Friday, August 21, 2015
Skid Row Diary 43
22 November 2003 Saturday Day 133
“When the Buddha achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, he laughed.” -Thích Thiên-Ân
I woke to Jerry Goldsmith’s haunting “Chinatown,” theme song from deep inside my head. I don’t know why.
I showered and cleaned my room. I finished reading Act I of “The Tenth Man.” By then it was time for lunch.
John was down there. We sat together. He talked about how his computers were attacking him, and how he spent most of his time trying to make them work. I sympathized with him, then went to buy a Supper Lotto ticket, some large manilla envelopes, and some cookies from Rite-Aid.
I exchanged videos at the library, and then used one of their computers for an hour to journey way out on the Internet to check on the stats for the average flying speed of the New England Swallow.
When I returned to my room I wrote and exercised, one right after the other. I listened to The Prairie Home Companion, playing out of San Diego this week, and making fun of us Californians for not having weather.
These Minnesotaians come down here and think that they’re so hot. I just makes me want to puke!
I taped all of the music the show had to offer, and was glad I did. Natalie MacMaster, a Canadian (Garrison Keillor or calls encroaching Canadians “Frostbacks”) violin player, and her band played, and I enjoyed them so much that I will now be forced to buy one of their CDs. They have a frenzied, Celtic quality about them, which appeals to my frenzied Celtic nature.
Keillor also mentioned that 40 years ago today, President Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, which is very true, he was.
40 years ago today I was 8 years old, and on the playground at Colfax Elementary School in North Hollywood, California, when I asked why the flag was half way down the pole and it was explained to me.
I read from Orwell’s “1984,” and the newspaper. At 7:15pm I attended the Drifters meeting in Gladys Park, and listened to Loraline, Ida, and Julie tell their stories.
Julie, with only a week sober, is 44 years old and suffering from kidney failure and cirrhosis of the liver. She’s on a list for a liver transplant, but needs six months of sobriety in order to receive it. She hopes that she’ll make it.
So do I.
The boys in the day room were watching a Jet Li movie with rapt attention when I returned. I made tea then retired to my lonely room to read the paper, and watched Milos Forman’s rendition of “Amadeus,” the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the Mariah Carey, Jim Morrison, and Natalie MacMaster of the classical era, as seen through the eyes of his bitter rival, Antonio Salieri. The film starred Elizabeth Berridge and F. Murray Abraham, who won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his efforts.
I also watched a Monty Python tribute hosted by Steve martin. It was a “best of” show without the dead parrot.
Then I went to sleep and dreamt I was walking through the streets of 1800's Vienna with Heidi Klum, the fashion model, Elizabeth Berridge, Enya, the Irish singer and songwriter, and Wendy Thorlakson, the actress and producer.
They were all wearing yellow string bikinis, which I thought rather odd as it was obviously snowing, and everyone else on the street was dressed in 17th century garb, including myself.
But girls will be girls, and they’ll wear what they want I suppose.
No stopping them.
23 November Sunday Day 134
At 8:30 I got out of bed, showered, then used one of the computers in the day room to update my files and copy them onto different disks.
I have a compulsive tendency to protect my useless information in unneeded redundancy.
I stopped computering in time to make it to the first floor by 9:30 in order to sign in for the last four days. I also took this precious opportunity to walk down the street to buy the Sunday paper.
The weekend anchor lady for NPR’s morning news program was having her weekly chat with the puzzle editor of the New York Times, who provided this weeks puzzle, something about two words with similar meanings being changed by one letter and turning magically into their opposites. I vowed then and there that if I ever became remotely interested in solving word puzzles I’d shoot myself in the left temple.
I also listened to an interview with Lisa Pittman, who organized protests in Miami against a World Trade Organization meeting. She said the police were coming down hard on them, and those who had been arrested had been abused.
I also listened of studies done indicating the level of ignorance Americans suffer with about the world in which they live. A 2002 National Geographic survey reported that 87% of Americans couldn’t identify Afghanistan on a map, a country the United States is currently at war with. One would think that an interested, engaged, and informed citizenry would know.
But the United States doesn’t enjoy the fruits of an interested, engaged, and informed citizenry, and certain political factions are perfectly content to keep it that way.
