Friday, November 22, 2013

Skid Row Diary 18

19 August 2003   Tuesday    Day 38

   The “Holographic Author” episode of Voyager this morning. I must be feeling better to be getting up this early (4:00). I yogaed during the last half hour of the program. Sit ups and push ups as well. 
   Afterwards I wrote, The Blue Danube playing on my radio. Very inspiring.
   Mark and Brian, Kelly Gates, Frankie Sontag, they’re all gone on vacation. To hell with them! I’m switching to NPR for the duration. All M & B talked about on this morning’s “encore” broadcast were golden showers and sperm facials anyway, the sick bastards.
   Perhaps I’m being too harsh. They’re grown adult men, geezers in fact, old, tired dudes. They should be allowed to do whatever they want to do to each other without being judged... as long as it’s legal.
   Giselle Blondet was off today as well, but in her case that’s perfectly acceptable. The value of her contribution to Despierta America is incalculable (it can’t be numerically deduced either), and she should take all the time she needs to rest up or pursue other interests, and then, and only then, come back to us fresh, happy, and wearing perpetual dresses. She is a mother after all. No one on the Mark and Brian staff can make that claim.
   I had to go down and collect John Manzano for breakfast. I found him in his room ill prepared  with his shoes still off.
   We were served grilled cheese sandwiches and turkey sausages, something I wouldn’t usually make myself for breakfast, so it’s a good thing that I can come to the cafeteria to open up and experience exciting culinary delights.
   John Manzano wanted to know how to get to the barber college where I had gone to get my haircut. I told him.
   “It’s on the second floor. If you go to the third floor you won’t find it. And you need to go to the back of the building and towards the left. Always steer left as there’s no signs to help you. Your other left. Once you find it just stand at the entrance and jump up and down, and scream like a chicken. That will alert the staff and students of your existence and that you’ve come for a haircut. They won’t take notice of you if you don’t do exactly as I say and you’ll be there for the rest of eternity.”
   “A chicken, huh?
   He didn’t go. He wants me to take him there and show him the way, the big baby. After eating I walked over to the One Stop Center, passing the Flower Market again. It smells nice there.
   Like flowers.
   The gay One Stop attendant had the nerve to walk behind me as I sat at one of the computers and ask if what I was looking at was job related. I looked at the screen which displayed the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple website, and said, “Why yes, of course. I’m checking on the status of my application for the Japanese gardener job. Everything I do here is job related, my inquisitive little friend.”
   Services at the temple resume on September 7th, by the way.
   Done for the day (no answer back on any of the faxed resumes) I left and headed for Trimar, via the 7th St Red Line station. I read a wonderful short story by Stephen King while on the subway, “All That You Love Will Be Carried Away,” the melancholy tale of a traveling salesman contemplating suicide in an anonymous motel room, a scenario that hits me pretty close to home considering all of the  anonymous, lonely, motel rooms I’ve found myself in throughout the years, and maybe thinking along those same lines. 
   But no more.
   Well done, Mr. King. Well done.
   “Say Anything,” writer and director Cameron Crowe’s first feature film, starring the beautiful and talented Ione Skye (pronounced “ione skye”), who we just don’t see enough of these days, was ending as I entered Trimar, to be followed by “The Wedding Planner,” starring the beautiful and talented Jennifer Lopez. 
   Aurica was off today.
   Everybody is off except me.
   I work, work, work, all of the time.
   Even when I’m not working I’m working. 
   B/P 106/60, 189 lbs, temp 97.3, sperm count 17.68 million per milliliter... excellent! Still sniffling a little though. I asked the male nurse who would be sticking me to aim a little high in order to bypass all of that scar tissue.
   “No problem,”  he said, and there wasn’t. For the first time in the last four tries the needle slid in smoothly and did not need adjusting. The process proceeded without a hitch.
   It was a bit cooler today, in the mid 80s. I bought 3 plastic bowls with lids and some Ajax cleaner from the 99 cent store on the way back.
