Dana the Desert Dweller

We were shooting a music video down in Palm Desert a few weeks back when we had our encounter with Dana.  I think that was his name – that’s what one of the crew told me.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself.  So we arrive late in the day on this abandoned air stip.  It’s July in Palm Desert – in the middle of the actual desert – so it’s hot (like melting gear hot).  Before getting out of the car the temperature gauge read 109 degrees.  It could’ve been even hotter.

As we unload and set things up I wander the area searching for places to shoot our scenes.  This is when I start seeing the trash, the insane amounts of trash – the place is a big dumping ground.  People have left everything from old stereos to couches in the middle of the sand.  It’s nuts.  There’s enough of the stuff lying around that someone has taken the initiative to build a sizable shack tucked away over a little hill.  This shack is something right out of Waterworld – almost perfectly art directed in its decrepitude.  Walls are made from truck parts, fencing, plastic – whatever.  Perched atop the structure flapping in the hot wind, stands our country’s flag.

Because the place was so well cared for I immediately knew it was occupied – by whom, though?  I didn’t know that I particularly wanted to find out.

Well, after about 30 minutes or so we all spotted someone watching our set.  Dressed in tattered shorts, a button up short sleeve shirt hanging from his skin that wasn’t like browned leather – it was leather – Dana seemed pretty harmless.  Oh, I almost forgot to mention – his ensemble was topped off with a sheathed machete hanging to his knees and a 9 iron he was leaning on.

Okay, so maybe we were a little scared.

Music Video _ Palm Desert 269 (1)

But it didn’t take long until he offered the 9 iron to some of the crew.  Turns out, the abandoned airstrip was littered with literally thousands of golf balls.  Everywhere you turned they were like ants.  And this how Dana passes his days – searching for food and smashing golf balls into the abyss.

“I mean – you can’t beat the view,” I said. Most of us took turns joining in the fun.  I’ll admit – there’s something pretty relaxing about smashing golf balls into the middle of nowhere (even for me, the non-golfer).  After a while, I commented to Dana that sometimes it must be pretty nice to be out in the middle of nowhere, away from the city. This was close to sunset.

“Yeah,” he replied.  “I don’t care about any of that just so long as I can keep hitting my golf balls.”

Dana is a man who knows what he wants.

We never did hear his entire story, but I’m not sure he would’ve shared even if we asked.

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