We tend to place making money, running up credit card debt, checking out the latest fashions, and watching college football and “The Simpsons,” above being generally knowledgeable and participating in civic duties, and we are constantly encouraged to keep those priorities by our economic system, the media, pier pressure, and political deviance. So one can hardly place all of the blame on the average American for being exceptionally ignorant about certain ares of consideration.
And ignorance is easier way to go than trying to figure out reality. It’s much easier, for example, to pretend to believe that a God created the universe (and I say “pretend” because if folks truly believed in God, heaven, and eternal life after death, then they wouldn’t fear death at all, indeed would welcome it, and hasten as much as possible it’s arrival, short of committing suicide, which some sects believe is a mortal sin. Funerals would be causes for celebration rather than sadness due to loss of a loved one, sadness being a selfish response to the importation of the deceased into heaven), rather than try to figure out all stuff behind the Big Bang.
And so forth.
Okay, I’m guilty of “The Simpsons” (which is rather quite clever and engaged in real world observations), but not the football, especially college. I prefer track and field. The long jump, javelin catching, and shot put dodging.
I wrote while listening. Tacos and beans for lunch.
At 1:00 I taped the comedy “Home Alone,” because I’m a big fan of John Hughes... at least when he’s trying to be funny.
I spent a good deal of time reading the paper. While exercising I experienced another attack of amaurosis, my left eye slowing losing it’s vision, completely losing it, the returning to normal, all within about two minutes. It in no way hampered the 37 count burpies I was doing at the time.
There’s no pain during these attacks, and I’m fairly used to them, but it is concerning.
You’d be concerned, wouldn’t you?
Some kind of Spanish, beef noodle concoction for dinner. Very tasty.
I meditated. I watched “The Simpsons,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” and Ron Howard’s “Arrested Development.”
A rare coincidence occurred exactly at 9:13PM. The planets supply of oil reached its peak, meaning humans had sucked out half of the total available amount, and from now on there would always be less oil then there had been before.
And I also discovered I was tired of being alone.
What do the two have to do with each other I wonder?
Liza Minnelli made a rare appearance on “Arrested Development.” She looked good. I had been worried about her.
I wrote some more and ate peanut butter cookies before going to bed.
I had a strange dream about being in a hospital awaiting a liver transplant. Bambi Woods, the incredibly attractive and talented star of the entire “Debbie does Dallas,” franchise, Lindy Booth from “Relic Hunter,” and Ewa Aulin from the film “Candy,” were in the room visiting me. They were all dressed in long black dresses, which I thought rather odd due to it being very hot. They each gave me a kiss on the forehead as they wheeled me off to the operating room, never to be seen or heard from again.
24 November Monday Day 135
I got out of bed at 7:00 and, dressed, and met McCree in the lobby at 7:30. He sat with me in the cafeteria while I ate a breakfast of sausage and eggs. Then I took him to Trimar.
For a guy who didn’t have two nickels to rub together, all Ron could do was bitch and moan about the length of the trip to the plasma center. I hadn’t bothered to explain to him the route we’d be taking in minute detail, the indignity of the procedure itself, and all the paperwork that would be involved.
He liked the $30 though.
The tiny sample of blood I provided at the beginning of the screening process proved to be too fatty, meaning there was too much fat in it. I was directed to drink a small amount of lemon juice and wait a half hour then try again.
I gave my friend Aurica a wave hello, then sat back with McCree in order to listen to him bitch a little more.
“I’ve probably made over fifty thousand dollars here over the years,” I told him.
“I wouldn’t tell anybody else that,” he said.
“Why? I’m not ashamed of it. Nobody else here is ashamed... only you, and as I recall, you jumped at the chance to do it when I told you about it. Donating helps me through tough times, helps the staff here keep their jobs, helps the owner, Anna, get richer than she already is, and keeps the whole damn American economy afloat, not to mention the patients who desperately need these plasma products! Why Alan Greenspan should get down on those boney knees of his and thank God that I come here on a regular basis to do my part! Stop being so selfish, Ron, and think about other people for once.”
“This is the last time...,” and on and on.
