Monday, March 31, 2008

Connections

Skid Row is buzzing. Everyone is getting ready for round 2 of "the soloist" filming, which should begin tomorrow. The whole neighborhood is looking forward to it.

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ON April 17 there will be a uncheon for the Skid Row Basketball league.

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Commander Andy Smith of the Central Division and lead officer for SCI is leavfing Downtown. he is going to South Los Angeles.

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Downtown Newsreports that there is more dumping of patients on Skid Row. Deputy City Attorney Gordon Turner is heading up the investigation.

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The Skid Row Photgraphy Club meets every Thursday at 800 E.6th st. at 4PM.
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City Mayor Villaraigosa is having a press conference on Tuesday, tomorrow, April 1st.
The press conference will focus on the three hundred thousand dollars earmarked for street light fixtures on Skid Row.
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there is lots of talk among the people on Skid Row about making things happen. I guess it started with the Skid Row Basketball league but that pioneering spirit is growing.

Counselors from several different programs have discussed with me some exciting educational, vocational and entrepreneurial ventures. It is all very inspiring. I know that one instructor would not have talked to me about certain things a few months ago. I guess, perhaps, I have gone through enough doors so that he feels the pursuit or discussion of certain projects can result in successful completion.

A vote of confidence.
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During the weekend, I sat at the eat in restaurant at the northeast corner of 5th and Main St. I talked with Wes. He grew up in my neighborhood and told me, in the past, about his three years of living on the streets. He did not go into detail back then. He went into more detail on Saturday.

He spoke of living on the streets and being concerned with nothing except doing drugs and selling drugs. He spoke to me of digging in the trash to eat.

I found this hard to believe. He grew up about 50 yards from Ray Charles.
He told me how his family did not want to have anything to do with him.
His brother was killed while he was living on the streets and he did not know anything about it.

He was so sick that his urine was a dark brown and he could not make it to the hospital and did not want to go. Howeever, he made it to the hospital and stayed there for 10 days. Before he went he said he did not have the strength to go find the drugs that he craved so much.

He said that when he was in the hospital he had a moment of clarity. He realized that he was about to go over the edge and that if he went over, he would never come back. He decided he was going to get some help. He went to the Harbor Light program in Skid Row. He has not done any drugs sense. He said there was no way he could live on the streets ever again. He was convinced that he would die if he continued a life of drugs.

He did not know where any of his family lived. He was alone in the drug program. He said it hurt the whole time he was there because other people had family members visit him. He had no one. One day, he ran into a cousin who told him where his sisters lived. The cousin gave Wes a number and within 60 minutes he connected with his sister. He found out his family wanted him back in their lives.

I ran into Wes about 6 months ago. He also lived across the hall from me. He was the man who kept telling me to stay focused. He was the one who kept telling me things were going to work out. He was the one who walked up to me and told me
"Yeah, Walt, you really are clean.". Since that day there has been a bond between us that is even deeper than just coming from the same neighborhood. He trusts me now. He knew I was not scandolous but he knows now that I am not arounde drugs or anything that can bring him down. He has established a connection with me.

He also approached me about saving money and starting a business together. Wesley and I work for the same organization. He is also going to start working at the same location I do soon. Funny how things work out.

My conversation with Wesley gave me some clarity about the phase I am. He told me to establish short term goals. My license is one of the things he mentioned.

It is amazing to listen to him. He is starting to share with me the same things I shared with him. "Walter, I was just like you when I entered the Marshall House. I was alone. I had no one. I wanted my family. I thought I would go crazy. Each day went by and the people that I started with at the Harbor Light faded away. Out of about 200 people that started with me only 4 or 5 are still clean. Everyone else has returned to a life of drugs. I had to make sure you were not in that lifestyle."

There are very few people with whom one can discuss things at this level in the process. This level is where you get lost. This level is where you get lost or catapult yourself.

"Walter, you watch. You have a job now. You have done things much faster than I. Things are going to start to happen. Just take your time. Let things unfold. You will not have to worry about your family. Just keep doing what you are doing. Your sister will want to connect with you. She may not know it but that is what is going to happen."

Social Networks. They are the rage these days. Youtube, myspace, facebook. They are all efforts by people to connect. In Skid Row the overwhelming desire down here is for people to reconnect with their families and friends or a world that they left for a life of drugs.

I am struggling to connect. It took years to connect with myself and then my mom and I became great friends. All of that was then taken away. However, the connection with self was strong. I built on that. Each day I feel a deeper connection with self and the purpose of self greater than ever.

People in this world are going to great lengths to connect. Social networks are one way of doing so.

A man wrote me and told me that I provided him with insights for a novel of a family on Skid Row. I thought that was unique. There are families on Skid Row but I rarely ever see a family that is intact and connected. Most of the time, I encounter people that are striving to connect with their families.
Some do and some do not. I have seen people reconnect with their families and then lose the connection with self.

I see people each day come down to check on their mail. Some times they check three or four times a night. I have learned that it does not even matter if they get junk mail. They want to get something. They want somebody to think of them, even if it is a computer. It keeps them going. They search to see if something is in their cubby holes. They want that connection with something.

I am starting to write emails to people with whom I was close decades ago. over the years we drifted apart, mostly because of my lifestyle. I cherish these people. I hope I am welcomed back into their lives. I need that connection.

A woman that I have not seen in over twenty five years reached out to me when she found out about my blogging. She gave me a connection to a world and to people that I miss. She gave me a feeling to hold onto and to nourish. I have watered that feeling every day and fruit is beginning to come from her efforts and from the strength that she has given me.

It is about connection and links and strengthening the new connections and the recconnections that have been made sense I have been down here. The connections that have been made are leading to new ideas. They are leading to brainstorming and new possibilities. It is leading to collaboration on pioneering projects.

It is all very exciting. Because all of these things are strengthening the connection with self and those that are on Skid Row understand that is so precious because we had at one time lost our souls. You do not have to be on Skid Row to lose your soul. It happens every day across America.

We just see condensed variations of it on Skid Row. We also see all kinds of attempts to connect on Skid Row. Some people still try to connect to drugs because the pain of not being connected to their souls is so great. Others have connected with self and now are trying to connect with others or connect to a purpose that is an extension of self.

When I write there are times when I desperately want to connect with a specific person or people. It is something I am learning about each day. First I had to understand that that is what I was learning about.

That is also what is going on in Skid Row. People are establishing and creating connections within Skid Row. People within Skid Row are beginning to establish connections with organizations and people outside of Skid Row for the purpose of accomplishing things that benefit people. That is something that I see that is takening place now. It is going to grow as people become less isolated in Skid
Row and people outside of Skid Row grow less frightened of the people and of Skid Row itself. The process will result in more joint ventures in creative and productive ways.

That is the next phase I am in and that is I guess an ongoing phase of people as they go through life--establishing, maintaining , building strong connections.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

"GO TO YOUR STRENGTH.

I have been thinking a great deal about sports lately.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been in the news lately as opening day is rapidly approaching. The 50th anniversary of the Dodgers in Los Angeles is this year.
There will be an exhibition at the Coliseum where they first played before Dodger Stadium was built. I remember going to the Coliseum to see the Dodgers with my father. I sat in left field. I kept seeing the back of the jersey of Wally Moon, number 9. He was the left fielder.

I also worked for the dodgers. Hired by Walter and Peter OMalley, it was my first introduction into the business world, and the sports world as well.

Two days ago, I purchased a jump rope. IT is the next step on the come back trail.

I wrote a long time friend an email yesterday. A long one. I wrote about talent and potential and mentors. I wrote about Judge Leon Higgonbotham.

Today, I was relaxing in bed, feeling more confident with every moment. Confident with the process of things.

Yesterday, someone emailed me about a friend. He was worried about this person.
There was nothing I could do except tell him what to look for. This friend does not speak to me anymore. I told him things about this friend that he needed to be aware of to identify the problems. He never heard me talk of this friend in that manner.

It was therefore no accident that I thought about another mentor. I was closer to him than Judge Higgonbotham. We went all over the country together while he was handling professional sports business. I introduced him to Peter O'Malley when he was embarking on his sports career. Later I was his tennis instructor and coach.

