Thursday, February 28, 2013

Skid Row Diary 9

July 23   2003   Wednesday   Day 11

"Values are relative." - Wile E. Coyote

   The rats were out last night. I don't mean to alarm you, but they were. Mama rats. Papa rats. Little rats. Whole families of rats, rat families if you will.
   John Manzano and I saw them scurrying about in the underbrush, or else running from one hole in the sidewalk to another.
   One medium sized rat came up out of the darkness while we were watching the play and made off with my backpack.
   I woke at 3:00AM to watch Part 2 of the "Voyager Crew and Captain Become Assimilated by the Borg to Further a Plan That Has No Clear Objective," episode. As if assimilation and regeneration were as easy as changing your shorts once a week! Well I'm here to tell that it's not, by God! It took Captain Picard a whole season's hiatus to recover, let alone one night.
   I was tired so I returned to sleep. I dreamt I was walking through Hell with Lois Ayers, the beautiful and talented star of "Sin City," and many other fine films. Her sister, Sandra Stillman joined us, and they escorted me to the exit.
   "I didn't know Hell had an exit," I told them. "Sartre didn't think so."
   They smiled. Lois said, "He thought hell was other people."
   "How silly," Sandra exclaimed. "Hell is where your heart is."
   "We don't usually show men the way out," continued Lois, "but we know you'll be back."
   "See you soon," they both cried, then kissed me on the cheek.
   And I woke up. It was 7:30, waaaay past my waking up time, which may explain the surly mood I would find myself in all day.
   "Damn those girls," I muttered.
   I showered, then dressed. In that order.
   Chicken omelets for breakfast.
   I stayed in the building and wrote while listening to Mark and Brian. Mark was mean to Kelly, behavior I cannot tolerate. I may have to go down to La Cienega and bitch slap the both of them.
   Mark was cranky because listeners kept calling to tell him he was an ass for saying Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones was a lousy drummer.
   It's good to keep some opinions to yourself, a lessen I should take to heart myself occasionally.
      Giselle was back to pants today. Labren was not. She's been showing off those legs all week now.
   Very good.
   I used the computer in the day room to update some files. The lovely Academy Award winning actresses, Anna Paquin, was on "Good Morning America."
   She was wearing pants.
   I left the building at 10:15 and walked back to the HOP office and asked them for a dental referral. The lady at the front desk told me I could call the Buddhist Clinic myself to make an appointment since I was an established client. I got the number and left.
   I'd come back another time when the real receptionist was there and have them call.
   I walked over to the shops on Boyle and Winston Streets to find someone who sold umbrella hats. 12 for $10. Perhaps I could get a better deal if I bought in bulk. Like 24 hats.
   I can make $50 on 12 hats if I can sell them for $5 a piece. A good return.
   Since I was in the neighborhood I stopped in the Skid Row Housing Trust office and signed in, then went to check my mail. The DPSS had mailed another letter to me. I would wait until I got back to my room to open it so I could use my new 99 Cent Store letter opener to open it.
   It told me I had an appointment with my caseworker on July 31st at 10:30, to discuss my GR cash benefit appeal. The letter demanded that I show up, as if the agency still had some measure of power over me. What would they do if I didn't show up... take my money away? They're already doing that!
   But I'll go. I like my DPSS caseworker. She's cute, and I may need to do business with her again.
   Next, to the One Stop. On the way there a car pulled up next to me and the driver, a pretty Iranian lady, asked me how to get to Wilshire. I tried to be helpful, being a nice guy and all, but unwittingly gave her incomplete directions, which I realized after she had left. I felt bad about it for about 2 1/2 minutes.
   I used the computer at One Stop to refine my resume on Cal-Jobs. I also sent a copy to the Paralyzed Veterans of America ("What would you be doing for them," John Manzano asked me later. "Go around, find veterans and beat them until they couldn't move,"  I answered. "You're a sick man, Rick," he replied).
   A Mr. Porter had left a message on my voice mail system twice, wanting me to call him back to discuss my food stamp appeal. I also had two messages from staffing agencies.
   I called Porter back and discussed the situation. He said he would look into the rules governing food stamps issued to a board and care facility rather than an individual. I was to call him back tomorrow.
   I left the One Stop a bit after 2:00, and walked back to the Weingart. I stopped into the indoor mall at 6th and Los Angeles, and bought two more of the purple Buddhas and a VHS copy of the film "Pollock," from the little girl I had bought "Brother, Where Art Thou?" Her mother wasn't around at the moment, and I crouched down to look at the available $5 videos.
   "Can I help you," this pretty little 8 year old asked me.
   "Well let me see," I answered. "I'm going to look at these and see if I want to buy one. Is that alright?"
   She nodded that that was okay.
   I'd seen "Pollock," there before and picked it up to take a look at it. There was only one copy and I instantly became afraid that if I didn't buy it some one else would and it wouldn't be there the next time I came back. I discovered that Jennifer Connelly was in it, which I had not known. Well that sealed it. I'd buy a two minute commercial on how to remove frog warts if Jennifer Connelly was in it. That makes three of her movies I personally own. Now all I need is a VCR machine to be able to watch them.
   I need more Jennifer Connelly movies.
   I bought the day's paper. Saddam Hussein's sons had been killed by U.S. forces in a firefight on Northern Iraq. They had been hiding. They were both human monsters and mass murderers, rapists, and torturers. My only regret concerning their deaths was that they came too quickly. At least for the 6 hours that the fight lasted they both could contemplate their own demise.
   I exercised in my room and wrote until 7:30. At 8:00 I watched an informative National Geographic special on PBS concerning the FBI. Thank God for what they do. Just don't give them leave to ignore the Constitution.
   I had been given a flute of jalapeno bread  at the HOP office. They give bread away to the homeless people when they have it. I made myself a big hot dog sandwich utilizing the bread. It was very good. I used two smoked sausages. Chewy.
   John Manzano came by and wanted to borrow a cigarette lighter from me. I gave him one. He would be lost if I weren't around to feed him and give him guidance.
   I turned the television off at 9:00 and finished reading the paper. At 10:30 I put it down, turned out the lights and went to sleep.
   I dreamt of Cyndi Woods, Playmate of the Year for 1974. In my dream she was the Columbia Pictures Lady who's holding that big torch.
   How odd.