My blood was still too fatty on the second try, damn cookies, and eggs and sausage! I place a curse of infinite despair on you and your brethren!
I left McCree there, giving him the bus schedules he needed to find his way back.
For some reason I didn’t seem to mind the waste of my time. Usually I’d be upset. Perhaps I’m maturing.
I returned downtown and picked up my mail, and visited the library they have down there.
Later in the evening I watched “Rambling Rose,” starring Laura Dern, “Rush,” starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, and after a great deal of meditation, “Barfly," starring Faye Dunaway and Alice Krige.
“Barfly,” is a semi-autobiography of Charles Bukowski, the poet and author during the time he spent drinking heavily in Los Angeles.
I’ve drank heavily in Los Angeles, written a book, and no ones made a movie about me!
I feel neglected.
Perhaps I should have been more public in my drinking, rather than staying at home and watching movies while chuckling to myself in a derisive manner.
Live and learn.
I dreamt I was in a hot air balloon high over the Himalayas, just west of the Tibetan Plateau, with Laura Dern, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Kiki Daire, the beautiful and talented star of “Accidental Starlet,” “Prescription for Peril,” and the immortal “Ass Clowns 2” (they cut out her scenes in “Ass Clowns,” which is why it’s not immortal).
The ladies were all wearing sling bikinis, which I thought rather odd as it was incredibly cold up where we were.
“I’m so cold Rick,” Laura called out to me, fighting the high winds to be heard.
“Me too,” cried Jennifer and Kiki.
“My gosh,” I said. “I wish I had thought to bring along some extra and appropriate clothing.” I looked down and discovered that I was only wearing speedos and a polka dot tie.
“Yeah! Why didn’t you tell us it would be be freezing,” Jennifer yelled. “I wouldn’t have worn this sling bikini you gave me.”
“Me either,” Kiki chimed in.
“Well, you know we’re headed for Hawaii. It will be much warmer there, I promise.”
“I hope so,” Laura said.
“But it’s November,” Kiki pointed out. “Won’t it be cold there too.”
“Oh no,” I said. “It’s warm there all of the time.
“Bullshit,” Jennifer exclaimed.
“But what do we do in the meantime?” Laura quite rightly asked.
“I think we only have one alternative, Rick,” Kiki exclaimed, always the practical one. “We must huddle together to conserve our body heat.”
“Yeah,” Jennifer agreed.
“Yeah, Laura said. “Give it up Joyce!”
They forced me to give it up.
25 November Tuesday day 136
Coincidentally, at the same time my VCR, set to playing slow during the scene in “Barfly” when Faye Dunaway accidentally displayed her pretty legs, the Weingart maid knocked on my door very loudly and in rapid succession. It being only 8:30, I was not prepared or dressed, and told her to hold on a moment while I put on some clothes.
She was just about to move on when I opened up and allowed access. I left her to her duties and went off to the showers.
When I returned, freshly scrubbed and sparkily clean, the maid had departed. I took my thyroid medication, an aspirin, some vitamins of various natures, and the last Wellbutrin tablet that I possessed. From now on no more psych meds! Hello “A Beautiful Mind.”
I wrote, and read the Amnesty International reports concerning the murders and atrocities committed to the women of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, which is just south of El Paso, Texas, seperated by the mighty Rio Grande River. There have been at least 340 murders of young women over the last decade, probably many more
I couldn’t help but cry as I read. These women, these girls, these beautiful human beings at one time had wondered like we all wonder at the world we have been thrust in. They had laughed, been frightened, sad, joyful. They had looked up at the stars at night, marveled at their consistent beauty, and thought about what they might be. They had hopes. They had ambitions, some simple, some complex perhaps. They had sought love and friendship. They had played with dolls, read books about faraway and mysterious places... watched movies. About the only thing they didn’t want was to be raped and killed at the hands of brutish, low assholes with savage passions.
I had lunch. I discovered that McCree had taken the day off from the Needle Exchange. That’s what a little cash in the pocket of a practicing alcoholic will do. Decrease the nation’s productivity.
I proceeded to the library and retrieved my mail. I took the Red Line subway to LACC and picked up their class schedule for the Spring and Winter, then returned to the Weingart.
