Monday, April 23, 2012

Skid Row Diary 2

July 14, 2003   Monday    2

   I stayed up after the "X-Files," for "The New Outer Limits," program on channel 9. A pretty scary botanical "Species," show, with the Earth invaded by space flowers. Not the first time thats happened (Day of the Triffids).
   Afterwards I turned the television off and the radio on to 95.5FM, KLOS, The Impact Show. hosted by Frank Sontag, a weekly talk program leaning decidedly to the left of middle. I find it a refreshing contrast to the Christian television network and Bill O'Reilly. Tonight Frank was getting some fairly intelligent calls, which is hardly the norm (I've heard some callers try to defend President Bush's domestic economic policies, stating "he's been great for the economy," until Frank asks for specifics, at which time the caller hangs up. Unfortunately I believe that this example is a representation of a large, perhaps majority of the populace. Oh Thomas Jefferson, to what degree is the government responsible for the education of the republic? How have we failed, and what to do about it?), and he didn't seem to be combative, or testy with his callers, which is also not the norm. Tonight's subject tended to drift toward the current news headlines, especially the White House's recent effort to blame the CIA for misinformation it used and presented to the public to legitimize its military intervention in Iraq, and its attempts to stifle further investigation, stating the administrations deemed the matter regrettable, but behind us now, and closed. Fortunately, the democrats do not believe it to be closed and are continuing to pursue the matter. With no discovery of weapons of mass destruction it would appear the American people were manipulated into supporting a war with a country that was of no particular threat to the United States or its allies, and resulting in tragic loss of life to both U.S. forces, and Iraqi loyals. A unilateral intervention, not sanctified by the U.N., coupled with the inability to effectively create a viable post war government and society... the whole thing seems to be a great big mess. Frank was calling for impeachment, and stated that everything that has happened, including the apparent difficulty in stabilizing the regime, is part of some master plan the U.S. administration has to further its own agenda, whatever that may be. I disagree. I don't think the administration is smart enough to form a master plan about what it's going to do two days from now, and has proven itself to be reactionary, rather than proactive in a responsible manner.   
   Rather than impeached I think Bush should be in prison.
   I will agree with two other points Frank made before before I drifted back to sleep to dance with my Odalys. Americans are spoiled and place much to much importance on striving to be happy, whatever that means. Happiness is at best transitory, and most often nothing but a passing illusion. But I am guilty of this as well, and admit it. Most addicts are. But I posit, much better to strive toward being content with oneself and environment. Happiness is a dead end, a cul-de-sac, which leaves you with no where else to go but straight down. Much better to desire nothing at all and be at peace.
   And I believe that we deserve the government we have. The populace is responsible, to a degree. We have forgotten that a prerequisite of self government is an educated citizenry. And to whatever degree the federal government and the people of this nation are responsible for not meeting this requirement, we are all indeed at fault, and approach the heights of irresponsibility to ourselves.
   I went back to sleep. Odalys agreed with everything I said. That's just one reason I love her so much.
   I had left the radio on, and woke from time to time, hearing Frank's voice, then later that of Mark and Brian, the station's morning show hosts.
   Now I know that M & B play a highlight show, if you can call it that, between 5:00AM and 6, at which time they come on the air live. The highlight show features what is deemed the tastiest parts of the preceeding days show. Now I fully intended to get up at 6:00, to start my day, as I had many, many important things to do today. But as I laid on my rack, drifting in and out with Odalys, I kept hearing M & B pronounce that the highlight show was still in progress, and I naturally concluded that 6:00AM had not arrived yet. But I also noticed that the light from my one window kept getting brighter.
   I also knew that M & B had just returned from vacation a week ago. They go on vacation, abandoning their loyal fans if you will, about 80 times a year, and once on vacation the highlights show lasts all week, from 5:00 to 10:00AM.
   When the light level in my room got to the point where I could not ignore it any longer, I opened my eyes and glanced at my small 99 cent store alarm clock to discover it was already past 7:00, intimating that Mark and Brian had failed me once again, and had taken another unauthorized day off (they had returned a day late last week as well, the unconscionable bastards!), and caused me to be late to the many crucial appointments and opportunities I had planned for the day.
   Sons of bitches! I'll get you Mark and Brian! One day there will be a reckoning! It will come when you least expect it. Be aware of that tiny, faint, little noise behind you. It might be the last thing you hear.
   I better stop. In this day and age the above can be considered a terrorist threat.
   I showered quickly and dressed. I grabbed my black backpack and went to breakfast. Scrambled eggs and pig slices. I passed John Manzano as I signed in at the front deck. He was going in while I was going out.
