C.J. Gronner

Everything is Normal in Venice

By CJ Gronner

I was in project mode one recent Saturday, and found myself poking around in Lincoln Hardware, getting ready to paint a chair bright red. I looked up from my deciding to see my friend and Venice impresario, Danny Samakow, all excited and on a mission. He told me that the next day was going to be the best solar eclipse of our lifetime, and he was on his way to the Valley to buy a whole bunch of special glasses to view the spectacle through. Awesome. I told him I’d see him tomorrow, and we split our separate ways. I painted and thought about how much I love Danny’s sense of “School Spirit,” for lack of a better term.

He is always organizing and facilitating fun in the name of Venice and its people. I mean, who wants to and then actually DOES drive to the Valley on their Saturday to get special glasses to make something more fun for others? Then offers up special Eclipse drink deals at Danny’s Deli and gives any glasses donation money to AIDS research? Danny Samakow that’s who. He reminds me of a friend of mine from college who once showed up with massive amounts of glow sticks that we broke open to fling the light stuff around our walls and play (toxic) glow tag with. He would say, “There’s nothing worse than running out of fun.” Danny is that same type of dude. A real gem, and Spirit of Venice preservationist who we should all thank every time we see him and his wonderful team/s. For real.

Sunday was weird out all day alternating fog and sun. Most Venice people I spoke to were Art Walk crowd avoiding, and doing their own thing. Which is why it was so great to get down to the beach just in time for the maximum of the eclipse (6:38 pm!) and see absolutely everyone gazing skyward, collectively sharing the phenomenon.

And a phenomenon it was! The fog muted the whole thing, and made it so you didn’t really need the special glasses (but probably should have worn anyway) to see the super trippy eclipse go down. People were sharing the glasses bought at Danny’s Deli (About $1,000 bones made for AIDS research!) with strangers and passersby. It was hard to capture in photos, as was the electricity you felt in those moments of group excitement.

There aren’t that many events, especially natural ones, that bring a whole people together in the name of just seeing something cool, and way bigger than us. This was such an evening, and the beating of the drum circle in the distance only made it all feel more tribal. Heavy and joyous at the same time, which is what life itself is, after all.

To celebrate, we hit all three of Danny’s joints, and wound up at the Canal Club inventing what may be the drink for Summer ’12. A mango margarita with pepper infused tequila! So it tastes just like when you get a mango from a fruit cart person and they put the chili powder on it, and it’s a perfect fiesta in your mouth. We called it “The Eclipse.” Try it. And HAPPY SUMMER 2012 in Venice!!!

Here’s to never running out of fun!

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