A few years ago in the desert, I was on a photo safari through abandoned buildings and I came upon a tattered pair of boxer shorts laying in a pool of leaves as if it had been hastily discarded by some random stranger. I took a photo of it because I was intrigued with the mystery of that abandoned piece of clothing and wondered who would stop in the middle of nowhere to take off their clothes. A young kid in the throes of prepubescent sexual experimentation in the middle of nowhere. A homeless person whose dirt had become too entrenched on a pair of shorts so that he had to leave them more than he needed the warmth to continue to wear them? Regardless, the subject fascinated me.
Since moving to Venice Beach three months ago, I have encountered this strange phenomena again. I live in a city of artists, drifters, bums and runaway teens looking for a hippie’s dream. It is the perfect environment for artistic exploration and in the process of writing my next novel, I go out into the streets daily to forage the world as one of my characters in the book. I pretend I am an old, cranky, homeless, drifter who lives under the Santa Monica pier who may or not be delusional in thinking that he is King Neptune. On my daily jaunts, I encounter an abandoned piece of clothing almost daily and have started to collect snapshots of these items in an odd pictorial scrapbook. They have become small gems in my travels, evoking wonder and musings on their back story. Sometimes hastily left in a lump on a park bench, sometimes posed like the above glove, waving at passers by who take the time to notice. Sometimes they are the fruits of a frat boy’s drunken revelry, like the pair of striped boxer shorts I found recently with a hole in the zipper center, that must have become too distracting to wear from pub to pub. Sometimes, they scare me, like a pair of denim jeans, cuffs rolled up, piled on the ground as if the person had simply been plucked right from them mid-chase.
Sometimes they are objects of beauty like this multicolored East Indian cape, left on the ground by some young “burner” wanting to rid herself of layers on a day when she happened to wake up with the luxury of sun.