Saturday, October 24, 2015

Skid Row Diary 44

26    November     2003      Wednesday        Day 137

   My alarm sounded at 3:30. I got up and turned it off, returned to bed deciding to sleep another ten minutes, getting up to shower at 4:30.
   I was late which irritated me slightly.
   The large black girl at the front desk excitedly engaged in conversation with me as I signed in for the day, to assuage her boredom I suppose. I bid her adieu, and left the building.
   It was still dark outside, so I took my mini-AR-18 assault rifle with me.
   The Rolling Stones anthem “ Street Fighting Man,” played through my poor befuddled head over and over as I walked west on The Nickel towards the Red Line downtown. I don’t know why. Nobody bothered me, or wanted to pick a fight. The street people were either still asleep, or too lost in their own miseries to bother.
   I took the Red Line subway to North Hollywood. The sun was up as I emerged from the station. I was lucky with the buses today. I hardly had to wait for any of them. Soon enough I was de-boarding at Tampa and Vanowen, right in front of Trimar. I still had an hour to wait before it opened and bought some nice coffee from 7-11.
   It was too cold to sit and read the Mark Twain book I had brought, so I walked around, east on Vanowen as far as the West Valley Police Station, one of the few I’ve not had the pleasure of visiting as an forced guest. I went inside, introduced myself to the desk officer, asked him if he needed anything, then left for the nearby library which had recently been constructed.
   It’s a cool little library. It was closed of course, but I looked through the windows to check it out.
   There were lots of books in there, I can tell you that.
   I returned to the Trimar parking lot. A small crowd had gathered near the front door. I took a number from a small pile of little pieces of paper there. Mine was “17.”
   Gradually more and more potential donors arrived to wait. At 7:30 the doors opened and a black woman rushed up to the front of the line, stating that the numbers were no good because she had gotten there first and didn’t have one. Her argument didn’t make much sense, but she made it with such energy and vehemence that only those with low numbers argued with her, and by that time she had signed in, as the Trimar staff didn’t care who was first.
   This poor woman will surely spend eternity up to her neck in a vat of boiling hot excrement in the fiery pit of Hell for line jumping, as line jumping is one of the eight deadly sins (wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, line jumping, and gluttony).
   Somehow I jumped from 17 to the 7th person to sign in, however I will not go to Hell because I had no conscience involvement in my forward advancement. It just happened somehow.
   Wormhole probably.
   My friend Aurica stuck me today. We talked as she prepared to stick a big needle in my left arm. She told me that she and her husband were the sole provider for her granddaughter, the baby’s mother having moved out, and the father disinterested and away in the navy.
   “What’s her name,” I asked.
   “The baby? The baby’s name is Joanne.”
   “She’s a lucky baby to have a grandmother who loves her so much. Don’t let anything happen to her.”
   “Oh, I won’t. I won’t.”
   The management had made the decision to start playing videos again. I had to sit through “Gone in 60 Seconds,” the silly Jerry Bruckheimer car theft film starring Angelina Jolie.
   I stopped at the 99 Cent Store on the way back and picked up some beanless chile, 1 can of animal shaped pasta in tomato sauce, 2 cans of tuna, shampoo, vitamin C, 2 blank VCR tapes, luncheon meat, smoked sausages, and peanuts.... you know, the staples.
   I was back in my lonely room by 11:30, and watched the last half of “A Touch of Evil,” before heading to the ASAP meeting.
   The movie starred Janet Leigh, who also starred in such films such as “Psycho,” “Houdini,” with her then husband, Tony Curtis, “The Vikings,” and the immortal “Ass Clowns 2,” her scenes being cut from “Ass Clowns,” which is why the former film is not immortal. Wait a second, that was...
