Friday, November 27, 2015

Skid Row Diary 46

4   December     2003      Thursday      Day 145

   I had an 8:30 appointment with Kenny Johnson, my new case manager. I got up at 8:00 to prepare myself to face the inevitable onslaught of his rapier like wit.
   He was talking to someone else when I arrived at his office exactly at 8:30. I made my presence known and waited patiently outside, where two other guys were waiting for him.  They were there first, but I had the appointment. After 10 minutes I stuck my rugged head inside and asked him if he wanted me to come back a little later. He asked me to wait 5 more minutes. I told him to go fuck himself and stormed off.
   Just kidding.
   I finally got in there. His office was certainly arranged for his own personal comfort... plenty of space on his side of the desk, very little for the one chair allowed for visitors.
   He looked me up on his computer and stated that his only concern was that my stay at the Weingart was to have ended November 30th. He asked me if I was looking for a place to stay, and I told him to fuck off and stormed out.
   Kidding again.
   I reminded him of the form I had given him to fill out.
   “Are you on some kind of waiting list?”
   He said he’d have Ms Sandry talk to me. I told him I’d be happy as hell to talk to her.
   He seemed pleased that I had applied for SSI. I let him know I hadn’t heard anything back from them yet, and that DPSS had shorted me again. I told him of my involvement at the VA, which also made him happy.
   I made his day.
   He said he’d see me next week, and that was that. Very good.
   I used the computers in the day room briefly, then cleaned my lonely room.
   I listened to Venus Hum, wrote, and cooked some eggs.
   Kathy was ill today, so the group was run by Dr Lo. I gave him the form I had gotten from SRHT. He filled it out and gave it back to me at the end of the meeting.
   During the meeting an interesting subject came up, one that Kathy had brought up several weeks ago, one which I found intriguing.    
   She had stated that addicts relapse frequently, or use again, despite having the certain knowledge that there would be dire consequences, because they are afraid of the unfamiliar. Using drugs and alcohol, despite the pain and havoc it creates within their lives, are familiar to the addict, so they keep running back to it, with the knowledge that life would be much easier, better, and worthwhile while clean and sober.
   This simple premise answers so much, not only for alcoholics and addicts (I’m loath to distinguish the two, alcohol being a drug, but do so in order to adhere to conventionality... which I’m also loath to do), but for everyone. The mentally ill that ramble on the streets of Skid Row and refuse any kind of help offered to them do so because a roof over their head and supervision would be unfamiliar to them and frightening. Nations wage war because historically war has been the key to solve diplomatic difficulties, or ambitions. To seek other solutions would be unprecedented, and politically disadvantageous. A housewife uses “Cheer” detergent for 30 years because she is afraid that others would not keep her families clothes clean, despite overwhelming  evidence from Consumer Reports that “Tide” is infinitely better. Christians believe in a God there has never been any empirical evidence for because they were instructed to as children, that belief being reinforced by all of their peers, and to entertain any notion to the contrary would be frightening for them beyond belief, even to the extreme point that the knowledge of other and different religions that existed could not be tolerated, at times causing destructive wars and massive loss of life. Peter Pan refused to grow up because he only knew how to be an obnoxious little boy that could wear tights and fly.
   Fear has much to answer for.
   Of course this is a very simplistic explanation, as most of mine are, as my education is inadequate, as the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation has so helpfully pointed out to me. However I sense the heart of the premise comes close to the truth. The happy point of this position is that fear can be dealt with if one has the will, knowledge, patience, and determination to do so. That is how some addicts do manage to stay sober. That’s why some wars have been avoided. That’s why there are so many, many different brands of detergent. And that is why there is freedom of religion in most parts of the world today.
   Peter’s screwed though.
   We’ve come a long way since the Spanish Inquisition, but there’s so much more to do. So much fear and ignorance... wrapped in a pretty convenient easy to carry package called the Republican Party.
   It’s so sad. I sat in the meeting and cried thinking about it.
   I dropped off the forms Dr. Lo had given to me to the Skid Row Housing Trust office, then walked to the library.
   I checked out the video of the movie “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” starring Barbara Eden, Walter Pidgeon, and Peter Lorre. I watched it in the evening.
   The film has a special significance for me because when it was first released in 1961, I saw a trailer of it on television, and forced my parents to take me to see it. We did it that very night, at a drive in, in the San Fernando Valley.
   It’s one of the two movies I remember seeing with my father, the other being “Thunderball,” which we saw at the famous Cinerama Dome, on Sunset Bl., which looks like half of a giant golf ball sticking out of the sidewalk.
   My dad was a big James Bond fan.    
   My mother and I saw many films together. It was a way of escaping our intolerable relationship. After my father’s death I dragged her to as many films as I could get away with.
   I watched the movie “Traffic,” after Voyage, which starred Erika Christensen, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Catherine’s husband was in it as well.
   Afterwards I read from “Tai-Pan," then went to sleep and dreamt I was receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the White House, from President Bush, along with the beautiful and talented actresses Erika Christensen, Olivia Hussey, and Jacquelyn Smith.
   The ladies were all wearing bikinis, and I was wearing kilts and holding a Great Highland Bagpipe, which at the time I thought rather odd as I’m Irish and not Scottish.
   Uilleann pipes would have been more appropriate.