The friend I am worried about, the mentor, another friend in FRance who wrote me, we all know each other. we have known each other for decades. For some reason, it seems like I am in a communication loop again. LOose but it is there. Ffeels good.
I let myself down at one time and I know it hurt all of them.

I have been walking in Skid Row, thinking and feeling a new confidence. I thought of Higgonbotham. This morning I thought of ProServ, a sports maraketing firm I used to work with. I was reading things on the net with sports marketing and administration.

I thought of Charlie, my friend and mentor. I looked up his name and saw where he was. Ahhh, Sports and Entertainment Management. Hmmmmm. It was about time. It was not what he claimed he wanted to do. I begged him for years to get into the business. I always wanted to be in that business. The firm with whom I was employed was in the business, but I was on the event management side. By the way,
it was the same firm that represented Michael Jordan.

HMmmmmm, I thought. "Walter, when things get tight, go to your strength". He always said that to me. That was his mantra. "Go to your strength". I used to hate it when he said that to me. I never thought things would get tight. Things might get a little slow but tight, never. I never knew there was a definition like tight until I hit Skid Row. What the hell is your strength when you are down here?

I had to search for those answers. I searched while I looked at others searching for theirs. Human Capital was my answer. Human Capital and the investment in human relationships. Even this job I have now. I did not get it from applying and waiting to hear. I got it from developing relationships. That has always been my thing.

Charlie is the head of a sports representation group. I will be damned, I thought. We talked about it and then I went "south".

Ok, well I am coming back North again. "Go to my strength." Never forget those words. "Walter will understand what you tell him", Charlie told one of his business colleagues one day. He wanted me to hear what the man had to say. He would always bounce things of me, get some feedback. Higgonbotham did the same thing. They teach you, show you what to look for and then count on you to see what they dont see. It is not that they cant see certain things it is just that they are consumed by other matters but they know they taught you. They know how you think.
"He will understand. He taught me tennis but I taught him everything he knows."

And so the man talked to me and yes I understood everything he said. And yes I let him know that. And yes Charlie heard me brief the guy. And yes, Charlie heard me tell the guy what the guy wanted to hear. And yes, I escorted the guy to the hotel door in West Hollywood, our office when Charlie was on the west coast. And yes,
I closed the door and Charlie looked into my eyes waiting for me to tell him what I really thought and what charlie really wanted and needed to hear.

The beauty of mentorship. ONe day I was with Charlie. He had to see a basketball player who was in a program. We were in Van Nuys. That player was suspended from playing in the league. this was twenty years ago. He was at Houston at the time. I talked to the player and told him to hang in there. I have seen that player the last year on tv several times. I saw him, live, at the Staple Center when I went there a couple of Months ago. He overcame the obstacles and he is STILL PLAYING professional basketball while those that never had an interruption in their careers have long since been retired.

He has been an inspiration to me and each day I see the sports report on tv and they talk about an LA basketball team, I think of him and what he overcame. I think of the time I met him and what he was going through. I think of Charlie and his words. "Go with your strength".

One's strength evolves and it is important to recognize the many shapes it takes as time moves on.

What happened to me can be a strength as well. Sam Cassell was out of professional sports. He is still playing guard for the Clippers now. He has no idea that the man who talked to him at a clinic is taking the advice that I gave him. LOOk what he has done.


Charlie took a hit in the sports business but he is back as well. I see where he is. I am beginning to see where others are. I am looking up to see what is going on. Some of them are letting me know they are watching me as well.

I never forgot what Charlie or Higgonbotham taught me. Never. They taught me because they felt I could benefit from it and use the knowledge wisely. In ways I did but nothing compared to the potential that is there. The potential has not diminished. It is greater than ever before. Charlie will not have to co produce a play"Whatever happened to Walter Melton?" He had to do that in the past for some one else. He will produce another documentary. I am working on the script now.

Friday, March 28, 2008

STRIVE Program has new space



This is the view from the new space of the STRIVE Program. that is also their new computer lab. The educational and vocational program will be housed on the third floor at the northeast corner of 5th and San Pedro while their former space undergoes construction. They should be in the new space for at least 5 months.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Finally taking my Continuing education class

This is 7th ST., one of the borders of Skid Row. I work on this street.
it has a different air than the heart of skid Row but it is dicey.

I registered for my classes today. I got that taken care of. renewed my driver's license. Before today, I only had my california ID . Got a lot done. each time something gets done it changes the matrix of things around me and my position relative to things, which changes my perspective. it is inhteresting. Most of the changes in the past were internal. enough internal changes and development has been done so that now things are manifesting themselves exgternally. That increases confidence.

IT is interesting to experience this process and studying it simultaneously.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Freedom Train

There are few times that I know what I will say on my blog. Tonight is a night where I had no idea what I was going to say.

I started working and things are changing. However, the challenges remain. They are different and they vary as the areas of concern and more and more complexed.
the stakes are higher. Everything is within reach and everything takes so much more work. Some things are uncertain and the unknowns are there until things are done.

I told you about Gilbert and his fight for his green card. I use that story to fight and continue to get my real estate broker's license. I called to purchase my courses today. However they said we will do it tomorrow. I worry about getting the license. Everyone says no problem but I have learned, that nothing is certain until it is in my hand. I was offered a job once but it was rescinded. I learned from that. It was nothing they could do but it taught me to not count on anything until it is done COMPLETELY.

You learn how to compartmentalize things because if you do not you become overwhelmed. The collective tasks seem insurmountable. You learn to recognize those characteristics. When you do, you focus on putting one foot in front of the other again. You forgot about the various mountains to climb. You worry about not stepping on a rock and falling on your way up.

I saw a man today. He slept across from me seven months ago. Now he is in the streets, unfocused. "What happened Frank", I asked him. "Challenges came my way and I did not handle them well. I forgot the basics." He is further back than where he was when I first met him.

At each stage challenges come. At each stage is where you find out how much you really want freedom or do you succomb to the familiarity of whatever prision you are in. It could be alcohol, drugs or a relationship. It could be anything. You see it all in Central City East, Skid Row.

You learn to tighten up and continue to plunge in because at one point time will elapse and the components of the situation will change. They will change before you even know it. Just don't look at the mountain. Concentrate on the steps.

Each day I try to something new. I went to a City Hall Council meeting yesterday.
I organized my systems more this morning. Anything and everything to propel myself to the new level.

It requires that you get deeper into yourself. Alot of people do not want that. Alot of people can not go through the process of getting accustomed to being with oneself. They seek out distractions. People. a woman. a drink. a joint. a snort .
a needle.

The pressure of freedom was too much to handle.

That is what I study at this point. The process of freedom.
There are many different types of freedom and many different stages of freedom. You have to study it all to grow and benefit from all of its colors.

Some can not take it. They wither on the vine. Some get stronger. You just keep concentrating on the steps to the mountain top.

You look around and see where you are and you see so few that were with you when you started. The computer instructor mentioned that today. He went through the same process.

It is at the point where you can look at someone who you have known for a while who is still in the trenches with you and you don't have to explain things. You know what the person is feeling. You know the aches, you know the necessities of action.
You also know the necessities of feeling it takes to move forward. The necessities are varied and many. You must find the correct flavor and taste it, and enjoy the magic it brings in the process.

You stay tight. You march harder. You clean up and dust instead of just cleaning up. You cross the t's and dot the i's, not just dot the i's. One step further. One more level of detail. Now that you have harnessed what it takes you push the envelope. You push yourself to the limit.

It is like when you start running. Everyone knows that the struggle to get through the first lap. They do that a few times and move on to the next lap. You feel like you are about to die. I felt I was about to die this time last year.
Then you go the first mile. You struggle to get used to it. then you go the second mile. You wonder how you ever made it. then one day you go the third and you do not stop. You do not feel tired. Instead, each step you get stronger and you keep running and you want to see how far you can go. You push yourself and after a period of time you look up and see that your level of standards have increased exponentially.

I told you before that a few people stayed around Skid Row. Some stayed voluntarily, others did not. But that group formed a nucleus of a structured, enduring community.Since that time, things have changed. Some of those people have evaporated. They crumbled when the air of freedom became to thin for them to breath.
And yet when I family rose my head up to see what was around me, I notice that those who have remained are more fierce and tenacious. We are beginning to increase our stride with ourselves and our PURPOSE.

