Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Skid Row Diary 23

1 September 2003   Monday    Day 51

   September... an odd month...
   I had switched on the old radio before knocking out and so heard the smooth velvet voice of Frankie Sontag, back from two weeks of vacation, as I visited with Nicki and Annette.
   No Giselle though. She took Labor Day off, as did those radio bastards Mark and Brian.
   I wrote in the morning, and used the day room computer for about an hour to transfer some notes onto a disk.
   I read the forward to “The Glass Bead Game,” the last novel by the German author Hermann Hesse, written by Theodore Ziolkowski who’s from Alabama. 
    At noon I took off to Pasadena.
   I used the Gold Line again. A pleasant journey on a beautiful, sunny day here in Los Angeles. I rode it all of the way to the end of the line this time, just to increase my store of personal knowledge. I wound up on a big concrete platform smack in the middle of the 210 freeway, in the city of Arcadia. Well I don’t mind telling you I got out of there as quickly as possible. Strange things are said about Arcadia. People go there and are never heard from again.
   Back at the Del Mar Station, I walked north through The Park, to Colorado Blvd., and the Barnes and Noble book store, where I picked up some books. Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot,” and “Night Shift” (I can’t quite get myself to get “It,” it’s just so damn long, and, I know, I know that 98 to 99% of it is back story where nothing happens) which I’ve read before, Koontz’s “Soul Surviver,” and “Night Chills,” which I don’t think I’ve read yet (with Koontz it’s hard to tell if you’ve read a particular novel as he’s written so many of them, many of which have one word  cryptic titles, which may or may not have anything to do with the book’s plot), Arthur C Clark’s “2010, Odyssey Two,” a vocabulary builder, two law books, “How to File for Divorce in California,” and “Legal Research.” “The Journals of Lewis and Clark,” and the latest issue of Maxim Magazine, due to the photograph of Mariah Carey on the cover. As luck would have it there was a nice picture of Nicki Aycox in there too.
   Across the street at Moby Disk, I bought two videos, “Contact,” the Robert Zemeckis film based on Dr. Carl Sagan’s one and only novel. It’s one of my favorite movies because of the subject matter mostly, it’s high production values, and I love John Hurt’s (the guy who first got alienized in “Alien”)  portrayal of  S.R. Hadden (“Want to take a ride?!”). Unfortunately, the adapted screenplay, seemed like it was written by kids in kindergarten. 
   The second video was Woody Allen’s “Mighty Aphrodite,” which I chose over the Coen brother’s “Miller’s Crossing,” simply because I’m secretly in love with Mira Sorvino.
   Please don’t tell anyone.
  And that’s who I watched when I got back to my room. Mira’s Oscar winning performance, inspired by the wit of the space robots that inhabit Woody Allen. 
   I watched “The History Detectives,” and a little of Oliver Stone’s “Any Given Sunday,” but not too much. I don’t particularly care for that film. One has to really be in to football I guess.
   I read from my new Clark book, then slept, dreaming of being on a desert island with Mira Sorvino and Sunset Thomas, the lovely and talented star of “Frenzy.”
   They wanted all of my coconuts.
   They were my coconuts!
   I worked hard for them!
   They had no claim to them.
Those damn trees are tall!
They let me keep one.

2   September    Tuesday   day 52

   I felt extremely depressed and uninterested in anything today, and did little but read from Hesse and Montaigne, and meditate. 
   I’ll get over it.
   Giselle was back though, thank God! The one bright point in an otherwise dreary day. 
   But where is Odalys? Where? Where?
   I have so much to do. So much to get done, and it seems impossible at times to get started.
   I watched my new video, “Contact,” and was suitably inspired.
   I also locked myself out of my room for the second time. I realized I didn’t have my key the instant the door closed, and called to have security come up to let me in.
   Security tends to take their own sweet time in matters such as this, and I stood at the stairwell just down the hall from my room for 45 minutes waiting. I called again and waited some more. Then I got tired of waiting and opened the door myself by slipping the lock with my I.D. card.
   That was an act of desperation. I didn’t know it would work. 
   Now I don’t feel very secure knowing how easy it is to get into these rooms.
   I continued to read from 2010. Except for the Chinese spacecraft landing on Europa the 1982 Peter Hyams film was taken directly from the book, which is very good. I don’t like it when producers make movies out of popular books, and then change the plot, or whatever, to suit their own needs.
   After the 11:00 news with Lauren Sanchez, who like Mark and Brian was just returning from vacation, I went to sleep and dreamt I was stranded on a desert island with Lauren and Ona Zee, the lovely and talented actress who starred in such fine films like “Fever Pitch,” and “Razor’s Edge.”
   They wanted my coconuts too.
   They took them all this time.

