9
Nov

If you love Venice Beach, these free spirited characters…

final-cover-web “If you love Venice Beach, these free spirited characters will warm your heart and enrich your consciousness.

This wonderfully written novel combines two topics which fascinate me—-bohemians and Venice Beach. As the first book in the “Destiny’s Consent” trilogy, it’s an entertaining and enjoyable read. I was immediately transported to the magical world of Los Angeles at the early part of the 20th century. The women in this novel are strong and empowered, and their gypsy culture is colorfully described, making you feel like a participant in every vivid scene.

 Patricia Nolan Stein

22
Aug

A Creation Myth

(In honor of Venice-of-America’s 109th Birthday)

In a time that was,
(And in a time that was not)

Abbot Kinney hid in a bin on a dock
To safeguard his life
From Turks bayoneting any infidel found
Oh, how the blood of Christians
Spilled onto the dock that day
A carmine blood delta flowing to the sea.

And Abbot Kinney knew his life was over
But it was not, it was not….
Destiny had other plans for Abbot Kinney
He escaped
And procured a small boat to sail toAfrica
With only his life
With only HIS life!
And Abbot Kinney now Knew
Oh, the preciousness of life!!
Not only his, but all life
The mighty as well as the weak….

That was the day Abbot Kinney’s soul
Made a stringent vow to never trivialize
The significance of his own life
With mundane endeavors of any kind
And his heart heard…and knew the truth of it
And his intellect heard and knew the truth of it
And thus sanity was born in Abbot Kinney
And Abbot Kinney returned from Africa
An integrated man, enveloped within his own intuition…

 

Young Abbot

Fast forward to another lifetime in OceanPark
A partner dies, a partner buys
The usual arguments of money and greed emerging
Abbot Kinney calls a meeting of the partners
To trade all of his holdings in their developments
For a mosquito swamp to the south
A sump already deemed
By experts as unsuitable for habitation

The investors gleed in their greed
Oh, the wily Kinney has finally gone mad, he’s mad!
Wind-fallen prosperity they nabbed with avarice
And signed the papers oh so quickly
Deeding the marshland to Kinney
Before the asylum came to claim
The insane Kinney and drag him away.

man hunting with dogs

But Abbot Kinney had walked those bogs
And marshlands to the south
He had felt an energy harbored there
Oh, yes, we still sing the song of those spirits
In Venice to this very day! Nothing to be done with marshes, but canals

And so it was on the first day of dredge

As steel blades of chuffing bulldozers
Pushed dank Cambrian ooze to formulate banks
Abbot Kinney saw faint illuminations of vapor
From the foaming primordial mud
An interred Goddess emerged

cropped-web-venus-3.jpg

The workmen saw the apparition not
But it was The Goddess Venus
Come to ply Abbot Kinney with visions
Golden tresses bewitched by the
Breaths of her attendant deities and fairy folk

And then Venus began her songs of creation
In altered states of melodic harmonies
Goddess songs of cities ancient and mythical
She sang of past golden cities of magic and light
To enchant Abbot Kinney with the land in his keeping
And ply his mind with visions of a creation
And its significance to the Earth and to the World

Abbot Kinney, smitten, changed the name of the city
To Venice to honor the Goddess VenusAnd her Aura…..
Venice — a place of learning and enlightenment
Venice — a haven of harmony and inspiration for artists
Venice – a perfumed sensory experience
Venice – where transformation is guided by Muses

And Abbot Kinney continued in his creation of a city that
Venus sang as revelation to him

A city that he fiercely loved with all of his heart
A city he gave to the world for all time

The Original Lagoon

That city is called Venice

Published in the Free Venice Beachhead JULY, 2014

A Creation Myth

 

5
Feb

Dredging the Venice Canals and Venus (excerpt from “Lions and Gondolas”)

Lions and GondolasIt was only after I began to create Venice that I began to examine all of these issues,”  Abbot said.

“And why was that?”

“This storytelling seems to be one-sided; I seem to be doing all of the talking.  Are you sure you would you like to hear and yet another story?”  I nodded my head, and Abbot began his tale as we continued our vigorous walk.  Actually, I knew much of Abbot Kinney’s story already.  It is that way with celebrities; people like to discuss them all the time, sharing any bits of information they had heard so as to appear to know the individual first hand.

With some partners, Abbot had bought a large parcel of land south of Santa Monica on the Pacific Ocean. Using their combined resources, the partnership extensively developed Ocean Park, the northern area, including the construction of a pier.  But when one of the partners died, his replacements quarreled constantly with Abbot Kinney.  Abbot called for a meeting to dissolve the partnership and to divide the land into equitable holdings.

