Tuesday, December 18, 2018


I'm leaving bright and early tomorrow morning for the North Country, and so had to go greet the ocean this morning as I'll miss it while I'm home for Christmas. The waves are huge and it's like fireworks watching them, oohing and aahing at the majesty. I do the same thing when it's snowing, so I'm good most anywhere, but they're both their own kind of special. On the way back to get packing, I cut through the canals and crossed the "Wish" bridge, as it had been too dark to really read the wishes on the night of the canal parade.

The idea of putting your best wishes out there to flutter in the wind, in the hopes of them being granted ... I find it lovely. The majority of the hand written wishes were big ideas, like for the world, not the individual and that was nice to see. I'm a big fan of adventures and memories over stuff, so wishing for material things hasn't been my thing for a long time - not when we live in the world we do. Wishes need to be bigger and better ... for the whole humanity picture at this point.

That's why I zeroed in on the wish below ... that "Humanity would realize the beauty they are ... to truly be in their full potential ...  to love freely ... to find the warrior of light within." Man. I couldn't have wished any better myself. Times have gotten so mean and snarky and selfish and greedy ... that it brings you to tears when someone posts a video of someone else doing some sweet, little thing that should just be automatic. We all have it in us to be kind, to be humane ... to be giving of ourselves. There's no material thing out there that can give you the same feeling of kindness without expectation, and knowing that you made someone else feel happier, even if just for a moment. To me, that's what this season is all about. I bet if we all wish for these things together, it will just BE.

I read a great quote from Paul Klee this morning on my word a day page, and it said, "Art should be like a holiday: something to give a (wo)man the opportunity to see things differently, and to change (her) his point of view." Yes. Let us take this opportunity of this beautiful holiday to see things in a new, more humane way, not to just change our point of view, but to change this world. It can be done. With love.

So, I WISH you all a wonderful holiday! I'm going on hiatus for Christmas break back home, but I can't wait to share all of the good stories that are coming in our new year ... in our new world that we wished for. Christmas love to all!

Your Christmas Carol , CJG

Friday, December 14, 2018

Christmas In Dogtown

After the depressing sight of seeing a Starbucks open for business on our Venice Boardwalk, I needed a boost in my awful, disappointed mood. I got it when a few yards away I saw that some of the people that live on the beach had decorated the umbrella things for Christmas, with a sign that said "Christmas in Dogtown".

I loved that, because it shows that the Christmas spirit is felt by everyone, and also serves as a reminder of just exactly where we are. A place that has always moved to the beat of its own drum (circle). A place that is storied for it's artists, musicians, skaters, surfers, writers, and all of those unafraid to let their freak flags fly. Not a place that wants or needs a corporate chain like the ultimate slap in the face to Venice that a Starbucks on the Boardwalk is. Not a place that would support a Ben & Jerry's moving in RIGHT next door to Charly Temmel's. How insensitive and disrespectful to a long time Mom and Pop business can you be? No one that cares about Venice should be supporting ANY chain store within the city limits. People will argue their "change is inevitable" points, and I really don't care to hear them. People know in their hearts that this is wrong, and that Venice is Dogtown - and should be allowed to be one of the few originals left on this planet full of greed and corporate interests. We don't want to be like everyone else. That's why we're here. But for how long if places like this are allowed to ruin all local character? To run out all the local businesses? To make this legend of a place become just another anonymous mall in America. Gross.

Please think about it all - as well as your part in it - as we prepare to celebrate Christmas in Dogtown.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

BLASPHEMY! Starbucks Opens On The Venice Boardwalk.

It's an absolutely beautiful perfect day in Venice, 76 and sunny, everyone looking and feeling great as I cruised down the Boardwalk on my morning visit to the ocean. There have long been rumors that a Starbucks was going to take over the space vacated by the Venice Freak Show, but no one ever thought it could really happen - not here in Venice, one of the most unique places in the world that actively shuns corporate interests and homogenization. But it has. The doors are now open for business at Starbucks (THE symbol of gentrification) in the Freak Show space, in what is the biggest possible slap in the face to a community perhaps ever. Anyone who thought this was a good idea is sadly out of touch with reality.