3  September   Wednesday   Day 53

   I didn’t want to get out of bed, a sure sign of depression. Then I thought about Mars receding from me, very fast now, and I got out of bed.
   There were leaves from the Cocos nucifera tree in my bed.
   Did you know that a coconut is not a nut? No. Neither did I.
   It’s a drupe.
   Now we both know.
   Giselle was wearing pants, and Mark and Brian rambled aimlessly with little consequence, but no matter.
   I took a long time cleaning my room in preparation for my weekly visit from housekeeping.
   After I got it all spruced up I signed in at the front desk and left the building.
   I took the 18 to 5th and Alverado, walking 2 blocks south to the check cashing place. I passed Gary Porch on the way. He was a tad upset because DPSS had denied his food stamps. I consoled him as best as I could, advising that he go to their office to see what was up.
   His failure created anxiety within myself, thinking I might have a similar fate.
   But that was not the case. $126 in food stamps, and unexpectedly, my cash benefits had started up again with an $84 check. I was rich!
   I took the Red Line back downtown and walked to the One Stop to check my messages. John Manzano had called my voice mail twice, asking me to call him. I tried two times but couldn’t get through. The creature that inhabits the telephone lines kept asking me to “Please wait... please wait... please wait.”
   I got tired of waiting.
   All the computers were busy at One Stop, so I left and sold my food stamps for $100 cash. I bought a money order for $56, which I was required to give to Labren at the Weingart. It would be held and given back to me when I left there. I then treated myself to lunch at the Taco Bell at 5th and Broadway.
   Burrito Supreme, Cheese Quesadilla, and Coconut Juice.
   I could eat this crap all day.
   I used the library computers to get to my Email which had accumulated quite a bit. I deleted everything except stuff from Amnesty International. I sent a message to Manzano.
   I received two letters from Voc Rehab, which told me I was “Most Eligible” for their services, and to contact my Voc Rehab case worker.
   Most Eligible? So they’ve come to realize what a sick bastard I am.
   And a new hearing date has been established for my food stamp matter. I shall take care of all of that next week.
   I purchased two videos at the indoor mall. “Adaptation,” starring Meryl Streep, and “The Dish,” starring the lovely and talented Sam Neill.
   After lunch, and after writing, I would watch “Adaptation,” and feel many things about the experience, but I will have to do some research concerning this film before I feel confident enough to comment about it... which kind of pisses me off.
   I did not start school this week. I don’t know why.
   Instead I watched Sub-Commander T'Pol go into heat on “Star Trek Enterprise,” which was infinitely more interesting.
   I would sleep at some point. I usually do.
   Meryl Streep and Linda Lovelace, the tormented star of “Linda Lovelace for President,” entered my dreams. We were winding our way through the Florida Everglades looking for orchids, and for some reason it was my job to shoo way the hungry alligators.who live there.
   Pesky devils!

4   September   Thursday   Day 54

   I finally met with the Veteran’s Housing Specialist, Dahlia Sanchez, a former Marine jar head type individual. Since my nine months here at the Weingart are up in October, I’m especially and enthusiastically interested in what services she may provide.
   As her title implies she deals exclusively with veterans, veterans who have progressed to the 3rd and final phase of the Weingart’s comprehensive veteran’s program. Those other vets, in phases 1 and 2, meet two or three times a week, but Dahlia only schedules two meetings a month, on the first Tuesday and Thursday, a testament to her undoubted efficiency and indolence.
   I had neglected to attend Tuesday, so at 3:55 I wrangled down to the training room to attend my very first Phase 3 meeting. The door was closed.
   At 4:00 no one was there.
   “You have to be patient,” the security person told me when I asked at their nearby office where Dahlia might be. 
   “I’m patient,” I told him. “I’m not going anywhere.”
   At 4:08 Dahlia and Richard Carns walked by and acknowledged my presence. She had security open to training room.
   “Go ahead,” Dahlia said to me, “I’ll be right back.”
   I found a nice chair and sat down. I hadn’t brought a book with me, so I thought about the TDTESS screenplay, coming up with some nice ideas.
   Thirty minutes later I was still there and just about to leave when Dahlia showed up, telling me I could leave as I was the only one who showed up.
   She assured me I would receive credit for the class. I told her I wasn’t so much interested in getting credit for the class, rather I was interested in what services she provided. 
   “Well I’ve got the Money Management Class pretty much worked out, but am still working on community contacts,” she told me.
   I told her I would see her soon and left. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to graduate from all three Phases without attending a single class.
   I continued to explore the Jovian system by way of Clark’s 2010 book, and watched Heather Locklear spank herself in a guest appearance on “Scrubs,” NBC’s medical comedy show (why not? We have police comedies and spy comedies, they even tried a sit-com about guys in prison once (I saw it being taped). If you count “Ally Mcbeal,” and I see no reason not to, there are even comedies about lawyers, a group not commonly regarded for their slap happy antics).
   I dreamt about Heather, as I often do, and Kristi Myst, the lovely and talented star of “Buffy’s First Encounter,” which I have not seen (I don’t think I have), but it must have had something to do with U.F.O.s.
   I dreamt I was a hospital patient waiting for a penis reduction procedure, and these ladies were my nurses. I rang the buzzer for them.
   “Can I have another sponge bath please,” I asked as they entered. “I feel so dirty.”
   “But you’ve had three already,” Kristi exclaimed.
   “Yeah, but it’s been over an hour,” I reminded them.
   “I’ll get the sponge,” Heather blurted.
   I sat back.
   Sometimes these dreams work out really well.

