I rode the bus to Venice Beach and back today. It cost me $3.49 ($1.75 each way, minus the penny I found in the parking lot). It arrives every 10 minutes-ish, and gets you pretty much right to the beach in under an hour from where I live. Boom.
I love Venice Beach. Before I moved to a place with an ocean next to it, I imagined my beach time as a serene, isolated experience, which is not so much the Venice experience. I have to admit to myself: I really like the crazy humanity of Venice.
Walking past the storefronts, weaving in a crowd of, like, every damn person, wearing every damn outfit. The smell of weed. The shitty sunglasses you can buy at every little stand. The hilarious bikinis for sale. There was an old guy with a long beard and no teeth, wearing some homemade rollerblades and a turban while playing electric guitar.
There was a bodybuilding competition, which was completely mesmerizing. I had so many questions: How do they choose the songs? Why does no one choreograph their moves to the music? What exactly am I supposed to see when they turn their backs to the judges, put their thumbs on their rib cages and pose? Why do some people make really intense faces? Why do some people shake? Did you know Swole Cakes are a thing? Have you ever walked around that many body builders? How many bodybuilders would it take to get the same amount of body fat I have? Why are they orange? How do you get into this hobby? Why is there a vintage swimsuit competition? How do you choose which bikini to wear? Do they judge on outfit styles? Is this weirder than a dance competition?
The thing about Venice is there are just so many people doing so many things that they love. Girls bringing friends and taking turns doing tricks on the parallettes for Instagram. The body builders. Swimsuit models. Protein cupcake proprietors. Street performers. Cops petting horses. People in cigarette boats. Photographers. Parasailers. Surfers. Lifeguards. That guy with the metal detector. People doing beachfront parkour. Yoga photoshoots. Fashion photoshoots. Graffiti. Selling albums. Selling fruit. Taking naps together. Thrashing around in the water. Playing basketball or paddle tennis. Skateboarding. Bicycling. Shopping. Eating. Reading. Writing. Peacocking. Collecting shells.
It's just...it's exciting. It's a big flood of people and it feels great. I don't really know how it came to be this way and I'm sure it's different than it was. I'm doing a tiny bit of research and basically it sounds like Venice was completely crazy and sort of a live-in amusement park before the city of LA annexed it in 1926. There used to be more canals! Another form of transit that lost out to cars. Then in 1930 there was an oil boom and the whole damn area was covered in oil wells, which is crazy to me.
I'm sure there's a lot more, but for now--it's time for bed. Maybe some day I'll meet a bunch of bodybuilders and do a long investigation of the Muscle Beach scene. Probably not, but maybe.