Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My LA: Eclectic Avenues

 WALKING THROUGH downtown Santa Monica this past weekend was a stark reminder of the eclecticism that is Los Angeles. A man with no shoes, dressed in rags, sits on the floor alongside a couple of businessmen, sitting at a patio table of an upscale restaurant.  The pattern continued as the journey progressed, outdoor patios with carefree patrons, and the homeless, sitting on the floor next to them, with signs of desperation.
            Street performers and nonprofit workers filled the sidewalks.  Attempting to get donations and per chance get their name out there, or the organization they represent, these people put passion into their work, hoping that people would contribute to their cause.  I decided to stop and ask one person in particular about her situation, as she was asking for donations for her cats.  It turns out she was a part of a non-profit organization that helped rescue stray cats, and she herself had adopted all of the cats that she had with her, which amounted to about 15.  When I asked her why she decided to adopt all of these cats, instead of just drop them off at an animal shelter, she looked me directly in the eyes and passionately said, “Because if I wanted them to die, I would have left them where they were”. I felt embarrassed for asking and decided to donate to her cause, realizing that she was doing what she felt was the right thing.
            Most believe in the myth of Santa Monica. They see Santa Monica as a predominately upper- class area, with upscale shopping malls and five star restaurants to boot.  Most come to shop and perhaps visit the pier, and enjoy the beautiful ocean and view that it encompasses. The truth is there’s much more than that.  There are the people that inhabit it that make it a truly diverse community.  Whether it’s a beachfront property, or a park bench with nothing to comfort you but your guitar, these people are simply looking to make it in this city, no matter the age.
            I saw a little boy, no older than ten, walking by himself down the promenade, sporting bright red DJ style headphones covering his ears and bopping to the music. He was dressed in a plain black tee and brown skinny jeans, looking like the direct descendent of a “hipster” family, with high top Chuck Taylors to match.  This image made me realize just how eclectic this city is, and how my interpretation of reality and what is supposed to happen and how people are supposed to act, is really something only I’ve created.

--Julian Portera
Photo Credit: Myself

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