Snake Man of Venice
He was America's hood ornament facing westward from Venice Beach into the setting sun, leading the country into twilight armed only with two rubber cobras, a soccer ball and a tiger-striped loincloth.
I'd seen a lot of fascinating characters on the boardwalk that afternoon, but this guy, he was special. He shifted through a litany of poses atop his stepladder with a practiced, careful confidence, using the soccer ball and massive rubber cobras to counterbalance his taut outstretched limbs.
"These are magical snakes man, I swear. They bring good things and great fortune to everyone that views them. Do anything you want with the pictures bro, for real. Everyone that sees them will blessed with the magical cobra's blessings. Would you excuse me for second?"
He turned to a crowd of Japanese tourists and shouted
"Hey, you take pictures, maybe you want to put some money in the bucket, man!"
I asked him how he came to be there, about the chain of events that got the snakes into his hand. Here's his answer:
There is a colossal dignity that comes from confidently doing something ridiculous in front of the entire world -- it's the strength that comes from repeatedly, demonstrably not caring about what other people think. Once you get over the fears associated with other people's expectations, the world is yours.