Friday, July 22, 2016

Skid Row Diary 49

Picture Legend

1. Jennifer Lopez
2. The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King
3. Popcorn with mechanical butter
4. Nazgûl leader and Gandalf at the gates of Minas Tirith
5. Sauron
5. Melkor, unmasked
7. Fourth grader
8. Galadriel
9. Eowyn
10. Goldberry
11. Arwen
12. Rosie
13. Falls of Rauros
14. Lenny Bruce
15. Bob Fosse
16. Wrangling
17. Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley
18. Elizabeth Shue
19. Valerie Perrine
20. Sally Layd
21. Nikki Cox
22. Lauren Sanchez
23. Marina Sirtis
24. Cheryl Ladd
25. Lois Ayres
26. Sung-Hi Lee
27. Samantha Morton
28. Humphrey Bogart
29. Rumanian nurse

17      December     2003       Wednesday         Day 158

    I got up at 4:10, already late. A black guy was meticulously washing his feet in the shower. He gave me a dirty look as I entered the room, as if I was invading his exclusive and rightful domain.
   I met McCree at Pershing Square at 4:45, and we caught the first train north.
   We discussed many things while riding the subway, or at least Ron did. I don’t need or have to say anything for him to have a full and complete conversation.
   We arrived at Trimar at 6:00. I bought him a cup of coffee from the 7-11. He’d pay me back after we donated our precious bodily fluids. I also gave him a ham and cheese sandwich I had made especially for him the night before, being the thoughtful bastard that I am. I had my own as well, which I ate for breakfast. Ron stuffed his sandwich into his backpack for later consumption.
   “I thought you might want to eat something before you donated.”
    “I’ll eat later,” he said.
   That’s the last time he gets a sandwich from me! I’m glad I only gave him two slices.
   The Steven Soderbergh film “Out of Sight,” based on the novel by Elmore Leonard, was playing when I finally got on the couch.Today Ron was placed directly across the room from me. We raced to see which one of us could fill our plasma bottle first. I won.
   “Did you like that movie?” I asked him as we waited for the 165 to take us back to Van Nuys.
   “Man... I don’t watch movies like that,” he replied.
   “What was the matter with that one?! It’s got action, it’s got Jennifer Lopez, it’s funny...”
   “It’s stupid.”
   “What’s the last movie you saw at a theater?”
   “Ah... Harry Potter...”
   After a quick stop at the 99 Cent Store, we caught a Rapid south on Van Nuys Bl, to Ventura Bl, and another Rapid to Universal City.
   We parted there. I went up the hill to Citywalk, Ron to... where ever it is Ron goes to, probably back to his lonely room at the Boyd Hotel.
   I bought a ticket for the 12:10PM showing of “The Lord of the Rings, The return of the King,” the final installment of Peter Jackson’s trilogy.
   I then bought a tasty Tommy’s cheeseburger, and ate it outside in the pavilion, hoping the Venus Hum video of “Soul Sloshing,” would play on the huge jumbo screen they have there.
   My hopes and dreams would prove to be fruitless.
   I also purchased (as opposed to buying) freshly popped popcorn and soda at enormous cost to my person, dousing it liberally with mechanical butter and salt, getting a refill on the soda about 1/4 of of the way through the film.
   What can I say? Peter Jackson has triumphed, despite the handicap of living in New Zealand. The movie was epic and magnificent! It even went so far as to make changes from Tolkien’s masterpiece, which takes a lot of... guts. But for the most part he succeeded (actually, the book would have been better had J.R.R shortened it’s protracted ending). I would have liked to see the confrontation between the leader of the Nazgûl and Gandalf at the gates of Minas Tirith, but then I can’t have everything, now can I? And in my opinion, the fall of Sauron could have had a tad more uuummph, (technical term) in it (Sauron, by the way, was not the first Dark Lord to persecute Middle Earth. That distinction belongs to Melkor, the primordial source of evil in the universe. He existed during the Elder Years, when the Earth was knew. Sauron was Melkor’s minion (like most professionals, an evil Lord of Darkness needs an apprentice. And as any fourth grader knows, Melkor, or Morgoth as he was to become when he became evil, was defeated by the Host of Valinor in the War of Wrath). 
   In any case, I really enjoyed the movie. It was entertaining, touching, satisfying, informative, a grand spectacle, never before attempted.
   If it were up to me I’d nominate it for Best Picture of the Year at the Academy Awards. Who knows, it might even have a chance at winning.
   It was almost 4:00 when I got out of the theater. I would have accidentally wandered into the Farrelly brothers “Stuck on You,” but choose not to contaminate the memory of the picture I’d just seen.
   I made my way to my lonely room at 6th and San Pedro in the heart of the skid row area of downtown Los Angeles. I meditated for the rest of the evening before retiring.
   I had a dream in which the co-Guardian of Lothlorien, the Lady Galadriel, her granddaughter Arwen, the nature spirit personified, Goldberry, the shieldmaiden of Rohan, Éowyn, and the lovely Hobbit Rosie Cotton and I were all traveling by long boat down the Great River toward the falls of Rauros. It was early evening and we carefully looked out for unsavory types who might be lurking in the shadows on the shore. Soon we were swallowed by the fall’s mists and were protected throughout the night by Galadriel’s ethereal magic, and my huge walking stick.
   But mostly by Galadriel’s ethereal magic. It was good that she was there.

