Thursday, August 21, 2014

Skid Row Diary 31

4  October   2003     Saturday    Day 84

   I was awoken at approximately 5:30am by a loud, determined knock on my door. I leaned over and opened it.
   “Security! Just checking. An alarm went off somewhere up here. Everything okay in here?”
   “Yeah, yeah. Everything’s okay.”
   He left. I returned to sleep for about 45 minutes. When I did get up, I showered and drank a fast cup of coffee, then left the building to meet Ron McCree.
   “Money’s on the street,” he muttered, as if to say hello.
   “Money’s on the street?”
   “Yeah,” he said. “Money’s on the street. That’s why it’s so empty.”
   He was referring to the fact that it was close to the beginning of the month, and a large faction of the homeless had cash in their pockets from recent GR and social security payments. I myself had some of that cash.
   We expanded our walk to the south, going down all of the way to 9th St., leaving the Heroin and Fish Districts briefly to skirt the outskirts of the Prostitute District.
   “You ever been to the peanut place?” Ron asked me.
   “You never been to the peanut place?”
   “No Ron. I myself, personally, have never, ever, to the best of my knowledge, been to the peanut place.”
   “Well,” he said, “there it is.”
   I looked across the street and espied a large, dark, one story building, with several signs protruding from various places proclaiming, “Peanuts for Sale.”
   “You can get as many peanuts as you want in there,” Ron told me. 
   “There’s no limit, huh?”
   “Naw. You can get a little bag and fill it up, or you can get a great big sack, it doesn’t matter. It’s closed right now though.”
   “Yes," I agreed. “If it wasn’t I suppose there would be a great big line of people waiting to get some peanuts, there being so much money on the streets, and all.”
   He gave me a strange look.
   “They don’t want no peanuts, man,” he said.
   We continued on our way.
   Spotting no pretty girls to rescue today, we rarely stopped walking. Ron looked for bargains as we passed the Flower Market.
   “I love beautiful women and flowers. If you want to see a lot of beautiful women, come here early in the morning,” he told me.
   We were there early in the morning. I saw no beautiful women hanging around.
   “I don’t like water on the street though,” he told me as we passed one of the flower shop workers washing down the sidewalk. “I can’t deal with it early in the morning.”
   “We’ll make through this somehow, Ron.” I realized my friend is about half crazy.
   Well it takes all kinds, and you know what they say...
   We ended our tour at a place where people would come and give away chicken dinners in about 20 minutes. 
   I took my leave of him after discussing my plans to move up north eventually. He was going to walk me back to the Weingart, but got diverted when he saw a line of people waiting for free soup. We made plans to meet on Monday.
   I went to the dinning hall for a nice pancake and bacon breakfast, discarding the bacon fat, eating only lean pieces of pork.
   Then off to Trimar. In North Hollywood, upon exiting the subway station I saw a 156 bus waiting, which was the one I needed to get to Van Nuys. I hurried up to it before it took off, and was the very last to board before it did leave, in the wrong direction from that which I needed to go. It was headed back downtown, to where I had just come from.
   Such is life.
   I had a good look at downtown North Hollywood, what is called the NoHo Arts District,  as I walked three blocks back to the bus depot. I passed the El Portal Theater where I had first seen  the movie “Mary Poppins,” and many other fine films. Now the facility featured live stage performances, this week featuring Sally Struthers of “All in the Family,” fame, in some play.
   I finally got on a 156 that was headed in the right direction. In Van Nuys I visited the 99 Cent Store to pick up a few things. 
   My backpack was quite heavy for the rest of the trip, which would prove tiresome later as I wandered around the streets of Hollywood. It contained 2 cans of meatballs in tomato sauce (you can never have too many), 2 jars of instant coffee, a bottle of ranch salad dressing, a jar of mayonnaise, a jar of sliced jalapeno peppers, 6 little cans of spreadable spam, 1 can of chile (no beans), 1 tube of cheese, peanut butter, cookies, 1 package of “Snackers” (snack crackers),  and 9 packs of Top Ramen (chicken and spicy chicken). I would later buy some 3 Musketeers bars, microwave and pre-popped popcorn, and 1 twenty six once box of iodized salt (it’s extremely important to get iodized salt, in case of nuclear attack. That way radioactive iodine can not enter your thyroid because iodine from the salt is already there). 
   No movies of course, at Trimar anymore. I found myself watching a curious cartoon program concerning the adventures of an elf clan, who looked suspiciously like leprechauns, in a cave. I was thinking that it wasn’t as easy to walk upside down on the roof of a cave utilizing suction cups on their shoes as they made it look, when my name was called to have my vital signs taken.