The business that was the MOST perfect Venice Boardwalk attraction possible has been replaced by the LEAST likely place to ever be welcome in this town ... and people are upset. I'm upset. WHO thought this would go over well? I believe Snapchat is still the landlord of the building, so we'll continue to despise them and wish their stock to fall ever lower in a karmic comeuppance that is celebrated by Venetians every time we hear of a new low. Whenever I see someone grown putting one of Snap's stupid filters on their face, I lose a little respect. Seriously. But, STARBUCKS?! On the BOARDWALK?! This is war.

There was a security guard (what coffee shop needs a guard? They know we don't want them.) holding court outside the place (as I'd NEVER step a foot inside), and I asked if it was open. He replied that it was, and I nearly cried. I told him this was outrageous and to please tell his employer that we don't want them here and they are not ever going to be welcome. I know some misguided people like their Starbucks coffee, but if I ever see anyone from Venice going into this location, there's going to be words. If you must have that swill, there are plenty of other locations that don't spit in the face of Venice. A Starbucks on the Boardwalk was always a joke, like yeah right, that could never happen. But here it is. It's times like these that you really miss the V-13.

It was quiet when I was down there, with maybe one or two tourists going in, but I'm hoping this is the calm before the storm. The storm of outraged people who love Venice and realize that this seriously puts the entire history and legacy of Venice on the endangered list - if not quite extinct yet. The storm of protests that greet this corporate behemoth every day they open their doors. The storm of a backlash so big that it puts this Starbucks location out of business before their lease is up.

Starbucks just wrecked my beautiful morning, and I'm pissed. People are making signs of protest as you read, and I hope that you will give this terrible joke of a space the double middle fingers every time you pass by - until it's gone.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Wabi Sabi Gutted In Early Morning Fire On Abbot Kinney

I got a text from my dear friend Troy this morning that Wabi Sabi (It's always Wabi Sabi to us) had gone up in flames early this morning. The news spread like wildfire itself, with the whole Venice community gasping and wondering what happened.

The fire is suspected to have been caused by an electrical issue, and the only good thing about it is that no one was hurt and it happened when it was empty. The buildings on either side (Tasting Kitchen and Gorjana) seem to be fine, and all three were probably saved by the fact that the atrium in the middle of Wabi has ventilation for the flames to go up and exit through. I talked to Troy and some other employees and they hear that the popular and beloved Venice eatery on Abbot Kinney will be reopened by New Year's - at least the bar part. That seems mighty optimistic based on the photos they sent me, but I'm all for optimism.

The holidays always make me a little nervous about fires, with dry trees and lights and candles and drinking and all of that, but electrical fires seem like they could/should be avoided. The extra sad part about all of this is that it IS the holidays, and now there are a whole bunch of people without work. Here's hoping that insurance will pay them while the place is being rebuilt ... and/or that neighboring businesses will offer them to pick up some shifts with them, as has happened in the past in other circumstances. The hospitality industry is pretty good about looking out for each other, so I feel good about that being the case.

Wabi Sabi has been a neighborhood hang for a good long time now, and an excellent member of our community. They host local artists to show their work all of the time, complete with receptions for the aritst. They donate to community events, and even gave a gift card for my own silent auction for our 90291: VENICE UNZIPPED documentary. It's one of the few places on Abbot Kinney that you will still see old school locals, especially after the original Hal's closed. The Wabi folks are good people, and they care. It is my hope that the community responds in kind now that Wabi could really use it.

I walked by a while ago, after the flames had all been doused, and it doesn't look as bad from the outside. I was told that the hot kitchen is fine, and that the bar was still fairly intact, so they may be able to open that part sooner than the rest, which could just be walled off while being fixed up. I hate to think of all those beautiful plants hanging in the atrium all ablaze, but that little zone is really most likely what kept it from being far worse. Wabi Venice will rise again - and we'll all be there to support them and celebrate the Venice spirit that will not keep them down. A sad day for Wabi and those who love it ... but also yet another reminder to support and care about the people and places you love WHILE you have them.

We love you, Wabi! We'll be there right when you open those doors once again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

O Christmas Palm Tree!