18    Dec    Thursday     Day 159

   Late, late last night I watched the Bob Fosse film “Lenny,” staring the lovely and talented Valerie Perrine, and Dustin Hoffman as the stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, and screenwriter, Lenny Bruce, who intertwined politics, religion, sex, and vulgarity into his stand up routine, which at the time (early 1960s) was revolutionary. He was arrested several times on obscenity charges for saying stuff that George Carlin would later record on albums which would bring him wealth and esteem. He was brave, insofar that logic, clear and critical thinking, and creative impetus, can force one to move along certain lines of behavior. But he was self destructive as well, a fellow addict, and ironically, he wasn’t very funny, despite the protestations of his estranged wife.
   As far as the movie goes, brilliant performances from everyone involved. I hadn’t seen it since it first came out, and had forgotten how good it was. Fosse, the director of “Sweet Charity” and “Cabaret,” would go on to direct “All That Jazz,” and “Star 80.”
   Much later, I would wake up at 7:50 with a sore throat and stuffy nose. Scurvy most likely. Not enough fruit!
   I passed my case manger Kenny Johnson on the way to the showers. He ignored me as if I weren't there.
   I felt irritable. I went down for scrambled eggs and sliced turkey, then cleaned my room and checked in on Giselle.
   She was doing okay... pants.
   I had a 10:00 appointment at DPSS. I left at 9:00, passing McCree on the street by the Fred Jordan Mission. I asked him if he had seen Dr Lo.
   “Yeah, I have. No problems. He has to get into contact with their program in West L.A., then we will be put on a waiting list.”
   “Waiting list?” I said. “What waiting list? I’ve been waiting since January.”
   “They got a waiting list.”
   “My friend Raleigh told me they need people.”
   “Well they may. But that doesn’t mean we still don’t have to wait.”
   “What do you mean? If they have openings they’ll want to fill them.”
   “Maybe, maybe not.”
    “Oh God! I’ll see you Saturday.”
   I took off. I couldn’t handle going back and forth with him right then.
   I sat and waited in the lobby of the DPSS until 11:00 when I got up and asked the people at the customer service desk to sign my housing form. I’ll deal with my DPSS case worker later.
   I dropped the form off at the Las Americas. A black lady was with the deskman today. I don’t know why.
   The deskman instructed me to return Monday at 10:30 for an interview. I said I would, being taught to follow simple instruction in the navy. Then I returned to the Weingart.
   I was given the wrong key by the deskman. Of course my key had been given to someone else, so I couldn’t get into my room, as the Weingart’s management declined to open my door with a pass key.
   So I attended the 1:00 ASAP meeting with Kathy. We discussed stress, and the various techniques one can use to maintain a high level of. Catching javelins, tightrope walking the Grand Canyon... shark wrangling.
