Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Old Hollywood

Part of my regular loop of driving includes a stretch from my house to Hollywood. That's where Harry's school is, where my gym is, where the Trader Joe's, the movie theater, the tae kwon do studio all are. Sometimes without meaning to, I'll find myself heading on that road when I need to go somewhere else and then I'll have to turn around and backtrack. There are parts of the route that may have been glamorous once, back in the 30s and 40s, but have long since become a place to buy crack, beg for change or pee in a doorway. I am familiar with a few of the people I see and I wonder if they are homeless or if, after a long day of walking and scavenging, they go home, walk up a flight of rotty wood stairs, and fit their key in a lock just like any old normal joe. On the days I don't see them I always wonder where they are.

Fred: His face is so much like that of Frederick Douglas that I wouldn't be surprised if he was a direct descendant. He works his hair with the same comb-over and he always is dressed neatly; there are heavy creases down the middle of his pants from ironing. In the five years that I've used this route, all I've ever seen him do is pace back and forth, head down, stride forceful, walking like it's his job.

Jimmy: This guy. It's hard to believe that a man with a face like Cagney would be a tranny, but that's the hand he was dealt. Occasionally he'll wear make-up, a bit of lipstick, some pink rouge, but usually he keeps it natural; just dress, handbag, heels. He keeps his hair in a ponytail, about the width of pencil, hanging down his back. He always looks a little uncertain and yet there he is, out on a busy street in a middle of a big city.

Lady: This isn't a photo of the Lady I see on my route, but it looks a little like her. She sleeps in the middle of the sidewalk near the firehouse at one of the busiest intersections in Hollywood. The way she is passed out, I am always surprised that she is alive, but you can tell she was beautiful once: blond hair, high cheekbones, laughing with her head thrown back.

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