Monday, June 18, 2018

Thank You, Venice! - The 90291: Venice Unzipped Lantern House Fundraiser!

Oh, Venice. How great are you?! We had one big shindig on Saturday night to raise funds for our upcoming documentary 90291: Venice Unzippedand it was awesome. 

I can't thank everyone involved enough, I truly can't. This is a film about our community, and the community showed up to support. All the businesses that donated to our silent auction - THANK YOU! All the friends that shard about the event ahead of time - THANK YOU! All of the friends and neighbors that showed up to the event - THANK YOU! All of the vendors who donated food and drink to help us make it a delicious and thirst quenching affair - THANK YOU! The musicians and D.J. who kept it all lively - THANK YOU! All of the friends and family that couldn't make it out on Saturday, but who donated and/or are helping us spread awareness about the project - THANK YOU! I'm overwhelmed with gratitude, I really am. And if you didn't do any of those things above - you still can! We'll be working on this project for a good while, and there's plenty of time for you to contribute in any way to helping to get the story about our beloved Venice out there in the world ... so THANK YOU in advance! 

The wonderful women of Fiore Designs helped to beautify the already beautiful Lantern House, which truly is one of the very best event spaces around. Scott Mayers opened his home to us to bring awareness of our project - and to celebrate our community to kick it all off. 

It really does take a village to make a documentary, and as this one is about Venice, it had to include as much of Venice as possible. Local businesses like Venice Duck Brewery and Jim Robb donated beer, champagne, and liquor, while Erewhon and Chocolate Wonder Love provided delish desserts. 

The silent auction represented all the best of Venice, from photographs and paintings to dinners, hotel stays, classes, clothing, and even some edibles from Ruby's Doobies! It's not easy for me to ask people for things, and I was beyond pleasantly surprised at all of the local merchants who said YES, and offered their encouragement in addition to their generous donations. Our hearts are in the right place, and I think they all recognized that ... and wanted to help tell the real stories of our community, and why it has become divided. 

D. J. Rick spun the tunes to keep it all festive, and our first musical guest was beloved Venice songstress (and my wonderful friend), Lacey Kay Cowden! She managed to entrance the partygoers even under the challenging circumstances of having the opening slot, when people were still arriving and heartily/noisily greeting each other. She's the best. 

After a bunch of mingling and schmoozing, we did a little presentation to explain what are intentions are with this film, and how everyone can be involved. Wonderful Mr. Mayers gave an entertaining introduction of the filmmaking team, in addition to giving some history of his house. Like how he used to have to duck from bullets in his shower. Good stuff like that. 

Colin Grey and Megan Raney Aarons are my co-producers on the project, and Colin will be directing the film. They both gave great speeches about our vision for this documentary, and then everyone watched our trailer ... which you can also now view HERE

I gave a little spiel about how I've been telling the stories of real Venice for over a decade now, through The Beachhead and here at Blogtown, and I think everyone knows how important and deeply loved the community is by me. And how I'll do my very best to ensure that the whole story is told, as best as it can be. We're all affected by the ongoing changes in our town, and we all want the best possible outcome ... which is to preserved the unique radness of Venice for always. 

We're still firming up casting for our families from different income brackets that we intend to follow throughout the next year, and if you might have some suggestions regarding ideas for casting, please reach out to myself or Andrea McHugh, our casting guru HERE. 

Documentaries take funds to make, and that was the point of this evening, but that doesn't mean it stops there. We'll be raising funds for a while, so if you like what you've seen and heard, maybe you'd like to join the rest of the cool kids and make a little donation HERE. It is tax-deductible, and so appreciated you can't begin to imagine. THANKS!! Or maybe you're a high-roller and would like to invest a bigger stake in the film, because you can ... for larger equity investments, you can reach out HERE. THANKS!!!

Now that the housekeeping of linkage has been taken care of, let's talk about the absolute blast that was this event. An extra special treat/favor bestowed upon us was a rare live acoustic performance from my dear friend, Michael Dorman. He stars in the excellent t.v. show Patriot on Amazon Prime (one of my favorite shows), where he plays a spy that also does open mics to sing about his spy activities. He's incredible, and as my little friend Mia (age 8) said, "He's like Bob Dylan, but better." She's not wrong. Listen for yourself to one of the numbers he played ofr us, "I Ain't No VIP!" ... SO good. 

