Mike Pierce, 21, has been playing on the streets of P.B., I.B., O.B., and downtown for two and a half years. For the past six months, he and his buddy Tex Gibbons, 20, have been playing at the wall near the O.B. pier or on Newport Avenue. Of all the beach communities, Pierce says O.B. is the best.
"People come to O.B. for the chill atmosphere. I.B. doesn't have a homeless scene at all. P.B. is like a big mall. The businesses all seem really uptight.... Some people really don't like homeless people, in general...."
Gibbons says, "One lady got real hostile. She said, 'I bet you make $50,000 a year. I saw it on the news.... In P.B., I asked a woman if she needed help, and she was, like, 'Get off me.' "
Pierce says cops are generally cool in O.B., "except when there are ten people hanging around and it looks like people are loitering."
Pierce and Gibbons say it's getting more difficult to live outside in San Diego.
"It's harder to find safe spots since there are so many more homeless bodies," says Gibbons. "I don't dress like a bum. I brush my hair and wash my face.... You have to compete with everyone else who is hustling their deal. Once I was next to a husband and wife and three kids. They made bank. I thought it was messed up that they would use their kids."
Pierce and Gibbons plan to relocate to Las Vegas this month because, says Pierce, "It's easy to just get caught up in that routine, where you just want to hang out on the beach."
Pierce and Gibbons have about ten original songs each, but the requests they play are what make them money. Most requested: Rolling Stones, the Doors, and Johnny Cash.