Malibu’s Rock Star has been selling Real Change for the past 10 years. Todd Kline, originally from Seattle, moved to Malibu in the ’80s and became famous for balancing rocks on the beach. Today, Kline lives back in Seattle, where he sells Real Change on the side to support his real passion: art.
Any way that Kline can get creative is what drives him. From paintings to poetry, Kline loves it all. “I picked up painting in sixth grade because my teacher, Ms. Davis, who knew I had ADHD before that was a thing, was asking all the kids what their favorite colors were and everyone was saying red or blue or yellow and I said psychedelic. I just picked every color and called it psychedelic.” Even though Kline hasn’t had an art show in more than two years, Kline still loves to paint. “I never know what I’m gonna do when I start or when I am going to start,” Kline said.
Kline grew up in Seattle but moved around a lot. He decided to go to California for a change of pace. His art for balancing stones became well known, and he was paid to come up to the Ballard Arts Festival and balance stones there. Unfortunately, that’s when he lost his wallet.
“I couldn’t get back to California without my ID, so I was stuck here,” Kline said. With Kline’s mother and sister both here, he decided to live with his sister for a while, but it didn’t work out. He then moved into his mother’s place with her boyfriend for a while, but that also didn’t work.
Without a place to call his own, Kline became homeless: “My mom and her boyfriend dropped me off in downtown Ballard and said ‘good luck’ and left.”
Three weeks after he was dropped off in Ballard, he went into a coma for four days. “My brain just couldn’t handle being homeless, I don’t think,” Kline said. Kline made it through the coma and was homeless on and off for four years. He would hold down places, and then rent would go up or his Social Security income would go down, and he would be back on the street.
The final straw was when Kline almost died of hypothermia. He was sleeping outside, and when he woke up, he was in the hospital. A housing case manager was in his room and told Kline he was going to help him find housing. The case manager contacted him a few days later and told Kline to meet him downtown and that he had an apartment for him.
Kline did, and the place he found has been his home for more than 10 years. Being inside gives Kline the ability to continue painting and have a space to keep everything safe. “Everything gets so easily stolen when you’re living outside,” Kline said.
Today, Kline is trying to organize more art shows to sell his beautiful paintings. In the meantime, he sells Real Change to make a supplemental income.
“Whenever I meet someone who is homeless, Real Change is the first place I send them,” Kline said. He has been a vendor for almost 10 years and keeps coming back — and bringing new vendors with him — because he knows the impact Real Change has had on him.
You can find Kline selling Real Change at the downtown Seattle ferry terminal. Maybe he’ll even have a piece or two of original artwork for you to see.
Read the full October 2 - 8 issue.
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