Sunday, May 17, 2015

Skid Row Diary 41

13   November   2003    Thursday   Day 124

   I wrote while listening to classical music. At 10:00PM I stopped writing to exercise and meditate. I got hungry and made a turkey and cheese sandwich, and watched two episodes of “The Sopranos,” both actions highly recommended after deep meditation. I cleaned my room for the maid as she had not visited me yesterday.
   At 3:15AM I showered. It took at least ten minutes for the water to get warm. It never really got hot.
   I watched another Soprano episode, then put some laundry in the washer and began writing again. Near 6:00, after putting my clothes in the dryer and inserting two tokens, I went to sleep for two hours and dreamt of Sherilyn Fenn.
   “A little bit of Heaven in ponytails,” was David Lynch’s description of her.
   When I woke I overheard Mark and Brian discussing the apparent lack of confidence by investors in the mutual funds market due to ongoing scandals. 
   Giselle was wearing a white sweater and black mini.
   I was in time for breakfast today. Scrambled eggs and corned beef. 
   I read the paper, listened to M&B, and watched Despierta America. That weasel Fernando tries to get his big face into every shot.
   At 9:30 I left for the DPSS office. I got there in time for my 10:00 appointment, waiting until 11:00 for my name to be called. I had Mark Twain with me in the form of “Life on the Mississippi,” so I didn’t mind waiting. The office was moderately crowded, mostly with people. There has to be an answer to abject poverty. Has to be. But our current political system chooses to either criminalize it or not to deal with it at all.
   I was eventually directed to the infamous Booth 7, as were three other people. I waited in line to see an overweight white woman who I’d never seen before, and who didn’t bother to introduce herself. I didn’t ask her name.
   I gave her the food stamp eligibility letter that I had previously filled out. She asked if I was homeless and able to work. Yes and no. As an NSA client (Need Special Assistance) I am excused from looking for work. She told me she couldn’t find anything regarding my medical condition on the computer. Oh really! I’d only been here twice for that, once to apply for Social Security Insurance (SSI), and once to talk to mental health. But she said she couldn’t find any record of that.
   I was not surprised. I’d dealt with this agency for quite a while. I showed her the letter from Downtown Mental Health which described how whacked out I obviously was, and a list of the medications I took to keep myself from becoming whackier.
   I started to drool.
   She told me I’d have to see one of their social workers again. I said fine.  
   I waited in the lobby another half hour. The next time I was called I was directed to the double doors. How exciting!
   A nice black lady took me into the bowels of the DPSS office. She sat me down at a desk and asked me about... everything. All over again, and I told her everything... again.
   She told me with sincere earnestness that I had guardian angels looking after me. She said that because I had been able to stay away from alcohol since last May, or whenever it was that I had my last beer. She wanted me to say that I had guardian angels looking after me. She wanted me to admit there was a heavenly presence that was very interested in my welfare. 
   I skirted the issue with great care and diplomacy.
   I really should become a lawyer.
   I asked her if by seeing her today I would still have to come back tomorrow. She said she didn’t know. She would have to ask my case worker.
   I waited another half hour to see my new case worker. RIPSIME MELIKSETIAN. 
   I was directed this time to Booth 9, as well as two other people. 
   I’m not sure if who I saw was Ms Meliksetian, because she didn’t introduce herself, however, the attractive lady told me that all I had to do now was fill out a CA7 before leaving and I wouldn’t have to return tomorrow. I told her that I had already mailed one in, but she told me they hadn’t received it.
   It was 12:30 by the time I finally got out of there. I could either forget about lunch and go to the ASAP meeting, or forget about ASAP and go to lunch. 
   I opted for the sesame chicken rationalizing that I had a lot of work to do and that by not going to ASAP I would have more time to get it done.
   After lunch I walked up to 5th Street to buy a paper, and decided to see if Ron McCree was at the Needle Exchange, which was just closing for the day. He was there, and we walked up to the Grand Central Market on Broadway and 3rd, where Ron bought a couple of cans of malt liquor. I bought a paper from one of the green newspaper stands that are prevalent on Broadway.
   We separated at Los Angeles and 4th. I signed in at Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT), leaving before they checked my file.
   I returned to my room. Where else would I go?
   I watched an episode of “The Sopranos,” the last the library had that I hadn’t seen. I’m deathly afraid of going through Sopranos withdrawal, which is characterized by night sweats, double vision, incontrollable flatulence, and cement overcoatus.
   I also watched the first volume of the Shackleton series, starring Kenneth Branagh. Now I know how it all began.
   Mr. Branagh would be my pick to play Dirk Struan if a motion picture production of “Tai-Pan,” were ever to be made.
   A good one. Not that Bryan Brown crap.
   Of course Branagh would have to be toughened up a bit, and some weight put on him.
   At 9:00 I watched the first of two Frontline shows, one concerned the effectiveness of the FDA in determining if new medications are safe. There seems to be cases of injuries and death following the use of drugs the FDA has approved, and that have been rushed into the market. 
   I don’t know about you, dear readers (how could I?), but it doesn’t seem to be appropriate for the FDA to be dependent on subsidies from the very industry that it is supposedly regulating. But what do I know? I’m just a poor homeless person who lives on Skid Row.
   The second show dealt with the high cost of drugs in the United States, forcing some patients to buy their prescription drugs in Mexico, as my dear mother did, and Canada. Countries where these same drugs are somehow magically cheaper. 
   The pharmaceutical companies say that if they didn’t fleece... charge more for drugs in the U.S. they wouldn’t be able to afford the research and development required to make new and better drugs. 
   I proudly say bullshit!
   But what do I know? I’m just a poor homeless veteran that the world has discarded. Besides, I didn’t even stay awake to see the end of the show. 
   I slipped into a dream in which I was piloting the Nebuchadnezzar, along with the beautiful and talented Carrie Ann Moss, and Nikki Knights, star of “Call Girl,” “One More Time,” and many other fine films.
   We battled our way to the Machine City and electro magnetic pulsed the hell out of those bastards.
   Unfortunately, the Terminator from SkyNet came over from another movie and beat the hell out of us. 
   We had to lay low in Wisconsin for awhile and muster our resources.