July 24    Thursday   Day 12

   John Manzano came to my room at 6:50AM. I was busy cutting out stories from the paper that I wanted to keep and when I opened the door and he saw what I was doing he began asking all of these questions which I just didn't feel like answering. I'm afraid I was a bit terse with him, not a particularly bright move when dealing with an ex-strong arm bandit.
   "What!" I exclaimed as I opened the door. He stood there and I motioned for him to come in.
   "Hey... you cutting out newspaper stories?" he asked.
   "Just because."
   "Is it history?"
   "Yeah. It's just stories I want to keep," I explained. "You want the rest of the paper? You can have it."
   "Gee thanks," he said sarcastically. "There's nothing left of it."
   "You ready?"
   "Don't you want to see what she's wearing?" he asked.
   "I'll come back," I told him.
   We went to breakfast. Chunks of ham and potatoes. John seemed unusually silent.
   "You want this banana?" he asked.
   "I've already got one."
   "I didn't ask you if you had one already. Do you want this one?"
   "No thanks. I've got this one."
   We rode the elevator back upstairs. John got out on the forth floor without saying anything. I returned to my room and listened to Mark and Brian talk about English chrysanthemums and  what Neil Armstrong said when he walked on the moon.
   Giselle was back to pants.
   I ran out of things to do at 9:30, and began getting depressed. I felt bad about John somehow and was vaguely disturbed about it. I started thinking about my life, and how many friends I had, which further depressed me.
   It was at this point that I relapsed and decided to smoke and act out. Just for today. Only today. That would relieve my feelings of depression, anxiety, and unease. I couldn't do it immediately. I had a 10:00 appointment with a new job developer at the Levy Center next door. I thought about skipping the appointment, but then thought I better keep it.
   I began reading Arthur C Clark's "Rama Revealed," the last in the Rama series he co-wrote with the engineer, Gentry Lee. None of the books Clark wrote with Lee are as spectacular as the first "Rendezvous with Rama," written solely by Dr. Clark, but they are all interesting, and they helped take my mind far away, which is exactly that which I desired.
   Just before 10:00 I walked next door to the Levy Center. I was directed to office 26, where I met Larry Denman Sr., a job developer. Black, roughly my age and size, he seemed rather harried. I introduced myself and gave him two versions of my resume. He looked them over.
   "Customer service? Would you be interested in applying for a..."
   At this point someone came to the door interrupting us. There was a veteran's employment meeting in a class room right next door which Larry was involved with.
   Larry left me for a moment, then returned.
   "You're going to the meeting, aren't you?" he asked me.
   "Yeah, I guess."
   "It'll be alright, Richard. Don't worry." he was putting me at ease for some reason which was fine. I think he sensed I didn't want to be there. "Come back to my office right after the meeting."
   We walked next door. Two other vets and a black man dressed in a suit were already there. The suit introduced himself to me as Richard Comes, the Veteran's Project Manager, my caseworker's boss. Labren's boss. He was new. I'd never met him before.
   A few more vets, some of those who seem to live in the day room, straggled in. Just after 10:00, Richard started the meeting.
   Mr. Comes had at one time been a head hunter for a high end employment agency before coming to the Weingart. He started out by explaining that a job interview's basic function was to exclude those found not suitable for a particular job, not to hire. As an example, he asked how does one weed out potential job candidates out of a group of 100, lets say, applicants?
   "Well," he said. "If I were an interviewer here today, I would dismiss all of those who didn't show up on time. Only three of you did. That's the three I would spend my time with. The rest of you (at this point about 20 vets had shown up, with others still arriving) I wouldn't have to worry about."
   He went on about how the Weingart was a transitional facility, and that all of us should get off GR and get a job. We were going to have weekly meetings from now on toward that end. We were all going to learn how to look for work.
   All very well and good. I'd already gone through the HRVP program at the Harbor Light, and knew how to look for work.
   No one had given me an interview yet, so any help this guy provided was fine with me.
   After the very long meeting I returned to Larry's office, and he made an appointment for me to come back and see him Monday morning at 10:00.
   I took a bus to 5th and Broadway and purchased some tax free cigarettes from the street venders who illegally sell them for $2.50 a pack.
   I returned to my room, isolated, smoked and acted out for the rest of the day. 
  I didn't go out to eat. I didn't see John Manzano, nor did he come to my room. The only time I did leave was to use the toilet, or to get more water for my coffee pot.
   I watched "Married with Children," at 8:00, watched the movie "Fear," starring Reese Witherspoon, Alyssa Milano, and the very understated actor, William Peterson. This movie confirmed the disquieting feelings I had always had for the actor Mark Wahlberg. I never did trust that son of a bitch!
   I went to sleep after the 11:00 news, and dreamt I was on the It's a Small World ride at Disneyland with Anna Paquin, who was celebrating her 21st birthday. Then we went to Fantasyland and frolicked all over the place.  

