Friday, January 4, 2008

A New Year--Will the Media Start a new trend on Skid Row


I took this photo of the downtown Los Angeles Skyline at the medical office building at Manchester/Sepulveda blvd when I went to get my teeth cleaned. The view from the examining room of my friend's office allows one to see downtown as well as most of LAX. I did not recognize the photo when I saw it as I did not think there was a enough contrast when I saw it. It looks real close, doesn't it-like one can reach out and grab the US Bank building.
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The computers were busy when I was at the Transition HOuse earlier. My previous blog was done at Chrysalis.
They close early on Friday so I headed to the Transition House to see what was going on and to experiment with broadcasting live on "downtownlabroadcasting".
Damn, the class was full. I could only do a few quick things and consult with the computer teacher.

Wouldn't you know it but a guy that has lots of anger issues, tried to impose his will on me. He is one of those that likes to use the computer to burn CD's and make copies of music. He then sells the copies to people in the area. IT is easier to create a quality copy of an audio file than it is from a pirated movie on a visual file taken at a movie house.(whoa, you mean to tell mean that I used the correct terminology, "file" when discussing audio and visual? Will miracles never cease.)

I just ignored him and went home. I organized some more. I thought of the first week of the year and I thought of what I have been seeing during the last week on the streets of Skid Row. I concur with Ed Fuentes in his observations of certain trends. Yes, I have noticed that there has been an increase in the number of tents on the streets of Skid Row. What interests me about these tents is that the tents are not on side streets. They are on the main drag, 5th st, in the heart of Skid Row. I would think that they would have wanted to be on a side street where they would not be noticed by other people or the authorities. I wonder what the reason is.
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I saw the KNBC show on the homeless. I saw its segment about Skid Row. It did not seem to me that they integrated the Skid Row segment well with the rest of the show. In fact the Skid Row segment could have and should have been a show by itself. I thought it was going to be a stand alone show.

Be that as it is, that show will probably end the attention Skid Row gets for a while. I used to socialize and engage in self indulgent activity from Thanksgiving until New Years Day. I believe that the mainstream media does the same thing with Skid Row. It shows the festivities and the celebrities at the Missions during the holiday season but pretty much forgets that people are suffering in the streets of Skid Row during much of the year. In fact, I learned something during the holiday season down here. The atmosphere is different. There is alot more activity and a lot more people are upbeat in the streets. I do not know how people feel behind closed doors when the demons appear and the pain sets in. But on the streets, you do not feel as much pain.

However, today, while walking down San Julian, I saw it all again in HD. It was clear and vivid. Clothes were thrown all over the place. A few bold men sat on crates on smoked crack. Something new was seen on that street;beer bottles. I have never seen beer bottles thrown on the streets of Skid Row, never. I have seen one or two cans of beer on the streets of Skid Row. It was symbolic of the fact that people are either moving forward or going backwards. IT was clear that some people on San Julian were not moving forward. I failed to mention it but when I see the difference between those that are getting a jump on the year and those that are not, it jumps out at you. It is like you have HD on the those that are wallowing in stagnation. There is so much clarity in what you see, partly because you are able to look back in hindsight and see so much about oneself.

Getting back to the point, I would like the news media to have an interest in Skid Row that extends far beyond serving turkey and giving away gifts on a couple of days. Oh yes, I would be remiss if I did not add the burglary of the Union Rescue Mission.

It would be nice if the interest in Skid Row would be more on going. I read a blog by assignment editor Mark Liu of KCAL9.
I do not have the slightest idea why I am saying this but, for some reason, I felt that he would be interested in an ongoing progress on the events of Skid Row. I could be crazy. I think it is because he responded to an email from someone. The person wanted to break into the broadcasting news business and he wrote Mark Liu.
Mark essentially gave a lecture on how to break into the business in his blog. It was extensive in explanation and detailed in how to implement the procedures of getting started. In short, it showed me that he cared about people. They keep saying that cbs cares. Kcal is a part of the cbs family. In this case, Mark Liu proved them to be right. It would be thinking outside of the box for CBS to cover Skid Row on a consistent basis. However. I think he may just do it. I am going to email him and suggest that they do just that. I encourage everyone else to do the same. Perhaps we can get them to utilize their powerful communication resources to help not only the people of Skid Row by reporting on it, but others as what they discover while covering Skid Row will be many things from which the nation is suffering.

