Sunday, April 29, 2012

Skid Row Diary 3

July 15th  Tuesday  Day 3

"Truth is Relative." -Miranda Vera Cruz de la Jolla Cardinal.

   My alarm sounded at 3:00AM. I got up to turn it off and adjusted the volume on my little portable color T.V. It was already tuned onto channel 13, and "Star Trek, Voyager," was just beginning. I watched the "Tess returned from the Future a Disgruntled Employee episode. Not particularly worth watching but served its purpose by helping to wake me up.
   You can't find "Star Trek, the Next Generation" (STNG) on broadcast T.V. anymore. Oh no! The T.V. bastards sold it to TNN, or some other cable network.
   Sons of bitches!
   I showered at 4:00. The shower room closest to mine is communal, with room and shower heads for 4. Nobody was in there this morning, which was fine with me. I don't know about you, but I do not care for showering with men. It's icky.
   There's a large window in the towel area of the shower room, with no screen, or anything attached to stop anyone from throwing things, or jumping out of it, only to land 5 stories below onto a concrete alley next to the kitchen. The window looks out to the north of L.A., and I can see the top of the City Hall building as I stand naked drying myself off. I can waggle my large, ponderous tallywacker at the unsuspecting world with impunity if I so choose to do so, as I often do.
   Back in my room I listened to J.S. Bach, this morning on KMZT, while writing about yesterday. I tend to be more patient, observant, and verbose, than I was 12 years ago, for which I apologize profusely.
   It would take two 2 hour sessions to write everything down, and I wasn't finished until close to 8:00.
   I appeared to be slightly irritated this morning at John Manzano for his habit of trying to purposely irritate me. Is this the behavior of a friend? If he's about 8 years old, it is.
   I'll get over it.
   At 5:15, or so, I stopped writing for a while to meditate for 400 breaths while looking down at a small, dark stone placed an inch or two from a lighted tea candle with the room's lights darkened. I also stretched, did some sneaky yoga moves and calisthenics for 10 minutes, before I resumed writing.
   Near 6:00AM I switched radio stations to KLOS and the Mark and Brian Show. Mark and Brian graced us with their presence this morning. Mark Thompson blamed yesterdays absence on his having to attend jury duty, a civic duty he could no longer avoid.
   Of course, I don't believe him. He was probably up there in Santa Clarita, lollygagging at Magic Mountain Six Flags, the miserable son of a bitch, leaving the rest of us out to dry!
   I can't remember exactly when I began listening to Mark and Brian, but it was a long time ago. Possibly when I was the dispatcher for the Canoga Park ARC 7 of 8 years ago. I listen to them when I can every weekday morning.
   They're crazy.
   Mark also spoke of how he had forced his small daughter, Amy, to go to the movies with him to watch,"The Hulk," a recent release, starring the most beautiful and talented woman in the known universe, Ms. Jennifer Connelly. The film also starred Nick Nolte, as chance would have it. He beat out Jeff Bridges for the role.
      Amy, apparently, was not interested in seeing the film, and was further put out when she discovered her father sleeping half way through it.
   "Have a nice nap," she queried brightly as they exited the theater. 
   The son of a bitch!
   Hey Brian... you don't get off the hook that easily. We'll get back to you eventually.
   Near 7:00 I switched the old T.V. on back again to see what Giselle Blondet was wearing on Despierta America (I'm so sick), only to discover a blank screen on every channel. This disturbed me, as you may well imagine. There was no sound either, only static issuing from the speakers. What could have happened to my poor T.V. between 4:00 and 7:00AM to cause this phenomena? Cosmic rays?
   I disconnected the antenna, shook it vigorously, and reconnected it. No change. I then tried fiddling with it, and suddenly, upon changing the channel selector again, the picture and sound returned.
   Giselle was wearing pants again, and an uninteresting top, which was not a good omen for the day. I had just endured a five day period, which ended just last Tuesday, in which she wore pants every single day. I had been about to take action by writing to the shows producers alerting them to this affront, which I have done on occasion, when she broke the streak by wearing a nice dress and thereby displaying those national treasure legs.
   At 7:15 I went to collect John Manzano from his room for breakfast. He told me to go on, that he wanted to sleep a little longer. I left him.
   Pancakes and turkey sausage.
   I was on my way to the One Step Center, turning the corner on 6th and Wall, when an elderly, black, street gentleman accosted me. He came from behind a tree as I passed, hands and arms outstretched as if to attack, growling, "You fucking bastard..." continuing to mutter as he stopped himself just short of touching me.