   Low blood pressure today, which I found mildly interesting. 90/64, which was just within acceptable donation limits. I asked my beautiful friend Aurica what might cause low blood pressure.
   “Garlic,” she said. “Did you eat some garlic, maybe?”   
   “Not to my knowledge, although someone could have spiked my pancakes with the stuff. You would think  I would have noticed though.”
   It remains a mystery. However, low is better than high, I guess... until I began fainting due to my poor overworked brain not getting enough oxygen rich blood.
   I also asked Aurica if she thought if there were any health benefits to donating blood plasma on a regular basis.
   “None that I can see,” she told me.
   I was trying to manufacture a reason to continue donating, but there wasn’t one really.
   After saying goodbye to Aurica, and leaving the center, I caught a 154 going south, which took me all of the way back to the North Hollywood station.
   McCree had told me where I might find a Tower Records store, so I got off of the subway at Hollywood and Highland. 
   I walked out onto Hollywood Blvd. and saw no record store. I did see lots and lots of tourists walking up and down the Walk of Fame, and hanging out at Grauman's Chinese Theater, where all of the people from China go to the movies.  
   I first walked west a few blocks, hoping I would see the store lurking somewhere. I did find Bob Hope’s star, but little else. A guy dressed as Homer Simpson, standing next to Spiderman, handed me a coupon for a discount at Universal Studios. I walked east, paying homage to Mark and Brian’s star, in front of the Wax Museum. I couldn’t find any record store. I abandoned my masculinity and asked someone who happened to be walking by, as if they would know where it was.
   “Near Vine,” I was told. 
   Great. I walked on Hollywood Blvd. the five or six blocks to Vine St., my backpack getting heavier with every step. 
   This Venus Hum CD better be good, I told myself.
   I got to Vine. No Tower Records, or any other kind of record store. 
   I gave up. To hell with it. I’d find the address on the Internet.
   I got back on the Red Line at the Vine Station, and made my way back downtown.
   As I approached the bus stop on 5th Street, where the 53, or the 18 would take me to the Weingart, a 53 bus came and went before I could get to it. Next, before another 53 or an 18 came, I saw five number 16 buses, and four Red Express buses pass by. I’m so glad that those routes are covered so extensively. When an 18 did arrive, another 18 was right behind it, and a 53 behind that one.    
   I enjoyed about half of a filet of fish sandwich for dinner, then discovered where Tower Records was on the computer in the day room... two of them, on Sunset somewhere. 
   There’s one in Pasadena at the mall, a Sam Goody as well. Perhaps I’ll go there. 
   I heated half a bag of old popcorn. I consumed said popcorn while watching the “African Pituitary Gland  Eater,” episode of “The X-Files,” which I also taped.
   A few minutes after that ended I left the building and walked to Gladys Park.
   Someone was practicing on their drum set behind a fenced enclosure. The primitive beat reverberated throughout the neighborhood, and through the air of the dark, clean night.
   I was attending the Drifters AA meeting of course. I got myself a cup of coffee, sat down, and began to write before the meeting got started. Some people knit sweaters, some eat their dinner or lunch while listening to the meeting. I write.
   My back was a twidge sore.
   I volunteered to read from chapter three from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. It had been a long time since I had read it, and I stumbled through it quite inexpertly. I didn’t care, I told myself. I only did it because no one else volunteered.
   As I was getting a second cup of coffee, a short, squat, mustachioed man came up and embraced me. I said hello. 
   “Do you remember me?” he asked.
   This happens to me quite a lot at meetings, and other places at times.
   “No. I’m sorry...”
   “From the Salvation Army. We were there together.”
   “Which one?”
   “What year?”
   1990, he said. So I had met him when I had first arrived. At the beginning of the Diary. Perhaps he’s in the Diary, I’ll have to check. His name was Rick, which seemed oddly familiar.
   I sometimes meet people from the ARC days, and remember their faces, but not their names. There were so many. Often I try to remember if I had had any part in having them thrown out, and attempt to determine if they’re still mad about it.
   Rick wasn’t mad, and I hadn’t thrown him out. If I had indeed met him in 1990 I hadn’t been an employee yet. He was glad to see me, and I was glad that he was doing well. He told me he would be coming back Monday night for another panel and invited me to come back. I said I would.
   As I wrote, listening to Yvette tell her tale, a L.A.P.D. helicopter passed about 200 feet directly over my head, going west. 
   I don’t mind blimps or helicopters, it’s pigeons I’m worried about.
