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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Thursday, October 17 2002 

Jon Kennedy, webmasterSentimental journey—On to Venice

Continuing the journal of my recent Southern California tour.

After my visit and dinner at a Mexican fast food outlet in Isla Vista and a night in Lompoc and several walks on the uncrowded state beaches, I took off on Tuesday for the Marina del Rey/Venice area of Los Angeles, hoping to arrive by 8 p.m. and actually reaching my Freeway exit, Washington Blvd., which stretches from downtown Los Angeles west some 20 or more miles to the ocean, at 7 p.m. For the final three miles or so of Washington Blvd. it is the main street of Marina del Rey, the marina section of Los Angeles. Just to the north or right of it where it ends at the ocean is Venice, a district of Los Angeles developed by a real estate visionary who criss-crossed it with canals which he hoped would rival those of Venice, Italy. The ones that are still in existence are mainly decorative and used for recreational boating in row boats and canoes, only, now.

When I was in youth/campus ministry, Venice held strong appeal because it's a magnet for youth, being the "boardwalk section" of Los Angeles. Adjacent to Santa Monica, which has the major amusement-ride pier in the area, Venice is famed for attracting strange and colorful people. In the 1960s it also got national notoriety for its "muscle beach," where muscle builders lift weights and work on their bodies in public, with bleachers from which spectators can watch. It's probably also the most famous section of Los Angeles in the movies...films, commercials, and TV broadcasts originate here constantly, including segments of Jay Leno's Tonight Show in which he interviews beach visitors on such pressing questions as "tattoo or no tattoo?"

Because of this cachet, I often visited Venice as part of my trips to Southern California. I could never have guessed that in my late 50's I would have a job and a residence here. As part of the City of Los Angeles Y2k remediation team, I was given an apartment four blocks from the end of Venice Beach, working out of an office with a view to the Pacific, for six months. I made it a practice to walk the beachside promenade for at least an hour every evening while here and considered it one of the best opportunities of my lifetime.

When I got off the freeway on Tuesday evening I looked for motels that looked relatively inexpensive, stopped at the first one I saw and ended up taking a $50-a-night room. Though the motel is a vintage building harkening to the Los Angeles of the 1930's, the room had been upgraded considerably with lots of amenities, including an LED-lit alarm clock, fan, refrigerator, microwave, and lots of cabinets with more drawer space than the average motorist would need. Compared with the $34 room the night before in Lompoc, it seemed a good value. Though on Washington Blvd., this motel, Villa Brasil, is actually in Culver City, which is the historic headquarters of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM Studios). It's only a 10-minute drive to the end of Washington and the beginning of Venice.

Besides the appeal in this area already described, Marina del Rey and Venice have more good and competitively priced restaurants to choose than anywhere else I've been. They're so good that I have to forego the fast food I usually make do when travelling in California. For example, there are two excellent Italian restaurants with better prices than any I know of in the San Jose area, within a mile of each other, the Pasta Factory and the C&O Trattoria, both in the last mile of Washington. There's a famous soul food restaurant, Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch, in a Marina shopping center, where I had roast chicken, red beans, and collard greens, a biscuit and a corn muffin for lunch on Wednesday.

Though the Starbucks coffee shop in Marina del Rey which I frequented daily while residing nearby does not have the Tmobile Internet access, there's one about two miles from my motel that does. I spent much of Wednesday morning there, preparing the Jonal and Xnmp pages to be uploaded to the servers and mailed to the Nanty Glo Home Page email forum. Then I took a long, tiring walk on the promenade (actually there are no real "boardwalks" in the Los Angeles area...the only real one I know of in California is in Santa Cruz, which is west of San Jose about 25 miles). I came across an international calling service center with Internet access in downtown Venice, which I priced, out of curiosity. At more than $8 an hour for Internet access, it made my Tmobile plan seem a bargain, and even the prices in Paris two months ago (€3 per hour) seem not at all high.

As an unexpected bonus to me, I also discovered an Orthodox bookstore on Washington between the motel and Starbucks. I spent an hour there Wednesday afternoon getting acquainted with Photius, the volunteer clerk who was manning the nonprofit operation, and buying a replacement silver chain for my cross, my original one having recently broken.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Today's groaner

Scientists recently tried to duplicate the DNA of a famous figure skater, but ended up with an ice queen clone.

—Sent by Connie Cox

Thought for today

Believe that dishonors and reproaches are medicines that heal the pride of your soul, and pray for those who reproach you, as for true physicians of your soul, being assured that he who hates dishonor hates humility, and he who avoids those who grieve him flees from meekness.

—Venerable Dorotheos
Sent by Fr. Antonious Heneinv

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