5          December         Friday        Day 146

   I woke early at 7:00. I don’t know why. I hadn’t gone to sleep until 3:00 reading. I also hadn’t signed in for 3 or 4 days, so went down to the front desk and got that done, then returned to bed and dreamed of having the lifeforce zapped out of me by Mathilda May, the genuine space vamp from the film “Lifeforce,” and many other fine French and American films.
   When I woke again near 11:00, I continued reading from “Tai-Pan,” James Clavell’s epic historical drama concerning the founding of Hong Kong in 1841. It’s my favorite of his novels, and is a prequel to his book “Noble House,” which also takes place in Hong Kong, but in the 1960's.
   I suppose one could rightly say “Noble House,” is a sequel to “Tai-Pan.” Which ever you prefer.
   He wrote the screenplay for “The Fly,” you know. The first one. And “The Great Escape.”
   I wrote in the afternoon. Ron McCree stopped by the lobby at around 4:00 to let me know he wanted to go back to Trimar tomorrow. I told him fine, as long as he stopped bitching about everything. He said he would.
   I don’t believe him.
   He asked me how my Thanksgiving was, and I told him. He told me his Thanksgiving consisted of watching 19 consecutive episodes of “The Cosby Show” on channel 56. You have to admire his endurance.
   I first got into “The X-Files,” during a 1998 Thanksgiving Day marathon, on the FX station, while withdrawing from alcohol poisoning.
   Those were the days!
   Even if I did have cable, FX wasn’t showing any “X-Files,” these days... the Fox bastards.
   I read from the Times Book Section of the murder of 13 year old Mary Phagan, and the lynching of  Leo Frank, the man convicted of murdering her. Apparently the lynching was carried out by some of the leading citizens of 1913 Marietta, Georgia, including a county judge and a former Governor. 
   Seven members of the lynching party were later selected to be on the grand jury investigating the lynching.
   Unfortunately for all involved, especially Leo Frank, it turns out they killed the wrong man.
   Southern justice. Quick, brutal, self-satisfying, and totally unjustified. Interestingly enough, Frank was white, and the suspected real murderer was black. I don’t know if that is ironic or not, but it is interesting.
   I watched “TV’s Naughtiest blunders from Around the World,” a blooper program. I’m never going to say anything against Australia, but most of the show segments were taken from down under.
   I love shows like this. I could watch them for hours and hours, especially while withdrawing from alcohol poisoning.
   “I saw your banana in the dressing room,” said the pretty TV news anchor.
   “It’s a big one, isn’t it?”
   “Yeah! That was the biggest banana I’ve ever seen.”
   Humongous fruit.
   Later on I watched the first half of “The Ring,” starring the lovely and talented Naomi Watts, a British transplant from Australia (no banana jokes please), who plays an American.
   She’s very good, and the movie is very good. I paid actual cash, U.S. dollars to see it twice last year, taking John Manzano with me the last time.
   It’s based on a  true story I’m told.
   I only watched half because I began to get tired and fell asleep.
   I dreamt I was about to be lynched by an angry mob, when the lovely and talented Dutch star of four of the seven “Emmanuelle,” films, Sylvia Kristel, rode up on a white horse and shot everybody with a big shotgun, except me. I got up on the horse and we rode to Miami, and were never seen or heard from again.

