homeless on Venice Beach. California FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 26 May 1998 12:10:12 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  LA TIMES STATE & LOCAL NEWS Westside Weekly - Sunday, May 24, 1998

     Being homeless on Venice Beach has its perks

     By Tamara Hunt

When it comes to beachfront living, it's hard to beat Sonny's view -- And
it doesn't cost him a cent.

Sonny, or Sonny Boy as he is also known, wouldn't disclose exactly where he
stays, or his last name, because he has two outstanding arrest warrants for
illegally sleeping on the beach.

The 55-year-old artist and blues musician knows it's illegal to sleep on
beaches, but that's a technicality he and other homeless individuals
regularly ignore, he said.

"If you go through here at night, you'll find lots of people sleeping,"
said Sonny, who has been living on Venice Beach off and on for 29 years.

And Sonny, who spends his days at the beach reading and occasionally
painting guitars, with his shopping cart of possessions in easy reach,
wouldn't have it any other way.

"There's an easier atmosphere here," Sonny said. "You don't have the
treachery of the big city with all those intrusions. Here at least you can
turn and see the ocean. There's the sunset and the weather. Downtown,
there's nothing you can really do except get on a bus and come to the

Conventional living arrangements aren't an option Sonny would consider.

"Who wants to have an apartment with a landlord over your head," Sonny
said. "I'm too sensitive for that." Sonny says that his life on the beach
is probably a till-death-do-us-part sort of deal even though he doesn't
participate in the beach scene, with its conspicuous array of street
performers and spectacles, as much as he once did.

"I'm kind of retired from the beach life, but I can't go anywhere else," he
said. "I have nowhere else to go. That's kind of funny. I am a retired bum."


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