From Venice with hope

One of Los Angeles' more idiosyncratic neighborhoods, Venice Beach, lays claim to one of the most diverse and, at times, bizarre groups of people the city has to offer. Individuals from around the world come to this beach to stroll along the boardwalk and experience the many sights and sounds it has to offer. Performers, artists, musicians, fortune tellers, and even the occasional Hollywood celebrity sightings make up but a modest fraction of the animated population here.

But there is a class among the many people here who have come to call this place home.

According to the latest homeless count taken in Santa Monica, 263 people live on the street like David Michael Courtland Jr, while another 477 live in shelters, cars and encampments.

Watching the sun descend into the Pacific, Courtland reclines on the shore, combing his hair.

"I try to keep a real nice cut on, if I can," he says with a distinctive drawl. "I go to Super Cuts, that's where I go."

Courtland is 58 years old and homeless. His clothes are a disorder of corroded, sun-faded pleather and a wool sweater that looks as though it's made of dreadlocks.  His face is bronzed and marked with incisive lines.

Originally from Ventura, California, Courtland arrived in Santa Monica a mere nine days ago.

"I'll tell you what I did!" said Courtland.  "I came from Santa Clarita on a bus to L.A. They dropped me off at this bus depot here, where all these buses come and go, and I got off this bus that said Santa Monica. It's the first time I've ever been to Santa Monica."

Asked what he does now that he's relocated to Santa Monica, he claims to be a playwright, working everyday on writing a new drama for a Hollywood producer.

"It's titled ‘The Fox,' and it's a rated R work I'm working on," said Courtland. "I write G and PG material, but this is an R rated work about a young woman named Linda Fox. That's what I'm writing now."

Courtland hasn't always been a professional writer, however. At the age of 24, he said he chose to become a professional musician and singer while living in Nashville, Tennessee. "I've been a professional entertainer ever since."

Now that he's settled in Santa Monica though, he says he has big plans for the future. "I see myself as a Hollywood film producer, making motion pictures."

He claims to have had four film credits, two of which were "Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll," and "The Candidate," considered prominent films in their day. But a search for his name on the Internet Movie Data Base turns up nothing on Courtland.

With Courtland, it's difficult to distinguish truth from fiction. He freely admits to being a storyteller, but fails to say where those talents end or begin. But living in Santa Monica, where he "just loves the weather," he'll have plenty of time to master his craft, and pursue his goal of being a Hollywood producer.