Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I am lucky

It never ceases to amaze me how delicate emotions can be. I was feeling many things earlier. I apologize for nothing that was said. I stand by my emotions. I feel that some people are overlooked. I feel that the people who care the most interface with them. Yet there is only so much they can do. They have to adhere to policy whatever it is.

I think they are the miracle workers on Skid Row. Miracle workers come in all kinds of ways. I walked outside and to the library to tell you about one.

He is not known by the thousands on Skid Row. However, he pours his heart and soul into their well being everyday. He listens to every clue that can help him solve the problems of the area. He listens to me whine and moan and want to give up.

After dealing with meetings all day, he tolerates my defeated moment with grace. He tries to paint a picture that will knock me out of the muck of despair. My despair comes and goes like the street signs that appear each time I go around a corner on Recovery Road.

I will have none of it. I will not embrace anything that is positive. I choose to hold on to the negative because that is what I am used to feeling. He tries another angle, he tries a joke. He is good. He never says die.
Sooner or later, he hits a mark. I may not express it over the phone, but I felt the arrow of calm piercing into me that came from his quiver.

I do not know what it was today that did it but I know I recognized it. He took our frienship to another level
today. He reached down into himself and showed me of what he is made.

Last week, I said something about giving up. Instantly I noticed a change in the air over the airwaves. It was clear he went deep into his past and felt something. I did not mention it. I noticed it.
Today I said pretty much the same thing. This time the reaction was expansive. I was sorry that I made him remember some pain.

However, that is when he rose to his best. He dug deep into his pain to releave me of mine. It was a very selfless act.
He dispensed to me the wisdom that came from that mysterious time, a time that was a life altering experience for him and people around hime.

What a friend, to share something so personal and to do it without preparation or planning. He was drafted by the incalcitrant stubborness of my disposition.

And now I am sitting here ,sharing with anyone who cares to read this ,the wisdom of his experience.
I am very lucky today. Look where I was this time last year. I was in a jail dormitory.

A few months ago I was sitting in another dormitory. I had no real support system that would sustain itself beyond the borders of the facility where I lived. Within a few weeks I have met some beautiful people who are encouraging me to succeed. They are fighting for me as much if not more than I am fighting for myself.

I have been embraced by a writing community. My mentor acknowledged some growth a gesture that gives me inspiration. A

I am lucky enough to have another friend who is going to shorten the learning curve. He has taken time out of his schedule to teach me the tidbits of what 'open source' is about. He pushes me to be the best I can be. he pushes me to maintain a standard of precision that is beyond reproach.

I have another friend who is having me over for Thanksgiving Dinner with his family. My god, that is incredible.


It is a love that is there but it may seem to be an illusion because one must gain clarity through the fog of one's own baggage.

I am grateful that my friend pulled me out of it today. This is one of the men and women that fight for people like me everyday. His life is Skid Row. He gets in his car and I call him first thing in the morning. I call him on the way back home.

I whine more times than not. He is patient and compassionate. Thank you my friend for caring about me and the people of Skid Row. You and the people you have introduced me to are the unsung soldiers.

Yes, I am lucky. I want to say thank you, my friend. You are priceless.

So is some other person. "Figarooooooooooo"

Mom's gifts

there is more

My mom would continue with what she had to say even if I did not want to hear it. Usually it may have been about my father. Something changed. She told me that she had to get it out of her system.

My mother felt she was not educated. Wrong. Depends on the education. My mother was a protegee of Edith Head, the Hollywood lady. People would love to have that kind of education. However, she stuttered and she was self conscious about it. She felt she was the least educated in the family. She had the most "life" education in thee family.

She started to explain why she had to complete her sentences. She was finally getting alot that was repressed in her, and suppressed in her out of her system. She told me so many things. She wanted me to know alot about myself before she died.

We talked for hours. We sat in the dark. My mother was paranoid ever since 911. For some reason it reminded her of World War 2. People would drive by and she was concerned. We lived on a corner. People would try to break in if they knew I was not there.

I never went into the streets. I stayed at home at night. I stopped going out after midnight to get drugs years ago. I finally got to the point where I did not go out after 7pm. I had changed.
I did not need to go out. Even if I had no drugs, I decided I would wait. I would lift weights.
I would read and do research and , of course, I would write. Most of all, I would listen to her for hours. She would tell me about the old days. She would tell me about Central Ave when she was a dancer. She would tell me about the time she worked with Bob Hope in the USO.

We would sit in the living room and she would sit real close to me. She needed that. I needed that. We had come so far. Once she forgot who I was and that was unsettling. Once I was in a car with her when a friend took us shopping and she asked the driver who I was. Three or four times that occurred. I could not see the triigger, however.

I learned from my own self examination, when I was decreasing drug use, certain things at certain times would ignite the desire to smoke cocaine. I monitored each step. However, I could not see it in mom, with respect to her memory about recognizing me. I could notice it when she would lose her glasses, or her wallet or her keys. I began to anticipate. She did not want me to even purchase glass holders, or a key chain or a cane. I did. After I did, she liked them.

Her resistance to change was dissipating. I changed as well. I became very attentive when listening. She was comical. We laughed. She felt safe and secure. She was proud of her son.

"You are t rying so hard, walter. You are doing so well. " She began to praise me all of the time. The more she got things out of her system, the more relaxed she became. We did not even watch television until later. I bought a chair so she could sit in my room and watch television with me. I was no longer the self centered son. I was a mature man who put the needs at all times of his mother before his. In fact, her needs became my needs. If she wanted roasted chicken, I would hop on the bike, go to Ralphs andd purchase it.
Sometimes, I would surprise her. I would fake like I was going to the bathroom. I would sneak out, go to Ralphs and get the chicken and ice cream and her cigarettes. I would be back before she knew I had gone.
"Are you going now, Walter?"
"I did it already, mom". I would do wind sprints on the bike, preparing for the triathlon.
I would love to surprise her that way.

We would smoke a cigarette and she would talk about things. She showed me a red coat that the late Joe Louis, the boxing Champion purchased for her. She would tell me of the times she ate dinner with Henry Ford. He would come see a friend of her's dance when she was in Detroit or Chicago. She told me about Al Capone coming to the night clubs.

She would teach me dance steps. It was beautiful. We both worked so hard for so long.

Years earlier, she called me a junkie when shee was upset. I would be so hurt, for her and for me. She never called me a junkie after I showed her I was improving. I may have still been doing drugs but I decreased.
"Walter, do you need anything?" that was her way of gaging me.
"No mom. Whatever I need can wait until tomorrow. It would become two tomorrows and then three. She would sit in the window and watch me jump rope and shoot baskets across the street from the house, at Tom Bradley elementary school. She would talk about Ethel Bradley alot.
I started my successful charge shooting baskets at night.

She would go in another room and I would sneak old newspapers out of the room and throw them away. I would have to throw them in my room because if she saw them in the trash, she would dig them out. we had newspapers everywhere. We had coupons everywhere.

I noticed how patient I had become and I loved it. I had become patient with myself so it was easy to be patient with mom. I started a garden. At first she said no but I just started it anyway, and then she liked it. I began to just do things in the open. Finally, one day, just like on tv shows when a parent gives advice to their offspring when the offspring is taking over, she said, "when you do the accounting Walter, consider putting the entries in the ledger this way." WE WON. I won with my battles, she won with her battles, and we won with ours.

I ripped off the old wall paper to get rid of the gloominess. I did everything and she let me.
I could not believe it. A few months before, she would not let the City of Los Angeles come and paint her house. I signed her up for it. She said she was not ready. Now, she was going to let me do it all. I do not think anyone could appreciate how far we came.

She even waited for me to make the coffee if I had not done so in the mornings. She liked the way I did it. I was spoiling her and I was glad she finally let me do so. I knew I was going to be also a good husband when I found a wife because I was practicing listening skills.
I had my discipline back.

My mom never told me she loved me before last year. I knew she did. It was written all over her very being. But she started to tell me every day. We hugged and held hands during the day.

My friend says I let him down? If he had known, he would have been proud.
It was obvious that she was happy. We never argued. We argued once and that was months before the incident. IT was because I could not recognize a trigger, her dementia trigger.

Sometimes it could be in mid sentence. My sister holds on to the notion that my mom and I had issues. Nonsense. My sister and my mom had issues. The argued all of the time. I tried to stay clear. I was not successful.
Experiencing everything with my mom, made me a better person with the mentally ill in the facility in Skid Row or with the physically challenged. I was considerate and helped but now I did so with extreme warmth inside. I could feel them because I felt my mom. Mom's gifts of healing helped me heal others down here. It is sad that these people have no rights. They are just tolerated and shuffled to different places. I wonder how much they control their lives. My mom resisted Janice because she wanted to control her life. She fought with success so that her baggage would not control her or her relationship with me. I did the same. It was a love story.
A mother and son love story and then she went blank and flashed back. She did not recognize me and because I had an image of doing drugs, along with my sister's issues, we can no longer experience what we worked so hard to achieve. I love you mom.

