[PICTURED: Zuma Dogg, today — and at the start of “The Zuma Dogg Era.”. Looked like such a sweet guy. WHAT HAPPENED?]
“THE ZUMA DOGG STORY” by David Saltsburg (Aka: Zuma Dogg): NOT the happy ending for the biopic I was hoping for. For better, or worse…here it is:
David “Zuma Dogg” Saltsburg was a singing, rapping, monolouge performer on the Venice Beach Boardwalk (Boardwalk), on Ocean Front Walk (OFW), in Los Angeles City Council District 11.
Mr. Saltsburg, also well known throughout the region of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties due to his popular cable TV show, was living in Agoura Hills, at the time; was able to maintain and operate his drivers licence; registration; insurance and car itself.
Saltsburg would drive from Agoura Hills, from the home in which he was paying rent to his landlord on a monthly basis, to the Boardwalk, where he would sing, rap and deliver monolouges.
He would accept donations for his performances and offered CDs/DVDs/Tshirts and related, “Zuma Dogg” merchandise.
On March 25, 2006, LAPD approached “Zuma Dogg” (Mr. Dogg) while performing and asked if they could speak with him. They informed Mr. Dogg, that there was a new ordinance in effect (LAMC 42.15), and that the officers were going to walk up the boardwalk and back, and that if Mr. Dogg was still performing with his amplifier, with the Tshirts and items displayed; they would issue a citation and that I could be arrested, if I did not comply.
This had a chilling effect on Mr. Saltsburg and immediately felt this new ordinance was a violation of his Constitutionally protected rights.
Saltsburg did some research on the internet, and found court rulings that supported his belief.
Since Saltsburg thought this was a simple error made by the City, he went to his first Los Angeles City Council meeting on April 4, 2006, to inform council that he believed the ordinance was in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
He believed his trip to city hall, to file his grievence, in hopes that the City would correct the constitutional violation , would be a one time trip, because he didn’t feel the city would want to be in violation of the Constitution, and he presented a compelling argument, worth review.
Council had no reaction and took no remedy to fix the problems Saltsburg put on the record.
At the same time, Saltsburg, as “Zuma Dogg” was being prohibited from peforming, as he had, in the locations he was used to on the boardwalk — and was not able to make any donations through performing or offering of his goods.
Mr. Saltsburg, as Zuma Dogg, continued to follow-up on his request for council to amend the ordinance. And at the end of each comment, nothing was done.
Additionally, while expressing his grievences with council, they began to interrupt; cut off; and eject Saltsburg, entirely, during his televised public comments at the council meetings, as his profile began to rise within the city, raising awareness on a big city issues.
Mr. Saltsburg’s income was now being prevented from being earned, and was facing eviction from his home; was becoming increasingly difficult to afford to maintian his car, without the income; and he was beggining to suffer from his first signs of emotional duress.
Mr. Saltsburg was a positive, uplifited and uplifting spirit, who decicated himself to sharing his creative gifts that have been widely recognized as outstandingly unique.
LA Weekly referred to him as, “a public access icon.” KABC radio introduced Mr. Dogg as, “local legend, Zuma Dogg,” on-the-air.
Every day, Saltsburg, as Mr. Dogg was treated to waves of adoration and accolades from countless thousands of people by email and on the streets of L.A. and Ventura Counties; and Mr. Dogg considered himself a truly blessed creative spirit, and was able to produce a weekly 30 minute cable TV show (conceptualizing segments, then driving across the county filming the segments, editing — and driving across two Counties (Ventura and Los Angeles) to deliver the taped episodes to the numerous cable outlets, throughout both counties.
After shows were produced, Mr. Saltsburg would do additional promotion of his character, by performing live at clubs and bars in both L.A. and Ventura Counties; and would also host karaoke/DJ nights at some of these clubs, as well.
All of this, in addtion to the performances at Venice Beach, approximately four times a week as part of the overall routine, to pay the bills and expenses that make the TV show, rent and automobile possible.
The emotional duress of Saltsburg being prevented from his act, which he loved to do, so much; and would film for his cable TV show, being cut off from being able to do what he spent so many years honing (his act and building an audience on TV) began to cause Saltsburg much more emotional duress.
The proof of this, is that he attended every Los Angeles City Council meeting for a period of three years, and the streak was only interrupted when Saltsburg had to leave town, due to the passing of his father.
Upon return, the first day back, Mr. Saltsburg continued to fight for his right of expression and income.
In around 2009, Saltsburg filed a lawsuit in Federal Court, and in October 2010, the court ruled in Mr. Saltsburg’s favor.
This caused the most heartbreak and emotional duress, as it only proved that he just lost five years of performing and income rights, at the peak of his cable popularity, for no good reason, at all.