   This meeting only lasts an hour, so at 8:30 I left and returned to the Weingart, and continued writing.
   Although there were a goodly supply of movies on the telly, I haughtily ignored them and went to sleep after I finished writing for the day. 
   I dreamt I was cruising in a helicopter at night, over Los Angeles, with Sally Struthers, Hope Davis, and Sharon Mitchell, the lovely and talented star of “Hard Trip,” “Feel My Sting,” and many other fine films, and the founder of the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation.    We landed briefly on the roof of the Library Tower, the tallest building west of the mighty Mississippi, for caviar and truffles before lifting off for Long Beach, and the Queen Mary, the very ship that brought my father home from World War II. 
   We came aboard and looked for ghosts.

 5  October    Sunday   Day 85

   I slept in late, until 6:30, after which I took a long, hot shower, then exercised and meditated.
   Scrambled eggs for breakfast. I purchased Sunday’s paper from the Hollymart.
   I listened to an NPR interview with Stacey Kent, an American jazz singer I may have to investigate further.
   And I wrote until it was time to leave for Higashi Honganji.
   Reverend Ito’s sermon dealt primarily with our ideas of self within the world, citing the statistical idea of widdling down the world’s population of the current 6.3 billion down to a village of 100 people. 53 would be Asian, 20 Christian, etc. He noted that anyone who had change in their pocket, and ate on a regular basis lived within the wealthiest 8% of the entire world’s population. If you owned a car your position would be upgraded to the top 7. 
   The idea that just because through an accident of birth, that I live in the United States, I’m better off than 92% of the rest of planet’s citizen’s is a little unsettling. We Americans take our privileged position for granted, and quite frankly are a tad spoiled.
   Just imagine what it would be like to be born a gopher, like the one who appears in the last chapters of Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row.” Then you’d really be fucked.
   After the service I sought out Rev Ito to introduce myself, and give him the “The True Founder of Zen,” quote from Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Fountain’s of Paradise:”
   “Driven to despair by his fruitless attempts to understand the universe, the sage Devadasa finally announced in exasperation:
   “ ‘All statements that contain the word God are false.’
   “Instantly, his least-favorite disciple, Somasiri, replied:
   “ ‘The sentence I am now speaking contains the word God. I fail to see, oh Noble Master, how that simple statement can be false.’
   “Devadasa considered the matter for several Poyas. Then he answered, this time with apparent satisfaction:
   “ ‘Only statements that do not contain the word God can be true.’
   “After a pause barely sufficient for a starving mongoose to swallow a millet seed, Somasiri replied:
   “ ‘If this statement applies to itself, oh Venerable One, it cannot be true, because it contains the word God. But if it is not true—’
   “At this point, Devadasa broke his begging bowl upon Somasiri’s head, and should therefore be honored as the true founder of Zen.”
   From a fragment of the Culavamsa, as yet undiscovered
   I had printed it for him in the hope he would find it amusing. But he’s a wily fellow, and could not be found. I left and had lunch at the Weingart.
   Veggie melt.
   Then to Pasadena to pick up some books from Barnes and Noble, via the Gold Line. I acquired Dean Koontz’s “Winter Moon,” Stephen King’s “Carrie,” and “Firestarter,” Carl Sagan’s “Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science,” “How to be Your Own Best Editor,” by Barry Tarshis, “Chaos,” by James Gleick, “How the Mind Works,” by Steven Pinker, and three law books dealing with bankruptcy, tenant’s rights, and buying a house.
   I stopped at Moby Disk before heading back to see what videos they had to offer, and found a copy of “Blade Runner,” which I just had to have, and the classic, “Stoned Age,” starring the beautiful and talented Renee Griffin. 
   I checked the CDs briefly, hoping to find Sophie B’s “Timbre,” but like Reverend Ito, it was not to be found. Idly checking the the “V’s” lo and behold, I found Venue Hum’s “Big Beautiful Sky,” for only $7.99. I snatched it up faster than you could say “Jack Mcdoogalpartifoculzenback.” The only problem being I didn’t have enough cash left to buy all three items.
   I hid the cover of “Stoned Age,” to hopefully retrieve it at a later date, and brought “Blade Runner,” and the CD back to my lonely room. 
   I played “Soul Sloshing,” 47 times.
   I also danced.
   I like the song, what can I say. I know it’s a little techno-pop number, but it’s constructed well, has interesting lyrics, and Annette is a wonderful singer. 
   She has a nice voice as well.