   “Whoo - oop! I’m the old original iron-jawed, brass-mounted, copper-bellied corpse maker from the wild of Arkansaw! Look at me! I’m the man they call Sudden Death and General Desolation! Sired by a hurricane, dam’d by an earthquake, half brother to the cholera, and nearly related to the small-pox on the mother’s side! Look at me! I take 19 alligators and a bar’l of whiskey for breakfast when I’m in a robust health, and a bushel of rattlesnakes and a dead body when I’m ailing! I split the everlasting rocks with my glance, and I squinch the thunder when I speak! Whoo - oop! Stand back and give me room according to my strengths! Blood’s my national drink, and the wails of the dying is music to my ear! Cast an eye on me gentlemen! And lay low and hold your breath, for I’m about to turn myself loose!” -Mark Twain, from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Keelboatmen Beast

14  November   Friday   Day 125

   “Stupidity. That can be a learning disorder, can’t it?” -Anthony Soprano

   I over slept all the way until 8:15. I rushed to see what Giselle was wearing. Jeans. It was Friday after all.
   I switched over to the Kelly Ripa program. She was wearing pants as well, however Steve Irwin, the Australian animal maniac, was forcing her to lift up large snakes with a stick, then they dumped tarantulas on to Regis, which is always worth watching.
   I sliced and diced my third to last hot dog, dumped it into a bowl along with three eggs, and cooked it up in the microwave. Very good.
   I read the paper and wrote until 12:15. Hamburgers were available for lunch and I took one before heading out to ASAP. 
   Once again Kathy explained to those present the difference between stupidity and ignorance. Ignorance being not knowing a thing, and stupidity as knowing a thing, then being unable or unwilling to process the verified information. Stupidity, she surmised, impairs judgment, and gave two examples of patients she knew who had been arrested and confessed to crimes in order to shorten the trail process, unwittingly condemning themselves to years in prison. 
   One can’t really disagree with her, and who might want to?
   I took the Dash up past the new concert hall (Jazz musicians are already complaining about the acoustics) on Grand, and walked over to Figueroa to see what was now playing at the Laemmle, then to Arco Plaza to check my mail.
   DPSS sent me a letter denying my benefits because they hadn’t received my CA7. Well, they’ve got it now.
   I also went to the library and Rite-Aid, then returned to my little room to write and exercise.
   Charlie Rose interviewed Béla Fleck, the seven time Grammy Award winning banjo player. As much as I like the banjo I had to turn it off to attend the Drifters meeting. 
   They had me read Chapter 5 again. A nice man named Paul led the meeting. He had brought with him members of the Valley Drifters to share their experience, strength, and hope. I wrote while they did... and drank coffee. William presented Paul with a birthday cake for 15 years. I had a piece. It was very good. 
   I continued reading the paper up in my room. I also had found another Soprano tape I hadn’t seen yet at the library, and so was able to forego Soprano withdrawal... for a while. After that I watched Monty Python to put me to sleep.
   I dreamt I was sitting on one of those dunking machines that can be found at carnivals. Terri Irwin, Steve’s lovely and talented wife, was sitting on my lap, while Kelly Ripa was throwing softballs at the lever which would release the latch that was holding us up above the water in the large tank below. Kelly’s a good shot, and once Terri and I were thoroughly dunked, Kelly took her place on my lap and Terri threw the balls. 
   This went on continously for 13 hours and 72 minutes.
   Terri’s a good shot too.

15  November   Saturday   126

   “Name a scrub after me. Something prickly and hard to eradicate.” -Capt Jack Aubry to naturalist and spy Dr. Stephen Maturin 

   I got up late, 6:00 or so. I showered and got ready to go. No time for exercise and meditation. 
   Ron McCree exited his building precisely at 7:00AM and we began walking.
   “There’s no money on the streets,” I told him.
   “Oh really.”
   Ron seemed grumpy this morning, and I couldn’t say a thing to him that he didn’t contradict, while brandishing his own home-grown philosophy and know how. This mildly irritated me to the point that I began thinking that these walks might not be that valuable to me. 
   Still bitching about how broke he was, he managed to have enough cash for a beer or two, which he purchased at a liquor store on Central Ave that was decorated wall to wall with large posters of smiling bikini clad women, that may suggest that if men simply bought the beer they were advertising then sexy females would look favorably upon them. 
   Or they could be suggesting that if women consumed mass quantities of beer they would soon look like the pretty ladies on the posters.
