Thursday, January 31, 2008

joe scott

These are the things one does not learn in history books. This statue is of Joseph Scott, a distingusihed attorney in his day.
He nominated Herbert Hoover to become president. They nicknamed this man "Mr. Los Angeles".

I just wrote about appreciating every minute of your life. When I wrote that, I was in the library. Right after I posted it, I received a call from a from of mine who had worked really hard to make sure I enjoyed my life. There was an accident and he wanted me to get it on film. I did not get there in time to catch the car in flames but I was able to obtain some footage. It was a horrible accident on 7th and San Pedro.

Three people burned to death in car. It will be on channel 9 at 10:00PM. You never know.

hollywood sign

Well, that good night did not last very long. Could not stay away from you guys.

Would you believe that I took this photo of the Hollywood sign standing on a street corner in Downtown Los Angeles. I was standing next to the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion when I snapped this picture. Amazing. My father's ashes are near the Hollywood sign.

I hear the candidates from the Democratic Party will be debating tonight in Hollywood.


To share you how much and how fast things can change these days, now that I have removed so many burdens. Check this out. I posted 239 articles in the since October on blogger.

It was only yesterday, that I explored the google photo section. I did not know it but they kept a copy of every photo I posted on my blog. I have 238 photos in the google photo section. I never would have known it had it not been for the unquenchable thirst to explore and continue to enjoy what is starting to be fun again. LIFE. I learned alot by taking those 238 photos.

I took over 100 photos on Saturday. I could tell I was growing somewhere in the last 25 photos. I approached each photo differently. I am going through doors at a rapid clip. I enjoy it.

I enjoy this creative process and I see where as I learn how to create things and learn how to express things, I am developing, once again, a life that will have unlimited potential.

That is what this process is about. I prayed that I could last long enough to be able to write and genuinely tell people what it feels like to be at this point.
I prayed that I could hang in there and get to this point so that those who live on the nickel whether in Skid Row, or the nickel in their soul can see that it can be done. Be grateful of those that you meet along the way who have helped you. Help comes from people you do not like. They help you to understand that there is nothing not to like. They help you to understand the forces that made them who they are. By doing so, you understand more, in intricate detail, the forces that make you who you are. A person is a beautiful mozaic and each person that comes in your life adds to the zillion tiles that make up your self portrait. Appreciate them.
Learn from them. I have, in the last year, learned so much from the people of Skid Row.
They are teaching me how to create. It is hard to say how but they are. They taught me how to love every second instead of suffering every second. They gave me and are giving me a graduate course on the art and beauty of "focusing".

"Stay focused, Walt." "Just stay focused and everything will be ok". Street person, corporate person, social worker, police officer. Whatever walk of life from which they come, they say stay focused and keep pushing forward.

A man from France wrote me. He is a tremendous individual. "Keep moving forward."
Those were his words. He has no idea how much those words meant to me and from saying them to me how much they helped me to plow ahead.

Tonight on Skid Row, I see lots of beauty. I have traveled a long way to see it. I need to travel farther. I have one week to go before the year is up. I will be in court on the day the year is up. I want to do in 7 days what normally takes 2 years to accomplish. It can be done. Just stay focused, walter. It will come. l I know it will come. I feel it. I feel it deeply.

Thanks everyone.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A year of Change

At 4:00 PM, I received a call that my bridge would be ready tomorrow. They expected delivery today but they expect them to be delivered in the morning. It was hard to believe that they were ready.

If they are ready tomorrow morning, I will be totally ready for a job interview that I will have at 3:00PM. I can not tell you how many times I worried about having street shoes, teeth, a suit, a proper business shirt and tie for the kind of positions for which I have always interviewed.

I spent thousands of hours agonizing that I would never get passed the interview because I did not have the proper attire, let alone passing the background check.
I never thought I would get to the point where I could even ask the court to consider some changes.

Each minute seemed like days. Each day felt like years. When emotional pain hit, each second felt centuries long.

I was released from jail February the 7, 2006, one week from Today. I met hundreds of men at the Transition House. Many of them came to rest in between combat duty in the cocaine killing fields of the streets of Skid Row. Many of them became casualties of the "Rock", an enemy that always evaporates but never goes away. It returns, mysteriously, waiting to ambush the best of men.

A healthy percentage of the men that are not in the streets puffing their life away are in jail or prison, apprenhended by the law for violations of parole or probation. Some have new cases from selling drugs after being clean for an extended period. The temptation was too much. Their memories of the past were too short.

One man fought to see his son and he self distructed before his son's arrival. The fear was too great. I know how he felt. I remember many times in the past when I self distructed. I shared with you the time a friend from back east came to visit me and I helped her in San Diego. I was so nervous I smoked away 30 -40 pounds as well as a potential relationship. It was long ago. I will never forget.

Men have died in my presence in the last year. One man lay on his back one morning, spread eagled. He had been dead for 8 hours but everyone thought he slept in an awkward position until the lights came on and his eyes were wide open.

Recently, I have seen some things that concern me about the path that some people down here are taking. They come up to me and confess they have slipped. They need to talk about it because they know they lost something. They can continue being clean but their is an intangible quality about them that they fear they will not regain.

One year year later and the year is far from over. I remember thinking I had 5 more yards to finish cocaine comsumption. I knew I had just a little ways to go. People in my own neighborhood knew it. I had changed. However it was the last five yards that were the hardest. I had to travel 100 miles between each yard to understand, to appreciate to absorb.

I crossed the goalline and I never looked back. I swore that I was not going to let whatever circumstances come my way be a reason to go backward. I never did.

These hard times have propelled me forward in ways I can not describe and there are few that have this perspective that can guide me through the menagerie of understanding that will keep revealing itself as time marches on.

I am ready for the interview tomorrow. I am ready for the interview on Monday.
I will go home tonight and revise some resumes and will be ready for future unknown places to be interviewed if I get the desired call backs. I will be ready for the court date next week. The last five yards will be an interesting road to travel within the next coming days. I experienced two years of changed perspective within the last few days. Productivity. Efficiencies. Words that are common economic buzz words but have great intimate significance in the daily course of my life.

It is time to go. I must walk through the toy district. I must see the twinkling lights of downtown. My mother loved looking at these lights down here. I love them as well. I want to see what else will be different for me in the next few days before the year is out. I am working hard to make more changes. It is like a campaign. You never stop. You keep going. You keep shaking the hands of life.

You never stop. You keep going. Good night.


Feedback, Efficiencies, and Economics of Scale

The process of building, of understanding and the incremental understanding of building a sound foundation is what happens to a person while they live on Skid Row. Many people do not remember the complex things we learned as a kid-how to walk, how to speak, how to pronounce words. We remember the long and short vowels. We do not remember some of the rules of pronunciation. I believe all of it comes under the headings of Child Development.

I read some passages about Child Development when I was triathlon training. Many books of that nature when in the library at the family house. My father left all of his graduate study reference and text books. They came in handy when I thought I was finally going to rebuild my life.

My father was an educator and he taught me how to educate myself, teach myself, and teach myself how to educate myself. I believe it was the most important educational curriculum in my life.

I have been thinking about Xerox lately. Perhaps it is because I have been exposing myself to increasing amounts of information. I have always known how to access information but I did it the hard way. What is so funny is that I was on the internet as early as 1969 when we went "online" in computer class. We used a cuplet, dialed a number and used preprogrammed tapes that we fed into a computer.
We learned the Basic computer language. I used that same input protocol when I was the message board operator for the Los Angeles Dodgers when Peter O'Malley hired me after my freshman year in college.

I have been getting more organized physically. Now I am getting more organized in the information area. I still remember the areas of information flow that Xerox talked about. Most people who were at Xerox do not realize how lucky we were to have a curriculum, which included the accessing , delivery , storage , and retrieval of information.

I have been working on things in their distinct categories, concentrating on each discipline by itself. For instance, I began my blog with writing, then added photos. I worked on improving those photos. I had to collate information for certain reasons. It was all therapeutic. It was also a review course. It was a boot camp of sorts. Suddenly I realized that this computer was much better than the Xerox 9700 which was the ultimate "one man office" in the early 1980's.

If you knew how to use it, you needed no secretary.

One does not have to figure out how to progress, I am finding out. Each discipline learned on its on eventually is integrated with others. Vertically, horizontally, forward and backward. It is a beautiful thing to experience. I am experiencing it now as I am integrating disciplines and efficiencies are starting to build. Efficiencies are giving way to rapid feedback due to the time escalation of the delivery and reception of information.