   This kind of thing can happen frequently on the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Encounters of this nature have happened to me before. Usually these brief altercations are verbal in nature, as this one was, and nothing comes of it. We were just across the street from the Central Police Station if I should need any assistance or a place to seek safety, which I did not.
   I told him, "Whatever..." and walked away. We were both lucky he hadn't touched me.
   I reached the One Step 15 minutes before it opened, and was first in the door at 8:00. I grabbed the one computer that did not have its floppy disk portal locked (why do they do that, dear reader, why?), and printed some personal files I needed. I also printed some pictures of Jennifer Beal, Kiki Daire, and Francesca Rettondini, which I needed. I also looked for a job. Nothing was on my voice mail. I found one message from my Email from Sue Cummings asking me if I was still interested in employment at USC, the University of Southern California. I Emailed back, letting her know I was still interested. I also called Leonard upstairs and checked for new job orders, for which I got one number. I faxed my resume to that, along with two others I found on Flip Dog.
   From the One Stop I walked west on 9th to Grand, where I caught the Dash back to USC and the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, which was open today. I had to spend 30 minutes in line just to get a Driver's handbook. It was the most crowded DMV office I'd ever seen. I changed my official address to Monzanos' mother's house in Camarillo.
   I returned on the Dash to Arco Plaza. Another extremely warm day. I dare say I perspired a tad.
   No mail today. I did buy a Super Lotto ticket, specifying 13 as the Mega number.
   Across the street at the Central Library I checked my Email again. No word from Sue yet. I found a good book on yoga, "Yoga for Real People," by John Baker.
   I'm a real people.
   I left the library and walked to the 7th Street Red Line Station on, well, 7th Street. The signs there had been changed to make movie audiences think they were looking at a subway station in New York. This was for the Spiderman movie I expect. Still no Kirsten or Toby. Probably in the trailers.
   I took the Red Line to Los Angeles City College (LACC) at Santa Monica Bl. and Vermont. I'd never been there before, so didn't know my way around. As I emerged I found myself at the northeast corner of the facility, at the outskirts of the oval running track utilized by people who like to run in ellipses. I walked around until I found the college entrance, past a swimming pool, until I found a placard map which pointed out the way to the Administration building. There I picked up an admission application, which I took with me to the Financial Aid bungalow, where I was given some more forms to fill out. I didn't fill any of them out right then and there. I took them with me though. I learned that due to my total income from last year being under $13,000 and that I was currently on General Relief, I might be able to go back to school without having to pay anything.
   I'm all for that!
   On my way back I stopped at the 99 Cent Store across the street from MacArthur Park (the same MacArthur Park that actor Richard Harris sang about in 1968), and found some small memo pads and staples. Up the street at Food For Less, I bought 3 jalapeno cheese pastries and spam. And from that store I caught the 18 bus on 6th that took me right to the Weingart's front door.
   It was now 3:00PM. I walked by the case managers office to see if I could get some laundry tokens and detergent. One of the new managers, a cocky young black kid, called me out, yelling, "Are you on this floor?" He was showing off for his his boss from whose office he had just come out of, and for my nearby case manager, the beautiful Labren Marshall.
   "Why yes, I am," I answered.
   This surprised and disappointed this blatant asshole. His chance to legitimately bust an evil doer, a non-vet walking around on the veteran's floor had just flown out the shower window.
   This guy had even issued me laundry tokens once, had seen me writing in the lobby directly from his office when I was still living in the dorm.
   Short term memory loss, a symptom of gung ho stupidity.
   "Who's your case manager?" He tested me, his last hope at redemption.
   I simply pointed to Ms. Marshall's open door.
   "Ms. Marshall?" he croaked, close to tears now.
   "That's Mr. Joyce," my lovely case manager called out. "Don't you know Mr. Joyce?"
   "No, I don't. That's why I thought I'd give him my old college tackle." What a dick.
   "Hi Mr. Joyce. How are you today?" Ms. Jetter, another case manager, asked as I passed her office.
   "Very good. Thank you. Are we having our meeting today?"
   "Is it today?" she asked.
   "Every Tuesday. Phase two meeting. Four PM."
   "Yeah, well, I guess I'll have to come down..."
   "Yes, please come. It will go so much more smoothly if the facilitator actually shows up."  I'm such a smart ass.
   She laughed, and I went to my room. I had received no laundry tokens.
