I've had an interesting 36 hours.
I got myself a Sony HDR-HC3 camera. It's a true miracle of modern technology: a real 1080i HD camcorder that fits in the palm of your hand. Not as many bells and whistles as the HDR-FX1 I rented for my first couple of days, but vastly more portable. When you're shooting on the street that makes a huge difference, though I do kind of miss the aura of shlepping around a big camera. People seem to take you a little more seriously when it's obvious you're not a tourist. But I wouldn't go back -- not without a camera man.
So I went out onto Ocean Front Park with my new camera and talked to Walter, the self-described "bum" who got me started on this little adventure, and he introduced me to a fellow named Tex. Tex is, suprisingly enough, from Texas, and he ended up in California like so many people do when he lost his job and went West looking for work. Now he goes "canning" as it is called on the streets: rummaging through trash cans for cans and bottles which he collects in huge sacks to sell to recyclers for a couple of bucks. There are lazy homeless people to be sure, but Tex isn't one of them.
I interviewed Tex for about half and hour and when I was done I gave him five dollars, which is more or less my standard "tip". He thanked me and then said that if I really wanted to help him out what he could really use was a pair of socks.
That broke my heart all over again.
So yesterday I went over to Macys and bought a six-pack of cheap (by my standards) cotton socks. I carried them around with me all day, but I was never able to find Tex to give them to him. I hope he shows up again.
I think I'm going to take today off.
Oh, I almost forgot: Michael, the ex-therapist in my trailer, has found a place to stay for two weeks. Some friends of his have gone on a trip, and he's apartment-sitting for them.
I've followed up on quite a bit of Michael's story now, and so far all of it checks out.