It is happening in a variety of ways-comments on the blog, emails to me from the blog. Old friends have found me from the blog and in some cases have encouraged me to develop skills that can be honed from blogging:Research, writing, editing and other disciplines within the multimedia word, by themselves, and eventually in a natural integration as one grows an develops ones capabilities.

Projects are easy to start. Multitasking can be done on separate projects with the proper form of system integration. The results can can shorten the "development

With all of that comes confidence. I am feeling a level of confidence I have not had since I was 13. It is all from a process that started ten years ago.
The University of Skid Row, with increasing efficiency in the use of its resources, is expediting my learning curve and increasing my productivity.

As Justice Felix Frankfurter said, "If you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there.". Judge Higgonbotham would quote him in the beginning of each class.

Confidence development is the most important course in Skid Row. Nothing else is as important as confidence. Nothing. Makes sense. Even in economic statistics the have the "discouraged worker effect" in labor statistics. That is when people are so discouraged that they do not even look for work.

In Skid Row, people must avoid being discouraged. That is the key. That comes from having people encourage eachother to hang in there. They have to believe. I talked about that. That is the hardest part. I have seen how people excited from learning how to use the computer. I have seen the confidence that comes from it. I saw, years ago, how kids felt empowered when they learned how to make the tennis ball do what they wanted it to do. I monitored my confidence level when I triathlon trained. I recalled those traditions and the history of all of those traditions from my school days. I used them all sense being down here.

I am experiencing that "confidence rush" everyday as I teach myself new things and while I am teaching myself new things, I am getting immediate feedback from all over the world. I am reacquainting myself with worlds that are far away. I do not have to worry about the distance. The new media has changed that.

It is nothing new. Just magnified. When I was in college I used to fly home from Philadelphia all of the time. I did not look at distance in terms of milage. I viewd distance as the amount of time it took to get someplace. 4 hours, not three thousand miles.

I opened a live cam that was in Brazil today for people in Skid Row to see it. They loved the statue of Jesus Christ, Corcovado. I did the same with the Eiffel Tower and the London Bridge. These are places that have felt out of reach to all of these people. Places that they only heard of. The internet gave them the confidence that those places are in reach--certainly closer than they thought before today.

It spurred them to run back to their computers and find out about other cities and see parts of the world they have never experienced and thought they would never see.

I get feed back everyday. It pushes me to go further. The positive feedback, in various forms has made the process endurable. Feedback would come and its magic would propel me further to fight harder to breaktthrough invisible barriers.

When I would get tired, some new feed back would emerge. Miracles from cyberspace fed my soul and my spirit. They bred life and hope into me. It has given me something that I have not felt in decades. I only know to feel it because my father taught me what it took to feel it. He was an educator.

By the way, I have two interviews. I just received word today about another one. Feed back. I believe that this computer, on Skid Row, can serve not only as a tool. I have witnessed and I have experienced the power of it as a weapon for positive change. And I know the surface has not even been scratched.

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo can do miracles in Skid Row. They could do what the government has not done. They can use the computer and information services as a way to build confidence and that will go a long way to end homelessness and poverty.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Getting Ready

Strange picture to see isn't it? I know. However those shirts are a mile stone. They rank right up there with the paper dolls that the kids gave me for Christmas and Thanksgiving, not to mention the sweat outfits.

Those shirts are I think the last thing I need to finally have all of the props when going for a job. Sure I had some suits. But you know and I know that an ill fitting shirt makes it seem like a person is not used to wearing a suit or that he is not accustomed to an environment where suits are worn as a requirement in wardrobe standards. I have worn suits since puberty-military uniforms and then the gray slacks,blue blazer, school tie standard dress on thursdays and fridays after that. It is not surprising that I feel more comfortable in a suit than any other form of dress.

One must feel it. One must project what they feel. I must that if I had these shirts a few months ago, I would not have worn the shirts. The shirts would have worn me. I was not ready yet to have them. I am now.

We talk of the trash that litters the Skid Row streets. Indeed, everyday, piles of trash and garbage are a standard part of the Skid Row landscape. You learn how to live with that.

It is however a little harder to live with the clothes that drape the streets and sidewalks all throughout of Skid Row.

At the end of each day, when the buses take back people to other shelters from different locations in the city(and by the way, those people leave the most trash. They litter more on skid row than anyone else. Most of the people who come and litter and leave at the end of the day do not live on Skid Row. People do not know that) and county. They leave all kinds of trash.

At twilight, a different kind of debris begins to cover the sidewalks and street curves---CLOTHES. Clothes of all types litter the streets. It starts about 5 when the other people leave. You come across a pile of clothes left behind. Sometimes people still the bags of other homeless people who have not checked them in at the VOA drop in center or other temporary storage locations in the area. They carry them everywhere. You see more luggage on Skid Row, than you see at Los Angeles International Airport. Most people walk so much that they have their luggage on wheels, rolling the bags with a tiresome look in their eyes.

The clothes go through a process when they are on the ground. Like snow, when it first appears, they are fresh and are in a neat pile. Someone, most likely, dug in a bag, took out what they wanted or what they could use, and left the rest. They become more dirty as time rolls on. They pile loses its tidiness as well. The clothes start to get dragged along the street or side walk. They are symbolic of the lives that are torn apart, and torn every which way. You can feel the agony in the souls of those that have left the clothes behind.

Piles of clothes like that dot the landscape of the neighborhood. You never see them in trash cans, only on the street. Each pile has a unique story of how they arrived to that location. I have often wondered how many times ownership of those clothes changed. Were they stolen, were they given away or did someone take them in leu of payment for drugs or a sex act. Those stories are a mystery and each morning hundreds of piles of clothing appear like mushrooms after a rainstorm.

Process and the Student

These are two of the multitudes of pictures I took on Saturday. I can not upload them so they are on the slide show as of yet but at least I can publish them on a blog.

I thought the first picture of the palm tree and the snow capped mountains was interesting. This tree was just sitting there. It had this majestic and enduring aura about it. The snow on the mountains are temporary, and at the same time reveal diversity and versatility of conditions and environment. I thought one could have fun with what this picture says about many things. I would love to hear about any thoughts or feelings your have. Friends would come here from the east coast in my college days and marvel at the snow capped mountains in an environment where they had palm trees and had the option to surf or sky.

The next photo is of course, the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I took this picture because a friend of mine mentioned it to me recently. Furthermore I have been getting alot of email from my school and Roy Disney was a graduate from there. Moreover, I saw a picture of Douglas Fairbanks in his three muskateer outfit. I used to view him on the Disney show as kid. He too is a fellow alumnus of my school.

Today has been interesting. I submitted two resumes this morning and talking to three people about employment. I was not prepared to speak to one person when they responded to my question about the potential of expanding his business. I liked the man and felt he was smooth and gracious in his demeanor, astute in his observations, and visionary in his philosophy.

I have an extensive sales background beginning with my tenure at Xerox Corp. Xerox has long been known as the best sales training organization in corporate America.
We all know how much I love to write. I would be able to increase the growth of revenue in a business that is involved in communications, and communications in a growing environment in which I have historical ties and perspective.

I can see where I can grow and help his business grow. It is a small outfit with great potential. I could fill in for the owner in other areas that I am sure he may need assistance from time to time. These areas, in which he already operates offers opportunities to become significant profit centers.

I have talked of being a team member quite a bit over the last few months. I have also talked alot about business growth. I think because I am growing as a person and even my blog readership is growing. It tickles me. I have not concentrated on marketing. I have not utilized any of the marketing strategies or tools available to increase visibility. The main thing I have done is concentrate on the content and to improve the content daily as I grow internally. I want to increase the quality of the content, whether in the dimensions of the visuals or the clarity of my verbal communication.

I saw a website this morning where it appeared to me that the owner of that website concentrated on the quality of his content. The content is based on his philosophy and the business model is based on his observations on the evolution of certain social phenomenon. It would be rewarding to be apart of that. It would be an extension or an actualization of what I wrote about the future of Los Angeles and Broadway bringing people together. This person understands how the synergistic results of social assimilation can transforming itself into business strategy; the niche market of "all inclusiveness". I love that philosophy of life. I would like to be able to develop that niche in a marketing mode. Either way he brought clarity to me.

Another day in the "Process and Student".

One can observe something one day and have a different perspective another day as a result of more information, different angle or passage of time.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Neon Lights on Broadway

Wow, I finally was able to upload a few of the pictures of the
"Bringing Back Broadway" program that was held this morning. The top picture is that of Mr. Delanjoni. I will correct the spelling later. He owns the Los Angeles
Theater. The other picture is, of course, the Mayor of our beloved city, Anthony Villaraigosa.