Somewhat amazingly, there was a story about Ciudad Juarez on television in the day room which I noticed while heating some water for coffee in the microwave. An official inquiry in Mexico has determined corruption and fraud had been prevalent throughout the investigation of the murders. That was old news and obvious to anyone knowledgeable of the situation there, but at least the story was being publicized, gaining some attention, and world opinion and pressure can only play a role if the world is aware of what’s happening there.
I continued writing in my room. When finished I exercised while listening to side 2 of Led Zeppelin’s second album.
Pretty good band for a bunch of limeys.
Swedish meatballs for dinner... or actually one meatball again. Granted it was a big one. I cut it into little pieces and mixed it in my noodles. I read from the paper when I got back upstairs, and watched “The Simpsons,” prohibition episode, when Springfield outlawed booze after a particularly rowdy St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Irish people were depicted as doing nothing but drinking and fighting.
Which is true. We aren’t good for anything other than drinking and fighting. And growing potatoes. And using the restroom occasionally.
Nothing on television tonight, so I tuned into The Phil Hendrie Show on KFI radio. He was talking about Glen Campbell being arrested for drunk driving, hit and run, and assault on a police officer, and how Wynonna Judd isn’t as good looking as her sister and mom.
At 8:00 I watched a Nova exploration of Mt Kilimanjaro, the dormant volcanic mountain in Tanzania, the tallest mountain in Africa, and the highest free-standing mountain (not part of a mountain range) on the planet (5,895 meters for foreigners, 19,341 good old American feet for us). It has been said that Kilimanjaro is the house of God, but no one has seen him/her/it at home.
It has three volcanic craters, that look like pimples grouped close together.
Frozen carcass’ of leopards can be found near the summit at times. No one knows why.
The glaciers on Mt Kilimanjaro are melting. They may be all gone within the next two years.
That makes me sad as I am particularly fond of glaciers.
I returned to Phil after the Nova program. Now he was interviewing himself in the guise of a man who had the position that Thanksgiving should only be allowed for white people.
“If you’re black or Hispanic in this country, what do you have to be thankful for?! Blacks are always trying to worm their way into everything. Can’t white people have just one day... one day for themselves?!” The man also postulated that the Canadian Thanksgiving is only celebrated to thank sweet Jesus Christ that each morning they wake up next to the United States of America!
Callers called in, not getting that Hendrie was impersonating the man, and got all mad. Amazing.
I stayed up late and watched Charley Rose interview a field reporter back from Iraq. I exercised, then watched the first half of Orson Welles third, and last great picture, “Touch of Evil,” restored to what everybody hopes was his vision, using his notes written after studio executives all of the sudden knew better than he did what was good for the film, mucking up the whole picture in the editing process before it’s original release in 1958. The movie concerned murders within a Mexican border town of all things.
Fucking suits! They’re always doing things like that.
I only watched half. I got sleepy and tired near 2:00, and dozed off and had the most amazing dream. I was walking through a field of clay towards the setting sun. Two columns of women proceeded me. Little Lauren Sarene Kay, just 4 years old when her father threw her off a 120 foot cliff in affluent Palos Verdes, California, in order to avoid paying child support. She was at the lead. Esmeralda Herrera Monreal, 15 when murdered in Ciudad Juarez, stood by her side. Mónica Alanís, Silvia Arce, Viviana Reyes, Dorothy Stratten, Playmate of the year when her estranged boyfriend blew her face off with a shotgun. Lilia Alejandra Garcia, just 17, Griselda Mares Mata. Elizabeth Short, "The Black Dahlia," my city of Los Angeles’ most famous murder case, her body found severely mutilated and cut in half at the waist, her killer still unkown. Paloma Angelica Escobar Ledezma, 16, Rosalba Pizarro Ortega, 16, Lana Clarkson, a 40 year old actress who was shot to death by the famous music producer Phil Spector. Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly, known as the "canonical five," widely believed to have been murdered by Jack the Ripper. Yesenia Concepcion Vega Marquez, 16, Minerva Teresa Torres Albeldaño, 18.
I walked solemnly behind them, tears streaking down my face. I looked behind me.
There were millions more.