   Janet’s union with Curtis produced two daughters, who both became actresses, Kelly Curtis, and Jamie Lee, who came to prominence in the first two “Halloween,” films, directed by John Carpenter, and other films like “Trading Places,” and “Ass Clowns 15.” 
   “A Touch of Evil,” also starred Charlton Heston as a Mexican district attorney, and Orson Welles as a corrupt, corpulent American detective.
   It was interesting to watch a film concerning Mexican authorities investigating the corrupt practices of the American justice system instead of the other way around. 
   While attending a tribute to Carl Sagan shortly after his death in 1996, hosted by the science fiction author Ray Bradbury (“Fahrenheit 451,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” and “The Ass Clown Chronicles”). A lot of actors from the various Star Trek televisions shows were there helping out, the guy who played “Q,’ and the black Vulcan (from the southern side of the planet) to emphasize two. So was Charlton Heston, who acted out a fictionalized account of one of Bradbury’s short stories, something about a solitary space captain out on some voyage. What this had to do with Dr. Sagan is yet to be determined.
   Alcohol was discussed at the ASAP meeting, a subject I’m rather familiar with. Some of the guys discussed the beneficial aspects of drinking alcohol, or the myths thereof. Kathy attempted to maintain that there were no benefits, or very few, but certainly none for those who were addicted to the substance.
   An obscure piece of information came to me as I sat and listened that I felt the need to share. I raised my hand and was called on.
   “Did you know that the treatment of choice for moldy walnut poisoning in dogs is the injection of alcohol intravenously?”
   Kathy stood speechless for a moment, digesting the information. Some of the guys snickered.
   “No, no, I didn’t know that. I would ask why would dogs eat moldy walnuts?”
   “Why do dogs lick their own butts?” I replied. “It’s pretty hard to get into those doggy minds to find out why they do things. Dogs eat almost anything.”
   “Okay,” she said, then continued on what she had been talking about.
   Moldy walnuts.
   I knew this because I had once been assigned the task of administering vodka into the vein of a young Shar Pei which was suffering from said condition. The poor thing often just passed out. The treatment was successful, but unfortunately the animal became dependent on alcohol, and suffered a long and tortuous life filled with pain and despair. It sought treatment on several occasions, but was never able to get off the booze for more than a couple of weeks at a time, eventually succumbing to the disease of dog alcoholism.
   I exchanged videos at the library after group, then returned to my room. I popped some pop corn and watched Woody Allen’s “Hollywood Ending,” starring Tiffani Amber Thiessen, Debra Messing, and Téa Leoni.
   “Al, I can’t direct the picture! I’m blind!”
   “Have you seen some of the pictures coming out of there [Hollywood] lately?”
   I went to sleep after watching the movie. I dreamt I was running through a walnut orchard in Arkansas, when I fell into a deep well (something that actually happened to me as a small child). I landed on top of Tiffani Amber Thiessen, Janet, and Frankie Leigh (no relation), the beautiful and talented star of “The Offering,” “City of Rage,”  “Hung Guns,” and many other fine films.
   “Thanks for breaking my fall girls,” I said.
   “Think nothing of it,” Janet said. “Mind getting your foot out of my ass?”
   “Ah sorry. How long have you three been down here?”
   The cool murky water in the well came up to our chests.
   “As long as I can remember,” Frankie said. “Boy it sure is cold.”
   “Yeah, it sure is,” I agreed. “Shouldn’t we try to climb out, or yell for help, or something?”
   “I don’t know,” Tiffani replied. “It’s your dream. What do you want to do?”
   “Well,” I said, thinking. “maybe we should huddle together to share body heat until we can think of something.”
   “Alright, sure.”
   “I’m in.”
   We huddled and huddled, It was unfortunate that it took quite awhile before my uncle came and rescued us. A very long time.