Mayor Villaraigosa recounted memories of his childhood on Broadway. I too had memories. My father brought me to the Los Angeles Theater to see
the "Guns of Navarone" starring Anthony Quinn. I was just a little boy. I used to visit my mother at her LA County office where she was an auditor. We too would got to Clifton's and eat lunch. My favorite moment was when we reached the dessert section. That was the last thing before you reached the cashier. I would always pick the big, rich Chocolate Cake. I loved Cliftons and it was the first thing I visited when I landed on Skid Row. I forgot about the Los Angeles Theater until I was inside of it during the Jules Verne Festival. Immediately I remembered the intricate craftsmanship in the theater. There is no other place like it.

Cliftons, at that time, was always crowded. Lines extended way outside of the doors. The streets of Broadway were packed with men and women in business suits going to the department stores at lunchtime. My mother and I would always go to Bullocks. That was my favorite spot.

She told me about the times she visited Broadway as a teenager. She told me of the many times she later danced up and down Broadway as a professional before joing the USO and working with Bob Hope in Europe during World War2. She told me of the times when she worked in the movies and when she worked for Edith Head. Ronald Reagan later gave her the much cherished SAG card.

Today people from all walks of life shared alot of the past of Los Angeles. It is clear that no matter who you are, in the City of Los Angeles, we are connected by a common bond, the memory of Broadway back then. It does not matter what your race, creed or color is, we all are connected by a place that we love, a place that we want to preserve because it preserves our common history.

As we approach Black History month, I am especially grateful to have been at the Los Angeles Theater today. The owner talked of his special friendship with former Mayor Tom Bradley. I grew up a few doors from Tom Bradley's house in Leimert Park.
I remember him and his wife,Ethel, coming over to my parents house and I would play with their two daughters.

When Tom Bradley ran for his first seat in City Council, I was a little boy. Tom Bradley was a Los Angeles Police Officer. I remember when he told me to sit next to him at the dinner table during a fund raising event at his house. I could remember this tall, attentive man in his police uniform making sure I had enough to eat.

I am glad he convinced the owner to purchase the theater. It not only has allowed me to remember my past but it allowed me to participate in a historic day in the history of Los Angeles that will be remembered far into the future.

Black History month is a month for everyone to share. It is a month that not only marks significant moments in American History but significant moments in the nations history for ALL PEOPLE TO COME TOGETHER. Today is a continuation of that history, of the journey that Los Angeles has taken over decades for people to share something.

We bonded today again and today sets the stage for the future for people to come even closer as we learn about each other.

A Fantastic morning feeling

It is 11:00 AM

I just left the Los Angeles Theatre, where, as I type, the "Bring Back Broadway" conference is taking place.

I ran over here to Chrysalis to take pictures. People did not recognize me as I had on a suit. I wanted to be the first too post pictures of the conference to my readers. I am unable to do so because of the technical difficulities that I am experiencing.


However there is something more important to share. It is the response and encouragement of people on Skid Row when they saw me wearing a suit. People who knew me were yelling across the street. "go get em , Walter".
"Represent us well, Walter". "Dam, Melton you are on your way."

They were all routing for me. They did not know where I was going or what I was going to do but the dress signaled to them that I was on my way. It did a lot for me. It confirmed to me that people on Skid Row pull for eachother.

I then turned up sixth st. People who DID NOT know me were yelling at me.

"Do IT". "that's right." "You are on the right path." "sho you right".

IT did alot for me to receive that support. It did alot for them to see me on the move. I could see it in the eyes of people. They had hope. I put a little fuel in their "fighting" tank. They put fuel in mine. I will comment further later in the day. As for now, it was clear that Skid Row and the people of Skid Row were of the same spirit. Broadway is coming back. The people of Skid Row let me know that I was on my way back. Thank you.


it is early Monday morning. I woke up at about 4:30AM and decided to get to work. I planned on doing some organizing chores yesterday but instead I went to a private screen of an independent movie. It is another in an increasing line of activity and exposure to positive things once again.
It is nice to sit in this room in the dark with the door closed and feel my thoughts and communicate them. This computer has been acting like it has some sense lately. As a result, I can check on things, research things and communicate things. It makes for more efficient use of my time while I have the use of this
functioning communication wonder.
I shot photos all day Saturday. Took over 100 of them. What started out as a journey to take pictures of Downtown LA evolved into a learning session of creating art within the photos.

Evolvement. That is the operative word. I am slowly accepting the fact that I am evolving and it is taking hold. I am glad of that. My attitude has evolved. My discipline has evolved. My activities are evolving.

I am becoming more postive. I used to dwell on the things that were negative that were negative. I was consumed by things that could hold me back. I could not see that I had a lot of postive things in me, about me that could propel me into a bright future.

Of course my circumstances, much of which I created over a ten year period created alot of that attitude but I am beginning to take up where I left off before all of these events happened. I am taking up where I left off in october 2006. I had been training for two years. I had been studying for the same length of time: english, math, science, constitutional law, physics.

I was asscociating concepts from one discipline to another.
I changed my life and I was beginning the process of changing the environment. I was turning a house into a home.

Things happened. For now, I am not there.

I kept struggling and fighting and now I am where I am. There is a strong sense of anticipation that has been born. Where and when the seeds were planted, I do not know. I surmise that it has come from 10 years of work and one year of confusion and pain. It has come from the endless efforts of those who have encouraged me-who fought to keep me fighting. I am grateful for them.

I said that I would become more honest as I became more comfortable with this medium. What I did not know was that I would become more honest as I became aware of things about which to be more honest:about me, about things as they are revealed.

I must head out to Broadway. There is a Mayor's conference. The last time I was at a Mayor's conference, that event turned into a job offer. Lets see what this experience will bring. I will update everyone on the conference as soon as it terminates.

Good Morning, Downtown Los Angeles

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The homeless issue

This morning, I attempted to walk out of the Marshall House. My progress was stalled by a lady who was sleeping on the porch, on the other side of the door, blocking the door from moving. A security lady was trying to wake her up. I was glad to see that she was at least dry.

I went across the street to get my milk and orange juice. I saw two sweet rolls that look a bit more appetizing than what is customarily served so I grabbed them. I really was not thinking of anything in particular when I took them. I never touch the rolls that they serve.

I returned to the Marshall House where the security guard, a nice lady, was speaking softly to the homeless lady, urging her to get up.She encouraged me to go up the stairs as well. I would link it but this computer does not allow for that. Anyway, I will try :

"Can I have one of those?" the lady asked me when I was opening the door to the building. I stopped, bent down, and gave her both of them.
"Come on honey, you have to get up. I know you are tired but you are blocking the door", the security guard said.

"Can I sleep with you?", the tired young lady asked. I noly said. "I can't do that.". She was not making a pass at me for
"survival sex" as I believe it is called. She wanted to rest her tired body and soul from the cold and the rain.

The other night I saw a "clump" covered by plastic in the powering rain. I ran out as I told you to check on it. It was a person, evidenced by two feet sticking out from under the plastic. It had rained so much the feet were, in effect, wiped clean and bruises and sores were clearly revealed.

From those two events, I googled certain key words:

Homelessness as issue, presidential candidates.

I looked at the results. They were quite interesting. I could not see where any of the candidates had made homelessness and issue.

I saw a New York Times article, first published in December 23, 1991 during a presidential campaigan. "Homelessness Rises But Not As Issue" is the name of the article done by Steven A Holmes.

That is where it is. The article dicusses how homelessness was rising but it was not rising as a political issue in an election year. It mentioned how only one candidate showed up at a homeless shelter and it was Bill Clinton. At that time, there were fears of a recession and an increase in the homeless numbers.

We are on the verge of another recession. I could be wrong but I have not heard of anyone talking about the homeless issues. Channel 4 did a show on the homeless in Los Angeles County. Whether you agree with the points of views, there is no doubting the fact that homelessness is a growing concern and if people start to lose jobs then the numbers of those that do not have a place to stay will increase.

One can not look at feet sticking out from under a blanket and plastic sheet in a torrential storm and experience a woman desperately needing food and shelter without wondering if more numbers are going to be added to the homeless count on Skid Row.

Anyone can lose their job. No one is immune, for the most part.
I hope the press, or the powers that be in LA will force the candidates to discuss the homeless issue as it pertains to Los Angeles while they campaign here.


it is about 4:30AM. I come down to the second floor at times
just to see who is outside. During the rain I look to see how many people are still outside. Over the last few days,
I have noticed this clump of blankets and plastic on the ground.

