Street Lunatics

I’m back in the suburbs now, but in my urban years, especially the ten years I spent riding the bus in Los Angeles, I met many crazy people on the street. The topic of free-range crazies came up a couple of times recently and I remembered some of the better ones:

  • The Shredder: In downtown Los Angeles. This gentleman constantly wore a kind of Islamic veil over his face. His left side was female, meaning that he had a woman’s shoe and stocking, and pants cut slightly below the knee on this side. The right side had a man’s shoe and full length pants. He frequently carried a purse on the “female” side. His activity was removing the free papers and throwaway ad rags from their newsboxes and tearing them up and scattering them, which he did energetically all day in a pretty large territory. He never spoke.
  • The Beverly Hills Skate Ninja: West Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. This guy wore an all-black outfit with his head wrapped in black cloth as well, creating a combo ninja/mummy effect. Sometimes the wrapping bits would partially come loose and stream behind him. He was always on inline skates and would swoop down sidewalks at great speed, occasionally stopping to pirouette or make expansive Modern Dance Gestures with his hands. Very occasionally he would lose it and do this in the street, and the cops would have to scoot him back onto the sidewalk. At times he carried a large boom box which played whatever was on the radio, indiscriminately.
  • Kung Fu Bob Marley: A Westwood resident. He was tall and skeletally thin, with long full dreadlocks. He did look quite a bit like Bob Marley. Usually he just muttered and strode about the streets, occasionally asking for money or cigarettes. Periodically, though, it was Kung Fu Time. He would then attack various invisible targets, barking and screaming and punching and kicking. When he calmed down again, he was a very pleasant person. I had a number of conversations with him about Life and Stuff during his calm periods.
  • The Santa Cruz Viking: I only saw this guy maybe three times, but it was every time I visited Santa Cruz for a while. He wore a Viking helmet (with horns) and twice he had a big wooden sword thingy. He yelled a bit and whacked things with the sword. At the time I thought “How wacky and fun!” but I found out later that he was a genuine danger and actually Viked people at times. Whoops.
  • Yell About Foreigners Lady: A bus resident in L.A. She would holler constantly about the foreigners, and how they were going to get her and put her in a death camp. I made the false assumption that she was safe because she was loud. Sometimes she would walk down the middle of Hollywood Blvd. yelling, but mostly she was on the bus. One day, on the #2 Bus down Santa Monica Blvd., she pulled out a .357 revolver and killed a guy for being foreign. The SWAT team shot her a couple hours later. Glad I wasn’t on the #2 that day!
  • Psalm WTF Lady: An occasional bus person. Elderly woman, very skinny, with her hair in a bun. Wore a granny dress. Around her neck on a rope was a long sign that covered the front of her body, which read something like “LORD AS I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP, HEAR MY PRAYER AND PROTECT ME AND GUARD ME IN EVERY WAY FROM JESUS WITH HIS HUGE DILDO.”

A side note: Shadow boxing schizophrenia victims on the street always do kung fu. Always. What did these guys do before Asian martial arts were known in the west? Marquess of Queensberry Boxing Rules? Not enough kicking and yelling.

5 thoughts on “Street Lunatics

  1. pre-kung fu shadow boxing
    I think they did eroll flynn/3 muskateer sword dueling. As flamboyant and exagerated. At least, I hope they did.

  2. somewhere there is an internet crazies list that includes my likeness, I’m sure of it:
    “HI” GIRL: A local los angeles apartment dweller on the wrong side of town who was so frightened to walk to the liquor store in her own neighborhood that she counteracted her fear by saying “HI” and smiling like a lunatic at every bum, gang banger, and prostitute that she passed.

  3. We have “The Roamer”.
    He wears the same clothes everyday and walks a circuit that takes him at least as far as the University and my old apartment (about two miles). Sometimes he’s on public transit.
    He’s out there rain or shine. He is always wearing sunglasses. Sometimes he’s drinking a soda. One morning I saw him urinate at a bus stop underneath interstate 5.
    One time a bus driver noticed him hurrying towards the bus and took off as he rapped on the windows. I suspect he has a history.
    Although I have never seen him do anything threatening, I don’t like seeing him around town. I feel like if I run into him enough he’ll figure out how to find me. I haven’t figured out why I think that.

  4. Kung-Fu Bob Marley
    I worked with homeless people in Richmond, VA for two years. One of the folks I got to know and like was a man who introduced himself as “Bruce” (for “Bruce Lee”) who was very skinny and had huge dreadlocks. I called him Wallace because that’s what someone told me his real name was and he never corrected me. He always wore slipper-like canvas shoes so he could “kick.”
    He had bad teeth and at one point developed an abscess that was so large we had to do something about it. It looked like he had an orange inside his mouth. I turned him over to the wolves. They took him away and I never saw him again. I hope things turned out OK.

  5. Black Glam-Rock Superhero
    He was at the bus stop on El Toro Road and sported massive dreadlocks, wore all black and had a gold cape. In 90 degree weather in the sun… that is commitment my friend.

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