About a week ago, I decided to do a piece on the Salton Sea for my journalism class. I'd been wanting to see it for a while, so I thought that this would be a good chance for me to explore a place I had never seen, and to write a story about it in the process. I had heard from a few friends that the sea is a weird place, but nothing could have prepared me for what was waiting for me there.
My piece was originally going to be about an abandoned resort town called Bombay Beach. I thought it was a cool name, so I picked it, and I thought that there would be plenty of people to interview there. When I got there, I didn't see anyone. The place wasn't just a trailer park, it was an abandoned trailer park. Crap. What was I going to do? I found a liquor store off of the main street and went in to try to find someone to talk to. There was one guy working there, but he was less than friendly. Then two guys came into the store, and the store manager said I should try talking to one of the guys, "Patch." It didn't take me long to figure out who Patch was. One of the mean was missing an eye and had a big black eyepatch over it. I asked him a few questions and then he said that he and his buddy were going over to "Peckerwood Park" to go drink, and he invited me to go with them.
Peckerwood Park turned out to be a park bench that Patch had put under a tree and a swing bench next to it. Patch and his friend, Terry, spend their days hanging out in the park and reminiscing. In the few hours I spent with them, we were visited by a few other guys who were residents of Bombay Beach. Listening to them, I heard a lot of stories I don't think I would ever have heard in San Diego. Let's just say that they do things a little different in Bombay Beach. One of the guys who came by complained about how his wife had hit him with a shovel the night before, so he had to beat her with a chain. As if that wasn't a big enough trip, I looked at his arms and saw not one, not two, but three swastika tattoos on them.
Leaving Peackerwood Park a few hours later, I left with more information than I can possibly process into a story. I've decided to forget about writing about the town and instead write about the park and the strange men who spend their days there. I'll probably never go back to Peckerwood Park, but I don't think I will ever forget the few hours I spent there.