We witness all types of people around us in our daily life – some quirky, some forgettable. There are many nice people around us who can be seemingly indistinguishable from the rest of the population. However, once you get to know them, their kindness and tragic life stories can move you and make you question the morals of society.
I will tell you the story of one such guy whose story came to the limelight after a photojournalist noticed him on the streets of Los Angeles. This person’s name was Tweaky Dave, or that is what he was called after the photojournalist found him. Tweaky Dave was nothing but an ordinary homeless man who grew up on the streets just like hundred others in Los Angeles. He led a hard life, and his life was cut short tragically.
Read along to know the story of this kind soul and how his life story left a deep impact on many of us.
The Discovery of Tweaky Dave
Tweaky Dave led an ordinary life, living off the streets before Jim Goldberg, an eminent American photographer and journalist found him on the streets of Los Angeles. Jim was a leading photojournalist, a member of the reputed Magnum Photo agency, and a professor at California College of the Arts. He found him while he was working on a long-term project for a paper. Jim Goldberg was documenting the life of the homeless, drug addicts, panhandlers, and prostitutes for seven years. This is when he came across a skinny, homeless guy and was intrigued by his personality and life story.
His work on Tweaky Dave earned Jim many accolades later on, including three National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, and the prestigious Henri Cartier-Bresson Award.
The Biography of Tweaky Dave
Although there is no official Wikipedia page for Tweaky Dave, we can learn a great deal about him from the famous book “Raised by Wolves” written by Jim Goldberg himself. There are also several reports of him, but none of them had shed any light on his life before he became homeless. However, through a detailed study, we gathered some information that gives us a clearer image about the life of Tweaky Dave. Tweaky Dave belonged to a destitute family, and he left his home after a squabble with his father.
He spent a lot of time on the streets of Los Angeles, foraging off the streets and earning his livelihood as a male prostitute. Gradually, he met another runaway girl, who he named Echo. Echo left her home at the tender age of fourteen after being molested by her father. But after running away from her abusive father, she found a new home and a protector in Tweaky Dave. Although Dave was a street urchin, Tweaky was quite flamboyant with his dressing sense. Not only that, he was a popular figure among the homeless people of Los Angeles for his acts of kindness. Gradually, Echo and Tweaky Dave had their brief love affair, which seemed like an oasis among the violent and hostile street life of Los Angeles.
However, Tweaky was also a drug addict and when Echo got pregnant, she moved back to give her child a life away from the addicts and prostitutes. But Tweaky was heartbroken by this incident, and he got seriously ill. His drug abuse spiked, and he was left to die on the streets until Jim Goldberg found him. He spent a lot of time with him and got him admitted to a hospital. But the damage from the drugs had already impacted him severely and he was already a wreck when Jim Goldberg brought him to the hospital. His liver was ravaged, and he spent his last few days in excruciating pain from liver infection and took his last breath in a hospital in Los Angeles.
Apparently, before his death, Tweaky Dave asked the hospital staff to invite his father to his burial. That makes us wonder if he secretly missed his father all this time. He left his home after his father, James Brown, injured him by hitting him in the stomach. But over time, he most probably forgave him and wished to have one person in his burial whom he still can call a family.
How Did a Death Become So Popular?
Tweaky Dave died of liver failure in 1993. However, there was no official coverage of the news at that time. Tweaky was, in fact, a random street kid, so none batted an eye when he died. But his death became a matter of interest and intrigue when Jim Goldberg released his book “Raised by Wolves” in 1995. He vividly described the life of Tweaky Dave and also posted several photographs from his different phases. Although some of these photographs were blurry and grainy, the Media houses lapped up these photos nonetheless.
Although Jim Goldberg stated in his book that his father was alive after Tweaky died, there have been some controversies regarding that statement. Tweaky Dave was a surprise guest in the famous “The Jerry Springer Show” in 1992. He stated on camera that he left his home after he shot his father. But there was no definite proof, and it is debatable whether he said it in a sober state or was under the influence of any substance.
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Tweaky Dave was not anyone famous or talented. Unfortunately, we see such homeless people around us every day. But the story of Tweaky became popular and touched so many people because of the narrative. The book on Tweaky portrays us the life and hardships of poor homeless people and the hell they have to deal with every day. This book and the photographs were enough to touch a million of people and made several people feel sorry for them. Tweaky Dave helped people understand the unique tales of homeless persons and how they deserve a little bit of empathy and assistance instead of ignorance.