When I remember the look on her face, telling me that janice said she would be put away, I think of the mentally ill down here. Does anyone respect what they say or is it discounted because of the label of "mental illness". Mental illness is not homogenous. You learn that when you pay attention to someone. It is not as if she could not do anything. Some things she could do sometimes and other things she grew not to be able to do at all. Still, there were other things she could do all of the time. The powers that be say, oh, she can not make any decisions for herself. Crazy. I am just now learning how to detail it out. I will get better.

The same way they treated my mom and me is the same way the mentally challenged are treated down here. Their opinions mean nothing. My mom's opinion means nothing.
They took it away because her son was labeled a crackhhead and she was labled a "mental"

Mom sister said . "make mom proud of you." Again she does not know. My mom told me how much she was proud of me. Where were you when she told me?

Family problems

It is about 11:45AM. I had to go to a class that teached people how to write checks. I am not being arrogant, that is just the truth. It is my understanding that General Relief does not allow recipients to have checking accounts. I just found that out.

It is a depressing day. The revelation about letting my friend down once too often really hurt. I mean it really hurts. I have known this man since i was 12 years old. My friend, or ex friend, told the person that everything that I said about my life was true. If that is the case why would he not listen to me, someone he has known since we were kids. I suppose the gossip woman on the block spread some bad rumors.

You know what is funny. Even when someone tries to say something good, they are wrong.

"Walter is a genius with computers," she said on the police statement. That is rediculous. I am computer literate. That is all. For some reason, if you can point and click or if you know how to type in the black community, you are considered a genius. The digital divide is worse than I thought. Why can't people keep their big mouths shut. When I need people to speak up and ask

questions, they don't.

"He is mentally ill but it was overlooked because he is so smart". That is my sister's quote. Can you believe that ? She is saying my parents let go something very serious because I am smart. That makes no sense at all but it is in the police report. My friends used to call me from all over the country to let me know my sister was saying some pretty off of the wall things. I just ignored it. Now I see what it did. It cast an image that is dark and seedy.

I do not like telling a lawyer things. I am not one to air my sister's dirt without speaking to me. However, she gives me no options.

I am about the only one I know that has no support from family. My mom would do anything for me but she has no rights any longer. People make these decisions for people who are mentally ill or with dementia. How much do they really know? I remember 20Plus year old women talking to my mother. They were from Kaiser Permanente. Do you think they should be trusted with elderly people after what they did to Carol Ann Reyes, dumping her on Skid Row? I walked in and they were talking. My mother had no idea why

people were bugging her for months. My sister kept harassing her to sign papers. There were

times my mother would lock the doors and hide in the house because my sister was coming over. She was terrified of Janice.

Katie Couric said that Elderly custody breeds family disputes. My sister called my mom a

stupid bitch on several occasions. She is has a quick evil temper. My mother would often wonder why my sister was so evil and so mean to her.

Tell me, what do young women know of a woman from the depression era who was a foster child in a German family and she was black. Do they know anything about her baggage. Do they know anything other than what my sister said?

Did anyone think to talk to me?

They said their was an altercation. First they said I tried to steal her car. My mother gave me the keys to check the battery. I never used her car. We were going someplace. In fact we were going shopping, the one activity that they kept saying we never did. However all they have to do is speak to Russell Cyrus and they would know that he took me shopping several times a week for her, or he took her. When he took her, I could sneak and clean the house. I did that for a long time until she decided to let me clean the house.

I was not alone with my mother when all of this took place. Of course a drunk made the call. Of course, their house was shot up by gang bangers because they were dirty. Of course, relatives of his died and he was trying to move in on a very nice property.

I have to write this for an attorney but I hate it. Of course, I was the one who was with my mom all of the time and talked to her. My sister never talked to us about anything.

I asked her to help me with my mom and she said NO.

She received below market rent at least 50 percent below market rent for 10 years. Yet she complained. She complained because my mother would not give her 50,000 dollars to purchase a house. She wanted me to purchase a house for 250,000 dollars and give it to her.

I am not like the brothers of her friends at the prep school she attended. She said she would settle on a BMW.

In all of the years I stayed at the house she only asked me once about mom, and that was to have her sign property over to her and me. I said no. For one thing the property should go in a family trust, for tax reasons.

It is hard to think about her and my old friend. She is like Sybil, she has quick changes in personality.

So many things in the court petition are false. She comes across like she made the authorities disappear but I believe she caused them to come in our lives.

The government comes into your house. They want to talk to you. We talk. I mean the Adult Protective Services, whoever they are. They walk all through your house, searching. They do not tell you why. They do not tell you why they are there. They do not tell you who called them and made some type of complaint. They do not let you know anything and they do not let you read anything they have about you.

Now, my mother had no symptoms at the time. She also was not on government relief. She had a pension. She also drew on Social Security. I was not on government assistance. Who gave them the right to come into our lives and disrupt them.

My sister kept making claims. However, she never was at the house. I saw my sister three or four times, for about 5 minutes, every 6 months. Rediculous. She knew nothing of my mom's life. Every time she came over my mother and she argued.

In the last few years my mother kept accusing my sister of things. Can you believe that I defended my sister? I defended her while she was in the middle of a campaign to get rid of me.

It is sad. I could prove everything I said.


" Yes, but you had a bottle of wine". Yes I did purchase a bottle of wine.

I purchased the wine because I used it to sautee thea fish. Can you believe that. I learned how to do several types of dishes over the years.

When my mother was slowing down, I cooked for her everyday. I cooked fish, a potato and fresh vegetables. She loved brockley and I did as well. I made a salad. That was customary.

I purchased lots of fruit and I made fruit juice from the blender. She had fresh juice everyday.

She and I cut up the melons and put them in tupperware and ate them throughout the day.

And the temporary conservator said the only way my mother ate was if someone had to bring her food.

That was said only to justify their legal fees. If they were going to investigate, why not talk to the neighbors. Everyone knew I shopped for my mom and cooked for her. They saw me in a van with groceries or saw me riding down the street. When the man and woman were at the house who had me arrested I was cooking for my mother. He insulted me by asking me if I was cooking for her also. I was cooking for her. I let him know that I was not happy about him coming in my mother's house and insulting her or me. As a result, I was arrested.

Let me say this. My mother, one night looked at me and said "Walter, what are they going to do with me? It is not fair. I am independent and Janice said they are going to put me away for life".

I saw a note and the last statement my sister said was if I was not out of the house, they would put my mom away for life. That is one hell of a thing to say to a woman who worked all of her life to have her own house, a woman who minded her own business. Threaten a woman who was a foster child and bring that back into her mind. They come in the house and tell her what is best for her. They do not talk to her.

Where are her rights? She would forget things. She stopped driving. She did that grudgingly.

She forgot to pay some bills. I found out and started to take care of them. My sister knows this.

She even commented on it. Yet, she wanted these people to destroy my mom's happiness.

I was the one who bought mom a cane, adult diapers after she wet on her self. I was the one who developed into a good house manager. She saw it and let me finally clean out the whole house. I earned it. They say you have to earn it much harder after you are known to do drugs.

It took longer. But I perservered. I grew up and I did every thing I could to help my mother.

Therer were many people just like me who took care of their aging parents. They told me sometimes they black out and do not recognize you. That is what happened that day. Three weeks later, she told me something. She told me that she was raped in a car when she was a teenager. It hit me right then and there. She flashbacked on it. That is why she did not recognize me. I kept yelling to her "Mom, it is your son". I said it over and over again. She did not recognize me.

You learn alot when you take care of a person who is wrestling with their demons to let you know things before it is too late. I learned alot because I stopped being selfish and started being a good soon. Nobody knows about the beautiful times we had the last two years. We never fought. The only time a voice was raised was when my sister came over. After she would leave my mother was depressed. My mother felt my sister was trying to control her life.

She resisted. I had nothing to do with it. They say she did not want my sister to be conservator because I was bullying her. Based on what?

I did not know any of it was going on. I would have gladly supported that endeavor.

I thought she and Janice had something worked out anyway.

I was so happy that my mother let me finally do things. You have to understand. My mother did not want to change the carpet or wall paper. They had been there since 1968. she did not want change because she had so much change as a youth, in foster homes. Nobody thought to factor that in. And yet they know so much about what is best for the elderly.

They but in and destroy lives because they think they know what is best for you. They talk to a young woman, who has issues, my sister, and who has an agenda, who is secretive about everything and is the one who was bullying my mother.

My mom's teeth fell out and they blame me for her not getting dentures. She never wanted to go to the dentist. I begged her to go to the dentist and to the doctor. My sister took her to the dentist but she would not go again. Why was I blamed for her teeth. It is in the petition. Of course, I did not see it until it was too late. My sister said she did not know where I was. That was not true. She sent them to me long after she was suppose to let me start living in one of the houses. She called the program director, Rory Cromwell and said I could move in July. she never called or returned calls. Then finally she had these documentss sent from her attorney, hiding behind him.

