Yesterday I was very happy to attend the unique, wonderful and free Abbot Kinney Festival 2016 in Venice, CA. This festival, which has been running for 32 years, is an amazing collection of eclectic and original food, music, arts and crafts vendors, clothing and jewelry vendors, and all things uniquely Venice. Stroll down Abbot Kinney Blvd. any time of year and you will find wonderful shops, restaurants and things to enjoy. When the festival is going on, the boulevard is on steroids -- the variety and number of places to see, eat, visit and enjoy are almost overwhelming.
The festival is a wonderful non-profit and is Southern California’s largest free community festival. It’s a fundraiser produced by the Abbot Kinney Festival Association that supports organizations in Venice that help the community’s youth, population and the arts. Staffed by armies of dedicated volunteers, they do an excellent job representing the unique wonder of their community while giving back and supporting it at the same time.
There are almost too many special things to list from my adventure yesterday. Some highlights, in no particular order are:
The gourmet donuts lovingly created at Blue Star Coffee and Donuts, 1142 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, website bluestardonuts.com. Outstanding, lovingly created original donuts fresh out of the oven. I imagine the coffee is excellent as well, although regrettably I didn’t have a chance to try it.
The unique and super comfortable sofas of Dumbo Lounge Sacks (website www.dumboloungesacks.com/). I actually bought one of these on the spot after trying them. These clever blow up sofas do not require a pump. You simply catch the air in them several times and roll up the end to create a go anywhere, very comfortable sofa so comfy you could sleep on it! Great for camping, the beach, your living room, extra household guests, rec rooms, etc. This is a wonderful, clever invention, and not as hard to get in and out of that you might think. I tried it before I bought one just to make sure.
The cauliflower and curry yummy tacos served from a tent near one of the music stages from Plant Food + Wine, a restaurant nearby at 1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Delicious, original tacos that were simply mouth-watering. I wandered into the nearby restaurant afterwards for a much needed iced coffee. While the coffee was outstanding, the service was quite slow. Hopefully this was only due to the business of the festival, and I trust their service is usually much better. Beautiful little restaurant though, strictly vegan with a lovely garden in the back you can enjoy. Very tasty food in an elegant restaurant, but perhaps to be avoided if you’re in a rush.
Pause Float Studio. The friendly folks from Pause Float Studio were there at the festival. In case you don’t know what a float tank is, that is an immersion tank where you float in salt-infused water so gravity virtually disappears. You float for a good 15 minutes or more and the effects are very calming and health inducing. For more information, visit pausefloatstudio.com. I have floated several times before, it’s wonderful and very soothing. They are on 13353 West Washington Blvd., in Culver City. Looks like a beautiful spa from the photos I saw, I’ll have to stop in soon.
The festival also offered a wonderful KidsQuad for the little ones with their own stage, music, games and picnic area. The festival also has tons of food trucks, several beer gardens for the adults, five music stages, many beautiful original jewelry vendors, artists and craftspeople selling their wares, etc. This festival is huge, and runs from 10 am to 6 pm. I highly recommend it, but get there early as the crowds as I was leaving around 3 were getting quite intimidating.
Many thanks to all the volunteers, staff and community of Venice for bringing us this festival every year. It's as unique and original as your lovely community is all year ‘round. For more information on the festival, visit abbotkinneyfestival.org. For more information about the unique community of Venice, visit venicechamber.net. See you there next year!
On another item, I would like to mention the new shop Frozen Fruit Co. in nearby Santa Monica, CA located at 729 Montana Avenue. Frozen Fruit Co. is a delicious soft serve frozen treat that is made entirely from fruit. It is dairy, white sugar and gluten free, and also vegan. Run by two ex-lawyers from London, England, a husband and wife pair, they just opened this pretty little shop this past July. It’s a lovely spot run by friendly proprietors where you can enjoy a delicious, healthy snack much better for you than the typical ice cream cone. Website frozenfruitco.com.
There are more photos from both the festival and Frozen Fruit Co. now posted on my Flickr page here: flickr.com/joybennett.
If you're looking for something very cool to do tomorrow, 9/25/16, I can recommend the 32nd Annual Abbot Kinney Festival on Abbot Kinney Blvd., between Venice Blvd. and Main Street in Venice, CA. This free event has five live music stages, vendors, great food and drinks, a Kids Quad, chalk art, bike valet, picnic area, etc. Check it out! For all the information, visit abbotkinney.org. It runs from 10 am to 6 pm tomorrow. Fun times. If you see me there, come up and say hi!
