Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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

Oh, Venice. How great are you?! We had one big shindig at the Lantern House on Saturday night to raise funds for our upcoming documentary 90291: Venice Unzipped. It was awesome, and I'm still beaming over it.

Documentaries take money to make, so that was the impetus for the affair, but really, it was all about our community and how much we all love our Venice. Our film is going to examine income inequality in the United States, with a zoom lens on Venice as an extreme example. When you have 6 million dollar homes with a tent city in the alleys behind them (or in their yards), something is wrong. We are going to talk about it, and try to come up with some solutions together, as we celebrate what is really the last beach community of color. 

If you've never been to an event at the Lantern House, you really should try. It's so perfectly Venice, with art everywhere, and an eclectic vibe that really feels like what we're about. The chandeliers in the trees, and the several little bungalows making up the whole space transport you into a magical scene that truly was perfect. Eternal thanks to Scott Mayers - and his gargoyles - for opening up his home to share with us.

The event at the Lantern House was hosted by myself and my co-producers on the film, Colin Keith Gray and Megan Raney Aarons ("The Sibs") from Grainey Pictures. The wonderful women of Fiore Designs handled the floral decor and the food, and it was all just gorgeous. 

Spirits were donated by Venice Duck Brewery and Jim Robb, while desserts were provided by local artisan chocolatier, Chocolate Wonder Love and Erewhon. All were excellent, and so good that they vanished before I could even get any, but I was fine with that.

It truly was an event by and for the community. Local businesses donated super cool stuff for our silent auction, from beautiful photography to dinners at local restaurants to clothing to hotel stays to classes to even a basket full of Ruby's Doobies! All were extremely appreciated, and beyond generous to our cause. 

D.J. Rick spun the tunes, and our first musical guest was my dear friend, Lacey Kay Cowden, who entranced the revelers, even under the challenging circumstances of being in the time slot when people were still arriving, and highly vocal during her set. She is a pro, and a treasure. Thank you, Lacey!

People mixed and mingled, and then we gathered them all up to hear an introduction from our host, Scott Mayers, who is the owner of The Lantern House, and a true raconteur. He told stories of when he first moved in, and had to duck bullets in his shower ... how things change - and stay the same.

Colin and Megan gave speeches about our film, and our hopes for making it a true community project. We asked for help in casting our families that we will be following over the next year, and if you have any suggestions to that end, they may be given to Andrea McHugh HERE

We showed a trailer of our film, and if you were not able to be in attendance on Saturday, you can watch it HERE. It should give you a good idea of what we're trying to do, and the conversation that we're trying to have. 

I gave a little spiel about how I've been telling the real stories of real Venice for over a decade now through the Free Venice Beachhead, and right here at Blogtown, and how people should know by now how much this town and its denizens mean to me. And how much I value being a part of this community that embraced me - and I, it - when I moved here over 20 years ago now. I didn't move here to live on a corporate campus ... I moved here to live in one of the most uniquely cool places on Earth. 

And I"ll fight to keep it that way ... as will pretty much everyone who was there, I'm sure. I also got to introduce my wonderful friend, Michael Dorman, as our next musical guest. He stars in the excellent Patriot on Amazon Prime (one of my favorite shows!), and who is also one of my very favorite musicians. He gifted us with a short set that featured the awesome - and appropriate - "I Ain't No VIP!" My little friend Mia (age 8) said, "He's like Bob Dylan, but better." She's not wrong. See:

I'm so SO grateful to all the local businesses and artists who donated to our silent auction. To everyone who shared our invitation to the event on social media. To everyone who donated to our fund to make this film ... and you can continue to do that HERE (THANK YOU!!!) pretty much until it premieres. 

To everyone who showed up to this super fun party. To everyone who ever supports anything I do. I looked around the entire evening and knew that this is the community where I belong, and my eternal thanks to everyone who makes me feel like that. If you couldn't for whatever reason do any of the above (?), you still can. And you'll feel good about it, and will also be thanked effusively. Try it! Helping others feels good, and that's the point of this entire endeavor. Community. 

After the speeches and performances, it was time to get down and party - and that we did. In fact, Mr. Mayers (our hero) graciously agreed to extend the party hours, and we all just went for it. The silent auction winners were announced, and many people went home with extra cool things that all really do define Venice. I especially loved the happy trio that got the Juice Magazine swag they wanted!

I also need to shout out to my brother, Paul, both for donating a gorgeous photo to our silent auction, and for always supporting me in everything I do. Love you, Pablito! 

And now we'll set off on the journey of actually making this film - and we'll continue to need your help and your input, to make it a project that really, truly reflects ALL of Venice. Please join us on this trip, follow along with our progress, and know how very, very grateful we are to everyone for your involvement. 

Wow, Venice. You really are the best. 

1 comment:

  1. Great post CJ! It was a pleasure to be there with you!