Who can you believe?

This is not a very up morning. I woke up at 1:00AM. I stayed awake the rest of the night. Tomorrow, I am going to see an attorney and I must relive the pain of "why".. Why is it my sister wants to believe something happened when it did not? Why does a friend not want to see me? I was told that I let him down too many times. I did not know that. Why is it that people want to believe a story that someone tells and it is not even true. My friend used to listen to James Brown alot. He died while I was in jail. It was like so much happened when I was in jail. James Brown said"Listen to the case". I thought he would always listen, to me.

It is funny. I never relapsed. I never was on and off and on and off. I just finished.

Speaking of relapse, I have talked to alot of people and it seems that there is a consensus that these organizations around here are de facto enablers. Yes, that is what I said, de facto enablers. If you relapse , you have to leave one place and go to another. It appears to be a game. I have seen people relapse and they are housed again the next day. If they stay clean, or say they are clean for thirty days, then they can return to the place where they were kicked out. Therefore, they never have to get a room and pay for it. They never have to pay for their own food.

Yesterday, I ran into Lloyd. Lloyd was a man who kept me positive the last few weeks. He moved into the Transition House around the time I left. He told me to stay positive and that I would have a job. Lloyd worked out in the patio, with daily pushups and sit ups. He told me he relapsed on Thursday. That is not true. He told me he was kicked out on Thursday.

"How long have you been getting loaded?" I asked.
"Since I first arrived. I just tried to keep it under wraps."
"So the whole time you were here you were doing drugs?", I continued.
"Why do you do it ?" I asked. I could not believe he decided to smoke. He was into being in shape and going to school. "You knew you were not going to make curfew. You knew you were going to get kicked out."
He became irritated. "I get high because I know that I can. I only enjoy the first five minutes. However, I continue to do it because I know I can. Everybody does it around here. Don't be naive, Walter. The whole set up on Skid Row is designed for you to relapse. That is how the organizations get their money. That is why they make you sign the list for meetings and when you wake up in the morning. Why do you think people keep coming back to the Transition House? They can. They do not want to pay rent. Takes away from the drug money. So we go from place to place and put on a front. We play the game of wanting to fix our lives. We do it because we can".

I was confused. his demeanor was different. He had this hard edge to him. He no longer was attempting to come across as the student of the Bible. He was pissed off that he was not at the top of his game. He never relapsed. He never stopped smoking cocaine.

Then I saw Pancho. He ran up to me. "I tricked them. I finally tricked them. I told them I was mentally ill. Look what it says."

I looked down on the piece of paper and it said that he was very Psychotic. I just looked at him. "Don't you realize that you have this label on you.?"

"I don't care. I am tired of working for the white man. Everybody does it. I don't care what they think of me. Now I can get an apartment down here for 60 dollars or so and not have to work. I am tired of working for the corrupt corporations.".
"What about those that really are in need of these services and funds? I see them all of the time. Man, they do not do anything. They get their money and kick back. Why can't I do that? Everybody does it Walt"

Dam, it is true, I thought. People resent the mentally because they receive SSI. for life. Of course it does not matter that they suffer. How can someonehave such twisted thinking? I am learning alot about life.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Free Day


please read the previous blog first. The story explains this picture. This is the

I walked over to the Transition House where I am sitting at the present time. I was able to get the gentleman who was sitting in the guard shack to vacate it so I could take a picture of it. I was going to upload it to the previous blog but the computer configuration blocked me from editing my own blog so I could upload it.

I wanted to make sure it was up today. The guard shack was my sanctuary. I stayed in it for as much as twelve hours a day, seven days a week. I spent every minute in that shack reading and writing. I spent 100 percent of my time writing in it the last three months. I studied

Broadcast News Handbook, published by the Associated Press in this guard shack. I took highly detailed notes about reporting in this shack. I had to find a comfortable seat in which to sit while I used the shack. I did. Actually a friend of mine found a seat in March and put it in there. It is still there. You can make it out in between the shadows.

I said all of what I said say that those cans I picked up every day gave me encouragement. Each can reinforced in me the fact that I can build. So with that in mind, I am going to launch the

SkidRow Errand Service.

That was the whole purpose of picking up the cans. I knew that everyday I could build up of storage of wealth and cash it in once a week. When the weather was hot I could turn in the bag twice a week. I just had to stay focused.

I wrote in that tiny shack that you see above and I studied. I told you how I studied the Broadcast News Handbook" published by Associated Press. I took detailed notes. I read some of them last night after I returned home. However, no notes are as good as the comment I received from Dgarzila just a few moments ago about the previous blog. I did not have the title correct of the business establishment about which I was writing. I took a chance and guessed. I knew I was wrong but I let it slide because of my damn impatience.

Of course, Dgarzila spotted it and let me have it. I love him for that because he is making sure I am going to exercise total discipline in my craft. All I could do was smile when I saw the comment and curse myself.

I had to leave the Transition House because computer class was going to start.

I left at 1:00PM. I walked back to chrysalis to continue my blog. I am here now, feeling good, writing all day. Feeling good about my new venture as small as it is. I do not care. It is testing the waters. Who knows it may just fly.

I do what I always do. I check websites and see if there are any job categories open. I decided to check into Associated Press. I generally check their website once every two weeks. I cold call the website like I cold called prospective real estate clients. Some time in the spring I looked up there web site and saw that they were on 2nd and Figueroa. I stored it away for future reference. I was far from ready. I checked out the book and studied it. I practiced writing lead copy. I practiced various formatts. Hell, I practiced everything I could. I wrote portions of the day in the style of an anchor on television. That is the reason you here me use the expression "as well". It is a way to avoid saying "also".

I walked into their office on 2nd and Figueroa one day. I saw the reporters. I saw the tv screens. News coming in from all over the world. It was like the ticker tape in the office of Merrill Lynch when I worked there. I was at the nerve center, the pulse of a news information center. I almost had an orgasm.

ne thing about working for Xerox, it taught you how to get as much information as you can. It taught you every aspect of the information process.

Of course being a sales representative taught me how to probe for questions. Knowing when to use open end versus closed in questions, was key. I have never lost that skill. I have used PSS, Professional Selling Skills, all of my life. The best application of them is when you are quiet and just listen.


Anyway, I walked in the office.(dam, I am being bounced again. I am on my way to the library. It is 2:10PM)

It is now 2:40PM. I am sitting in the library downtown. I only have 20 minutes left on this computer but I reserved another one for one hour.


Back to the story.

I probed the secretary about getting a job there. She was not that excited about me standing there in sweats and I was self conscious about my teeth.

"You will have to take a grammar test" she blurted out, hoping to dissuade me.
"Oh, really?" I responded.
"Yes, and it is very difficult." I just looked at her. I was thinking, "Lady, you have never taken a grammar examination until you took one from either Father Grant or Mr Hughes at Harvard School. You name it, it is on the exam.
Direct objects, indirect objects, every type of pronoun you can think of, adverbial clauses, adjectival clauses, infinitives, participles, transitive verbs, linking verbs, subordinate clauses, collective nouns, my god. The list goes on."

This woman was not going to dissuade me. If all I needed was to pass a grammar test then I was in like Flint. I do not exercise all of the principles of proper grammar when I blog. At times, I improvise. I feel it is about creating a style that flows. As it said in "Broadcast News", learn to write the way people want to hear.

I just wanted a name. I finally asked the right question and I had my answer.
Steve Loper. I called him and he returned the call. I am glad I did not answer the phone. I was not ready at the time.
Anyway, I saw on the web site the first job they had open in Los Angeles subce I started monitoring them,
a marketing assistant job. I made a copy of it and it is in my video camera bag.

Another "can". I have several now.
"" is another. They have a similar position open in west LA.
"" is another. I like them. They are the largest in what they do. They are in downtown LA and there address is 515 Flower. 515 is my birthday. May 15. The CFO, went to Wharton School, my alma mater. That can not hurt.

I figure if I collect enough of them, one of them will hit. I will get lucky. However, I will have to apply for this AP position now. It is downtown and you know how much I love news. There is another reason I want that position.A friend of mine received his first job, reading the wire at Associated Press when he was at Columbia School of Journalism. He graduated in 1970 from Harvard School. Mark Harmon, the actor and star of NCIS, was in the same class. I was two years behind them. My friend's name is Ron Claiborne. Ron is on the on-air talent team of the Weekend edition of Good Morning America, the show that ABC airs. During the week Diane Sawyer is one of the anchors. However, on the weekend my friend Ron Claiborne does the news desk reports.

I have known Ron all of my life. I think he is the smartest person I have ever met, bar none. I have met a lot of smart people in my time but I think he is at the top. I have a funny story about Ron. That will come later.
I will say this. Nobody reads more than he. Nobody.


So you see, this is how my day is shaping up. I have run my mouth all morning. I did this all day every day while sitting in the guard shack. Furthermore, I wrote in long hand.