   At 4:00 I walked outside the Weingart and got in line to attend the annual Christmas Party. It took 10 minutes to get into the cafe, mainly because there were other people there.
   This was the first party I ever went to where I had to be searched before entering. We were given a wonderful traditional Christmas dinner. I went for the Baked Salmon Filo Parcels rather than the Cioppino. The Tuscan cacciatora was very popular as well. Farm Style Pickle Relish rounded things off quite nicely.
   Music and dancing were provided, and which I really would have enjoyed if I were black. Since no Irish folk songs were offered I took off and returned to my room right after dinner.
   I wrote and read the paper. The incredibly beautiful and impossibly talented, Jennifer Connelly, was on Charlie Rose last night, which I got to see on today’s 6:30 rebroadcast on channel 58. The lovely and talented Ben Kingsley was on along with her, as well as the director of the film “House of Sand and Fog,” which they were promoting. I only taped her part of the interview.
    Oh Jennifer!  Bettany’s not good enough for you! Only I can appreciate your intrinsic value and worth as a human being... a precious child of the universe, a...
   I watched more episodes of the spreading of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire on “Frontline,” then the fascinating film, “Leaving Las Vegas,” starring Elizabeth Shue, as a “hardened” prostitute, and who was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance.
   I remember first seeing this movie with my friend Julie Laughlin in my  little apartment in Camarillo.  It was the only movie I ever watched with her there, and although the film was a smidgeon depressing, Julie stayed over that night... the one and only time she ever slept over in an apartment of mine.
   We usually met at motels you see. Motel Six usually. Cheap and clean.
   The fine Irish film director Jim Sheridan was promoting his film “In America,” on Charlie Rose tonight at 11:30. I watched for a while, then fell asleep.
   And dreamt I was lying wasted away on a dirty bed in a cheap motel in Las Vegas, dying of chronic alcoholism. I only had a few moments left before passing on. I was surrounded by three ladies, sitting on the bed with me... Elizabeth Shue, Valerie Perrine, and the beautiful and talented actress, Sally Layd, star of “The Great Outdoors,” “Double Dealin' Piston Poppers,” “Deep Throat Grannies,” and many other fine films.
   “I am influenced by every second of my waking hour,” I was telling Valerie.
   “I know,” she said.
   I turned to Elizabeth. “Oh... I’m so sorry...”
   “I know,” she said.
   Finally I turned my gaze turned toward Sally.
   “God you’ve got impressive breasts...”
   “I know,” she acknowledged.
   “Are those things real,” I gasped before spasming, smiling, then lying very still.
   “Rick...Rick... Rick?” Elizabeth said, before realizing that I had given up the ghost.

   CUT TO:


The three ladies walking walking. A paramedic van goes past with its lights
flashing. The soundtrack is empty - silent. We slowly fade in theme music and titles start to roll.

FADE OUT:              