The first time Zuma Dogg went on the Boardwalk, to perform, after the injunction, finally allowed to do what he fought years to be able to do; six police surrounded
Saltsburg, while in his performer space and asked him questions like, “What’s your REAL name?” “What songs were you singing?” “Do you plan on being here, often?” “Are you leaving?” These questions were a violation of his rights, the first time back on the boardwalk, and it once again chilled him, and he hasn’t returned to perform, since.
Over the course of the four to five years between the March 2006 enforcement of 42.15, and the 2011 injunction on the ordinance; the loss of income, caused Mr. Saltsburg to become homeless.
The homelessness had a severe, and irreprable physical and emotional effect on him. He has been diagonsed “disabled,” by the State of California for bipolar disorder. He is on permanent work exemption. And, his condition is becoming progressively worse.
The fact that he is not able to work, causes further emotional duress; and his health has been suffering. Mr. Saltsburg dropped to a record low weight in December 2011, when most people are gaining weight. He dropped from 167 lbs to 145 lbs, in less than two months. 145 is less than he weighed as a teenager.
The fact that the City Attorney has hired outside counsel, to defend against his winning settlement, that will only result in the City paying outside counsel upwards of millions of dollars more than the fraction Saltsburg has asked for, caused Saltsburg further serious emotional duress and has degenerated even further into anti-social, schizophrenic behavior.
Mr. Saltsburg is now on prescription medication; and the medication has physical side effects. He had to sign a waiver, in February 2012, releasing the state from liability for physical side effects of the medication, after complaining of side effects.
He is slower and most days cannot move around as much, under the medication.
For example, if he has to leave the house for food or groceries, he won’t be able to leave the house, then even walk a full block, let alone a half mile to the nearest grocery store.
It makes it harder, and more expensive to to care for himself. Today (02/11/12), Mr. Saltsburg had to pay someone twenty dollars to take him where he needed to get to, on time. That comes out of his food money.
It all results in further decline of physical health.
If there is any doubt to Saltsburg’s emotional duress, attending years’ worth of council meetings, and his twitter timeline should be enough of an indication.
Saltsburg is now basically stuck inside all day, where he is constantly obsessed with the fact the city took his best years (singing is a perishable asset); is broke, unable to care for himself, for the first time in his life is under psychiatric doctor’s care; and is on prescription medication, that has adverse physical side effects of which he had to sign a disclaimer waiving damage claims against the State for these adverse side effects, in February 2012.
LAPD has been to his door and contacted him by phone, numerous times, over the past year, over safety concerns.
He is no longer able to do the things he used to; and is now so schitozphrenic, even walking down the street becomes a safety issue and threat for him.
Due to the fact that the city forced him to become a legal compliance expert on municipal and state law, while fighting for his rights on Boardwalk (municipal) and his interruptions, cut offs and ejections at the council meeting, (state/Brown Act), he has literally become a borderline sociopath.
If a store has a sign on the sidewalk, or an illegal flier on the light post, or any type of visible municipal violation, Mr. Saltsburg bursts out into anti-social behavior that puts him at risk of arrest for “disturbing the peace,” if not worse. Police have been called to the scene on numerous occasions, over Saltsburg’s public outbursts. [Though nothing more than, “disturbing the peace” warnings.]
Before Saltsburg had to fight for his rights, that were being violated at Venice Beach, Mr. Saltsburg was a blissful, creative spirit; had never been to a council meeting to complain about anything; was not an activist; had no idea where city hall was; didn’t know what a “city council” was; and had never been detained.
Mr. Saltsburg’s disablilty has affected him to the point, where he has become completely anti-social, and has now isolated nearly everyone in his life, as the most prominent people in his life are the social workers, doctors and police who are concerned for his safety, on a daily basis.
Saltsburg can no longer even attend the L.A. City Council meetings, as a result of it all.
It appears as though Saltsburg will not be able to hold a job, earn income in the way he used to in the past, at all; and is looking at a lifetime of isolation, on foot (even with settlement money to get a license and car, Mr. Saltsburg no longer feels it’s safe for him to drive on a day to day basis), as his physical health continues to deteriorate; and society, at large, poses a threat to his safety, just by walking down the street, which he must do to survive, as he has no one to care for him.
Mr. Saltsburg (Winning Plaintiff vs City of Los Angeles, in Federal court) remains in Los Angeles, awaiting an October jury trail to award a damages amount.
Press and fan reviews of “Zuma Dogg.”
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK SONG TO THIS BIOPIC: Roger Waters wrote “Comfortably Numb” for HIS biopic, “The Wall.” Zuma Dogg wrote, “Permanently Disabled,” for his.