   Back downtown, I walked to the Weingart from the Red Line Station just for the exercise. I stopped in the indoor mall at 6th and L.A. and bought a copy of “S1m0ne,” starring the lovely Rachel Roberts and some guy named Al Pacino for $6. I then returned to the Weingart.
   Where I found John Manzano’s big head sticking out of his 4th floor window as I came up to the corner of 6th and San Pedro. 
    He yelled something at me and flipped me off.
   How rude.
   We watched “S1m0ne,” together.... again. I had taken him to see it when it first came out last year and we were about the only people in Los Angeles who seemed to like it. I mean Pacino’s done soooooooo many comedies, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I thought he was brilliant in this “Faustian” like tale of a computer generated actress and singer who is thought to be a real person to her adoring fans. 
   The lovely Winona Ryder, a girl after my own heart, made a brief appearance as well, but it was Rachel who stole the show... in a computer simulated kind of way. I actually got kind of misty as Al deleted her, the bastard.
   Manzano wanted to hang out in my room all night, so I switched to Charlie Rose after the movie.
   “This is boring, man! I’ll come back later.” 
   Charlie interviewed the author Tom Clancy. He was promoting a new book, “The Teeth of the Tiger.” 
   I like Clancy’s work, as I’ve stated previously, and have recently re-read my favorite novel of his, “The Cardinal of the Kremlin.” Tom didn’t get to talk a lot though as Charley dominated the conversation asking him about terrorism as if he had some special insight, which he may or may not have had. He’s an author for God’s sake! What Charlie did let him say made good sense, good intelligence made the best weapon, it’s just hard to come by, as we’re finding out now in Iraq as we’re still looking for all of those predicted weapons of mass destruction the Bush administration assured us were there. 
   Why else would we send 148,000 of our best and brightest young American men and women if we didn’t have concrete proof of all of those weapons Saddam Hussein had absolutely no way of delivering to the United States. 
   I mean some of those men and women might be getting hurt.
   Anyway, I had printed out some of my Emails from Amnesty International while at One Stop, and read several of them, some concerned the protection of foreign born children in the United States, most fleeing from abuse persecution and having committed no crimes, from being detained by authorities, sometimes for months, and another involving domestic violence against women in Russia. Apparently the problem is pronounced in Russia.
   And I like Russian women.
   I also read of the psychological effects of nicotine on humans and of Spencer Tracy’s brief military career during World War I. I also watched an interesting two hour “Nova” program about the building of a bridge which spans the Mississippi River near Alton, IL. The Clark Bridge, named after William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
   I fell vastly asleep near the end of the show. I’m almost positive the bridge was completed.
   I dreamt I was in a simulated dream with the lovely and talented Rachel Roberts. We were both running down a long dark alley, away from Kristanna Loken, the beautiful and enigmatic star of “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” who was chasing us.
   “Hey guys,” Kristanna called out, “I just want to know if you wanted to join us for Bridge! We need a third and forth!”
   I slowed, but Rachel pleaded with me to follow her.
   “It’s a trick, Rick,” she said. “She’s a Terminator and won’t stop at anything until she’s got what she wants. Besides, you don’t know how to play Bridge.”
   “I can learn,” I told her. “You go on now. I’ll cover for you.”
   “Are you sure? I think you’re making a big mistake!”
   “I’ll be alright. I can handle it. You go on now.”
   She took off. Kristanna confidently approached me with that steely, Terminator smile of hers.
   Rachel was right. I couldn’t handle it. Kristanna terminated me, but it felt sooooo gooood.

20 August         Wednesday           Day 39

   I was very sleepy and slept in all of the way until 6:30, waking once at 3 to investigate the off hand chance that Voyager was visiting a nudist planet with Seven of Nine giving a tour. 
   No such luck.
   I went back to sleep and dreamt I was vacationing at a nudist planet within the Delta Quadrant just as Voyager docked for some well deserved shore leave. I volunteered to escort Seven of Nine around and show her the sights. The lovely actress Jeri Ryan came with us and we all went horseback riding through the exotic forests and glens.
   Then I woke up.
   I had breakfast with John Manzano. Spinach omelets. Afterwards I walked north to Temple and the V.A. clinic, for an 8:00 appointment with Physician Assistant Brown. 
