We know you’ve seen him. You may have even honked once or twice, or maybe you’re one of the many who have flipped him off. Stephen K. Sharp once got flipped off 19 times in one night. “I actually counted,” he says, as an icy gust of wind threatens to blow away his much-waved homemade sign proclaiming, “Celebrate Peace/Spread Love.” The guy’s been gesturing to passing cars with the thing every Friday evening at the corner of Hillhurst Avenue and Sunset and Hollywood boulevards for over three and a half years now. On this particular night, within a 20-minute period, he gets an almost musical procession of honks, and enthusiastic fingers forming peace signs (not the bird), proof that positive feedback is on the rise. Sharp thinks it may have something to do with the war in Iraq dragging on so long — and costing so many lives. And more people are joining him on the sidewalk too; across the street, a mob with more overt political signs congregate, but they seem pissed off. Not Sharp: He’s smilin’ and dancin’ and having a grand old time connecting with the drivers — or trying to — inside as many passing vehicles as he can. Maybe it’s because he works for “the man” by day — he’s a corporate trainer for insurance adjusters. But you get the feeling this guy really digs this weekly, self-appointed gig, even on chilly nights like tonight. The optimism he conveys on the streets is so tireless and exuberant, it’s hard to drive past without succumbing to his advances. “I’m just this li’l guy over here saying, hey, we’re all breathing the same air,” he says. “Compassion can have an effect, but we won’t have world peace till we have inner peace first.” We’ll honk to that!
Photo by Kevin Scanlon