When I was 12 (or possibly younger if I’m being realistic) and I wondered into the Young Adult section of my closest Barnes & Nobles for the first time, I fell in love with Rachel Cohn’s Gingerbread series. The worn out paperback copy of Shrimp still sits on my bookshelf and once in a while I still like to go back and visit Cyd Charisse, the goth art girl that shaped my teen years and her pint sized surfer boy artist one true love Shrimp in their Southern California dream, frozen in time. Rachel Cohn was probably the first reason I was ever given to dream about living in California. Partial to another writer’s cliche; starved and draped in black in a loft in New York, I grew up expecting to recreate Andy Warhol’s factory. Odd goals for a ten year old, in hindsight. But once I met Cyd, it was sealed. Years passed and the Jenny Schecters and Hank Moodys came along, bleeding into my developing consciousness, and I mean which writer doesn’t want to be Hank Moody, right?
After the bad fit of Paris, I learned not only how intrinsic proximity to the ocean is to my happiness and general well being but also that dipping your feet into the water before jumping head first into a big move is something worth looking into. I’d been to California before on one of our familial jaunts around the world, but the same could have been said for Paris. The lesson there, I guess, is childhood dreams don’t always live up to adulthood realities. So on August 1st, on a mission to see if I could make a home in a city on a different ocean and perhaps convince my cousin to join me, we boarded a plane in Belize and seven hours later dipped our toes into the waters of a different coast.
Truly my father’s child, I booked a vacation rental rather than a hotel. There’s something to be said for having someone set your bed for you every morning but I grew up learning to avoid being a tourist at all cost. The goal is traveler and I have a hard time maintaining the mindset while boxed in a giant building next to thousands of other wanna be Anthony Bourdains. Right off the water in Venice, we spent a week next door to Hank Moody’s old pad (though I have to admit I didn’t notice that until weeks later, during a Californication binge).
Museums are my church, where I go to heal my hurt, and the Getty Villa baptized me and washed away my sins. Strolling through the Grecian archways, Nick turned to me and whispered in my ear “so what I’m picking up is that J. Paul Getty was Indiana Jones.” All the treasures packed into that mountainside paradise really do speak to that idea, and I’ve made the conscious decision not to fact check that little tid bit because I like to live in a world where Indiana Jones retired to Southern Cali. Really, he deserved a little R&R after all those run ins with the nazis.
The food, it goes without saying, was brilliant. Our dinner the last night, when we all wanted to dig our heels into the ground and sleep through our flight (by accident of course), was at Hama Sushi. So packed on a Friday night that we could only sit at the sushi bar, Hama had the best vibe. Everything was alive and everyone was so happy, from the groups of friends and couples enjoying their evening to the wait staff to the chefs behind the bar that chatted us up throughout the night. Their sake selection was bomb, but if you’re looking for actual sake bombs (thats a coconut sliced open that you drop a shot glass full of sake into) Venice Alehouse is the way to go. Other places of note are the obligatory Gladstone’s PCH for brunch, and of course any gyro stall. Literally any. They all rocked. Though that might have been thanks to our frequent visits to Green Goddess – another place I simply have to recommend, but then, if you do as we did and make a trip to the green docs on the beach as soon as you land, they’ll recommend them too. Go for the Oreo brownies. To die for.
So what’s the verdict? Come my looming graduation and impending adulthood, will I be packing up the dog and the crystals to hightail it west in search of riches, like so many creators and dreamers before me? Signs and omens point to yes – if I don’t like Hawaii more, that is. Until next time, I leave you with the celebrated words of the great Hank Moody, patron saint of creative fuck ups everywhere – smell ya later.
Originally posted in 2015