Long Live Millie Mims!

March 1, 2015

By Suzy Williams

In honor of International Women’s Day and the corresponding Beachhead March issue, I would like to shed some fresh Venice daylight on a remarkable and real woman, Millie Mims, the nourishing Goddess of the Boardwalk. Many of you know that she serves up a delicious organic vegetarian soup,  (she gathers the yummy comestibles from local farmers’ market surpluses), hot rice and a big salad every day, rain or shine, to the hungry people of Venice, just about a hundred a day  (every day except Thursday). Whole Foods donates really great bread.
She attracts volunteers to help her serve, but she does much of the cooking and schlepping herself. That kind of tangible daily devotion to sheer human kindness is something that should (and often does!) inspire us all. She is interested not only in feeding people good food, but also in nurturing positive energy and connectedness. She inspires us to be kind – first and foremost in life.
Last month I attended a benefit for Millie and her organization, New Life Society. It was hosted by the handsome Robert Walsh, treasurer for the aforementioned NLS, at Big Red Sun, a beautiful hippie store on Rose that sells classy succulent planters and such. It was very heartening to see lots of young, rather well-off folk forking over $125.00 each to party down with Millie Mims.
So if you happen to be down on your luck and could use some TLC, or if you’re flush and are inclined to share your good fortune, drop on by Navy and Ocean Front Walk. Come by around 4 P.M. and partake in the largesse of Life, as exhibited by Herself, you know who.


Deborah Lashever: Shero of Venice

March 1, 2015

By Greta Cobar

Community activism and participation in the struggle for equality for all members of our community are Deborah Lashever’s trademarks. It is an honor to commemorate International Women’s Day by spotlighting her efforts in the Beachhead.

Beachhead: How did you and Venice find each other?
Deborah Lashever: I’ve been coming to Venice since I was 13. As soon as I could drive, I would be here all the time. In 2009, when my Mother died and I got a little inheritance, I figured the best thing to do was to open a store in Venice. And so came to be the Bohemian Exchange on Abbot Kinney boulevard. That was way before Abbot Kinney was like it is now. It was really nice, with the little independent boutiques. First Fridays were a lovely time to stroll down the street, and the locals loved it. I used to make up to half of the rent for the store during First Fridays. Then GQ called Abbot Kinney the coolest block in America, and that’s when it was all over. The invasion of the food trucks followed, and they wouldn’t go away. It’s what I call slash and burn gentrification, and we’re in the middle of it.

BH: When the Abbot Kinney boulevard crowd changed from locals to Hollywood wanna-be yuppies and hipsters who drove here trying to become cool by hanging out on the “coolest block,” the Bohemian Exchange store was squeezed out of existence by the brand-name flagship stores that all of a sudden sprouted with the same goal as the wanna-be crowd: to become cool and popular by association. All of a sudden the bohemian vibe of Venice that attracted the out-of-town crowd and stores in the first place was not welcome on Abbot Kinney Blvd. And neither was the Bohemian Exchange.
So what did Deborah Lashever choose to do? Hold on to the lease, rent the place out, minimize expenses by living on a boat, and dedicate her time and energy to the vulnerable individuals in our community.
From volunteering for the Venice Community Housing to running the storage facility for the house-less at the beach, to being an integral part of Occupy Venice for 3 years, from helping run such events as the Sleepouts at Beyond Baroque and the Jazz at Palms Court, Deborah has truly become a shero in Venice.

DL: It’s really important for me to do this work. It hurts me so much to see injustice, especially to vulnerable people. I can’t not do anything. It kind of all started with my Open Letter to the Community that the Beachhead published in April 2012. It was in response to the first police sweep on 3rd Ave. and Rose on March 7, 2012, which, as I stated then, lead to the devastation of 50 people and everything they had, which wasn’t much. I decided then that I can’t let this happen, not on my watch.

BH: What have you done between then and now to address the police sweeps of the house-less population in Venice?
DL: Currently the LAPD is conducting four scheduled sweeps per month: two on Ocean Front Walk and two on 3rd Ave. I am always there, early in the morning, at each sweep, and I act as a buffer between the house-less individuals and the authorities. I mediate and help fill out incident reports. It’s amazing to me how harsh the city is against this vulnerable population.

