Sunday, December 30, 2012

Skid Row Diary 8

July 21   2003      Monday   Day 9   

   Next, the "frustrating implied angel who won't say what he really is," episode of the "Outer Limits." I mean you watch for an hour, until 1:00AM, and you at least want to find out what you've been watching! Not this, "I've already told you all you need to know. The answer is within you," crap.
   The original "Outer Limits" never did that! The writer's of the new "Outer Limits," might think they're being clever, but it's actually old, tired, and boring.
   I turned the television off and the radio on to Frank Sontag's "Impact," program that was just beginning it's second hour. I listened while drifting off to sleep again. Frankie was in a mood, fairly argumentative with his callers, the subject of conversation still being recent events in Iraq, and the Bush administration's handling of it.
   I fell asleep, trying to get back to Janeane and Uma, but they had gone home. Instead I was transported to just east of Ayres Rock in the Australian outback. It was dark, and sitting around a hastily made campfire were Laura San Giacomo and Linda Kozlowski.
   Both beautiful and talented actresses, Laura, star of "Sex, Lies, and Video Tape," "Pretty Woman." and "Quigley Down Under," Linda of the Crocodile Dundee saga. Laura was dressed in white shorts and a kind of reddish, orange top with white sleeves, while Linda wore a black cocktail dress with a white top. Wild dingos circled the fire, hungry and ready to pounce.
   "Here Laura, wear my coat. You must be cold," I told her. I was wearing a nice coat.
   She took it gratefully. "Thanks Ricky." She smiled at me.
   "Those dingos are getting closer," Linda pointed out, "and we only have three bullets left in the gun." She was holding a six shoot revolver.
   "What are we going to do?!" both ladies cried, looking at me for salvation.
   "No worries, ladies," I told them, filled with self assurance. "We'll just open up a few of these cans of 'Dingo Food,' here, and give it to them. That should keep them busy."
   Fortunately I had my can opener with me. I fed the dingos, and the girls and I huddled near the fire throughout the night to keep warm. I told them ghost stories.
   I woke around 3:00AM to Frank's arguing with a caller, still discussing Iraq. The caller was telling Frank about how much more he knew of the subject than Frank did, calling Frank a "young man," making it sound like an insult. Frank cut him off, saying he would have none of this condescending crap on his show, "especially tonight, old man!" Frank let the guy continue his argument anyway.
    I went back to sleep, rejoining Laura and Linda.
    I stayed with them until well after sunrise. We were happy. The dingos were happy. Everyone was happy...then Mark and Brian took me away from them.
   They were both talking about the British Open, which was not surprising, them being old geezers and all.
   Especially Brian.
    I kid them, but I do it with love... geez bastards.
    It was 7:00AM. I got up and showered. A black guy was just leaving the shower room as I entered. “The water’s just warm,” he told me. That too was not surprising for this late in the day. I was surprised the water wasn’t ice cold.
    Another black guy, the guy who stole my red soap dish, came in just as I was leaving. He had my soap dish with him, and I would have taken it back, but didn’t want to get into an altercation and get thrown out of the Weingart over it. The Weingart does not allow physical altercations between residents within the building’s perimeter, among other things. I let it go and returned to my room.
    Breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs and bacon. I gave my bacon away to yet another black guy. In this place whites and Hispanics are a minority. I don’t believe any Asians live here, which is interesting.
    Giselle was wearing pants yet again. That makes three days in a row now. This is getting out of hand. I’ve written the producers before concerning this difficulty. Don’t make me do it again Giselle.
    Fortunately, Desperita America weather lady, Jackie Guerrido, and my case worker, Labren Marshall, were wearing lovely short dresses.
    I’m so sick. Please help me.
    I saw Labren when I was in the lobby at the pay phone trying to get through to the food stamp people in Sacramento. After navigating my way through several automated systems, I was abruptly, automatically, told that all operators were too busy with other callers and for me to call back later.
    I was aghast! I decided to take their advice and call back at another time.
    Labren had just walked by headed for the day room. I asked her if she knew the password for the new computer.
    “You can’t have it yet,” she told me.
    I knew better than to ask why. The computer, given to us without the password, was an obvious attempt to test our sanity. I would have none of it and returned to my room.
    Kelly Gates, Mark and Brian’s lovely newslady, didn’t make it back from Vegas in time to get to work today. Her replacement, the lovely and virtuous Diane, stated that Cyndi Lauper would be on the show today. I waited around and listened until 9:00, but Cyndi never showed up.