The legendary Burt Bacharach is giving a concert at UCLA's Royce Hall on Saturday, October 1st at 8 pm. There is also a free pre-show concert for ticket holders on the Terrace at 6:45 pm, doors open for that at 6:30 pm. Here's more information from the UCLA events website:
"Six decades into one of songwriting's most successful and honored careers – marked by 48 Top 10 hits, nine #1 songs, more than 500 compositions and a landmark 50+year run on the charts, Burt Bacharach's music continues to set industry records and creative standards.
A recipient of three Academy Awards and eight Grammy Awards, Bacharach is regularly named as one of a handful of visionaries who pioneered new forms of music from the second half of the 20th Century and continued into the 21st Century.
His songs have been recorded and reinterpreted by legendary singers, such as Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Neil Diamond, and Aretha Franklin. His 10 piece band backs him ably as they work through one of the most legendary songbooks of all time."
Tickets are still available, visit cap.ucla.edu/calendar/ for more information. Mr. Bacharach is one of my all-time favorites, his influence on popular music is incomparable. Hope to see you there!
Last Friday, my 22 year old daughter and I were so happy to see Blondie, one of our favorite groups, at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona. It was worth the three-hour drive out with traffic to see lead singer Deborah Harry, the amazing, inspiring 71-year-old legend rock out! She energetically covered all her hits, and never missed a beat. Her rapport with the audience was awesome! I have always loved the beauty, immediacy, high spirits, and positive energy of her music. For more photos visit my Flickr page here: flickr.com/joybennett.
The LA County fair is still going on through Sept. 25th. It’s huge; they have some great events, rides, exhibits, all variety of tasty food treats, and concerts. Website lacountyfair.com. For more information about Blondie, visit their official website at blondie.net.
On another matter, Julie Nimoy, a friend of mine from middle school and her brother Adam, pay wonderful tribute to their talented, incredible actor father in their film For the Love of Spock. This documentary, directed and produced by Adam Nimoy, Julie appears in the film, is now available on demand and in theaters. For all the information visit the film's website fortheloveofspock.com.
Julie Nimoy is also the producer, along with her husband David Knight of the documentary COPD – Highly Illogical - A Special Tribute to Leonard Nimoy. This documentary focuses on the deadly disease COPD, shedding important light on this little known but potentially deadly disease. Leonard Nimoy suffered from COPD for the last few years of his life, and Julie and her husband David are eager to shed light on this disease to educate folks and save lives. The documentary's website is copdllap.com.
Who doesn’t love Spock? Check out both of these films from the legendary Leonard Nimoy’s talented offspring, and live long and prosper!
This unique, Zen-like, deeply personal film combines filmmaker Jenni Olson’s three obsessions: relationships with other, usually elusive women, the history of California and the American West, and her obvious love and reverence for cinema. All three topics are deeply felt, and the combination is almost poetic in its effect.
The film has received much critical approval, and was an official 2015 selection at Sundance Film Festival.
Ms. Olson is a film history expert and well-respected filmmaker. She carefully photographs her montages of the California landscapes, particularly Los Angeles and San Francisco, and discusses The Royal Road, or El Camino Real, and the controversial colonization of California by Father Junipero Serra.
Her voice is serious, and the photography is most beautiful of the still landscapes with just a car or two going by -- almost meditative. The effect is unique, mesmerizing, and impossible to stop watching once you become engaged.
This is a quietly beautiful, unique film I would recommend, one of several impressive films distributed by Wolfe Videos. It was released today and is available at wolfeondemand.com, iTunes, on DVD, etc. For more information about The Royal Road film, visit royalroadmovie.weebly.com. More information about Wolfe Videos can be found here: wolfevideo.com.
On another item, last Sunday I went to The Taste Sunday Block Party put on by the Los Angeles Times at Paramount Pictures Studios, Hollywood. There you can taste all variety of the many chefs’ delicious inventions, wander around the studio lot, pick up some free swag, and generally have a great time. They have these events every year on Labor Day Weekend, and they are always fun and interesting. Website: events.latimes.com/taste.