He's no Michael Jackson -- he's not even a Justin Timberlake. His moonwalk is actually more like just walking backwards with a weird facial expression. And the closest vendor of the week Steve Allen comes to singing, as far as I can tell, is blowing the duck call he keeps hidden in the folds of a black down jacket.
Watching him, I realize it must be practically impossible not to buy papers from someone who is doing the moonwalk while blowing on a duck call. And I almost forget that Allen is in the middle of a prodigiously crappy run of luck.
A few weeks ago, while Allen was selling at his Beppo's pizza turf, a Department of Corrections crew came to the camp where he slept and -- there's no other way to put it -- they robbed him and about 15 other fellow campers. "No warning, no nothing," says Allen of the clearing in which he lost a sleeping bag, a camera, and 15 weeks' worth of Real Change back issues.
Allen still had his health and a few blankets, which he'd hidden in nearby bushes: that night he slept in a shelter and stowed his blankets under the roar of cars along Interstate 5. The next day he went to work as always.
While he was there, the City of Seattle swept away Steven Allen's last worldly possessions like they were crumbs from a table. That night -- city shelters either full or closed -- Allen slept outside. Which might not have been a big deal, except he didn't have any blankets.
The good news is that a few weeks and a case of pneumonia later, Allen is dancing in the offices of Real Change, jovially extolling the virtues of the moonwalk, and intermittently blowing a duck call.
No thanks, that is, to the City of Seattle