BH: What legal protections does the house-less population have in this city?
DL: The Venice Justice Committee meets once a month to help people deal with the countless number of tickets the LAPD is handing out in Venice. With the help of an attorney and several dedicated community activists, we provide legal help for people to get their tickets dismissed or to do community service, if they need to. We try to help people avoid getting warrants and going to jail. What we are dealing with is selective enforcement, the cops target the same people over and over again, giving them the same tickets over and over. Some people have as many as twenty frivolous tickets. The cops are trying to get them out of the area, and they are willing to spend the money to get rid of them by pushing them somewhere else instead of providing them the resources that they need. Each sweep costs $7,500.

BH: Is anything being done to address this discrimination based on economics that is becoming more prevalent in this country?
DL: I am working with the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN) and the Southern California Homeless Bill of Rights to pass The Right to Rest Act, which is part of the Homeless Bill of Rights, which would allow people to sleep, be it on the sidewalk or in their vehicles if they have no other place to go. Carol Liu, Representative from La Crescenta, is sponsoring the Act in the California Senate and it’s gonna happen, it will pass. People need to see house-less people as part of their community, not as “others.”

BH: Last month you were one of five individuals awarded the Young Innovators of Venice Award for your work with the Free Storage program in Venice.
DL: Yes, ironically the recognition came from Mike Bonin’s office, even though personally he’s against expanding the program. Right now the program accommodates 26 people, but we want to expand it to 200. Bonin has repeatedly said that there’s no room in Venice for that. We offered many suggestions, but they were all turned down. A similar storage program has been very successful in Costa Mesa, accommodating 300 people. Initially it was started by churches while the residents, law enforcement and businesses opposed it. Now they all love it. A shower truck and a washing machine truck come twice a week, to serve the people using the storage. Thus they are clean, their clothes are clean, and they are not carrying everything they own with them.

BH: Thank you, Deborah, for all the wonderful volunteer work that you do and for being the magnificent shero that you are here in Venice.

Deborah Lashever

Rock On, Lisa Green!

March 1, 2015

By Greta Cobar

Lisa Green is one of the Goddesses who makes Venice the colorful, intricate, exciting and interesting place that it is. She has been displaying her art on Ocean Front Walk, by Dudley, for about five years while at the same time being an ever-present advocate for love, justice and equality at our community meetings. To celebrate the 104th anniversary of the March 8 International Women’s Day, the Beachhead chose to spotlight her, out of the thousands of awesome Venice women.

Beachhead: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Lisa Green: International Women’s Day is a call to unite, to honor, to embrace, and act as strong willful and passionate women. Our voices have enormous power and now more than ever we as women, all connected on Earth, must assist in shifting the balance of power towards equality.

BH: What brought you here?
LG: About ten years ago, I went through one and a half years of cathartic life-changing events that ultimately brought me here all the way from Florida. I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my mother died during my recovery, my long-term relationship came to an end, and I resigned from my job as a corporate financial analyst. I had to re-engineer myself and gave away almost everything I had, except for my dog Tiki. The two of us made the journey to Venice about eight years ago.

BH: Why did you choose Venice?
LG: I went through a spiritual awakening and I was unequivocally drawn to Venice as the place that I had to go to if I wanted to continue growing. It is the place I chose to find myself in the new chapter of my life. I knew that Venice was next in my journey.

BH: And where did that journey take you?
LG: When I came here I started to re-define myself as a more politically active artist. I joined socialist groups and participated in peace marches, did homeless outreach on skid row, became an active Green Party member. At first I was still holding a corporate job, as a financial analyst, in El Segundo. I was really good at what I was doing. But my integrity did not allow me to work for a screwed-up boss, and most of them are.

BH: How did you leap from that to being an artist on Ocean Front Walk?
LG: I was an artist my whole life – my father encouraged it. I used to draw, did glass mosaic and worked with clay. I gave it all away. Back in Florida, when attending craft festivals, I wanted to be on the other side, as an artist. Here in Venice, I started my own company, Green Earth Creations. I was designing cotton t-shirts and printing them myself, and was also making soy candles. At that time these were acceptable sale items on Ocean Front Walk, and I joined the lottery that was in effect at that time. When I did get a spot, I spent weekends on Ocean Front Walk displaying my creations, but I was still holding on to my corporate job in El Segundo.

BH: Where were you living at that time?
LG: I was at the hostel on Lincoln, the motel in Ocean Park, and an apartment in Mar Vista. I stopped participating in the lottery for spaces about a year after I started because I could see the conflict, division, corruption and distraction that it was creating. And it pissed off my boss, but I resigned from my corporate job in El Segundo around that time as well. I already knew Diane and Ibrahim Butler and we talked, and decided that we would join forces and camp out by Dudley, in front of the Bistro. With their encouragement and after seeing how they lived, I decided that I could do the same thing they were doing: be vehicle-housed. It was something that I chose for a number of reasons. Inherently it is my right to live my life in an alternative way that gives me freedom from a lot of the socio-economic trappings that would tie up a lot of my time and take me away from my art and the message I want to share with everyone. I set out to be a voice for others and live in a way that most of society doesn’t understand.