We are plunging ahead and we are making progress. We are even making progress when we do not believe we are and we recognize that. It is all in the details.

Tomorrow I go to the probation office near my mom's house. A year ago I would have died just having to leavea the area and return down here. I would have died being near my mom and not being able to see her.

Tomorrow I wont think about it. I will do what needs to be done and then come back and register for my continuing education class. I have work to do. I am on the freedom train. I want to know what the next stop looks like.

Good night world. I love you



The computer

My sister emails me and wants me to do something. I struggle to not look negatively on it. I had to fight a whole year to not assume the worst at a time when everyone was baiting me and pushing me to assume the worst. It was horrible.

I must see a new probation officer tomorrow. She is unreasonable and I must get through the experience and not let her bother me because my eye is on prizes not on the obstacles that are in the way.

I brought my head above the surface, as I told you last week, to see where I was and figure out what I have to do. Now I am plunged back in and beginning to navigate myself through this phase. In this phase there are many journeys, horizontal in variations but all must go the same way. they must have a successful journey in their respective requirements.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

John Coltrane--My Favorite Things

I played lots of rock tonight on the air. but I did not play on the air any of the jazz that was a great part of my youth.

My father used to come home every day from teaching school and we would read together, without fail. We would read all of the classics by mark twain, etc.
While we would read out loud, jazz artists would play in the background. My mother used to dance for great jazz musicians and her picture is in the archives in the famous Dunbar Hotel on Central Ave.

Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles lived within 50 yards of me. I knew every jazz musician by the time I was 8.

I used to love this song "My favorite things" by John Coltrane. Elvin Jones is arguably the best drummer in history and McCoy Tyner the same on piano. My father took me to see John Coltrane live when I was a little boy. He played in the building next to the Natural History Museum in Expostion Park. I was fascinated by the music.

I hope that Joe Cornish and LA Woman listen to this piece. It is a great part of my history and reflects who I am. I hope that everyone else listens to this and watch the video.

Jimi Hendrix-Voodoo Chile



Three months before Jimi Hendrix died, I saw him play at the forum in Inglewood. It was a double date. The other guy in the car was a real good friend of mine from school. The movie, the Graduate, the Dustin Hoffman, Ann Bancroft, Academy Award Winning movie was filmed at his house.

I took out his ex girl friend. It was the first time in the history of Harvard School for Boys and The Marlborough School for Girls that a black boy and white girl went on a date together. It was a historical night. It took some creativity and ingenuity for us to pull it off but we managed to do it. The reason I know it was the first time is because I know all of the black guys that were at Harvard School before I. or should I say Harvard-Westlake. They all confirmed the fact that they would not have dared to ask anyone from Marlborough School to go out.
I must say Pam was a very courageous girl.

It was a night that I have learned so much even to this day. You have to realize that Jimi Hendrix was protesting the Vietnam War. He was protesting the Nixon Administration Policies. It just so happens that the Chief of Staff of the Nixon Administration, HR Haldeman lived a few doors from the girl that I took out that night. He was also a fellow alumnus of the school and his son was in the class in front of me.

We were listening to Hendrix. He was protesting the war in Vietnam. My uncle was in vietnam and he sent me the money so I could go to the concert. In fact the concert was in Mid March, around this time.

I was so excited to be with Pam. I thought she was the most special person on the planet. My uncle sent me a watch band from vietnam and a new watch to go with it and I kept looking down on it while I held Pam's hand.

Jimi Hendrix played for 3 hours and then he had an encore. He played for another hour and then he had another encore. We waited for over one hour before we got up and started to walk out of the Forum.

The maintenance crew was removing all of the chairs on the floor. The lights were on. I think maybe ten percent of the people were still in the building.

Suddenly, we heard the beginning of Voodoo Chile while walking through the parking lot. Everyone in the parking lot ran back into the building and there was Jimi
Hendrix on stage again for his third encore. Unprecedented. Jimi Hendix played Voodoo Chile for 2 hours. Amazing.

A few years ago, while training for the triathlon and changing my life, I used to listen to the Electric Ladyland version of Voodoo Chile. One day I looked at one of the versions on the album. It lasted exactly 4 minutes and 57 seconds. I was born at exactly 4:57 AM in the morning.

As is obvious, this song and the night and that girl is very very special to me. The story gets much deeper but for now you can see how intertwine with the times it was. Enjoy the song.

Stones-sympathy for the devil

while playing rock music tonight, while broadcasting on downtownlabroadcasting, I heard this version of the stones'. "sympathy for the devil". I thought it was funky. Real funky. thought you guys would like this

Rocking on Skid Row--The Doors---LA Woman



I had a rock concert while working tonight. That is right.
At work. I put on the live tv stream and was a dJ. I used to play rock music on nights before final exams in high school to relieve the pressure.

I played the STones, Hendrix and the doors over and over.

I never heard this one song but I had a special reason to finally listen to this song. I thought I should play it for someone.

Department of Water and Power hearing



This is what it looked like today at City Council Chambers. The major discussion today was a potential rate hike. The officials were questioned vigorously by city council officials.

jan perry wore a summer hat in chambers today. It was a throwback to a different time and added to the historical ambience of the chambers.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Questions and Excited Anticipation

Monday evening, at the office.

the world seems to be getting worse everyday. The situation in China is tenuous at best. The 4000th service man person was killed in Iraq. They bulldozed the homeless encampment in Ontario today. People who have no where to go and no money to get there are told they have to leave. The economy is down and it is most likely getting worse. Our parents from the great generation are welcoming home their kids from the baby boomer generation. They have lost their jobs.

It seems like the whole world is becoming one huge Skid Row in one form or fashion.
I used to ask myself how would I get out of this situation. On a wider scope, I ask myself, how are we going to get out of this situation. What is going to happen to this economy? What is going to happen in Iraq? Will this newly powerful terrorist from Pakistan catch the US with our guard down?

The one thing I know for sure is that the unemployment rate in Skid Row can not get any higher. I have my desk clerk job and I am as grateful as I can be. I am employed. I do not even view myself as underemployed. In this day and age and situation, who has that luxury?

A friend of mine responded to an email I sent him. His reply had a tone of detachment. I wondered if it was my imagination. It was not. In a subsequent email, he said times were bad for him. he did not elaborate. He put"real bad" in italics and in bright red. This is a man who saves money and who has kept a steady job in all of the thirty plus years that I have known him.

I look at the drugs on the street being consumed everyday. I wonder about the concept of denial. Are they any more in denial than the collective soul of our country? This Iraq situation? Is it really better? Is the election, as historic as it is, able to avoid the nasty temptation to exploit racism or sexism as a means to ignite emotions for whatever the political gain?

I ask myself all of these questions as I look outside the door and view a dimly lit street on Skid Row. the scarcity of lights parrallels the scarcity of lights that shine on our future.

Our kids are turning themselves into "suicide bombers" with these shootings on college campuses. A man falls out of a upper flow window on 7th and Los Angeles streets and splatters himself on the pavement.

Is Skid Row, with its problems doing worse or better than the world average in the area of progress/capita? It is hard to say. I know that I see people on Skid Row getting jobs. Every day, for the past six months, I have heard a bell ring in the Chrysalis office on Main St. Every time someone secures a job, a bell is rung. The person who secures the job speaks in front of those who are relentlessly searching for jobs on the rows of computers that are in the facility. They speak to those who are still without employment and give them words of encouragement.


Those words work. I know because they helped me continue to search for work with the belief that, one day, the hard work and tenacity would pay off.

I have the job and I started a social network. Why? To further grow on the internet. However, the more I learn the more I realize that I do not know anything.

I wanted to create a virtual community on the web a few months ago. Now I have done that. It is a way to bring stability and continuity of communication in an environment where that does not exist too often. Secondly, I can be a part of something that grows and brings people together when there seems to be so much that is ripping us apart.

These are my thoughts as I sit here at work and look outside into the dark night. It is interesting that I do see a few colorful lights in the distance. I see only one green light. I see many red ones. Is that symbolic of the times?