So as you can see, this is a special day. It is the first day since moving into my residence where I did not have to be anywhere. With all of that, I still blogged.

I would like to think Eric Richardson, of for putting me on his blog roll. My next thing to learn is to figure out how to link. I asked Dgarzila but he said he would not teach me. He sort of teaches like Socrates did. Socrates would walk through the streets and ask his students questions. Make them think. It is the technique made famous by the professors at the Harvard Law School, the Socratic Method.

Well, that is Dgarzila. My father would teach me in the same manner.

I can go home and see what I can do to restructure my life.

I can wake up early and get a lot done now. As I said in the previous blog, people on Skid Row wake up early. I will hope that means something soon. I woke up every morning and checked the trash cans for my "cans".

I hope I can develop this Skid Row errand business. It will do alot for me. I can perhaps help some other people earn some money as well.

By the time I left the facility, I did not have to do hardly anything to gather cans. Everybody gave the m to me or put them in my boxes. One was marked cans and the other was marked bottles. People from outside the facility brought me cans. I was known as the "can" man. When I left, I turned it over to someone else. He staill has the boxes. I saw them today. However, I heard he is losing out to competition. He does not have the get up and go spirit it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur. On Skid Row, one must be up very early to get the worm. The can business is highly competitive.

I would imagine the errand business is as well. So if anybody needs someone to pick up grcceries or drop off dry cleaning or walk a dog or research where they can purchase a rare book. Let me know.
Just email me. I need the money. I would like to develop some type of business or several in downtown Los Angeles. I would love to be able to hire people from Skid Row if it grows. If I can get several, I can be the Barry Diller of online businesses in Downtown Los Angeles. It will be good for the people of Skid Row to make money and see that they can make it in business. If my dream takes off, I would give the business away to someone to own and manage it. Keep it going. My email address is Another one is I can be anywhere between the number 10 freeway and the 101 freeway, the LA river and the 110 freeway within 10 minutes tops. I have a bicycle. It would also enable me to hunt out real estate while I am servicing my clients. Moreover, I can train for the triathlon.

As you can see, I want to get some synergy going here.

You ask yourself, why I always quote people when they say they are proud of me, or when they told me to keep it up or when I thank Eric or Don or Ed or Celia and everyone else. It is because those words have carried me through the hard times this past year. Those words of encouragement give me the strength to carry on. They give me the strength to build more strength. they give me the strength to believe.

I must believe because if you do not believe you can not do it. I have always believed in my dreams. They have seemed far away many times. My real estate career seems far away. Today it seems closer. My dream of reporting seems closer.

I feel that in some little way I am communicating to people. When I communicate to them, I communicate to
myself and continue the process of healing.

None of this started yesterday. None of this started when I got out of jail. None of this started in jail. It started years ago when I decided I was going to stop doing drugs and I fought to stop. That is why what happened to me is hard to take. If anyone took the time to look at what I was doing, they could see that the things said were not true. I did alot of work. The one thing that lends creedence to what I say is that I am not using drugs or smoking cigarettes. With this time, I wish I could train again for the triathlon. I can not swim as I do not have access to a pool. However, I can ride a bike and the best way to ride a bike is to do so while making money running errands for people who do not have the time to do things in downtown los Angeles.

So, email me and give me the business. I would love it. I will cherish it. Thank you very much for this day.
Good evening world. I love ya.

A good morning, reviewing the last 7 months

It is 8:30AM on Skid Row. At 7:30, I walked out of my front door to get breakfast. The streets were crowded. People had been up for hours. Most people do not realize that people on Skid Row wake up early. In the facility where I stayed, we were awakened at 5:30. breakfast between 6 and 6:30 and morning chores at 7: 00AM. Most of the missions and shelters are like that.
You are up and out early.

I was late for breakfast. I go to Tony's on 7th St for their great waffle breakfast.
Activity was bustling on 6th and San Pedro. The peddlers were out. I do not mean the drug dealers. Most drug dealers sleep in at least until 8:00AM. If they are up too early it would signal that they are struggling and their dope is no good. "Sunglasses,$2.00), bird cage, $1.00. Socks $2.00". Socks, that surprised me. Socks are usually sold after the 1st of the month when people receive their respective government income checks.
a quick digression.

When I was at the police station, I heard them prepare for the !st of the month just like I heard the facility where I lived prerpare for the 1st. In the shelters, they are preparing for an exodus of people. It is expected that between the 1st and the 10th of each month, when checks are received, a percentage of people will receive their money and go out and do drugs. I remember when I was told this. And yes, it is true. People receive their money and can not resist the temptation of cocaine or heroin or marijuana. They will go the drug , knowing that they will not return to their residence before the curfew hour and get thrown out on the street.

The shelter monitors make sure they have enough plastic garbage bags in which they can put a person's belongings when they do not return.

The police prepare differently. They know they are going to have to deal with a tremendous influx of drug activity. During roll call, I heard an officer prepare his men for the monthly tradition.

A quick digression

Residents of Skid Row. Do yourself a favor. Challenge yourself. Try to stay away from the dope man. I know it can be hard. But do so. It will save you a great deal of grief. It will save the Police Officers from having to do the paper work they have to do to process you into jail. Save yourself from going to jail.

Yes, the early bird gets the worm. I mention it because I am sick and tired of worrying about getting a job. I want a career. One lady told me that now that I was in a stable living environment, I should pursue what I want instead of what I needed I the time she met me. She secured the warehouse job for me.
I was terrible at it. She and I both laughed at that.

When I first arrived on Skid Row, I had one pair of sweat pants, a shirt, and a pair of shoes. I had a dime and a penny in my pocket. I had no cell phone. I felt cut off from everything. I could not even use the public phone because I had no money. People would receive calls all of the time. Not I. Nobody knew where I was. I did not want anyone to know where I was. I wanted to concentrate on getting myself together. I wanted to get back to where I was before I was arrested. I wanted to continue what I was doing that resulted in my ceasing drug usage. THAT ACTIVITY WAS WRITING.

I started writing again. The very first day I arrived at the Volunteers of America Center, I told Rory Cromwell I wanted to write a book to help people keep off drugs. I showed him a package of paper. He asked me what it was. The package consisted of everything I wrote while in jail. Rory took one look at it and stared at me for ten seconds. He then looked around to see who was around us. Satisfied that nobody would see him, he stood up, walked to a cabinet, opened the door and grabbed to legal pads. He handed them to me.

"Don't tell anyone you got those from me. It will cause a problem," Rory said.
He gave them to me because a few hours earlier he told me I could go try to get some clothes. I told him then, five minutes after I first met him, "Rory, I will not let you down. I am doing to be one of your success stories." He let me leave the facility. He does not let people leave when they first arrive there. He trust me and I returned. Most people, he said later, get there and if they get too close to the gate, they are tempted to run for the hills and head for the nearest drug dealer. I never stopped writing from the moment he gave me those pads.
(Later, I will show you the stack of stappled sheets of paper I accumulated while writing at the Transition House.)Rory lets me go in and out of there to use the computer, to "keep up the good work" as he says it. "Melton, you are doing it. You are doing the damn thing. You told me you were and you never let me down."

So I keep on writing and I can write more now. For the last month, I have been attending job classes. Actually, they started at the Transition house in July. Most people go to the classes need the classes to learn how to do a resume. I needed the classes to rebuild my confidence and to break away from the guard shack as it had become my sanctuary from the world. I was scared of the world. It was mean and cruel and I was satisfied at the guard shack.

Whenever, they needed a volunteer for it when I first arrived at the Transition House, I ran to the front desk to make sure I was picked. I would sit there sometimes from 8:00 in the morning to 8:00 at night. It gave me a chance to be alone. It gave me a chance to read and study. It gave me a chance to write.
Iwrote sometimes, for twelve hours, non-stop. Rory would come in and out of the parking lot and just look at me, amazed that I could sit there and write all day. I watched news all day and wrote all day.

I did not want to ask people for cigarettes. I would look in the ash tray for them and smoke those. For some reason, when I was slowing down on my drugs, I was slowing down on asking for things. It was a maturing process. I did not want to ask for anything for my mother for myself at one point. At the end I was asking for money to purchase tools for the house. Or, I took the money and started to pay bills. I was becoming a manager of the house.

Anyway, I stayed to myself. A little over a month after I arrived, I noticed that no one was picking up all of the cans and bottles that were in the trash cans at the facility. No one. People would purchase soft drinks all day long at the facility. I knew that the recycler was two blocks away. I would oftern see men and women carry bags of cans and bottles by me at the guard shack and they told me where the recycler was.

Now by this time, I was substituting for someone that I met at the Transition House. He would give me pouches of tobacco as long as I sat in the guard shack for him. It was a great arrangement. I was bartering. I was starting to negotiate. The blood was circulating. I was getting my bearings.
Everyone has to sign up for duties and they let me substitute for them at the shack. I figured I could accomplish three things at once. I could read, write
and make my rounds and pick up cans. I was able to have change so I could get
tobacco once my friend left, wouldn't have to ask anyone, and I could save money. I never wanted that feeling of not having any money on me ever again. I saved every dime except for my tobacco purchases. I could wash clothes and dry them in the machine instead of washing them by hand and drying them in the sun. I did that for about 2 months. As I think about it, it was a long process.