BH: And that’s when you started displaying your art next to Ibrahim?
LG: Yes, my paintings, sculptures. I knew that my artwork and my way of living would have a profound impact and people would come after me and try to stop what I was doing. But living that way kept me protected from certain individuals who might challenge me and the message that I was delivering. They couldn’t take away from me the things they usually go after: your house, your financial reputation, your family. Because of the way I live I had freed myself as much as possible from the constrictions and the idea of what is supposed to matter in America.

BH: Do you feel that you found what you set out searching for when you came to Venice?
LG: I found many of me – quite a few. Yes, without a doubt because I am living my life more authentically, living my truth, and I am using my natural abilities to be creative. The corporate world gave me intimate knowledge of the financial structures in different organizations, and that helped me when speaking out against the mis-use of power. I did a lot of soul-searching and healing in this process. It’s an ongoing process.

BH: Did you find that Venice was the right place for you to come to?
LG: Venice gave me a space to reveal my true self to the world. It is a mystical, intense place, and I am an intense person. It is synchronicity. Venice is love – the strongest power in the Universe. Ocean Front Walk is the front line – or the end of the line.

BH: How has Venice changed in the last eight years that you’ve been here?
LG: I’ve seen a lot of changes in Venice, such as gentrification, especially over the last three years. I’ve seen many people around Venice coming together to stand against injustice – the amount of people now working together is new. Before people were holding grudges against each other and not connecting. Like this person was not talking to this person because of something that happened ten years ago. These were stalemates and digressions. Venice is coming together in crisis, it is phenomenal like that. Now there is more unity and common ground, people are coming together. People are taking care of each other more. People are coming together to have a dialogue not only with each other, but with the planet. Grassroots movements have sprouted in the last few years, and people are making a difference socially, politically and environmentally in a very positive, non-violent way.

BH: Do you hold hope for our struggles?
LG: Most people would prefer to be humane rather than hurtful and hateful, but there are wounds that we have to heal from, individually and collectively, and in order to do the healing each person has to be willing to face their fears and look inside themselves and resist the urge to only see the problems outside of themselves. Venice can be a place of harmony on Earth. Work on yourself, not on attacking outside of yourself – if you hate anything outside of you it comes from within.

BH: As an artist, do you feel that art plays a part in our individual and collective struggles?
LG: Everyone has the ability to be an artist. Art comes in many facets. It is in the middle of EARTH. The more you tap into your own creativity, the more you understand yourself and the world around you, the more you can heal yourself and live more peacefully. We’re all creating our own reality. Take back the story – control the story! I win because I’m telling the story.

Lisa Green


March 1, 2015

Albert West the Elder
Aura Goldburg
Dear Beachhead,

Just let my donation be anonymous. Please send my copy to a prisoner in jail – I can easily score my copy on the street. Keep up the great work you do!

– Anonymous
Who do you pretenders think you are, anyway? Probably just a bunch of losers that inherited a shack in the ‘hood from your mothers when she croaked back in ’82 when average home prices in Venice  were just 3o,ooo bucks! Besides, Abbott Kinney borrowed the money to build Venice from gangsters! Please stop jerking everyone off with all your liberal & pretentious bullshit about Venice! Homeless motherfuckers will respect you more!

– Albert West the Elder
Dear Beachhead,

I am concerned with some of the motions passed by the Venice Neighborhood Council at the February 17 meeting. First, the mechanical car lifts in Venice are nothing but an ugly joke, as they will supply only 30 additional parking spaces for the up to 100,000 visitors who come to Venice on a busy day. The car lifts will provide expensive parking to very few while being an eyesore and providing noise pollution to many, many others.
Another concern that I have is over the proposed widening and illumination of the bike path. As someone who rides on that path on a daily basis and considers it to be the best thing about Venice, I am not excited about finding another route while construction is taking place – which could last many, many months. Making the bike path unavailable for any amount of time would be a major inconvenience for residents and tourists alike. Going from Venice to Santa Monica without using the bike path would all of a sudden become a very dangerous affair.
I also don’t see widening it as a solution to any of our problems. Yes, on the weekends people who ride it for the first time (or who ride for the first time!) are a danger to us all. However, we are stuck with them, and a wider path would not lessen the danger they pose. It comes down to riding smart and paying attention. Those of us who ride daily know this very well. However, here comes Shelly Gomez, been in Venice two years, never seen her on a bike. And she decided to introduce a motion before the VNC to widen the bike path!
It’s unfortunate when our grassroot representatives do not represent our community. Someone like Shelly Gomez, who is not familiar with the bike path, should not take a stand on this particular issue.
Aura Goldburg