    Where are you Cyndi? Are you with John Manzano?
     I had my 10:30 appointment for testing at LACC. I arrived 30 minutes early and waited on the steps of the library until called inside for the test. I began to read from Wurther until I realized that watching the students, mostly young kids, walk around, was much more interesting.
     At 10:30 we were called into the testing room. Myself and about 20 others.
     I only needed to take the math assessment test, which centered on algebra. I could of saved the testers and myself a whole lot of time by telling them I didn’t remember a thing from high school algebra, however it took only 10 minutes to prove my ignorance. The test consisted of 12 questions, and I had to guess the answers for each and every one. I was politely told that I was eligible for the pre-algebra class, Math 112, which I would need to take to prepare me for a real algebra class.
    And what the hell do I need algebra for anyway?! I didn’t need it in high school, I don’t need it now. I can’t think of one instance where algebra was imperative to maintaining my health and well being.
    I hate algebra.
    Oh well, we shall see.
     The next step in the matriculation process was to be counseled. Lord knows I could use it. However, I was told that I could not be properly counseled without the transcript I was waiting for from PCC. There was nothing for me to do but return to downtown to check my mail.
    The lovely Miss Tran had mailed a letter to me reminding me I was to be evaluated on August 5th at 1:00PM. She left a message on my voice mail as well, asking for my zip code so she could mail the evaluation letter to me.
    I think she just wants to get together with me, the poor, lonely girl. Little does she know that I am not on the market. I will have to let her down gently.
    I called her back and got her voice mail. I gave her my zip code so she could use it on the letter she had already sent to me.
    I was good and just used the computer at One Stop to look for a job. The thought occurred to me that if I kept this up I might actually find a job, which was unsettling. I’ve worked long and hard, abandoning personal and professional relationships, family life, children, to continue to be downwordly mobile. And just as I’ve nearly touched the bottom, and see the end to what I’ve strove toward all of these years, I may have to give it all up and rejoin the race of rats.
    Near 2:30 I left the One Stop, stopping at the indoor mall at 6th and Los Angeles to purchase a purple, 1 and 1/2“ tall, plastic Buddha figurine I’ve had my eye on for quite a while. I also bought a VHS copy of “Brother, Where Art Thou?” for $5, from a rather small Hispanic girl.
    John Manzano came up to me as I approached the entrance of the Weingart. He said that he hadn’t ditched me. He said that he had to take care of some personal business, needing to go away for a little while.
     Whatever. I’m not his mom. He said he’d be up to see me later, and I went to my room.
     I called the food stamp people who put me on hold for a half hour before letting me know my food stamp hearing had been scheduled for next week, the 29th, at 10:20AM precisely, at some address on Wilshire.
     “Why haven’t I received a notice of this?” I asked. “It’s almost a prerequisite for showing up.”
     My food stamp person didn’t know why.
     Chile dog for dinner. Hall and Oats on Charlie Rose. John Manzano came in at this point and started to give me hell for watching Hall and Oats on Charlie Rose instead of a sitcom that would entertain him.
    “What do you get out of this?” he asked. He didn’t really want an answer. He just wanted to bitch.
     I changed the channel to “Seinfeld,” his favorite, but it had been preempted by a Dodger game. I put the Simpsons on instead, and began reading the “Criminal Law Handbook,” about talking to police.
     This bored John, so he soon left, saying he’d see me tomorrow.
    “Until that time, John,” I said to him. “Until that time.”
    The Whistler was out there tonight, roaming the halls... whistling.
     I continued reading while watching the History Detectives attempt to authenticate a dirk that may have belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte. I kept thinking about John Manzano. He was acting strange, and not a little bit odd. Was he worried about his kids? What could I do as his friend to help him? I didn’t come up with any answers.
     I got disgusted with the reception on my television while trying to tune into “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and turned off the set.
     I read an Amnesty International newsletter noting the 8 year anniversary of the massacre of up to 10,000 Bosnian men and boys in the aftermath of Serbrenica. 17,000 people in Bosnia-Herzegovina are still recorded as missing as a result of the strife.
   The letter also denounced President Bush's Patriot Act, noting that 6 detainees have been held without charge or trial. Amnesty International considers this to be a step back for human rights in the United States war against terrorism, "that will further undermine the U.S.'s claims to be a courageous champion of the rule of law."
   I put the newsletter away and went to sleep. Classical music pervaded throughout my little room.
