Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Skid Row Diary 50

Picture Legend

1. Misty Parks
2. Kate Winslet
3. Edward Mulhare & Hope Lange
4. Tupac
5. Sharon Stone
6. Isabelle Adjani
7. Clea Lewis
8. Kathy Griffin and her dogs
9. Map
10. “Dead Men don’t Wear Plaid”
11. Rachel Ward
12. Tanya Roberts
13. Anne Heche
14. Swedish meatball
15. Jackie’s weather
16. Simpsons
17. Brooke Rockwell
18. Anne Frank
19. John Manzano
20. Scooter
21. Sally Field
22. Vanessa Angel
23. Angel

21   December   2003   Sunday   Day 162

   Got up at 10:00, cleaned my room, showered, and had some nice coffee.
   I had lunch with John and two other vets. He had bought a computer for $2 from the sidewalk people, and he wanted to fix it up and give it to me.
   “I’ll pay you for it if it’s got a word processor,” I told him.
   “You don’t need to pay me for it. You’re a fellow writer. You need a computer.”
   I wasn’t going to argue with him. We went to his room to have a look at it. He wants to add some memory cards and programs, and other computer things I’m totally ignorant of.
   “You go right ahead, John. Knock yourself out.”
   Back in my room I read the paper. And wrote. Then I took a little nap and dreamt I was babysitting Misty Parks, the talented and beautiful star of “Adorable 8,” but woke up just before it was her bedtime.
   I taped the movie “Diabolique,” starring Sharon Stone, Kathy Bates, Isabelle Adjani, and Clea Lewis, one of my absolute favorite actresses. The T.V. guide gave this remake 1 Star, but although a tad heavy handed, I liked it. The T.V. people edited Isabelle’s butt out of the movie, the miserable bastards! Apparently it’s okay to show a man being drown in a bathtub. To show the rear end of the star of “Ishtar” was unthinkable.
   This country is so hypocritical.
   I have nothing against nudity in films, and I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. If anyone, anytime, asks me to appear nude in a movie, I’m going for it!
   That includes home videos.
   Slimy hot dogs for dinner.
   I watched Ebert and Roper, who didn’t have anything new to say.
   I had Emailed Roger a few days ago, in reference to a comment he had made during last weeks show concerning “The Lord of the Rings, the Return of the King.” He said the character of Gandalf was unbelievable because he had too much stamina, and didn’t seem to get tired. In my message I reminded him that Gandalf was a wizard, for Christsakes, and not a man, and is immortal, and can do just about whatever he pleases.
   You’d think Roger would want to retract his statement after making such an egregious error, mentioning my Email which had set him straight on this week’s show, but nnnooooooo, not a word.
   That’s the last time I’m covering for him!
   At 7:00pm, James Cameron’s “Titanic,” aired on NBC, and I taped it. The censors once again saved American propriety by editing out all of the interesting parts of the posing scene between Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio, which to my mind was an integral plot and artistic element of the film as a whole, the movie basically nonsensical and inconsequential without it.
   Thanks a lot NBC for ruining Cameron’s masterpiece.
   James Cameron hasn’t made a film for 7 years now. What’s he up to I wonder.
   I learned on the 11:00 news that the lovely actress Hope Lange had passed away last Friday, in nearby Santa Monica. She was 70 years old.
   I remember her from the television show “The Ghost & Mrs. Muir,” which she starred in with Edward Mulhare, and for which she won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award nomination. Before that she earned a Golden Globe Award and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, for her portrayal of Selena Cross in 1957's “Peyton Place,” which was a very naughty movie at the time. Very naughty. Naughty, naughty, naughty!
   My mother liked “Peyton Place.” But she liked the T.V. show they later made based on the movie, which itself was based on the book, “Peyton Place.”
   In 1986, Hope took a role as Laura Dern's mother in David Lynch's “Blue Velvet,” which was also naughty... very.
   At midnight I listened to the Impact Program. Frank began the program with a recording from Tupac Shakur, the late rap artist, which was filled with obscenities. Quiet frankly I was amazed that he played it, the... song being ripe fodder for the censors.
   Then I remembered when the censors had gotten me. I had begun to sing Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker,” at the karaoke meeting held across the street from the Weingart on Wednesday nights. As soon as I sang “All the fellows lay their money down,” the music was shut off, the owner of the karaoke machine believing these lyrics to be a reference to prostitution, which it very well may be. She was protecting all of the street people who wandered in from evil.
   “This is a church!” she proclaimed.
   If memory serves there’s one or two prostitutes in the Bible who play a significant role in the life of Jesus Christ.    
   "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him" (Matthew 21:31-32).
   “Censorship is the work of the devil,” I told her, then left, never to return.
   I watched part of “The Caine Mutiny,” Humphrey Bogart’s last film, then switched back to Frank taking calls.
   He spoke of the big publicity opportunity the Bush administration was getting from Libya’s agreeing to allow international inspectors in the country to search for weapons of mass destruction.
   First, the British arranged it, the U.S. having nothing to do with it. Second, Libya doesn’t have any weapons of mass destruction, so they’re conceding nothing in their attempt to rejoin the world community.
   More Bush smoke up our collective butts.
   Just wait and see. If he wins next year’s election, sometime before his 4 years are up he will make some attempt to repeal the 22nd Amendment, so he can stay in office.
   For the good of the country of course.

