Wednesday, January 9, 2008
jamie foxx on Skid Row
I guess everyone is wondering why I have these pictures of the movie trucks. They are no big deal in Los Angeles. You see them everywhere in downtown Los Angeles.
True enough. You even see them in Skid Row from time to time.
These are a bit different. These movie trucks are here to film a story about Nathaniel Ayers, one of Skid Row's own. Nathaniel is a musical genius and his role will be played by Jamie Foxx. Jamie Foxx was in Skid Row Today filming inside of that building with the sign "village" on it. NO, it is not rumor. I crossed paths with Jamie when I was walking out of the Transition House. The Village is next door to the Transition House on Crocker ST. (To my old dear friend who has sent me a couple of encouraging emails, this street is the street where I lived for nine months of last year). The movie will be directed by Joe Wright and will also star Rober Downey Jr.
It was 5:10PM when I walked out of the Marshall House for a nice leisurely walk to the library. All day long I wondered why some ladies were crying in my building.
I found out why. My eyes quickly noticed a van and a car:both were white and marked clearly in blue, CORONER.
It is a familiar scene in the Skid Row neighborhood. Death is everyday. Each time you see the paramedics you wonder if someone is going to die. Earlier in the year, a man could not move in a bathroom. He kept shaking. The paramedics came. We found out he died on the way to the hospital.
I woke up one morning and I heard a comotion. I turned and looked in the direction of all of the noise. A man was laying on his back, 10 feet from me, eyes wide open. He had died in the middle of the night.
One would say that sounds more like a war zone than a university, as I described Skid Row a few nights ago. Well, war zones are some of the best universities in the world. They have yield much knowledge of the human psyche in each and every war. Sometimes learning is not enjoyable. Knowledge learned in war zones is as painful a way to learn something and gain insight a s anything I can imagine. The knowledge gained is certainly never lost. It is embedded in the soul of the ones who have had to experience the horrors that war has to reveal. Skid Row is like that.
I found out today that a man who slept next to me had his toes amputated. He was lucky that the gangrine did not spread to the rest of his foot.
These are the updates that you get in Skid Row. They sound like the updates you would get out of Bagdad or Beirut. You never know what will happen next: casualty of drug consumption, or the hard life. You know it is coming. You do not know how but you know it is on its way. There is a suspense that fills the air, it is as tangible as the crispness in the early morning. You anticipate it. You do not know from where it is coming, you just know it is on its way. It is like an ambush.
You just do not want to be ambushed. You keep wondering is it a death, did someone go to jail, get kicked out of a program, or relapse. Just do not ambush me.
We guard are emotional perimeters each and every moment. We do not want the sapers of surprise events to penetrate that emotional perimeter. It can not happen. We are too busy. We are on the way to a meeting. We have to get things done. We do not have the luxury to feel what we need to feel. We have to keep going.
"It don't mean nothing", we tell ourselves. We pause for the cause and we pick that foot up and put it down. "IT dont mean nothing."
Today, it came at the end of the day after most of the work was done. My day is never done until I complete this blog. It is as important to me as oxygen or water.
Indeed it provides the nutrients that any meal could provide.
I saw the van and official car. I kept walking. I had something to do. I turned and ran into "Cavi Cavi, Weed,Weed,". Dam, I was ambushed. Dam, I let the assholes run up on me and catch me by surprise. He knew he caught me off guard. He knew I was pissed off. We stared at eachother for a few hourlasting seconds. I felt like my eyes were shooting lazer beams of disgust into him. "Weed Weed,Kavi,Kavi".
We disengaged after my seconds of protest and I moved on and he had his sell, a man with a blanket wrapped around him discreetly put a "dime"(ten dollars) in the Kavi man's hand. Business as usual on the Nickel.
I made it to the corner and headed west on 5th street. I noticed the beautiful twilight sky and the twinkle of beautiful lights from the skyscrapers in the distance. I reminded myself to go to the roof tonight and take a picture of the skyline at night. I should post it tomorrow.
Last night I went to my first DLANC meeting. It was at the Los Angeles Theatre, the same location where the Jules Verne Film Festival was held. On the stage was a long set of tables lined end to end. About 20 or so seats were adjacent to eachother. They were for the board members and representatives.
I sat there and marveled at what was happening. Here, in this theatre, where I first came as a child to see"the guns of Navaronne" with anthony quinn, I was about to get a Civics lesson. Indeed, I did. They voted to have elections in the spring under the cities jurisdiction. They moved to amend the by laws to comply with that change.