In Memorty of Phillip Edward Lord: 2/21/1925 – 1/28/2015

March 1, 2015

By Sam Abbes

“Lives do not have plots, for the most part they accumulate events, day by day like a stack of old newspapers. But sometimes someone glimpses a fixed point in the flux of things, a hard certainty around which the rest of life turns like the pages of a good novel.” – Phillip Lord
Phillip Lord, 5 feet 1 inch and about 120 pounds, aged to the ripe age of 89 years on earth, went back home on Wednesday, January 28, pining away to the broken heart syndrome – his body surrendered to respiratory defeat. Phillip Lord was born in Athens, Pennsylvania, on February 21, 1925.
Phillip Lord was a resident of Venice for 51 years at 15 Rose Ave #5 in Venice.
In 1943, after high school, Phillip Lord joined the army and landed in Utah beach, Normandy, France, days after the invasion in 1945. He participated in the liberation of France and the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany. He saw horrific things. When pressed about Normandy, he would rather not talk about the trials and hardships.
Phillip Lord subsequently went to Palmers College of Chiropractor under the GI bill. He was nominated inventor of the year in 1990, and granted patent 4,633,899 for “Cap a leak”, a microencapsulated technology to seal leaks on a roof, to help facilitate the preservation of repairs and cost-saving devices.
He was very fluent in French, German, Italian, and the proof was in the English pudding: Phillip the philologist. He was good with words. Flowing poetic famous quote from Phillip: “Meaningless words are like raindrops on a tin roof … their only function is to hasten the sleep of the listener.”
Phillip Lord was like a fish drawn to water when it came to languages – it was an art of communication and theatre. He was an avid body builder in the ‘60s with Jack Golds at the original Muscle Beach. He was an avid chess player, always ahead of his opponents. He had resolutness bordering on doggedness and when he made his mind up to do something, he did it. Like taking a six week bicycle trip from Rochester, New York, to the Santa Monica pier in 1963, when Phillip Lord was 38 years old, 5 feet 1 inch and about 175 pounds. He used the trip for multi purposes and unwittingly lost 30 pounds while getting to know people along the journey from the East to the Pacific ocean. Phillip Lord learned orinthology and astronomy on his journey, while sleeping under the dark night skies, and trees from nature’s university.
Phillip Lord’s friends in Rochester, New York, were laughing at him when he told them he was embarking on a trip to Santa Monica. There was talk that he needed a tricycle, because at 5 feet 1 inch, the bike frame was bigger than Phillip Lord…. Undaunted, he took criticism as a compliment, hopped on his 10-speed English Raleigh bike, shifted to low speed, and after six weeks of paddling he was on Ocean Avenue, at the Santa Monica pier. When Phillip Lord embarked on the journey he had such a stomach that he couldn’t bend, but that changed after he lost 30 pounds. The entire adventure cost him $130.
In October 2008, when he got sick, Phillip Lord fell victim to the injustice of ageism and old age bias by the Los Angeles Public Guardian under the guise of dementia, which was not proven. Conservator was started by the Pacific Convalescent center and this was a death sentence for Phillip Lord, who overcame surmountable obstacles in his 89 years of cherished earthly life. He will be dearly missed by cousin Dorothy Riley, numerous friends and all the people he knew.
Phillip Lord

