Getting the lowdown on downtown at YouTube

Andre, a well-spoken homeless resident of downtown Los Angeles, tells the story of a compliment he paid a man and woman only to be maced in the face. Andre shared the story with downtown resident Ted Trent in a video Trent posted two months ago on YouTube. Andre's advice to downtown residents who are frightened by the homeless is to calm down. "What did you think," he says, "that they were going to sanitize it by the time you got here?"

The 18-minute video was mentioned this week in a story in the Los Angeles Downtown News beneath the headline "YouTube Exposes Downtown Life." Trent's video, the story says, is one of a growing number of YouTube postings about downtown Los Angeles. Chris Heywood, communications manager at the LA Convention and Visitors' Bureau, describes the amateur videos as being "like a guerilla marketing campaign." Heywood is quoted by LA Downtown News as saying the videos provide "an authentic glimpse of what folks take away from Downtown."

From the story:

Type "Downtown Los Angeles" into YouTube and dozens of Downtown scenes arise from the Internet ether. Some are inane personal vignettes, like a 10-second car ride through the Second Street tunnel. Others are poignant, such as a music video juxtaposing Skid Row with Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

Trent's mission doesn't appear to have anything to do with marketing. In the middle of his interview with Andre, Trent says: "I'm on a journey to find solutions." Andre suggests spending more money on mental health to aid the many schizophrenic people who are homeless.

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