22   December   Monday   Day 163

   I suddenly woke screaming from a dream in which Kate Winslet, Sharon Stone, Isabelle Adjani, and Clea Lewis were beautiful cannibal witches who after having their way with me were just about to throw me into a pot of boiling potato and parsley stew.
      “Oh, my gosh,” I said to myself. “Good thing I woke up!”
      A group of small shops that had lined the southwest corner of 6th and San Pedro have been demolished to make way for a new Midnight Mission facility to be completed in 2005. The newspaper tells me this might be the last time a project dedicated to social services will be built in the downtown area due to rocketing property values. High end lofts are being constructed and filled in the Toy District near 4th St., and the dichotomy between the well off and the dirt poor is becoming even more apparent. The city wants the homeless to move out, or back to the communities from which they came. Those communities don’t want them back, and to date there has been no responsible plan to deal with homelessness in Los Angeles, or the nation itself for that matter, other than ignore the problem, try to push it on to someone else, or hope it just goes away.
   Homelessness in this country is a disgrace. It should not exist. Help for the mentally ill should be proactive. The way society has dealt with both of these problems over the years is little more than childish. We should all be ashamed to see the powerless forgotten and the sick left untreated. It’s all very well for celebrities and movie stars to come down during Christmas to help serve a meal at the L.A. Mission, but that helps the celebrity and movie star more than it does the chronically homeless.
   Anyway, the demolition continued this morning before dawn. The noise woke me near 6:00, so I retaliated by going back to sleep. When I could sleep no more I got up. It was about 8:00, or so. Many people, maybe most of them, were awake already. I went down to breakfast and found John down there. He told me that he thought the computer he had bought from the street people and that he wanted to give to me was too antiquated to be of much use.
   Well, that sucked. I could use a free computer right about now.
  I went back upstairs and stuck my head into Kenny’s office.
   “Did you guys make any decision on my pass,” I asked him.
   A pained expression came upon his face, as if he were doing me a big favor by answering me.
   “For one day. Don’t take two,” he said.
   “Is that a yes then?”
   “For one day, yes.”
   “Thanks. I appreciate it a lot.”
   What a dick.
   I wrote for awhile, then walked to the Las Americas Hotel for my 10:30 interview. A pungent air of garlic met me at the front door.
   I was told to wait in the day room, which I did. Two other potential residents were there before me, and it was a hour before I was seen.
   Kathy Griffin and her dogs entertained me as a substitute host on the “Sharon Osborn Show.” After a while I stopped watching and wrote in my little notebook.
   I was eventually called to the back office where I was introduced to one of Skid Row Housing Trust’s case managers who conducted the brief interview.
   I was asked how I became homeless (a series of unfortunate circumstances), if I took psych meds (for some reason I told him that I did, and to my relief he said that was no problem), if I liked to cook (yes), and how I would handle noisy neighbors (Benelli M4 Super 90  semi-automatic shotgun).
   I’m afraid I babbled a bit, telling him why I wanted to stay sober, my plans for school, etc. In the end he seemed satisfied with everything, and the assistant manger asked me to call back tomorrow, or Wednesday after 10:00am.
   I caught the 18 bus just outside the hotel’s door, to the library to exchange videos, then to the VA clinic and Kathy’s ASAP meeting.
   I’ve become increasingly aware of Kathy’s indifference to those of us who attend her meetings on an individual level. As a group facilitator she is dedicated and performs her duties exceedingly well. But she allows little personal contact outside of the group.
   I wished her a merry Christmas as I handed her a fresh cup of steaming urine. She didn’t even look at me as she wished me one as well.
   I demand attention, damn it!
   I stopped by the HOP office to attempt to arrange another dentist appointment, as I was getting to be more concerned with my tooth ache. I was ignored there however. My presence was not even acknowledged. I didn’t feel like making a fuss at that time, and so returned to the Weingart.
   I discovered that while I had been waiting for my interview the earth had shifted up near where my friend Julie lives in Atascadero, and there was a great deal of damage in Paso Robles, and at least two deaths reported.
   I knew my friend Julie was alright. Even though I don’t believe in ESP, I know I would have felt something if she had been hurt in some way. In any case my thoughts went out to her.
   I watched Ernest Borgnine guest star on “The Simpsons.” They had poor Ernest being attacked by a bear, which is odd as bears love Ernie.
   And I watched a film I remember having woken up to once a long time ago. “Dead Men don’t Wear Plaid,” starring the beautiful and talented Rachel Ward and Carl Reiner. There was a a lot of physical adjusting going on in this movie. Quite frankly I was shocked and appalled.
   I also watched the first half of John Frankenheimer’s “The Train,” with Burt Lancaster and Paul Scofield. I had seen it a long time ago, and only remember it being good. Good enough for me to check it out when I found it at the library.
   I was right. It was good!
   The print on the box cover for “The Train,” made a big deal about 50 year old Burt doing his own stunts, as if all 50 year olds were uniformly infirm.
   The pox on infirmity!
   When I slept I dreamt I was rescued from being boiled alive in a pot of potato and parsley stew by thorn bird Rachel Ward, slave girl Tanya Roberts, and sex addict Anne Heche, who managed to chase away Winslet, Stone, Adjani, and Lewis into the vast wilderness.
   “Thank you, thank you,” I cried.
   “You’re welcome,” Rachel said.
   “How can I ever show you my appreciation?” I asked.
   “Oh, we’ll think of something,” Tanya said.
   “We sure will,” said Anne.
   And then they descended on me like a pack of wild wolves.

23   December   Tuesday   Day 164

“I can shake off everything if I write. And that is the great question. Will I ever be able to write well. I want too so much. I want to go on living even after my death.”   Anne Frank