19    December    Day 160        Friday

   I got up at 5:55. The molars on the right side of my mouth were becoming temperature sensitive. I hoped the problem would just go away and tried to forget about it.
   I exercised and meditated. Mark and Brian were on vacation again, but Kelly Gates told me that “The Lord of the Rings, the Return of the King,” had set a new record for a Wednesday opening, at $34 million. Mark and Brian surrogates played a repeat Family Feud episode with the  Elves and Dwarves. The elves won handily.
   After breakfast I attended the ASAP relapse prevention meeting, specifically to see if Dr. Lo had any CWT information for me. Sam was still gone though, and whoever it was who was supposed to run the Phase 1 meeting didn’t show up, so Dr Lo took that group, making him unavailable to me.
   An intern was left to facilitate our Phase 2 group, who quickly let the group’s loudmouths run all over him. I learned a little about what it was like to live in the jungles of Vietnam but nothing about relapse prevention. While listening I thought to myself that compared to World War II vets, these Vietnam guys were a bunch of whining babies.
   Afterwards I returned to the Weingart and saw Ms Sanchez to request a credit report. She wants me to keep her updated on my progress at the Las Americas so she can keep track on how well she’s doing her job.
   I tried see good ol’ Kenny, but he kept me waiting an hour and a half while he made a career out of talking to just two guys. As lunched time quietly approached I gave up and knocked on Richard Carnes door, and asked if I could talk to him.
   Apparently, the Las Americas people had called Ms Sanchez today to check my references. She had referred them to Kenny, who had not put my references on the application. Somehow Richard had spoken with them as well, so he was pleased with all of the progress I was making getting housing. I asked him if Kenny had talked to him about my pass request. No, he hadn’t. Of course not.
   Richard called Johnson and asked him about it. He then asked me if I could come back after 1:30. I told him I be back at 2:00 as I had a computer reserved at the library.
   For all of the time and work they’re spending on this little pass request I’d hate to see them tackle something really important.
   I went to lunch. Teriyaki chicken. Then to the library to return my videos. I had forgotten to bring my floppy disks with me, so there was no reason to use a computer.
   I returned to the Weingart, ready to face Richard and Kenny, only to find the lobby, the only entrance into the building, was closed until 2:30.
   I don’t know why.
   I returned downtown and checked my mail. I received the new debit card the county is going to use to disperse GR payments starting February.
   I got to the Weingart at 2:45. I asked Johnson if he had talked to Richard about my pass.
   “You didn’t tell us where you were going, were you’d be, what telephone number you could be reached at, who you’d be with. We can’t make a decision without that information.”
   What am I? A 13 year old teenage girl?
   Notice how it’s my fault he didn’t ask for that information four days ago when I originally requested the pass. What a dick.
   However, I had anticipated this request because I’m so fucking bright and all. I had my address book with me. I gave Kenny boy Vera’s address and phone number.
   “Come and see me Monday. We’ll have an answer by then. And I’ll tell you right now if it’s approved you’re only going to get one day.”
   I wrote in my room, angry over the exchange with Johnson, then angry because I was angry about it.
   After a meatball dinner, I relapsed and bought pack of cigarettes from the cigarette people at 5th and Broadway. I smoked them in my room and later dreamt of being in a heated tug-of-war with Nikki Cox, Lauren Sanchez, Marina Sirtis, Cheryl Ladd, and Lois Ayers, the beautiful and talented star of “Fever Pitch,” “Money, Money, Money,” Coming of Fortune,” “Buttslammers 8: The Ultimate Invasion,” and many other fine films. The girls won easily, five against one.
   I was pulled into a  burning lake of quicksand and never seen again.

