All photos by Michelle Streisand photography
I felt a little spoiled wandering down the boardwalk of Venice Beach on Wednesday and with good reason. I was in a belly shirt and my mom was sending me pictures of multi feet of snow out on the east coast. But beyond that, it was the level of comfort and familiarity I felt there. I have been doing Renaissance Festivals for manyyears now, as a manager, not a playtron, and I was shocked at the similarities between a long standing Rennie tradition and the boardwalk.On monday mornings at any multiweek hard festival(i.e. any festival that lasts more than one weekend and has permanent structures, not just tent setups), to recover from the burnout of back to back 18 hour days, we all meet in the campground to enjoy a group breakfast, oftentimes donation only, and set up our own blankets and tents and whatnot to partake of festival wares ourselves since none of us can leave our booths on the weekend. Tarot, henna, arts and crafts, massage, shows, you name it, all set up for fun and frolic. Walking down Venice beach looking at the street vending I was transported back to monday morning, what the rennies call Bizarre Bazaar( haha, get it? :D).
There was a man making palm tree leaf roses whose donations went to Clothes 2 the Heart, like Goodwill, but a place that actually does something for the community, unlike Goodwill( I did work there, still have no idea what the “charity” part is, but the president of the local chapter made a quarter million a year, a very “charitable” fellow I’m sure). There was a man taming and training pigeons, he let me hold one, no pics, but so cute; a woman with an anti-gov’t propaganda booth, countless incense, tarot, henna, spray on tattoos, handmade crafts, and so on. I got to see my first breakdance show, sad to say I didn’t get the name, it was “the black and mexican guys”- their own words, and they were AMAZING!! I have seen a lot of professional performers and these guys were top of the list. They did a great show, great comedy and good audience interaction. GO SEE THEM!! they are on the boardwalk and kind of impossible to miss, lol.
We had lunch at a place called “Mao’s Kitchen”- cheap, delicious and very communist. They decorated the place with communist posters from the Cold War, in mint condition, very impressive. The service was amazing, really sweet old lady, and the $1 eggrolls are vegetarian, for the carnivores there was a shrimp and spinach roll for $2, that far exceeded the expectations of any two-dollar food item.( I’m not typically for eating out, but it was a long day and we’d already gone through the packed snacks- pistachios, cheese, fruit and pastry- between the five of us)
After the food, we finished walking the boardwalk, well actually, they walked. Aaron had been getting tired of me lagging behind (I’m quite short), and stopping every few stalls( it was fun!!) so he taught me the basics of skateboarding and took my bag. WEEEEEE! I had never quite figured out how to skateboard before, as it turns out I need to do right foot front which is apparently very unusual. I spent the rest of the day wizzing up and down the boardwalk, doing circles around the group and getting laughed at by passersby- all in good humor of course. Girls in bellydance garb riding skateboards are a rare sight I was told!
Pic: Fun with friends and cameras
We spent the evening making homemade ravioli stuffed with avocado, pork and cheese, with a side of sweet potato fries, yum! The best part was the gift waiting on the porch when we got back. There are tons of cyclists in this area, and on sweet guy named Steve, stopped on his route to hang out and chat. He turned out to be an avid traveler as well, and promised to stop by sometime to have a beer and make friends. Sadly, he arrived while we were out, but he left us the most amazing whole wheat banana raisin bread in existence, and two bananas. (I think Harold found his true love! A man who gives him bananas! Pun intended, Harold is showing himself to be a very gay rat 😀 )
The next day we were taken, slightly against our will and better judgement, out to a college art show. Be thankful there are no pictures, it was terrifying in it’s awfulness, topped by the chick doing a “live art performance” which consisted of singing against a video backround and woodland setup. It was the music and vocal equivalent of cats wailing while scraping their nails on chalkboards and biblical in its conjuring of hell being full of “wailing and gnashing of teeth”. No idea what she was going for, but I think she missed.
Aaron and I dancing The boys 🙂
After a quick escape we spent the evening drinking and engaging in shinanigans, and Aaron did an excellent end to the party by coming down with food poisoning from the grocery store deli we’d eaten at, spent the next day recovering and right when he was feeling better we went to a farewell party all the friends in LA had for us. And there, I made a brilliant show by also coming down with food poisoning, a day later and from a different place! Now we are both recovering( hooray for coconut water and banana bread) and in a few minutes the caravan is headed to Santa Barbara, see you again soon!