Hunger activist Mitch Snyder has eaten from dumpsters, on heating grates and, when times are good, at warm, clean soup kitchens. One would not expect to see the man who nearly starved himself to death last November fighting for funds for a shelter for street people breakfasting at the Polo Lounge, that posh playground of the privileged in the Beverly Hills Hotel. But that was Snyder having breakfast there last week with TV producer Chuck Fries.
Snyder hasn't gone Hollywood. But when one deals with Hollywood, one has to go where the deals are made and Snyder has made a movie deal on his life story that will earn money for his organization, the Community for Creative Non-Violence. Snyder said he was in Los Angeles for a hunger conference and Fries wanted to meet about the Snyder film. Snyder did manage a tour of L.A.'s skid row.
"From my perspective," Snyder said, "Hollywood is a lot like Venus. There's a great gulf between the Polo Lounge and the soup kitchens . . . Although everyone is classy and rich, right in the middle of Beverly Hills I saw a bag lady. It's a place of unreality. Consciously so, I guess. Over there, it's $3.25 for half a grapefruit. We get cases and cases in the trash here for free. What for others is a thing of beauty, to us looks like injustice."