Posts Tagged ‘art’

Homelessness… could never happen to me?

August 28, 2015

(Scroll down if you just want to see the pictures)

The subject of a screenplay I’m writing said something in answer to an interview question: that before she went to America, she imagined it being this perfect world, this wonderland free of prejudice and poverty. Having seen the USA with her own eyes and worked there a month, she returned to South Africa with a new appreciation for her homeland.

This is the truth. South Africans visiting Europe tend not to encounter real life there. But, take the train a few miles out of Barcelona’s quaint center, and you’ll see where how most people really eke out a living, in high-rise apartments. Maybe it’s better than where they came from. Maybe it’s not, but they’re in love with the dream.

America is both worse than I ever imagined and better than I ever dreamed. And yes, I’m staying, on what’s charmingly called an “Alien of Extraordinary Ability” visa. I must love it here, or I wouldn’t have gone through the trauma of the tough and bank-balance-erasing application process, just to complete a few projects!

But it’s no easy ride. Recently I’ve been reminded of how easy it is to fall off the wagon in America, and how hard it can be to get back on once you’re off.

You see people living under bridge and you think: “Well, that would never happen to me.

I work hard! I don’t suffer from PTSD. Any psychological conditions I suffer from (like radical liberalism) are manageable. I’ve got some sources of income to fall back on. I never sign up for new credit cards, no matter how many offers those snakes at American Express, Capital One, Chase and the other banks send me without my consent, to an address they shouldn’t have in the first place… “

But because I’m home to South Africa for a while, I had to give up my apartment. It’s rent controlled, which means it only cost me $800 a month when I moved in. I gave notice a month ago. Last week, I saw my apartment advertised at $1025 a month – because rent control only lasts until a new tenant moves in. I’m going to have to find about 20% more rent money when I return, to live in one of LA’s cheapest neighborhoods!

And that got me thinking: What if I went away to Iraq for two years to fight a war, came back damaged and with a missing leg, serious PTSD, and a drinking problem? How would I ever find my way back home, then?

The truth is, very few people do.

Hence this rather fiery NEWS24 COLUMN.

The tunnel. Is there any way out of this?

The tunnel. Is there any way out of this?

The resident. He kisses pigeons. His nickname is “Birdman”.

House, phase I

House, phase I. Just a drawing on a wall, with the owner sleeping in front. This is back in December 2014 – note the Christmas Tree and snowman.

homeless before

House, phase II, after a few weeks of habitation.

Current house, with “Stunning Mountain Views” courtesy Skidrobot.

Homeless people are everywhere in California. It's not the America you see on TV, that's for sure.

Homeless people are everywhere in California. It’s not the America you see on TV, that’s for sure.

LA’s ever-shifting wall-art world

April 17, 2014

Most of the art I get round to seeing is painted on walls. I love the people who beautify the city I live in with their work.


A new one. I gather it’s all about peace and love.


“All you need is the right kind of love”. Don’t I know it. And if it’s out there, it’s out of reach right now. A married friend recently gave me a well-meaning lecture about how hard love was – as if I didn’t know. But I still think life is better with it than without it, and I still believe finding it is sadly, rare.


Yeah. But do it the right way. I love how you don’t even see the car advert dominating the wall.


Check out that cell phone that uses the pipe of the building as an aerial. One of my favourites, which I pass almost daily.


The beautiful Wiltern. I wish I could live inside it. I must go see a band there sometime. Somehow managed to miss Amos Lee when he played.


On an electricity box opposite the big Wiltern… a little Wiltern. So cute. I hope nobody messes it up.


A lot of the wall art that survives unscathed over the years does so because it’s high up. But unfortunately nobody’s too high up to hide from capitalism.


Don’t remember where I took this. It’s so cool.


Some places need art more than others. I nearly missed this one, just after a burned out building.


Someone has badly defaced it so it almost blends in with the lost, run down strip of Chrenshaw, with $20 tattoo parlors, pawn shops and 99c stores competing for sparse clients.


Punch-in: It’s like whoever defaced this with crude, pointless black paint doesn’t realise how what they are doing just underlines what the words are telling them.


Punch-in: A woman passing saw me looking at it and stopped to talk. “I watched the artist painting this for half an hour,” she said. “The kids who drew all over this should be arrested. That’s what we need. Zero tolerance. I live around here but it’s so dangerous.” Then she crossed the road and I wondered if I’d ever see her again.


Punch-in: It’s called “The Gift”. Hey whatever you think of what the artist is saying, it’s still something better to think about than what car to buy, or which four letter words to tattoo on your knuckles.



Stencil art is big in Cape Town too. Damn the moron with the purple crayon!

But hey, let’s end with my favorite, of all time, so far unblemished.


Because in this sometimes lonely city, the writing underneath the angel picture says: We are all angels with one wing. We can only fly holding each other. I also love the paintings on the wall of the Peter Pan Market and 99c Store opposite it.

The scary faces lost in New York City

December 20, 2011

Back in South Africa… and still sort of missing New York. Which sounds not only pretentious but also ungrateful for the beauty around me. But there it is.

Angry and cute at the same time. I love him and want to take him home and lock him in a cage where he can't bite me.

He's scared of heights. The ones above him, not the ones below.

Took these photos of street art in the East and West Village while I was there. Can anyone tell me whose they are?