When people equate California with all that is bizarre -- and many people do -- what they're really thinking of is places like Venice Beach. It's a community along the southern California coast; the beach there is also called "Venice Beach," so if you say "Venice Beach," no one knows for certain whether you are referring to the town or the actual beach. I think the town is an incorporated city, but I really don't know for certain. The town was given the name "Venice" because it has canals running through it, as does Venice, Italy.
Anyway, I went to the town, but mainly for the purpose of getting to the beach. I don't think it's possible to get to the beach by land without going through the town, anyway. I didn't have a particular reason for going, but an older friend my parents trust was going, and he asked if I wanted to tag along. I said yes because I had nothing compelling to do.
We visited this friend's cousin while we were there, but mainly we sat on the beach and watched crazy people. I know a little about crazy people because I either was one or still am depending upon whose perspective one chooses to accept. Regardless, Venice Beach brings a whole new dimension to craziness when one's sole previous exposure was a psych ward. The people I observed at Venice Beach make the craziest person I encountered in my stay at the psych ward look sane enough to be trusted to work with explosives, sell guns, or to counsel the suicidal.
I can't describe everything I saw, but I will share with you that there was a guy who was maybe in his late thirties or early forties. He was stark naked, except he didn't consider himself to be nude because he had on, of all things, a sousaphone, which is one of those tubas that wraps around the body, thus making it easier to carry for marching tuba players. Depending upon a person's precise dimensions, a sousaphone might theoretically hide as much as would a fig leaf or two, but with this particular guy and his dimensions, everything significant was visible for all the world to see. It was quite entertaining to watch him argue with the police officers. He must have been a regular at Venice Beach because the officers knew his name. As a possible future attorney, I will give the man credit for arguing eloquently, but in the end, he pulled a pair of shorts from the bell of the sousaphone and put them on.
After the police left the man, I wondered away from the person I was with and asked the man if he knew how to play the sousaphone. He said he didn't. I told him I did. As I was taking it from him and putting it on, the guy I was with suddenly appeared and gave the guy back his sousaphone. The guy I was with said I would have contracted hepatitis at the very least. I told him I was going to ask a beach-side vendor to rinse the mouthpiece first. His response was that he was certain the vendor would have done a really thorough job of rinsing it.
If you were at Venice Beach early this afternoon, you witnessed quite a spectacle, but you missed my impromptu sousaphone concert that never happened. C'est la vie.