“Big Rock Candy Mountain” Sponsored by Patagonia®

At first glance –which was passing quick, as he jaywalked across a four-lane highway while we came to a stop near the traffic light– he looked like a hobo.

A disheveled, bearded, possibly train-hopping hobo.  Maybe he was crossing the highway to set up camp under the stars for a night.

Maybe he was hiking to a better panhandling site, or doing hoboey things.  Is there some sort of list of stereotypical vagrant stuff I should check before offending all Transient Americans in my readership?

But then as we slowed down and possibly spared his life, the logos surfaced.

_________

Where I went to college, it was common knowledge that the dirtier the clothing; the rattier the jeans; the more beeswaxed the dreadlocks; and the more pungent the Eau de Patchouli and body odor, the flashier and more expensive the car waiting in the parking lot would be.  I remember seeing people who would make a destitute person cringe in horror climbing into beautiful vintage sports cars or the newest SUV in the market without a second thought (because why should they stop to think, really?  THEY’RE RICH, BYATCH!).

So when we beheld this guy nonchalantly walking in front of us as if two tons of assorted metals careening downhill meant nothing, and the logo-vomitus of NorthFace/Patagonia/REI/<Insert Other Earth-Conscious Retailer Logo Here> all over his person became apparent, a mythical California creature came into focus: the filthy-rich/filthy-pants.

The kind of person who, due to political or ethical convictions, has become so out of touch with basic hygiene that can on a regular basis be mistaken with someone who is truly in need and cannot afford to fight the chill (or hide the stink) with the aid of some feel-good $210 jacket.

The kind of person who can wheel around a $5000 bike and when seated next to it on a street corner can get complete strangers to give him food handouts.

And finally, the kind of person who can jump in front of a moving vehicle with little more than a glance because he’s obviously on a spiritual journey to the center of his being, just like The Lama.

A spiritual journey that needs a few thousand dollars more from mommy or daddy –doubtless, where he was headed, as he was walking up toward an entrance to 17-mile drive–to keep going, because he has a vision here and you people and your arbitrary crossing signals just don’t understand it, man.

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This entry was published on January 31, 2008 at 11:37 pm and is filed under California, man. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on ““Big Rock Candy Mountain” Sponsored by Patagonia®

  1. Wow. I thought the dirty-hippie rich kid was a thing from the past. … then again, can he be any less out of touch than the rich kids in Georgetown?

  2. What we have in Washington, D.C. (and reporters have gone out and documented it) are street beggars who have apartments and hidden cars and begging is their livelihood. There is an entirely separate breed that brings it to a fine art, from our sister country to the south, Mexico. I will give you four I’ve observed over time:
    1) This woman who walks on two metal hand crutches, but they are cut VERY low, about two feet off the ground, so that she is bent over…and then some..and her pattern is that when a light is changing, she will step off the curb right into the path of your car.
    2) The woman who walks the median strip (as so many of them do) sporting a homeless sign with a mishmash of dirtied Ace bandages wound around her seemingly festering leg, and a wooden crutch. The only problem is that some days she wraps the wrong leg. D’oh.
    3) The veteran with wooden rosary beads so large they could only have been stolen off the corpse of a pre-Vatican II nun in her cloistered mauseoleum. I’ve yet to see him show any indication he understands how to hold a rosary or use it. “Why didn’t this thing come with an instruction manual? “Put finger A on bead B…”
    Oh and my true love,
    4) He walks up and down with both legs totally curved in on themselves. You would think this man has suffered in some third-world country the most massive case of untreated, maladjusted bone growth you’ve ever witnessed. One day I saw him getting off a local bus, some distance from where he begs, dressed in clean clothes, carrying his young daughter in her frilly pink dress…the proud Papa..and both legs straight and normal. I realized then he’s double jointed, so I give him props for creativity, but long to know what he tells his daughter he does for a living. Daddy has to go beg now?

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