Thursday, November 1, 2007
Our Flag is Beautiful
12:00PM. I took this picture, yesterday. I thought I would post it on Veteran's Day. However, I had a great morning. An attorney came to see me today. It was the first time I had someone look at papers since this mess started.
I want to be clear. It is not the first time someone has listened to me. It has been a process. Inmates listened to me in jail. Jail guards listened to me and felt I got screwed. Counselors and residents at the facility where I lived, listened to me. Then, I met my friend Jose and things started to take on a different tone. For the first time, an attorney listened to me. Jose is a very special attorney. He is a friend of the homeless and people of Skid Row. I would say more but he may not want more said. I will say this. Jose has been very instrumental in putting a bro bono legal clinic together for the people of Skid Row. I was there on the very first day. He invited me. He wanted to make sure I had a chance to fight a fair fight.
That is why I posted this picture. Isn't that flag beautiful. See how it stands there proud.
We have problems. We have lots of problems. However, there is no other place in the world like The United States of America. When I would return home from traveling overseas, I would always take a deep breath and exhale when exiting an airport. You know how many rights you DO NOT have when you are overseas. Even in Europe, it is very clear that if you get arrested, you will have many problems, problems like the one I have now. When I told the attorney how I was treated, he just shook his head.
My father was a member of the Peace and Freedom party after he left the Democratic party. He had a subscription to the LA Free Press and he was an constant listener KPFK. He was very aware of the injustices that were taking place across the country during the Civil Rights era. He was aware of the injustices that were taking place with Mayor Yorty's police administration, here, in Los Angeles.
He said one thing to me. "Walter, no matter what, never forget this. No matter how bad things are in this country, know that this is the best place to live. You would shutter if you saw the way people are treated in other countries."
I just checked my email and I received an email from a police sergeant. He told me I need to keep my head up and that I have a bright future. That gives me strength. It gives me faith. It substantiates everything my father taught me to believe. He instilled in me that everybody, if given the chance, will express the caring side of their being. Excuse me. I have to wipe the tears from my eyes.
I am back. I have always been a sensitive man. I cry when most men,at least in the past, refuse to let those emotions show. I always showed mine. That is one of the benefits of having a father who was very progressive and who studied philosophy. He instilled his philosophy in me. He did not want me to adhere to status quo male doctrine. There are different levels of male doctrine but he made sure I did not fall victim to the subculture male doctrine of black males as well. Maybe, we shall talk about that later. Much later. It might take a month of blogs to cover it.
I feel strong when I cry. I feel refreshed. I feel cleansed. I feel that we do not have enough opportunities to cry in this world.
I had a chance to shed some tears this morning. I had a chance to releave some pressure. I had a chance to experience the goodness of man. I had a chance to experience what everyone fought for in the sixties. They wanted eveyone to have a chance, a fighting chance. I hung in there for so long and over the last few weeks, people are starting to listen to me and believe what I say to them.
I tell them truth. I tell them that I did drugs. I tell them that first. That establishes credibility. They also know that I do not do drugs now. Every one on Skid Row knows that.
that gives me more credibility. If I had not been doing drugs last year, perhaps I would have had a fighting chance. However, I did not have that chance, in large part, because of the image that was created by having a history of drug use and the stigma that comes with it.
I have to take responsibility for that. I do take responsibility for that.
I do not kid myself. It is not going to be easy. But now, the fight is beginning. I sat in jail, frustrated and scared. I sat in jail, with the knowledge, that I was going to have to be very patient and endure alot of things. I had to pass the test of time. I had to get distance from the last time I did drugs. I did that. I had to gain the respect and trust of a few people.
On July 17, I walked into a court room and the reports that were given to the court were more than I ever could have hoped.
The judge let me go. I was surprised but that moment signaled the beginning of a new phase. I reminded myself that I had a long way to go for alot of different things. Maintain patience. Be diligent in your patience, Walter.
I started to meet people. I met Eric and now I am blogging. I met many and all of a sudden I have a group of people that believe in me. "Every one on Skid Row believes in you ,Walter", a person said to me. "Believe in yourself and that you are going to make it happen. You talk about things that nobody talks about. Just keep doing what you are doing."
I listen to them and I take their advice. If it were not for every one of them I would not be typing these words now.
I left the Transition House. The Transition house is the only place where I can upload a picture. So, when you see a picture,
you know I have been there.
I am back at Chrysalis. I looked at the website of Common Ground while a computer class is going on. Lots of people on Skid Row are trying to improve themselves. Thatclass was optional. Everyone in this class is making a commitiment. Common
Ground is a developer of supportive housing. It is another 'can' . They just moved to Los Angeles from New York.
After that I looked at "View from a Loft". Ed, the publisher of "View from a Loft", sent an email to me once and it uplifted my spirits.
Part of my blog is a review of my life so I understand every part of it. Ed talked of the Dodgers once and I recalled how I worked for the O'Malley's. He has written about the Los Angeles Sports Arena and I have many memories of it.
When I was a little kid, the land on which the Sports Arena sits was a tennis center. It was a huge tennis center. All of the great tennis players played there. Those were the home tennis courts of the great Pancho Gonzales. That is where he sharpened his weapons that comprised his amazing tennis game.
