Some time in the late 1980s I was in Westwood Village, which is the part of L.A. just south of UCLA. It had been a big entertainment district, the place to be on Friday and Saturday Night, but was in a steep decline. Most of the fancy stores and restaurants had gone, things were dirty, and most of the pedestrians were lost souls. I was among them, since I was taking the bus from my unsuccessful psychotherapist back to my grimy Hollywood apartment.
It was maybe 9 pm, cold and blustery, and the first drops of rain were moistening the blowing trash so it stuck to people and objects unpleasantly. Coming up towards the bus stop, I came upon this scene:
In the doorway to an office building, one of the local homeless poor had set up camp. He was about 35, dressed in what had once been a decent suit which was torn and stained and shedding buttons. He himself had a mop of blonde hair and a dirty face wreathed in a joyous smile. He had a boom box going full blast and was singing along lustily, with a cap on the ground in hopes that someone would reward this piece of impromptu street karaoke.
The song he was performing? Barry Manilow’s 1976 hit “Looks Like We Made It“.
I still wonder about that guy. He certainly wasn’t seeing the dingy, damp, urban failure in front of him, or the RTD bus or the other bums or me in my jeans & jacket & backpack looking at him in horror. He was in heaven, maybe onstage in Vegas. Maybe he even was Barry. Looks like we maaaaaaaade it! I wonder what happened to him?