5   September   Friday   Day 55

   Friday is here! Time to go to the movies.
   Sometime last night a notice had been placed on the restroom and shower room doors, notifying those who happened to be roaming around the halls that the water would be shut off between the hours of 6:00AM and 7:30... I don’t know why.
   Dutifully I got up at 9:00, showered, put some clothes on, and left for City Walk.
   I stopped at the 99 Cent Store on Alvarado, and purchased two semi-cold bottles of root beer. Thus armed, I arrived at the theater complex thirty minutes before the first show I wanted to see began. Having missed breakfast, I dined on a nice, sloppy, Tommy’s chile dog before going in. You certainly don’t want to be malnourished while sitting through a long movie. 
   Because the 99 Cent Store had been out, I was forced to buy $5 worth of savory, popcorn with chemical butter all over it.
   $5 for something that cost the theater like 25 cents to make. 
   Runaway capitalism.
   I went to Theater number 1, which was showing the just released “The Order,” starring Heath Ledger. It turned out to be just another variation of the old “sin eater” theme. This film didn’t really have a whole lot going for it... except the trailer, which looked really good. The last ten or fifteen minutes was fairly interesting, but before that there was basically little appearance of what could be called a plot, or story, which is usually not a good thing. The characters were written in such a vague, stereotypical manner, that I felt stereotypical while watching it, and I couldn’t muster up any feelings for them. 
   One underlying subplot, an American Cardinal seeking the papacy by means of murder, lies, and manipulation, all in order to regain the Catholic Church’s power, territory, and possessions, with the goal of the church rising up to take over the world, was hardly frightening. Murderers, rapists, and thieves have gained the papal throne many times in the past. But unless the church has their own nuclear weapons, they don’t appear to be much of a threat.
   Militant popes, always a problem.
   On my way out of the theater I took a wrong turn through the labyrinth halls and accidentally walked in to the “Jeepers Creepers 2“ movie, just as it was beginning as chance would have it. I was very tired by then and so decided to sit for awhile to catch my breath, and watched it again. Screw Ebert and Roper (this film is number 1 in the country).
   It was very hot in L.A. today, even up on windy City Walk. And very bright. As I came out of the sun and into the Red Line station, I experienced some kind of sun attack. My vision was effected. What looked like two white Lima beans disrupted my line of sight, becoming more prominent when I closed my eyes. I could still see people and other things before me, the beans were semi-transparent, but I felt a little dizzy, and so sat on the floor hoping this would soon pass.
   The beans faded after a moment or two, and my vision returned to normal, and I went on my way.
   I’m getting old I guess. Do things like that happen to old people?
   Swedish meatballs, with about 3 noodles for dinner.
   I finished Dr. Clark’s “2010, Odyssey 2“ book, and because of it I was transported through the seas of Europa, which of course are completely frozen over due to the minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit and vacuum at the surface, the sea being heated by volcanic out gassing at it’s greatest depths. I’ve been to the diamond and metallic hydrogen core of Jupiter, and saw life there. Jules Verne has taken me to the bottom of the Earth’s oceans. Kurt Vonnegut to the center of the Sun. Carl Sagan, and others, have taken me on tours throughout the cosmos, and I know the inevitable gravitational fate of the universe, billions of years from now. 
   Herman Melville has shown me how to hunt a whale. Harper Lee has shown me why mocking birds should not be killed. J.D. Salinger has introduced me to a wonderful family in New York. Steinbeck, a group of discontent men in Monterey. Cervantes, a man with a dream. James Clavell has shown me Hong Kong’s beginning, and taken me on a tour of a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Thomas Harris into the mind of a mad man. Dante’s Virgil guided me through the circles of Hell. James Joyce has let me feel what it was like to live in Dublin for a day, and reminded me what it was like to lose love. Gabriel Garcia Marquez has let me live in Columbia with another amazing family. Shirley Jackson into the bowels of an evil house. Edger Allen Poe and Stephen King, into other dark places I wouln’td set my little pinky in if it were not within the confines of a book. Fyodor Dostoevsky has forced me to look into the dark places of my own being. And Mark Twain has shown me wit, laughter, and jumping frogs. All of these places, and many, many more all within my lonely little room.
   When it comes down to it I’ve lived a very full life.