27   November    Thursday    day 138      Thanksgiving

“I didn’t know it was physically possible, but this blows and sucks!” -Bart Simpson

   Someone was singing very loudly through a PA system down on the street below my window. Some kind of Christmas rock song. The noise woke me to the point that I got up and looked out.
   Barricades had been placed on both sides of the street, and at both ends near 5th and 6th. In the street itself, chairs and tables had been set up, with a bandstand in front of the Levi Center. That’s where all of the noise was coming from. This all was to be a Thanksgiving block party sponsored by the Union Rescue Mission, which is located across the street from the Weingart.
   I closed my window.
   I turned on “Despierta America,” in time to see Giselle and Anna, the news lady, and fat boy in drag, doing the maid dance. All four dressed up as maids, dancing around with brooms and mops. I don’t know why, but they do it frequently.
   Hispanic people sure know how to have a good time.
   I showered, and while doing so the one black guy who talks to me came in. He told me what had happened to my lovely case manager, Labren. Richard Cairns, her boss, and she had argued apparently, Cairns stating that he intended to fire her, probably because she was so flaky, and took long breaks, and refused to do anything other than the bare minimum required of her, qualities I find endearing. She took off on medical leave before she was fired citing job related stress as her illness, and she may or may not come back.
   Probably not.
   He also told me that management would close all of the day rooms within the building today because there were no case managers around to supervise us, it being Thanksgiving and all.
   This at first did not make a great deal of sense to me. I wondered what it was exactly that they were afraid we would be doing in these rooms during the day, other than the boys watching Thanksgiving football games and playing computer golf. Did they believe that the day rooms were secret hot beds of subversive free thinking, plotting conspiracies to forward the goal of overthrowing the current Weingart regime? Did they believe we’d go ape shit without case managers being around, run amok, start food fights, run about naked, and throw people of low mass out of the windows? Veterans and assorted drug addicts and homeless people are well known for their vivacity, but really!
   Come to think of it, it’s probably for the best that they closed these rooms. There’s a good chance we would do those things.
   I need to be supervised, damn it!
   No hot coffee for me today I guess. No football for those without a TV. No computer golf for people with no lives.
   I felt sorry for the football guys. They live for that stuff. I assume that the Hunter/Gatherer gene is not prominent in my genetic makeup as I couldn’t care less about sports in general... except for Bo-taoshi, Cheese Rolling, Bunny Jumping, Bog Snorkeling, Buzkashi, Ferret Legging, Quidditch, and Shin Kicking of course.
   Anyway, back to the case manager problem. I’ve been alerted that Kenny Johnson, the self important black puke who once challenged me in the hallway, is going to be my new manager, my least favorite of the remaining three. I cursed Labren for deserting me. How could she do this after all that we’ve been through together?! I know I’ll have trouble with this Johnson guy. but then, how much trouble could there possibly be? No too much. I was also told to see him ASAP. I’ll see him when I get damn good and ready, which will probably be close to ASAP, but not a minute before!
   I went out to buy a paper. People at the block party were eating and drinking. Live music was being played. I spoke with a guy I knew from harbor light, Vince McClinton. I told him he should move to the Weingart, that it was much better and less restrictive that the Harbor Light (a Salvation Army facility). He seemed a tad squeamish and resistant to change, a victim of Harbor Light’s coercive persuasion mind control program.
   I got the paper and returned to my room, listening to Venus Hum while reading it.
   I’ve grown to like a great many of the tracks on the “Big Beautiful Sky,” CD now. “Alice,” "Lumberjacks," "Beautiful Spain," "Springtime #2," "Honey," and "Sonic Boom." This is really a good album. You should go buy it right now, immediately if not sooner.
   I made myself a Thanksgiving turkey sandwich for my breakfast, then wrote. I watched Danny Boyle’s “A Life Less Ordinary,” as my Thanksgiving day movie. Starring Holly Hunter and Cameron Diaz, there wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this film except the music. Too many popular songs didn’t move this embattled love story along at all, detracting from it in my humble opinion. Still, it was a fun movie, and I’ll watch anything with Ian Holm, Stanley Tucci, and K. K. Dodds in it.
   At 2:30 I entered the Weingart Cafe and had a great Thanksgiving dinner, with two big pieces of turkey white meat, dressing (what the hell is dressing anyway? Soggy bread?), mashed potatoes, bean salad, cranberries and peaches, pumpkin pie, and milk. I filled up my wonderful, flat belly.
   I was dismayed that Myrka Dellanos had taken the day off from her nightly Spanish language news program, and later Lauren Sanchez as well. I am perfectly willing to watch them on a holiday. The least they could do is show up!
   But I forgive them because... well, that’s just the kind of guy I am.
   Thank God Jackie was there!
   I watched part of “Dr. Dolittle 2,” on Fox until I couldn’t take it anymore, then wrote, meditated, and continued reading “Tai-Pan.”
   At some point I fell asleep and dreamt I was doing “The Maid Dance,” with the Landers Sisters, Judy and Audrey, and Serena, the beautiful and talented star of “Inspirations,” “Small Town Girls,” “Anal Annie and the Backdoor Housewives,” and many other fine films.
   We danced and danced on the set of “Despierta America,” until the chicken came out and chased us away.
   We ran out of the studio and into the streets of Miami, screaming for our lives.