   Her first name is Theoden, similar to Théoden, the King of Rohan in the “Lord of the Rings,” but she does not allow patients to call her by her first name.
   P.A. Brown is a slight, skinny, black woman in her late 50s who sounds like she was raised in Chicago or Kansas City. She speaks in short, terse bursts, is exceptionally opinionated, doesn’t seem to have a big sense of humor. She is serious about what she does, and at the same time critical of the bureaucracy she finds herself within at the Veteran’s Administration. She’s a liberal, very nice, highly intelligent, and suffers no fools.
   Today I discovered the the horrible barium enema I endured two months ago came back negative so supposedly I have nothing in my intestines that shouldn’t be there. 
   My triglycerides are up and need to be reduced by about 100 points. My meds will be adjusted accordingly. I am told to exercise more and eat lots of fish.
   I told her about the two bouts of chest pain.
   “Gas,” she said.
   I asked her for a stress test just to make sure.
   “They don’t do that here. You don’t qualify for that. Best I can do is a chest X-ray.”
   “You mean I have to have a heart attack before I can get a test to prevent a heart attack?”
   “You have to have angina, then I put you on nitroglycerin... this and that. If you don’t have shortness of breath, radiating pain, numbness in the left arm, you’ll be alright. Gas probably.”
   I requested the chest X-ray. I don’t think of myself as a hypochondriac, but I don’t think of myself as not being one either, and like to be proactive as far as my health is concerned. Giving up smoking is part of that.
   I also asked for more anti-fungal ointment for my feet. I don’t want anything that isn’t supposed to be on my feet either.
   I then took a Dash to the One Stop to check my E and voice mail. Nothing. I called Mr. Baker at the appeals board, who told me the amount I need to pay back to food stamps needs to be adjusted downward, but he can’t do that until I start the hearing process. I told him that I would and that I’d get back to him.
   I returned to the Weingart for lunch. Roast beef.
   While I was hard at work writing in my room John Manzano knocked on my door and asked me if I could give him some urine.
   “What the fuck for?”
   “They’re testing me, dude, and I’ve been smoking grass,” he told me.
   “You’ve been smoking grass?”
   “Where’s the bottle?” I’d help him out. It wasn’t my job to catch drug addicts any more.
   “I”ll go get it,” he told me, and left. He didn’t come back for a half hour, and then without a bottle, which was somewhat of a relief.
   “They wouldn’t let me take the bottle,” he said somewhat sheepishly.
   “Good,” I said. “I was wondering what kind of test this would be if they let you go wandering off with the sample container.”
   “You got any double A batteries?”
   “What am I? Walmart?”
   “I’m supposed to wait in the day room, and I wanta listen to my Walkman.”
   I gave him some batteries and he went away.
   At 1:30PM I left the building and walked to the Department of Social Services (DPSS) office on 4th Place, hoping the kids from Legal Aid were there. They must come only during the regular fall and spring semesters as they were no where to be found. I did pick up some literature that was useful, and a referral to a legal aid office if I needed it. I thought about what to do next while sitting there in the large lobby of the DPSS, then walked back to the Weingart.
   John Manzano told me he was now “on contract,” meaning his test had come back dirty, and he now had to agree to more stringent conditions and promises of future good behavior in order to maintain his housing. He would now have to enroll in the ASAP program at the VA for instance, an outpatient drug treatment program. And he no longer had a good case for asking for weekends off.
   I tried to call the State Appeals Board customer service line in Sacramento, but for some reason they shut down their lines a half hour early and I couldn’t get through.
   Instead of the fried fish offered in the dinning room, I fixed myself a Chile Chicken Top Ramen with a chopped up smoked sausage in it for my dinner. This would be my last meal before giving a blood sample tomorrow at the VA clinic to check my liver and cholesterol levels. I wasn’t to eat anything for 12 hours before giving the sample.
   I would cheat later and have some lemon cream cookies.
   I sure hope my liver is level.