I was out walking around this morning and cut through the canals to check out the bridges in the daytime. The sun was high and warm and humming Christmas carols felt a little out of place, but it still had to be done ... 'tis the Season!

At the other side of one bridge, I saw a great and creative use of dried up palm fronds - someone had made Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on a frond. Love it.

Carrying on down a different canal, there was another family making good use of the fronds. There was a Mrs. Claus type, with blonde braids I could appreciate ...

... And then there was Mr. Claus himself, in a grass rootsy display of natural Christmas decoration  ingenuity. I've never seen palm tree art done like this, and it touched me as a very Venice way of showing off your holiday cheer. Good job, folks!

Christmas decorations make me happy (my name is really Carol for a reason), and I'd love to see which ones all of you love most ... please feel free to share them with me and I'll post for all to see. It all goes by so fast, let's love it all while we can!

Ho Ho Ho!

Monday, December 10, 2018

A Venice Winter Wonderland!

Sometimes it's hard to tell what time of the year it is around Venice, with the year-round lovely weather always pretty much the same, but Christmas time is different. You know.

The halls of the houses get decked, Christmas lights show up everywhere, and one day a year there is even snow. This weekend was jam-packed with holiday cheer, although the 25th Annual Venice Surfathon took place on Saturday, making it feel all summery again. It was bright, warm, and sunny as the surfers from all different categories got into the water to ride the decent waves. It's always good to see the surfers out there every year, as it really becomes a reunion of longtime friends. It was very California to sit on the sand watching the competition while seeing snow on the mountains in the distance. I love that.

The snow day was Sunday at The Brig in the parking lot, where they truck in the snow annually to give the Venice kids a little taste of what winter is like in other places. The lines to take a spin down the icy snow were long, and everyone was in a festive mood. There were holiday arts and crafts, food trucks, and the chance to tell Santa Claus just how good they were this year.

The LAPD had a police sleigh (?) parked out front, and kids lined up to be handed up to Santa in the cop sleigh, which is both cute, and kind of funny. There was a different Santa later in the day to sit on the Santa throne, which may have confused some little ones who were there long enough to catch both, but still great. I love this little snow day every year, as it's a gift to the whole community, and people love it. It shows on their faces, and lets you know that our people are still here. Thanks, Brig!

We had a full agenda of holiday revelry on the books for Sunday, and raced downtown after sledding to see the wonderful Hansel And Gretel opera, which was a real treat. Getting our culture on meant that we were late getting back to Venice for the annual Venice Canals boat parade, but I was told that the actual flotilla was very sparse this year ... like five boats strong.

The sidewalks were full of partiers out to see all the brightly lit bridges and homes, but the actual parade participants were few. This tells me that there is either a lack of holiday spirit, which would be sad, or that many of the canal homes are being rented out for Air BNB, and no real members of the community really live in them, so the renters don't know to participate. That is a real bummer, especially for such a wonderful, special part of Venice that this annual parade always is.

The bridges were fantastic this year, maybe making up for the lack of nautical fun. There was the great VeNICE one, and the Eiffel Tower bridge was also very impressive (I like to think it's to show our solidarity with Paris, and also climate change awareness, but they might just like Paris).

Many homes were brightly lit and hosting parties, with both the lights and the sounds reflecting off of the surrounding waters. People seemed to shut it down extra early this year, which was kind of a buzzkill, but it was nice just to walk the sidewalks and see all the bright decorations. If (WHEN!) I live in the canals one day, you better believe this annual event will be made to be beyond memorable. The dark houses on this special day were sad ... and should be lived in by people that get it, and super appreciate the unique and fun place that they live. I'm working on it.

Time is flying and Christmas will be here before we know it, with everyone scattering to places all over the globe. It's great to have these little unique to Venice holiday memories to take with us and share with the world. I love it. I hope everyone got to go, and if you didn't, you should just take a walk through the canals on any night this holiday season. Your own reflections will join those of the lights, and you will feel the holiday spirit rise up inside of you, no matter how you are feeling. It can't help but cheer you up ... and to that, I say CHEERS!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Sunshine In The Rain

It's rainy and cold and it will most likely all blow past by tomorrow, but in the shivering of today, enjoy some bright sunshine from the other day ...