   I dreamt I was in a log cabin in Alaska with Janine Turner, the gorgeous and talented star of "Northern Exposure." She was wearing a full length skirt and blue print blouse. I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt with the words "Amnesty International" printed on the front. We were sitting in front of her fireplace and I was telling her of the benefits of becoming a member of Amnesty. She was very enthusiastic and receptive, and I got her to sign up for 3 years, after which we both went moose riding, off, off, into the vast sunset, never to be seen again.

July 22    Tuesday     Day 10

   I heard on the radio yesterday that some government or consumer agency advocated for the county's mental health resources to be proactive and help people rather than just medicate them. 
   I'm at least a day or two ahead of my time.
   Janine left me at about 2:00AM, saying she had to fly someone to Anchorage. I immediately entered into a nightmare. In it I was on a mission to rescue some people in a haunted land where strange, evil, creatures dwelt. A "Hellraiser" labyrinth landscape. I needed to get to a certain location, a mausoleum within a cemetery, where several paths led to several doors. I choose to leave my place of relative safety when there appeared to be no activity about, nothing moving within the shadows which might... treat me. I zipped along one of the concrete paths toward the house, a pillared, four story affair, a mansion really, made of stone and marble, but with wooden doors. I did not run, but carefully walked, looking about as I made my way. Nothing appeared, nothing made noise, but I knew something was out there, possibly watching. Finally I made it to the closest door. It was open, and I quickly entered. The people I was to rescue were there waiting. A family it looked like. A man, woman, and three children. My blood turned to ice as I heard an insane cackling from outside, from where I had just walked with impunity, and which now may be closed off to me forever. I opened the wooden door to look out into the night, and caught a quick glimpse, a glimmer, which quickly disappeared, what looked like a crazed man, except it had no eyes, and it's smile, it's smile was a perpetual grin filled with sharp, jagged teeth, it's arms as long as it's legs, naked, and doing backward cartwheels until it bounded out of my field of vision.
   I closed the door and locked it in five different places. I took several short breaths, wondering if the door would hold if attacked. Still, there was nothing else I could do about it. I was quickly running out of options.
   I froze as I heard giggling behind me, then slowly turned around. My skin crawled as my gaze fell on the man, woman, and children, that were no longer a man, woman, and children. Their eyes were gone and they grinned at me with jagged, sharp, stinking teeth. They began to move toward me, but my exit was blocked.
   Fortunately Bernadette Peters, the beautiful, sexy, and immensely talented star of stage and screen, popped in through a side door I had not seen, and beckoned to me.
   "Ricky! This way! Hurry or your dog chow!" she yelled.
   I followed her through the door and we were magically transported to her hotel in Atlantic City where she sang show songs to me for the rest of the evening, wearing the dress she wore on the cover of Playboy.
   I woke with a start. J.S. Bach's Rollerball Toccata and Fugue in D minor was playing on the radio. "Voyager," was just beginning. It was 3:00AM.
   I walked to the restroom and washed the flop sweat off of my face and upper, well muscled torso. I returned to my room and watched the rest of the "Borg attacks Borg dreamland," episode... Part 1.
   Mmm.... there was some "triaxelating modulation" going on in this one. Very exciting.
   I did yoga and other exercises during the second half of the show, and showered after.
   I wrote and wrote while listening to more classical. At 5:10 I meditated for 400 breaths. Mark and Brian kept talking about how hot Kobe Bryant's wife is, since they got a good look at her after the basketball star declared his innocence on national television last Friday, after being accused of sexually assaulting a 19 year old girl in Colorado. How could her cheat on her, they wondered.
   Personally I have no idea.
   Giselle was wearing a nice dress today. So was my lovely case manager.
   I wish I could find "Local Lente" (the Hispanic "Candid Camera") on my television schedule (according to Univision it is still being produced and aired) so I could be reunited with Odalys.
   Perhaps it is not meant to be.
   I had a good breakfast, eating with John Manzano. Grilled cheese. We discussed what he was going to do about getting custody of his two boys. He was going to make some calls today, to some social agencies, he told me. He believes his children are being abused by his ex-wife and her new boyfriend. I spoke to him about what to say to the police if they were to ever get involved.
