Article Found in the Handbill for
“Let’s Combat Hunger!
A Fashion Industry Charity Soiree,”
February 21, 2006,
Los Angeles, California
(Originally appeared on Yankee Pot Roast, November 14 2005)
CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: L.A. Treat!
For every beautiful hillside He created for this vivacious city, the good Lord of California also saw fit to insert a generous slice of human entertainment into the nooks and crannies that exist just beyond the peripheral vision of the eager voyagers from less than exotic locales. Los Angeles, a metropolis better known for its glistening panoramas and tourist-attractions rather than for its homeless inhabitants, is quickly becoming infamous as a delightful city for those who enjoy witnessing an abundance of street people prevail.
Exploring the unknown portions of this city will reap you gigantic rewards and charming opportunities. It is up to you to explore these possibilities. This reviewer did just that, stepping into dozens of situations that she did not necessarily solicit, but was surprised and delighted to have unearthed. What follows are a few of said discoveries–a handful of tasty morsels plucked from the bouillabaisse of my three day urban outing. In no particular order:
—Tony, an amicable imp garbed in a sailor’s hat, sheet-metal spats and a strangely workable kerchief fashioned out of newspapers and egg cartons, impresses easily. Style is not Tony’s métier (e.g., the desperation of a slip-jig that’s performed for a crisp $5 bill) but his mischievous exuberance more than makes up for any practiced spontaneity. This waif is a filthy joy to behold . . . 8 Cardboard Boxes.
–The homeless are plentiful in our city of angels, but one unhinged woman in particular is worth making that roundabout search to exhume. North of Grandt Street and east of West Fifth, “Mary Mother of the Sun” exists in an alley rife with assorted garbage and overstuffed with a heavy, meaty fortitude. When you encounter Mary, be sure to (quietly and slowly) inquire about her recent “death.” She entertains with her flair for the dramatics, and for this she wholeheartedly deserves . . . 6 Cardboard Boxes.
–Amuse me with your antics, “Mr. Brandywine!” Tapping his way into one’s heart, this aging gem exudes a feisty and spirited energy that never seems to waiver, broken leg be damned. 10 Boxes for you, sir, and a rain slicker for your “sick child.” Located, quite conveniently, next to the off-ramp just south of South Beverly. Pitch-perfect and accessible!
–What can be said about “Jimmie Loco Jam?” His act is wonderful: Wrapping an earth-toned thirsty towel around his head so that he may ward off all incoming “devil bitch” thoughts. Yet in his unfortunate failure to utter an appropriate “thank you” after receiving two perfectly legal pieces of tender, this non-hero’s rating must plummet to a modest and humble 3 Boxes . . . of detergent. Attention Jimmie: more focus on colors, less on attitude. Weekdays: 7 pm to 7 am. Weekends: noon ’till . . .
—“High Test Man,” an accessory-laden gentleman existing beyond the perimeters of both fashion and common-sense, is a fascinating study in oxymorons and self-destruction. Interesting, yes, but also extremely dangerous. One may take the risk but please be forewarned: A propensity for sniffing gasoline and an addiction to lighting matches makes High Test Man a cruel combination in sensational theatrics and bizarre potential . . . Four Boxes. [Intersection of S. Olive + Temple Streets . . . Free Parking Behind Methadone Clinic.]
Are there many other street characters to find and enjoy? You bet! Off the top of her head, this critic can name just a few that never failed to amuse and astonish:
–“Little Bo Beep,” aggressive in manner, yet flawless in her ability to mime yesteryear’s fashions. A living and (barely) breathing portal into our bon ton past.
–“Hop-Scotch Johnny,” doin’ it for the homeboys back in Oakland, livin’ large and looking authentically “street.” Word to his hairdresser: anti-touch works, beautifully!
–“Bobby Blues,” incorrigible, bombastic, outlandish. Juggling three rocks and an empty bottle of Pepto-Bismol has to garner a certain amount of respect. And the open-toe sandals and the Tom Ford-inspired headband can only help his stylistic cause! You heard it here first . . . South Beach, circa soon!
–“Chatty Natty,” entrance to the Baby Gap in Santa Monica. Sexy! Fun! Kicky! Pregnant! Naked! Astonishing!
Standing above my adopted city, I could not help but notice that I had found my own special querencia, or my most beloved spot (real or imagined), where I had least expected to find it . . . with the stargazers and misbegotten heroes of the exotic underworld; these fantastically casual creatures who, by performing day after day, week after week, hour after hour upon their rickety (and undoubtedly stolen) stages, have valiantly attempted to lift the rest of humanity above the unflavored discourse of its drab reality.
What are you waiting for?!
For now it is your turn! To search and enjoy! To pack with you a camera! To carry with you a pocket full of tender!
Greetings from Los Angeles, California, city of character, city of opportunity, where a certain Mr. Brandywine anxiously awaits, dancing and spinning in delicious anticipation of your imminent arrival!
Dance, Mr. Brandywine, dance!!!
Los Angeles, California,
February 14, 2006