When Venice, California, Was Drab, Rough, and Wonderful

As a Volunteer in the War on Poverty, I Spent 1967 in the ‘Last Oceanfront Ghetto in America’

Most young women born in the 1940s were raised on the nursery rhyme indicating little girls were made of “sugar and spice and everything nice.” My childhood vision of the future was to have 30 children and somehow find time to serve as a missionary in India.

But in the summer of 1966, after reading the exploits of Jack Kerouac and Ken Kesey, the thought of returning to college seemed a waste of my youth. Three weeks into my junior year, I dropped my classes, “borrowed” my parents’ car while they …

More In: Venice

I Was Struck by Venice Lightning

My Friends and I Were Relaxing in the Water. Then Our Sunday Afternoon Turned Shocking, Chaotic, and Surreal.

On Sunday afternoon, I was knee-deep in the ocean, right next to the Venice Pier, when the deadly lightning bolt hit the water. This rare bit of weather would kill …

Ode to L.A. Joy

Photographs That Show Quiet—and Boisterous—Moments from the Pacific Ocean to the Tough Heart of Downtown

You might know Anthony Valadez as a late-night DJ of broken beats and soulful fuzz on KCRW, but he’s also a photographer who takes his camera everywhere he goes. Before …

Your Dad’s in Prison, Too?

After Being Married to a Man Behind Bars, I Started a Club for Kids With Loved Ones in the System

In 1992, I began raising my new husband’s pre-teen daughters. The girls were blond and blue-eyed, slender and elegant—if occasionally awkward as they headed into their teens. They looked like …

The Ditches of the Slum

How Venice’s Squalid Past Shaped Today’s Glitzy Canals

When I lived in Venice Beach, I regularly walked visitors through the picturesque canals. We meandered up and down the maze of sidewalks, where evenly manicured shrubs separate the footpaths …

Place to Exhale

A Visit to My Abbot Oasis

Blocks before Venice Beach, my boulevard oasis looms: Abbot Kinney, a grunge-chic haven where the city pretties mix with the beach easies. Benz and turquoise bicycles zip by larger-than-life murals. …