      It’s raining today. This may have contributed to me depressed state, but I doubt it. I slept in late, and after waking, read from “Tai-Pan,” and ate chocolate cookies.
   I did make it downstairs for lunch. Red snapper.
   I tried to write when I got back to my room, but I couldn’t do it. Lethargy, a sure sign of depression... . I suppose I’m dreading my trip tomorrow, even though I instigated it.
   I finished watching “The Train,” and continued reading of Dirk Struan.
   Dinnertime came around. One big meatball sitting in a pile of egg noodles. I was told it was Swedish, but it looked Croatian to me.
   I checked in on Jackie Guerrido, and she told me, with that knowing look of hers, that there should be little rain tomorrow, but precipitation should return for Christmas.
   “The Simpsons,” aired their yuletide 10th Halloween Special, and I watched a brand new episode of “That 70's Show,” featuring the lovely and amazing Shannon Elizabeth as the guest  librarian, and mother to Kelso’s child.
   To cheer me up after meditation, I watched “The Diary of Anne Frank,” starring Millie Perkins, as Anne. The movie is of course based on the actual diary, probably the most read diary ever written. She was 13 years old when she wrote it, and she needn’t have worried, for she was an excellent and gifted writer.
   You can tell a writer that they’re good, but they’ll never believe you.
   I dreamt Clea Lewis came back from the vast wilderness and rescued me from Ward, Roberts, and Heche, who had really been giving me a working over.
   “Thank you, Clea,” I told her.
   “Your welcome.”
   “Where are you taking me?”
   “My place. We can rest up there for a couple of days.”
   She carried me off, and we were never seen again.