Someone told me to get out more. I will begin to do that. There was a time when I did not want to venture out because I did not want to face the eventuality of having to return to my environments of residence on Skid Row.

I plan to start swimming and training again. I have waited a long time to resume that part of my life. It was a key ingredient to change my life. I wonder what it will feel like to glide through the water now that I no longer indulge.
Again, it is all a matter of patience. Patience allows one to not stress out. It allows one to enjoy the process of growing and pursuing.

---I just checked my email. While I have been typing this post, two people have joined "downtown Los Angeles Friends". Ah yes. It feels good.

You know, there was a time when I wanted to own a bar or a golf course. I wanted to be the owner and manager of a place where people had fun. When I was a tennis coach and instructor, my mentor told me that I was not teaching people merely how to play tennis. I was teaching them how to enjoy themselves and have fun.

Now I have this social network. It is a little bit different than having a country club, golf course or private club in a downtown building. But the skills that it takes to make those establishments successful must be possessed by the person who creates these respective social network sites. Now I have the task of learning how to maintain interest in my site. should be fun. I found that there is a link for those that create sites to share ideas on how to make them successful.


I learn about entertaining. I learn more about the web. I learn more about marketing. Ah yes, it feels good to grow. I want to think everyone for helping joining the site so far. I will do my best to make it a very interesting place for all. My journey continues.

A lady once said that I should keep writing. Well, this is one of the things that my writing has led to. I hope she joins.

I want that website to be the "family room" of downtown Los Angeles. It would be nice if people dropped in every night to see what is happening. Maybe they will join a chat room. maybe the downtown writers group will do a reading or something. Maybe I can broadcast art walk on it. maybe metropolis books will allow me to broadcast the visit of one of their authors or speakers. It will be interesting to see how far it goes. I want whatever makes people laugh and have fun. that is the goal. I will learn alot along the way.

If I can be half as successful as the International Pillow Fight Day, I will be happy. Whatever else happens in the rest of the world, we, in Downtown Los Angeles, are going to have fun. And I intend to be a part of that fun.

Good Night world.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter on Skid Row

The Midnight Mission was preparing here for their Easter Day celebration. They blocked off 6th St. from San Pedro to San Julian.

The volunteer band was setting up for another jamming sesssion and people waited patiently for the festivities to begin.

All over the neighborhood food was being distributed

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Time to grow. It is an "Olympics" year.

Across the street from Gladys Park, people were lined up as Walking Man, Inc. distributed hot meals to the community.

Meals were handled out all over Skid Row to celebrate Easter.

I must say there is a great deal going on in Skid Row these days. I have seen many tours of the area. More so than usual. I see more people coming back and forth from work or school. I see more people with a sense of purpose. Keep it up Skid Row. Keep doing what you are doing.
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I am just relaxing from a couple of weeks of intensity. This past week was my first week of working. I am surprised that I am not more tired than I am. Perhaps I conditioned myself well over the last few months by blogging and staying active.

I look forward to reading my novel when I leave the computer room. I have not read it all week.

Now that I have a job, it is time to plan my life. What is next? What should be next? I am trying to find a place to jog. Trying to set up a study schedule. Trying to see what is in the world to do.

I was learning aabout things to do when I was triathlon training. I visited the library a great deal. In fact it was an "Olympics" year when I began to change my life. I spent alot of time at USC.
I wanted to accomplish things again in life. It was an exciting time for me because I began to live again instead of sitting inside the house with pipe attached to me all of the time. I learned to believe that I could do things again and live without depending on substances.

Great strides were made that year. However, as I look back, I was relearning how to do things. It was a long process. It was the time when I started writing. I monitored my every thought and emotion.
I enjoyed going to the library and studying science and the law. I enjoyed developing my training habits and the daily workouts. I enjoyed reestablishing myself with The PRINCIPLES OF SUCCESS.
This time is very much like those times. There are some cosmetic differences but essentially they are the same. I am in an advance course now. That is all.

Somebody told me to enjoy this time of my development. I think she is right. That is what I must do. The more I enjoy the building process, the more I will build. It is time to figure out what direction to go. A friend told me this morning"just keep doing what you are doing, Walter. Now enjoy it. Things are going to fall in place for you." He has not been wrong yet. We shall see. He also said that alot can be accomplished in one year, IF YOU FOCUS. A person once said that I can accomplish as much in one year as it would take most 15 years to do. Hmmmm. I wonder if I can at least accomplish 7 years worth of stuff. I shall see.

I am going home to get organized and to read. I will talk to everyone tomorrow. There must be something exciting for me to see.

I think I am going to try and go to MacArhur Park. I want to see people smiling and sitting in the little boats paddling together. That would be different. Yes, I want to see something different. This is a time when I need to experience different stuff. Grow. It is an Olympic year.

Friday, March 21, 2008

End of a Good Week and a New Social Network



The Los Angeles Mission gave its annual Easter Day Free Dinner to the community today. It also provided free foot massages and a shoe company gave away brand new tennis shoes. It was a very festive day on the Nickel.

I went to my class again today. There was a small but very crowded
Easter parade on 8th St. and Union St at around 7PM.

Of course I ran into something and fell off of my bicycle on the way back.

I must say I was tired. It has been a long week and it has been packed with lots of changes. A great deal has been accomplished. However, at the end of the week, I just want it over.

I had to think about a comment that was left last night. "A sad school...". It had me wondering all of last night. I attempted to respond to it but I realized I should have thought about it. I was only thinking of a University as a place where students student and teachers teach. Yet, a university is more than that. There are experiments and research. There are things going on on all types of levels. I had to open up my mind and realize that. Once that was remembered, it was easier to look at Skid Row in a lot of ways.

Ah yes, my photo critic is one that compels me to think and rethink many things.

On the way back, I fell off the bike. I walked for a while and just looked at everything around me. People were laughing and smiling. It is a holiday weekend. People are enjoying themselves. I was happy for them.

I needed something to boost my spirits. Was not down but just emotionally fatigued and I still had to return to work.

I got back to work and turned on the computer to blog and I saw an additional comment.

"Right On", it said. "I will be damned", I thought. Perfect timing. I wondered if the comment was for the new job or my response to her comment from last night. It did not matter.

I was glad to hear from her. It was the boost I needed. It gave me my second wind.

By the way, everyone. I started a social network website. It is called

Downtown Los Angeles Friends.

The tag line beneath the title of the network says it all-"Where our differences as people make our community stronger"

I hope that the network turns into the "family room" for the downtown community.

I will work hard to make it interesting and fun for people. The first thing I want to do is put a chat room on the site. A community calendar may come first because it may be the easiest for me to do.

I sure hope people join. I want it to be a fun place. Just like blogger is a website for blogs, Ning.comning is a website for those that create social networks. It was founded by the same person that created
the browser Netscape.

Please join.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

For my Photo Critic

A quick postscript to tonight's blog.


To expound on the Skid Row campus concept, it is fair to say that one's perspective on Skid Row changes over time. That perspective is a function of one's self perception. To what degree that plays a part I dare to say it plays a vital part.

Someone that I respect a great deal made the statement that Skid Row is a sad campus.
Indeed, it can be. However a campus is many things and many different things to different people.

Let's look at Skid Row like someone would view Hollywood. There are rules in Hollywood but few, if any, are codified. You learn as you go. Many people come to Hollywood to pursue fame and bright lights. There are a few success stories.
There are also a few stories where people did not make it in the "industry" but they came out ok. There are also tragic stories where the independent study curriculum of one person may have led to a tragic end.

Skid Row is very much the same way. You are in a jungle of resources. How you access them determines your success in using them. Certain resources are only accessed by human resources. In Hollywood, you have scam artists who take the money of those who come here and tell them they need to invest in portfolios to be an "extra". You have the casting couch. All of these "fake" human resources are out there and people who run into them never get a chance to access those who can help them.

In Skid Row the fake human resources are the drug dealers. The pimps. The spot of "rookie" a mile away and prey on them like a fox in the hen house. And yes a sad story develops. Hollywood and Skid Row are the same. There are Sad stories and there are happy endings. It is all a function on how you navigate self and the matrix of variables that are in life.