6         December          Saturday            Day 147

   I got up at 6:15 to meet Ron. I could feel the beginning of a cold coming on, or the flu everyone’s getting. The top rear of my mouth was all soft and hanging down, a sure sign of infection.
   Grilled cheese and bacon for breakfast. Ron arrived at 7:05
   “You’re late,” I told him.
   “Yeah, late.”
   A man nearby didn’t want his breakfast and gave it to Ron, who only ate the cold cereal. I gave him my bacon, and we dropped it off, our bacon and his grilled cheese, at his house before heading to Trimar.
   Ron was talking about past school assignments while we were on the Red Line to North Hollywood. He told me about a film he saw concerning an annual event held in a rural town in which one member of the local community was stoned to death after losing a drawing.
   “The Lottery,” I said.
   “The Lottery?”
   “Yeah. By Shirley Jackson. I had to read it in high school. It’s a short story. You saw it as a film?”
   “Yes. Anyway, I was saying...”
   He went on about how he wrote a paper on the film maintaining the point of the story was actually about population control.
   “Population control!?”
   “Yes. It sure is.”
   “Don’t you think blind faith to convention, and adherence to ancient and barbaric rituals is somewhere in there too?”
   “Population man. I’m telling ya.”
   “What grade did you get on your paper?”
   “An A plus.”
   “A plus, huh? Wow, that’s pretty good. Was it an English class?”
   “English one oh two.”
   Ron didn’t bitch about anything today. Empty pockets had humbled him. By chance we were placed on adjoining couches, and watched Ang Lee’s “Hulk,” starring the extraordinarily beautiful and talented Jennifer Connelly, and a computer which generated images.
   “Start any trouble buddy,” I told him, “and I’ll have you put out. I’ve got connections here.”
   Aurica stopped by to say hello. I introduced her to Ron, then she went away.
   My weight today was 185 pounds, blood pressure 110/70, pulse 80, penis length 30.48 centimeters. No sign of fever despite my oncoming cold.
   On the way back we stopped at the 99 Cent Store in Van Nuys. I bought some pre-popped corn to take to the movies, and some cake frosting, butter cream chocolate. I’ll eat that later. Very decadent.
   I left Ron at the Red Line Universal City Station, and took the tram up the hill to Citywalk.   
   I wanted to see “The Last Samurai,” Tom Cruise’s new film. By this time I was hungry, so I had a cool chile dog from Tommy’s before going into the theater.
   “The Last Samurai,” was okay, but just okay. I’ve been spoiled by Clavell in all things Japanese.
   There wasn’t much to the story really. Ex-Civil War Union officer down on his luck and paid to scout for Indians in the Wild West, is hired by the Japanese government to train it’s soldiers in western warfare to quash a rebellion. Said soldier is captured by said rebellion (fortunately for the soldier the leader of the rebellion, the last samurai, happened to speak very good English), is subsequently turned, and starts fighting for the rebellion, learning sword play, martial arts, and the native language along the way. It being a Tom Cruise movie, he is the only surviver of the final battle. And that’s it! One ninja battle, one big battle, one pretty Japanese girl. In the end, it looked like a bunch of Hollywood people making a film of what they thought 19th century Japan might be like. It displays approximately one fifteenth the action, intrigue, romance, and exposition that Clavell’s “Shogun,” does.
   I returned to my room and listened to the 6:00 broadcast of “The Prairie Home Companion,” this week emanating from New York City, where all of the salsa comes from. Randy Newman was on, and I taped him singing, “Drop the Big One and See What Happens.”
   “We’ll spare Australia, don’t want to hurt no kangaroo...”
   And a touching tribute to the late John Lennon.
   I get so misty every time I hear or sing “Imagine,” feeling influenced by a combination of the raw truth and beauty within the song itself, and an aching sadness remembering his life and tragic passing.
   Later, at about 8:00, I taped the 8:00 broadcast of “A Christmas Carol,” starring George C Scott. I love George, but he looked like he had OD’ed on valium throughout this performance.
   After that I taped “The Man Who Wasn't There,” written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, an almost perfect movie, starring Scarlett Johansson and Frances McDormand, and filmed in glorious black and white, just like real movies, none of that fake color stuff.
   A story of blackmail, adultery, and ambition. Billy Bob Thornton plays the title role, but he’s not there most of the time, and James Gandolfini provides one of the most compelling death scenes I’ve ever seen. Through his performance I now know what it must feel like to be stabbed in the throat, and what thoughts one must have while you feel your life flowing out of you.
   I fell asleep before the film ended though. I’d finish watching it tomorrow. It now ranks right up there with “Miller’s Crossing,” as my favorite Coen Brothers movie.
   I dreamt I was walking with Scarlett Johansson, the lovely and talented Kandi Barbour, star of “Pandora's Mirror,” “Bon Appétit,” “That Lucky Stiff,” and many other fine films, Frances McDormand, John Lennon, and Yoko Ono, on December 8th, 1980, and about to enter their apartment building, The Dakota. It was 10:50 pm, and John passed a young man standing in the shadows.

