By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Not all that come by are artists (thank the purple liverwurst Christ), but some are simply strange. L.W. He’s been a bum for five or six years, lived in the flophouses, missions, rode the freights, and had some interesting stories of the road.
He came by. And he was a good actor. He acted out his past experiences, playing the parts of different characters. He was intense and serious but quite humorous because the truth itself is more often funny than serious. L.W. would come at 4 in the afternoon and stay until midnight. Once we talked for 13 hours and had breakfast at Norms at 5 in the morning.
L.W. was an artist who had no outlet for his art except a vocal expulsion of it. I got some stories out of L.W., which I used to my own advantage. Not too many. One or two. But he got on the repeat kick, especially when other people were around. I’d have to listen to the same stories twice over, thrice over. The others laughed, as I did the first time. They thought L.W. was great.
What got me was that L.W. told the same stories word for word, never altering. Well, we all do it, don’t we? I began to weary of L.W. and felt it. I haven’t seen him in some time. I doubt that I will. We have served each other. ...
There are others. They keep coming. All with their special brand of talk or living. I’ve drawn some good ones, these Los Angeles characters, and I suppose they’ll keep coming. I don’t know why people bring me themselves. I never go anywhere. Those few who arrive are dull, I dispose of them quickly enough. I’d only be unkind to myself if I did otherwise. My theory is that if you are kind to yourself, you will be truthful and kind with others, in that certain way.
Los Angeles is full of very odd people, believe me. There are many out there who have never been on a 7:30 a.m. freeway or punched a time clock or even had a job and don’t intend to, can’t, won’t, will die first rather than live the common way. In a sense, each of them is a genius in his or her way, fighting against the obvious, swimming upstream, going mad, getting on pot, wine, whiskey, art, suicide, anything but the common equation. It will be some time before they even us out and make us say quits.
When you see that City Hall downtown and all those proper, precious people, don’t get melancholy. There is a whole tide, a whole race of mad people, starving, drunk, goofy and miraculous. I have seen many of them. I am one of them. There will be more. This city has not yet been taken. Death before death is sickening.
The strange ones will hold, the war will continue. Thank you.