Yes, some schools are sad. However, the better you appreciate the lessons, the better you can appreciate the benefits of those lessons and bring joy to life instead of sadness.

You, my photo critic, have been a great human resource and one that I am grateful that has found my blog. You have helped me access myself and hopefully enabled me to help others access themselves. You are the co creator of a happy ending.

Good night dear woman....

Broadcasting Live and Networking


good evening my friends. Today has been very productive. It surprises me how much I can get done now that i do not have to hunt for a job.

Downtown was pretty lively today. Movie companies were taking tours of buildings on Main St, for possible locations for future film shooting.
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Speaking of filming, instead slide shows, I shall have live video streams from 6PM until 12PM from Monday to Friday. So when you access my blog on those nights, you will most likely see me on camera at work or I will give a live little news report about the daily downtown activities that took place earlier in the day.

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Anita Nelson, executive director of SRO Housing, was seen on San Julian St. today, giving a tour to some people who seemed to be captivated by her lecture.

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It is about 11:00. I have not written a word in hours. I have been working and networking. I have been broadcasting tonight.

I plan on bringing people together soon with a new social networking sight for downtown LA and I have been laying the groundwork to launch it. The integration of that sight along with other multimedia components will facilitate alot of projects to advance my projects and also to enhance the quality of life for those that live in the downtown Los Angeles Community. It could be fun.

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I took this picture on 4th street today. 4th street is a hub of activity and was the beginning of the downtown renaissance. I felt that spirit today and I felt it this evening while I was broadcasting.

I want to thank the people for joining me while I broadcasted and I intend to bring quality content to my live broadcasts and hope that it improves my blogs as well.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My job provides new prospective

Today will be my third day at work. I have the type of job where you learn mostly as you go. One thing this job gives me is the chance to feel how people feel who work in Skid Row.

Yesterday, I received a call from an elderly lady. She informed me that she was sick and that she wanted me to leave a message for her daughter to come visit her today in the afternoon. The lady was sweet over the phone and kept apologizing for taking up my time. I would have spent all night helping her if she needed it.
I had been watching the news a great deal and I they have been discussing alzheimer's disease and how it could effect the baby boomer generation. I, of course, have a mother who is suffering from that type of dimentia so that is always on my mind.

Whenever I can help an elderly person, I try my damnedest to do so.

Late in the evening the daughter of the lady came in. I was glad she came in on my shift as I could personally give her the message from her mother and KNOW that it was done. The daughter was confined to a wheel chair and she was very sick herself. I sat there and wondered who was more sick, the daughter or the mother.

I felt helpless to help either one. I felt helpless one day when my own mother said to me "what are they going to do with me, walter?" as if she had no choice or say in the decision. I remember feeling helpless and a failure in my life because I had no credibility and what I had to say would not have any weight towards my mother's future.

I imagine those types of things happen every day on Skid Row. People who care feel helpless to impact the lives of those with whom they come in touch. I know my employer gave me a number to call if I get down. It is a hotline of sorts that is provided to those that work in social services field. It is stressful and I guess people get depressed. I heard on television yesterday that caretakers of those that have alzheimer's can lose anywhere from 5ive to eight years off of their own lives from the stress of taking care of an alzheimer's victim.

From what I have experienced in my first couple of days, I can see where all of the above could be very true. Things effect you and you see that so many people struggle with everything on a day to day basis.

Yes, I have felt nice warm feelings when I have been able to help someone. However, when I can,t I feel terrible. I guess there are many people on Skid Row that feel terrible every day because they can not be more helpful to the people that they come across. There are thousands of problems and many of them are complicated.

This experience gives me another side to think about. Another perspective. It makes me think more and appreciate my own health and wonder what the future has in store for me along those lines.

I wonder when I will start doing research on vegetables and write about it or talk about exercising and fitness in my blog. All of these things are things that I have had planned but now there is an urgency to start in those areas.

I am of the baby boomer generation and I would like us to try to be as healthy as possible. I know what it is like to exercise and eat healthy foods. I also know what it is like to lead an unhealthy lifestyle. Hopefully I will provide content that will encourage and motivate people to enjoy healthy lives.

Take care.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Different Perspective of Skid Row

This is actually a picture of Skid Row taken from the top of City Hall. Skid Row is south of City Hall.

It is hard to believe that between those buildings you have one of the most dense areas of suffering in the United States. Last night I saw Skid Row from a different perspective. I saw it at after midnight. The only time I have seen it around that time is when I have come from Main St. after visiting Banguette or other establishments on that corner.

This time I saw Skid Row coming from a DEEPER Skid Row location. I was on 7th Street and I had to go to 5th street. I was traveling southeast to northwest.

It was a lot darker. Fewer people were on the street where I started from. No lights were on the streets. It is quite common to see men urinating in the street in any part of Skid Row. Last night was a little different. Several women squatted in the middle of the street and relieved themselves.

The attitude of the people along my travel path was more desperate or shall I say fatalistic than normal. I was glad to get to my building after my first night at work.

Yes, this picture is a view of Skid Row from the nothern point of City Hall.

The tallest building in Skid Row is the Weingart building. It is located on the northeastern corner of 6th and San Pedro. it is the building in the top left corner of the photo. There are many programs housed in that building as well as a medical clinic on the first floor.

The building with the green columns on it is the Union Rescue Mission. The front of it is on San Pedro and the back of it is on San Julian ST. I live on San Julian St. San Julian ST. is considered the heart of Skid Row. Currently it is the dirtiest street on Skid Row but that is changing with the efforts of OG, Jeff Page and the Skid Row Basketball League. They volunteer to clean up the streets.

On the southern end of San Julian St. between 5th and 6th is where you have your critical mass of crack smokers and dealers. Most of the crack trade takes place there. Keep in mind crack is sold throughout Skid Row but this area is sort of like a "Crack Swap Meet". The northern part of San Julian St., closer to 5th st. is where the marijuana market is. Crack is not smoked at all around that part of the street.

The tan colored building just off center and towards the southeastern part of the picture is a two story structure. That is the Los Angeles Mission. All of those other buildings that you see are either shelters, residential hotels or some other mission. That is why I call it a campus. The Skid Row neighborhood resembles a campus and each mission or building is like a separate department on the campus.

There are many classes in Skid Row. Classes and recovery meetings are held day and night. There are AA, CA and NA meetings. There are Domestic violence classes. There are computer classes and job skills training programs. Self help grass roots programs dot the area.

So I ask myself why is it that there is so much misery on the streets. The area from where I road last night is called the combat zone. I will learn more why as I get to know it.

Last night expanded my experience on Skid Row just as moving into the Marshall House did. I trust that I will learn more as each day comes and goes.

I must go. I must register for my continuing education classes to renew my real estate license. The fight continues. The climb continues.

Monday, March 17, 2008

First Day going to WORK

I took this photo to mark the first day of work. I remember my mother taking a photo of me on my first day of school.

I figured history should repeat itself as this is a first of sorts.

I start today at 3:30PM. I went to the office at noon to fill papers. I arrived on Main St. just in time to see the beginning of the St. Patrick's Day parade that started on 4th and Main. Men were carrying bag pipes and the Laker Girls rode on top of a truck.

They sure have you sign lots of stuff these days. The tax information takes the shortest period of time. Sexual harassment information and all kinds of things. I guess things change over time.

Well, it is time to go. I will see what this day continues to bring.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Take me to the Next Phase"-Isley Brothers

Some people would find it hard to believe that in all of that cold steel, concrete and glass, there is a warm community that is alive and well. It is healthy, vibrant and growing. And I am a part of it.

Every journey has its special moments and I have experienced many special moments in my "Downtown Experience". Yesterday was another one of those moments. I walked through several parts of downtown. I was with Jeff Page, the Director of Marketing for the Skid Row Basketball League. Jeff gives me hell everyday if I become the slightest bit distracted in my "comeback". I must say I love it when he does that because it keeps me on track.

We were enjoying a carry over from Friday when we celebrated the fact that I would be starting a new job on Monday.Plus, we had spent a great day at City Hall, the day before, as well. Yes folks, I have a job. No it is not the job that I talked about so much. It is another position. However, I am thrilled. More on that later.