7       December         Sunday            Day 148

   I stayed in bed until 11:00 reading from “Tai-Pan.” I was feeling a little under the weather I guess.
   I got pissed at myself for wasting away the day, so finally got up.
   Today is my sister’s birthday. She’s 45 years old today, if she’s still alive. She was still smoking like a chimney when I last saw her three years ago, and showed no inclination to stop. 
   Happy birthday Cheryl. I wish you well. Sorry we didn’t get along.
   I had lunch with John and told him I might place an entry in the writing contest the Levi Ctr was having. Submissions are limited to 3 pages in length (but 4 in width, and 7 in depth, and 12 in the fourth dimension of time), which places a sort of Haiku structure on it, which I find appealing.
   I told John the idea I had for the subject. He thought about it a minute, laughed, and said he wanted to steal it from me. That’s encouraging.   
   I bought a paper at the 5th st. market. Clyde Foster was hanging out at the corner and borrowed a dollar from me. That’s pretty sad as he’s got a job and I don’t.
   I could see where he spends all of his money, as he’s been chasing some girl... sorry bastard.
   I spent the rest of the day writing, cleaning my room, and reading the paper. I finished watching “The Man Who wasn’t There,” and watched a 4:00 broadcast of “No Way Out,” because Sean Young is in it... until that fucking Gene Hackman killed her... sorry bastard.
   National lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation,” aired at 8:00. I taped it. Now it’s mine, forever and ever.
   I’ve noticed there certainly are a lot of Christmas themed films on lately.
   I put in a video intending to watch John Houston’s “The Maltese Falcon,” starring Humphrey Bogart at his grimacing best, but there was a long documentary inserted before the film about how Warner Bros. publicized the movie when it first opened in 1941, with trailers that showed a great deal of Humphrey from “The Petrified Forest,” and “To Have, and Have Not.”
   One day I’ll have to see “Return of Dr X,” Bogart’s science fiction movie.
   “He’s returned from the dead to seek revenge!”
   I got tired after watching the trailers and went to sleep, having a dream concerning the lovely and talented actresses Beverly D'Angelo, Mandy Moore, and Lisa De Leeuw, star of      “Springtime in the Rockies,” “Sorority Sweethearts,” “Too Naughty to Say No,” and many other fine films, and with four and a half pounds of rich, creamy, soft butter, a B83 nuclear bomb, six bananas (big ones), 8 twelve pound bags of goose feathers, a cheese grater, 8 skipjack tunas, a battering ram, 6 bowling balls, 6 Clambroth marbles, a jackrabbit, 5 gallons of Whip’en Chill, 1 copy of “The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe,” 1 ice cream scoop, a Batman costume, a white rhinoceros, and a trampoline.

