As I passed these guys on my bike ride yesterday, I thought they made an interesting picture and probably had some good stories, so when I passed them again on my way back I stopped and asked if I could take their picture. Shaun looked at me for a bit and finally said, tentatively, "For a dollar?"
I know journalists aren't supposed to pay for their stories, but I have trouble separating out my objective journalist self from my human being self. No, that's not quite right. I think I do that reasonably well. My problem is with the idea that when I'm being a journalist, I have to stop being a human being. They looked like they could use a lot more than a dollar, and so I said, "Sure." I'd like to think that the human being gave them, actually, a dollar each and two for the dog, Nikolai, and the journalist reported the story. I know that won't cut it for 'real' journalists, but at least I'm being transparent about it and you can decide whether anything was compromised. And the picture itself (above) didn't come out too well. So here's one I photoshopped together using images from the video (below).
Skillet (the guy with the guitar) hails from Florida. Crae (in the middle) is originally from Utah, and Shaun is from Northern California. They've all been traveling around the country. It took them two or three days to walk from Hollywood to Venice Beach. But the guy they were looking for wasn't there. They heard he was up the beach to the north so they were walking their way, hoping he was still there. It was four miles from the border between Venice Beach and Santa Monica. The weather was great - in the mid 70s - with a strong north wind in their faces.
It wasn't quite the opportunity to get too deep into their lives and what this wandering around is like, but they clearly weren't going first class, but they seemed to be enjoying themselves. I asked about hitching and they said it was bad in town, but going up the coast it was the way to go. When I asked if it was ok to blog about them, they thought that was a good idea and might help them get a ride. I didn't have the heart to tell them I'm an Alaskan blogger, but people in LA do drop by now and then. When I said I thought it was harder to hitch today than when I was their age, they said everyone said the same thing.
When I asked Skillet about his guitar (on the video) he showed me it needs strings and a little repair work and asked if anyone watching could help, he'd sure appreciate it. I have Shaun's email address if anyone can help Skillet with the guitar.
Here's the video. I tried to get Shaun so the wind wouldn't be blowing into the mic on my camera. I was moderately successful with Shaun, but not with the others. I used iMovie's background sound reduction, but it's still pretty bad. Sorry.
If I saw them on the side of the road, I'd certainly hesitate about picking them up. But having talked to them, they're just three young men on an adventure. If I had room in the car, I'd certainly stop and take them up along the road.
I did check on the spelling of their names, so I think I've got that right, but I didn't ask about how to spell the dog's name. Maybe they haven't ever written it down, and so maybe it doesn't matter.