“At the meeting, my partners appeared, thronged by lawyers.  It was then I knew our battles would continue on indefinitely if I took any portion of the already developed real estate. It was true I had already invested a great amount of capital into Ocean Park, but I have always preferred peace to security.  So, I proposed to take only the salt marshes which lay to the south.

We had left the marshes undeveloped because they had been deemed impossible to develop.

man hunting with dogs

“You can imagine my partners’ euphoria at my proposal.   They thought I had gone mad, and not believing their good fortune, had their attorneys draw up the papers before I had a chance to change my plainly deluded mind.  But I was not going to change my mind.  I had often strolled those marshes and felt something very strong, almost magical there.  Whatever it was, it had gripped my heart and had not let go.  I had no idea how I was going to build a city on marshes, but I also seemed to know that if the city was to be, it would occur.”

From the stories he had already shared with me, obviously Abbot Kinney was a man who had spent his entire life trusting himself, and as such, possessed quite a strong intuition.

“My Grandmother Lena calls that ‘destiny’s consent’, when a person relies upon the universe to supply the doorways for one’s life.”

“What a wonderful terminology for the phenomenon…but I believe it is we who must ultimately turn the doorknob.  It has not been my experience that the doors open all by themselves.  But again, it is often the difficulties in one’s life, which supply their own answers.  If we are open to them.”

“The difficulties being the new investors and their arguments,” I asked.

“Exactly, Anne.  You do learn so quickly or perhaps you already knew.”

“Perhaps.”  We shared a grin.  “So what did you do,” I urged him back to his story.

“I hired an engineering firm, and they proposed that the marshes could be reclaimed by the creation of canals.

steam shovel

I was delighted by the prospect; I had spent some of my most memorable hours in the golden light of the canals of Venice, Italy, and I decided to name my new city St. Marks after the main square in Venice.

“You can imagine my great anticipation on the first day of canal dredging, and with great pride, I accompanied the huffing bulldozers to the site.  The bulldozers set to work at once, pushing the dank black ooze from the marshes up into banks to create basins deep enough to allow the seawater to flow in and out easily.  Piercing whistles and shouted ‘hees and haws’ guided mule teams and wagons to cart away the extra clay and earth.

“Perhaps I began a daydream, but I realized, with a start, that though the bulldozers still roared and coughed as their great blades banked the heavy earth, I could no longer hear their engines.  I shook my head to rouse myself from this odd consciousness, but it did not break the spell.  I actually shouted to ascertain whether I had gone deaf.  Since I heard my voice, I began to chide myself for my foolishness.  But the strange feeling persisted.  Even though everything was as it was before, everything had become somehow very different.  From the bulldozers’ excavations, I could see light escaping from the swamp in a vaporous breath.

“I looked across the canal ditch, and there an apparition stood, so naturally, it was a long time before I realized she was totally naked.  Her golden tresses played on the winds, her large sensuous eyes seeking mine.  I do not know how, but I knew at once she was a goddess emerged from the interred sea-earth, and I could see her as plainly as I could the busy machines.  But seemingly I was alone in this ability, for not one of my workmen was the least bit altered in his actions.  Their mechanistic sensibilities seemed to be incapable of registering the existence of a supernatural being or goddess.  And I saw at once it was not just any goddess; it was Venus, the goddess supreme, thrust from the foaming mud to govern a city being created for her.  For that is what she told me.”

cropped-web-venus-3.jpg

“She spoke to you?”

“No, she did not speak to me directly; it was more like an altered state of melodic harmonies.  But I instantly knew Venus had arrived to ensure her marshes would be transformed into a realm of the extra-ordinary.  And she plied my mind with visions so I could visualize the city of canals she wanted, and that I would create…the Venice you see here.

“Venus further informed me that her new city would be called Venice – a golden city dedicated to rebirth or ‘Renaissance’ in the New World; it was to be a place of learning and enlightenment, a haven for those who were interested in the arts.   The city’s beauty would enchant and intensify sensory impressions.  More importantly, Venice would be a place where the magical processes of transformation would be not only permissible, but encouraged and guided by muses.  From that day forth, I ceased to call the city the name I had given to it: St. Marks, and renamed it Venice after her.

“Do you still see her,” I asked, looking around me.

“Sadly, though I feel her presence, I have never seen Venus since that day.  That’s why I come here often at night when I can’t sleep.  Perhaps it is just superstition, but I believe, no I know, the reason people crowd into Venice is because of her…because of Venus.  The unique aura of Venice is grounded in her goddess energy, the energy released from the primordial swamp the first day the canals were dug.  It became obvious to me that day how much I, and I daresay, the rest of the world, craves this female energy.”  Abbot paused.