Venice Beach: The People’s Beach

March 1, 2015

By Peggy Lee Kennedy

Why did the City of Los Angeles close the people’s beach from midnight to five in the morning? I have heard it all: the gangs, the homeless, drugs, prostitution, et cetera, et cetera. The truth is that Ordinance 164209, amending LAMC 63.44 in 1988, does not say why the City of Los Angeles closed access to the beach in Venice from midnight to five in the morning. And, according to California State law, a municipality or a personal land owner cannot deny access to our coastal waters. Sure, there are exceptions like a giant tidal wave, a terrible tsunami, or maybe a nuclear disaster.
In case you haven’t been paying attention or you are new to Venice, there is a process to restricting access to the beaches in the State of California dictated by the California Coastal Act. You first must obtain a Coastal Development Permit (CDP), and recent court findings have upheld this. Even if there is a nuisance, the applicant first must prove a valid reason to restrict access to the coastal waters and go through the CDP process. This involves the public, by the way. Creating a beach curfew that has a maximum restriction to coastal access is simply a violation of the Coastal Act, which requires maximum access.
The City never ever obtained approval to close the beach in any way. Over and again the City has said that it does not need a CDP. I guess some might want you to believe that there is a nuisance so great that the City of Los Angeles can-over ride State law. Wrong. There is a provision in the Coastal Act regarding nuisances, but you can’t use it to negate the CDP requirement. I do think those remaining spent fuel rods at San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant are very concerning. And Diablo Canyon is scary. But let’s get real: this is about homeless people being on the beach next to properties with skyrocketing values into the millions of dollars.
I am so sick and tired of the City feeding us Orwellian crap about how they are taking steps to end homelessness when the budget is simply telling another, more honest story.  The City’s 2014-2015 budget dedicates 43.4 percent of the general fund to the Police Department. That is approximately 1.3 billion dollars. B I L L I O N. Guess how much went to the Housing Department? That would be ZERO.
There are a few things I learned from my life as an accountant. One is that if it’s not in the budget, don’t expect to spend money on it. After reviewing the numbers and following the money (OK it’s a simple pie chart found online), the truth is the City of Los Angeles really does believe we can police our way out of homelessness.
On the same shameless beat, the city goes on allowing the big box million dollar “home” developments in the Venice Coastal Zone on top of a demolished community character and lost forever affordable housing. There is a pretty profit for the few and foreseeable increased property taxes for the City. This is what the city has been protecting now for years.
Los Angeles is one of the least affordable places to live in the country and the recent “Poverty and Inequality Report 2014” by Stanford University reveals that the official poverty rate has increased dramatically. Fear mongering is in lock step with this. Be afraid; be very afraid when you hear: “We need more police.” If you or your friends are saying this, please check for zombie bites on your bodies. Los Angeles City has the third largest police force in the country and it is increasingly becoming more militarized, dwarfed only by a more militarized NYPD. But I do digress. And the percentage of New York City’s budget allocated to its police department is substantially less than the City of Los Angeles.
There are some monies from the County that the city of L.A. uses for homeless issues. I understand that Venice’s allocation is being spent on the over-the-top hazmat cleanings on the Ocean Front Walk (and elsewhere) so you are safe from even a chair on the OFW. And the City has been focusing on confiscating homeless belongings, including hard to carry around tarps and tents, because they may be violating the disability act by blocking a sidewalk. We wouldn’t want the disabled homeless people doing that, especially since there is an overwhelming amount of this country’s disabled population living homeless. Venice is no exception.
One L.A. City expenditure executed on homeless people, which goes completely unreported, is the unimaginable amount of tickets being issued for minor infractions. They are handed out like candy by the LAPD – possibly to reflect some kind of increase in “nuisance” crime on our beach.
Please, stop and meditate on what the real solutions to homelessness are.  It is not excessive ticketing by a police department being allocated over 43 percent of the City’s budget and it certainly is not closing public access to the entire Los Angeles City coast line.
Venice is the people’s beach. Let’s take it back.Peggy Kennedy