   Which is true.
   Ron and I ended our walk at 5th and San Pedro, just outside Jack’s Market. Some kind people were passing out plates of scrambled eggs, sausage, and cereal. Ron and I got in line to get some. The people giving the food away were very nice and didn’t try to get us to believe in God, or anything.
   This was the first time I had received food in this fashion. I could have eaten breakfast at the Weingart, but I was keeping Ron company. 
   They ran out of eggs and sausage by the time we made it to the front of the line and we only got cereal and an apple. I gave Ron my apple. 
   Ron went home. I went to the Weingart cafeteria for pancakes.
   Upstairs I used the word processor for a good hour transposing segments from “The Teaching of the Buddha,” book. The Heart Sutra and a treatise on Right Speech.
   I watched the last segment of “The Sopranos” that the library had. Christopher and Pauly got lost in the snow fields of South New Jersey after bungling a hit. I wished I had been walking through those fields.
   I wrote for a while, then popped a bag of popcorn. I placed the popcorn in my backpack, and walked to the library to exchange videos.
    It was supposed to rain again, but it was dry when I left for the theater.
   A woman sitting on the sidewalk near 6th and Main asked me to smile as I walked past her. I told her to smile for the both of us. 
   Then to the Laemmle  theater to see “Master and Commander, the Far Side of the World.”
   Quite an unwieldily title for a movie, I must say. Based on three of Patrick O'Brian’s novels, and directed ably by Peter Weir (“Witness,” “Gallipoli,” “The Truman Show”), and starring Russell Crowe, and that miserable son of a bitch Paul Bettany, who stole Jennifer Connelly from me while all three of them worked on “A Beautiful Mind.”  
   It was a pretty good movie, utilizing state of the art special effects to recreate navel warfare in the early 1800s, during some war between Britain and France, probably when Napoleon was being somewhat... obstreperous.  “Sink the Bismarck,” or “The Enemy Below,” 130 years before World War II. 
   Many people criticize Russell Crowe for being difficult (an asshole), which may or may not  be true, but he’s a fine actor irregardless of his personality. I loved him (platonically) in “The Insider,” and couldn’t stand “Gladiator.” And as long as he keeps his mitts of my girls he’s okay with me. 
   It was also nice to see a British navel captain who is not portrayed as a tyrannical despot (as in “Mutiny on the Bounty”) for a change. 
   Yes, there was a hobbit aboard. Billy Boyd, who played Peregrin Took in the first two Lord of the Rings films, and will probably be in the third which opens December 17th. 
   No women though. Not one. 
   Jennifer come back! Bettany’s not good enough for you!
     After returning I wrote until dinner time. Beef Stew. John Clark was down there and we ate together and talked about writing.
   “I hate to write,” I told him.
   “Really? I can write for hours and hours.”
   “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do before writing,” I told him. “Read. Go to the bathroom. Hang wallpaper. Nothing. It’s my least favorite thing, beyond moving and hangovers. Until I start. After I start it’s okay, even good. Sometimes great. Getting started. That’s the hard part.”
   He wanted to borrow Stephen King’s book on writing, “Danse Macabre” (Dance of Death) and came to my room to get it.
   “Do you like poetry?” he asked me.
   “Yes,” I said.
   I read the paper while listening to a “Prairie Home Companion,” compilation show. 
   The radio network interrupted the broadcast every 15 minutes with fund raising activities involving two very annoying people. Even if I had money to give them I wouldn’t, just because of those two.
   I read an article on the search for planets in other solar systems, then watched a Monty Python episode on how no one expects the Spanish  Inquisition. 
   I was exceptionally flatulent today. I don’t know why. I was genuinely astounded by the volume and frequency of these gaseous and fragrant outbursts. Truly exceptional.
   KCET was showing the Robert Altman film “M.A.S.H.” at 10:30, uncensored and uninterrupted, so I set my VCR timer, turned off the TV and taped it.         
   It’s a good movie, although not my favorite Altman film. I’m more of a “Mccabe and Mrs Miller,” person. 
   Then I went to sleep and dreamt I was giving a science report in front of my Jr High School science class, a report on nuclear submarines. Careena Collins, the lawyer and beautiful and talented star of “Sherlock Homie,” ”Twins,” “Born to Run: The Careena Collins Story,” and many other fine films, sat in the front row staring at me, enraptured. 
   Afterwards she walked me home and together we spent the afternoon reading from Verne’s “20000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
   Mr Zap gave me an “A” for that report, and I’ve liked science and girls ever since.

