Stay Weird California


In the midst of a jet lagged sleep, I wake at noon, the fan above my head is moving at a slower than snails pace on the ceiling, the hotel room is so hot as hell and I’ve got that disgusting sweaty sticky feeling in the bed like I’m lying in a bed of itchy hay. Realising I had to shake the post plane blues I gather some loose change from the bedside table and make my way out of the room, stumbling down a few flights of stairs to ingest a mouth full of a poor excuse for a burrito.

Photos and words: Pearce Leal

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I turn right coming out of the hotel reception heading towards the hustle and bustle of people up the street. I stop at what looks like an alright coffee joint (which are hard to come by round here). I order a bean and take a seat next to a weathered old man with a fat beagle dog. You know when they say a dog looks like their owner and visa versa, well this was a perfect example. They both looked cooked and quite ready to throw in the towel.

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Onto to his second cup, he takes a small sip every couple of minutes watching people as they go about their everyday business. A tall man passes the tables where the old man and I sit, muttering words of nonsense. Gazing at the ground with wide unblinking eyes, he shifts his stare to the old man with the dog for an awkward moment. They both say nothing as their eyes meet and the tall man continues to mutter his day away.

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This trail continued. The old man’s methods of people watching intrigued me. I think for him , typical people became a blur, they all looked the same to him running around taking selfies, in their un-flattering swimwear. It was the regulars like himself that he saw everyday walking up and down the streets that were of most interest. People of character that have spent a good portion of their lives here, being influenced from what is surrounding them.

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The old man stood up and slowly made a move, his fat beagle followed in suit. He took no notice in me or what I was doing. In the end without realising, the old man had me watching the street and the people with a different perspective, filtering out the mundane and embracing the weird. Now I spend most of my days stewing on the inner workings of other people’s heads.

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