TC and I were at an Abbot Kinney restaurant chock full of dread-locked mamas in batik wraps, surfer dudes, artists of all ages, young drunkards, a stray suit or two, reggae and the stench of pot and beer. Venice is place you either love or hate. In the daylight tourists come to buy three t-shirts for five dollars, snap shots of Muscle Beach, disco-bladers and half-naked elderly gypsies playing ukuleles in the sun. But at night, the city is flooded with shadows and light, music and eerie silence. The alleys, dim and narrow, creep with real-life characters from the music video Thriller. Shopping carts piled high with rags, found objects and small dogs riding atop, squeak by. So transfixed was I that I’d often forget to back away from approaching ghosts and junkies. Some of the industrial buildings, crumbing on the outside, sprung towering lofts inside and rooftop speakeasies. They came with no-name doorbells and big steel sliding doors. Along the privileged canals, tiny cottages with twinkle lights, art installations in progress, and tripping people – not always, but often enough to make an impression. I was living the dream, rubbing elbows with the bizarre, drinking it all in as if I knew it couldn’t last. The patrons were jovial, not the least bit hampered by the recent smoking ban in restaurants and bars. We ordered chips and margaritas, and laughed about what celebrities we’d seen that day. We’d always planned to make a list, but there were too many to name. We saw everyone. Across the room was man in leather pants and angel wings. At the bar was a girl dressed in a lacy corset with white, fingerless gloves and tattered thigh-high tights. It wasn’t Halloween. It was just what was out there on any given night until a buzz swept through the crowd. Our heads, like everyone else’s, craned toward the windows to see what all fuss was about when the bottleneck by the entrance suddenly broke. The crowd parted. A man, on a unicycle, in a hot pink unitard from head to toe whirled into the establishment. We reacted in unison, everybody, with applause, cheer, whistling. Pink Man peddled forward and back, zipping his way from one end of the room to the other, cape splayed out behind him. Just when it looked like he might crash headlong into the back wall, he deftly spun around, zoomed toward the door and raced out into the night, leaving all of us dumbfounded and breathless. Someone cried, “Wait, come back.” But when the energy finally settled most, including us, asked “Who was that?” Others answered, “Pink Man.”
We never saw him again. But he’s still out there somewhere. Ride on, Pink Man, ride on.