“What a long way to express why I am so interested in Woman’s Suffrage.  Attending those lectures today has moved me to a rare chattiness, Anne.  I am careful never to advertise or to associate Venice with Venus; our society is female-phobic and would, in all probability, shun Venice if there were any direct knowledge of all of this.  For unfortunately, the world today is a world designed by men, for men.  Venice was supposedly designed by me, a man, but it was really a goddess who created it.  Anyone who heard me say this would certainly regard me as crazy.”  Abbot looked me directly in the eyes.  “Do you think I’m crazy, Anne?

“Not many people walk the earth loving so entirely that which they have created, as you love Venice.  You are confusing fortunate with crazy.”  My comment made Abbot Kinney chuckle, his eyes twinkling light all over me.

“Venice exists all because of Venus.”

“And you are the mortal to whom Venus has chosen to speak,” I said.  Inside myself, I silently sang, “remarkable man, remarkable man”.

“Well Anne, I am beginning to suspect that you are as crazy as I am.  That is why I believe we shall get along famously.  But Venus is why I built Venice as a mecca for artists, or for any person in pursuit of muses and knowledge.  That is why the lectures at the Venice Assembly are so important to me, though seemingly not to others.”  Abbot Kinney’s face narrowed with his sadness. “For in spite of my best efforts to create a city of culture, people come to Venice for amusement and diversion…to be entertained by bathing suit contests and rides, rather than feeding their intellects, much less their heart and their souls.”

I knew exactly what Abbot meant.  If I were to describe Venice, I would never think of it as ‘a Mecca for those in pursuit of muses and knowledge’.

gondola

Venice was a paradise of azure blue sea, white sand beaches, ringed with hazy purple mountains, and a flawless sky.  Regardless of the season, every day was a day saturated with sunshine, and Venice was the destination to which thousands of Angelinos flocked, to escape their worldly cares, a perfect backdrop for amusement and diversion.  It was also a place where one could see almost any oddity.

But I had been among oddities at the Circus of Cairo’s carnival area, so I knew Venice was much more than that.  Venice had an ability to immerse everyone and everything within its golden glow.  I had felt it from the first moment I had first entered the city, and surely my feelings made more sense now knowing about the goddess, Venus.  What better setting could there be for Venus than Abbot’s creation, a place newspapers described as ‘the perfumed gardens of the gods on the temporal plane of fantasy’?  They had just substituted the word, ‘god’ for the word, ‘goddess’.  Abbot’s bitter-saddened eyes forced me to try to convey my thoughts to him.

I wonder how I came to formulate the next sentences that I uttered.  Years later I still wonder about its source.  For all I know, it could have been from a movie poster for a Clara Bow movie that was touting her as the modern day Venus.  Actually though, I attribute it to Venus herself interceding.  I believe she overheard our conversation, knew of Abbot Kinney’s suffering, and supplied the words to help me.  In any case, out of my mouth the thoughts tumbled.

“But Abbot, remember that Venus is also a goddess of sensuousness and amusement.  Maybe it is important to her that Venice is a place where people can escape from their cares and have fun.”  Abbot Kinney regarded me with astonishment.

“You do not know what a rare treat this is for me, Anne.”

“How so,” I asked with some trepidation.

“People do not usually tell me anything, much less things I do not already know.  And they certainly never lecture me,” Abbot replied.

“I did not mean to lecture you,” I said.

“Well, in any case, I am enjoying it.  Please continue.”  And so I did.

“Most people think knowledge only comes to us from words or books.  But it can come in so many other ways.  To learn to fly on the trapeze, I never read one book.  That intelligence lived in my body before my brain could understand it.  Your ‘Venice of America’ rises above normal life, as a supernatural force, which seeks to make each of us better.”  Abbot Kinney was quiet for a moment before responding.

“You are correct, Anne.  I forget in my zealous pursuit to try to enlighten the world, that Venus is also Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love whose son was Eros, the god of passion.  Have you ever been in love?  No?  Well, you’re still very young.  It will happen to you, if you’re lucky.  It is when the soul soars to rhapsodic heights, for it sees and is seen all at once; it is recognized, and grasped by another soul as never before.”  Abbot Kinney chuckled.

“Perhaps Venus is trying to teach me that beyond wisdom is love.  And that pleasure and fun are vital to one’s life as well.”  Abbot was silent for a long moment.  “These thoughts are a great balm for an ache I have carried within my heart for many, many years.  I had thought that all of my endeavors had failed Venus, and that is why she left me.  I do not know how to thank you for your insights and your wisdom, Anne.”