July 25     Friday       Day 13

   With the hope of cleansing myself of depression I took a trip to Universal City for a day at the movies. I was thoroughly disgusted with myself and wanted to get out of me for a little while at least, and hopefully pick up the pieces and yet start once again tomorrow morning.
   I can change certain things, certain types of behavior, I can't regulate basic fundamental personal traits. I might as well try to hold my breath for an hour.
   I didn't have  a particular movie in mind when I reached the City Walk hilltop. I remembered the new Tomb Raider film was out now and thought I might see that. That movie would certainly preclude the need for thought.
   When I reached the theater I was happy to see that "Seabiscuit," was on the bill. I had 30 minutes before the show started, and was hungry. I bought a chile dog (no pickles) from Tommys and ate it while watching Jimi Hendrix play "Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire," on the huge outdoor television screen that they have here, that is one of the hallmarks of this place. I'm fairly unfamiliar with this musician. He died before I began to appreciate the Rock genre. I was heartened by watching him. He was doing what he was meant to do after the first moment he picked up a guitar.
   He made a serious mistake though. He allowed himself to die.
   He may have wanted to die, in which case he made another mistake.
   "Seabiscuit," is a fine film. Brilliantly acted and directed, based on the true story of a small, high spirited horse that could run faster than any other back in the 1930s. I thought attempts to humanize the horse, trying to depict emotions and gestures that are comparable to ours, was as a sad distraction, but I understand why it was done. Today's audiences tend to demand that sort of thing. Chris Cooper should receive another Academy Award nomination for his performance. I enjoyed the film, but couldn't buy into the idea that Seabiscuit was the "hope of our nation," or the films efforts to tie into what was happening in the country. It was a horse for Christ's sake! And although I like horses, and admire and respect all forms of animal and plant life (except jellyfish), I tend to doubt that this horse's actions had a great effect upon the national events of the time. The films premise that it did, attempts to elevate the story line toward more than it is, a good, well, made, entertaining, horse race movie (i.e. "National Velvet").
   But who knows. I wasn't there. Maybe the nation's future, for which I am a part, depended on Seabiscuit. Maybe I owe my very existence to that horse. Maybe we all do.
   Thank you Seabiscuit.
   As soon as the film ended I fell through an inter-dimensional time warp and was transported to theater 16 Just as "Johnny English," a comedy starring Natalie Imbruglia, who is Australian, began. Amazing. She was playing a British secret agent. The movie did have it's moments, similar to the Inspector Clouseau films, but without the formidable talents of Blake Edwards, Herbert Lom, and the genius of Peter Sellers.
   When I attempted to leave the giant movie theater I was pushed into theater 4, which "Tomb Raider, the Cradle of Life," was at the half way point. It was better than the first Tomb Raider, but that's not saying a great deal.
   I returned to the Weingart in time to enjoy some under cooked meat loaf for dinner. There was absolutely nothing on Television, even UHF, and I didn't feel like doing anything remotely constructive, so was forced to view 2 episodes of "Reba," and 1 apiece of "What I Like About You," and "Grounded For Life."
   I read from the Rama book until late into to the night, until I tired and slept.
   I had a dream wherein Natalie Imbruglia and I had been chased into the desert of the southwestern United States by the international criminal mastermind, Pascal Sauvage, where we came across Reba Mcentire, who was being chased by giant earthworms.
   We spent the night sitting on a big rock while the worms circled us under ground.

No comments:

Post a Comment