   After breakfast I walked to the One Stop, passing the Flower Market on Maple. I was the first at the computers today. I immediately printed up some private files of mine which had absolutely nothing to do with getting a job. No messages on my voice mail. I received two confirmations on my Email that my resume had been received by Health Net and Paralyzed Veterans' of America. I then looked through the "Outer Limits" archives site to find Kate Vernon and Jessica Lundy, then to The History Detectives to find the name of my favorite history detective.
   My work done I walked to the Red Line station on 7th which had been restored to its Los Angelesness, after Spidy had finished with it.
   On to Trimar.
   I picked up some more tea and coffee at the 99 Cent Store, as well as a can of Beef-A-Roni, tuna, and mixed vegetables. Two cans of chicken noodle soup. A jar of sliced jalapeno peppers, lemon cookies, a blank VHS tape, and two 60 minute audio tapes.
   I would record music on these two tapes later.
   A fairly decent Bruce Willis movie was on at Trimar, "Tears of the Sun." I'd never seen it before, and besides the pretentious title, it was very good. I like any movie that brings up human rights violations throughout the world, in this case Nigeria during a civil war, while ethnic cleansing was put into use. And I like pretty much any movie with Monica Bellucci in it. I don't know why.
   My friend Aurica unstuck me today. I asked about her family and everyone seemed to be healthy and fit, even the little baby. Very good. She asked me if I was going to the movies after I left, and I told her, no, that tonight I would be seeing a play.
   I ate a nice turkey salami sandwich I had brought while waiting for the bus to take me back. It had sliced jalapeno peppers in it.
   No problems getting back downtown. I read from Wurthers love letters.
   At the 7th St. station, as I was riding up one of the escalators, I heard a female say this, "Excuse me," from just behind me. I turned around to see a pretty blonde lady looking up at me. "Do you know where Grand Street is," she asked furtively.
   She was wearing sunglasses, and dressed in blue jeans and a beige blouse. She resembled my last girlfriend, Julie Laughlin, who is truly beautiful, caring and kind, smart and funny, and who I love to this day, almost too well, and I had to take a closer look to make sure it really wasn't her. This girl was a little younger though, in her late twenties, and had Hispanic features. Her long hair was very blonde, and I don't see many Hispanic ladies with blonde hair. She resembled a cross between a Hispanic and Norwegian.
   Now I just happened to know where Grand Street was, so I said, "Why yes! I know where it is."
   I took her up to the street.
   "I have to get to the county doctor's office. Do you know where that is," she asked.
   "The county's doctors office? Do you mean the county hospital?"
   "No, the county's doctor's office," she insisted.
   "No," I answered. "I don't think I do." I didn't.
   "Do you see that red signal light over there," I continued.
   Very uncertain, she looked for a moment, then nodded. Yes, she saw it.
   "Well, that's Grand Avenue," thinking that would be the end of it.
   But she continued to stand there as if not knowing what to do.
   "You don't know which way I go to get to the doctor's office?" she asked.
   I didn't, but I said, "Let's go over and take a look."
   "Okay," she said.
   We walked the block over to Grand.
   At about the half way point she said, "Thank you very much for helping me."
   "Ah, it's no problem," I assured her.
   "Nobody seems to want to help around here," she said.
   I looked at her. She was holding what looked like a black sweater in her hands, up close, near her face. It covered her hands in fact, and I thought I saw her trembling.
   "You're alright, aren't you?" I didn't know if I was asking a question of making a statement. "You're not hurt, are you?"
   "No," she said, "I'm just scared because I'm by myself. I want to get this over with and go home. I was assaulted a month ago and need to go to the county doctor's office."
   Jeeze! My heart melted toward this innocent victim, this sweat creature who looked so harmless, but to whom violence had been perpetrated. I felt like protecting her and if she had wanted I would have gladly escorted her to her appointment, and make sure she got home safe and sound.
   I didn't offer. She might have freaked by a stranger wanting to go with her.
   And since Grand turned out to be a one way street heading south, that resolved the problem of which direction she would be going.
   "Thank you," she said once again.
   "No problem. You take care now." I walked north, toward 6th St., but I looked back at her once or twice, until she disappeared into the crowd.
   I wished her well.
   I'd worry about her for the remainder of the evening.
   I returned to the Weingart and discovered someone had been in my room while I had been gone. I hadn't locked the top lock on my door when I had left for breakfast, and it was locked upon my return. Also the bottom lock had been disengaged from the inside.
   I wasn't too alarmed. The maid comes in once a week to change the linen and mop the floor. I have no claim to privacy here, and my room can be opened for inspection at any time.