Picking up the cans instilled the discipline in me and the confidence in me to run a business. I knew it would do that. Each time i picked up a can, it made me feel like I found a client. Each time I picked up a can I imagined that I just signed a real estate deal: it could be an "exclusive right to represent" or a
"deposit receipt".

I did that for months and held on to every dime. I did not start purchasing soft drinks until July. I was using the discipline that my mother and father instilled in me and the disciplined I rediscovered while writing and trainin for the triathlon before the bottom fell out of my life. But I was determined to pick up the pieces. I never sat around and socialized at the facility. I either read, wrote, picked up cans or encouraged others to stay away from drugs. Some stayed away. Most did not.

Guys would get these checks and spend money on all of these clothes, tapes, and gold chains. I was dressed in a couple of things. I wore the same shoes for months. I wore my vest and sweat shirts. The vests were the main thing. I had two. One was stolen. I had to have my vests. I could keep my food in the pockets but I could keep my pens and pencils in the pockets. I had at least ten pens and pencils on me at all times. I was terrified of running out of them as writing was my therapy and my new passion. I was going to take it to a new level. However, I needed pens, pencils and paper. Workers would stop by and give me paper while I was at the guard shack. Residents would sneak paper out to me. They would come by and give me fruit.

"Keep writing, Walter. You need to tell the story about this place. Nobody else will be honest. It will work out."

"Keep doing what you are doing, Melton. You mind your business. I have been watching you. I don't mess with anyone. You have to watch yourself at a place like this. You keep doing what you are doing, it is going to work out for you."

They were starting to say the same things to me that they said to me in jail.

I wanted to do a documentary on drugs. I had been thinking about it for years. When I started to decrease my drug usage in my neighborhood, I started lining up people to do a documentary. My mother was reading my writings. She would sneak to read them while I was swimming at USC.


She said I was good. She knew I was writing. She saw me write everyday, all day. I would stop only to look up words and research in my vast family library or in the ten inch dictionary my father owned before I was born. That dictionary was the tool I used to find my path back to scholarly pursuits.

You see, I had a plan. Everybody knew I smoked cocaine. Everybody knew I was into alot of things. I had several nick names on the street. "Tiger Woods was one of them. "Arthur Ashe", another. But when I started going to USC to swim and they also knew I was writing, they nick named me
"HARVARD/WESTLAKE, after my alma mater. It was a signal to me that the preppie who smoked cocaine had earned the respect of everyone from the streets. All of my hard work to gain their trust and respect was finally paying off. I was going to use it to make a documentary and each of the smokers of cocaine and dealers all agreed to do it. They would do it to keep kids off drugs.

I had lined every thing up for two years. I was learning how to do it. Everyone knew I was a 60 minute fanatic. They also knew my nick name was "Walter Cronkite" in elementary school. To them it made sense. "I will be damned" I said to myself. I am finally doing what my father said I would love and people at Harvard School said I would love. Telling Stories and film. There is this saying the "family Business". Well, I was starting to get fascinated with the school family business of Harvard School, film, television etc. for Chris sake, where have I been. Did not matter, I was finally coming home. You could do sports, real estate and film, news, or whatever. It all went together.

So I did the same thing at the facility. I started lining people up for my documentary. I lined up every dope smoker I could find. They all agreed. They all had compelling stories. They were courageous in sharing them with me.

I had no computer. I had no camera. Then they started a computer class. I woke up and they were installing all of these computers. I almost fainted.
"Rory, I want to do a documentary. Help me." He said he would. He could not find his computer or camera he had in storage. They were in storage. I kept trying to find a camera. I walked around all day picking up cans and looking for the optimal location in the compound from where I could conduct my interviews. I had been an extra for three years. That production experience was coming into play now. I talked to everyone about lighting etc. Jack Priestley the Cinematographer said I had an eye for it. he let me look through the camera. He was the Cinematogragpher for the "Trials of Rosie O'NeiL"

It was a television series with Sharon Gless. In fact they filmed it Downtown at
3rd and Hewitt. I was a regular background artist. I never had to take direction. They told me I had good instincts. "Just go where you want to go, Walter. Where you need to have balance" That was my training. Sharon and I became friends. She had gone to the Marlborough School so we had that in common. Barney Rozenzwig (spelling) was the producer. Years later at USC I would see his name at the Lyon Center where I swam. I remembered all of those lessons talking to producers, light men, sound, etc. I remember all of the procedures to film. I remembered it all while swimming. I remembered it all while in jail. I have my sweatshirt with me from that show"The Trials of Rosie O'Neil" to keep me focused on my goal.

That was the first time I read the name Tom gilmore. At that time. I was also a real estate man. I would sit at a quiet part of the set some where and study my real estate classes so I could get my brokers license. I already had my sales license. I would walk around this area because I knew the value of the real estate. I did this kind of thing in Philadelphia. I just could not convince Los Angeles friends to buy downtown. Dam. So I knew Gilmore was on the right track. I have been following him since.

Anyway, I saved and saved my can money. Some people began to realized that I never bought clothes. I never bought soft drinks. I never bought anything. They said I must have money. " I am broke. I have nothing." I wanted that camera. I would walked every day looking for cameras and looking at real estate.

I saw the Skid Row Kaiser Permanente story on 60 minutes. I never missed it. I haved watched that show from the day it started. I am a lesley Stahl
fan. It was a carry over from my Walter Cronkite fan days. I had my own news press when I was kid, for God's sake.

I saved and I saved. I would not purchase a phone. I had no one to call. I could not call my mother. My sister did not want to speak to me and I was scared to call my friends.

I wrote on the computers. I started doing research on the internet. I started looking at jobs at tv stations. But then I would get depressed because of my felony. I would look at real estate companies. Again I would get depressed. I worried and I still do about my license. I checked with the deputy commissioner but I am not certain what they will do. The one thing I learned in Skid Row is everything depends on the action of the person that is handling your situation at the time it is being decided. The deputy commissioner said it would not matter because it is not a fraud felony but you never know.

Anyway, I kept picking up cans and I had been developing this business plan for an idea I identified since being down here. I identified it at the same time I saw the entrepreneurial opportunity to pick up cans in a captured marketplace where I would have a natural monopoly.

I have been developing the idea since then and have been working towards it in various ways. Finally I borrowed somebody's phone one day after I saw Blogdowntown on the net. I saw it everyday. I borrowed that phone everyday but never used it. "He would say no". "He would think I am crazy". But something inside of me had a feeling that it would work out. It was the same feeling I had all of my life about something and indeed it would work out.

It was the first time in a long time that I had that feeling. I called Eric.
and I will be damned, he listened to me. " Hello, Eric, my name is Walter and you are talking to a man who has experienced a bad time and now is turning it around. "
"Well, it is good that you are turning it around. I am glad for you", Eric said.
And that is when everything went to a new level. Poor Eric Richardson, I bugged him like you would not believe. He was patient with me. Now I bug Garza. (smile)

A few days after I met Eric, I bought my video camera. I use it to make the still shots for the blog. Have not figured out how to use it for the video. It is the darndest thing.

He let me write, Eric did. I told Eric my idea. He said it was a great idea. I have trying to learn how to implement it ever since. Everyday, I get closer. I learn more. I do more. I meet more people. All are necessary ingredients for success in this matter.

For 2 months I have been attening every type of prepare for work class. It has been a requirement at places. I moved into a new place to live and everyday I had to get on a bus and go someplace. The week,before that, had to attend another class, here, at Chrysalis. It got me out of my shell. Don't forget. I was the man who sat in the guard shack every day. I heard of chrysalis a couple of months before I came here but I never came. When I did, I was depressed because of the limited job opportunities. I knew why but still I was depressed about it.

The GROW class t eacher kept telling me I needed to be realistic. "You have a felony" she kept saying. "You need to concentrate on what you can get".

It was depressing. People kept telling me I could get a job. These people kept telling me that I could only do certain things. It was depressing. I felt they only worried about their statistics and funding to teach their class. If they could not place me, then they would not get funding.

Then, without their help, I found a property manager job, a job they never thought I could get. She even told me I could not get it. It was like finding a needle in a hay stack but I found it. They gave me the offer. In fact the lady at the public assistance offer almost insisted that I cancedl the job interview to attend a job fair to be a custodian at a company. I refused.
I received the offer. You know the rest.

Today is the first day, in over 6 weeks, where I have not had to be in a job class.
I found three jobs on my own. Two of those jobs I received offers but the higher ups would not let them hire me. The third was the property manager job.

I found all of those jobs when I felt down on myself. I found all of those jobs when I felt no one would give me a chance. They did not result in employment but they almost did. Now, I feel good about myself. I am meeting people and I realized that I have come a long way. Now, I can attack the employment market without being told what I can't do. It is good because now I am beginning to believe that I can accomplish things. I have some people who believe in me.
I have some people who keep me strong.

