Venice Beach, CA is most known for its wacky street artists, throngs of homeless people, skaters, surfers, and the board walk which is now glutted with pot stores. It’s difficult to ignore the street hawkers. Clad in green, as if they were medical professionals about to go into surgery, they beckon you inside. “Want to feel euphoric, Lady?” Want something for your arthritis, your sex drive, your appitite, headaches.. “It’s all fine so far, thank you very much, even the sex drive for no apparent reason.” But I digress.
Venice was my home for 12 years. Now I’m back, staying at my friend, Brandon Maggart’s, comfortable home just a couple blocks from the beach. Brandon and I bonded about fifteen plus years ago while having lunch at the Sidewalk Cafe when I asked him if he knew any hookers. “Why do you think I might, Ruby?” he asked, his blue eyes twinkling. “Well, I don’t necessarily think you do, I just wondered because Kirk wants to get laid again.” (Kirk was my quadriplegic son who had been born with cerebral palsy causing the need for assistance in every way. ) As it turns out Brandon rallied, and the proverbial village responded. Brandon and the considerable Maggart clan, consisting of six totally delightful, talented adults, have been my friends ever sense.
My room is the “loft” designated to transient familty, including an exwife, and friends as needs arise. It’s situated about three feet above, and from the door to his room, where he spends much of his time writing about his life on and off Broadway, and on the big screen in Hollywood, as viewed behind the small attic stage behind his eyes. His books are delightful romps through time and place, guaranteed to entertain. At least two of them are available on Amazon now, and the third one, which will include escapades with my son, is in the works.
Apart from the famous boardwalk, another aspect of Venice that goes largely unnoticed, that even I’d forgotten about, is the complex diversity of its aromas. A walk in Venice is to experience olfactory and visual sensations that trigger desire, memories, or the need for stimuli or contemplation.
On the boardwalk I’m assulted by a complex profusion of man-made smells: coconut sun screen, sweat, dollar hotdogs with yellow mustard, fried samosas and homemade incense, mingling with the sea.
But just a few blocks inland, the smells become sweet: profusions of pink jasmine, orange and lemon trees, and complex spices wafting from the multi-million dollar homes along the canals, and on walk streets.
Venice truly has something for everyone. It’s a village where one can see plays before they hit the Pantages, listen to original poetry, see the creative garments of young fashion designers flowing on streetside mannequins , and get a 39.00 Thai massage before noon.
Developers are doing their best to unseat the funkiness that took this seaside sectiion of Los Angeles decades to perfect, but I have hope, and believe in the freedom and resistence of those who are staunch supporters of the wacky wonderfulness that has made it unique.