Jeff and I discussed how far I have come as well as certain details of his journey. We are very different in many ways and yet alike in many ways. The differences serve as a mutual check and balance of each other as we have different perspectives that come from age and other categories.

The first thing we did was walk up 5th Street. On Fifth and Spring st. we ran into an affair. I did not check to see what was going on because I had to get to the bank. However, Jeff and I saw developer Tom Gilmore at the affair. He was obviously enjoying himself being a part of the community that he began building some time ago. It was clear that the affair was some kind of promotion for an entrepreneurial endeavor.

I would like to say that I have seen Tom at several affairs that are promotional events for entrepreneurs in the neighborhood. He supports all of those who are trying to succeed and build businesses that serve the community. I want every one to know that.

Tom spoke to Jeff and I as he has seen us at a few events. I had been in Tom's office a few days ago. I had just come from court and enjoyed some success in that arena. I felt lucky so I went home and retrieved a resume and marched it into Tom's office, unannounced. I noticed a doll on the floor but for some reason I thought it belonged there. I found out who owned the doll. It belonged to a white dog.
Tom told me yesterday that that dog visits the office on Thursdays. It is the official dog for the Old Bank District.

By the way, I met Tom when I first moved into the Marshall House. That was in late September of last year. I told you guys on several occasions that I have followed him for years as I worked for a pioneer developer of historical properties in Philadelphia. I feel a takes a certain type of person to do that kind rebuilding. You must juggle many things and be able to deal with many different types of people. Most do not know that it takes one who is tolerant of many things to be successful in that market niche. Also, I might add that developers in that market niche want others to succeed and they support their efforts. A developer is only as successful as the success of the community they build.

Tom turned downed 4th street and headed for Main St. It is interesting that I run into Tom again when I began a new chapter in my Downtown experience. I met him right after I moved to the Marshall House. Now I see him a couple of days before I start a job. I am beginning a new relationship with downtown tomorrow. It is my third relationship phase. The first was landing at the Transition House. The second was moving into the Marshall House. Now I have a job in the area.

I went to the Wells Fargo bank on Spring St and deposited three more checks that I received from working on the movie set. I also had to see them about a bounced check that was written to me. It was the first bounced check writen to me in my life and it was a payroll check from a company whose stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. I saved that check as a back up in case my benefits ran out before I was able to get a job. I am glad I do not have to count on that money. There is no telling how long it will take for me to be reimbursed. I will not mention the name of the company. If I have problems, I will disclose the name. Hopefully, it will not come to that.

I also activated my debit card. Progress. Now I can purchase the course and materials for my continuing education course. Upon completion I can renew my real estate broker's license.

From there, Jeff and I went to the Grand Central Market on Broadway. I first visited the place a couple of months ago. I wrote about that. After I visited the place, good things started to happen. I trust that history will repeat itself.
Jeff visited a music store and obtained some documentation to submit to DLANC for approval of some equipment for the Basketball league and we headed out again.

I had a bag filled with groceries as we walked down 4th street to Main.

We stopped in Metropolis Books.

Jeff knew Julie the owner and they talked for a minute while I was struggling with my bags outside. Finally I entered the store and thanked Julie for picking out the book, the traveler, for me to read. It was funny because I had just talked about their store in the morning on my blog. Her husband found the sequel to the book that I read and they gave it to me. GAVE IT TO ME. That was very nice of them to that. It was a warm gesture. It was like another embrace welcoming me further into the community at large.

I mentioned to them that I had a blog, Scribeskidrow, and was very surprised that they had read it and enjoy it. "Oh, you are hooked up with Don Garza!!!", Julie's husband said. Forgive me for not mentioning his first name. It slips my mind but I still had to do the quote. I have his card at home but am not there. I will replace this later with his name. That is what I like about my blog. When I do not know I just say so and continue on with it.

Jeff and I left there and sent back to the heart of Skid Row where we live. On the way we discussed future possibilities. It was not long ago when I found it hard to be optimistic about the future. It took a lot of work by me and others to get me to this point.

It is like I told you-I must look around and see where I am at. Things have changed. I wont bore you with the details again but things are improving. With that comes increased confidence and the willingness to look beyond and see what can be done after walking through a "parched desert" of despair.

Even I have to admit that a lot of things have changed. Money in the bank. a job. My sister is communicating with me the courts are working with me. I have the money in time to renew my real estate license etc. I can plan now. and network from a secure emotional place rather than out of fear. I can relax a bit and enjoy the process. I can see myself climb.

The job is different from those that I have had in the past. The past positions were glamorous. This one is not but I will probably put more into this position and this period of time than anything else I have done in the past.

I said that Skid Row was a boot camp. I also said that training for the Triathlon at USC was a boot camp of sorts. Well, I say it again. this new phase is an advanced level of boot camp. IT is a new station on my come back trail and I am excited to be a part of it. I read a book at one time called "Lonesome Gods" by Louis L'Amour. It was about the early days of Los Angeles. The Pioneer days.

I feel that now I am entering a pioneering phase of my own. Furthermore, I am entering it as downtown is going through its own pioneering phase. It is a time where things are happening. I am witnessing a new downtown.

I know what it feels like to be a part of a new beginning. In Philadelphia, I worked for a historical developer and a real estate broker in an area that was undergoing significant change.

This time it is happening in my hometown while I am experiencing a change as well.
I am not just talking about my circumstances. I am talking about this phase of my development or redevelopment that started years ago when I decided to stop indulging in controlled substances.

It is an interesting time. Sure, there are concerns but I am able to envision overcoming concerns or obstacles. Confidence is rising. And a lot of it is due to the help of people in the downtown community. Each and everyone that has touched my life contributed to where I am right now. Where I am right now is more important than any job I had with a glamorous company. I know that feels and I know how it feels when I was empty inside of myself. It feels good not to be empty inside and I trust that that feeling inside will grow as will my fortunes and the fortunes of the communities that surround me. I trust that I will be able to contribute to that end.

Yes, in the midst of all of that cold steel, glass and concrete there is a warm soul and it is the collective soul of good warm people. I am looking forward to working downtown and being a part of it in a different way.

I said after my first three months of blogging, after experiencing new things that I wonder what the next three months would bring. Those three months are not quite over but I have summarized above all of the positive changes.

What will the next few months bring. I do not know. I will keep putting one foot in front of the other. I will keep blogging and explore ways of increasing my presence on the net and expanding my voice within and about downtown Los Angeles.
I will start a baby boomer section about fitness. As I said before. the possibilities are endless. I made it through a terrible storm. The skies are blue now. I am learning to believe it. Tomorrow is the start of the next phase. I love the pioneering spirit of Downtown LA.

Good night world, I love you.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Day at Gladys Park


Chess Playing is a daily part of the Gladys Park landscape of activity
Shooting baskets at Gladys Park

After writing that previous post, I went down to Gladys Park and took some shots of the activities that are going on down there. The Skid Row Three on Three Street
basketball league was having their tryouts for the upcoming season. I can see where they plan on having quite a few entertaining activities to go on while the games are in session. I shall preview the entertainment schedule as information becomes available.

Interesstingly, this was where my blogging career started, with the basketball league. I would love to be able to broadcast their first game of the season live. I am working on that. Progress must continue.

Thanks Evan

As my life is in transition, it appears that someone else's life is in transition as well.

This blog has opened me up to new things and I have had a chance to receive emails from people from all over the world. I can remember the very first one. It was from Kansas City. He was an ex addict and he told me to continue to write.

For six months people have told me to continue to write. It has been a source of comfort and a resource to pursue new information.

I have been fortunate enough to help a person find out that her brother is alive.
They had not communicated in over 17 years.

This morning I was reading a novel. IT is called "The Traveler". I purchased it on Main St. at Metropolis Books.

I was reading it because I was trying to figure out my stage in life. My emotions at this new phase that I am in. I will start a job on Monday. IT is not the "Brochure Job". However, it is a beginning. It has me look at things a lot differently. I was looking at my existence on Skid Row a lot differently.

At a time when I felt I was getting closer to my family, I felt a little troubled this morning. What will the future bring me?