20    December     Day 161      Saturday

   I knew before going to sleep that I wouldn’t get up in time to meet Ron at the Red Line station at 4:40, so I didn’t try. He’s a big boy and can get there by himself.
   I left at 8:30, after a dry pancake breakfast. I took Aurica’s Christmas gift with me, and stopped only at the 99 Cent store to pick up a few things.
   The overrated movie “Gladiator” was playing when I arrived at Trimar, near 11:00. I hadn’t liked the film when it first came out, and it hadn’t improved with age.
   I had just had my finger pricked, and vitals taken when McCree walked in the door.
   “Where were you this morning?!” I asked him with the proper amount of indignation.
   “Ah man,” he answered, smiling sheepishly. “I was out late last night with my daughter. I just couldn’t get there, you know, that early.”
   “So... you left me high and dry, huh? It’s so nice to know I can count on my friends.”
   “What are you doing here... You should have been done by now, and gone.”
   “What time did you get here,” he asked.
   “Time enough, young man. Don’t try to blame me for your irresponsibility and flakiness. I was there this morning, but when you didn’t show I returned to my lonely room and cried myself to sleep...”
   “... asking myself, where is my friend Ronald McCree. Perhaps he was waylaid on his way to keep our appointment. Perhaps I should notify the police. The least I could do is walk to his apartment to see if he’s there. See if he’s okay... but then I fell asleep.”
   “Yeah, right.”
   I didn’t let him off the hook for I had no reason to.
   I went in to donate while Ron signed in. “Gladiator,” finished up, and “The Matrix Reloaded,” began.
   I took out my gift for Aurica which was nicely wrapped, with a card attached to it with her name on it. Chrissy, the young American girl, began to prep me.
   “This is for Aurica?” she asked.
   Aurica was working in an adjacent room. I could see her walking around in there.
   “I’ll see that she gets it,” Chrissy said, then placed it in a corner shelf where no one could see it.
   After I finished I reminded her to give the gift to Aurica.
   “Oh, she’ll get it. Don’t you worry.”
   She was driving me nuts. Why didn’t she just pick up the damn thing and walk into the other room and give it to her and be done with it?!Oh no! Chrissy wanted to draw things out, thereby the possibility of her forgetting about the gift lingered. This time next year the present would still be sitting there, gathering dust and surgical gauze. Or perhaps Chrissy coveted the gift herself and wanted to spirit it away after I had left with no witnesses to be had.
   Aurica herself, solved the dilemma by coming up to me and giving me my present. A piece of photographic paper with a “Jesus Help Me” etched on to it. I told her I would cherish it until the day I died and always keep it with me. I told her of my gift to her and it’s location. She said she’d pick it up later.
   Will no one take the God Damn present?!
   Just as I finished up Aurica came back and collected it. She said she would take her lunch now and wait outside for me. She had something she wanted to tell me, she said.
   “Did you open it?” I asked her, once outside in the cold parking lot.
   “No, not yet. I’ll open it later. Is it chocolate?”
   “No, no. You don’t like chocolate, you once told me. It makes your stomach hurt.”
   I don’t know why, but she told me that if I read Psalm 131, all my illness would go away. Did she know I have a cold, or that I was just a sick bastard generally. I’ll never know.
   “You believe in prayer, right?” she asked.
   “Sure. Sure I do. I’ll look up the Psalm. Thank you for pointing it out to me my friend.”
   I told her I’d see her Christmas Eve, then she walked away to the taco shop. I went to 7-11 and bought a lotto ticket.
   I also bought a nice bean and cheese burrito, which I ate with the sausage I had saved from breakfast. I had plenty of time to eat as no bus came for an awfully long time.
   It took two hours for me to get to the Red Line station at Universal. I stopped at the Macarthur Park 99 Cent store to pick up some items I had forgotten, then got on the wrong train and headed back to North Hollywood. Eventually I made it to my room in one piece.
   I listened to the Prairie Home Companion while writing. Later I would tape “National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2,” with Randy Quaid and Sung-Hi Lee. A made for TV movie, so no boobs.
   I made popcorn.
   I tried to watch Spielberg’s “Minority Report,” starring Samantha Morton, but when I ran it back the tape looked as if the boys from “Fight Club,” had been at it with giant magnets. I gave up and watched Bogart’s last movie, “The Caine Mutiny,” until I fell asleep and dreamt I was at a cottage camp just outside Akron... in a grove of maple trees. Green, cool, beautiful. That's my favorite tree.  I'd go there with a pretty woman. Oh. A strange woman, a quiet woman. Perhaps a Rumanian nurse. Oh, under a tree. I wouldn't even want to know her name, while I would be just... Mr. Smith. I sent out for cold beer. I told her things. Things that I've never told to anyone. Things that are locked here. And as I talked to her, I asked her to hold out her soft white hand and say,
My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.
 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
    both now and forevermore.

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