it's a real story, with less tricks and things than your typical skate film, so I wasn't sure how skaters would react, but I've traveled all around the country to screenings, and the reaction has been nothing but good. There's not one bad review. I just wish Jay Adams and Shogo Kubo could have seen it, but their sons are around, so they're still here."

It's a great film, and really provides a wonderful insight about what it means to be from, or live in, or simply love Venice, California. "I hope it inspires kids long after I'm gone to be proud of Venice. Dogtown will never die, it's worldwide. I love Venice, I just wish I could live there." It's a very sad thing (which I totally get and am also dealing with) when someone like Martinez - born, raised, and a true legend of Venice - can no longer afford to live here, especially considering how much of his life he has dedicated to this town, in every way. People trying to just make bank off of this very special place simply don't get it. And never will.

Please support Venice, its Skatepark, and its champion, Martinez by purchasing Made In Venice (and its merch!) to ensure that future generations will indeed be able to proudly call themselves Dogtown skaters.

Made In Venice is available now everywhere.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Grease Was The Word!

The annual singalong screening of Grease was held at Venice High School this past Saturday night, and was great, as ever. There was a big crowd there filling most of the football field (that is soon to be renovated, and will no longer look like it did in the movie, so this was a special screening, for sure), with a whole bunch of T-Birds, Pink Ladies, and poodle skirt wearing teeny boppers representing the greaser spirit.

Booths lined the running track (also to be updated), fundraising for various school groups, selling things like fried rice and unicorn quesadillas, in addition to a bbq, and the usual high school football game fare. Everyone has seen the film so many times that you could hear the dialogue being recited along with every word, not just the songs.

My friend visiting from out of town mentioned how it felt so small town, which is pretty remarkable, considering how big L.A. is - and it did. Friends waved to neighbors, people squeezed on to the prime blanket real estate on the grass, people shared their movie snacks, and watched other peoples' kids while they went for more. It was great. As I was thinking about it all this morning, I thought how everyone was out there just to have a good time in the community with fellow fun-havers. No one thought twice about being gathered in a big group out in public. It didn't enter our minds that someone might open fire on us all. I'm sure the revelers in Las Vegas for a concert last night didn't think that either ... until it happened. The biggest mass shooting in the United States in modern times. Over 50 dead. Over 500 injured. All for nothing. All because of guns, no gun control, and yet another crazy white man. It's the worst. The fun of the weekend feels like it didn't even happen. But it did, and that's important to remember. We can't give up having fun, or give in to fear, because then we're not living while we're alive - and every breath is precious. This tragedy in Vegas only highlights that fact even more, once again.

Take care of each other. Have fun. Love. And fight for gun control with everything you've got, because something has to stop this insanity, and it's up to We, the People. As everything now has to be.