After the speeches and entertainment, it was pretty much time to party. The silent auction carried on, with people out-bidding each other on such great stuff as a photograph by my brother, Paul, who I also need to thank for being a tireless supporter of everything I do. Love you, Paul! 

There were so many people to talk to that I didn't get to speak to everyone I wanted to, and definitely didn't get to say goodbye and thank you to, so I'll do that again here - THANK YOU! I LOVE YOU!

In all honesty, and even though it was our own event, I'll still say that it was one of the best parties I've been to in Venice in a long time. Everyone was in a festive mood, and everyone is really interested in helping our community come together. Plus, it was in a super rad house that not everyone had had the chance to visit before, so you kept hearing, "How cool is this place?!" the entire evening long. And they were right. There's great art everywhere you look, and lanterns and dolls and even the random gargoyle. There's probably not a more Venice-perfect venue in town, and Scott Mayers deserves another shout out here - LOVE YOU SCOTT! 

We ended up extending the party hours, because no one wanted to leave. Happy auction winners were congratulated and thanked, and I especially loved the friends sporting their new Juice magazine swag!

The night flew by, and looking back at my photos, I realize I needed to take so many more, but was busy talking my face off most of the time. I made new friends, reconnected with old ones, and tried not to choke up when I looked around and saw all the love and support in the room, from every single person there. Venice ... you're the best. 

I've had several people contact me since, telling me what a good time they had, and what a good idea they think this project is. Again, I'm sure there will be more fundraisers, so if you didn't get a chance to be with us at this one, there will be more ways to join us in this pretty big endeavor we're undertaking. 

It would be an endlessly long list to thank everyone individually here, but you will be thanked eternally by me, because I'll never forget it. 

Monies were raised, friends were made, and a good time was had by all. I'd call that a pretty darn successful fundraiser. Now ... let's go make a movie, Venice! Together. THANK YOU, VENICE!

Friday, June 15, 2018

In Loving Memory Of Larry Hendrickson - He Changed Lives

* My best friends in the world lost their father yesterday morning, and the world lost a heck of a guy. After the initial tears dried, friends and family gathered at the Hendrickson home in Richfield to comfort each other, and celebrate together an extremely special life, lived and left on Larry Hendrickson's own terms. I felt so far away, yet still included in their family, like they have always made me feel. It was my great honor to be asked to write Larry's obituary ... but I couldn't stop writing and expressing all that can be said about this man, so it got pretty long. We decided to make it an article here instead, so we would not be constrained by column space on the obit page. Wonderful matriarch Jane helped me get the facts straight, but there is still so much that could be said. Following is an attempt to give a glimpse into who Larry Hendrickson was - and there will never be another like him. My heartfelt love and sympathy to my deeply loved friends, The Hendricksons. We will never stop  honoring and celebrating your awesome Dad. Thank you for sharing him with the rest of the world. See you soon, Friends ...

Minnesota has lost one of its greats. Husband, Father, Grandfather, Coach, Philanthropist, and Hendrickson Foundation founder, Larry Hendrickson, passed away from a rare heart condition called Amyloidosis on Friday, June 15th in his longtime Richfield home, both fully at peace, well loved, and surrounded by family and friends.  

Hendrickson was born on October 20, 1942 in Minneapolis to Joseph and Lorraine Hendrickson. He played all the sports, of course, but was also well known for his unique character and strong faith. He met his junior high school sweetheart, Jane Hagen, at Ramsey Middle School, but didn't make his move until they were both attending Washburn High School. After graduating college at the University of Minnesota and a obtaining a Masters degree from St. Thomas, they married and settled in Richfield. Hendrickson was also one of Richfield High School's cherished teachers and coaches. 

Larry and Jane raised four fantastic children (Christine, Darby, Danny, and Julie), and in addition to the kids, some very special dogs.  "The Richfield Pool" in their backyard served as home away from home to Spartans of all ages, and was often where you could find "Coach Hendy" in more recent years, enjoying a Captain Coke, Lynchburg Lemonade or an icy Coors Light, and sharing inspirational conversations about hockey, hunting, and fishing, while hanging out with his beloved dogs.  

