My imagination got carried away over this whole Silicon Beach thing. I have drifted in and out of other people’s dreams (or my obsessions with being a part of other people’s dreams), for quite some time. Not yet confident as a writer, I was unable to get a real bead on who I was. My own dreams have alluded me – not just in their pursuit, but in the actual formulation. I don’t think I planted any of my own seeds in Jamie’s Secret Venetian Silicon Garden.
I know Venice intimately, but from a distance, like a diligent and highly discreet stalker. (Though I have learned the hard way, not to make stalker jokes.) There was a time, back when I was unemployed and had only been a Venetian for a short while, that I was very happy in a state of blissful ignorance. I loved when the Canals were nothing but a big gorgeous house park, instead of a monument to gentrification. I loved when the Boardwalk was a carnival that held little interest, instead of a place that I consciously avoided.
My life in Venice Beach has been about birds, really.
Cranes, hawks, egrets, mockingbirds (an evil attack one lives on Amoroso), wild parrots (a whole freaking flock nesting in our palm tree), ducks (cheeky little bastards in the spring), swallows, geese, seagulls, pigeons, doves, crows, bluebirds, kestrels, pelicans (catching them in flight in the Canals with that wing span, still blows me away), hummingbirds…
My life is early morning fiction writing after yoga followed up with toast and strong, sweet coffee. My life is about insomniac nights, candles burning, Robert Johnson warbling Stones In My Passway, barely audible through my computer speakers, but fused with a haunting serenity nonetheless. My life is a little too lonely. That is mostly my fault. Sometimes I like it too much that way.
My life is about dogs. I lost one a few weeks ago. A beautiful lady black lab who was nine years old. She had a tumor on her heart and went so fast. When I go to the house to walk her surviving buddy, Ranger, I cry every single time. I’m crying now as I type this because I still cannot accept that I am never going to see her again. She was a good dog. I named my guitar after her. I still can’t play for shit, but the new Ms. Burton has an acknowledged spirit. That counts for something. As it turns out, that counts for everything.
My life is about bees and flowers. My life is about riding my bike to the ocean and watching the sun go down. My life is about singing when all the doors and windows are closed. My life is about walking to the Albertsons and saying hello to three or four folks along the way. Sometimes homeless guys manage to sleep in the brush surrounding the “Costco Compound.” Sometimes they even manage to set up a little camp. They never last long. Not only is it private property, it is technically Culver City where they don’t put up with that shit.
My life is about long phone conversations with friends, meeting for a drink, seeing a play or heading to a museum. My life is about my neighbors and a yard sale, a bag of mellow leaf and a fridge of Tecate that brings us all closer together. My life is about my family. My father so badly wants me to visit home.
I go to Starbucks for morning coffee when I don’t brew it myself. I would have preferred a local Mom and Pop for my regular joint, but none are within walking distance. Also, when a gal is up at 4am, there is something mighty nice about a place that unlocks its doors at 5:30am on the dot. Plus, the staff all knows me. They ask about my life. They were really excited about my cover story in the Beachhead.
I haven’t found much joy in many places, though the music and poetry are usually fabulous. People are not quite as alive as I had expected. There is a lot of sadness of which is spoken in the work, but not to each other.
Poetry nights at Beyond Baroque, a great band at the Talking Stick, something rare, but magical along the Boardwalk, walking around seeing all different kinds of folks…amazing stuff…But then there’s the old surfers and hippies who are always wanting a hug, which lasts way too long and/or involves a penis press and/or an ass grab. They bandy the phrase “Free Love” around like it is 1969 and that’s what they still mean.
In Venice Beach, it ain’t often about Free Love. Not anymore. It’s Free Fuck. Getting in, getting out and getting off – that’s howdy do Hollywood style. But, what do I care?!? It’s a free country. We all have to live in a body. Most of the time, people just want a fantasy.
What I do care about; however, is the lie that covers it all up, the pretty graffiti we slap all over that hard, exposed, entitled cock and say it’s art and, therefore, love. Those lies are something we don’t talk about in Venice Beach. Just like the rest of America, we don’t really call things what they are. We are no less hypocrites here than folks are anywhere else, we just have a good soundtrack.
There are a lot of things in Venice I would like to see change, but who the hell am I? I was proud to stand up for Free Venice in the Beachhead after that loaded Town Hall. Free Venice has a voice that needs to be heard and it was unfairly ambushed. But, I am certainly not that voice. I have not been here long enough and am not embedded in its history. I am in love, but not attached.
I am a bird watcher. I pray and meditate and lose myself in God on my best days. I lose my temper and yell at sanitation workers, who are blocking the one-way street with their truck on my bad days…
I am a happy woman who could be much braver in sharing her happiness, face to face, instead from behind a word processor. I could do much better living my life and I plan to do just that.
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