AT first I thought they were abandoned blankets. Last night I went outside to check. They were not abandoned. The "clump" was a person laying beneath the blankets and the plastic. That person has slept every night in these torrential rains beneath those blankets and sheets of plastic.

It is sad to see that. People have asked me and I have wondered where people go when it rains. I found out where one person goes.
He or she sleeps outside of my window with no more than an additional sheet of plastic to protect himself or herself from the elements.

The other day I talked about dealing with my imperfections. When you see a person sleeping outside in these conditions it keeps your priorities in the proper place.

I wonder, is it that difficult to solve this homeless situation or is it a matter of priorities. I remember my first economics courses. I remember reading a supplemental article about poverty. I forget who the economist was at the moment. He was a very well respected Keynesian economist. He was from either Harvard or Princeton. (It is hard to believe that he would be from Princeton at that time). (I had to get in my jab at Princeton. That is an old Penn/Princeton past time, jabbing each other.) He said that if the United States government wanted to solve the issue, it could be done within 5 years. It was a matter of priority, not capability.

This economist was a Nobel prize winner, by the way. I will research out that name and get the article.

I have sources that tell me that told me that one of the big stumbling blocks in this homeless 50 project, was that one of the politicians wanted to take all of the credit. That issue stalled the project. Isn't that a damn shame. People needed help and their help was postponed because one of the politicians wanted to take all of the credit.
"walter, it happens everyday. That is what I have to deal with."
That was a quote somebody told me. In essence, he was giving me a quick lesson on politics.

I told you Skid Row was a great place to learn the true reality of things.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ted Trumble, a Skid Row professor, goes home

It has indeed been a big day. It started out at 10:00AM. I rushed to the Transition House to say good bye to Ted Trumble. That is Ted in the two pictures.
The third is a mountain shot that I took. Ted is going back to the mountains today.

He arrived at the Transition House a month after I did. He was charged with a similar offense. However, they made his a misdemeanor. He had a great public defender. She fought for him. That is not a given in today's public defender office. On Skid Row, they are known as "Public Pretenders".

Ted tried to take care of his dad as best he could. The one thing he could not do was force his dad to change positions or go take a shower. His dad just wanted to lay comfortably. Some officials noticed bed soars and they charged Ted with a neglect offense. I would like to know how one is suppose to force an adult, albeit it an elderly adult, to do something they do not want to do.

I remember my sister writing me in jail. She told me that she had to lie to our mother to get her to see the doctor. She tricked her. I could not do that because I did not have a car.

Anyway, they court sentenced him to a year at a program or something. He did not have to go back to court. He was one of the few that spent dam near a year. Others are gone within 60 days. They are the drug sellers who say they have a drug problem and are given prop 36.

Ted arrived a month after I did and he and I were close from the start. He was known as the gentle giant. He loved working in the kitchen and would do anything for anybody.

He let me use his library card so I could study journalism. Every knows how much of a news fanatic I am. Even down here my nick name is Walter Conkrite or Walter Concrete, depending with whom I am talking.

I had the idea I was going to work for a news station. I would sit in that guard shack everyday and watch news from 8 in the morning until 8 at night. Ted volunteered for the kitchen and I volunteered for the guard shack. I did anything I could to find some peace and quiet. Ray, another friend in our aisle, took over the receptionist desk. Between the three of us, Rory, the program director, said he did not have to worry about anything. We handled everything.

I took out 7 books about broadcast news. The first one I studied was
the Associated Press--Broadcast News. The second one was the history of television news broadcasting in Washington. I studied the history of radio and television. I studied how those two mediums impacted the presidential elections and politics in general.

I took voluminous notes. I outlined every chapter. I started where I left off before all of this started because I trained and studied at the same time.

I went from those books to studing video production. I checked out anything the Los Angeles Library had available. Ted would check on me and mad sure I studied and made sure I was writing.

He is very much responsible for the creation of this blog and my blogging career.
Before he Christmas, Ted had to go to the hospital. Subsequently, he had to get his toes amputated. He is ok now. I am glad that I had a chance to get to know him.

Ted taught me alot about duty and doing things the right way. He spent dam near a whole year in the Transition House for something he did not do.

Now he is on his way home. Probably there now. He has this cabin in the mountains in Saugus. His cabin is next door to the cabin that was once owned by the famous acress Mary Pickford.

With Ted gone, it closes a chapter. I met him when I was in severe pain. Ted taught me how to make the best of things and to continue to learn. He said he had no anomosity for having to spend a year down here.
When someone went home a few weeks ago, I remember I was happy for him but I was sad and depressed that I was being left behind. I did not feel that today.

I feel today started a new beginning. It has been brewing for some time but with Ted leaving, it marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. I left Ted and toured Downtown Los Angeles. I tooke over 100 pictures of Downtown los Angeles.

Godspeed Ted. You said you learned alot but Skid Row learned alot from you.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tyree is doing fine

Those of you remember the video that I did with Tyree. He relapsed and was living on the streets. When I interviewed him, he returned to the STRIVE program.
I saw him today and he is doing fine. I had to take this picture of him. He was in the computer lab attending class. "I enjoy the program more now than I did before I relapsed. I am more into it now and I know, for sure, that that street life is not for me. I had enough of it."

Although, you can access the video by clicking on the screen on the upper left side of the blog, I wanted to have a huge embedded player on my page. Thanks for indulging me. This is the video I did with Tyree explaining what it was like to relapse.

Good work Tyree. I will tell you the same things people have told me.
"Keep up the good work. Keep doing what you are doing. Everything will work out."

Between the rain storm

I took this picture yesterday. I loved the contrast of the different clouds as the rise about the Union Rescue Mission. They sort of have a divine air to them don,t they.

There is a woman who is my photo critique. I hope she sees this one. Will she emerge/ Will shall see. She is a part of the Downtown community. A mysterious woman- with an eye for dramatic scenes.


It is Friday morning and I am sitting at Chrysalis. I checked the job board but it there is nothing happening. I will start fresh on Monday.

Yesterday a nice man sent me an email. I did some further reading and found out that he lives on the same street in the neighorhood. I began thinking of my days on that street and how much that street and my family meant to me. Always have.

I thought about my teeth and I thought about something that I never told my sister.
I wrote her and told her. I must have wanted to tell her these things for a long time because there was an endless flow of tears that would not stop.

I always thought I was ugly. My teeth were a big issue to me. They were deformed because of an illness that the doctors felt would take my life. It did not but the legacy of it was deformed teeth and an abdominal scar. It was hard for me at times to be a competitive swimmer because of my scar. I tried to hide it when I was at the swim pool.

I always felt I had only one thing going for me. I loved everyone and was a sensitive guy. My imperfections were and issue growing up. I made some of them worse by doing drugs. That, of course, made the teeth worse. Thus, I disliked myself more.

Los Angeles is a place where teeth and cosmetic appearance is important. We all know that what is on the inside counts the most but in everyday application in the land of tinsel town, one can lose sight of that.

I told Randy, my friend and oral surgeon that it was not surprising to me that he became an oral surgeon. He loved medicine. He cared about people and he wanted to help them. He was also an artist of sorts. He loved to do sculptures.
He could be an artist and help people fill good about themselves.

I said that Skid Row is a great University. You have a chance to learn things. You have a chance to reinforce values. You learn alot about life down here.

People talk of the homeless. No one talks about the people who struggle to walk down the street because the prothesis leg has been damaged. They do not talk about the endless numbers of amputees that live in the area that struggle everyday. They do not talk about the people with half skulls or who have lost eyes or eye sight through accidents.

A man lost all of his toes recently. He is going home soon. He worked endlessly in the kitchen to feed people while he was in the same facility with me. The cook, with whom he worked, died recently of cancer that she did not know she had.

I was down because of my situation until I thought of these things and was able to put some things in perspective. Maybe those tears that came when I wrote my sister was a release of some pain-the pain of not liking myself because I had some petty imperfections years ago. Funny, when I was swimming at USC, training, I did not even remember about my scar. I would not get it removed even though they have the technology to remove it these days with a laser. If it were not for that scar, I would not be alive.

I came to understand those things when I was training. The more I understand, the more my drug consumption decreased.
I want to thank my friend Randy for helping people. I want to thank Mark for letting me think of my sister and to put some things in perspective. I want to think God for not having my sister go through some of the things I did, in so far as learning how to like herself because of imperfections.

