Saturday, December 26, 2009

Celebrate! 1

Tis the season to be jolly...
Well there's certainly a lot of that going around. Jolliness that is.
Yesterday of course was Christmas Day. Accordingly, my cable went out at around one o'clock. Not only my cable, but everybody's cable within the building, and probably the local area as well.
To be quite honest I didn't know whether to call up Time/Warner and bitch at them, or send them a letter of thanks, as do to the outage I was relieved of the temptation to watch "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," over and over again, throughout the entire day and evening on the AMC channel. Or "A Christmas Story," on TBS. Or "Night at the Museum," (the link this film has with Christmas is slightly unclear) on FX. Or "Bad Santa," on Spike. Or freaking "Dirty Dancing," on TVGN.
Dirty Dancing?! Beyond this films obvious connection to the Christmas holiday, it seems to be a staple of the TV Guide channel, as they are playing it twice today as well, with one airing of it's sequel, "Dirty Dancing Havana Nights," before spending the rest of the programming day broadcasting various hour long specials on the life and death of Michael Jackson. One swoons with anticipation.
Anyway, before I go on with chronicling the various celebratory events around here lately a couple of serious items in the news.
We are all extremely saddened at the news of the murder of Salvation Army Major Philip Wise, gunned down on front of his 3 children in an apparent robbery attempt, near Little Rock, Arkansas. I've had a love/hate relationship with the Salvation Army throughout the years and am currently banned from the ARC system (see, Skid Row Diary), but it saddens me deeply that this kind of thing has happened to one of its officers (or anybody, for that matter), who is so committed to helping others. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.
My lovely case manager, Erin, is still in the winter wonderland that is New Jersey. Case manager Paul skipped yoga class last Tuesday to catch a flight to Detroit. It is rumored that he actually lived there at one time. Both are expected back sometime tomorrow.
Speaking of Detroit, yesterday, Northwest Airlines flight 253, originating in Lagos, Nigeria, by way of Amsterdam, upon approach to Detroit, experienced a small terrorist incident, at least that is how the White House is describing it. 23 year old Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab (must be some kind of foreigner) set himself on fire while trying to disable or destroy the airplane. Fortunately what ever incendiary device he managed to smuggle on board was ineffectual, and did not ignite as Umar had planned, and he was quickly subdued by some of his fellow passengers, who also put him out with a fire extinguisher. The ineptitude of Mutallab's attempt (he claims to have ties to Al Qaeda), plus the heroics of those passengers who neutralized him, undoubtedly saved the lives of not only those on board the flight, but also thousands of innocent civilians enjoying Christmas Day below, including our friend Paul.
We here at Joyce's Take salute the passengers and crew of Flight 253, and thank you for saving Paul's life, as well as possibly thousands of others.
This really is no joke. Those who took action remind me of the doomed passengers of Flight 93 on the 11th day of September, 2001. All are true American heros, and I get misty when I think about them all.
Okay, enough of current events.
As I've noted before, the streets of Skid Row were pretty much deserted yesterday, all of the Christmas celebrating having happened previously. We observed the holiday here in the lobby by having the traditional Christmas lasagna lunch (meat or veggie), served by our lovely resident manager, Tianna. Lasagna, salad, and a roll. Tasty.
Last Sunday morning as I walked to the Higashi Honganji Temple to participate in clean up activities, I noticed that the Fred Jordan Mission was up to it's old tricks, blocking off 5th St. in an effort to give away large amounts of food and toys. After leaving the temple (no one would tell me what to clean up, so I left), I returned to 5th St. and got in what I thought was a line to receive Christmas goodies, only to find out that it was the Dollar Man line. Yeah, I got a whole, crisp, new freaking dollar bill from the Reverend Maurice Chase.
Couldn't peal off one of those twenties I saw you had at the bottom of the stack, could you Maurice?!
The day before yesterday, that would be Christmas Eve usually, the Los Angeles Mission blocked off freaking 5th St. again, and served a nice, what looked like chicken dinner to hundreds of the areas homeless. The Midnight Mission, on the other hand, facilitated the dispersal of $10 bills to exactly 1,500 street people, for a total of $15,000. Not a bad deal if you had four and half hours to spare waiting in line. Two lines actually.
Tianna knocked on my door and told me what was happening, and wanted me to go there for some reason. "Don't let me down, Rick," she told me. "You stay in that line for as long as it takes."
So I walked over there and almost turned around and came directly back home as the line stretched all the way from 6th and San Julian, south to 7th, all the way back to San Pedro.
But my fellow resident, Nikita was there at the end of the line, so I joined him to hang out for awhile and see what would happen. I'd never done this in the 9 or so years I've lived in the area.
Two and a half hours later I approached the front of the line at the garage entrance of the Mission, on the west side of the building, and was fitted with a bage colored wristband, and told to come back at 1:15.
At that time, my neighbors Mike, Daryl, and myself returned only to stand in line yet again. We were told that the people with the money hadn't even arrived yet, so we waited and waited. At one point a truck slowly passed us on San Julian with the back gate open where several people began throwing out packages of sleeping bags. A crowd soon gathered around, and the situation became untenable, so the police came and put a stop to it.
Earlier a a car had passed throwing out one dollar bills, with much the same result.
At about three o'clock we reached the garage again, were herded into a single line, marched inside where our wrist bands were first examined then taken off. We next entered in a room where I shook hands with an older, grey haired gentleman, who wished me a Merry Christmas, then sent like an assembly line next to an elder grey haired lady who wished me a Merry Christmas while handing me a new $10 bill, then ushered out the front entrance of the Mission, and back on the street.
If I had to do it all over again I wouldn't.
I've been told that it was the famous Clancy I. of Alcoholics Anonymous fame who I had shaken hands with. To that I bellow to whoever can hear me: Big Freaking Deal! Why don't you have 6 or 7 people handing out the money so everybody doesn't have to stand in freaking line all day, you freaking egomaniacs!
To be continued.

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