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Thursday, 4 December 2014

Hungry, hungry hippies.

I'm on foot, passing the Wholefoods in Ashbury Avenue, Berkeley, when I stop to give a dollar bill to a girl who is standing on the footpath holding a ukelele and a cardboard sign with the words 'HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPIES' written on it.
The girl, who has her septum pierced, dread-locked hair and is wearing holed, filthy black and olive clothing, says thank you to me and smiles.
On the ground to her left lounge two young men on blankets and pillows and rolled up sleeping bags.
Around them are empty food containers, torn backpacks, items of clothing and dirty food bowls.
'Are you living on the footpath?' I ask them.
'Yes,' says one of the young men who smiles at me, showing off teeth plated with ochre coloured build up, 'it's cool,'
'Don't the cops come and move you,' I say to the young man while I stare down at his teeth and wonder what kind of implement a dentist would need to remove the build up.
'No,' says the other young man who is wearing a baseball cap from under which hair that looks like fat blond tarantula legs pokes out, 'as long as we stay on the footpath and don't go on the store property,'
'Woah,' I say, 'You are literally living between the Wholefoods and the road?'
'Yeh,' says the girl, strumming at her ukelele, 'But we're headed down to So-Cal soon, anyway,'
'Oh?' I say, 'Where to?'
'The Rainbow Festival,' says the young man with the intriguing teeth.
'Oh, lovely,' I say back to him, 'and what's that all about then?'
But I don't ever find out what the Rainbow Festival is about because just then a large and noisy truck passes and because my left ear is blocked with old wax, the young man's voice never reaches my right ear so I just stand there nodding my head and focusing on the interesting teeth behind his moving lips. 
'So when is it held?' I say after the truck has passed and I can hear again.
'We don't know,' he says, smiling up at me, 'maybe July, they, like, text us when they've decided,'
'Oh, right,' I say wondering if they plan on living on the footpath until July 2015, 'well, that's something to look forward to,'
'Yeh,' they all say, smiling at me.
'Well,' I say as I start to walk away, 'I hope that dollar helps,'
'Sure, man,' says the girl with the ukelele as the boys hold up their hands and wave and smile, 'it all helps.'

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