28    November    Friday        day 139

“You don’t have bad luck son. Bad things, well, they happen to you because... you’re a dumb ass.” -Red Forman, “That 70's Show.”

   I got up at 7:30, showered, and went down to breakfast. Scrambled eggs and diced turkey.
   From the cafeteria I walked north to the VA clinic to look for Sam, the CWT liason. When I arrived, just before 9:00, I sat down in the lobby fully prepared to sit through the entire relapse prevention meeting that never discusses relapse prevention, which Sam facilitates. However, when I learned that Sam would not be in until Tuesday, I left before the meeting even started.
   I need to get a job like that. Take as many days off as you want and never be in the office on the days you are at work.
   Am I being unfair? Am I judging Sam too harshly?
   Yes! And delightedly so!
   When I left I took a Dash downtown to go sign in with SRHT. It was closed until 1:00. I returned to my lonely room.
   The very best of Mark and Brian was on the radio airwaves... a clip show. The miserable bastards took the non-holiday day off.
   I have to get a job like that. Take 342 days off a year, work only 4 hours a day. When working spend those 4 hours bull s__ting with my partner and the luscious Kelly Gates and the beauteous Frank Sontag.
   But wait! Am I judging Mark and Brian harshly? Am I being unfair? They do get up on the days they work at 4:00am, and have to be in a good mood all of the time. You can probably guess how exhausting that would be. Shouldn’t I give them the benefit of doubt? Should I be kind, understanding, and compassionate?
   There were no counselors or case managers at the Weingart today as well. And the building’s ace security team kept the day room closed yet again (and thusly negating their own reputation for efficiency, in my opinion, pretty much admitting they can’t control the residents without shutting down services, the little wussies).
   The afternoon shift must have realized this and opened the room when they came on duty.
   Good for them!
   It was too late for me in the morning though, and I was forced to write coffeeless.
   I ate fried chicken for lunch, discarding the greasy skin, then returned to the clinic for the 1:00 ASAP meeting with Kathy. The discussion concerned relationships with others, a subject that doesn’t concern me, so I tended to tune out throughout the hour long group, sitting quietly with a glazed, somewhat dazed, self satisfied smirk upon my rugged face.
   I didn’t know if the post office would be open. The federal Building near the clinic was, so I took a chance and physically grabbed a Dash to the Arco Plaza.
   My post office was about the only entity that was open, and I was able to receive my transportation check from Voc Rehab for $42 U.S..
   I promptly cashed that check at the check cashing place at 6th and Spring, and immediately bought next year’s Odalys calendario, which I found had just been offered up for sale for $13 at the green magazine stands along Broadway.
   The calendar is much larger than those of previous years... about two inches to a side larger. That made me very happy as one can never have too much Odalys around the house. The only problem was that all of the pictures were old ones that I’d already seen before. Some were the same pictures as in this year’s calender. I’m not sure of the marketing wisdom in using used pictures on a new calender, but I’m sure the multi-national conglomerate that is Odaga Corp. knows better than me on how to sell a calendario.
   When I returned to my room I read in the paper of the new medical bill the republicans railroaded through Congress yesterday. I felt crazy for some reason. I don’t know why.
   I read from “Tai-Pan,” then watched Neil Jordan’s “Mona Lisa,” starring Bob Hoskins.
   I’d seen this film once before but couldn’t remember much of it (alcohol). For example, I didn’t remember that Michael Caine was in it. So it was good to see it once again, and it’s always a pleasure to see Mr. Hoskins, an actor who knows how to act.
   Then I read from “Tai-Pan” again before going to sleep. A movie had been made based on this book already starring the Aussie actor Bryan Brown, the lucky son of a bitch who got paid to feel up Mimi Rogers in “Full Body Massage,” however, that first rendition of “Tai-Pan,” both sucked and blowed. If it were up to me I’d make a remake, taking the time and effort to tell the whole story, with Bob Hoskins as the antagonist Tyler Brock, and a beefed up Kenneth Branagh as the protagonist Dirk Struan.
   When I slept I dreamt of standing on the forecastle of the China clipper Thunder Cloud, with Ariel Knight, the beautiful and talented star of “From Sweden with Love,” “Candy's Little Sister Sugar,” “Genital Hospital,” and many other fine films. She was dressed in a deck length satin gown, adorned with emerald sequins. We were on our way to Hong Kong with a storage bay filled with raw opium. The wind was blowing from the northeast, and the Sun was just setting to port.
   I looked as the breeze gently flowed through her lovely blonde hair, and she smiled.

