Patrick G. rode waves every sunrise and prowled Venice Beach most afternoons. A hardcore, twenty-year-old California surfer with no job and an attitude problem, Patrick didn’t haunt Venice to gaze at rolling Pacific swells or ogle tiny bikinis. He watched tourists, waiting to see where they hid their wallets before they took an ocean swim.
Patrick excused his petty thievery as part of the local sideshow. Dead center in a line of beach towns dotting the coast just west of Los Angeles, Venice brings to mind a loony carnival on the sand. On this particular Tuesday, gargantuan weightlifters held a seaside snatch and curl contest. A one-eyed tattoo artist on the boardwalk inked Batman and The Joker onto a local preacher’s shaved feet, Batman atop his right foot, The Joker atop his left.