Venice, California has every imagineable demographic.
This beautiful, bizarre neighborhood I live in contains a nearly complete cross-section of humanity.
You can find yourself walking past a million-dollar condo on one side of the street, and glance over at a homeless campout on the other side of the street.
This is 'The Fates' way of saying, to the homeless guy, "This is what you'll never have," and to the guy in the condo, "this is where you'll be living when the coke-habit catches up to you and your show gets cancelled."
My favorite - or do I mean least-favorite - part is navigating past the loud, unhinged street-yeller who wants to make sure everyone hears what he has to say.
You probably know the type of person I'm talking about. Every major city has them. This unique pocket of Los Angeles seems to attract a special breed of them
I was standing on the street corner, waiting for a walk-light to change. I was minding my own business. I just wanted to cross the street. Standing there, trapped by a don't-walk signal, I did my best to ignore an unshowered bearded guy who came up behind me and stood next to me. We stood there in silence for a very brief moment. Then he started.
"Hitler was a Jew," he began.
I didn't really know how to react, so I didn't react at all. I just stared across the street at the don't-walk sign.
"You didn't know that, did you?" he continued. "They don't tell you that in school. Yeah, Hitler was a Jew and General Patton was a German. They don't tell people what was really going..."
I tuned him out as he continued 'explainging' all the 'truths' that he knew that no one ever learned in school.
He got louder as he went along.
Then, finally, the light turned to 'walk.' I thought I could finally escape. I stepped out onto the cross-walk, but he stayed with me. Apparently the fact that I had not yelled back at him to shut up meant, to him, that we were now friends.
He stepped onto the street matching me stride-for-stride.
"...And I'll tell you something ELSE you didn't know," he began.
But I couldn't take anymore. Something, some evil impulse inside me, snapped. I turned on him, "No," I yelled, "I'll tell YOU something YOU didn't know."
He stopped in mid-sentence and looked wild-eyed at me.
"Mickey Mouse was REAL," I said. "Yeah, you didn't know that, did you. They don't teach you THAT in school, do they! Mickey Mouse was real, and drove a tank in World War 2, but you know who he drove a tank for? Not the Americans, not the Germans...THE RUSSIANS! Yeah, you didn't know that did you. You know WHY he drove a tank for the Russians? 'Cause he was a damn Communist! Yeah, Mickey Mouse was a REAL, Tank-drivin', Communist-lovin' RAT!"
And I turned and walked across the street.
When I got to the opposite sidewalk, I turned around and my new friend was still standing in the middle of the intersection. His mouth was dropped open. He was staring at me with a mxture of shock, surprise, and awe.
I left him there, as traffic began honking and trying to navigate around him.
My work here is done, I said to myself, and walked on down the block.
April 14, 2018