29      November      Saturday        Day 140

   “Fuck me Santa, fuck me Santa, fuck me Santa...”   -Sue, from “Bad Santa”

   Up at 9:00, I returned to City Walk for the first time since the end of the bus strike. I left the Weingart at 9:30, but should have got my lazy ass out of bed earlier as I had a horrible bus day. I waited 40 minutes for either the 18 or 53, or even the 362 to come by 6th and San Pedro. I could have saved 30 minutes by simply walking to the Red Line Station, but that’s the thing about taking buses for relatively short distances. You never know when they’re going to come (even if you’ve read the schedule. Quite often, for one reason or another, the schedule is not accurate). So many times I’ve given up on waiting, only to have the bus pass me by a half block from the stop I had just left. And the longer you wait for a bus, the more you have invested in that ride, and the more unrealistically stubborn one gets about giving up on it.
   A perfect example of the Sunk-Cost Effect.
   Freaking buses.
   I stopped at the 99 Cent Store across from Macarthur Park to buy some sodas. I was going to treat myself to fresh popcorn with chemical butter at the theater to celebrate my triumphant return to the Loews’ theater.
   The movie was starting when I arrived at Loews, so I had no time for a Tommy’s Burger, and having had no breakfast I was committed to a full day and full belly of greasy ass popcorn, especially since the counter lady took my request for extra butter to heart... way too much, even for me.
   I saw two movies today. The first was “Timeline,” which I wasn’t all that enthused about, but the scheduling was just right to get to the next film.
   Based on the book by Michael Crichton, of “Jurassic Park,” “Andromeda Strain,” and “Coma,” fame, this was a silly story about a large tech company accidentally opening up a wormhole which could take people back through time... from the present back to one particular spot in 14th century France, as it happens, just as a big battle between the French and British was to take place. 
   Well to put it mildly... who cares? I sure didn’t. The way the film had been promoted you’d think there had never been a movie about time travel before. But let me tell you, there have been lots, and almost all of them were better than this one. Additionally, as any fourth grader knows, a wormhole, or Einstein-Rosen Bridge, is a hypothetical topological feature that would fundamentally be a shortcut connecting two separate points in spacetime that could connect extremely far distances such as a billion light years or more, short distances, such as a few feet, different universes, and in theory, different points in time, being much like a tunnel with two ends, each in separate points in spacetime. But there is nothing about wormholes that connect them intricately with France, 14th century or not.
   A lot of people say time travel is impossible, defined as  the concept of movement (often by a human) between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space, typically using a hypothetical device known as a time machine.
   Time travel of course is a recognized concept in philosophy and fiction, but travel to an arbitrary point in time, especially in France, has very limited support in theoretical physics, usually only in conjunction with quantum mechanics or Einstein–Rosen bridges, as we’ve seen above.
   Yet humans travel through time every second, as does everything else, into the future, one second at a time.
