Well, it's convenient that he was walking distance away, so we agreed to meet at the Sidewalk Cafe on Venice Beach. Sunday was a perfect day for brunch, and I set out al ittle early to go look at the ocean, and generally freak out about "holy crap, I live in a place with palm trees and a beach and an ocean and strange sidewalk art!" I like freaking out like that. I hope I never stop.
While I was waiting for Paul, I saw that a street musician had actually dragged a piano out onto the boardwalk right next to the cafe. He was a big, burly guy with hands like ham-hocks, broad shoulders, and a gnarly pony-tail. Despite looking like a roofer, he was pounding out an astonishing classical piece when I walked up. Unless I'm mistaken, it was extemporaneous, too - because in the midst of the sturm-und-drang of the crescendo, he would gradually slide into a honkey-tonk blues riff that was an improvisation on the theme of the original piece - and then fade back to the classical piece. He spared not a glance for the passing crowd, the seagulls, the surf, the other artists plying their trade along the boardwalk. I was flabbergasted and glad to just stand and listen for a while. I'd have paid to see him perform. That's Venice for you.
When Paul arrived we sat, had coffee and cinnamon buns and caught up. Paul was jealous that I lived so close to the action, though of course its not without its compromises - parking, apartment-size, rent price, etc. But still - as he pointed out, Venice is the only place where the freaks sit on the side and watch the normals walk by.
Venice. Venice! Always something astonishing.