   I carefully eased my door open in any case, and stuck a mirror through the crack, carefully looking for trip wires in case of booby traps. Fortunately there were none that I could ascertain.
   Whoever had entered hadn't moved or taken anything. Perhaps the hotel staff were just spot checking to see if the room was clean. Perhaps.
   I was mildly concerned because I store so much contraband in my room. Tools and other supplies that could be considered weapons. Knives and blow torches that could be considered as weapons. A bazooka and grenades that could be considered as weapons.
   My  FN F2000 assault rifle, which, by some, could be considered a weapon.
   My harpoon.
   We're not supposed to have weapons.
   Anything can be used as a weapon.
   And I sure didn't want anyone making off with my Odalys and Giselle posters. Oh no!
   At 4:00 I went to the training room on the ground floor. Ms. Jeeter was there this week, waiting. I was the only one in Phase II who showed, so the meeting was canceled again.
   "You've been to this meeting four times, haven't you Mr. Joyce?"
   "At least," I replied.
   "Well then," she exclaimed. "That means your ready for Phase three."
   So far I hadn't been to one meeting in either Phase I or II, that had actually been held. I didn't even know what Phase I or II meant.
   John Manzano had told me that morning that he would come to my room at 5:00, so I waited for him. He didn't show. I went to dinner and found him down there already eating.
   "Oh yeah," I said. "I'll meet your at your room at five."
   "I said I'd meet you down here."
   "No you didn't."
   "Yes I did."
   "No you didn't."
   :Yes I did."
   On and on.
   We returned to my room and watched the "Bud Bundy sex trial," episode of "Married with Children."
   Afterwards, John took a drink of water from my water bottle, got up, said he was going to go refill it, and didn't come back.
   I turned the T.V. on to Charlie Rose who was interviewing the director of the upcoming film, "Seabiscuit," and two of it's stars, Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper.
   John came about a half hour later with my water bottle.
   "What the fuck, man! You get lost?"
   He laughed. "I called my brother," he said.
   "You called your brother? You couldn't bring my water bottle back first? I was thirsty."
   "Christ! It's a good thing you weren't in the Normandy Invasion."
   "Why? What do you mean," he asked.
   "You would have landed in Portugal."
   We left the building at 7:07 and made our way to Pershing Square. We each possessed a 99 Cent Store plastic bag with cans of 99 Cent Store soup inside. That was the price of admission for this year's Shakespeare Festival's presentation of "The Merry Wives of Windsor." a play I was thoroughly unfamiliar with.
   John and I took seats at the edge of the lawn area facing the stage on the north side of the park, along 5th St. It wouldn't get completely dark for 30 minutes after we got there. The show started at about 8:30.
   Advertising for the event had stressed the resemblance of the plot to that of contemporary (relatively) television shows, especially "I Love Lucy," due to the shenanigans of the plays two leading ladies, Alice Ford and Margaret Page (Played wonderfully by Shana Wride and Judy Moreland). Music from sit-coms and comedy acts was played before the show started, from Laurel and Hardy to "Bewitched," and The Three Stooges. On and on.
   I enjoyed the play immensely, although my ass got a little sore sitting on cement for two hours.
   The story itself demonstrated yet once again how helpless males are constantly manipulated and abused by the dominant female race. I especially enjoyed one scene change where two of the prop people help themselves to a drink from the tavern's bar as the lights went up, and the scene didn't begin until they were finished and left the stage (I've had that job before and know what thirsty work it can be). The actors were all dressed in 1950s dress, although the dialogue, for the most part, remained that of Shakespeare's England of the 1600s.
   There was a commercial for a local pizza establishment just before the intermission, and three displays of magic. The Theme song for "Bewitched," (I admitted to John that I had seen the very first episode when it was first broadcast in 1964, the same night that Mel Brook's "Get Smart" premiered. I'm so old) was utilized in the last act, with a fair amount of magic nose twitching to boot!
   Very good!
   "Did you like that?" I asked John as we walked back.
   "It was okay," he said.
   He helped himself to a salami sandwich in my room before retiring, and I read from Al Watts Zen book.
   That night I dreamt that after I had taken my little blonde Hispanic, Scandinavian home in a giant laundry basket, seeing her safely to her door, I turned into a moose in the Fairywoods, and was pinched by Shana Wride and Judith Moreland, and a whole slew of fake fairies, ceaselessly and without mercy, until the sun once again rose above the towers surrounding Pershing Square.  

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