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Eulogy for Philomene Long

October 2007

Councilman Rosendahl and friends of Venice,

I am honored to have been asked to write tonight about my mother, Philomene Long and her love for Venice. Since her death, I have received tributes from the City Council, and cards, poems and flowers from many in the Venice community.  I am moved that my mother was so appreciated by the community which she loved. Please accept this letter as my gratitude for your kind thoughts during this difficult time.

My mother LOVED Venice.  She might have been Queen of Bohemia but she did not wander far from her throne. For nearly 40 years, we lived as a family within 4 blocks in Venice--from Park Ave (where we lived twice) to Paloma Ave (where we lived three times) with residences on Sunset Ave and the Boardwalk in between.

During that time, we lived with the Beats, with the Hippies, with the 70s disco rollerskaters in mini shorts. We lived in Venice when the Canals were the place to score. We lived through the 80s real estate boom (barely) and the 90s influx of celebrities. Mom lived across from Eric Clapton for awhile with a prime view into his living room. Stories to tell indeed…

Throughout it all, my mother had her daily sunset walks by the ocean. On one of these walks, she remarked to me that despite all the changes Venice had experienced, its skyline had changed little. Although some of the characters had changed, Venice still had its characters. We would laugh that we hadn’t changed much (or at least my mother’s attire—dressed all in black or all in white with large sunglasses and hat).

I once offered my mother the opportunity to come live with me in Washington, D.C. when she retired. We had a few good laughs envisioning her leading the revolution walking the National Mall in full Queen of Bohemia regalia. “I would never live there while that MAN is in the White House”, she said, “Although I might reconsider if I could be buried next to Jackie O.” I replied that unfortunately that place is taken by JFK.

My mother could never leave Venice. It was thus fitting that she died in her studio that overlooked the Boardwalk and the Ocean. She was found just a few feet from her writing table, in the position that she slept in with her left arm extended, her head tucked in, and wearing a shirt that said, “Between Life and Death is Art”.

Death in Venice of its Poet Laureate

But like her poem carved in the poetry wall at the Venice Pavillion, her spirit emerges from pavement cracks in Venice, Holy Ground, stained by the blood of poets.

Thank you, Venice

With deep love,
Maureen Luna-Long

(C) Copyright Philomene Long Estate 2008-2011, All Rights Reserved. Photographs by Pegarty Long.

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