Those people who struggle each day with amputations etc, have learned to deal with more things than we will ever know. They have good souls. They understand life and what is important. It is important not to feel sorry for them. It is important to learn from them because they are great professors of life at the University of Skid Row.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Staying the course.

These are just a few of the people that make up Skid Row.

The two women are Ms.Armstead, on the left, and Captain Veenstra on the right.
Ms. Armstead is an attorney with the City Attorney's office. She is the neighborhood prosecutor. I do not exactly know what that means but I will find out for you asap. Captain Veenstra is in charge of Patrols at the Central Division of the Los Angeles Police Department which is in Skid Row.

Yesterday they they were at "Ask the Captain". That is a once a Quarter event that takes place at the LA Mission where people from the community can address their concerns with the neighborhood brass. The event was held in the chapel of the mission and was cut short because of scheduling conflicts.

About 50 to 75 people attended the event and basicly they were given a synopsis of the Safer Cities Initiative status. I asked Sergeant Royce about the categories of homelessness. He said he had some figures as to what percentage were homeless because of drug use or other reasons. When I get those figures, I will publish them.

The smiling gentleman is Michael Johnson. He is happy because he moved from the Transition House to the Panama House. It sounds like something that should be simple but nothing is simple on the Nickel. Michael had been the Skid Row community sense 1992. He has been in approximately 10 programs.

I met him while I was at the Transition House. He lived there for a couple of months and suffered another relapse. He returned to the Transition House and has been clean ever since.

Michael was one of the first Skid Row community members that spoke to me concerning the police a couple of months ago. He insisted that they know that people support their activities on Skid Row.

I put these pictures of people on the blog instead of people to show the difference one feels when one talks about the people of Skid Row. I have mostly shown pictures of buildings. I did that for a reason. I wanted to wait for the right time to show pictures of smiling people in the community.

There is a growing segment of people that view the police as an integral part of the Skid Row community.


Here is another tidbit of information. I found out from Sergeant Royce that most of the officers that come to Skid Row would rather stay there than be transferred to another division. Here, on Skid Row, they have the opportunity to see the difference their work makes on a day to day basis. I must admit that that surprised me as I would have thought they would have wanted to leave as soon as possible.

Over the last few days my postings have not been as consistent as they have been. Compter labs at libraries have been packed. The computers at the Transition House have all been in use by others as well. People on Skid Row are learning more and more how to use the technology of today to further their goals and to reach out and touch people.


Marting Luther King day was smooth. I thought I would feel more twinges of emotional aches than I previously thought I would feel. The parade goes down Martin Luther King Blvd. in the Leimert Park District of Los Angeles. That street is at the end of the block from my mother's street. Therefore, when I turn on the tv I see my neighborhood during the parade.

I did something that I needed to do instead of watching the parade. I straightened up the room and started a novel, Gideon's Torch. It was written by Charles Colson of the Watergate era. IT is funny how people are connected to eachother by the strangest circumstances. When Colson was in the Nixon Administration, he interfaced everyday with Haldeman, the Nixon Chief of Staff. As you know Haldeman graduated from my alma mater as well as his son who was a year ahead of me. At the same time, Derek Bok, whose students at Harvard Universtity, while he was the president there, protested vigorously against the Vietnam War. Derek Bok graduated from my alma mater around the same time that Haldeman. Then in 1972 during the Watergate hearings, I was playing my first year of tennis at the University of Pennsylvania.
At that time, The Colson Brothers, as we called them at Penn, were playing for Princeton University. They are the sons of Charles Colson.

I thought of all of that on Monday while reading that book. I had not read a novel in months as I began to feel that I was using novels as a way to escape instead of concentrating on getting my life together. Now, I believe the are a healthy respit
from the days events and keep me in touch with a world, in which, I would like to once again, be a productive member.

With that in mind, I woke up and started the day early. I washed the clothes and swept out theroom. I found that the soapy water for the community mop was clean and fresh so I mopped the floor and made up the bed. Ah yes, the feeling of being organized like I was as a teenager feels great.

I made sure I kept my finger to the pulse on my current events. I emailed my sister to let her know that I am still working on a court date. I take nothing for granted. I do not assume anymore that she, or anyone else, knows what I am thinking.

I emailed Paul, the bro bono attorney, to see if he had been successful with obtaining a court date. I talked to Kevin Royce and Jose.

Now what, I thought, I have to get a job. I have to replace the EBT card I use to get food stamps. I decided to weight for the card. I decided if I did not have the card that I could have a storage of wealth. I looked at all of the postings at Chrysalis and turned up a few things. However, Something kept ringing in my ear. It was what Randall and Don Garza said.

Randall said I was selling myself short. I was too concerned about things and that I should utilize my vast network of friends to help me. I have always used my connections to help others. Now that I need it them for me, I have been overly self conscious about what has happened to me.

Don Garza said basicly the same thing:that Downtown people are getting to know me and that sooner or later someone would ask me to work for them.

I just keep moving forward but I must admit there is a growing confidence of sorts that something will happen. I just keep doing the right things.

I went to the Transition House and used the computer for a while to tweak my resume some more.

Later I went home and called Randy. He called me back. There was a problem with my impresssions that he took for my teeth. He needed to see me the next day on Wednesday. Paul, emailed me and there was still no date for a court appearance.
There have been alot of things that are going on. One foot in front of the other.
That is all there is to do. Keep moving forward.


Wednesday morning. I woke up and grabbed some cans in a garbage pale. I have a collection that is building up. I had the can franchise in the Transition House. Saved up a pretty penny.

Jose called me. He is back from the Bay Area. He enjoyed time up there with his new nephew. He also shared with me how he, his brother and another friend were wrestling on the ground. This friend was talking trash to Jose that he could take him in wrestling. Jose was a defensive back for Yale and that challenge kicked in.
Jose picked the guy up and slammed him to the ground, whereupon the guy made one of those excruciatingly painful sounds that let you know something was wrong.
Jose found out that he broke the guys ribs.

Jose and Kevin picked me up and took me to breakfast. I asked Jose if he has talked to Tom Gilmore. I told Jose on the phone that I feel more confident of being able to be a productive member of his team. When Tom sees me again I want him to see a different man. He first met me when I had on sweats. He later saw me at a party where I had on gray slacks and blue shirt and blazer. That picture is in my profile at It was taken at a party. I sent it to Gilmore when I sent him my first resume. I wanted him to know it was I and also to let him see me in a different light. Though the picture was good, it was inappropriate. It was a casual picture. Again, I have reason to be glad that Tom did not see the resume or the picture. I sent them when I was not as strong as I am today:not as confident as I am today. I am feeling things again that I have not felt in many years.

As I said before, I want Tom to see a different man. The next time it will be a man in a suit with teeth in his mouth. What will it reflect? It will show Tom and everyone else that I have worked hard to take care of myself and to do what it takes to be a part of something.

---After breaksfast we dropped Jose off to get his car and Kevin started to take me to the bus stop. I called and almost did not go to Randy's office but I called again and finally jumped on the bus. I had to push myself. Randy wanted to see me and was willing to drive me in the rain to the lab. Keep moving forward.

Before going to the bus stop, I stopped at the room. I had to get my bus tokens. It was funny because Kevin stopped right in front of the Marshall House with his black and white patrol car. I used to be concerned about what people think of that car on San julian. Now I dont give a dam. I jumped out of it and laughed to myself as faces turned and wondered what was going on.

I told the case manager about the appointment with Randy for my teeth and he said no problem. He then asked me to piss in a bottle. He said we were all notified. I said I was notified and that I had an officer waiting to take me to the bus stop.

His eyes lit up when I said police officer. Don, the case manager, is used to residents bringing police officers to the Marshall House because of some kind of trouble instead of being helped to do something.

There was no point in telling him I was in a hurry. I forgot, momentarily, that it is important to fulfill all compliance requirements so the organizations can get their funding. It is not important that they keep their word. For the last few days, I have gone to retrieve my breakfast, and there is no juice. There is no milk. There is no dinner. That is their responsibility to have these things.
No problem. I keep going.

I rush into the bathroom and piss. It was a pain in the ass to stand there and wait until all 5 sections of the test came through. They started testing in the last few days. The reason is because they fired the resident manager. He was reported that he was not turning in overnight guess fees and that he was shielding drug dealers that were in the building. As a result, they tested everyone. I do not know who was thrown out if any but that is not my concern. I knew I was clean. I just wanted to go.