Russell Brown kept the meeting going. I have been in Russell's company on several occasions. Each time he was working for Dlanc or the historical core. Dam, he is committed servant of the people and he is fair. He has been gracious with me, treating me to pizza the first night I met him at Pete's cafe a couple of months ago.
He was a fabulous host at the Towncrier awards in his apartment in November an accepted me once again as a guest in his home.
I was impressed at his detailed knowledge of the way the city works. He was aware of all of the procedures and devlopments that were taking place in other neighborhood councils around the city. In short he gave me a lesson. He explained the theory of how things worked an demonstrated the actual application of the theories. He was good. He likes to be thorough and he likes to keep things moving.
He respects everyone's opinion and he makes sure everyone's opinion is heard.
If there is uncertainty during a vote, he will not proceed until the confusion is over.
He includes all parts of Downtown. No part of downtown is made to feel like second class citizens. In fact several issues concerning Skid Row were discussed and they were discussed at the beginning of the meeting, not put off until the end when everyone's attention wanes. One of the issues on the table was the funding for Gladys park. Apparently the funding will run out in the spring to operate it. They will be exploring ways to insure that the funding is renewed. It is Gladys park that is one of the venues for the Skid Row Basketball league.
As a matter of fact, it was Russell Brown who engineered some much needed support of the Skid Row Basketball league last fall with a sizable contribution from Dlanc.
The elections are coming up in the spring. I am new in Skid Row. However, I will say this. In the beginning Russell Brown swore in some people to membership. They had to take some oath. Russell adlived the oath. What he said was not adlived but is inscribed in his heart. He let the new members know that their role was to bring people together and to live as one in the downtown community. He just does not say it. He lives it. He believes it and believes that ideal is the ultimate goal of his tenure - to strive for that total inclusion of all groups in the downtown family. .
I close tonight with thoughts of what Brian Reff said to me today. Brian is an instructor in the Strive program. He saw me on the computer today. I was looking at the page of Skidrowbroadcasting.com when he walked by the window and waved at me.
I was standing a few feet from the computer screen. I was admiring the front webpage that Don Garza designed. I believe the Red, White and Blue is appropriate.
After all, Skid Row is in America. Don is a decorated Veteran. I dont think it gets any better than that, to have a decorated veteran, desigan a website for a mysterious neighborhood that has only one image:suffering.
The more I looked at that web page I realized that with that color scheme Don instilled some pride in the Skid Row community. America has a can do attitude. It is one of the threads of traits that we all inherit. Blood may be shed. Our own blood as we walk through this life. However we are to get up and keep going. Don did that in the war. He did that in mine fields. Yes, it is amazing he is even here today. That web page with the red, white and blue instills pride. That website, skidrowbroadcasting.com
has a many purposes. One of them is to be a factor in instilling pride in the people of the comnmunity. I believe it will do that.
I believe it will grow and spread its wings during the next few months as the Gladys Park fundin issue consumes much thought.
Anyway, Brian came by the window again and looked at the website. He said,"Walter, you keep that webpage on the computer alot don't you when you are here.".
"Yes, all of the time. When I leave it is on. "
Brian, looked at me when this funny grin. "You want people to know they have their own unique television station dont you. I say that because a woman walked in my class and said"We have our own channel. We have our own channel."
"Really, Brian, she said that? That is what I want people to see, that they have their own tv station, a brain child of Skid Row."
"Walter, you are on the verge of a quantum leap. You are extremely focused. Just keep going. I see your mind opening up as each day goes on. Just keep moving forward. I watched you for a long time. A quantum leap. Dont worry about what anyone does. Stay focused on your goals. You are moving forward even if you feel like you are not at times. You have this burning in your eyes. Keep doing what you are doing. The quantum leap is coming."
Interesting. Alot is happening. I did alot today. It is not important what. I just kept going. I was only ambushed twice today. I kept going. Rocky Delgadillo
told me "The key to it all Walter is that you keep going, no matter what."
Yes, Skid Row teaches you that in the most unusual ways. It gives you a smorgasbord of never ending subjects to study independently. Very unique campus. Skid Row is something to behold at times.
I am going back to the Transition House tonight. I will leave here, go to my room and pick up my bag. I am tired but I have worked to do. It must be done. Skid Row teaches me to get the work done. Will I hear an update? Has someone relapsed?
Has someone disappeared? I will not be ambushed. I am prepared to hear it.
I hear it at the gate when I walk in. I will listen, I will pause for the cause.
I will put one foot in front of the other. I have something that must get done.
"It dont mean nothing"