Tuesday, June 16, 2009

SDF Handicraft Boats

I was walking Napoleon this morning in Heisler Park, when I came upon a man (homeless) with an interesting little flotilla of outrigger canoe-style model boats. They were all different sizes, and made out of palm pods & husks and a few shishkebob sticks. A few of them had dried star pine needles glued to the edges, which gave the effect of a sort of a railing, and added some interesting texture. They had minimal paint and were naiive, but cleverly assembled, well constructed, and well, just sort of charming; all-in-all they were attractive for the same reasons most people like handicraft: each piece is unique and has its own character, made of local renewable resources, and created by someone who is somehow skilled and appreciative of the income derived. They look really good as a collection, to compare, or individually.

It seems that the City came and trimmed the palm trees in Heisler Park last week and someone had the idea to make a little model raft out of the pieces. And then this gentleman decided the cuttings and hard husks were better suited for canoes, so there he was, busy with a little bit of glue and paint and a few materials.
"You're not from the City, are you?" he asked, when I said I wanted to buy one and also take a photo of the collection. Seems the LBPD have been by a few times and have warned him you aren't really supposed to be selling stuff on the street, without a permit etc. "It's better than hanging out in front of Pavillions looking for a handout" he volunteered (true), then added "and they make a great gift for father's day." He might be homeless but he's making a good go of the marketing!

Anyway, as you know I really appreciate handmade items, so I bought one for $20, which I liked because it's not too big or too small, is painted red below the waterline, and even has "Laguna" painted in white near the back on the port side.
In France, the homeless are called sans domicile fixe or simply SDF. Closer, perhaps, to our word itinerant. Though it's clearly a global issue, we are in the middle of a sort of a homeless crisis in Laguna, and right before the art festivals open and summer moves into high gear. Due to a recent ACLU lawsuit, the City repealed a 90+ year old ordinance against sleeping on the beaches, and then I guess the word got out. So every day on my way out of town, I see a one or two people on their way into town loaded down with their life's gear. It's not exactly a flood, but it's been noticeable. Anyway, it's big debate in Laguna; I'll leave it at that.

It would be interesting if the City could actually find a way to let this guy sell his goods; maybe he should be set up at the Craft Guild on Main Beach; everything has to be made by you (that counts me out) but he could do it, I think. They would make nice little souvenirs of Laguna for the tourists, I think....

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