I owe a note. A story maybe. There is a man named Pepper. He is a self-proclaimed mayor of Skid Row…This is normally not something you would go around proclaiming but he wears the badge proudly.

Pepper is from Marshalltown, Iowa. He had 8 sisters, and abusive alcoholic parents. A runaway, at the age of 15, Pepper hitchhiked across the country to get to Los Angeles. He has only lived in the heart of Downtown.

Pepper slang drugs for a while, was even married once, with one daughter. He does not keep in touch with any member of his family. I guess he likes it that way.

I just found out that Pepper is HIV positive. My heart shook with this news. He has been living with it since 2008. I have known him for a couple years and had no clue. I guess it was better that way.

Pepper is the only homeless person living on the 4th Street Bridge. Even the cops don’t bother him because he’s been around so long. It’s kind of weird in way he has a high-level of importance in this world. A world he likes to call Pepper’s World.

At 46 or 47 (even he can’t keep track) Pepper stays busy at an automotive repair shop on 6th and Gladys. He sells off found pieces of copper and is deep into recycling. He gets by just like the rest of us.

Last Sunday I took Pepper to the beach. This was the first time he saw the ocean. Imagine that. Living in Los Angeles for over thirty years and I got to take him to the water, to the very edge of our country for the first time in his entire life. It was memorable.


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