   At 6 o’clock I fell asleep for a half hour and had a dream involving Brill Cream, 1 Slinky, 3 strings of flashing Christmas lights, a trampoline, and Donna Douglas from “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
   I woke at 6:30 to the BBC World News, which really pissed me off as Charley Rose is supposed to on at that time. I promised revenge, a lawsuit certainly was in order against these irresponsible UHF television bastards who think they can change their programming anytime they feel like it!
   I got up and went to the 7:00 o’clock monthly Resident Meeting. I’m not sure why I went. I don’t usually. When I got there I was reminded of why I don’t attend these things, but by then it was too late. Get a bunch of middle aged veterans together, you’ll find a bunch of the most cantankerous, bull headed, loud, know it alls, you’ll ever hope to find.
   One of the Resident Council Members who had his own agenda, and was too full of himself, was at odds with another loud mouthed, disrespectful, opinionated bastard who had no qualms about disrupting the entire meeting, or usurp it altogether. Staff allowed this to go on. I sat in shocked silence. Larry Ellis, a social worker from the VA, who had referred me to the Weingart last January, was in attendance. I was embarrassed to be associated with this unruly mob.
   I did talk to Ms Sanchez, the transitional specialist, ex-marine, sexy, “tough cookie,” after the meeting was forcibly shut down at 8:30. I asked when her Phase 3 meeting would take place and she told me.
   I could see her obvious desire for me in her chocolate brown eyes.
   When I returned to the 5th floor I called McCree at his apartment. He was in. He told me he was looking for work too, and wanted me to go to a job fair with him on the 27th. I said I’d go.
   “You know what else happens on the 27th, Ron?” I asked.
   “No. What?”
   “The planet Mars is making it’s closest approach to Earth in fifty seven thousand years...”  
   “Uh... I don’t know what to say about that,” McCree said.
   He said he’d meet me in the Weingart’s lobby Friday at 5:00, then we hung up.
   I returned to my room to catch the tale end of a PBS special concerning the relationship between David Selznick and Alfred Hitchcock, which before tonight I did not know existed. Hitchcock had made the film “Notorious” under contract with Selznick, a film starring one of my favorite all time actresses, Ingrid Bergman.
   I saw Ingrid again in the next special which detailed the life and work of George Cukor, the director of films such as “The Philadelphia Story,” “My Fair Lady,” and in Ingrid’s case, “Gaslight,” for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress.
   Although I knew the name, I’m ashamed to say I knew next to nothing of the man’s work. When I was about 10 years old I remember being very upset while watching the Academy Awards in our little apartment on Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood, when “My Fair Lady,” beat out “Mary Poppins,” for Best Picture. To this day I have not seen the Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison film.    
   I also got to see my favorite American actor, Spencer Tracy, whose biography I’m currently reading.
    I’m very glad to have seen the special.   
   I read that biography for a while after the Cukor special, about when “Spence” was just becoming a success in college plays and wished to become a professional actor, something his father was at odds with. Interestingly enough, a scene in the Cukor special depicted a young Jean Simmons breaking the news that she wanted to become an actress to her father played by Spencer Tracy, in the 1953 film, “The Actress.” His reaction was priceless.
   I’ve read Ms Bergman’s biography as well, while living at the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center in Carpenteria, CA, in 1994, soon after I left Pasadena. She was a little Swedish hellcat.
   And that might be why I dreamt of her tonight, I’m not quite sure.
   We were both dressed in raincoats, standing on a foggy runway of a Moroccan airfield, quite similar to a scene from the movie “Casablanca.” 
   We stood close to each other, gazing deeply into each other’s eyes.
   “I know that the problems of two people don’t mean a hill of beans in this crazy world, baby, but I know this... that you belong on that plane [I pointed to a plane nearby], with that man [I pointed to Paul Henreid standing next to the plane].” I tried to be strong for the both of us.
   “Okay,” she said, and walked away.
   I was a little taken aback, yet called out, “Remember... we’ll always have Paris!”
   “What?” she yelled back.
   “I said we’ll always have Paris.”
   “I’ve never been to Paris,” she called back. “Goodbye.”
   “Uh... ah... never mind.”
   I stood watching the navigation lights of the small, two engine aircraft disappear into the African night.

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