The "Hendrickson" name is synonymous with "Hockey" in Minnesota, and Hendrickson's career illustrated this fact. He coached varsity hockey at Richfield, where they played in the state title game in 1976 (and we're still sore that they lost to Grand Rapids).  Hendrickson helped his good friend, Herb Brooks, prepare the "Miracle On Ice" Olympic team for their gold medal victory in 1980, and served as the strength coach for the Minnesota Gophers in 1985, and the professional Minnesota North Stars from 1986-1988.  As Head Coach at Apple Valley, he led the team to a state championships in both 1981 and 1996 to win a title with a record 5 OT semi-final game that remains revered in Minnesota sports lore as the best high school hockey game ever. He also coached at Benilde-St. Margaret in more recent years, as they transitioned from Class A to AA hockey. Hendrickson was inducted into the Minnesota High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2010. 

All of Hendrickson's children went on to play hockey ... Christine and Julie play (because Minnesota is a state where the Hockey Moms PLAY hockey), and Darby and Danny both played at Richfield and as Minnesota Gophers. Darby went on to play professionally, even scoring the first goal for the Minnesota Wild, and now serving them as an Assistant Coach. Larry was so proud of all of his children, who live their lives with all the important values instilled in them by these excellent parents. He was also a father figure to many, sharing his guidance and wisdom generously with anyone who needed it. That it's Father's Day weekend that Larry left us is both appropriate and special. 

The Hendrickson's are a very public family, and have always been a the more the merrier type of clan. Their house was always been full of kids and animals and fun, but some of their most special and treasured memories as a family took place privately, as a family, at the cabin on Island Lake in Duluth. It was a refuge and a sanctuary, where deep conversations and quality time together was spent, and those are the times they hold most dear. 

Strength is a word that anyone who ever met Hendrickson would instantly associate with him. "Strength Coach" was even his title at times in his career. Many muscles were built in Hendrickson's home gym, but none more than the heart. It is ironic that his own heart failed him, when he had instilled such strength in the hearts and minds of so many. His equally strong faith is what sustained him through his final months, and as he said, "Don't worry about me ... it's just a change of address." He lived a full - and fulfilling - life, and passed away when he was ready, surrounded by his loving family. That's the way to go.  

Hendrickson also founded the D.J. company, Spirit Unlimited, to support his family while he served in Young Life. Spirit Unlimited was an apt name for the fun they brought to all the Richfield High School dances and countless other events. There was a reunion of Spirit Unlimited crew this past holiday season, and everyone in attendance told stories of how Hendrickson had employed them, guided them, and inspired them. Helped them. How he set an example for them that they all still live by. How he changed their lives.  

The Hendrickson Foundation's motto is "Hockey Changes Lives", and one only has to look around at their annual hockey festival to know how very true this statement is. Conceived in 2011, with his dear friend Mike McMillan's encouragement, Hendrickson set out with the idea as a means to encourage and inspire those with disabilities and special needs through getting them out on skates or sleds to play hockey. No one could leave one of their events without being inspired, including themselves. Lives have truly been changed for the much better through the Hendrickson Foundation - for having known Hendrickson, his family, and being a part of their exceptional organization. 

Hendrickson was also a great and inspirational speaker, who always put philanthropy and serving others above personal glory. A recent Christmas speech ended with the following words to live by ...


"I've been having a lot of thoughts ... and what I realized is what an incredible amount of blessings that  I have personally had - and that I married up. Look, nobody's perfect, life isn't always easy, but out of that comes a value system. It makes you ask, 'What do we believe in?' And I've come to the conclusion that my wife, my children, and their spouses ... we believe in others. When the good Lord gives you a blessing, and you can share it with someone who has had a curveball in life, you are a very fortunate person. What you give gives you more joy than what you have. The blessing we have is knowing that we need each other."

The entire Hendrickson family and vast extended family of friends takes comfort in knowing that our lives are full of blessings, that we need each other, and that we have each other. 

Larry Hendrickson was preceded in death by his parents,  his sisters, Joanne and Susan, and Brother in law, Rick Hagen. He is survived by his beloved wife, Jane ("Nonnie"), daughter Christine Krsnik (husband Renato, daughters Jane and Kate), son Darby (wife Dana, sons Mason, Beckett, Rennick, daughter Addison), son Danny (wife Megan, daughters Grace and Lily, son Robbie), daughter Julie Oss (husband Dave, sons Leo, Nolan, Brody), brother in law Jim Hagen (Debbie) & Steve Johnson, sister in law Kathy McGovern, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends worldwide, and this man's best friend hounds, Nikki, Darby, Burlin, Herbie, Burly, Bruno and Brutus (1, 2).

