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Ceola Waddell, Jr. is proud of his home. He likes to show off his large collection of shoes, zebra-print furniture, and jacuzzi. Of course, people can’t help seeing it if they pass under an overpass on the 110 Freeway in Los Angeles. Waddell Jr. is homeless, the jacuzzi is an overturned fridge, and his palace – called “Paradise Lane” – is on a sidewalk.
Waddell, Jr., also known as “Mr. Dice,” is 59 years old and has quite a life story behind him. The LA Times reports that he first became homeless at 14 and moved frequently between life on the streets and in cheap hotels before settling down with a girlfriend. She died ten years later, causing him to lose half his income, and sometime in early summer 2016, he found the underpass he now calls home.
Paradise Lane were popularized by a video first posted on the Facebook page of one Cynthia Mumba Farr. Since November 3, 2016, the video has gained almost two million views and shared on the site nearly forty-thousand times. Waddell Jr. has fans now, and people regularly take selfies at his home. On his sudden internet fame, he says, “I enjoy the hype, like anyone else.”
However, city government was less enthusiastic about Mr. Dice’s sweet digs. According to Bureau of Sanitation spokesperson Elena Stern, workers removed “explosive materials” and a fridge full of rotten food not long after Farr’s video. The city’s destroyed Paradise Lane – twice.
Thankfully, Waddell, Jr. doesn’t let them get him down for long. Two days after this defeat, he found new furniture and bounced back. In fact, he’s arguably better off than before: his new arrangement includes a hot dog stand. He lives right by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of the Trojans football team of the University of South California. On game days, Dice Dogs serves up weenies for $2.50 each – probably way less than the stadium, and almost certainly with a richer personality.
The fate of Paradise Lane since it went viral is currently unknown to this reporter. However, if a comment from February 23 on Farr’s original video is true, it’s not good. “They took his kingdom away,” wrote LA resident Nicole Sherrell. “I use [sic] to enjoy passing him up.”
But if everything else is any indication, Mr. Dice is too creative and resistant to stay down for long. “I refuse to let the city beat me down,” he said, “to what they think a homeless person’s profile is, living on cardboard. This should be a landmark.”
Here’s an additional video of Waddell, Jr. – singing!