24   December   Wednesday   Day 165   Christmas Eve

   I slept in late, until 7:00, then showered with two black guys.
   I had packed my backpack the night before, and after putting on some clothes was ready to go. I left the safety and comfort of my little room with some hesitation, then headed downstairs.
   I had a simple task to perform before leaving the vicinity. Simple, but if it went badly it would prove to be rather embarrassing and potentially difficult to explain. I surveyed the front desk area and decided conditions were unsuitable, and so handed in my room key to the young desk person (a strict house rule is to never leave the building with your key, one reason being it allows staff to easily determine if an individual is in the building... or not), and went to breakfast in the cafe.
   Omelets, filled with sausage and bacon. Because I was donating plasma today, I ate the eggs only.
   I returned to the hotel lobby when finished. Conditions were still not ripe, but I was pressed for time. I placed my backpack and the videos I was returning to the library in a seat in the back of the small room. A load bearing colum separated me from the security guard across the way, and who was not as busy with other residents as I would have liked. I retrieved my key from the desk personnel and signed in for today and yesterday, then returned to my backpack, slipped the key into my pocket, grabbed my bag, and as unobtrusively as possible left the building and scurried away.
   Now for all intents and purposes I was somewhere within the Weingart, and impossible to find.
   This tactic would allow me to stay the extra night in Camarillo I had always planned on staying. The extra night Johnson and Carnes would not allow me. They would have no report that I had stayed out for two nights... or one night for that matter. As far as Johnson and Carnes would know, or could prove, I hadn’t gone to Camarillo at all.
   It was for my books that I had done this. The procedure was not terribly cleaver and I was not proud of my actions. In fact I was more nervous about it than the circumstances warranted. My selfishness demanded that I be away for 2 nights, and I simply did what I could not to give Johnson a reason to act punitively towards me, like having my room packed out and me being discharged from the Weingart upon my return Friday. I couldn’t stand the idea of having my books, papers, and manuscript being lost or stolen. If it was just me I wouldn’t have cared.
   Possessions possess us. As long as we’re alive anyway.
   I dropped my videos in the library’s drop box before heading to Trimar. “Gladiator,” was playing again.
   Do todays’s audiences really believe that a Roman Emperor would let a slave disrupt his administration and public approval rating?  
   Probably not.
   Aurica stuck me. She was tired today due to her granddaughter keeping her awake for most of the previous evening.
   I picked up some candy and spicy trail mix from the 99 Cent Store, and ate the ham and turkey sandwich I had made last night.
   Next, off to Union Station, via the Red Line subway.
   I arrived at 2:00pm, 2 hours and 20 minutes before the Metrolink would depart for Ventura County. The ticket only cost $6.75, which was less than John Monzano told me it would be. I called the Las Americas and left a message that I’d call back Friday. Then I waited.
   I smoked a few cigarettes and walked around looking a people. I found a water fountain and drank from it.
   At 3:00 I walked up to track 3 and sat with some other people to wait some more. Train cops were arresting some poor slob over on the Gold Line tracks. He probably didn’t have his ticket, the poor bastard. Now he’ll spend Christmas in the train jail. It took 4 of these guys and 1 girl to subdue the man.
   Always buy a ticket.
   A train came into the station on the track I was standing next to. It stopped and opened it’s doors. I got on and found a good seat on the second level and began reading from “Life on the Mississippi.” At one point I got off the train to smoke another cigarette, then got back on to resume reading.
