By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Roberts says that whenever an authority figure, like a cop, approaches someone like Jimmy, they should bring along a homeless-outreach expert who knows how to talk to longtime homeless people who may be stubborn. Union Pacific did not take that approach, nor did the LAPD. “Writing him a ticket isn’t going to do much,” Roberts says. “Whether Jimmy wins or loses in court, he’ll still be back on the street. A ticket is not going to help with housing. The longer people are on the street and survive,” he says, “the more they feel they can handle it.”
During his nighttime run to feed the cats in the lonely back alleys near the Aliso Creek flood channel, Jimmy and I stop at a McDonald’s, just off Tampa Avenue, for dinner. He doesn’t order anything but still asks if he can pay for my food. I decline, and we sit near a window. Jimmy talks of his father.
“He was like Michael Jackson’s father,” Jimmy says. “That’s why I became like this. When someone gets abused, he feels worthless. Most people in the streets — their father abused them. Even if it was a small thing, he would come up with the stick. He thought I was lazy.”
Jimmy’s quiet for a moment.
“I can’t shake it,” he says. “It’s just the way it is.”
Every now and then, Jimmy’s mother sends word that she’ll give him money or has in mind a woman who would make a good wife. But he doesn’t want anything from his father’s will, and he wants to remain a bachelor.
“I don’t want to be like my father toward my kids,” he says, “and I don’t want my kids to be like me.”
We get up to leave, and Bruce Springsteen seems to be following us. The restaurant’s speakers softly play “Hungry Heart.”
“Everybody needs a place to rest/ Everybody wants to have a home/Don’t make no difference what nobody says/Ain’t nobody like to be alone.”
Jimmy, who admires Springsteen because he’s a “peace lover,” likes that song, too.
Corrections: This article originally misreported that Councilman Greig Smith lives in Northridge and has a staff of 20, and misspelled Matt Myerhoff as Meyerhoff. This is the corrected version.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at email@example.com.
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