Brought to you by the Venice Art Walls and Dschianojr ... take a gander and feel your heart warm up and your spirits lift.

The sun will be back tomorrow.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Holiday Kick-Off In Venice - In The Spirit!

What a fun weekend in Venice! The annual Venice sign lighting happened on Saturday night, and it seemed like the whole community came out to celebrate with each other. Everyone was in high spirits, and there were more than a few Santa hats being worn, so people were ready to bring in the Christmas season for sure.

Live music was playing and you could hear it in the wind as we strolled over to Windward for the festivities. I stopped off for a quick cup of glögg (inspiring!) at my friends' Russ and Harry's pad on the way, and it gave you that happy, warm feeling inside to take with you. This year there was the new addition of a big Ferris wheel there to greet the people, and it was cool to see everyone loving it.

We were also there shooting the happy times for our documentary 90291: VENICE UNZIPPED, as with all of the problems and actual crises happening in our community, there is also always a lot of fun to be had. That's a big reason why so many of us wanted to live here to begin with, and this kind of absolute blast also needs to be captured to tell the complete story. People were in great moods, feeling in love with Venice all over again, and thus, they were excellent interviewees. Thank you!

Windward was lined with booths handing out everything from chili (Surfside friends!) to sticky rice, ice cream to hot chocolate, and all if it was complimentary as a gift to everyone. It was great.

The streets were packed with holiday revelers, and you couldn't walk two feet without running into someone you knew and loved. The Venice Chamber of Commerce put on a good party, and pretty much the whole town contributed to the fun. Venice Paparazzi was there with an adorable Venice holiday photo booth that had long lines waiting for their turn all night.

The walls around the still uninhabited old post office (Ridiculous. Turn it into a community center!) were decked out with posters from the contest for local kids to partake in, and I particularly liked this little Venice Santa.

The "real" Venice Santa was cruising around getting hot chocolate and getting everyone to come and sit on his lap. It's probably pretty fun to be Santa.

Bands played (though I didn't know any of them - who books this thing?) and people danced in the streets. Partiers would wait for the lights to change in the Pacific/Windward crosswalk in front of the Venice sign, and as soon as it would change, everyone would run out into the middle and dance or rollerskate or convulse (one person's iffy dance moves) real hard until the light changed and then run back behind the barricades. THAT is the Venice spirit I love so much.

Andy Summers of The Police lives in Venice, I guess, so he was chosen for the sign lighting duties. As usual, the various speeches went on way too long, and the sign that was supposed to be lit at 8:00 p.m. was still dark at 8:30. Local politicians and people on boards - no one cares to listen to you hearing yourself talk. It was to the point that a chant started up ... "LIGHT THE SIGN! LIGHT THE SIGN!" because frankly, no one was listening to the speeches anyway. Dancing and greeting friends continued until finally you could hear the 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1!!! - and the sign lit up in its holiday outfit of red and green! It's funny that light bulbs can bring such a thrill, but there we all were, loving it.

Everyone raced to  the intersection to take photos under the newly lit sign, and we were no different. Old friends and new took photos together, and it was the perfect way to kick off the holiday season with good Christmas cheer and good Venice vibes.

The party moved on to various watering holes around the area, and Surfside was serving up a special holiday bourbon punch that was our main draw. I took off in my new Venice sign red stocking hat to meet up with friends at Cinema Bar to see Matt Ellis play, and people wanted one (Get yours through the Venice Chamber!). It was a truly joyous time in Venice, and all seemed to be in the mood to celebrate, and take our minds off of all of the heavy things happening in the world. Thank goodness - we needed it.

I hope you were there, I hope you also had a blast, and I hope this will be everyone's best holiday season yet ... and that we'll all do our best to make it so. For everyone.

Fa la la la la, la la la la!

Friday, November 30, 2018

14,000 And Counting ... Milk Cartons For Missing Childhoods

The rain swept through last night and today broke bright and sunny ... just about 72 and Sunny, in fact. I went for my morning beach walk and there was a giant milk carton down in Windward Plaza, filled with 12,800 individual milk cartons representing the immigrant children in our shameful current government's custody. The sign explaining it all got messed up in the rain, I was told by a security guard, but he filled me in. This installation is brought to us by the marketing firm of 72 and Sunny and the public art organization Now Art L.A., to bring awareness to this absolute crisis, and get people involved by signing a petition at 14000andcounting.org. Please, please do.

