Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Caveman

There's a guy in my neighborhood who walks around in swaddling clothes. We call him the Caveman. When I say swaddling clothes, I mean essentially a small piece of fabric tied around his business like an old school cloth diaper. He has a beard and long hair filled with twigs and dreadlocks. His body is smeared with dirt and he doesn't have shoes. I don't know how he gets food but he must because he is muscular and lean, though not very tall. His face is clear, not puffy or curling-in like a heavy drinker.

My neighborhood is made up of mostly Victorian and Colonial Spanish types of houses, but on one side we can see high rise apartment buildings and city skyscrapers. On the other side there's a couple blocks with hipster coffee shops, book stores, bars and beauty salons. Across the street that way is Dodger's Stadium, and then to the other side of that is Elysian Park with hiking trails, super steep hilly climbs and a man-made waterfall and reservoir. I imagine the Caveman lives there, but honestly for all I know, he could have his own apartment on Douglas Street with a flat screen TV.

I see him a lot, most often at the big intersection near Sunset. In six years, I've never seen him beg. He's always just patrolling the area, sometimes foraging and scouring. Other times  he's having a more thoughtful stroll, looking up with his hands clasped behind his back, taking long slow strides. When he walks in front of my car at the light, time usually stands still and I follow him with my eyes. Who is this guy? What happened to him? How is he content to live like this? I mean he's a neighborhood guy, I should be able to roll down the window and wave: Hey Cave! What's goin on? Good, how bout yourself. Gettin chilly huh? Yeah...Yup. Hey have a good one.

A few blocks down Sunset there's a mega church. It's basically like an event stadium, big enough for basketball teams but not baseball or football. On Friday and Saturday nights, hundreds of people, mostly Filipino and Mexican, pour in and then out of it, smiling and excited like they've just been to the goddam ice-capades. I'm curious about that too and have often thought of, what the hell, just popping in one Friday night to see what goes on, but I'm wary of a righteous man with a headset and microphone, and I (ignorantly) assume I'll be done after ten minutes and will be stuck in there.

I might go.

I bring this up because yesterday in traffic on Sunset, I looked over and saw Cave walking down the street, hands clasped behind his back, deep in conversation with a well-dressed older Filippino lady carrying a purse. Time stood still and I followed them with my eyes. Cave? What the hell is going on? I was fascinated and wished I could follow them with a video camera or tape recorder. I wondered if they each thought the other was Jesus Christ.

I watched them stroll down Sunset and turn into the Taco Stand on Echo Park Ave.


  1. Whenever I'm in LA, I'm always fascinated by the lost souls talking to light poles or those who watch passersby with dazed scowls. They are not aggressive like the lost you find in San Francisco who are usually trying to sell you an old newspaper and separate you from your change. So the Caveman is intriguing. No cart. No backpack. No panhandling. What gives? You need to complete your journalistic assignment. :-)

  2. You're right! I'll have to get back to you on that!...Maybe I'll see him again at the mega church.