We bought lemonade from Camryn Manheim (and other tales of L.A.)

Yesterday afternoon Ben and I headed to Venice for an afternoon stroll. He'd discovered the Venice Canals when he was out sight-seeing with my dad, and we wanted to explore. Perhaps we should have guessed that a placed called Venice would have canals, but we didn't have a clue. The canal system runs through a residential neighborhood where everybody's front door faces streets of water. Instead of driveways and cars, each house has a dock and a canoe; back alleys provide automobile access so as to avoid commutes that begin in kayaks. A handful of the houses were ordinary, but the rest looked like they belonged on the cover of Dwell (or at least Los Angeles Magazine.) Even the foilage was unusual. Surely the people who tend their succulents have business cards with descriptors such as "Landscape Artist," "Garden Architect," and perhaps even "Environmental Therapist."

We were moseying along the narrow walking paths, marveling at the diverse avian life and trying not to ogle peoples' houses too overtly when a kid blocked our path to show off the inchworm he'd found. Turned out he was also selling lemonade. Turned out his mom was none other than Camryn Manheim.* The kid was too busy with the worm, so we handed our cash over to Ms. Manheim in exchange for lemonade garnished with sliced limes, oranges, lemons, and berries. We made small talk about her t-shirt, which was one of those COEXIST shirts in which the letters are formed out of various religious symbols. I considered taking the conversation deeper and sharing that I'm a pastor of a church that participates in the South Coast Interfaith Council, but I didn't. I was too fixated on the beautiful lemonade. It's really kind of a shame, for given CM's politics, we'd probably get along swimmingly.

This brings my celebrity-sighting list to: John Travolta, Jann Carl, and Camryn Manheim. Oh, and we also saw Romany Malco (from 40 Year Old Virgin and Weeds) at Whole Foods Market, but I totally didn't recognize him so I'm not sure that counts.

After we said goodbye to Ms. Manheim & son, we headed to the beach. I adore Venice Beach. The boardwark is the ultimate people-watching venue: hippies, punks, human tattoo canvases, mop-headed dogs riding shotgun on skateboards, kids on wheels dancing to hip-hop, fortune-tellers hawking the future, and homeless people everywhere. And then there's the street performers - the kid in the Grim Reaper costume, the man who roller-skates around in a patriotic Speedo pretending to juggle, the earnest singer-songwriters. The circus unfolds daily amid palm trees and cheesy t-shirt shops and a perpetual oceanside drum circle.

But we really should have stopped while we were ahead. The afternoon dissolved at this point, involving first-sandal-day-of-the-season blisters, a crummy dinner, and a story featuring bird poop that is still a little too fresh to be retold for the humor factor. Some day...

*Photo by David Kramer, from Ms. Magazine.

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