There are over 14,000 children separated from their families as we speak, and the number is only growing. Christmas is fast approaching, and it's unfathomable to imagine that these innocent little kids will be on their own in some scary government facility, with many families not even knowing exactly where their kids are. Imagine!

I recently did some work on an upcoming documentary feature about deported families, and my assignment was to work out a ride-along with ICE agents. I had to do some Oscar worthy acting on the phone in order to make that happen, as I mainly just wanted to punch everyone in the face and wake them up to the trauma they're causing to families all over our country. Then you listen to them and realize that they really believe they are doing morally upright work, and they really are keeping America safer by ripping apart families and giving people the boot. It's such a sticky situation, because it would be great if everyone could escape tyranny the legit way and get all their paperwork in order and all of that, but when you're facing terrible situations and even death to your family for any number of reasons around the globe, and you know there's this place with a Statue of Liberty raising a lantern of welcome to refugees and immigrants from wherever they come, you probably just want to go for it, and I don't blame them. This country is entirely made up of immigrants, unless you're Native American. Some people seem to always forget that fact. And that IS what has the potential to make it great. Global ideas coming together to make a better whole ... wasn't that the idea?

There HAS to be a better solution that putting tiny children in internment camps (which they are) with no idea what is happening or where their parents are. It has to be terrifying, especially in another language. Please take a moment to reflect on this. Remember these throwback milk cartons in your face in the middle of the Venice Boardwalk (I love you, Venice) this weekend. It will be lit up at night right behind the big Venice Sign holiday lighting tomorrow night, as another reminder that these kids most likely will not be back with their families by Christmas (C'mon, Christmas miracles!). Sign the petition. Help. Remember your humanity while you're out having an awesome weekend. CARE.

Thank you to 72 and Sunny, NowArt LA, and 14000andcounting.org for this important message.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Fluent In Love

There seems to be a new street art person around town, and I saw a few different pieces today from "TrustyScribe" on my constitutional this morning. My favorite was about love ... and everyone could do with taking this dude's language course.

Then a way up the street on Abbot Kinney there was another one, that he might have slept on a little, but I still get it.

I didn't take a photo of the one by Blue Bottle Coffee because it was about depression, and no one needs to be reminded about depression right now. Then I looked them up and saw that Trusty Scribe's Instagram page talks about love and depression, and even offers a number for people to call if they're dealing with depression (#877-726-4727) ... which so many are these days.  No one is alone. And there is always love to be spoken.

Thanks, TrustyScribe!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Giving Tuesday! Be A Part Of 90291: VENICE UNZIPPED

Today is "Giving Tuesday", when you get hit up for your end of the year charitable donations. As all of the holiday frenzy begins and the year 2018 is coming to a close, it's a good thing to stop and reflect and think about ways we can all give. It's almost become a trite saying now, that it's better to give than to receive, but that feeling of helping someone else in some - ANY - way, really is what it's all about. I've never been that comfortable asking for help, but then I think about the homeless problem and all the ways that they all NEED help, and I can suck it up myself to try to help them/us. Because as we all know in Venice, it really does affect us all.

90291: VENICE UNZIPPED has been shooting all over Venice the past month, which means we've used up most of our fundraising so far, and need more to continue telling our Venice stories by shooting more, editing, and marketing it to get it out there. And it's gonna be GOOD. I've laughed. I've cried. I've been outraged. I've been inspired. I've been encouraged. I've been moved ... and all of that is just from watching as we film. It's going to be something else once it's up  on the screen.  Everyone will be able to see and feel themselves and their communities worldwide, as this income inequality problem is everywhere - and doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon.

Affordable housing and the homeless crisis are hot button issues these days in Venice, and there's a lot of complaining about it, without many solutions being offered up by the complainers. I wrote about the VNC meeting with the Rose project being discussed last week, taking no real side on it, because I'm not sure housing just a few families makes much of a dent in the problem, but I do know that something simply MUST be done.