6   September    Saturday   Day 56

   I woke from a dream involving Jane Leeves, the beautiful and talented star of the television show “Frasier,” Krista Lane, and Suzi Suzuki, stars of “Wishbone,” and “Lotus,” respectively, 5 quarts of cookie dough ice cream, 7 beach balls, a 30 foot ladder, a Volvo 360 sedan, a koala bear, 67 coconuts, and a trampoline.
   I didn’t feel like going to the valley today, to Trimar. Summer was giving a last ditch effort to turn the city into a blast furnace, and it was too hot for making long, boring bus trips.
   I spent the day writing and thinking about the upcoming week. Not much would happen, I mused, until after the 12th, but there were a few things I could do until then to keep some forward momentum going.
   I began reading Koontz’s “Sole Surviver,” one of his faced paced novels, when all of the action and story takes place within a remarkably short period of time. I’ve found these are usually his best books, and this one is a clear example of it so far. I stayed up until 4AM reading it.
   If Stephen King takes me to dark places I otherwise wouldn’t care to tread, Koontz takes me there on a roller coaster during an earthquake. But he always gives me a fighting chance to become a hero, as in his world, the good guys usually win.
   That’s not what it’s really like, is it?
   At one point he used the term “Situational Ethics” (takes into account the particular context of an act when evaluating it ethically, rather than judging it according to absolute moral standards -The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition (2000)). Although it was used in reference to the “bad guys,” in actuality it relates almost to everyone at one time or another.
   I ate lunch and dinner with Gary Porch, speaking to him at length. I’m afraid he’s been bad again. 
   After I left him Wednesday, near the check cashing place, he went on another bender and stayed out all night. Precisely the type of behavior which he had been promised would get him thrown out of the Weingart. He can’t seem to help himself. Like a freight car that can’t get off the short track, he seems doomed to keep hurting himself, which is a pity. 
   I’ve done the exact same thing at various times in my life, and so am in no position to judge him, or anyone else for that matter. I would help him if I could, for at this time in my life my energies are directed towards arresting my disease, but I can’t. I did go so far as to offer to take him to a Drifters AA meeting, but of course he didn’t want to go, or to make any effort to change. Until he wants to do that he’ll continue in his life of misery and quiet desperation, anesthetized by booze. 
   I know that feeling too well.
   That’s the main reason I’ve never wanted to get back into the drug rehabilitation field. Nobody gets well until they absolutely want to do it, and sometimes, not even then. It’s really that simple.
   I recorded Terry Gilliam’s “The Fisher King,” getting a fairly decent copy of it, as much as the crappy reception on my T.V. would allow. An interesting film about guilt and mental illness.
   The heros won in this one too.
   And after I decided I should put the damn Koontz novel down (Curse you Koontz!) and get some sleep, I dreamt of being Kristy Swanson’s champion (Kristy, as you may remember, was the original Buffy, the Vampire Slayer in the classic feature film, before being replaced on television by that upstart, Sarah Michelle Gellar, who doesn’t even look like Buffy. Last year Kristy appeared in a Playboy photo spread, and I remember thinking that she looked like what a Christmas Angel must look like if there were such things) at a jousting tournament, during the middle ages. She had given me her scarf, and I wore it proudly on my way to do battle with the fire belching demon of the Fisher King. 
   I quickly dispatched it, then jumped off of my horse and beat it with a stick.
   The crowd cheered, and my lady looked upon me with favor.

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