L.A. has something like 50,000 homeless people roaming the streets. I can only assume that a combination of Vietnam, Ronald Reagan and a warm climate make it this way, but regardless they often make for some interesting people watching. Here on the strip of Santa Monica Blvd. that runs through West Hollywood there are a few local bums that have earned a special place in my heart. In no particular order, I introduce you to the hobos in my neighborhood:
- Harriet the Snake Woman. She usually sits on the sidewalk with a crumpled paper cup asking for change. On a particularly off day, when I almost burned my place down by accident (shorted out the oven while trying to bake asparagus) I decided to go for a walk to let off some steam after the fire department cleared out. Rounding a corner, Harriet hissed at me through her missing front teeth for change while taking a piss on some guy’s BMW. Suddenly I felt better. Thank you!
- Isaac Hayes. What can I say? It looks like Isaac Hayes isn’t dead. Tall, bald, bearded, rocking skin-tight pants and with a penchant for vests, Isaac wanders the streets alone. He always looks pretty clean, but he sleeps on benches and mutters to himself. In case you’re wondering, yes he does rock sweet jewelry and even sweeter sunglasses. Unfortunately I have yet to hear him bust out in that trademark baritone; almost like he’s lost the will to jam. Just further proof that Scientology is the worst thing ever.
- Donald Dump(ster diver). A sinewy, bearded long hair who rides around on a ten speed with huge bags of recyclables strapped to it. Once I made the mistake of getting stuck in a conversation with him whilst walking my dog. He informed me that he had built all the mansions in the Hollywood hills during the seventies and throughout his real estate career has paid over 5 million in taxes. He told me that his wife died of brain cancer years back. She had been suffering for some time, and one night he prayed for the Lord to take her and the next morning she was gone. Immediately after his wife died he travelled to Vietnam and “fucked the best damn pussy [he] ever had for months straight.” He went on: “I mean this little girl was educated! I asked her to come back with me but she said no way. America is too corrupt.” Almost in the same breath he told me to sell real estate because I have an honest face. Ha.
- Thelonius Funk. This guy smells like pure shit and has what looks like elephantitis on his left foot which he picks at and then flicks the detritus onto the sidewalk. He often goes shirtless and is the ashiest man I have ever seen. He usually has a guitar with him, but I never see him play it. He just sits by the bus stop outside CVS and tries to sneak on the bus every now and then, always cussing the driver out when he/she closes the door on him. Sometimes he sings. Sorta sounds like jazz with a dash of schizophrenia.
- John (Hazma) Walker Lindh. He’s not really in the custody of the U.S. government; he actually lives behind a bush in WeHo. Once feared as an Al-Qaeda trained enemy combatant, he now just tries to spare enough change to buy a bag of chips at Subway. Sometimes he walks with a staff, a possible nod to his mentor: Osama Bin Laden. True to his roots, he still rejects capitalism and western culture in general. Doesn’t talk much.
- Party Monster. I’ve only seen this guy a couple of times. He’s a whigger/raver that seldom wears a shirt, really likes blue lipstick and draws “tattoos” on himself with a sharpie. Unlike most of the other hobos, this one is actually kind of violent and always tries to start fights with people while high on what appears to be PCP. Once he was a foot or so behind me for about two blocks, which was disconcerting to say the least. I’m not trying to get shit-knifed or stabbed with an AIDS needle. Not yet anyway.
- Stealth ( http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/28c15e2118/hobo-ops-from-wondershowzenfan ) . The link pretty much explains it all. He looks a bit like Thelonius Funk but is a lot more mobile. On a hot day you can smell him from almost half a block. One of the more talkative bums, unfortunately he only speaks gibberish so there is no way to really communicate with him.
- Daddy’s Little Girl. She looks like a twenty-something hippy chick who just goes up and down Santa Monica at a steady clip, where she goes, nobody knows! At first I wasn’t even sure she was a bum since she appears to have a few changes of clothing (even though she is covered with the standard coat of grime) and she’s never out at night. She likes to have spirited conversations with herself and freaked out a group of Asian tourists once, which was pretty key. In the bum hierarchy, she would be “the hot one.” For those of you familiar with the Fair Oaks/Orangevale area she’s kinda like the blond hobo chick that would hang out by Raley’s.
- And lastly, Farnsworth Bentley. One night on the way home from the Rainbow Room with some friends we stopped by Seven Eleven to get a snack. Once I got my nachos I went outside and I saw a black hobo on a bicycle talking to a hipster while pouring little bottles of booze into a steaming cup. The hobo was carrying on about how one never can tell how much money anyone has in L.A. by just looking at them. The hipster then asked Farnsworth what the concoction he was mixing was. “This? It’s a mothafucking HOT TODDY! Shit…” when I heard the matter-of-fact way he dropped that gem I almost spit nachos all over the damn place I was laughing so hard. Come to think of it, maybe he wasn’t a hobo at all. He could have been waxing poetic about himself…
And there you have a brief rundown of the hobos that make life here just a little bit more special every day. Who knows? If I can’t find work soon I might just be joining their ranks and some day an asshole will write about me. I guess if you’re going to be homeless somewhere, at least you won’t freeze down here!