FROM THE ARCHIVES: In 2007, the man you see here was caught on tape, defecating on a Jacksonville sidewalk. Locally, his action became infamous, even as he remained anonymous. Konrad Marshall set out to discover who the man was and how he could fall so far…
A disheveled man shuffles into view, sets his drink on a planter, looks to either side, and begins to take his pants down.
Monique Brown walks by as his slacks fall. She turns back and lets out a little scream. Tom Broadus looks up from his desk across the street and sees a bare butt sticking up in the air.
The man pulls his T-shirt forward as he bends, squatting like a downhill skier. He strains, and does his business.
A Mercedes pulls up carrying a woman and her daughter on their way to the library. Hemming Plaza is alight with activity in the pixilated background. This is downtown Jacksonville on an otherwise pleasant Friday afternoon. Specifically, this is Laura Street at 3:55 p.m. on Oct. 20, 2006.
And maybe the man in the video finally senses the time and place, because he ties the drawstring on his pants, picks up his drink, shuffles across the frame and exits.
What he doesn’t sense is that he is caught on tape.
He also doesn’t sense that this tape will be posted to YouTube, where his digital version of “Everybody Poops” will be viewed more than 10,000 times in the next three months, where his business will become everybody’s business.
And he certainly doesn’t sense that three months later I will stand on the spot where he crouched, wondering how I can find him and what I might learn – just by looking for him – about shame, indignity, indigence, mental illness and what leads someone to perform man’s most solitary and private act in the most public of places.