   A little before 4:00 the conductor announced that we’d be leaving in just a few minutes, and that they’d be going to Lancaster. There was a problem. I didn’t want to go to Lancaster. I didn’t want to go anywhere near Lancaster. I’d been there and it’s cold and miserable.
   I hurried off the train and crossed the pathway separating track 4 from 3 and got on the right train, the train to Oxnard.
   A narrow escape. You see these metrolink trains run on a very restricted schedule, as they serve working commuters primarily. There would be two trains headed for Oxnard in Ventura County taking people home from work, and two headed for Lancaster, but none returning. Not until Friday morning. Since I didn’t have a great deal of money, an unexpected trip to Lancaster without having anyway back would have been decidedly disadvantageous.
   It would also suck big time.
   But I was now on the right train, which left Union Station precisely on time. First we passed through Glendale, then Burbank and Burbank airport, then cutting diagonally across the San Fernando Valley from east to west, south to north, through Van Nuys, Northridge, Chatsworth, into Simi Valley, Moorpark, and finally Camarillo, where I got off, and where John Manzano was waiting for me.
   It was now dark, cold, and drizzling. We greeted each other, and John led me across the street from the little depot.
   I once had a studio apartment a few blocks up the street from where John and I had met. It no longer existed, the city having torn it down to build something else there. The city had paid me $14,000 to move out, at which time I moved to Arizona, to Bullhead City where my sister lived.
   John led me to the Longhorn Bar on Ventura Bl. He had been drinking beers and Bloody Mary’s while waiting for me to arrive. He offered me one and I accepted, thrilled to be out of L.A.
   It was a small but lively place. I don’t usually drink in bars, but apparently John is a regular there, so that’s were we stayed.
   Kim, the pretty bartender, introduced herself. A man wearing a Jethro Tull T-shirt played the guitar and sang Neil Young songs. People laughed and drank. A pretty black girl came in wearing a skimpy Santa Claus outfit and sang along with Jethro. I showed John my letter from Odalys and the poster she signed for me.
   I know he wanted them, so I took them back.
   John bought me 3 or 4 more beers, and we discussed what he had been up to lately. Nothing. I told him Labren had left  and about life with Kenny. I let him know it was good to see him.
   After a while we got a ride back to his place. I met his mom, Vera, after which she went to bed. I also met his brother Mich, and was offered homemade tamales for dinner.
   I think I ate about 8 of them, the beer making me rather hungry. Mich went to bed. John and I watched T.V. in the living room, the movie “48 Hours,” with Nick Nolte specifically.
   At one point John called someone and told me he had to go somewhere, but would be back shortly. I sat in someone’s house that I didn’t know, watching television, and petting Scooter, the nervous little pomeranian mix, the family dog.
   When “Smokey and the Bandit,” came on I laid down on the couch and tried to get to sleep as fast as possible.
   I was soon fast asleep. I dreamed that Scooter was leading me down a large hallway toward a bright white light. I entered a huge cavernous room, shiny with silver and gold garland. A Christmas tree, 30 feet high and ornamented with so many glass ornaments, birdhouses, squirrels and other animal ornaments, lanterns, trains stars, bells, electric flashing lights, snow, and tinsel that one would think the tree would fall under it’s own weight, but this was a magic tree, and it would never fall.
   From behind the tree Sally Field emerged, as did the lovely and talented actress Vanessa Angel from the movie “Kingpin,” and the talented and lovely Angel, star of “Girls Like Us,” “Angel of the Island,” “Debbie Does 'em All,” and many other fine films.
   I had two angels and a Sally, who led me into a new Christmas Day

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