Don told me as I was leaving that he wanted to see me this morning with teeth. I told him that I was just getting refitted. "In that case, bring a note." No problem, I was thinking. I knew he would forget. Besides, that was his attitude before I took the test. This morning, he looked at me and gave me the thumbs up. He was glad I did not test dirty.

I jumped into Kevins car and he ended up dropping me back at the Marshall House. Eventually, I walked back to the bus stop and made it to my friend's office. We took the impressions and jumped in his car, and in the rain, drove to Westwood, from Westchester, to the lab that is going to do my teeth. Randy's office overlooks the Los Angeles International Airport. I could not help but wonder what Lydia was doing. Lydia was my ex girl friend that was the executive director for LA world airports which included LAX. She stepped down recently.

I sat in that lab chair while the people their gave me immediate attention. It felt like the ole days where I was helping my friends with their questions and they would help me with what I needed. Service is what I was getting and it was being done by someone who loved me and believed in me. Priceless.

Sitting there, I thought about everything I had gone through over the last year. EVerything I worried about during the last year. Everything I needed to get done, internally and externally, in order to accomplish my goals. I was in that chair. They were very precise in what they were trying to accomplish with respect to my teeth. It would help me get a job. IT would help me restart a career path that I put on hold for years until I did not straddle two worlds: the drug world and the corporate world. The drug world was gone.

I sat in that chair and things INSIDE OF ME were coming together. I recognized that I endured. Randy recognized that I have endured and Randy has known me longer than anyone on this planet. In the car back, after lunch, in the thundering rain, he had time to give me the encouragement, the nutrition I needed to climb some more of this mountain. He rememebered how my father assigned to me the task of carrying
two extra sleeping bags when we were hiking up a mountain when we were ten years old. The mountains were no small mountains. They were the highest mountains in the Sierra Nevada. My father was counselor for the YMCA during the summers.
He went on every camping trip to earn money until he resumed teaching in the fall.
The camps were designed for age groups. This one was for the 18 year olds. Randy and I could co because my father was the counselor. The 18 year olds could not make it. I carried mine and two of the backpacks of those who could not make it.

Tradition. History. Strength of that history and tradition. Remember those words that I talked so much about. There, in the mountains, was another category of history and tradition that was engrained into my being that has played apart in this long climb for years. By the way, my father, walked up that mountain with a full cast, from toe to hip.
Randy dropped me off in the thrundering rain and immediately I went to the Transition house where I uploaded these pictures and started on this blog. It was storming but I had to keep moving. I had to keep going. I have things to do.

My teeth will be ready soon. I did what I had to do. Moving forward. Slow but steady.

It is Thursday morning. I finished a chapter of the novel and came here to Chrysalis. I had to finish the blog. I looked on the board for any postings but nothing new was on the board.

I forgot to tell you that I was invited by email to join the Harvard-Westlake Real Estate Network. I did that earlier this week. Slow but steady. I even think I may get lucky and get my license back. I may be able to find the money. I believe I will have the money in a couple of days to take the required continued education course that must be completed before I renew the license. Slow and steady. Nerve racking but so what. As Monday said to me one day. Rebuilding your life is not easy Walter. If it were easy, every one would be doing it instead of going backwards.

While reading my email, I received another notice from my alma mater. Two things came to my attention. They are having multicultural awards at Harvard-Westlake.
That place has come a long way.

The second thing I read was that one of the graduates of '95 has been nominated for an Oscar. I will post about that in a separate posting. people may not want to spend the time to read all of it and then I can not be effective in promoting my fellow alumnus. I have mentioned a few today so it is fitting that I can give my support for his oscar nomination.

I must go. It is time to get back to the toil of finding a job. talk later.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Friendship Always, Work in Progress

I did not know a blog was published. it was a blog in which I talked about my friend randall. I started to delete the blog. Then I thought about it. It is a perfect opportunity to live by example. My statements were not made in anger. It was how I felt. I made some mistakes in communication with self and with him but that is it. It does not mean that I value less our relationship or that I love him or like him any less. It is a communication process.

I did not reread the blog but I do realize where I made mistakes. I said that Randall was a "recovery bigot". I should not have said "is". I should have said something along the lines of "appears to have characteristics of being"......

Why is that a important difference? Because the latter does not form a conclusion and the former does form a conclusion without probing for clarity. Those kind of things are the internal checks and balances that are required of someone who is trying to be honest with himself and does not let emotional circumstances cloud one's judgement.

My second hope is that Randall and I can show the public the steps it takes to communicate ourselves and each other in this learning process of rebuilding our lives. It can be considered a "work in progress" group communication seminar with us putting ourselves in the spotlight. A month ago, Randall made a comment on my blog. I took issue with it, not for as much the content but what the reading audience would perceive the comment to mean. I was not being fair to the public or to myself. I did not give the process a chance to learn how to communicate and to discover.

I do not know if Randall read my previous blog. What is important is that I recognized some things and quickly moved to correct what I think are missed opportunities to learn and the opportunity to teach while we are learning.

That is what that play did for people last night. It used Martin Luther King day to teach people and to reinforce in the minds of people that communication is key. First we must constantly communicate with oneself and in the most critical of ways so as to see what there is to see about ourselves and our environment.

If Randall sees the previous blog and this one, then Invite him to make open comments about me or my journey and or his, and "our journey" together as a way of illustrating to people the process of communication that takes place in rebuilding relationship with self and relationships with others.
You see the picture slide show when you come on to this blog. What you do not know is that that slide show turns into a live video stream when I have the oppotunity to have access to a computer at the computer lab at the Transition House. There, I can blog, look for work, tweak resumes, send resumes etc.

People have shared my life in writing while doing this blog. I hope I can share it regularly in the form of a live video stream. It will be like Big Brother tv show.
You can observe me step by step as I rebuild my life.
Unfortunately I do not have a computer at my room. There you could see me work out and do the daily chores it takes to stay on top of things. It is also a way for potential employers to keep an eye on me to see if this guy, me, is really for real in all that he says. In time I will be able to get a computer with a 24 hour feed.
when I do it will be on as well.

I will be at the Transition House for the remainder of the week, in the mornings and most likely in the afternoon, doing what I need to do on the computer. I hope you join me.,,my user name is-------downtownLAbroadcasting

you can enter the chat room if you like and can ask me any questions you like. I would love to create an interactive dialogue with the readers of my blog.

I am also attempting to build up our and downtownLAbroadcasting viewership. We are also in the process of arranging interviews with interesting downtown Los Angeles leaders that will be in the inventory of videos to fiew. One of them is a short film that was done by a young film maker who happens to have graduated from my High School, Harvard-Westlake.

The last few days I have done new things. I went to a basketball game. I went to a religious service where I was about to learn how to put into words what I had been learning from changing my life. I just could not codify the process of things that hurt a family and things that bring a family together. The religious service helped me tremendously in that regard. I also went to a play.

Things are taking place. I have to keep the pressure on myself to maintain the pressure to gain employment but I am doing the right things, increasingly so as each day comes. This past weekend was good because I recognized some growth. Some of it was not easy. Understanding is not easy because, the way in which we communicate to ourselves can make that progress more difficult than it has to be.

My aim is to show people how they can shorten that learning curve.

When that play, "Surviving the Nickel" is presented to the public again, I do hope that you can find a way to attend. It is a play about Skid Row that is done by people who have been on Skid Row and some of them have been homeless.

There is one thing that I have noticed about the media and Skid Row. There is a distinct difference in how skid row is presented. I have come to understand that
there is no way for the outside media to report about skid row in any other way than the way that they do. They do not have the insight and there is no way for them to gain the insight that residents have except by spending time here. Even the movie with Jamie Farr. It is not the words of Nathaniel Tyre. It is the interpretation and perception of an outside writer.

It became clear to me last night when I was watching the play, Surviving the Nickel.
It was clear that the play was written by someone who 'experienced' Skid Row. Experiencing an environment enables one to dig deep into areas that would not otherwise be accessible to the average interviewer.

A reader told me that recently. I understood what she said but my appreciation for it grew exponentially viewing the play. I have not seen any reports on Skid Row by any of the major networks or any documentaries that closely comes from the experience of an insider.

I lied. I have seen one. It was done by Rory Cornwell. It is a unique short film because it is not done with the customary interviews. There are no questions.
"How long have you been down here?" What circumstances brought you down here?"
Those are the usual questions. Rory gives you the silent movie version of Skid Row.
It starts out with a Colorful flower, alone, and then you enter the twilight zone. Suddenly every thing is black and white. There is frenetic activity in the video by the use of quick changing and sudden scenes. It is very much the way you must adjust from step to step while walking down Skid Row. Frenetic, unexpected and suddenly changing activity is how you can describe what is observed while walking through skid row. The film ends with that single color ful flower as you leave the environment and enter another. The silence allows you to absorb your own feeling.