One charming gentleman (I'm dripping in sarcasm here) called me a "Silicon Beach girl" on the Venice Community Facebook page for my efforts, which tells me that people often really have no idea what they're talking about, and should maybe just zip it until they do have some understanding on any given topic. I'm still fuming about that one a little bit, as I can't stand that lame (mainly real estate developer) term, and everyone who knows me knows it. But you still have to speak your truth to power, and do that the best that you can.

So, I'm here, asking if readers might like to contribute toward our making the film that I truly believe will share with the world what is happening with the art and artists of Venice ... and how we can make sure that this place remains something special.

You'll meet our artist families ... one homeless, one in transition, and one doing great, as well as hearing from members of our community that make the place still one of the most interesting and eclectic places on the globe (indeed, in walking around on the Boardwalk and Abbot Kinney you mainly hear foreign tongues, so everyone from everywhere seems to know and love our Venice). You'll be a fly on the wall at contentious Town Hall meetings, where you can really see where priorities tend to line up according to one's fiscal standing, rather then their humanity. You'll learn about Venice history, and how we got here. You'll see the absolute squalor that some of our community lives in, and also see the events that make the very same town radiate with joy and fun. You'll see it all, the awful AND the wonderful.

We need funds to continue telling these crucial stories. We need funds to live on also, as none of the principal members of the production team have taken any salary on this project this entire year, doing other odd freelance things to keep ourselves going the best we can while doing this absolute passion project. We all feel that income inequality is THE issue of our time, and we want to try to do something about it. Once people are talking about an issue, traction builds, and that tends to become action. That is our goal for this film.

If you are able, please go to our IDA (International Documentary Association) page and make an end of year tax deductible donation to this, we feel, very worthy cause. This is the story of this time and place in Venice, and ALL of the people who make up this last beach community of color, this place where art meets crime/eviction, and this place that lives in our hearts, now and always.

We can't wait for you to take part in, and to ultimately see our vision for 90291: VENICE UNZIPPED come to fruition with your help. Thank you for your consideration!


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Small Step Forward In The Venice Homeless Crisis

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Pretty much everyone is bustling about getting ready for the big meal with family and friends, celebrating our gratitude and abundance. Except some people have nothing at all, and you can see that on the streets of Venice every single day. Something must be done about the absolute crisis that homelessness is in this entire country ... this country that claims to be great, but looks the other way when it comes to poverty. There is no good excuse for the squalor that is everywhere that you look in a nation that has so very much.

The Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) meeting was held last night in the Westminster School auditorium, with the 720 Rose project up for a vote. The supporters of this affordable housing project from Venice Community Housing (VCH) were out in force, clad in black t-shirts and holding red roses to show their solidarity with this plan. As opposed to the completely disgusting mayhem that was last month's Town Hall meeting on the MTA homeless housing project, this one was very civilized and respectful - thank you all for that. There were 77 speaker cards turned in, and almost all of them that we heard were in support of this project, and almost all know that this Rose project for merely 35 homes is just a drop in the bucket, but that we MUST start somewhere. There was hardly anyone there that opposed the project, as I guess they just want to yell and make a scene when news cameras and the Mayor are there. Also, the ones who oppose homeless housing tend not to offer any solutions, they just complain, so it was a relief that they mostly sat this one out. Come with solutions or zip it. Seriously.

I kind of don't get why these projects for NEW buildings keep getting proposed for millions of dollars, when there are plenty of unused large buildings all over Los Angeles that could be repurposed for affordable and low or zero income housing (In fact, it was just approved that the massive County General Hospital in downtown L.A. will be repurposed into housing for the homeless, and that will help massively. That seems to be the main opposition, the spending of big money when housing can be done for so much less (though some VNC board members were all held up on parking spaces - and how many homeless people really need parking? - and height dimensions and stuff, when really, who cares? There are big ugly houses all over Venice that they approved - and those same board members seem to be very much in cahoots with money grab developers. It's gross.). As one speaker said, "Why do you care at all about parking spaces when people are sleeping on the street?" Exactly. C'mon. We need SOLUTIONS, not just complaints, though board member Jim Murez offered up the solution of the decommissioned USS Enterprise battleship to be stationed at the end of the pier for housing, and the flippancy of it was not well-received by the community in attendance. Because it's not at all a joking matter. People are DYING on the streets. On Thanksgiving.