16     November     Sunday      Day 127

   I slept in all the way until 7:00AM, then got up.
   I follow a similar routine every morning. Usually, after deciding to make a move, I hit the showers, which helps to further the process of regaining consciousness. It works almost all of the time. I spend about 15 minutes in there on the average, just letting the warm to hot water slide down my statuesque body. I’d stay in there longer if I could lay down. I could lay down I guess, but it would look awfully bizarre when the other men came in and saw me. They might think I’m dead and call 911.
   I can stay in a shower all day if there’s a tub, and I don’t have to pay for the water.
   Upon returning to my room, my unblemished skin all rosy and pink, I meditated and then exercised. I usually do it the other way around, but not today.
   During deep meditation it occurred to me that I might be homosexual, latently at least. Why else would I have so many dreams featuring women? To hide my homosexuality from myself, that’s why! 
   But then I thought it through and came to the conclusion that there is really nothing I find the least bit attractive about men... I don’t even know why women like men, if they do. I think we’re just tolerated. When science one day figures out how to make artificial sperm men are done for.
   I went to breakfast. Boiled eggs and sausage. I also went up to Jack’s Market and bought today’s paper.
   I wrote, and listened to a radio program hosted by the comedian/actor Harry Shearer, who insisted Richard Nixon took regular trips to Venezuela to get stoned.
   I haven’t heard anything to the contrary.
   I continued to write. At 12:30 I had a mini hamburger from downstairs. At least I think it was a hamburger. It could have been some kind of vegetable matter.
   On my way back upstairs I noticed the little blonde girl giving me the eye again. She’s been around for about three weeks now. Pretty. Blonde. Early twenties. Short. See how well I describe people. Now you can pick her out from within a large crowd.
   Usually I see her in the cafeteria surrounded by hungry black guys. They tend to swarm. 
   What is it with these clowns. A sign of prestige perhaps to have a white girl under their arm, especially a mini version of Suzanne Somers, like this one.
   But the other way around, a white guy with a black girl... oh hell no! I was once called a “nigger lover,” by a black guy due to his resentment that I was paying attention to a pretty black girl. That wasn’t particularly insulting to me, however we almost got into a fight about it.
   There appears to be some kind of double standard at play here.
   Anyway, the girl apparently has a head on her shoulders and knows how to take care of herself. Although there’s always guys at her table I never see her hanging out with any of them.
   Occasionally I see her looking in my direction with doe-eyed longing that could also pass for indifference if one wasn’t such a keen observer such as myself.
   But I give her the cold shoulder. It would be all I need to get involved with a little bundle of compressed trouble like her.
   I watched the video of “Khartoum,” the 1966 film starring my favorite actor, Laurence Kerr Olivier. Charlton Heston and Richard Johnson from “The Haunting,” were in it as well. 
   I hadn’t seen it in years and years. Based on a true story I’m told, the film concerned a Muslin uprising in the Sudan in 1883 and England’s response, which was to send Charlton down there to straighten things out. 
   Charlton portrayed British General Charles George Gordon, and Lawrence Muhammad Ahmad, who believed himself to be the Mahdi, the prophesied "expected one of Mohammed," apparently because he had a rather prominent space in his front teeth.   