I am not one who has shied away from adventure. I left my little neighborhood at 12 and enrolled in a prep school that took one hour by freeway to attend.
I went to Brazil as a foreign exchange student. I went to the other side of the country for college.

Yet because of the tremendous change of my existence in my hometown, and my relationships in it, los angeles, I am excited and anxious about my new beginning.

This morning I was reading the novel and it just so happens that the story involves a man and a woman who are leaving Los Angeles to avoid danger and find someone. The person they must find happens to live in Arizona. I ended the chapter this morning with the two characters on their way to arizona in a van.

Their future was unknown. It had dangerous potential.

I put on my clothes and decided to walk to the Little Tokyo Library. It is interesting that some of the characters are from Japan.

I entered the library and checked my email. It did not appear to bejunk mail and I was able to see the preview. IT mentioned my first name and Skid Row. I opened it and read it.

The writer was Evan, from Arizona, a teenager, and he wanted to move to Los Angeles.

He wants to move to Skid Row.

I could only admire this young man. He did not run away from Skid Row once he found out where his selected residence was located. he researched it. He then found my blog and was inspired that I feel I have become a better person because I have spent time down here.

I wrote him back and want him to write me back. Let's talk about this.

The fact is that this young man said that I inspired me. However, the real truth is that he has not only inspired me but his adventurous attitude and courage challenges me to have the same about my future. I have come a long way and things are changing. Sure some people are leaving me but I should not have fear. I should welcome the future. I do in ways. However, so much that I am experiencing in my home town is far beyond what I could have ever imagined.

I have always believed that people can learn from everyone. The teacher can be thirty plus years older than you or thirty plus years younger than you. This teacher happens to be thirty plus years younger than I.

I worked long and hard to get to the point of having a job and enjoying a new life. I must not look at it with trepidation.

In many ways it is exciting. I do not look at the fact that it does not pay alot. I look at the fact that I am doing something. It is a start.

I want to thank Evan for helping me remember certain things. It is funny that I receive a letter from Arizona when I was thinking about it and just finished reading a passage in a novel about it.Interesting.

Evan thank you. I will write more about this transition in my new journey. For now, I must go. I must see something that a friend call me on my cell phone to see. Something that requires me to take my camera.

Friday, March 14, 2008

People at city Hall

City Council woman Janice Hahn during the gang committee hearing
Chief Bratton just before he spoke on the gang crisis
City Councilman Bernard Parks
City Council President Eric Garcetti
Council Woman Jan Perry in Council Chambers

Views From City Hall




The Title says it all. These are different views from City Hall.

A Day at City Hall




I just left Los Angeles City Hall. Jeff Page informed me that he was on his way down there so I tagged along. It was my first time at a Los Angeles City Council meeting. I took lots of pictures and will display them as soon as I get to some place where I can upload them.

"Nooroz", the Persian New Year Celebration was honored today at City hall. Outside of the City Council Chambers, it was very festive with everyone celebrating the Persian New Year.

I must go. I am on my way back to City Hall. They are getting ready to have a conference about the Gang Crisis.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

NEW DLANC ALTERNATE BOARD MEMBER




The lady in the top photo is Antoinette Falice. I took this photo in the Los Angeles Theater at the DLANC meeting. Ms Falice is an employee of the STRIVE Program on Crocker ST. in Skid Row. The STRIVE Program is an educational program that targets the homeless and equips them with tools so they can return to a productive life. Ms Falice was being sworn in as an alternate board member of DLANC when I took this picture. This meeting was Tuesday night.
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Tonight is Art Walk night on Main St. Please attend and enjoy the warm spring evening. It is my understanding that there will be many comedians at the Comedy Club afterwards.

Put one foot in front of the Other

I am sitting here at Chrysalis. It is 9:00 AM. Everything is different. Chrysalis is the same but for some reason I feel much different.

I am trying to figure out where I am. A great deal has changed within the last few weeks and my perspective is foggy. I talked with someone yesterday and he feels that it will take some time for me to understand where I am.

When I walked out of the Aon building, it was the end of a three week run of interviews, working on sets and court appearances. In each of those catagories there has been substantive change. With those changes new questions emerge.

In court the judge is trying to unite me with my family. I waited a long time for that kind of support and now it is beginning to spread. The only problem that comes with that support is that I must realize that i still must be patience and let the process run its course despite whatever concerns and anxieties I have. What I feared could take at least a year could take a couple of months. I need to be grateful for that.

I was able to make a few dollars working on a set. Money in the pocket always makes one feel more secure. I received a letter that my benefits were ending last week. They are ending a month before I expected. Thank God that I was able to work and stash away a little cash.

In the middle of that working stint, I received a call from a woman about a position that was available within Skid Row. They are going through the process now. I passed the drug test and now they are going through the background check. I am grateful to have at least one position. The Human Resources Woman who talked with me has known me for some time. She offered me a position months ago but had to rescind it. This time she said to me,"Walter, you are on your way now. No one can stop you now.". I was so busy doing things that I did not have the time to absorb what she was saying. I was working all day and trying to put together a brochure in the little spare time I had.

I was not confident about the brochure. I talked with marketing friends of mine. Each interpreted the requirements differently. One said used the exact language and just organized it. Just draw a box where there should be a picture. Another said do the whole layout. Everyone had a different perspective of the task at hand. We were all wrong. However, the most important thing was that I did not plan well enough to have enough time to call and email for clarification. If that is the case, that means I am not ready for whatever the nature of the position brings. I am not far enough on the comeback trail to deliver effectively and contributive substantively, immediately.

During the assignment, I felt uneasy about certain things. It was the first time using a software program and it had limitations. Secondly, I had read some of the requirements in some of the marketing manager advertisements, and it appeared to me that the duties of the position had changed in focus since I was in Corporate America.

In one company, IBM, the title Marketing Manager is a pseudonym for Sales Manager.
In another company or industry, it means strategist and implementer. It changes from company to company. Moreover, with technology changes, "in house" availability
of increased capabilities increase as well. A shift in the focus of duties evolves over time.

This is one of things that I learned from the experience the last few days. I had noticed that "collateral materials" has been a focus in marketing manager responibilities where in the past they have not been. It may be a function of the industry or depend upon a company and the way it is structured. It is important to know that these differentiations exist.

I must make sure I know what the focus is on a position. What I perceive a position to be may not be what it is. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to interface with RD and have contribution in my growth process.

I am not a graphic designer. I am a strategic planner, a researcher, a deal maker. Or was I those things. The one thing I have learned in this journey that started years ago and has been coming increasingly clear is that one must be open to suggestion about how to do something and, more importantly, about oneself. I closed myself off from the world years ago in many ways. I cut off the receptors to stimulus, the very seeds that make things grow.

I learned I loved to write. Who knows what else I will find out that I like to do.

That is why I am excited to see what RD has to say to me in so far as how I could contribute to their organization. She said the president liked my blog. He probably senses a man that is hungry to be pushed. I want to burst open the gates and see what is inside. I feel that something is there and they can bring it out.

Also I have a position as a desk clerk. It is with the same organization that offered me the assitant property management position but had to rescind it. If you recall, I wrote about that. It was something that they had to do for business, insurance reasons. I understood that then.

The funny thing about this position is that it removes all of the concern about being able to survive. I can now look up and see new things. I can feel new things. I can absorb new things. I can plan. I can look towards the future.
"Walter, nobody can touch you now. Nobody can stop you now. You are on your way."

Those words echo inside of me each moment and with each reverberation I understand more of its many kaleidoscopic meanings. With more understanding, comes more belief in what it says. Belief and confidence make the difference in everything. It is the one thing that I fought hard to maintain since I have been on Skid Row.

I walked around Skid Row the last day or so. I have been here for a year. And yes, it does look like a big college campus. You see people go out of one building and go into another around the corner. You see people progress. You see people get sidetracked. All of these things are similar and comparable to what occurs on a college campus.

I have been here long enough to notice changes. I have changed and my circumstances have changed so a change in my perspective is to be expected. I was shell shocked when I came here. Now I have a job and the prospects of perhaps the opportunity of another or the chance to contribute in another organization. The world is opening up to me again. I closed it with a series of decisions and behaviors and now I am reversing the process.