   Some of the homeless people who wish to remain outdoors had congregated across from the Weingart on the southwest corner of 6th and San Pedro. The block was thick with them, which I avoided. There are rumors the Coalition of the Homeless may go may strike soon of the city fails to make certain concessions. All of us hope it doesn't have to come to that. The economy is bad enough without disrupting the existing infrastructure.
   I passed a Dept. Of Transportation worker who was just finished placing a parking ticket on a pickup truck. He had ridden up on a bicycle. The owner of the offending vehicle appeared and argued with the DOT weenie, to no avail. The city is notorious for its ruthless application of parking statutes which is a major source of income. I should know, I used to work for them.
   I caught a 20 bus on 7th Street, west to Hill, then walked south to 9th Street, and the One Stop Job Source Center. The regular building guard had returned from vacation and I greeted him as I signed in.
   Surprisingly there were computers available. I took one that was close to the printer and away from everyone else. I immediately utilized my isolation to locate and print pictures of Kristanna Loken, and Terri Irwin, which I needed for my collection, after which I checked my Email, then looked for a job.
   No calls on my voice mail. I was surprised as I had sent my resume out to around 20 different potential employers last week. Something is very strange about this, but I can't isolate what it is.
   I faxed my resume to 2 numbers I had found in the Want Ads yesterday, then went up stairs to the Employment Development Department (EDD) to speak with the vet rep.
   As I waited I read from "The Edge of Tomorrow," Dr. Tom Dooley's true account of his effort to bring medical relief to villages in Laos before the Uniter States began the Vietnam War. A precursor to todays Doctors Without Borders. It is a fascinating tale of altruistic efforts to relieve the suffering of members of a culture that might as well have been living in the stone age.
   I don't know what the title has to do with anything.
   A Rep., Leonard Cruz Jr., came out and called me back to his office.
   "What can I do for you?" he asked after sitting.
   At first glance this seems an uninspired question. Why does one come to an EDD office? To discuss weather patterns? I always answer the same way.
   "Find me a high paying job, where I don't have to do very much, or show up very often. You know, something like a senator."
   He laughed. I don't know why, I was serious.
   "Maybe you should run for governor," he said. At least this one had a sense of humor. We checked out the new job orders that have a 24 hour hold before being offered to the general unemployed population. The hold is for veterans to get a first crack at them. Leonard and I found 2 customer service jobs, 1 in La Puente, and the other in Alhambra, which I hadn't submitted to yet. I returned downstairs and faxed my resume to both of them.
   I then walked north to the Arco Plaza Complex (an underground mall located beneath twin 55 story buildings in the Financial District of downtown Los Angeles) to check my mail. The post office worker was at that time stuffing the P.O. boxes, so I went to the nearby Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) customer service office and grabbed current bus schedules for the buses I use most often. I returned to the post office, but the mail was still not ready.
   I took this well, I thought. The mail is supposed to be ready by 10:00AM. There's a sign in the post office that promises that. (it was now past 11).
   I returned to the street above and caught the F DASH bus to Exposition Blvd., right next to the USC campus. From there I walked a couple of blocks east to the office of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). I wanted to get a change of address on my state I.D. card, and pick up 2 Driver's Handbooks, for John and myself.
   The DMV parking lot was empty, which I didn't think anything about until I noticed that the doors were closed and would not open. What the hell!? I then noticed a sign... a banner really, proclaiming that for our convenience the DMV would be open the second Saturday of every month, and to make up for the extra day, would be closed on the following Monday, which for July, happened to be today. I had picked the one weekday of the month that the DMV was closed to come visit.
   I didn't dwell on my useless errand and wasted time. I turned myself around and trudged back to whence I came.
   It was hot. No cloud cover at all, so I began to sweat.
   I took the DASH back up Figueroa St., back to the Arco Plaza (Arco doesn't even live there anymore, but no one wants to call it the Paul Hastings Plaza), and to my P.O. Box, which contained a letter from Wayman R. Porter, the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) Appeals Hearing Specialist, who wanted me to contact him to discuss my upcoming hearing, which I have not received notice as to when it will take place as of yet.
   The last time I went through this process I was sent the hearing notification form after the date it was scheduled for, making it necessary for me to travel backward in time in order that I may be punctual.
   I was not successful.
   I walked to the bus stop on 6th to try to get back to the Weingart cafeteria before lunch ended at 1:00PM. I noticed an unusual amount of studio film equipment laying about on the sidewalk and electrical cables placed at almost every corner. I would learn later while reading the paper, that the film, "Spiderman 2," had begun production in L.A. today.
   Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst were somewhere about, but I sure couldn't see them. I did see a lot of homeless people begging for spare change from office workers out on their lunch break, and a lot of security guards looking after the film equipment.
   I made it back in time for lunch. Teriyaki chicken with rice.