   Things didn’t work out well for the English. General Gordon wound up with his head on a spike. And as any Fourth Grader knows, the British withdrew from the Sudan shortly thereafter, and the self proclaimed Mahdi himself died six months later, but in the United Kingdom, public pressure and anger at the fate of Gordon finally forced the British to re-invade the Sudan 10 years later, where they recaptured Khartoum in 1898, and the Sudan didn’t gain it’s independence again until 1956. 
   I wasn’t able to finish the movie though, switching it off at 2:30 in order to record “Rain Man,” starring Valeria Golino, who would later go on to star in the immortal Hot Shots film franchise. 
   Ham and rice for dinner. A nice black guy gave me his portion. He didn’t eat pork. A lot of black people don’t for some reason.
   I’ve never seen a black person turn down a piece of chicken though. Or anybody else for that matter.
   Am I being base and stereotypical? Am I making unsubstantiated assumptions concerning an entire race that are not founded in fact and scientific foundation?
   Yes, and delightedly so!
   I read the paper for most of the evening. I was upset  to discover that Ebert and Roper (I almost wrote Siskel and Ebert, but through the magic of modern word processing technology I can correct that error in judgment without you ever knowing) was preempted by a local pre, pre, American Music Awards show. Everyone else in the United States got to see Ebert and Roper except those of us who live in L.A. It wasn’t even the pre-show, where some might be expected to possibly garner some interest in what was going on at the awards, oh no. This was the pre, pre-show, which let us know who would be playing at the awards, and sneak peaks at rehearsals, all of the stuff we try not to be aware of. Anyway, it was very upsetting. I may not be able to get over it.
   I only watched it to see what my role model, Pink, aka Alecia Beth Moore, was wearing. Clothes unfortunately. A see through black gown. Very hot, but I think she’s putting on a few pounds. Oh well, who isn’t?
   Bulimic people.
   By golly, she is such a true inspiration, and I’m totally sincere in saying that. 
   Later I watched the David Lynch film “Mulholland Drive,” starring Naomi Watts and Laura Harring. "A love story in the city of dreams," according to Lynch.
   Like her Aussie girlfriend, Nicole Kidman, Naomi is just too beautiful to be human, so their both obviously some type of evil Space Vamps. Bad disguise Space Vamps! Next time try looking like Roseanne Barr and Rosie O'Donnell.
   And Laura’s not too shabby herself... if you happen to be partial to gorgeous Hispanic ladies.
   Space Vamp or not, Naomi’s certainly a very fine actress. I first saw her in “The Ring,” last year, and enjoyed “Mulholland Drive” as well, and her performance.    
   David Lynch is certifiably insane. Roger Ebert finally cornered him at the Oscars and asked him point blank what the film was about.
   “Hello Roger,” was all that he could get out of him.
     I’d say  “Mulholland Drive” is a love story in the city of dreams.
   Silly Ebert.
   I went to sleep and dreamt of riding up Mulholland Drive in the back seat of my friend Moochie’s grey Chevy, with Naomi Watts on my right and Valeria Golino to my left. Moochie, whose real name was and probably still is, Daniel Donovan, and his dad Bill, sat up front. Moochie was driving.
   At one point he stopped at the side of the road.
   “Hey, we don’t stop here,” Naomi exclaimed.
   Bill turned in his seat and pointed a silenced gun at us.
   “Get out of the car,” he said.
   The girls and I got out of the car just as two cars in both lanes came hurdling down the drive in the opposite direction, smashing into Moochie’s car, pushing it, with Moochie and Bill, over the side and down the hill, end over end, to the San Fernando Valley down below.
   “Wow,” all three of us said in unison. 
   Naomi, Valeria, and I walked back down the Drive to Ventura Blvd., in search of a Carl’s Jr, of which we eventually found one, where inside we discovered Laura Harring being attacked by an anaconda.