A Memorial service and celebration of Larry's life will take place  at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 28th 2018 at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, with Reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Hendrickson Foundation, which son Danny carries on proudly in Larry's honor.

Rest in loving Peace, Coach Hendy. You'll be forever missed.

*Photos Courtsesy of The Hendrickson Family

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Radio Venice - A True Venice Treasure

I finally got to sit in on a Radio Venice session last weekend, when my friend Lacey Kay Cowden was making her Radio Venice debut, and I decided to tag along.

Radio Venice has been up and running since 2015, showcasing the very best music that Venice, California has to offer. Each Sunday at 4:20 p.m. (PST, of course), Radio Venice broadcasts live from their location in the Venice Suites hotel right on the Boardwalk.

Hosted by Michael Jost and Tonan Ruiz, the radio broadcast was founded by Jost, Rae Stanton, and Roy Edwards in the home location of Breakwater Studios. It's a tiny little beach apartment, with not a lot of room for an audience (I sat squeezed in on the end of the bed while I watched), but that's o.k., because the show is available to listen to and watch worldwide live on the web. Where it looks and sounds great, and you can almost hear the seagulls flying by out the windows.

Taking a look at the Radio Venice website shows a who's who of Venice and International artists that have played here for their broadcast, and the good new for you if you're just hearing about this gem of an entertainment site, is that they're all archived for you to go down the rabbit hole into, and watch them all. And there's a lot, so get comfy.

After Lacey played her set (beautifully), next up was Jost and his friend, Rick Boston, who comprise the acoustic guitar duo, Los Pochos. Wow. Their intricate playing was kind of a mix of classical and flamenco guitar, and utterly gorgeous.

Our friends were hosting a nacho party (!) while we were there, so we had to race out when there was a lull in the music, causing us to miss the sets from Erinn Williams (bummed because she plays electric guitar while singing opera!), and Lovemando ... but we were able to watch them later on the site - as are you. And you'll dig it, for sure.

The great news is that TONIGHT you have a chance to see some of this music live again! Jost is playing at the new music venue at Pacific Resident Theater from 7-9 p.m., and then you can head on over to The Townhouse/Del Monte Speakeasy to catch Lacey Cowden and friends at her weekly Tuesday excellent residency, starting at 9 p.m. - so you can do it all! On foot or bike from each other! Venice is awesome. And so is Radio Venice. Tune in every Sunday to get your Venice music fix!

Tune in, turn on, drop IN!

Monday, June 11, 2018

The First Flower Fest Fun - Flower Power!

Flower Fest kicked off its first incarnation on a beautiful Saturday on Rose Avenue in Venice. Flower Fest is a brand new festival put on by the Venice Chamber of Commerce and the Venice Art Crawl folks (and some weed companies for good measure, though real Venice supports the o.g. longtime local medicine providers), with a fun way of showing off some of the best that Venice has to offer.

It was billed as "A Taste Of Venice", so there were a lot of food booths. Local restaurants set up little outposts of their brick and mortar locations, and there was pretty much anything you wanted, from Italian to Asian, from Casa Linda to Great White.

You didn't really get the flower vibe until you passed through all of the restaurant tents, but then there was booth after booth of lovely blooms of all kinds.

You could get flower crowns custom made, you could get them braided right into your hair ... and you could stop traffic with your giant handmade headdress, just like the groovy old hippie days in Venice.

As it was a collab with the Art Crawl, there was also plenty of art on hand.

Artists were live painting murals up and down the blocks, featuring flowers mostly, but also messages of absolute truth.

One of my favorite local artists, Beckett, was also on hand doing some live painting on a canvas set up for kids to go to town on, and his rainbow was my favorite piece I saw all day (and I don't think I was alone in that, as several bystanders stopped to photograph this little boy happily painting away, while taking it very seriously). Teach the children well!

Beckett also started his own art collection, finding a piece he couldn't live without from artist Todd Goodman. The two creatives took time out to pose together, in a summit meeting of two important Venice painters. Awesome.

A stage was set up at the closer to Lincoln end of Rose, festooned with paper flowers and blasting terrible music - at least when we were there. Anxiety-inducing beats were being spun by some D.J. that didn't really know his family audience in the early afternoon, but I heard it got more awesome as the day progressed. It culminated in a performance by Phantogram there in the street on Rose, that I was bummed to have to miss, but heard was great.

