Homelessness is omnipresent in America. While there are many talented photographers documenting the homeless with good intention, it has become overexposed, exploitative, and redundant. Street people, desperate and often addicted, don’t want their hard-luck lives recorded. Rather than photograph the homeless I set out to record the public reaction to the people living on the streets.

On Hollywood Boulevard, I’m walking with the aid of a second-hand walker. I’m wearing beat-up Levi’s and a hoody. I have an orange plastic bucket which I flip over for a place to sit. I am seventy-four years old and crippled by old spinal injuries and bad decisions. I join the vagrants on the sidewalks and I yell at people, HEY, LOOK AT ME. I make reaction pictures with plastic disposable film cameras. My performance is met at times with compassion and at other times with animosity. Some people pretend I don’t exist. 

Stress and anxiety are at an all-time high. Violence, xenophobia, white supremacy, and gender bashing have all elbowed into the main. I am documenting attitudes and behavior in times of an undeclared American Civil War. LOOK AT ME is a commentary on the societal gaze, urging viewers to confront and question the norms that shape our collective consciousness.

See The Birdie
In front of a shuttered falafel joint on Hollywood Boulevard I flip my bucket upside-down and take a seat. I park my water bottle on the pavement. I take a plastic camera from my backpack, wind it to the first frame, and turn on the flash. People go by and I yell, “Hey, look at me.” I take pictures for a while then move west to another spot,
accosting people and making exposures along the way.
A couple of displaced male citizens sit on separate low window ledges. One guy is all skizzed out, his face vibrates and his fingers claw the air. The other guy has a cardboard sign with a colorful drawing of Uncle Sam in a stars and stripes hat. I want You! The sign states, To Give me Money, Food, Pot. He smiles at me, so I ask him is it okay if I sit here and take pictures of people walking by. He tells me have a seat and calls me Brother. I put down my bucket, get situated and do my thing.
“Hey, look at me, look at me!”
I shoot a young couple who pretend I’m not here and then a guy who flips me a peace sign. The guy next to me laughs every time I make a flash. He wears a billed cap, and a clean white t-shirt.
“What’s your name? Mine’s Gary.” His face is beatific with a sunny smile.
“I’m Scot. How’s it going?”
“I’m living the life of a happy person,” he tells me. He points his nose at my legs. “Bad leg?”
“Fucked up cervical spine. The end result of motorcycles and an ill-spent youth.”
“That’s bad luck, man. How come you taking pictures?”
“A lot of photographers take pictures of homeless people, but homeless people don’t get to shoot the alternate view, so I’ve taken up the cause.”
Gary tells me that’s cool. “America has been ruined by Americans and girls’ skirts have become too short.”
He tells me he took everything he owned in Delaware, put it in the front yard and walked away. He says the planet is doomed and there is no God, and I tell him, yeah no shit.
“Hey, look at me!”
A redheaded babe takes her eyes from her phone and looks at me. I hit the shutter and the flash lights her up. She waves a panorama with her arm like she is dismissing me.
Gary digs into his stuff and brings out a sign he has created. It has birds in the corners, an upward arrow in the middle, a string from a small hole above the text: Pull The String 4 A Buck – See The Birdie That says Fuck... Youuuu. I pull the string and a hand-sized hand pops up and shows me the middle digit. It cracks me up. I tell Gary, “Wow, very fucking cool.”
People go by and mug and have a good time. An older woman says, “Oh my!” and smiles. I hear rap music from cars and hard rock from the tourist shops. Local kids on low-rider bicycles weave in and out of traffic. Gawkers from other places photograph themselves with the galaxy of stars on the sidewalk. Shelley Winters, Alice Cooper, The Three Stooges.
“Hey, look at me.”
A big bruiser with his honey on his arm goes by and she tells him, “Hey, that
asshole just took a picture of me.”
Gary laughs and the bruiser turns and comes at me with both fists doubled so tight it looks like his knuckles will push through. He gets in my face, “You don’t take
motherfuckin pictures! You fuckin understand?”
“Yeah,” I tell him. “No motherfuckin pictures. Got it.”
He tells me give him the camera and I tell him that’s not gonna happen.
He calls me a motherfuckin asshole piece of shit and then he and the babe go away. Gary is cracking up, pulling the string and aiming the cardboard middle-finger at the bruiser.
“Jesus,” I tell him, “That guy needs to take his meds.”
“Guys like him aren’t safe to be around,” Gary tells me. “You gotta be careful out here. People are crazy.”
I say indeed, and go back to doing my thing. “Hey! Look at me!”
A friendly drunk and his wife tell me they’re here from Russia and they love America and give me three dollars which I give to Gary. A dark enchantress with her boyfriend, a red rose, and innocent eyes looks into the camera. I take a picture and tell her thank you.
An angry blonde stops to tell me I’m breaking the law, and asks does it feel good laughing and photographing hot women I’d never have a chance with?
I’m not breaking the law but I want to keep things upbeat. I tell her I’m not looking to piss people off, but sometimes I do and for that, I’m sorry.
She tells me, an apology means nothing to her and maybe I should ask people if I can take pictures.
Gary doesn’t like her attitude. “You’re not exceptional.” He says “You’re just
someone walking by. You’re no prettier than everybody else walks by.”
She sneers at Gary and tells me, “Do you want a picture, because I can give you a picture. She shows me her middle finger and says, “How’s this?”
I take a picture and she pivots triumphantly and walks away.
“She doesn’t understand the earth is only a random speck,” Gary says.“ And none of us more important than another.”
“Yeah, well,” I say, “maybe that’s true, but nobody wants to feel like a speck.”
“Nobody wants all the things they get, and nobody gets all the things they want,” Gary replies. “Nobody cares about anybody else.”
I agree with Gary, and I yell Look At Me, and I take pictures of people passing by.

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