It is a new year. We have some new tents. We have already seen how the interest in Skid Row has declined because the season of giving is over. Let's see if we can increase the interest in Skid Row during the off season. Who knows, with the appropriate amount of attention and story telling they may make a difference on Skid Row that surpasses anything that is done during the season in which Skid Row is in the spotlight. I know this much. I am discovering different things about Skid Row every day. I am discovering those things as I learn more about it. You have to look at it a long time. Suddenly things appear. Suddenly better angles are discovered that tell me how to approach a topic about Skid Row. I see better ways to ask questions of people. To many times we see the same thing asked a thousand times when it comes to Skid Row. I am learning how to be creative.
When I interviewd Tyree, one sentenced that he gave me about his relapse illuminated an area that has baffled many for years. He felt like a wild animal. Others told me that. I think we must look at what that means to people. What do they feel when they feel like a wild animal. "I was untamed." Is that something that is in all of us? Is that something that is unleashed when someone hits the pipe?

I got that answer from Tyree and others.
I got that answer that I thought was penetrating and revealing because I spent time pursuing something different. I spent time with the people around here and developed their trust. That trust was important because it enabled Tyree, for instance, to talk about something that he, himself, learned while being out on the streets. He had to learn to feel comfortable with himself first, to be able to answer the many questions that presented themselves when he discovered that he 'felt like a wild animal'. You do not get that type of insight once a year.

I had a dream as a kid to be Walter Cronkite. Indeed, that was my nick name as a child because of my news press. However it is difficult for me to make a difference.
I believe that Mark Liu and the Kcal news team can. I have watched them all of my life. One of them even played basketball against me. I put that video on my blog again because I want people to see the difference and excitement of discovery that was present in Tyree when he said what he said about being an animal.

It is time for the media to be a postive instrument of change for Skid Row. I believe that it is time for them to care in a different way. It is time for Mark Liu to be the start of that. He can do it. He showed me that he can do it. Hal Green, one of their anchors, said he went into the news business because he wanted to be able to find the truth, report it and make a difference. He said that in his bio. Hmmm, I said to myself. There is no better place to make a difference than down here because when you make a difference in Skid Row you make a difference in understanding the threads of respective ills that plague our country.

Ann Martin is another anchor on Kcal. She has done alot of work with prostitutes.
She already has insights that can generate questions to the women down here. They need to trust someone. They already trust me enough to talk to me. I will do an interview in a couple of days with two cocaine prostitutes. But I am not Hal Green or Ann Martin. They can make a difference. They can develop relationships with people down here and discover new angles and develop penetrating probative interrogatories that can illuminate a topic that has baffled people and that can be the beginning of a domino that starts the domino effect that can dismantle the societal weeds of Skid Row.

They have the ingredients to do this. Lets hope they make a change. I believe Mark Liu, from how he displayed his capacity to care about people, can be the impetus for that change.

Start a new trend with the Media, Mark. Assign someone down here full time. Make a Difference. You can do that. You made a difference in the life of that person in Chicago. It can start with you.

2 comments:

dgarzila said...

the problem , Walter , is that Ed is seeing these trends from the perspective of an outsider , who all of a sudden sees more tents in skid row on 5th street and proposes to make the nexus that because of this the drug dealers and the homeless are owning the streets and the safe cities initiative is not working.

You have to look at these trends from a perspective of years and you will notice the small trends. The increase in tents as the people come here and gift the homeless with tents , then you get a proliferation of them all up and down 5th street. I can see where you have never seen the corner of 5th and Crocker along that white wall there without tents and people sleeping there , but that was the last bastion along 5th street that was cleared. Of course , just that increase of tents happening might indicate that there was a change , but knowing how things happen in skid row , I know there is reason for them setting up there. It was going to rain.

So now you know. Once the rain is over you won't see them there.

I just don't see how tents being set up displays ownership. I have been here too long to know this. Just because there is an increase in visible tents doesn't necessarily correlate with an increase in people sleeping on the streets.

dars said...

in the photo ..the gray is pollution or fog? =o