Peggy Kennedy CityBudgetByDept

Inside the TEDx Conference: A Speaker’s Perspective

March 1, 2015

By Brad Kay

Sunday, February 22, the former Laddie Dill art studio at Palms and Electric Avenue in Venice was transformed into a swanky TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) venue, with a high vaulted ceiling, stage, large video screen, grand piano off to one side, and enough room for me, Suzy Williams and 350 other lucky ticket holders. Seven hundred more were turned away, waiting hopefully at their iPhones for ‘no-shows’ tickets. On Oscar Sunday, yet. THAT should indicate how popular this TED business is.
As the day of the event approached, I was past being thoroughly convinced it was a Big Deal. My blood was up. I had my little entertainment rehearsed completely (I was practicing it right up till the ascent of the gallows). I chose my clothes carefully, and with replete advice from my couturier, Marbo of Mar Vista (Marea Boylan to you): A vintage blue serge suit, immaculately cleaned; brown, red and white zig-zag tie with a gold clip; white dress shirt, blue trompe-de-l’oiel cufflinks; dark brown pork-pie hat; new black leather shoes. And a haircut.
I only harp on my dress in detail because of the stark contrast to everybody else: There was exactly NOBODY attired as was I – in other words, for a formal event, a forum for the Best and the Brightest, where the latest Big Ideas were aired; the ultimate New Technology on display. I repeat: It was Oscar Sunday, the tickets cost a hundred bucks, and there were seven hundred turnaways. The fortunate ticket holders got an elaborate lanyard and placard with their names printed elegantly thereon and instant access to the free Whole Foods food and other goodies in the booths around the patio.
It was practically a substitute Academy Awards, lacking only the red carpet. And YET: The men dressed in T-shirts, jeans, cutoffs, sandals; the women all were in baggy clothes, again, jeans – not a dress or decent pair of gams to be seen – no makeup. In short, everyone was as casually garbed as if they were making a quick beer run to Wal-Mart during half-time. I don’t appall easily, but THIS was appalling! What were they thinking? I expected more from this TED crowd.
The actual TED show ran with clockwork precision. Each speaker’s slides, sound effects, et cetera were timed to the second and faultlessly executed. The staff was unfailingly professional, polite and chipper, even though pressed from all sides. My talk, for instance, involved a little stage business, with a toy piano moved onstage. The staffers took the trouble to rehearse the bit till it was right, and when the time came, it was done with grace and swiftness. Their efficiency impressed me to no end. When it started to rain, there were umbrellas for EVERYONE (!). There was a great “TEDXVB” (Venice Beach) logo all lit up on the wall behind the presenters. I counted 74 light bulbs in it.
The talks ranged in subject from a fascinating hologram deployment, to a pep talk on feeding the homeless, to re-purposing old airplane parts for architecture, to new ways to halt the spread of infectious diseases, to an electric skateboard demonstration, and, eclectically, much more. All most inspiring and mind-opening. However, the speakers’ connection to the theme of the conference, “Think Small,” was tangential at best. I think they mostly recycled their regular talks and shoehorned in “Think Small” where it seemed appropriate. I was chagrined, because I had developed my whole talk around “Think Small,” and was vaguely disappointed that the other speakers didn’t.
The conference was divided into three one-hour segments, with fifteen-minute intermissions between, when we could stretch our legs and partake of the amenities. During these, there was “background music” playing both inside and outside the hall. To me, there is no such thing as background music – I hear every note. You would think at a “haute” gathering like this, the subliminal music would be the very best, most mind-stimulating music in the world: Beethoven. Louis Armstrong. Edith Piaf. Chuck Berry. Caruso. Bix. Anita O’Day. Mozart. And so forth. Instead, it was the blandest, most forgettable and annoying “Indie Rock” imaginable. It failed, even as music you are not supposed to notice. I stifled the old gag reflex.
And then I gave my performance, the last act in the second round. If I dare say so, it went exceedingly well. For weeks, my whole being was focused on those seventeen allotted minutes. I would get only one shot at them, and I’d better not fail. Over-preparation paid off: I hardly stumbled; the piano was wonderful; I was even cute. I made the most of it. I could see several audience members standing at the end. Maybe they were stretching. (The performance eventually will be seen on YouTube. I promise to keep you informed when that will be).
Afterward, everything came up roses. The TED staff was all smiles; I got the “high five” from every direction. I was, as the old vaudevillians used to say, “in clover.”
Even then, there was a fly in the ointment. It pains me to say it – but:
At least forty separate people approached me, pumped my hand, and smiling, said, “Dooood! Your talk was AWESOME!! ” I inwardly winced after the third repetition, and went on inwardly wincing. Again: This crowd represents the Best and the Brightest. The most apt brains available. They Darwinianally selected themselves to be there, beating out the competition by a ratio of three-to-one, eschewing even the Oscars. And yet. And still. Is “AWESOME!!” the only word left to these poor adjectively-deprived blighters? I regretted that I didn’t bring an ample supply of “Awesome” cards. (see below).
I didn’t attend the after-party at Bank of Venice. I live only a block and a quarter from the venue. I walked home in the rain, toting the toy piano. There was a power outage on my block, so I returned to a completely dark house, except for Suzy Williams and a couple of candles. So I lit some more candles, got out the 78s, cranked the wind-up phonograph, and Suzy and I reveled in a concert by Sir Harry Lauder. We partied like it was 1899.
I am exceedingly grateful to Cynthia Rogers and Erin Stumpf, who (figuratively!) held my hand and were my guides throughout the experience; and Tom Sewell who sicced them on me.

The %22Awesome Card%22 back The %22Awesome Card%22 front


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