window-shopping on abbott kinney boulevard

Saturday, January 4: After wandering the walk streets of Venice, my sister and I stroll down Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice, California. We have fun dipping in and out of the cute shops and looking longingly into the shop windows.

We go into an enticing shop, the Juicy Leaf, which is arranged with artistic and beautiful displays.  We take some pictures, until the woman proprietor tells us we’re not allowed to take photos.  I say, “Really?  I’d think you’d be happy to have us post pictures that give you free advertising on sites like Instagram and Facebook.”  A man behind the counter chimes in, “Well, we’ve had our competition send in whole teams of people taking photos to steal our ideas, so we have to be careful of that.  Besides, it’s posted through the store that no photography is allowed.”

Bonsai and artsy arrangements in Juicy Leaf
Bonsai and artsy arrangements

I say, “Oh really?  Sorry, I didn’t see the signs.”

He reiterates, as if I’m lying, as if I were blatantly ignoring the signs: “Well they’re posted in several spots.”

Honestly I never saw them, and if I had I wouldn’t have been photographing his shop.  My sister and I both dislike his accusatory manner and determine not to set foot in there again.  What happened to the old adage: the customer is always right?  We’re both affronted by him and later we make fun of his attitude.  “Oh yes, his shop is so different and so spectacular that people are dying to spy on him and steal all his ideas, ideas that no one else in the world could possibly have.”

Matchboxes in the Juicy Leaf

According to an October, 2013 article in the LA Times, longtime merchants and residents are worried that this “once-desolate stretch” is getting too “posh for its pants” (Los Angeles Times: Abbot Kinney Boulevard’s renaissance a mixed blessing).  After our encounter in the Juicy Leaf, I would have to agree that some places are a little too posh for their pants.

Thirty years ago, when the stretch of road was known as West Washington Boulevard, “gunshots routinely rang out at night in the Oakwood, the adjoining drug-infested ghetto. A U.S. senator’s niece was shot to death in a holdup on the sidewalk in 1980.”  Eventually, a crackdown on gang activity helped rid the area of criminals, says the LA Times.

In 1990, West Washington Boulevard was renamed to Abbot Kinney, after the man who built the Venice Canals.  The street boasts fine restaurants, unique art galleries, prestigious wine shops and exciting nightlife.

Now properties on the street are seen as great real estate investments, with some buildings that stood untouched for decades now revamped.

We have a much more pleasant experience in the paper shop Urbanic, where no one seems to care if we take pictures, leading us to buy a thing or two, including a journal for myself.

Little do I know that I will return to Abbott Kinney Boulevard when I return to LA the following Saturday, where I share a few drinks with poets and writers after a Poets & Writers Live event at The Brig.

Click on any of the images below for a full-sized slideshow.

After our walk, we return to the car and drive back to Ventura Boulevard in Woodland Hills, where we repeat our sushi meal of the previous night at Akari Sushi.

me at Akari Sushi, again
me at Akari Sushi, again

Tomorrow, I head to Danville, to visit my friend Jayne near San Francisco.

exploring the venice walk-streets

Saturday, January 4:  Beyond the beach, Venice has neighborhoods tailor-made for pedestrians, referred to by the locals as the “walk-streets.” Stephanie and I wander through the narrow passageways that slice between bungalows, cottages, and gardens.  We love snapping photos of adorable homes behind arbors draped in heart-shaped tropical leaves, with their secret patios and lazy cats.  The Venice walk-streets offer up coral, yellow, and hibiscus-covered houses, birds of paradise, pink doors & papyrus, profuse container & community gardens, artsy house numbers and mailboxes, and whimsical female faces on picket fences.

Click on any of the images below to come along on a stroll through the Venice walk-streets.

bohemian venice beach, california

Saturday, January 4: Venice Beach in Los Angeles is a beachfront neighborhood of mist and muscles, bikinis and tattoos, piercings, surfboards, sunglasses, funnel cakes, pizza, hot dogs, exuberant street art, and medical marijuana. It’s gritty, energetic and a little chaotic, even before noon.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVenice began as a seaside resort town in 1905; it was a separate city until 1926, when it merged with Los Angeles.  Today Venice is known for its canals, beaches and its eccentric Ocean Front Walk, a 2 1/2 mile pedestrian-only boardwalk that features performers, vendors, artists, fortune-tellers and the acrobats and body-builders of Muscle Beach (Wikipedia: Venice, Los Angeles).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVenice Beach is a combination of the tacky, the mindless, the ironic, and the novel.  ~ Freelance Dionysian

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnique among the world’s Bohemias. ~ Gordon J. Hazlitt


As we stroll down the boardwalk, we’re approached by men of various colors offering copies of their latest Rap CDs. I don’t take any of them.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor about 150 days a year in Venice, the sun doesn’t show through the mist until noon. ~ Ray Bradbury

Stephanie and I wade our way through the chilly mist in search of a lunchtime spot.  We can’t even see the ocean but we know it’s out there, somewhere at the end of the broad expanse of sand.  We find Figtree’s Cafe and Grill, where we sit outdoors on the patio shivering under a heat lamp, and I order an omelet with chicken-apple sausage, red onions, tomato and guacamole.  The stuff of California dreams.

Omelet with chicken-apple sausage, red onions, tomato, guacamole at Figtree's Cafe
Omelet with chicken-apple sausage, red onions, tomato, guacamole at Figtree’s Cafe
Stephanie at Figtree's Cafe on Venice Beach
Stephanie at Figtree’s Cafe on Venice Beach

By the time we finish, the mist is starting to clear.  The ocean is somewhere out there, but we still can’t see it.

After lunch we wander a little further down the boardwalk before we turn down a side street to explore the walk-streets and cottages of Venice; we’re captivated by succulents and tropical plants bursting out from behind every fence.

patio garden on Venice Beach
patio garden on Venice Beach
me with Venice Beach succulents
me with Venice Beach succulents
succulents in Venice
succulents in Venice
bicycles for rent
bicycles for rent

I only get one look at the Venice canals.

Venice Canal
Venice Canal

Stay tuned for a stroll through the walk-streets of Venice…

All quotes about Venice Beach from Quotations About Venice.

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