The tennis courts were dug up and the Sports Arena was built. I have fond memories of the sports arena. I used to attend the Los Angeles Laker games there. I became a ball boy for the Los Angeles lakers. I can say that I have worked for two of the longest lasting sports franchises in the history of the city of Los Angeles, the Lakers and the Dodgers.
In January of 1964, I attended a very sad event at the Los Angeles sports Arena. Three months later I would become a Laker ball boy but I did not know it at the time. In January, I attended the memorrial of John F. Kennedy. It was held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. My mother, father and I went. My sister was too young to attend.
In the lobby of the Sports Arena, there were many momentos of Kennedy. The coconut that he wrote on to save his crew was displayed. Letters were displayed. Gifts from the head of states were displayed. One of them was a sword and the sheath had
at least a hundred diamonds embedded in it. I stared at that sword. Years later, when people were refering to his administration, I wonder who was going to pull that sword out of an anvil. As a youth, I just wanted that sword. I have to admit that I stood there trying to figure out how to get it. I knew I would never do it, even if there was a way. My parents taught me better than that. But I ached for that sword. I still ache for that sword. I heard sad speeches that day and each speech brought flashbacks of that fateful day in November of the previous year. It was the first time I realized how cruel the world was. It was an eye opener and it was the first time I marveled at Walter Cronkite.
In 1970, I was on that basketball court at the Sports Arena again. This time, I was wearing the basketball uniform of my high school, Harvard School. We were in the finals of the CIF Championships. We won that game at the buzzer. We won that game on a tip in after the last second jump shot from Doug Econn, of the Econn Development family, went astray. John Irvine made the tip in. We were underdogs. So were the minute men Boston.
That night, after the game, Mark Harmon, the actor, gave us a big party at the home of his brother in law, Ricky Nelson, the son of Ozzie & Harriet Nelson. It was the best party I have been to in my whole life. I wrote about that party in jail. I wrote about the Marlborough School girls who came to the party. I was the youngest guy at the party. The Marlborough girls adopted me that night. It does not get any better than that. (smile). I studied those girls from the moment they came in the party. I saw the rich history and tradition that was in them. They had confidence. They taught me to have confidence. I thought of all of that in jail and before that. Marlborough, Westlake and Harvard were intertwined.
When I was winning the late rounds of my drug battle, I thought of those schools and the tradition of those schools. I thought about the names of boys whose names were on the walls inside of ST Saviours chapel. Those boys died in wars overseas.
They were leaders.
I decided I could not brake the chain of tradition. I had to hurry and get rid of the albatross so I could get on with the tradition of doing something for the community. That is what those schools did. They did things for the community. That is what my parents wanted me to do. Anyway, thanks Ed for allowing me to remember the Sports Arena and share some of its history and how it was mine. I am glad I posted our flag today. I remembered Kennedy today. It was fitting.
Last night, in my down moments I wondered if it was worth it to blog. "Nobody reads it" I kept thinking. I pouted and sulked. This morning, I read a comment from City Center POZ. I used to live in Center City Philadelphia, by the way. In fact you all know that is the section of the city of Philadelphia that is referred to in "All MY CHILDREN". In fact all of those places to which they refer are real life places. The tavern and places like that.
When I saw the comment from POZ, I instantly felt better. I felt I did something that somebody liked. He did something for me. He told me he loved my blog. The two blogs of today were inspired by POZ. Thank you.
Today has been good. Off to my blog class. smile.
I left blog?website making class at 5. I wish I could have stayed longer. However, in Skid Row, all visitors after 5:00PM are charged 5 dollars. Yes, that is right. 5 dollars. You can never have more than one visitor in your room at any time. I suppose it is because of drug traffic. At 5 on the dot, I had to run out of my teacher's room and make a mad dash for the door.
Some of the things I learned are reflected in the new design of my blog page. It was like being in a production studio. We went to this website for this. We went to that website for that. He had to delete HTML tags.
Whoa, I was getting a complete overview of how it is done.
Earlier, this year, I told you I picked up a book about Html. I picked it up for a reason. I had this dream of working with KCAL 9. I was delusional. The chances of them hiring a felon are none and less than that.
I have always loved watching their news shows all day and night.
I was studying Broadcast News by the Associated Press when KCAL moved to its new state of the art HD studio in the valley. I sat in that guard shack and ached each time I saw those commercials promoting their new studio.
I decided at one point to try to get a job with them. I would not care what it was. I still don't. I would just want in. For that matter, with any tv station news team. I would do janitorial work. I would just be excited to be there.
I saw where they had an online producer job available. You had to know html. That is why I bought the book. I figure I had to know it so I might as well learn it. It was fun designing the page with my instructor, Don.
Yes, it has been a great day. I have new ideas on my big dream that I have been keeping secret. I took a small step towards it. I have the concept tight, I need to work out the technical glitches. If I can convince some key people that the time is now, I think it will be awesome.
Well, it is time to go home. I walked to the library just to tell you that I learned something and that I am in good spirits.
Good night world, I love you.