“You already have by taking me to the Assembly with you to see the suffragettes,” I said.  But that was not enough of what I meant to say and so I added, “I shall never forget this day as long as I live”.

“Nor shall I, Anne.  You have helped me more than you know.”  And then suddenly shy, we parted company.

Lions and Gondolas

Lions and Gondolas

 

1
Feb

An Introduction to Venice in 1918 (excerpt from “Lions and Gondolas”)

“So that is the way I first entered Venice, on foot, much like the pilgrim who enters a holy place, as a seeker, stirred with expectation.

Perhaps this was because of the Tarot cards’ prediction of lions roaring against a backdrop of crashing sea waves.  Or perhaps the restless rustle within me was only due to the desert zephyr, then blowing slightly, so as to be almost imperceptible except as a breath of warmth upon my face.  It could have been the unique fragrance of Venice: a perfume of flower blossoms, rendered mysterious with the scents of sage and anise, with the salt air of the sea as its base.  In any case, the alchemy roused my being; my soul wakened to soar and merge with the sun’s setting.  It was late afternoon, that crack in time when the day is being swallowed by night.  The light of day was surrendering to the encroaching darkness, shooting fire into the sky as its parting gift to the Earth and its creatures, before disappearing into the void.

MacGregor led the way, passing through a row of closely planted young palm trees.  Behind him, the robust, overlapping fronds closed neatly, granting no vision of what lay beyond.  I paused to reflect upon this gate of palms.  Seemingly, the trees were standing as guards or divine sentinels to monitor my entry into Venice.  Could it be that even nature was in a conspiracy to keep the essence of the city a mystery?  I still feel that not until one pushes through barriers, real or imagined, can one enter Venice completely and whole of heart.  Perhaps in this way, Venice would remain a true experience, rather than a postcard.  It was time to stop my musings and catch up to the others.

The Original Lagoon

The sky above was ablaze; the canal below glowed with echoing hues of transformation.  I stood transfixed.  We all did, as men and women have stood since the beginning of time and will probably continue to stand until the cessation of time.   Standing there, in Venice that evening, I knew I was adrift within that awe.  On the canal lagoon, a few gondolas floated.  A soft melody played, but perhaps it was only that capricious zephyr serenading itself by trilling over the strings of an unattended gondolier’s mandolin.

MacGregor was intent on his business and led us on a pathway along a canal.  It seemed deserted, though spacious homes, with tended greenery and flowerbeds, lined the waterway.  Blooms of exotic flowers and roses crept up trellises, apparently completely unaware it was winter; Chinese paper lanterns tossed about in the breezes.

Apparently the magic I was experiencing in Venice had not been sufficient to keep the plague away.  Here too, the deadly Spanish Influenza was holding its sway.

As if reading my mind, MacGregor explained that unlike usual, there were very few people in Venice because the State of California, as a precautionary measure against the flu epidemic, had closed down every one of the city’s entertainments, restaurants and bars.  I will accept that the closing of Venice was the literal explanation as to why so few people were there the day I first entered Venice, but I always make spaces for my own explanations of the coincidences that occur in my life.  For myself, I will always believe there was no one there that day so that I could feel Venice’s soul, purely and without disruption.

MacGregor had guided us to Windward Avenue, Venice’s main thoroughfare.  My waking dream, begun at the threshold of planted palm trees, now continued on without interruption.  Mediterranean buildings of white plaster, flicked with gold, were bejeweled with thousands of tiny white lights.  We walked beneath vaulted arches and colonnades.  From the top of the columns, god and goddess sculptures with luxuriant tresses, bewitched by sea breezes, gazed down upon us as witnesses to our passing.  Besides these plaster deities, there were few people to encourage or discourage our odyssey.

Man walking thru Windward columns

 

But seemingly not wild animals.  A troop of three elephants, quite loose, raced down the middle of the street, trunks extended eagerly, eyes alit and wide with their adventure.  Behind them, three very excited men, obviously their trainers, also raced, shouting at the elephants, and shouting at us.  They waved their arms to indicate safety inside the buildings.

“The Tarot has brought us to a very strange place,” whispered Grandmother Lena.  “There seem to be no people in Venice, just wild elephants running in its streets.”  Mother giggled happily.  In the Circus of Cairo, elephants had been her charge, and her very favorite of creatures.  As for me, I toppled head over heels in love with the place.”
Lions and Gondolas

Lions and Gondolas