Monday, April 14, 2008



While on an excursion to Hollywood’s most exclusive Hotel and eatery Châteaux Marmot, I came across something that was in stark contrast to the glam and pomp of the movie industries most hallowed ground. Just off the Santa Monica Freeway in the recesses of the off ramp I noticed something glimmering in the bushes. Upon closer examination I noticed a shopping cart. Then I noticed yet another, then another.

After the meeting, a most deliciously decadent salmon dinner and a few glasses of wine I decided to make my way back to this most curious scene. As I panned the location I was struck by its complexity fore there were many makeshift huts. Shopping carts were parked in a most distinguished fashion, all in a row. They looked like jets parked on a flight deck. Each one was decorated by various items such as plastic flowers and the like.

Within the bushes there were many huts and lean twos in an equally neat row. I was stunned by the ingenuity and utilization of cast off card board, tarp and plastic. In the back ground was Century City with its rising crystalline towers and engineering marvels. They obviously were the homes of many motion picture empires and moguls. Truly it was a billion dollar landscape and some of the most valuable property in the Southland. At its door step was this shanty town.

People were busy moving about within this enclave of the impoverished. They seemed not to have a care in the world as they chatted. Their attire was a mixture of rags, out of date polyester and patchwork. Folks were laughing and singing along with a gentleman who had a harmonica. It was a rich mixture of races and I noticed a few children running through the flight deck of shopping carts. I became mesmerized as I tried to drink in all that I saw. It was like stepping into a B Rated movie like Mad Max or Thunder Dome, a futuristic series of movies about survival after a cataclysmic world catastrophe.

It truly was a hypnotic scene and I could not help but watch in total awe. Was I looking into a key hole of the future for humanity? Was this a pre-view of the envisioned “Humbling Times”? I could not turn away as I peered through the dense bushes. They were not bitter or unhappy from what I could see. Regardless of their appearance they all brandished smiles. Granted not all of them hadteeth but who cared. It was a moment of bliss for these human beings. I found myself feeling a bit envious since they truly were not on the “grid”. My mind drifted in thought as they sang and played the harmonica.

Then the spell was broken by a loud, “What do you want from us?” I turned around to find three men dressed in rags. They did not seem too happy with my spying on them it would appear. I explained that I was a journalist and was hoping to get an interview with them or the people within the camp. The eldest man came forward and said; “We are not a part of your world anymore so please leave us alone” I turned back around only to find the festivities I was watching has ceased and everyone was looking at me with a blank expression. They stared motionless at me and with a bit of distain. The eldest gentleman made a motion for me to leave and I did. As I made my way back to my car I could hear the people asking if I was going to call the cops or force them to leave. The elder said, “I don’t know”.

The next day I returned for another meeting at the Châteaux Marmot. But as I drove onto the off ramp I did not see a soul, the shanty town, the row of shopping carts and the people were all gone. The landscape was different as well somehow. This tribe of forgotten American’s simply disappeared without a trace. But I still can hear the harmonica and envision the people dancing some jig in the dust beneath the Santa Monica Freeway. But I’ll never forget what the man said, “We are not a part of your world anymore” Sadly, many more people will soon be thrown away as the secret depression gains momentum in the land of the free.

Your Devil’s Advocate
Creativity is the byproduct of a fertile mind

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