   I also liked the song “Montana,” which the album’s... album... I’m so old, from which the CD’s title is derived, and where I would learn tomorrow at the library, Annette came from. The band originated in Nashville, of all places. I don’t know where I got the idea they were British. I may have experienced an alcohol flashback, I’m not sure.
   Well, we know how those Montana girls are. Nasty, nasty. But I discovered that Annette, my new love, is married to some guy named Kirk, who is clearly not good enough for her.
   Annette, why, oh why, couldn’t you have waited for me!? I would have shown up... eventually, to help ease your loneliness...
     It was not meant to be I suppose.
     I hope Sophie will take me back.
   Perhaps she’s married too! Oh no. She’s too wild to get tied down. You know how those New York girls are. Nasty, nasty.
   I read the paper and wrote. At 9:00PM I tried to tape the PBS presentation of the Westport County Playhouse’s rendition of Thornton Wilder’s masterpiece, and one of my favorite plays,  “Our Town.” However I couldn’t get good reception, and was forced to abandon the attempt, which placed me in a foul mood, I can tell you. I ranted. I raved. It did not help. I almost threw the VCR out of the window when in fact it was the T.V.’s fault. I surprised myself actually, with the purity of my emotions.
   I continued to watch the play though, be damned the reception, and quickly fell under the play’s spell. 
   Discerning readers might know why I love this play so much. It’s themes are of particular interest to me. Our everyday lives that we often take so much for granted, of which we are hardly ever aware of because we’re always so, so busy. The meaning of our lives and our place in the universe. Simple things that upon reflection have great significance... a wedding for example, or a sunset, and appreciating the stars that shine at night (refer to Salvation Diary for quite an extensive list), our hopes and dreams, all laced within a simple framework of the banal, familiar, and mundane. I pretty much cried throughout the whole thing, it was so beautiful to me. It was almost too painful to watch. The cast, headed by this very talented actor by the name of  Paul Newman, was wonderful. By gosh, if he keeps up work like this he’ll be really good some day. 
   I was just over awed by the whole thing.
   However, they managed to piss me off at the end. The credits were so small on my screen, and moved so fast that I could not see the name of the actors, and I really wanted to find out who had played the part of Emily Webb. I was absolutely livid for an hour and seventy five minutes. My anger at my VCR, and now my T.V. reawakened.
   I was so mad that I taped the 11:00 broadcast of “The X-Files,” for no good reason, although at the end of this “Zombie Apocalypse,” episode, Mulder gave Scully a really good New Years smack right on the lips. She liked it! You know how those FBI girls are.
   Nasty, nasty.
   I listened to the Impact radio program, to Frankie Sontag deride Arnold Schwarzenegger for awhile, for 2 hours actually, until I finished some writing and reading of the paper that I wanted done.
   I finally went to sleep and dreamt I was in Grover’s Corners with Maggie Lacey, who I later discovered, through exhaustive research (looking on the Internet) was the wonderful actress who had played Emily. We were in the drug store, sitting at the counter, sipping strawberry sodas, and she was talking of my character. 
   When we were finished I had to admit to the proprietor of the store, a Mr. Morgan, who looked an awful lot like that actor guy Paul Newman, that I’d have to come back with the money for the sodas. I had neglected to bring enough with me.   
   “You trust me, don’t you Mr. Morgan?” I asked plaintively.
   “I’ll trust you for ten years,” he replied. “Not a minute more.”

6   October      Monday    day 86

   I slept in late, until 7:00, and listened to Mark and Brian berate Frankie for admitting he had once seen a UFO, a ghost, and Tahoe Tessie. One can only hope he saw them at different times.
   I noticed that when I turned on the light switch to the two lights that provide all of the man made photons for my little room, the two fluorescent bulbs glowed in an orange manner, not  activating completely. It wasn’t hard to notice.
   I left my lovely case worker, Labren, a message on her voice mail asking her to have maintenance check it out. 
   I fooled around with the bulbs until they eventually did light, but I could no longer trust them. They’ve betrayed me once. I wouldn’t give them a chance to do it again.
   As luck would have it, I spotted a maintenence type person down the hall working in a different room. He was at work rather early, but I took advantage of the situation and asked him to check out my bulbs when he had a moment. A little while later he came in and switched on the lights, which worked perfectly of course. I told him what had happened. He wiggled the bulbs around, checked the balance, and left. I thanked him and left another message for Labren canceling my maintenence order. 
   Now the song “Montana,” keeps repeating itself through my disheveled and undisciplined mind. 
   The one thing about the song “Soul Sloshing,” is that’s it’s a bit complicated in a way that’s a little hard to remember. At least for me. Not so with “Montana.” That one’s easy to remember, and keeps going and going, like the Eveready Bunny.