8     December        Mon         Day 149

   “What does it look like to you, eh?! Five marbles, that’s what!” I’ve got another one in my pocket. That’s six marbles! I’m looking for marbles all day!”   -Ensign Pulver

   I got up at 6:00 to meet McCree, but he never showed. Since I was downstairs and dressed and all, I had breakfast. Scrambled eggs and a slice of pressed turkey. Very good.
   I walked  up to 5th St. and bought a paper, returned to my room, drank some coffee, and listened to Mark and Brian.
   Mark had been ill last week, taking three days off. Brian took the same days off in sympathy.
   Siamese Twins.
   Did Kelly, Frank, Priva, and Sky Lord get a day off? Oh no. Did I get a day off? I’m sick too.
   My life is a day off.
   It’s unusual for me to get sick twice in one year. Is this what I have to look forward to in old age?
   I better do more yoga, and strive toward being able to pull a tub boat in San Pedro Harbor like Jack Lalanne.
   I was watching Despierta America while listening to M & B. It’s always good to multi-task, if possible. Life is so short
   My ex-wife wanted to play the trombone and piano at the same time.
   Giselle Blondet, at one point put her beautiful, lustrous, raven colored hair into pig tails, and and sat on Santa’s lap.
   I got jealous. 
   And aroused.
   This would be the high point of my day.   
   I don’t know if it was the real Santa she was sitting on. There’s so many fakes around.
   Probably not.
   Lucky Santa bastard.
   At 10:00, when M & B, and Despierta left me, I read from “Tai-Pan.” Then got tired from reading so hard and took a little nap. I dreamt I was Santa, and Barbi Benton, the beautiful and talented actress and Playboy Playmate, was sitting on my lap and telling me what she wanted for Christmas. She had her hair in pig tails. I woke up after she asked me why my lap was so lumpy.
   I read the last two chapters of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle," where Bokonon turns into Ice-9 while flipping off God. I listened to Venus Hum while reading.
   Then I watched “The Maltese Falcon.”
   Dashiell Hammett’s book is staring at me from my bookshelf as I write this. It wants me to read it.
   John Houston’s was the third screen adaptation of the book, which is a tribute to Hammett’s popularity turning the 1940's.
   The plot is fairly simple, though the story is extremely complex, and Houston uses dialogue to bring the audience up to speed on what’s taking place, something unheard of in this day and age. Today, the less story and more explosions the better. I wonder though at the audience’s reaction to the film when it first came out. Were they able to keep up? Or were they just intoxicated by the snappy lines, like:
   “You’s always got a smooth explanation for everything, eh?”
   “What do you want me to do? Learn how to stutter?”
   It was difficult even for me to keep up, and I’ve got an 8th grade education.
   Whatever, the Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Humphrey Bogart combination seemed to work as they were in several films together... until  Lauren Bacall came along and messed everything up that is.
   I had two hot dogs and one bun for dinner. I checked the oncoming weather with Jackie Guerrido, then watched “The Simpsons,” “That 70‘s Show,” a guy eating a cod eye sack with ants on it on “Fear Factor.” That was certainly worthwhile.
   I meditated.
   Before the evening was up I watched “Mr. Roberts,” Starring Betsy Palmer, Nick Adams, and Granny Goose.
   For my younger readers, the reference to the goose above refers to a potato chip commercial one of the actors in the film later appeared in, wherein he declared that his name was Granny Goose.
   “You may not believe this, but my name is Granny Goose.”
   I doubt strenuously that his real name was Granny Goose.
   I think James Cagney, Henry Fonda, and Jack Lemmon were also in the movie. The quote at the beginning of this entry was from Jack’s character, as he attempts to prove that he is indeed capable of and trying to prove his intention of one day performing a great dead of meaning, courage, stamina, and heroism to Fonda   
   I hope to one day be able to do that to.
   I went to sleep and dreamt of rowing in a canoe with Betsy Palmer and Cheri Taylor, the lovely and talented star of “Taylor Made,” “Tales by Taylor,” “Cheri Taylor Is Tasty and Tight,” and many other fine films.
   We rowed through glistening Polynesian waters, past coral reefs, toward the huge setting sun.
   “Ever hear of Bananafish?” I asked them
   “That’s the worst line I’ve ever heard,” Betsy said.
   “No, really, there is one,” I said. Then I told them all about a man named Seymour Glass, and Sybil Carpenter, his last friend.

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