I say the more Festivals the merrier, and you really can't go wrong in Venice with food, flowers, art, and music. All the things we love. Plus, a reminder that one of the most important aspects of life is to GROW. It was a little under-attended, possibly because not very many people I talked to had known about it ... it was more a delightful surprise they stumbled on to out on a Saturday bike ride or stroll.

Congratulations to everyone on another cool thing to do in Venice ... may it grow!!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

90291: VENICE UNZIPPED - A Film For Our Community

Friends ... all you have to do is walk down any street in Venice to know that there is a massive issue with income inequality in our community. I believe it is THE issue of our time for our entire country. The way that you begin to understand any issue is through the stories from the people that it affects. So, when feeling an intense need to DO SOMETHING about it, and sharing stories about it, you start to come up with ideas for solutions ... and the way to do that is always knowledge. Learning about the roots of an issue, and going from there.

My friends Colin Gray and Megan Raney Aarons ("The Sibs") are longtime Venice residents and filmmakers, with several successful documentaries already under their belts, and they saw the same multi-million dollar houses with tent cities in their Venice backyards that I did, and once we got to really talking about it all, we felt that Venice could be zoom-lensed on as an example of what is happening across this nation ... and begin to do something about it.

90291: VENICE UNZIPPED is the film we are setting out to make. We'll embed with three families - one homeless, one middle class, and one wealthy - living in almost unimaginably different circumstances here in Venice. We'll also talk to friends and neighbors across all income and cultural divides, interview local and national thought-leaders from multiple points of view, and attempt to make some sense of it all. Will it be a cautionary tale about what not to do to a vibrant, diverse community ... or a success story about how people came together to preserve what is wonderful and historical about this place, and how we looked after our own? Time will tell ... and shooting begins soon.

All films take funds to create, and we are holding our first fundraiser at The Lantern House in Venice on June 16th, and we would love for all of you to be involved. Come to the fun event. Send a little (or big, if you can!) tax-deductible donation via our fundraising link HERE. (A detailed equity investment prospectus is also available upon request HERE. Donate to our silent auction of unique Venice items (let us know asap if that's a way you'd like to contribute, so that we may also promote you in the process!). Share your own stories with us, or point us in the direction of a good tale. This is going to be a film for our entire community, and thus, entire community involvement is crucial to telling the whole story.

We are also starting our search for the three families we’ll be embedding with in our documentary.  If anyone has a suggestion for a family who might be willing to participate in our film, please contact us HERE.  We’re looking for one homeless couple / family with or without kids, one middle class family with kids, one wealthy family with kids.  We will be very mindful of everyone’s time and space.  The plan is to film these families for 6-8 days total, each family, over the next year.

The fundraiser information, donation links, and the link to our brand new trailer are again all below. Please read, watch, share, and chime in to let us know what you think! This project is for all of us.

As a friend of Venice Beach and this eclectic, world renowned community… We Want You!  Come be a part of our feature documentary's grass roots fundraising event on Saturday June 16th from 7- 9pm.  Hot links to RSVP and for tax-deductible donations are in the attached PDF, as well as below.  

What:  90291: VENICE UNZIPPED fundraiser
Where: The Lantern House, Venice
Parking: Bike, walk, or park on street
Support: To make a tax-deductible donation, please visit:

The film:  90291: VENICE UNZIPPED is a provocative feature documentary about income inequality in America, told through the lens of one community and three families living in the same 90291 zip code, but at the opposite ends of the growing income divide.  In the film, we’re embedding in Venice, California, the once gritty, artistic and working class beach city, now the epicenter of gentrification in Los Angeles and a growing homelessness crisis. We’ll follow three families - one homeless, one middle class and one wealthy - living in almost unimaginably different circumstances, while putting a human face on Venice’s vanishing working and middle class.  We’ll then follow a proposed homeless housing project that’s splitting the community in two, make connections to gentrification and affordable housing issues in other cities, and investigate how poverty is being criminalized in America.  Is Venice, the last beach city of color, a cautionary tale about an eclectic community’s demise, or can solutions be found for protecting other income diverse cities across the United States?

Style: The film's point-of-view is investigative, fact-based, and deliberately non-partisan.  Rounding out our embed coverage will be interviews with local and national thought-leaders from multiple points of view.  