   I went to breakfast at 8:00, then to the Levi Center, where I had Larry fax my resume to a couple of places. 
   This makes him feel needed.
   I walked over to the Mental Health Department on Maple Ave., for a 9:30 appointment with Dr. Perry. He seems to be doing well, getting enough sleep, and all. I let him know what was happening in my life... CWT, the Skid Row Housing Trust, ASAP, Tahoe Tessie, etc. I didn’t mention my dreams for fear that he have me locked up.
   “I looked up DSM four, three one one,” I told him.
   “Oh. Did someone provide that diagnosis?” 
   “Oh yeah. This office did for DPSS. Wasn’t it your diagnosis?”
   “No. The person you were seeing before me did, who was not a doctor. I would have used two nine six, three three.”
   “Two nine six, three three?”
   “Great. Now I’ll have to look that up. Could you write that number down please?”
   He wrote me a prescription for more Prozac and Wellbutrin. 
   Dr Perry still doesn’t know that I’ve stopped taking the Prozac, and once I finish the bottle of Wellbutrin, I’ll stop taking that too.
   I made an 8:00 appointment for December 3rd, then had my prescriptions filled at the Nofel   Pharmacy on Spring and 5th.
   I signed in at SRHT, and continued walking east on The Nickel to the Service Spot. Ron McCree was there waiting for me. We had some nice coffee, and he told me that after I left him on Saturday he had gone to the General Hospital (Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, or The House of Death) to get some asthma medication. One now needs to assume that he suffers from asthma. I soon left him, making plans to meet him later in the week.
   I returned to my room and wrote. After lunch (Teriyaki Chicken) I made it to the 1:00 ASAP meeting, having my urine tested while there.
   Riding the DASH I thought up a perfectly viable pilot for an hour long television drama concerning a World Court/Amnesty International agent, who hunts down human rights violators and indicted but hard to find war criminals. Sounds like a natural to me. A little different than your usual police, detective, spy, vampire, doctor, lawyer, gynecologist, FBI agents seeking vampire fair. You’ve got your drama, you’ve got your adventure. They’ll certainly be laughs galore... and most importantly, it’s socially relevant. 
   I also thought about making a film about the 9/11 tragedy, focusing on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, the one successful defensive act that occurred on that terrible day. I think it’s been long enough, and I feel the story needs to be told, perhaps in a documentary fashion. 
   I think that it’s important that it be done. I also think it’s important to a degree, to depict the attacker’s point of view. The reasons behind the attack. They didn’t do it just because they didn’t have anything else to do that day.
   I looked up some items on the computers in the library before returning to the Weingart, to write, meditate, and read from “The Hellfire Club.”
   I watched “Las Vegas,” again, and was very agitated that Nikki Cox made only one brief (20 seconds) appearance in the hour long drama. She walks up wearing a low cut gown, says a few words, and walks away. 
   Hell, I could do that!
   I don’t think I’ll watch again. Like I said, I’ve already seen “Casino.”
   I happened to be watching The Tonight Show, with guests Katie “Gams” Couric, and Al Franken. Al’s recent statements seem to have been vindicated with Rush Limbaugh’s forced resignation from ESPN for making racist remarks, and rumors of addiction to pain pills (in all fairness, I believe that Rush is suffering from some form of cancer, brain cancer probably, as he seems to have lost a lot of weight recently).
   But what I found especially intriguing while watching, was a commercial for my candidate for governor, Mary “Mary Carey” Cook. It was about 30 seconds long, and totally took me by surprise. At first she was wearing a lumpy jump suit, which she soon removed, revealing her in her normal, and expected, electoral uniform, a red, white, and blue (in that order) bikini. She mentioned something about breast implants, and some other things I couldn’t quite catch, before turning her ample backside to the camera, and saying enthusiastically, “California, let’s kick some ass!”
    “Paid for by Citizens for Mary Carey for Governor.”
   And then it was over. I sat up that night a good deal longer (even through that awful Carson Daly! Who is this guy? All I know about him is that he dates actresses and then breaks up with them) then I had intended to, hoping to see it again so I could tape it and own it forever and ever, but it never came back on. Perhaps it was a one shot deal on the eve of the election.
   Well tomorrow we’ll find out if her sneak attack strategy worked. I for one, certainly hope so.
   After I resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t see Mary again, I went to sleep and dreamt I was in Bosnia with my new friend Annette Strean, hunting down Ratko Mladic, in order to take him to the Hague so he could keep Slobodan company. 
   Perhaps they could get a game of Risk going.

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