Today is the first day I can begin to do things that will propel me forward instead of just doing what authorities tell me to do. I have to go to the probation department soon. I have to still comply with certain other demands on my time. but I have perservered. That is what this adventure is all about.

Regaining confidence, no matter what. So today is a big day for me. It is 11:45AM and I have been typing for three hours. Just like old times.

I have to leave here and go to the Transition House. I will pick a picture to put on my blog. So when I write the word 'NOW' , you know that I have left, because they shut this place down for lunch. I will go to the Transition house and upload a picture. I will resume my typing there or at the library. I just want you to know what I must do to produce this blog. I go through that just when I type. Putting a picture on it is an amazing exercise of coordinating logistics.

Oh yes, they are having a wine tasting event at the The Banguette Bar on
4th and Main St tonight. It costs 30 dollars. They will have operatic introductions of the different wines. I hear Don Garza is preparing diligently to sing his best.


Thanks for spending the morning with me.
good afternoon world, I love ya.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Hard Morning

I received an extension on my jay walking ticket. What a pain in the ass. I was wrong in committing the infraction, especially in Skid Row. If people do not pay attention to the street lights, there could many tragic accidents.

I went down to the public relief office as well. I experienced something new on the bus ride to the office. A man, sitting next to me, was talking on his cell phone. He said something that caught my attention: two with half. I learned that shorthand while in jail. Evidently the man received a prison sentence for two years but he would only have to serve one half of the sentenced term.
However, he was in some kind of program. He continued to talking and told the person that if he became fed up with the program then he would just pack up his bags and return to prison. He went on to tell the person with whom he was talking that he would continue to do what he had been doing. He would continue to sell drugs and save his money. If he decided he could not continue with the program, he would put money on his books and term himself into the authorities. By the way, "on the books" basically means who would establish a credit balance so he could purchase items from the prison store.

Needless to say I was flabbergasted. I thought he was a good planner but I have never heard anyone meticulously plan his next stint in prison. I have never heard anyone consciously make a choice to go to prison instead of remaining in a program. Usually, a judge will give a person the chance to go to a program instead of going to prison. I witnessed many people leaving the program to do drugs and, by doing so, they violated their parole and would return to prison when they were caught by the police.

Wild, isn't it. I wish I could hear from the public about the man's choice to go to prison. I wish I could hear their comments on someone fleeing the facility to do drugs, knowing that if they did so, they would return to prison.


I had a rough night last night. Doubts sprang up. I felt like I was in a vault. I was frustrated at not being able to finish the blog about my visit to the police department. That will come later today. I came here this morning to finish it but I left the list of quotes at home. I did not want to improvise.

Walking down the steps this morning, there was a woman laying on the first platform between floors. She was
dressed in a night gown. I noticed one of her legs was amputated and she was crying. I looked at her and asked her if she was ok. I really did not know what to do. Soon the manager came. I was not in good spirits before I left my room. Now I was even more down. I was leaving to find a person with whom I could talk. I had seen him last night. He keeps telling me I am on my way. He is actively recruiting people so I can interview them. Billy, the man to whom I am referring, believes I am on my way to being a reporter.

He was not at his guard post at the Midnight Mission so I returned to the room. The woman was now in the back of an ambulance receiving some kind of care. Ambulances are very common on Skid Row. It would be unusual to not see one at least once a day.

I landed here to finish the blog but remembered I forgot the quotes. The day is not starting out very well.
I check my other blog at Blogomonster, and scrolled my posts. I noticed that more people have at least viewed the pages. However my most recent posts only have one view each. It appears that the older posts are more popular. My record now is 60 views. It is on a very early post.

Usually, that would give me a boost but it did not. That is not a good sign. I checked my email and notice that Jan and Kevin returned emails to me. The messages were brief but they uplifted my spirits a little.

This is the first time I have struggled emotionally like this in quite some time. My optimism is waning. I do not like that. I must imrove my attitude. Perhaps it will improve after I speak to Jose.

Life is not pretty this morning on Skid Row. Have patience, Walter. The feeling will pass. I will finish the blog later today. I must deal with some administrative red tape with the public relief office and the traffic court. Maybe that is what it is. I spend more time trying to stay at the break even point than I do moving forward.

talk later. Good morning world. I love ya

Oh yes, thanks, Dgarzila for the comment. That did the trick.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thank you

Due to technical difficulties that are beyond my control I could not finish the blog I was preparing this afternoon. The reason is that I am at a place that has the computer figured so I can not access the draft that I was preparing. In order for me to finish, my readers would have to read the last part first and the first part last. That would not bode too well. It would not be professional. Of course that is assuming I have alot of readers. I
do not. However, hopefully, I will build up a following of readers as time goes on.
The article on which I was working was about my visit to the Central Division of the Los Angeles Police Department this morning. It will be posted tomorrow. It just did not make sense to do a shabby job when talking about them and the people that talked about them to me after my visit.
The above picture, by the way, is just a shot of downtown Los Angeles people enjoying a night out on a patio last week. I liked the lights in the background.
Preview Quote of the LAPD article
Rober Jackson, resident of Transition House- "You would be surprised how many people support the LAPD in their efforts to clean up the streets and rid them of drug dealers. I want you to quote me. Once I owed some drug dealers some money. They were going to hurt me. I called the LAPD and told them. I asked them to pick me up and drop me off at a bus stop. they did. It was a couple of blocks from here. I did not lie to them. I told them I used crack and I was in debt to a dealer. They did not sweat me about the crack. They saved my life that night.
Tell everyone that. I am proud of you, Walter. Make sure you say that also."
That is only one quote of several that I heard yesterday. Obviously, now, I am talking about my experience instead of reporting.
I was not surprised at the comments that people made that will be seen tomorrow. I was surprised that they wanted their names to be linked to the quotes. They did not want to be quoted anonymously. They wanted everyone to know their names. They did not want to hide behind anonymity. They were excited about the prospect of having a Skid Row community Chat Room where they could discuss a variety of issues with anyone that came into it. I told them that at least a couple of officers said they would be glad to visit it and engage in healthy discussion about the area with the people who live and work in it. They, the officers, welcome the exchange.
I was most taken aback by the residents when they looked at me and talked about how proud they were of me. I was a little embarrassed. They mentioned how they saw me study several books on journalism and they saw me endlessly write for months. They know my background in real estate, marketing and the internet. They also know I have developed a passion for reporting, photojournalism and video reporting;news packaging, if you will.
They saw me struggle with my personal circumstances for months. They saw me pick up cans for money. They were at my side when I was offered jobs only to have the offers taken away because of a background check. They have seen others relapse and congradulate me for staying strong. They keep telling me not to worry. They say that I deserve something really good. They keep telling me how well I am doing. It suddenly hit me this morning that perhaps I am doing well in that I am not crumbling. I feel like I am barely standing however.
This morning a lady counselor, who will be quoted tomorrow, told me that I am leading by example. It is hard to believe that people believe that. While typing the article before I had to get off of the computer, a woman who has been a resident where I used to live for a long time told me she was proud of me for going to speak to the officers. Several did. They felt that it took alot of guts. They felt I must care alot about everyone connected with Skid Row to spend the time to do what I did.
It feels good to be respected and it feels good to be worried about. It feels good to know that people care and tomorrow I want it posted on my blog my article about this morning. It will show the officers that people care about them as well.
Everyone tells me to hang on. They believe that I will get a good job. They tell me not to worry about the past. Some even believe I will return to real estate or report in a big way or write a a book. They feel that I can do anything that I want to do. It seems that they are pushing me to believe it.
Why they care about me, I do not know. I only know that when I walk down the streets, tears come to my eyes when I think about it. They came to my eyes when the officers waved to me this morning. They came when a resident at the Midnight Mission told me to keep writing, to keep talking about the area. "It is coming Walter. It may be in real estate. It may be in the internet in marketing or ad sales. It may be in sports. It may be in reporting. Just keep doing what you are doing and you will make it. You will make it for all of us. Don't give up. "
I wanted to save this until tomorrow but I could not wait. Officer Royce invited me to have Thanksgiving Dinner with him and his wife. I damn near burst out crying. He knows not how much that meant to me. Thank you. He cares alot about his officers. He cares alot about the people of Skid Row. The judge wanted me to write for him, on Thanksgiving Day, what being sober meant to me. It means alot to me. I am not allowed to be with my nuclear family. However, people see alot in me. They tell me I am changing everyday. Being clean has given me that. It has given me the chance to grow again and the chance for others to see what I am made of. It is letting me experience again what I am made of. Acts of kindness and confidence go a long way. They carry me through the night. They carry me through the day. Judge,
that is what being clean does for me. It has let me earn the right to have people have confidence in me. It lets me build, again, the confidence in myself.
I hope, that through my efforts, that people in Skid Row, grow to have confidence in everyone that is involved with it. I hope that the barriers that hinder discussion are removed. I hope that I can be a catalus for togetherness and progress.
Thank you every one. I must go. Please read the article about my talk at the Central Division tomorrow. The computer lab is about to close.
Good night world. I love ya.

