I was born in 1971 in DC. In β€˜72, when I was 9 months old, my parents, an accountant and an electrical engineer, moved to Southern California to chase the California dream.

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In the early 90s, I lived in a rent controlled apartment in the lower end part of Santa Monica (a concept that is laughable now). We are renting a house a little less than 2 miles from there in Venice.

This is the neighborhood we used to cause trouble in during the early 90s. We got thrown out of every bar on the boardwalk. I am a pretty big guy, and in those days I was not far removed from playing college football (the muscle/fat ratio was the opposite of today), so people left me alone. I am a very good natured drinker, and usually get silly then sleepy. I was not the problem.

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I had a friend who was a little guy with a big mouth who I had to often step in to make sure he did not lose his teeth. I was big enough that I never had to actually throw a punch, but they would throw us out for my friend’s mouth. I have a lot of memories here of youthful rowdiness.

Back then, Venice was gritty and dangerous. I used to sleep by an open window in my apartment in the summer of 94 and listen to the shots fired between V13 and Shoreline Crips. I was regularly harassed by police here.

Now, the average rent is $4800 a month, and the average housing value is $1.6 million. It all feels strange.