The team: Brought to you by long time Venice locals - writer / director Colin Keith Gray and producer Megan Raney Aarons (AKA “The Sibs” - Atari: Game Over, Being Canadian, Freedom’s Fury);  journalist / co-producer CJ Gronner (Blogtown); political consultant / co-producer, Marc Baranov;  EPs Amaechi Uzoigwe (Run The Jewels) and Lorien Gabel (Interlog, PINGG); Supervising Producers Matt Green (Refuge Wild) & Andrea McHugh (Hell’s Kitchen, Oprah Winfrey Show, Ghost Hunters); Emmy award winning editor Mohamed El Manasterly (The Square); DP Tyler Heckerman (The Cape); and Emmy award winning VR director, Ben Tricklebank (Clouds Over Cuba). Project is produced by GRAiNEY PICTURES and EVO Films USA.  

Schedule: We'll film Summer of 2018 through Spring 2019. Plan is to then complete the film by Fall 2019 in time for submission to Sundance and other premiere festivals. Goal is to then debut at a major festival and release the film Summer/Fall 2020 in advance of the 2020 Presidential elections. A larger social impact campaign will then launch around the film release to provoke further debate on the issues . Project elements include a virtual reality (VR) short film, an interactive website, an augmented reality app, and a comprehensive educational initiative.

Giving Back:  With a topic this pressing, we feel it’s important we give back.  90291: VENICE UNZIPPED will donate ten percent (10%) of the film’s total profits to leading grass roots organizations and NGOs that are actively engaged in income inequality & homelessness issues in Venice, and across America.

Funding: The project is being funded through a combination of equity investments in the Unzipped Movie LLC, non-recoupable grants, crowd-funding contributions, and tax-deductible donations to the film through its' fiscal sponsor, the International Documentary Association (please make donations by clicking on the Make A Donation tab above). A detailed investment prospectus (PPM) is available upon request.

Why you?  We'd truly value your involvement & support at our fundraiser as we craft, cast & compose this important story.  Filming to begin this Summer across Venice. 

We can't wait to make and show you this film! THANK YOU!!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

North Venice Little League - A Venice Family Tradition

The North Venice Little League is a whole community that I didn't really know anything about until my little friend Quinn started playing baseball up there a few years ago. A tradition for over 50 years, NVLL provides a home for nearly 500 kids to learn baseball and softball, while making friends for life.

I went to one of Quinn's games early in the season, and it was pretty Bad News Bears (he's 9). I went to their CHAMPIONSHIP game on Sunday, and it was like a whole new team. The amount of practice and work that had gone down during the season was obvious (plus my friend, Shane, Quinn's dad, was almost always at a baseball practice) in their new super athletic prowess. Like, wow.

The A's would lose their last game to the Angels in a nail-biter that was only decided in the very last inning, and though the kids were upset, they learned the most important thing about youth sports, which is to always have fun while doing your best. They were soon shrieking with happiness, soaking each other with water pistols at the annual picnic that happened on Sunday right after their game.

Again, WOW. The vast fields and lawn were filled with hundreds of Venice (and adjacent) families, with pot luck picnic spreads and colorful tents spread out as far as the eye could see. It's a beautiful vista from up there, all the way to the ocean and mountains, and it was a glorious day for a picnic.

The teams all had award ceremonies, where the kids heard speeches from their coaches about themselves in a long series of touching moments illustrating their hard work and character. I especially loved that the A's gave their MVP award to the lone little girl on the team, their excellent shortstop, Lill. Awesome.

These families are so dedicated to their kids and the teams, it's really touching to witness - while creating skills and fundamental lessons that they will carry with them throughout their lives. I also learned about the importance of the "Team Mother", a crucial element to making it all work. She organizes just about everything apart from the coaching - and they are all volunteer positions. My friend Ashley is the quintessential Team Mother, and it was a delight to see her receive her credit where it is so richly due.

Ashley's son, Cash, is now moving on from NVLL to Venice High School, well prepared both for high school sports and life from having spent his formative years participating in this wonderful youth baseball program. The parents are all friends, the kids are all friends, and it's all another way to build the traditions and community that keep Venice strong and unique as a whole.

I had a grand old time enjoying America's pastime on a sunny day (that I still feel burned into my shoulders today), where we could all take a break from the world's craziness for a while, and just enjoy baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and I'm sure someone drove a Chevrolet.

Congratulations to all the teams and families of North Venice Little League on a fantastic season, and on keeping a proud Venice tradition so vital and strong. And to Quinn for being named an All Star! Take me out to the ball game, for real!