Today the Venice Paparazzi spotlight shines a light on Mark Antonio Grant!
Venice Paparazzi’s “In the Spotlight” is an interview series that highlights people and organizations in the Venice community. The purpose is to shine a light on all the positive things being done by the fantastic folks in our town!
Give us a brief bio of yourself:
Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, following my graduation from William Paterson University, I moved here to Southern California on April 2, 1978 – via a two and a half day cross-country trip on a Greyhound Bus.
After a six and a half year stay with the American Broadcasting Company, I left, following the 1984 Summer Olympics Games, to pursue a career in Public Service. That journey led me to positions with The American Red Cross, The South Coast Air Quality Management District, The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, The New Jersey City Council, The Los Angeles Unified School District, The Los Angeles Community Development Department, and finally a post as Special Assistant to LA City Councilman Bill Rosendahl.
Now retired, as of 2015, as a thirteen-year cancer survivor, I have been chosen as a Hero of Hope recipient by the American Cancer Society, and volunteer my time where I address groups on behalf of the organization. My wife, Eileen, and I are also active volunteers with the LAPD Pacific Division.
How long in Venice, and what have you accomplished/done since you have been here? Community Involvement?
While Venice Beach has always intrigued me ever since I moved out here; while it was always a destination place whenever I had friends and family come here for a visit; and while, for years, I’ve enjoyed the “sight-seeing exercise” of running from Washington Boulevard to the Santa Monica Pier, along Ocean Front Walk, I really got to know and become immersed into the full body of Venice once I started working for Bill Rosendahl in 2005. It was through that position, as well as having a boss that trusted me to follow through on community projects without the hindrance of micromanagement, that I was able to facilitate such efforts as the installation of the Irving Tabor Court parking lots; new fences along the walking paths of the Silver Strand; the Torso at the Windward Circle, along with the protective bollards; the installation of the Sluice Gates at the Venice Canals, and, of course, the installation of the Venice Sign. Still, none of these efforts could have been accomplished without the assistance and resources from the different city departments and the invaluable cooperation from so many members of the Venice Community.
And, yes, of equal importance was getting streets paved, trees trimmed and sidewalks repaired, and special events facilitated (such as neighborhood block parties). Overall, my experience, though at times a bit consuming, was more than worth the energy and effort drawn upon in order to close the gap between where the community was and where it wished to be in the enhancement of its neighborhoods.
How does it feel to be awarded the Unsung Hero at the Venice Sign Lighting in 2022?
I genuinely feel, at once, very humbled and honored to be the recipient of such an acknowledgment. I just wish that my good friend Bill Rosendahl could have been there to see me receive such an honor. I might add that I’m glad that Eileen, my wife, was at the ceremony. She had such a tremendous amount of patience in dealing with the countless hours that stretched well into the late evenings and on weekends I needed to put in in order to get things done.
Venice is like a city unto itself. From Penmar to the Oxford Triangle; from NoRo to Oakwood; from Silver Strand to the Villa Marina; and from the Canals to the Walk Streets; these are but a handful of the many distinct neighborhoods within one are of Council District 11 which showcases the richness and diversity of the City of Los Angeles itself. And then, of course, there’s Venice Beach, its carnival atmosphere, cultural expressions, and a wide variety of vendor offerings – all open to the public without an admission price.
What do you love about Venice?
If we’re talking about the beach area, I love how it invites and embraces people to come in and enjoy an environment that has stood the test of time – all the while moving forward to accommodate new and ever-changing forms of expression. Case in point – Venice Paparazzi. It should be noted that I had my wedding reception at Venice, with one of the greatest photographers there who captured the event. If we’re talking about the overall community that is Venice, again, it’s the richness and diversity of its neighborhoods and residents.
How can Venice be better?
Quite clearly, crime and the homeless issue is a problem – for residents, tourists and merchants. I’m optimistic about a more positive direction for the community in addressing both critical areas of concern, under the leadership of Councilmember Traci Park and Mayor Karen Bass.
Share some of your favorite Venice moments.
Over a forty-year period, I’ve had numerous “Venice Moments”, and while it’s difficult to single out a few, I’d like to take note of one. Back in 2009, I was diagnosed with cancer. The resulting surgery and following months of chemo treatments caused me to miss many a day’s work. The first day I was strong enough to go into the office, there on my desk was a vase with a collection of dried wildflowers. Wrapped around the vase was a small banner that read “Mark Antonio, Venice Loves You.” To this very day, I have that mini-banner.
Some personal questions:
Favorite book, band, movie, drink?
- Book The Godfather
- Band The Beatles
- Movie Casablanca
- Drink Planters Punch
What’s the best advice you have received?
Each new day should be unwrapped like a precious gift.
How do you stay motivated?
I think back on those days when I was going through chemo. It was the physically most demanding thing I ever had to deal with. What got me through the ordeal, and what I draw upon when things are a bit trying are the words from the movie “Rocky Balboa.” In speaking to his son, he offers these words:
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently – if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
Those words got me through some of my toughest hours, and still resonate whenever times seem hard.
Anything else that you want to share with our readers?? Fun facts, awards, accomplishments, and/or your favorite activities?
A final note. While at Kaiser for a checkup, the doctor asked what I did for a living. I told him was retired from working for the Los Angeles City Council. His immediate response both surprised and touched me. He simply said “Thank you for your service.” Given that as a background, let me say that it was indeed a privilege and an honor to be of service to Venice.