A visit to Central Division and the residents afterwards

Yesterday I received a call from Sergeant Kevin Royce. He wanted me to speak to his officers at this morning's roll call. I surprised that he wanted me to speak to them so quickly. He wanted me there at 6:45AM. I believe that is 0645 military time. I was up at three in the morning. I thought about what I was going to say. I laid on my bed the whole night. At six o'clock I thought I should get up and polish my shoes. I wanted to be sharp.

I laid down again and started thinking about the last year. This time last year I was sitting in a dormitory of 100 men. It was crowded and I had the worse bunk in the place. Oh god, I forgot about that. Three months later, when I moved to the best bunk in the dormitory, every one said,"Melton, I do not know how you made it in that bunk. " It goes to show you what the human spirit can do when it is determined to survive. That bunk was good for one thing. I could write at night while everyone was sleeping. It was the only time I could think. I started writing the very first night I was a Wayside North, Dorm 3D. I have not stopped. Now I am writing about my experiences on the net.

It was almost seven before I walked into the building. Obviously, it is the building at the top of the page. I kept thinking about the last year and the time went by so fast.

Roll call was beginning when I took my seat in the back. At least forty men and women were sitting in front of me, waiting for the morning update. The first thing I noticed were all of the shiny badges and shoes. It reminded me of my military school days at Harvard School.

An officer looked over at me and introduced himself, a gesture, welcoming me into their house.

Another officer, stood at the podium and winked at me, signaling a respect for my progress and what I have survived the last year. It was clear that officer Royce told him my story.

Officer Royce introduced me as his separated twin. I would elaborate but the public may not get the joke and that is the last thing we need. It was another gesture welcoming me into the fold.

I told them my history. I was nervous. They gave me one hundred fifty percent attention. Their eyes never left me. I did not think I was interesting. I felt they were being polite. I stuttered and stammered. They did not know that I stuttered so bad as a kid that I could not speak a sentence.

Finally I arrived at the point were I could tell them the reason I was there. I was there to tell them that alot of people on Skid Row support them. Many residents of Skid Row are tired of groups speaking for them. They desire open communication. They want to speak for themselves.

I do not know if I was effective in conveying that point. I was overwhelmed by their attentiveness. I wanted to say so much and cram it in because of the time constraints.

Afterwards, officers walked up to me and thanked me for coming to speak to them. It reminded me of soldiers in combat zones that thanked dignitaries and government officials for coming to visit them during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was stunned. They were so humble and thankful. Some congradulated me on my perserverence and new clean life, a life away from drugs. Some wanted to know if I was able to make progress with my sister. You could see that they felt my pain and hoped for the best in my having success in that aspect of my life.

Officer Aguirre and I talked alot. He was a good teacher and it was clear that he has given the problems of Skid Row alot of thought. He believes in the Pyramid of Success. Immediately, I thought of John Wooden and his model. How could you not lose with the Pyramid of Success.

According to him, the Pyramid of Success consists of three things; the police, the social services and the clergy. He felt that those three groups were essential in solving the problems of Skid Row. He believes that the efforts of all three should be integrated and there is no progress in service integration or integrated communication.

Many residents of Skid Row feel the same way. I landed on Skid Row on February 7th of this year. The one thing I hear all of the time from the residents is that the non-profit organizations and the missions do not work together. They say they work together but, in reality, they do not,
according to the residents with whom I talked after my talk with the officers. They feel the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. They feel that, on the surface, they are cooperating, but in reality, they are competing for funds. They feel it is sad that they look at the huge structures, every day, and wonder what they really do.
There has been much talk about the Los Angeles Police Department's handling of the homeless. There has been much talk of the way they treat black men on Skid Row. I walked to a CA meeting after my talk with the officers and talked to people who were at the meeting. Here are a few comments. These comments were written by the people themselves. They wanted to make sure they were quoted correctly and they made sure their names were on the paper and that they were not quoted anonymously:
Michael Johnson,Four times in prison and over twenty times in the Los Angeles County Jail system---- "They need to get rid of all of the drug dealers around here. They are the only ones complaining. I have been here since 1992, and I know for a fact that they have caused distruction in many lives. The police do alot of things for kids around here. they give them toys around the holidays. THE DRUG DEALERS ARE THE
BLOODLINE of the CHAOS AROUND HERE. The police put on their clothes just like we do. They have a job to do and I am glad they do it.
You are the first person who ever asked me anything about anything down here. Everybody thinks they speak for us. They do not speak for s--"
Cynthia Nelson, Case Manager Strive Program. -----The police have a job to do and we are glad they do it. Skid Row is unlike anything else in the world. It is a hard job dealing with these people out here. This LA Can, they do not speak for the residents down here, homeless or non homeless.
God must have sent you to ask us because no one else ever does. It took a lot of courage for you to go in there and speak. You must care alot about us. I am proud of you. Keep it up and tell the police to keep doing what they have to do to rid the streets of these drugs and pimps. I was a crackhead. I am telling it straight and simple. Tell them to do what they have to do. I am tired of young ladies leaving the program because they get tempted by these dealers to trap men. They get lured out, then they smoke and they are worse off than they were before they quit the last time."
Patrick Agorsah, five years on Skid Row------" Walter, it is like this.
the only people who are complainin are the ones who are doing wrong. Look, I was arrested by mistake the other night. I said it was a mistake but they had to go by what was on the computer. Plus, so many people lie to them down here. They have no idea who they are talking to. If you are doing wrong you are going to be rebellious. Those who are not walking with God are doing wrong out here and there is a lot of wrong being done out here. It would not matter who was telling them they were doing wrong. If someone was telling them to do the right thing they would rebel. They would rebel against their own mother if she told them somthing. Police are God's children and alot of us are happy that they are out here protecting and serving us. We are trying to build are lives back and these drug dealers are trying to tear us down. Some of us are not strong enough to resist. Thanks for talking to them and talking to me. I wish I had the opportunity to speak to them. "
George, twenty two years on Skid Row, former drug dealer and drug addict." There was a time when I was on the other side of the law. I am not on the other side anymore. I am on their side now[police]. The only ones who are making a fuzz are the ones who are doing the dirt out here.
They ones who are doing nothing are not saying a thing because they are not having any problem with the police. Dam, Dog, you really talked to them?"
Mark-------"You are a better man than I. I could not talk to them. They caused me alot of problems. I got beat up alot but it was not down here. It was somewhere else. I was doing wrong though,. They dont bother me now. I just couldnt talk to them. "
Sandra-----addict for twenty years-"I am glad you told them not everyone is against them. The only people who break their neck whenever they see them are the ones who are holding pipes and drugs. Nobody else cares. I am glad to see them. There are some mean characters out here. I see some of my girlfriends relapse and the only time they come back is when they have a split lip or black eye because they do not want to do tricks."
RaShon-----------" I have daughters out here on Skid Row. I do not want them to do drugs. I made that mistake for them. I hope the police run all of them in. I am sick of them. I better not see any of them sell my daughters no drugs. Rights, rights? What about our rights? Don't we count? People in these programs are trying so hard and you have these blood suckers standing outside trying to lure them back into misery and hell. No men around her complain about them. I have lived here all year long. They speak to me politely. Hell, who told them we are against them. They need to stop. Everybody always tells us what we need or want but nobody asks us. When are you going to get that chat room started.?"
I must have talked to at least ten more people. They all wonder why people butt into business that is not theirs. "That is how bad feelings start. People who have nothing to do with anything, talk the most. The people removed from the scene, that think they know the most, know the least", a lady shouted to me as she walked away.
They all want to be a part of the chat room because they would like to share ideas. They would feel uncomfortable to speak at a police station but they are used to being there in hand cuffs. They felt they should start waving at officers to let them know that they are not alone.
"Walter, there alot of people out here that do not want help. If you offer them help, they refuse. They are not ready yet. They think that white rock is there friend. They think the one who is selling them that poison is their friend. If the police were to say that they would be accused of saying that to justify their tactics. I am out here every day. The ones who want no help sleep out here. We have beds available. They want to be out here so they can smoke dope. To be honest, I never knew I would be here this long. I signed up for the year program and I like it. I am happy. I never understood the police. I understand them now. I wear this vest. I am the police in this courtyard. People smart talk me all of the time. I know what the police deal with now", a Midnight Mission resident said.
Officer Royce feels that the name Skid Row should be changed. We talked about that for a while and he feels that every time some one says Skid Row, it has a negative reinforcement to it. People feel bad about themselves when they are identified with Skid Row. I agreed. Something new would change how they felt about themselves. At first he suggested something like Central City East, but, after thinking about it, we agreed that that would be identified too much with development and marketing and may be resented. We both agreed that it should be positive and should make people feel that they have hope.
That would be a good thing for everyone to think about, a new name for Skid Row. I do know people have been kicking it around a bit. It would be nice to get the chat room going and have everyone from resident of a program, to a homeless person on the street at night, from a grocer to a counselor, from a police officer to council woman sit and work together to figure out a new name for our community, a community in which we all live and work that represents a new beginning instead of a dead end.
Thanks Officer Royce for the idea. As you can see, you guys are not alone. People in Skid Row support you. Keep doing your job, protecting and serving.
Good Afternoon world, I love ya.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Update--NA meeting, today

I found a computer after I left. I also realized I could upload a picture at this one. The picture on the left was taken at the Mayor's Zoccalo lecture series. The people had a great time after the interview with the Mayor. The picture if not very good but I just wanted to experience uploading it. I plan on getting better. I remember when I could not upload a picture correctly. Progress has been made.
Everybody had a great time and the refreshments were nice. There was a fruit plate with a variety of delicious melons and a choice of cheeses as well. Wine and coffee was plentiful.