I am digressing once again but it was clear to me during the play that it was the only thing that duplicated the feeling of being on Skid Row that I have seen. The subject matter is what people on Skid Row discuss. What insiders discuss and what is discussed by outsiders are two different things. We discussed what we have to do to get out of here or survive while being here. Number one is to not get caught up.

They NEVER discuss that in the media. They do not know how to discuss that in the media. I was hoping that one of the TV networks would send a person down here to be
among the people and lead a way to a new understanding of Skid Row but I guess my email went on deaf ears. I see now how much that insider feeling is needed to grasp the essence of one's emotions and the collective psyche of people who are trying to elevate themselves in this community.

All of this is crystallizing while I speak. Randall helped in that process as well.
How? I dont know except to say that I was patient in understanding the dynamic of what was taking place between us. As I grew to understand it as best I could, then I was able to understand more the dynamics of Skid Row. Imust also believe that experiencing new things out of the Skid Row environment gives me a different view about Skid Row and my relationship to it after I return. It is one of those things.

It is a work in progress as I hope the readers can see. My statements about randall and my refining the words that describe certain things is the process of a man that is constantly reviewing himself and critiquing himself to do exactly as my sister said, to learn everything about everything I am doing.

Oh yes. I must think randall for helping me believe that I am selling myself short.
One thing is true about being on Skid Row. You come to think that no one wants you. You begin to discount your value because in many ways, in the process of getting here(depending on how you arrived here) it is indoctrinated in you that you do not have control over your life. Some people come from very controlled environments where making one feel powerless is a way of keeping control.

One one is released from that type of environment, one does not revert back to believing one can control their destiny. It takes time and hard work to believe in oneself. that is the beauty of what Rand said to me. that is beauty of some of the hard statements that he may say to me at times and the same thing hold true with people like Jeff.

If I want to reenter at a level that I know I am capable then I have to push harder than ever before and make sure that anything that holds me behind is removed from my psyche.

So I think Randall for that. He reinforces that.

You see, the play yesterday, reinforces what is really going on on Skid Row. IT is people helping people. The Los Angeles Police Department may do their job. They may reduce crime tremendously. However, it is the effort of Sergeant Royce keeping me focused that keeps me pushing. It is by no accident that he always says to stay focused. Everywhere that is what is said by one person to another if they feel you are trying to move forward. Stay focused. Stay focused. That is a man who lives most of his waking day on Skid Row. He knows how easy it is to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel because he deals with people every day that do lose sight.

It is not his job to keep me focused. It is frienship that drives that effort. Jose Egurbide is another one. "Stay focused," he says inbetween my ranting and raving. (well, I used to rant and rave. smile). HIs job as the deputy attorney does not require him to keep pushing me. Friendship and his respect for me drives that effort. The same with Garza. The same with anyone that has played a part in my "Surviving the Nickel".

I met a Captain Veenstra today. She let me take her picture and she remembered my name. Anyone will tell you that when you remember someone's name they feel important. She makes you feel important. That is one human being talking to another.

What I am trying to say is that it is the HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS in the Skid Row community that drive success. It is the human relationships between inhabitants and the people of organizations and agencies, relationships that extend beyond the limits of agency and inhabitant interaction that makes the relationships special and what makes relationships within Skid Row Special.

It grows with one and then passed on. Jose Egurbide called me up on Friday and told me to keep an eye on someone that is having an unexpected legal issue. The person had been very helpful to me and continues to be. Of course I told Jose, before I knew who it was, that whatever he needed consider it done. That is how it works on Skid Row.

No movie can capture that unless it is done by one who knows about that type of thing. I believe the Jamie Foxx movie will be an excellent movie about one man, Nathaniel Ayers. I to not think it will be an excellent movie about the Skid Row Society, the social structure. I think it would take some one like Doug Wick, former co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
.He knows somone in Skid Row and that someone can convince him to do it in a very unique way. More on that later.

It is clear from seeing that play and other things in Skid Row, it is mandatory that resident and agency committees be formed to get things done.

Well, I rambled today, didnt I

Surviving the Nickel

The play "Surviving The Nickel" debuted last night at the Regency Theatre.
The play was written by Melvin Ishmael Johnson(second from top).

The other pictures are from the top:
Two actresses,playing a scene in the play.
The Band
OG, of 3 on 3 Skid Row Street Basketball League
Russell Brown, Dlanc Executive Director.

The play was a fitting end to Dr Martin Luther King day. People of all colors were in the audience enjoying the play together.
It was a community collaboration with Tom Gilmore, donating the Regency Theatre so the play could be held. Tom Gilmore is the supposedly mean developer that does not like to contribute to the community. Here is just one piece of evidence that that image is undeserved.

The play was excellent. I could relate to it. It was about people from different backgrounds who landed on Skid Row. It showed how people on Skid Row look out for each other and that the message to those that really want to improve their lives is to not get "caught up" in the various forms of "quicksand" that can cause you to sink. If you survive the nickel you will be stronger for it and have achieved significant growth.


Today at 12PM, the Los Angeles Police Department will have "Meet the Captain" day at the Los Angeles Mission. It is an open question asking session for the community to be heard by the Los Angeles Police Department. The Captain is in charge of all patrols at the Central Division station. Enter the Mission at the Chapel entrance.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

There have been many challenges since Friday. I was told about a week or two ago that I would have challenges coming from places where I least expected the.

Today is Sunday and it is fitting that I write about this on this day.


A friend of mine from Philadelphia came to see me briefly on Friday. I have known Randall for over thirty years. I called him about two months ago as a way to phase myself in to my friends. He was in "recovery". I felt we could talk.

When he returned my phone call, I was surprised at the things that he said. He said I was emotionally, spiritually and mentally dead. It rocked me. It rocked me badly.
He told me I should not want to live at home because, as he put it, it would be too much pressure. what kind of madness was he talking about?

I talked to another friend who I have known for about 30 plus years and he
is five years clean. He told me that that "spiritually dead" statement is something that they tell people in some twelve step program. He told me that they say that when someone is smoking cocaine. I did not realize it at the time but Randall still thought I smoked cocaine. I did not say the things that he identifies with "recovery".

Subsequently, he told me I was full of shit. He has never said these things to me.

We hug on a street corner on Friday. I was all choked up to see him. We went to a bar to have lunch but the companionship was cut short. He said some things to me to bait me. As soon as I saw him, he mentioned that he would be having dinner with Ken, a friend of mine who wont speak to me. I was told on Friday it is because I let Ken down to many times.

He talked about my sister and what my sister had been saying to Ken for a few years.
I remember him saying something like that to me 10 years ago but he claimed, a few months ago that he did not remember. I let it go.

As soon as he said something else, about Ken I told him to tell Ken to go fuck himself. While I was saying it, I realized that I was not mad at ken one bit. I was mad at Randall and myself.

Randall knew what he was doing trying to bait me. He wanted me to say something.
He sat there and told me to not dwell on my past yet at the same time he would bring things up from the past and accuse me of doing some things.

"You cussed out Kenny," he said.

"No I did not. I have never cussed out Kenny".
"You said you did."
"Randall, I have said no such thing. what are you talking about?"

Then it all hit me. First off, I have never cussed out Kenny. I could see where Randall might have told him I cussed out other people which was not true but I could see now why my sister has said certain things. People create history and then communicate that history to others as a socalled expert on a topic. Kenny knows dam well that I never cussed him out. I would not put myself in a position to cuss him out. He would not stand for it anyway. If I ever cussed him out, it would have been the last time I would have spoken to him. At least it would have been a long time.

Rand did not know kenny or me as well as he portends. The real thing is that he does not know himself as well. Maybe he does and does not like what he sees.
"why are you so concerned about what kenny thinks?" "He does not care about you anymore".

That hurt. What really hurt was this. I introduced Randall to Kenny. I remember when Kenny got him a great job with a beer company and Randall accepted the job and did not even show up to the job. I, through one of my friends, was able to get him in the Wharton School. He was kicked out after a month.

I remember when I when I mentioned something to him at the time about Kenny, he panicked and whined to me about how he did not want kenny to lose confidence in him.
funny. both of those failing situations were from opportunities brought to him from my friendships with people. How quickly he forgets how he was when things went south and then redicules me for having the same feelings and concerns.