   The only thing this movie had going for it was that two of my favorite actresses were cast in it. Frances O'Connor, of “A.I.” fame, an Australian actress playing an American school girl with a penchant for overstating the obvious, and Anna Friel, from 1999's “A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream,” an English actress playing a French noble lady (what?! Sophie Marceau was too busy?).
   My favorite Crichton story remains his first, “The Andromeda Strain,” which describes a biological invasion (sort of... we went out looking for it) of a deadly organism not known to terrestrial scientists.
   The book and the 1971 film, were not only grippingly suspenseful and frightening, but alluded to a very real problem we may one day face. I’m quite sure, besides the CDC, that something similar to Project Wildfire described in the book (a laboratory specifically designed to isolate and study unknown bio hazards), exists somewhere today, probably controlled by the military. If it doesn’t it should.
   The second movie I saw was the funniest I’d seen in quite a while, “Bad Santa,” starring Billy Bob Thornton and Lauren Graham of “The Gilmore Girls,” TV show. John Ritter made his last theatrical appearance in this film before his untimely death, and the movie was dedicated to him.
   I’m not going to say a lot about this film, except that Thornton’s Santa is more fucked up then I am. Just imagine a gross, alcoholic, embittered, department store Santa, who hates kids. Needless to say this movie isn’t for everybody, but has been well received and is making a lot of money. Hell, even Manohla Dargis of the L.A. Times liked it, and she doesn’t like anything!
     I got out of the theater around 3:30 and returned downtown. Where else was I gonna go?
   I exchanged videos at the library, then walked back to the Weingart and my room, where I wrote while recording the music from “The Prairie Home Companion.”
   This week Keillor and the gang were broadcasting from one of my favorite cities ever, San Luis Obispo, a beachside community half way between L.A. and San Francisco. I’d move there if they’d let me back in. Fat chance of that though.
   Later I watched “Just Visiting,” because Christina Applegate is in it.
   Coincidentally, this movie is about time travel from 12th century Britain to the present. The mechanism used though was not a wormhole, but wizardry, which may or may not work.
   I watched half of “Marty,” Paddy Chayefsky’s tale of a lonely New York butcher starring Ernest Borgnine in his Academy Award winning performance.
   He sure was nice in this film, not like his Shack character in “Emperor of the North Pole,” wherein he was a very bad train conductor fighting the hobo Lee Marvin. He has proven time and again to be one of this country’s most undervalued and versatile actors.
   I wouldn’t stay awake through the whole film. I would dream that I was in the front row seat on one of the boats in the It’s a Small World ride at Disneyland along with Lauren Graham, Frances O'Connor, Anna Friel, and Rene Bond, the lovely and beautiful star of “Cream Rinse,” “Teen-Age Jail Bait,” the immortal “Country Cuzzins,” and many other fine films. We were all dressed as rag dolls for some reason, and singing the “It’s a Small World,” song...
“It's a world of laughter, a world of tears
It's a world of hopes and a world of fears
There's so much that we share that it's time we're aware
It's a small world after all

It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
It's a small, small world”
   And we kept singing that song even after we passed over the watery precipice and down the waterfall into the deep unknown, never to be seen again.
“There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small world after all

It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
It's a small world after all
It's a small, small world.”