I see men and women on Skid Row like I saw men on women on Penn's campus. Each year things change. Those who were Freshman are now Sophomores. Those who are in school are now out of school. Some graduate. Others leave for various reasons. Some drop out.

The same thing occurs in Skid Row. Some people graduate. Some drop out.

I have known a man for about a year. He was in the Transition House with me last year. He had come from another program. He relapsed and went to another program. he relapsed again and had to go somewhere else. He was on the relapse circuit on Skid Row.

I talked to him on the movie set when we worked. I was aware that each time he had money in his hand, he relapsed and was discharged from where he was. I told him that it was simple. You smoke cocaine or you do not. The hardest part was to stop physically. However he could not mentally retire from his career as a "smoker".

We worked on that set longer than I did. He did not have to pay rent where he lived. After three weeks of interviews, working and court appearances. My life changed for the better. I am still trying to figure out what it means. It does mean that I have options.

I had heard that some people were kicked out of the Transition House from not making curfews. It is a normal thing that happens at the beginning of each month as people receive their checks and reusme drug use.

I was walking into the Transition House to use the Computer Lab and the man, about whom I have been writing, walked out of the Transition House with his clothes in a plastic bag. He was discharged. he had to find another place to take him. He may have run out of options.

You have two men who were registered students at the University of Skid Row. One man is on a merry go round or treadmill. What he does not realize is that each time he goes around on thata merry go round, he loses something inside of him that it will be harder and harder to retrieve.

Then you have me. All of those little checks are in the bank. I have my little room secured. I have a job. I have a potential job or volunteer position. I am within arms reach of being reunited with family. The hard work and perserverence is beginning to pay off.

That is why I need to take time to figure out where I am. I can not believe I am here.

A man, Kevin, is being transferred out of here to go to Van Nuys. I can not thank him or his family enough for what they have done for me. They encouraged me to fight each day. And now I can look back and see that it was a fight each day and a fight in every aspect of life each day.

Frankly, it was the first time in a long time that I had to fight like this. I know I had to fight like this when the doctors told my parents not to expect me to live. I know I had to fight to not drown when I was a kid.

I fooled the doctors as a one year old. I lived. I did not drown. I became a champion swimmer.

I learned how to fight again before I arrived here. I learned how to fight some more once I got here. Bill was right. I am a fighter. But the fighting never ends.
It takes on different forms. That is what is happening now.

I fought hard to get to this point. Now I have to fight to relearn about Corporate America. I am very excited. I am at the starting line. I am listening to everyone. I listened to the human resources women who offered me the desk clerk positioned. l I listened to Ms R.D. when she said what she had to say. They can both push me. I want to be pushed.

On Skid Row you have people that push and want to be pushed and you have those that
push themselves further out of the stadium where the game of life is played. The can stand side by side, the two in contrast and each day, though, side by side, the distance between them increases.

So many different perspectives in Skid Row. I never, in a million years, thought I would experience the perspective as I am now, let alone feel it.

It is a time where I can relax and take a deep breath and exhale. It is a time where I must also take a deep breath and get ready to plunge into the water again.

"Walter, put one foot in front of the other." " Walter, nobody can stop you now. You are on your way.". Words of wisdom from two people who I respect and admire.

I can start to look at the future. I have hope again. Winners are created in times of peril. I must believe that. If I have come this far, there is no limit as to how far I can go. I believe that now. I did not believe that when I arrived here. I believed life was over.

Anything can happen. Just take my time and put one foot in front of the other.
I hope this much. I hope that I am pushed. I hope I am challenged. There is a lot in me to give. I am hungry to do just that.

I want to know what it feels like to have my own computer again. I want to know what it feels like to turn it on and use the internet to study, where I do not have to be limited to time constraints. I want to know what it feels like to have an employer email me and say walter, I know you are not at work but I have this project that I need to get done and I wonder if you would help me do it. I want to know what it feels like to develop relationships. These are things I took for granted in the past but now I see how much work it took for me to be in those positions in the past.

This blog has brought about many things. People have found me. People have encouraged me to fight. People have encouraged me to continue writing. City Council officials enjoy my writing. A president of an organization enjoys my writing. It has given me visibility. I must push myself now to elevate to the next level.

Ms. R.D. told me that she sees what I mean when I said my blog was unedited. I did not even want to know what she meant. More than likely it meant eveything I knew it would mean. What did that comment do for me. It challenged me. I need to take the time to edit my blogs and make them more cohesive and succinct. I need to exericse greater discipline in my writing skills and expand on my presentation capabilities.

(As I was typing this, I received a phone call. My friend, Todd, who lives across the street from my mom, and who is an attorney in the arts district told me he is going to let me have his old laptop. So now I can practice things that are very important to me. I can begin my study program on the languages of the internet like html and xml). It is old and I cant save or use the ports but it will help me until I can learn how to use movie maker and edit.)

So yes, MR. RD presented me with a way to challenge myself. Hopefully, I will be in a position that my growth will benefit her and her organization. I put a foot in front of the other the other day and now I have a computer with which to study.

"Walter, no one can stop you now. You are on your way."

As I said, it is taking me a day or two to get used to these new perspectives and they are changing with every day.

I do know that I will be working. I thought I would never get a full time position. I thought I would never be in a position where I could smile everyday.
People have been telling me I have been smiling alot. Funny isnt it.

Adventures on Skid Row. Downtown is full of contrasts. You are in a city where the wealth of the city erects skyscrapers. The poverty of the city has people living in the streets. We have cowgirls in Hollywood. Everything is here. Anything is possible. I am beginning to believe that again.

"Walter, put one foot in front of the other." I am taking my time in doing that because there is so much that has changed. So much is about to change. The possibilities seem to be limitless.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Day of Celebration not Sadness

We all know where that sign is. It is a landmark recognized all over the world. It is one that I could see from my family house all of my life, on clear days.

That sign holds a special meaning to me. No, it has nothing to do with Hollywood, per se. It has to do with my father. My father's ashes were sprinkled just to the right of the Hollywood sign. He died a few days before his birthday which is today,
March 10. I believe he died on March 7th at around 10 in the morning.

My father was a marathon runner and he would train running up and down those hills at Griffith Park.

Last week, I went to court and after a year of struggling and fighting to maintain faith, the judge made a decision that changed my circumstances and stated that he is trying to clear up matters so I can resume my family life.

I wanted to top that with an offer with this organization. I have told you about them. I met with a woman today for the second time. Her birthday was on March 7th.
As soon as she told me, I thought of my father. I did not think of that day as a day of his death however. When she mentioned that it was her birthdate I associated it with something they had in common. They have in common compassion for people and the dedication to remove ignorance from our society. Every sector has ignorance. It just depends on what it is.

I made my presentation and in the back of my mind I was thinking of my father. I had come to the conclusion that perhaps I was not a fit for that position. I was right.

I did not misrepresent my credentials. They did not misrepresent their needs. What they need is not something that I can deliver. I was told that by the sharp woman that sat across the desk from me. I was not offended with anything she had to say.
She pointed out somethings, like "no paragraphs" in my brochure. I made a conscience decision to take away the paragraphs for spacing purposes. Ah, but I was not thinking. In traditional paragraphs, you indent 5 spaces. I do not do that. I skip a space between lines on my blog to signal a new train of thought.

It is the responsibility of one to know exactly what another wants. I did not do that. I chose to concentrate on text. It still would not matter as the thrust of the position was a bit different than what I have been used to in a position of the same title. Duties and Title are too different things.

The funny thing is I agreed with her the first time she mentioned it. I saw where she was going. She repeated it a couple of times but I think it upset her more than I. I was relieved. Funny isn't it.

I asked her about other positions and she said that she would brainstorm with the president to see what they could come up with.

"So you mean I am not out of consideration to joining the organization?", I asked.

"I would not consider you out at all," was her response.

A big smile must have come over my face because she commented on it. She said it was important to her to see that smile. I must say that was different but so is that organization and everyone in it is as well. I was correct in that I felt I belonged there. There was a time when I wanted to be at a corporation because of the prestige. I was young. