Friday, May 23, 2014

Skid Row Diary 25

Month 3

10 September  2003    Wednesday    Day 60

   “Zen teaches us to do good, even when we are alone.” -Thich Thien-an

   I met Elliot Jordan on the bus today.
   We had both lived on the fifth floor at the Harbor Light Center (run by the Salvation Army) last year. About ten years older than myself, a mild, gentle, black gentleman who’s prone to make meandering speeches that seem to make sense only to himself. He had left that facility before I had, entered the Weingart and lived where I’m living now, leaving just before I got there. He had graduated from Truck Driving School, and was now looking for a job in that profession. We did not talk extensively, and I did not find out where he was currently living.
   I went to the library to use their computers to check my Email and print some pictures of Imogen Stubbs (what a wonderful name! If I ever have a little girl I’ll call her Stubby!) and Constance Zimmer, who have both had the misfortune of attracting my attention, and who will be used mercilessly to further the goals of this bizarre project. 
   Sorry ladies. I apologize for any and all future indignities.
   I missed my bus stop because I was spaced out thinking about Salma Hayek, and had to walk two extra blocks to One Stop. 
   Well it’s happened before and it will happen again. Besides, I needed the exercise.
   I wanted to check my voice mail expecting messages from both Mr. Porter and Ms. Tiran, but received nothing.
   I skipped lunch. I’m not all that crazy about wafer thin pork chops.
   Some folks are.
   I began reading another Koontz book, “Night Chills,” hoping I hadn’t read it before. 
   I had.
   “Night Chills,” was the first of his two “mind control” books, the only two that I’m aware of at least. This one featuring subliminal advertising and drugs, the second, “False Memory,” involved hypnotism and drugs. 
   It always come down to drugs, doesn’t it?
   This subject seems to intrigue or frighten Dean (who suffers from a prominent libertarian streak), as it most likely should. 
   Millions of minds have been controlled in the past, and even now, without having to use drugs, but by utilizing fear and an inherent reluctance for those who are controlled or influenced, to think for themselves, which is kind of hypnosis I guess, often resulting in senseless violence and carnage, and twice in world wars.
   I watched the season premier of “Star Trek: Enterprise,” which thankfully keeps slugging along, despite the high production costs, and less than stellar (a pun!) ratings.
   This is it’s third season. The show boasts the character Commander T'Pol, who is the kind of Vulcan you’d want to have around. Portrayed by the beautiful and talented Jolene Blalock, she has done a wonderful job in what some would say is an easy role, a non-emotive alien, but I know different. I imagine the part is exceptionally challenging and somewhat restrictive. But I have to say T’Pol is the sexiest Vulcan I’ve ever seen. Both her, and Seven of Nine from “Star Trek: Voyager,” wear such form fitting uniforms that they might as well not be wearing any at all (“Apparently they don't wear bras and underwear in space.” -Jeri Ryan, who played Seven of Nine). However, that’s nothing new for Star Trek. From it’s inception back in 1966, the show has used scantily clad ladies to further it’s interests. Ultra mini-skirts were the uniform of the day in Capt. Kirk’s time (and in the first episode of “Star Trek the Next Generation,” “Encounter at Farpoint,” with  Counselor Deanna Troi, (played by the lovely and talented Marina Sirtis. After that episode it was pants all of the time... damn it!)., and he couldn’t keep his hands off of those frisky humanoid space babes even when they were green (or especially if they were green).
   But last week T’Pol, due to some virus, almost raped the ship’s doctor, and tonight was giving and receiving topless massages. 
   It’s rather unsettling actually, like watching Mr. Spock put the moves on Lieutenant Uhura. My, my.
   I also watched the series premier of “Jake 2.0,” the story of a geeky computer expert who works for the C.I.A., and who accidentally gets infected by something that gives him superpowers. Boy, now that’s an original idea. 
   When I retired I dreamt I was the Engineering Officer of the first star fleet ship, “Enterprise,” and had been summoned to the first officer’s quarters.
   “Get naked,” Commander T’Pol told me upon entering. “That’s an order. We want to relieve your obvious tension.”
   I looked across the small room and observed the actress Vanessa Branch, the lovely and talented  English American actress, model and spokesperson for Orbit Gum, sitting on the bed, waiting expectantly.
   “Okay,” I said while complying.
   “Fabulous!” Vanessa exclaimed.
   “Now lie down," the Commander commanded, but now without the Vulcan make up and uniform, dressed as Jolene in her space bikini. “You’ve heard of acupuncture?” she asked. 
   “Acupuncture?” I asked weakly.
   “Yes, an ancient Chinese practice. You’re going to love it.”
   Vanessa held up a four inch needle. 
   “No matter what!”

11   September     Thursday   day 61

   Gary Porch was in the shower when I came in at about 9:00a.m. He was just finishing up.
   “You ready for the meeting?” I asked him.
   We had been left messages via our key boxes downstairs from Labren that “Everybody must attend,” the Super Search Meeting the next day at 10. The meeting that Richard Carns had proclaimed was not mandatory for Weingart vets, which now only required that everyone be there.
   Gary and I were the first to get there, and took seats in the back of the room. Gary kept muttering things to himself, apparently resentful that his parents had asked him to find a new place to live after five months of staying on their 40 foot boat, rent free, six years ago. He’s endlessly fascinated with his own story, whether anyone’s looking at him, or indicating in any way that they are listening to what he is saying.
   Richard came in at 10, or so with job developer Larry. About eight other guys had shown, and Richard shook everyone’s hand. He said he wanted to broaden the scope of the meeting to include motivation. 
   Unfortunately he spent about half of the meeting catering to the emotional needs of an older black/Chinese (self proclaimed) gentleman, a Mr. Lewis, who evidently believes the universe revolves around him, and didn’t mind at all monopolizing the meeting’s time and resources, relentlessly crying about his problems, and how the world has changed and left him behind.
   The world was wise in doing that.
   I see this kind of behavior in meetings all of the time. There at the Super Search meeting, at ASAP, at The Salvation Army, sometimes in A.A. (although they are usually intolerant of grandstanders there).
   I am always surprised when the facilitators of these group meetings buy in to the massive BS from these guys and forget they’re managing a “group meeting,” not a “one on one” with loudmouths.
   Mr. Lewis, 56 years old, was particularly obnoxious, billing himself as a super aggressive, martial arts warrior, making vague promises of violence directed at those who do not share his point of view, saying things like, “He was damn lucky I didn’t break his back.” On and on. It’s pathetic actually. 
   Yes, as I’ve said, it was unfortunate that Richard allowed him to carry on. I didn’t get much out of the meeting after that. 
   Anna Lindh, the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Sweden, was stabbed yesterday while shopping for clothes in a department store in central Stockholm. At the time she was not being protected by bodyguards of the Swedish Security Service. Why? I don’t know why? It’s freaking Sweden, for Christ’s sake (although the Prime Minister, Olof Palme, was shot to death while walking home after seeing a movie in 1986. He was also without a security detail, by his own choosing, his attacker escaped and was never brought to justice). Apparently her only offense was that she advocated for adopting the Euro as the national currency. She died from her injuries early this morning.
   Her attacker escaped.
   I  spent a good deal of the afternoon writing and reading from “Night Chills.”
   I wanted to tape “9/11, Two Years Later,” supposedly on NBC at 9:30p.m., but the T.V. Guide, supplied to me by the infamous L.A. Times, lied to me yet again, and that program did not air at all! In it’s place was an “encore” (repeat) episode of “Whoopie,” Ms Goldberg’s new sit-com, which had premiered just a few days ago. A repeat broadcast of the only episode that was possible to be repeated. 
   Fortunately for me, the show turned out to be pretty good. I’ll have to write Whoopie a letter of congratulations.
   There, I’ve put it on my “Things To Do,” list. 
   Fortunately, others choose not to ignore the second anniversary of the most horrendous attack on the U.S. ever, and the thousands of deaths of clearly innocent people (I don’t mean to single out NBC. No other major networks had any programming devoted to commemorating the anniversary on their prime time schedules. Even all of the local UHF stations neglected to feature this on the actual anniversary. Of course, it was covered by everybody’s news departments).
   I did tape tonight’s “Nightline,” program with Ted Koppel, arguably the best nightly news program on VHS, which featured not stories of 9/11, but our current efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, which of course were precipitated by the events of 9/11. Koppel closed with this remark, and I paraphrase, “The more we allow the effects of nine eleven to dominate and change our lives, as it so apparently has from airport security, the Patriot Act, to the nation’s economy, the more those who masterminded the attacks are successful.”
   Not a new observation by any means, but very, very true.
   The actor John Ritter died tonight as well, at about 10:48p.m., in nearby Burbank, from an aortic dissection. He was actually working on the set of his sit-com, “8 Simple Rules,” when he fell ill and was rushed to the hospital. An aortic dissection is essentially a tear in the aorta, which is connected to the heart and is the largest artery in the human body.
   I suppose he was best known for the role of Jack Tripper, on “Three’s Company,” which also starred the lovely actresses Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers (who I’m still secretly in love with, or at least her character, Chrissy Snow. Please don’t tell anyone).
   He was a very talented and funny actor, and he will be missed. 
   Lucille Ball died of the same cause on  April 26, 1989.
   I went to sleep this night and dreamt once again that I was at Ground Zero, this time accompanied by the lovely and talented actress, Rita Hayworth, and news anchor and co-host of NBC's “Dateline NBC,” Jane Pauley.
   We walked. I was in the middle, with each lady taking one of my hands.
   We looked up to the twin beams of light racing into the sky.

12   September     Friday    Day 62.

   The country singing legend, Johnny Cash passed away during the night of complications from diabetes in a Nashville hospital. 
   He died less than four months after his wife, June Carter Cash, died of complications following heart-valve replacement surgery in the same hospital, Nashville Baptist.        
   50,533.8 different people passed away throughout the night as well. I don’t know their names, or what they did in life.
   I wish I did.
   Did you know that there are about 4 births each second of every day, and that almost 2 people die each second?
   You know what that means don’t you? One of these days the babies will outnumber us and take over.
   I woke just at 7:00A.M. and meditated. 
   Maybe today, I said to myself.
   After determining that Giselle had taken a well deserved day off, I showered and prepared myself for a day at the movies. 
   Such a harsh, demanding life I lead.
   I stopped at the 99 Cent Store by Macarthur Park in order to purchase two reasonably cold bottles of root beer. They had no pre-popped popcorn, I checked. I really wasn’t in the mood for it anyway.
   The ride to Universal City in the Red Line subway was uneventful, and hardly worth writing about. I read from “Night Chills.”
   I arrived at the theater complex in plenty of time to enjoy a tasty breakfast chile-cheese burger from Tommy’s before buying a ticket for “Once Upon a Time in Mexico,” starring the aforementioned Salma Hayek. 
   I got myself a large buttered popcorn (pre-popped!), before taking  a seat. That would go nicely with my now lukewarm root beer. 
   Another in the long list of mariachi mercenary films, which had little to do with anything remotely approaching what we like to call reality, but heavy on mind-numbing violence (“Violence, violence, it’s the only thing that will make you see sense.” -Mott the Hoople ), and no sex whatsoever (“Desperado,” at least had Antonio Banderas frolicking with Salma). Salma played a memory of Antonio’s, who due to her death, was the most sympathetic character in the film. His motive throughout the movie was to seek revenge on the man who had killed her. Yet, I didn’t care about him all that much, no doubt due to his heavily mysterious, enigmatic portrayal. I didn’t like the fact that bullets never hit him no matter how many came his way. 12 guys could have been standing in a circle pointing 44 mags at his swarthy, unemotive face, fire at the same time and wind up hitting only each other (that’s not a bad idea actually. They should have filmed a scene like that). Yes, one of those kind of films.
   Antonio on the other hand seemed to always be able to hit whatever he was shooting at, as if all of his bullets were little guided missiles, turning corners, and bouncing off of walls, killing every bad guy in creation. 
   Johnny Depp provided some much needed comedic relief as a markedly psychotic C.I.A. agent on assignment in the field (he even wears a T-shirt with the letters “C.I.A.” embossed on the front), with a thing for pork.  I liked his character, which was probably the best thing about the film (he’s had a good year, winning critical acclaim for this movie and “Pirates of the Caribbean “), but I didn’t sympathize with him, or wasn’t all that upset about what finally happened to him. He was a cold blooded murderer (Depp’s character that is. I don’t know if Johnny has personally murdered anyone... he probably has) of at least four somewhat innocent people, and that was before the action really got started. Oh my, he killed poor Cheech Marin for God’s sake, and for no good reason that I could see. 
   I don’t know why Cheech and Salma keep coming back to work for Robert Rodriguez (the film’s director. He also  wrote, produced, edited, cinematographied, scored, and catered the movie. An obvious overachiever). They keep getting killed, or beat up, shot at, turned into vampires, or space aliens... it’s just not dignified!
   Oh yeah, the dead bodies kept breathing, which is unusual in death actually. I’ve seen dead people before, and they’re done with respiration. You would think Salma and Cheech could hold their breaths for the 30 seconds or so it takes to film a shot. I would think that.
   Don’t get me wrong, I liked the movie. It was fun and entertaining. It was a good sequel to “Desperado,” Depp making it unique. I certainly have nothing against disembodied torture, garroting, knives in the face, etc., as long as it’s done with tact, grace, and good cheer. On the whole I’m very glad I saw it.   
   Could have used a twidge more action though.
   I accidentally waited 30 minutes, and stumbled into a different theater just as Ridley Scott’s “Matchstick Men,” starring Alison Lohman and Nicolas Cage, began. 
   Two wonderful performances from Mr. Cage in a row, first in last year’s “Adaptation,” and now in this film, in which he’ll probably receive another Academy Award nomination (and if Chris Cooper doesn’t receive one for this year’s “Seabiscuit,” I’ll go plant myself in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater and set myself on fire). Of the two I prefer last year’s, but that’s just me. Alison was just wonderful playing (and I do mean playing) Cage’s daughter, and Sam Rockwell, an exceptionally talented, young, up and coming actor, was so good in his role that after the film finished I wanted to go find him and kick his smug, flabby ass. 
   The title refers to a slang term applied to con artists, and was kind of a contemporary “The Sting,” with a little “As Good as it Gets” thrown in for good measure. Like “The Sting,” the plot relied on an overly elaborate, improbable con, which is pulled off without a hitch. 
   I prefer realistic to contrived, and still feel 1967‘s “The Flim Flam Man,” starring George C. Scott and Sue Lyon to be the finest film concerning this important issue.
   I could have accidentally wandered into “Cabin Fever,” I suppose, but found myself outside the theater after “Matchstick Men,” so I returned downtown to the Weingart, in time to enjoy two cold chile dogs served sans condiments, for dinner.
   Then upstairs to write and drink green tea.
   Rather than watch Katie Couric spend two hours interviewing Dr Phil, I tuned onto the wonderful “The Bernie Mac Show,” starring... Bernie Mac, and “Wanda at Large,” starring Wanda.    
   Before retiring I meditated and read some more, after gaining sleep I had the most bizarre  dream involving the lovely and talented actress/comedian/acrobat Victoria Jackson, a 1957 Chevy pickup, 12.5 grapefruits, 8 jars of light mayonnaise, a slinky, 6 inch and a half inch purple plastic Buddhas, 2 gallon cans of red lead primer paint, 8 feet of aluminum foil, 42 ears of corn (uncooked), 3 slingshots, a cannon ball, 72 rubber bands of various sizes, 1 cotton swab, and a trampoline. 

13 September   Saturday   Day 63

   “There wasn’t one good summer movie... someone put another bullet in me.” _Mad T.V.

   I woke late, just after 10:00, or so. I got up and made myself some coffee before showering.
   I was late for breakfast as well, and too late to sign in. I busied myself by cleaning my room while listening to a NPR show on the radio with two guys talking about computers and carbon nanotubes being used to build elevators that travel into outer space.
   After lunch (roast beef... again) I strolled downtown via bus in order to purchase a buck’s worth of wheat bread, the paper, and a super lotto ticket, choosing the Mega 13, and using the Quick Pick (random number generator) option to pick the winning number. 
   Back in my room, I wrote and read yesterday’s paper. I meditated and practiced myself some yoga, along with some crunches, push ups, and 77 count burpies.
   Gary Porch was no where in sight (probably on another bender), so I ate dinner alone.
   At 8:00p.m. I taped two one hour programs about personal recollections of two groups of people stuck in the World Trade Center on 9/11 who had obviously escaped from the buildings before they collapsed.
   A fascinating program. One gentleman told his story about after helping an injured man down to the 33rd floor of the North Tower, and after a fireman told him to “Get the fuck out of here!”  abandoned him, making it out of the building just before  the tower went down. He had come to terms with this, he said. 
   I’d have a hard time living with that, myself, yet if he had stayed he would have died.
   He survived, many didn’t. Life... and death, is not fair.
   At 11:00 I watched Mad T.V. on Fox, the season premier. The quote at the beginning of this entry came from the opening bit, about a black pop singer criticizing this years’s list of summer films, in which he didn’t have many good things to say. 
   I stayed awake for the rest of the night, reading and writing, and taping the last hour of the American Experience program I had watched Monday night.
   Since I didn’t go to sleep until much later I’ll end this entry here.

14 September   Sunday   Day 64

    I finished recording the World Trade Center story at 2:00a.m. At that point I turned the T.V. off and switched the radio on to NPR, listening to the cost estimates of the occupation in Iraq and comparisons of precisely how much 86 billion dollars is. Approximatly $1,600 from each American family.
   The radio also told me of another story which concluded that most of the world’s problems which we currently face, such as over population, pollution, disease, unemployment, Huell Howser, etc, could be solved with  a modest expenditure of 100 billion dollars a year for 12 years. Interesting.
   I wrote and read from the papers of the last two days. I didn’t feel tired yet. When I finished writing and reading the papers, I finished the Koontz book, continuing on to the U.S. News Outer Space book. I began to get sleepy then, but stayed awake as I wanted to start some laundry at 5:00.
   I exercised, yogaed, and meditated. It’s hard to meditate when sleepy as there’s a tendency to fall over.
   I started my laundry at 5:00, and continued to write. Just before I went down to breakfast my clothes finished drying, and I brought them back to my room. 
   This was the first time I’d been to breakfast for weeks. It being Sunday, traditional boiled eggs and potatoes were served. It was good. I ate greedily, discarding the evil yokes of course.
   Upon return to my lonely room I put my clothes away and decided to go to sleep for a while. I slept until 11:45, having an interesting dream in the process. I was aboard the Seaview submarine with the lovely and magical Barbara Eden from “I Dream of Jeannie.” She was dressed in a standard naval bikini, and was showing me the view from the forward observation deck. We could see lots a fake looking monsters out there taunting us.
   “Want to take a ride on the Flying Sub before the Van Allen radiation belts catch fire?” she asked me happily.
   “Sure,” I replied. She took my hand and led me to the Flying Sub hatch. “Later can we take a ride on the Dancing Locomotive?”
   “I don’t see why not,” she exclaimed, then crossed her arms, blinked, and disappeared.
   “Fuck,” I said to myself, then woke up. She was taken from me yet again.
   The Whistler woke me. He (or she) is out there again.
   It now being lunch time I went downstairs to eat. 2 hot dogs, 1 bun.
   I got tired of hanging out in my room, and decided to take the Gold Line to Pasadena, just for the ride... and to visit Barnes and Noble, maybe to pick up a book or two... or three, or more.
   What I wound up getting was Koontz’s “Watchers” (a good dog in this one), King’s “It” (finally), Peter Struab’s “Floating Dragon,” the last two of Clark’s Odyssey saga, a Merriam Webster dictionary, “Life on the Mississippi,” by some guy named Twain, Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley,” “Nolo’s Copyright Handbook,” and “How to Seal Criminal Records in California.”
   Ten more books I’ll eventually have to move somewhere else.
   And these things get heavy, especially King’s books (so much back story).
   I came right back, having been gone for only three hours.
   Oh, I almost forgot. I also picked up copies of the latest issues of “Stuff,” and “FHM,” magazines... only because Catherine Bell and Jenny McCarthy were featured on their respective covers. 
   At least I had a valid reason for getting these, as my admiration for these two lovely and talented actresses is deep.
   Gosh, those magazine guys sure know how to market their product.
   Gary Porch came knocking on my door. I even let him in.
   He looked to be in reasonably good health and sober, and I thought he may have made it through the weekend without sabotaging himself.
   He did too. He’d gone out before the weekend and did all of his drinking, or whatever it is that he does, staying out Thursday and Friday night, all on the $22 his dad had sent to him for a buss pass.
   Well, the Weingart staff had had enough. Gary told me his case manager, Frank, the weekend guy, had just given him a letter informing him that he had to be out of the facility by Tuesday morning at 9:30.
   It’s not like he didn’t expect it. Each week he stayed out he would be told that if it happened one more time he’d be terminated. He’d been given about 37 million chances, and each week, like clock work, he’d go out and do it again.
   A true red blooded addict by golly, there’s no pussyfooting about it with Gary. He’d only made it as long as he had, I think, because he has an affable way about him, and he was always honest about what he was doing.
   He’s got a little over $600 on account here, and now plans to move up north to Seattle, something he’s always planned on anyway.
   We went over to his room and he gave me some of his clothes that he didn’t plan on taking with him. Shirts mostly. I didn’t get his bubble-head Jack, from Jack in the Box, which is what I really wanted. 
   Someday... someday I’ll have one.
   I taped Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park: The Lost World,” which stars the lovely and talented  Julianne Moore. Based on a true story the film tells the tale of a bunch of dinosaurs who were cloned from mosquito vomit and brought back to life in modern times. Yeah, I know what your thinking, another one of those movies. 
   For various dinosaur species who had lived millions of years apart from each other they got along just famously... except for when they ate each other.
   I also taped the 2nd part of the “X-Files,” episode which had begun last week, only to discover that this week’s story line would be dragged out yet again to a 3rd... who knows, maybe 4 or 5 more parts. I’ve gone from being mildly infuriated to steadily perturbed. If Mimi Rogers wasn’t in it I’d erase both episodes right this minute.
   But she was, and I didn’t. She’s kind of cute in a drop dead gorgeous sort of way. And she’s very talented as well.
   I went to sleep and dreamt I was lying under a tree near a small, peaceful brook, and Connie Peterson, the lovely star of “The Little French Maid,” and other fine films, was sitting beside me, smoothing my brow and holding my hand, whispering “Poor dear... poor dear,” over and over and over again.

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