Saturday, April 24, 2010

Venice Beach California

I’d heard about the street performers, roller skaters and bodybuilders on the boardwalk at Venice Beach, but nothing prepared me for the carnival-like atmosphere – even on a quiet Friday morning. As I settled into my seat at a table on the terrace of the Sidewalk Café, a band set up to serenade the lunch crowd playing 70’s rock songs that drew in a host of impromptu dancers: a man with a red and white bandana pranced around with a long stem of bamboo; a bicyclist rode up and joined him, grabbing the bamboo and the unlikely duo twirled around in circles; a bodybuilder walked by holding two sleeping pit bull puppies by their underbellies…until the police drew up in an SUV and started searching for who knows what on the grass behind where the band was set up.

But everywhere, everywhere – amidst the vendors tables set up with trinkets to be sold, amidst the band playing and the prancing and dancing around, amidst it all was the overwhelming number of homeless. And I can’t help but wonder at the incongruousness of a country that spends trillions of wasted dollars on unnecessary wars, expensive space programs, billions wasted on extravagant, archaic election procedures….then there’s all the money stolen by Wall Street casino crime bosses. And yet here, on the beach, in the parks, are the ones who pay the price for misguided priorities – who are the end result of a neglectful, wasteful society. Living on the beach, wrapped in dirty blankets, stealing a nap in the manicured Santa Monica parks in midday, pushing grocery carts of tattered belongings from block to block, rustling through garbage cans for scraps of food and bottles to collect for deposit money.

America. Land of the free and neglected.

For more on America’s misguided priorities, please read Arianna Huffington’s article Guns Vs. Butter 2010.
For more on L.A.’s issue with raising money for the poor please read Mark Lacter’s article What Gives in LA Mag.
In Portland, I support Portland Rescue Mission, who provide emergency services and recovery programs for the homeless.
In Toronto, I supported and volunteered for Sistering, an excellent women’s agency serving the homeless.

No comments:

Post a Comment