I Took a Vacation (part 1)

It was fucking amazing!! I got an Airbnb right on Venice Beach and had many enriching experiences. I spent time with amazing people. Saw a world clinging to hope and practicing kindness. California is a vibe. It is millions of people having millions of completely unique experiences. Venice Beach specifically is my idea of heaven. It was beyond easy to strike up conversations with people, and so many of them had fascinating experiences.

I was watching the skate park buzzing with energy, a kind of coordinated chaos. I could not perceive a system at play to explain the lack of collisions. Somehow beginners and advanced skaters were weaving past and through each other but no verbal communication. Rollerskates, skateboards, rollerblades, scooters just all dancing out of each others way but it looked like bees buzzing to me. So I asked one of them. I guy rocking a mix of 80’s LA rock and roll with a bit of a outlaw rebel look leaned up against the railing and was excited to explain it. He proceeds to tell me that there is kind of a moment or two beat that your supposed to wait between turns and then basically the more experienced people are just super considerate to the less skilled. He then recommended a iconic Venice Beach burger joint and then waited the appropriate pause and dropped in X Games mode. 1 of a million amazing encounters in my week here. Off I went to Hinano Cafe and read all about the history of that amazing place. Burgers were incredible and eating on the patio was a perfect blend of ocean breeze without having to hold down napkins.

I walked the alleys in Venice at night. They stay brightly lit and the architecture is incredible both in variety and beauty. A place that looked like a castle perched right next door to a place right out of a 60’s beach party movie. It just looks bad ass. A lot of it is pretty ugly too. but you are never more that a corner away from some stunning mural that gives the entire place a heartbeat.

There is a lot of homeless people there. A tolerant attitude and year round weather makes it ideal. Pre Covid the homeless community and the beachside commerce kind of blended together. This time there was very little being bought and sold. It sounded and felt hopeful though. There is an amazing recovery community there, and California is putting a lot of funds towards providing recovery options for people. This is incredible. The recovery community has an incredibly high success rate, and its biggest obstacle is how cost prohibitive it is. Making it an option for as many people struggling as need it has a social value that was on full display in Venice. Thank you for being so welcoming and warm, keep rocking it!

I can’t really explain it but something about that city feels right. Amidst all the visible struggle there was no shortage of kindness and tolerance. Anyone familiar with this particular beach knows that… well… it goes hard. It is a magnificent blend of all kinds doing all things. I perched on a hill because the sun was perfect and the weather divine, and I could see an outdoor martial arts class, a roller skating class, some surfers suiting up, a dancer making a tik tok, and a guy in a pink furry onesie riding a speaker blasting some kind of psychedelic music. How do you know when something is right? There is an impossible to describe but everyone knows feeling where something just clicks. I live in a place that has arguably the best sunsets in the world, and I never see groups of people just outside watching it. Here and there someone will have pulled off to take some pics. Someone will call for the rest of the family to come “check it out”. Great ones will be all over the Facebook. At the beach people just gather out there and watch it. It sets and gets dark and things go back to being real but that golden hour at the beach is something remarkable. I love it.

To be continued…

2 thoughts on “I Took a Vacation (part 1)

  1. Alan Dean Foster May 18, 2021 / 9:36 pm

    Hey Brandon;
    Glad you enjoyed Venice so much. JoAnn and I met and lived for a couple of years right by the Santa Monica pier, a short bike ride north of Venice. Fancy hotels and condos nowadays.
    Trivia point: you mentioned the Hinano cafe. Hinano is the national beer of Tahiti. I used to have a Hinano t-shirt (from 1973, when I lived there for a summer). It was a…medium. Outgrew it long ago.

    • jbrandonhall June 11, 2021 / 8:51 pm

      I am still getting used to this blogging thing and did not see this message. What wonderful memories. Thank you so much for sharing. I can’t wait to go back. I am hoping to relocate there within the next couple of years. I connect with the place on a deep level and it is in crisis. I think with my background in addiction I may be able to have a positive impact on the area. I hope all is well my friend. Please give my love to Joann

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