I was not mad at Kenny for speaking to Rand.Five months ago, I would have been. I was not mad at my sister, Janice, for reaching out to Kenny.Five months ago, I would have been. It does not matter if what she says was true or not. What mattered was that I understood why my sister talked to kenny. She did not know how to approach me. Kenny did not know how to approach me. I understand that because I did not know how to approach Kenny. I tried to think of ways to speak to my sister about my problems and my fears at the time. There was so much tension I felt and I had so much shame as well. I could not figure out a way to talk to her. I just couldnt. The only time I saw a chance was when she called me to tell me of an idea about having a property in our name. I had thought about it so many times.

I thought about it because I felt it would give us a chance to get to know each other and for me to share some things over time. I was so hapy when she talked about it on the phone one night.

As soon as I was going to tell my sister that I thought it was a great idea and to tell her all of the reasons why, our connection went dead. Connections go dead all of the time when there are cell phones. I tried in vain to reconnect with her number. Each time the line was busy.

Finally the phone rang and it was she. I thought I would continue where we left off.
I did not get the chance."This conversation is not over,. You are going to listen to me." she was angry. I was in shock. I had done nothing wrong. I was grateful to speak to her she did not know how much. She finished saying what she had to say and then hung up. I tried to call her back but she would not pick up the phone.

I started to ride my bike to her house but I just gave up. That outburst was one of many and I knew it was no use in trying. I knew that we had to start with easy communication and work our way up. It was no use. However I just sat in my seat with tears running down my face because I thought we were going to have a chance.

I am digressing but I will bring it back.

Listen to her, I thought. I listened to her more than she knew. I was sitting in a freshly painted room. I painted it when I wanted to improve my environment and to remove the old. At this time I was training hard everyday. I was doing alot of things.

She said some other things that upset me but I had to learn how to interpret some things. Later she was mad because I did not contact her on something pertaining to the property. what she did not know was I was seeking tax advice because if the property was going to be deeded to us, we would be hit with taxes. I knew it. I also knew that I had tax problems. I did not want our tenants in common ownership to result in problems for her. The property would be best in the title of a family trust. I knew that for years but the tax problem that I would bring to our partnership I wanted to avoid. I was in a meeting when she said a contractor was going to be there. she did not know that.

I have a problem with people telling me about my family and dont know anything.
It was clear that he is not secure with his own"recovery". It is clear that he loves his status, whatever it is with ken. I am glad for him. However, Dont shit on me. I am minding my own business. He knows why I cared what kenny thinks.

I wanted kenny to know that I have turned around my life. The last time kenny saw me he said I looked fit. he did not believe I had been training for the triathlon but my fitness was as a result of that.

At that same time. I was reaching out to ken. I had regained my moral compass. I was beginning to live and practice the prinicples that were engrained in me. In many ways, they saved me. I told ken to pick me up to go to church but he never came. he did not know that I had been going to church in the neighborhood. I was a man who was doing. I was not talking about it.
People use a person's situation to better theirs. I see it all of the time.
I cant help that kenny refuses to believe that I no longer do drugs. I cant help it if nobody believes it. People down here know it.

I did not piss my life away as Rand said kenny feels I have. I saved my life. I could have made big money first and then try to get things straight. I would be dead by now. I would have derailed and done nothing but increase the problem.

They say that when you are making strides. People say things because they want to keep you wherer you are. There are many reasons for that. I hope that Randall sees the real truth. The real truth is that no relationship with any of my friends or contacts is going to make him feel more secure within himself. That is the issue. his self esteem. Resolve the issues that he has with himself and stop judging me or forming conclusions. I have known of certain little envys but I never thought they would manifest themselves like they have.
"Why should you be so happy, Walter, when I am so miserable," he once said to me.
He meant it. I thought it was a joke but some of the most sincere things are said in jest. It took the right variable mix for certain things to come to the surface.

I am not even mad at randall. I feel he needs to examine some of his statements to me and the motivations of them. He was very very cruel. Being cruel to me will not absolve him of the things he did to his family when he was using drugs and the harm that was done to them. He will not feel better at my expense.

Tomorrow is Martin King day. I read alot of his speeches. I reread those speeches when I was rediscovering my moral compass. It is so important to live by a certain code. I remember when Ken used to recite those speeches by heart when he was the student body president in high school. I reread those speeches and began learning how to write, to follow kenny's footsteps at the same time.

I can not turn back the hands of time. I can only be the best I can be from this point on. It means that I have to make sure that I do not "dump" on someone because it is convenient or that it serves my purpose to ingratiate myself with someone for career advancement. That is not living by the principles that I know to be the way to code my life.

One of the best things of having a problem with drugs and looking back on the things that I did is that I realize how the smallest infraction from those prinicples or codes of conduct can rob you of your character, your soul. It creates the tiniest hairline fraction in your moral foundation. I have taken great pains to make sure that my moral foundation is sound. That is all that I can do.

It is a challenge because there are times, like when someone comes to Skid Row to dump on me, where I could be angry. But I learned that that moment shall also pass.
I learned that I can overcome the petty insecurities that someone displays when they do not feel good about themselves by being cruel. I do not have to strike back.

This writing is not to strike back. It is an exercise in perspective. I am proud that I understand why my sister spoke to ken. She could not speak to me, she felt. That is all that matters. I did not know how to speak to her. I was getting better at learning how to speak to yourself.

That is what I learned how to do. I learned how to listen to my heartbeat. Hillary Clinton said it the same way when katie couric asked her about the time when bill clinton had the affair with Monica lewinsky. Hillary did not know what to do. She had to really take a step back and listen to herself and do the right thing. Not do things or react to things because of shortsighted impulsive emotional responses. She was hurt. She did not want to act prematurely because of it even with the national and international eye on her.

I learned over YEARS not to react to things said about me. People always gossip.
They gossip because maliciously because they have unhappy lives. I see it here on Skid Row everyday. People say things that get people in trouble because they have their own pain and guilt.

It was hard at first when Randall said some things and I realized the truth of it all. I wrote an angry blog and erased it. I knew I would find my way. I knew I had to be patient because the pain would pass.

I am getting better at things every day. I am redevloping good habits everyday. I am learning how to be more efficient in those good habits. With that, I am becoming more creative. I am beginning to grow. I am doing what I learned was so important when I was triathlon training--to understand everything about everything that I am doing. Someone wrote me an email about that and she did not know how much we were in agreement.

I said that this environment is a university. It is. It provides one with the most challenging independent study there is.

Skid row is changing. while I am here I want to help it change. whether kenny said I had a chance to help humanity or not is not important. I came from a family where helping people was a priority. I had to learn how to help myself, first, even though noone thought I was doing so. It does not change the truth. I am still clean and pursuing my goals. I am living some of them. I agonize over many of them.

I believe that I have a chance to help alot of people everyday while I am down here.
I believe I have a chance to learn how to do more to help people. The challenge of this weekend was for me to continue to push forward. I am doing so. I use to have many dreams. I stopped dreaming but I learned how to dream again. I thought I lost it forever last year but I fought and prayed to get that ability back. I fought and prayed for many things.

I have two suits now. I do not have to worry about having anything to wear when I go to an interview. I can spend that energy trying to pursue an interview for a position.

I can hear kenny's voice as he recited dr King's speeches. I will not be deterred. I have learned alot. I have learned how to put myself in a position to have a chance. I, too, have a dream. I have a dream that I can gain so much wisdom now that I have my moral compass. Mom saw me regain it. That is why she let me do things. That is why she said I matured. I did not know the right terms but I learned them at a religious service today. I learned about family and the things that keep it together as well as the things that bring decay. I learned what can bring a family back. I am doing my part.

I learned that is why I wanted kenny to pick me up those times I called to tell him I wanted to go to church. I know he did not believe me and he probably had good reason. kennys family had always been close and that church where he went was a strong glue that bonded them. I figure I could learn something. I had been going to services in the neighborhood. I did not need to go to Ken's church for services.
I needed to learn from his family. I always did. I just did not know how to apply it. I learned the theory. I have learned alot about theories in my education.
I am applying them now. I wanted to learn how to apply the theories from being around the family church of my friend so I could study how they applied certain theories and principles. That is why I made sure I went to his father's funeral when nobody told me. By luck, I was able to find out. I regard ken as family. If he feels differently, then he feels differently.
there is nothing I can do about that.

Randall is a "recovery bigot". There are many recovery bigots. They confuse their situations as being the same as someone else's situation.
They are judgmental and have the facade of credibility. However, like most bigots, they have prejudices, jealousies and issues that they need to deal with.

I understand