17   November    Monday    Day 128.

   Not a great deal was accomplished today. 
   There’s a sign on my lovely case manager’s door telling anybody who happens to read it that she’ll be gone for an indefinite period of time. 
   I hope Labrean is okay.
   I exchanged my videos at the library and stopped at Rite Aid on the way back to get a paper. I noticed two of the stores managers giving me furtive looks as I walked through the isles looking for various cookies. 
   While waiting in line to pay these morons called the security guard over and spoke to him, who then looked at me and slowly nodded.
   How obvious.
   As I left the store the guard, a big black guy, asked me if he could look through the bag I was carrying the videos in.
   He looked through it and found my videos. He looked underneath them and found... the bottom of the bag.
   He smiled at me and said, “Thank you, sir,” handing the bag back to me.
   “Hey, I know my rights! I’m entitled to a strip search, aren’t I (old Elvira, Mistress of the Dark joke)?"
   “That won’t be necessary,” he told me.
   “Just between you and me,” I told him, “I don’t shoplift. But if I did, the last people I’d get caught by are Heckle and Jeckle over there.”
   We both looked at the two managers who were looking at us. I smiled and left.
   I had lied to him of course. I’ve shoplifted a great deal in my lifetime. That’s one way I got my booze as a teenager. I probably owe the Vons supermarket chain several million dollars. I consider the act an art actually... a skill one acquires with continued practice, and as in all artistic endeavors, one occasionally fails. I’ve failed twice in my career. I failed once in 1982, and another time just last year. Any further nonsense like that and I’ll be charged with a felony, which would be decidedly inconvenient, so I’ve retired. 
   A good thing too with all that’s going on with Mars so close to the Earth and all.
   A note from McCree was in my box when I returned to the Weingart. With it was a photograph torn out of a newspaper. The note read “Someone took this picture of me and you. And it is in the Downtown News (a free paper). The buses are running. See you later. Ronald”
   Adjacent to his name was a smiley face.
   The picture was of us both walking away from the camera on 5th or 6th Street. Our collective faces cannot be seen, but there’s no mistaking Ron’s lanky form, bald head, and my great ass. It’s us alright.
   The buses are running.
   I watched the video of Buck Henry’s (screenwriter) “To Die For,” starring Naomi Watt’s good friend, Nicole Kidman.
   I’ve not seen “The Hours,” but I don’t think I’d like it as much as “To Die For.” She played a murderous television reporter. 
   We’ll we’ve always had our suspicions about those kind of people, now haven’t we?
   Well I have.
   After I went to sleep I dreamt I was with Nicole Kidman at a bus stop 100 yards from Ayers Rock, smack dab in the middle of the Australian continent, where the dingos and babies live. 
   We waited and waited but a bus never came. 
   We’re still there.

No comments:

Post a Comment