   Ms Jetter never showed. Mr. Edward Bertram did. Together we asked the folks in the nearby security office if the Phase 2 meeting was going to be held.
   "What meeting?"
   "The Phase two meeting."
   They called Ms. Jetter's office. No answer.
   I went back upstairs. Her door was closed, and she was no where to be found. These case managers need to learn responsibility. I wrote her a letter asking for credit for the meeting, and slid it under her door.
   I wrote in my room while listening to classical music. At 5:00 I went to dinner. Chile Mac. A big change from the spaghetti and meat sauce we had last night.
   John Manzano came to my room shortly after dinner. We watched "Married with Children," then I told him I was going to the Drifters A.A. Meeting, and he went away.
   "How boring," he said.
   I watched "Charlie Rose," instead of going to the meeting. He was talking to someone about President Bush's latest snafus, his stating that Iraq was trying to get uranium from Africa during the last State of the Union Address when it wasn't true.
   I watched and listened while cutting articles out of the newspaper and stapling them together with my new stapler and staples.
   At 8:00, I watched another exciting episode of "The History Detectives." Tonight they were attempting to authenticate two bullets thought to have been removed from the bodies of Bonnie and Clyde, the famous road bandits of the Depression era. They weren't. It was determined the bullets were probably used by Bonnie and Clyde to murder two Highway Patrolmen.
   I watched this while filling out my college financial aid paperwork. Boy, the federal government sure is nosy. I filled out more paperwork while watching Bryant Gumbal on a PPS program reviewing recent polls recently taken to measure the American public's attitude toward the Bush administration's attempt to circumvent the Bill of Rights, especially the 4th Amendment, by issuing the so-called "Patriot Act" (as good an example of Doublespeak as there ever was).
   I finished all of the paperwork by 10:00, my bedtime. I went to sleep watching a POV documentary concerning the plight and validation of Fred Korematsu, an American of Japanese ancestry who refused to be interned after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and became a fugitive, and was subsequently arrested. This is probably the greatest example of our government ignoring the civil rights of one particular section of our citizenry, and a reminder that said government can and will ignore the rights promised to us in the Constitution whenever it feels like it, or whenever it feels it can get away with it. The legality of the internment was even confirmed by our Supreme Court, but evidence withheld by the U.S. government caused his conviction to be overturned decades later.
   The United States was subsequently convicted of withholding evidence in a federal case and sentenced to 45 years in federal prison, and is currently seeking parole.
   On November 10, 1983, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of U.S. District Court in San Francisco formally vacated his conviction. He spoke to the judge, saying, "I would like to see the government admit that they were wrong and do something about it so this will never happen again to any American citizen of any race, creed, or color." He also said, "If anyone should do any pardoning, I should be the one pardoning the government for what they did to the Japanese-American people."
   I remembered the poll results from the Gumbal program. It amazed me that so many were perfectly happy to give up their Constitutional rights in the name of fear, in the name of the fight against terrorism.
   Hey, Saddam! Come out of hiding and run for President of the United States of America. Bush is priming the pump for you, and if he has his way the U.S. won't be much different from your Iraq.
   When I did fall asleep I dreamt of Jennifer Connelly, the lovely American actress from "A Beautiful Mind," among many other fine films.
   She and I were barreling down a rural highway, driving a Ford V-8 Cabriolet with the top down and being chased by another car filled with highway patrolmen who were shooting at us. "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," was playing in the background. We were both dressed in Depression era garb, and Jennifer was next to me in the front seat as I drove, turned around and shooting back with a .45-caliber Thompson submachine gun, and shouting out with glee.
   "Get'em Jenny girl!" I shouted while swerving hard to the right to avoid a goat.
   "I will, Ricky baby. Take that coppers!"
   She fired off a sustained round, and the sheriff's vehicle suddenly burst into flames, swerved left to avoid the goat, and overturned several times before coming to rest by the side of a corn field.
   "Aye Eeee," Jenny and I both shouted, as we sped on leaving the crippled coppers far behind. She sat back down in the seat, and looked at me adoringly.
   "I love you Richard Joyce," she said breathlessly.
   "I love you too, Jenny girl," I replied.
   We disappeared in a thick cloud of dust.

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