4:00PM update.
There is a Narcotics Anonymous marathon taking place in Skid Row as I type. That is the main reason I came here to find a computer. I did not know what a marathon was until a couple of months ago. I believe I was closed to alot of things. It is an event where, for hours, people stand on the stage and share their experiences with drugs. The first one I saw was at San Julian park.

Among the people there, I saw Rory Cromwell, the program director at Volunteers of America on Crocker St. I refer to Rory as the Prince of Skid Row. It is a common consensus that Rory has saved more lives on Skid Row than any single person. He is always there for everyone. He does not judge people. He encourages them to stay clean but he never has belittled anyone when they have relapsed.

I saw the marathon at San Julian park. I sat down a few minutes at this one. I am becoming more open minded as I spend time down here. There was an atmosphere in the room of warmth and positive energy. I saw Candice, the woman whose brother was killed in 1972. She looked very serene sitting in the front row. By the way, she is interested in participating in the Skid Row chat room. She will be much better to look at than I while people are in the chat room.
She wants to be involved in "recovery chat" as she feels that the STRIVE program in Skid Row has done wonders for her. I will post an article about STRIVE soon.

Please visit the marathon at 6th and San Pedro if you have time today.

There are positive things like this going on everyday on Skid Row. I hope I can report on all of them. I am in Skid Row most of the time and I will practice what some one told me about
"hyper-local" reporting. From there, I will branch out.

The marathon must have had some type of effect on me. I walked out during a speech by a man who has been in recovery for years. His message was about HOPE. He said that hope is defined as TRUST. I listened for a few minutes and decided to come to the Volunteers of America building, Rory's building for my second blog of the day.

Before I started blogging, I emailed my sister and updated her on the fact that I almost had a job but could not pass the physical. She also is aware that I shall speak to a bunch of police officers tomorrow. I told her I was nervous but I will do my best. I must attempt to communicate with her and let her know that I am open to hearing from her. The lack of communication got her and I to this point. It does not mean that we have to end it like this. They say that it is the darkest before the dawn. I will keep positive. It is difficult at times.
They last thing Rory said was "stay positive". He was also very suprised to see me there. He used to get on my case about attending the meetings.

He believes I am a success story. Maybe I need to appreciate other kinds of success. I appreciated my triathlon success. Of course my circumstances are different, but still, I need to enjoy the fact that I am doing what I want. I am reporting my experiences with self and my life downtown and I am attempting to talk about people who make up the downtown community.

Bert Green seemed to be doing well today. He had a few very interested customers in his gallery this afternoon. Let us hope he makes a sale.

Good Afternoon, world I love ya. It is never difficult to do that.

Questions to ponder and encouragement

Wow. I did not know what I was going to write about. I was going to continue on with my own therapy until I saw the comments on Central Citye's blog.

I sat one night at Pete's Cafe. I sat one night at Banquette. I did not go there to drink and eat. I have history of frequenting those kind of places though that is no more at this time.

I was starving for conversation, not the food or drink. I was offered a drink on several occasions at the banquette. I declined several times. Finally, I accepted a coke. Back east there was a place like that.

I used to go all of the time. I do not know the protocol if one does not have money. I would imagine that one thing is the patrons would not want to feel you are there to only be sponge, That there company is the priority.

I will ask them about that when I see them again. "Anonymous" clearly has some deep feelings about it.

I believe they are valid concerns that should be discussed in open forum.

"Is it ok to visit friends and talk without having them feel obligated to offer a drink because they think it could be rude to drink in front of you?" . I would not want them to feel as if they should offer me something.

It can be awkward. I have experienced those awkward moments and have seen others experience them as well.

A woman walked up to a table where I sat and asked for change. She was polite. I saw her come by on the previous evening when I was there. She left with no change. I felt uncomfortable because I understood her need for money. I also had no money and I had a soft drink because of the generosity of some one else. I had never been in that position. I felt this urge to tell her, "hey, I would love to give you some change but I am broke as well. " Actually, I had money in my wallet. I have saved money from my collection of cans. But I am scared to spend it.

There was a time when I bought drinks for everyone, now I am scared to spend money for a milk in case I do not find a job or they cut off my general relief. You never know what the computer will do. The lady was very polite and wished every one a nice night. A few minutes later, a man walked up and shoved a cup in someone's face.

I would like to hear comments on how people handle these situations. What the feel is a balance between
enjoying a nice night and feeling imposed upon.

I, last night, wanted to go see Nancy Jean and Kevin and Bert. Nancy said I was always welcomed at their table. If I had gone, I would have only accepted a glass of water. I would want them to know that it was they I wanted to see and not a free drink.

These are the topics that I would love to talk about on Skid Row Broadcasting, my internet television channel. I believe these discussions can be productive and I would welcome a discussion with Anonymous.

I mentioned that I had an unexpected ride along. I received a phone call from the officer and he wants me to speak to his officers. Of course, I will accept. It will be a first. It will be something that I hope will generate food for thought for them and for me. I know I will ask others in my position on Skid Row their opinions or thoughts on the matter, whatever it is.

I walked down the street and saw someone who works in one of the organizations that is on Skid Row selling drugs. I asked someone about it. They told me that is quite common.

I know that where I stayed for seven months, that would not be tolerated. People who were thought to be dirty were tested immeditately. I also know that employees who were tested dirty or refused to be tested were terminated immediately.

There are lots of rumors about that type of thing. Everyone has an opinion about the policy a building has or an organization that runs the building has on those matters. One organization it has been said does not care one bit as long as their rent is paid. It is said that another organization feels strongly about a healthy lifestyle and encourages that lifestyle in their operations.

These are the topics of discussion that I have heard in the last few days.

Yesterday I talked of some pain. I did not want to talk about pain. IT just surfaced. I believe it did because I am reliving some of the past because I look at where I was a year ago. A lawyer wants me to prepare of list of things for us to discuss. He needs background information so he can be efficient and productive. I willk email him a history this week. It is hard for me to go over things.

Last night I lay in my bed and really wanted to be past some things. This morning I went to a meeting and a man talked about his sister and how he stole from her many times. He was forgiven many times.

I did not steal from my sister. I hardly ever saw her. However she believes that certain things are true about me. They are not true. I do not know how to change her feeling about me. It hurts.

Our situation is more of a family that did not communicate and from that came hurt feelings and disappointments on both sides. I did not think that my sister cared one bit about my using drugs.
I did not think I was hurting her. I came to that revelation only recently that I did.

She, on the other hand, does not know how hard I fought to rid myself of that albatross. She does not know how hard my mother worked to rid herself of her baggage and how we both worked hard to learn how to talk to eachother and listen to eachother. We became the best of friends. Nobody was around for those hours of discussion.

There are rumors and gossip that circulated that my sister wants to believe. IT is unfortunate.
The only thing I say to help me is that I fought for years. My mother saw it and acknowledged it and said I was doing so good. She let me do more things. I earned her trust. My sister knows none of this.

All of those years I wanted to get to know my sister. I was always proud of her. She does not know how much pain I was in because of the schism that was there. If I did not do my part, I would not be clean today.

This morning, as I said, someone said I was doing so well. I asked him how could he say that.

He said I was standing tall, that I was poised. He said that people talk about the fact that I am still clean while others "went out". They tell me the job was not mine to have and that I must stay strong. They tell me that I must continue and that it will all come together.

I know I will try be a bridge of communication for the different segments of population with which I communicate. It comforts me while I fight my battles for employment and the unification of family.

I wish I had a computer so I can open up my channel because it has a chat room in place, ready to go.
It would not take long to have it filled with discussion.

Maybe I can make it happen. I have a video cam. I made that happen. I publish a blog. I am still clean.
I encourage others to be clean.


Two people on Skid Row received employment offers yesterday. Success stories. I want to report on those stories. I believe people need to hear about those statistics. It will give them encouragement. It give me encouragement.

Thanks for reading my dribble and drabble.

Good Afternoon, world. I love ya.