   Next, to the Skid Row Housing Trust rental office on 5th and Main. There they checked my application for low income (no income) housing. I was told there was nothing available today, and to come back every so often to check. I was the only Irish person there.
   Next, to the library. I used their 15 minute Internet computer to check my Email again. Nothing. I also tried to find some books on careers in the legal profession, and self defense. I found a couple but they were of no use to me. I left soon after, and bought a loaf of wheat bread at Rite-Aid, before returning to the Weingart for the day.
   On the elevator up to the 5th floor someone was talking about their uncle who liked to fuck rottweilers.
   I read about the Indian fire God, Agni, and soma juice, in "Sources of Indian Tradition," by a whole bunch of people at Columbia University. I read this just before I meditated for 400 breaths and recited the Heart Sutra for recovering people. Like classical music, which was playing while I counted, I find meditation very relaxing.
   I searched out John Manzano to go to dinner at 4:30. Big mistake. He had been taking a nap because he gets so tired doing nothing, and I should have let him sleep. Instead, he got up, washed his face and came with me.
   Then he stayed in my room for the rest of the evening to watch television while I tried to work (write and read). He wouldn't leave! He wouldn't shut up! He wanted to watch shows that I didn't, and chided me for watching the ones I did want to watch. All this between a million questions. I almost had to kill him.
   I took time off from work to watch "Married with Children," a viable landmark indicator of social norms, and the Charley Rose interview program, which is the best of its kind on television.
   Every time I put on Charley Rose and John is in my room he asks the same question over and over.
   "Why do you watch this? It's boring."
   "What do you get out of watching this? Why do you need to know about Ben Franklin (or whatever the subject up for discussion happens to be that day)?"
   "It's boring."
   See what I mean about educating the masses. John is an inherently intelligent man, but he has little incentive to actively investigate the world around him, other than watch the sound bite local broadcast news, which is turning more and more into an entertainment program, rather than a news program. John would be much happier watching "Seinfeld (a show admittedly about nothing)" than any show where one could accidentally learn something.
   To be fair, at times I'm guilty of this as well. I enjoy, "That 70s Show," "Married with Children," "The X-Files," and any show that has the words "Star Trek," in it. If I had cable I'd constantly have my T.V. tuned to the Sci Fi Channel, because I'm a spaced out nerd. But I am not opposed to learning new things, and go out of my way to do so when I am not relapsing, even ideas and issues that contradict my own viewpoints and beliefs. I don't often witness many who are willing to do that I'm sorry to say. Much too often the majority of us wear our cherished beliefs and customs as a warm security blanket, sacrosanct and immune from experimentation and question. We must be courageous in seeking truth, no matter how painful it is personally, no matter how difficult it might be to consider opposing evidence. For truth sacrificed to complacency and fear is a most tragic thing.
   John stayed with me as I watched the premier of "The History Detectives," on PBS. An interesting program. Tonight the history detectives verified a presidential signature found in a firehouse roll book, they discovered the identity and path of a small ceramic made in South America and discovered on a beach in New Jersey, and finally they found out why a baseball stadium was named after a black ballplayer at the height of the Jim Crow era.
   John watched it for as long as he could take it, then finally left at 8:30, or so.
   I finished writing and went through todays newspaper while watching "Everybody Loves Raymond," a non-educational sit-com.
   I don't know why they call it that. I don't love Raymond.
   Never have.
   I set my alarm for 3:00AM, and went to sleep at 10:00PM, where Helen Mirren, the sexy British star of stage and screen, came to me in my dreams dressed as a meter maid, the sexy kind. She gave me parking ticket after parking ticket.
   "Take that!" she cried, tearing another one. "That's for including me in your perverted little sex fantasies."
   "Take that!" she continued. "That's for Hillary and the others!"
   "Take that! That's for not plugging any of my movies!"
   "And this one's for not saying how beautiful and talented I am!"
   "And this one's for putting my name in this silly book to begin with!"
   "Have you got anything to say for yourself, dear boy?" she asked in that sexy British accent of hers.
   "Ummm, I only did it because you're one of my favorites. I've seen pictures of you when you were younger, and by God, you were the most perfect wo..."
   "When I was younger!" she bellowed. "What the hell's the matter with me now?!"
   "Nothing! Nothing!," I assured. "You're still gorgeous and..."
   "Here's another one, for your... your... fantastic imprudence... you, you, pedofile, you!"
   "I'm not a ped..."
   "Enough! have you got anything else to say for yourself?"
   "Ahh... I don't have a car..."
   "Well..." she thought a moment. "This one's for jay walking then."
   "Okay," I said.
   "And get a car!" She chased me down the block, clobbering me over the head with a big stick.

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