Several speakers had great things to say, and several mentioned that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and why not try some humanity, for goodness sakes! Most were longtime Venice residents, again as opposed to the awful Town Hall that was mostly all NIMBYs behaving badly. Many mentioned that they want to "Keep Venice, Venice" - meaning welcoming, accepting, and diverse. An eclectic community worthy of its legend and history. My friend, Alice Stek, was there and I thought had the best and truest comment of the night when she said that those board members opposed to the project, "Your opposition is actually opposition to poor people in the community." Which is sad, because Venice has never been an enclave for the wealthy. When I first lived in Los Angeles, I lived in Beverly Hills. I couldn't wait to get out of there and live in Venice, where I hung out every weekend. All of my B.H. friends were opposed, saying it was sketchy and dangerous and a dump. Well, times change, but the people that made Venice great in the first place have not. They're here, they're proud, and they have hearts. At least most of them do.

At meeting's end, VNC Board President, Ira Koslow, said, "Well, that was surprisingly pleasant!", and he was right. People who support affordable and supportive housing are generally civil and polite and want what's best for everyone, and not just out for themselves and their property or resale values. The project passed with a 9-4-1 vote, with the expected people voting as expected. It's a tiny step toward solving this terrible crisis, but at least it's doing SOMETHING. I honestly am still not sure if it's a good or bad project in the long run, but time will tell. I mean, your friend CJ STILL needs affordable housing, so this hits close to home. I'm also working on our documentary 90291: VENICE UNZIPPED, and we shot our homeless family the last couple of weeks, and I know how hard life is for them (but it looks like they're getting housing - THANK YOU ST. JOSEPH'S CENTER!), so this whole issue might mean more to me than someone else, but it SHOULD mean something to us all. Because we're a COMMUNITY. Everything that happens here affects us all, and it really could be you someday. I hope it's not, but don't get too comfortable in this crazy world. I don't have all the answers, or any really, for this ENORMOUS issue, but I do know that SOMETHING must be done.

So, tomorrow we all take a break from that crazy world to gather and give thanks for all of the good stuff in our lives ... but that also means DOING good. Gratitude is the Glory.

Happy Thanksgiving, Venice! Thank you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

New Mural On Speedway Celebrates Muscle Beach

There's a big new mural on Speedway right behind Muscle Beach at Speedway, and it shows off some of the things that have historically made Venice a cool place to be. Skating. Surfing. Babes. Boards. Muscles. The good stuff.

Jonas Never has been making his mural mark around town for a while now, and this is another good one that gives passersby a true sense of place. A place that has its fair share of problems, but none of them outweigh the good vibes, and the general aura of letting the good times roll.

There is yet another VNC meeting tonight that will deal with affordable and homeless housing, both sorely needed in this place where Art has always met Crime (and now Eviction - thank you Attaway and Gallo for coining these phrases). I hope that if you're planning to attend (and you should if you care about the future of Venice), and if you do, and you're planning to speak, I hope you're coming with ideas for SOLUTIONS, and not just your complaints. Everyone knows people don't like needles and human waste and people sleeping on the sidewalks, and that you don't want your kids seeing these things on the way to the beach. We get it. But if you're new, and you're freaking out about that, well ... you probably shouldn't have moved your kids here. If you're old school and freaking out about these things, come with solutions, not just shouting over other people. People just embarrassed themselves (but were so self-involved that they probably didn't notice) at the last one, and I'm hoping for a much more civil evening tonight. A meeting where mature citizens who can agree that we all love Venice can come together as the intelligent and creative people that we are (or can be) for the greater good. Come on. Make us all proud. One Love. Thanks in advance.

On a cooler note, right after I saw this new mural this morning, I also saw dolphins! Another bit of glory we get to witness in this excellent (perhaps last) beach community of color and diversity and art. These are the moments you put in your back pocket to get you through things like tonight's meeting - and what makes it all worth it. V's up!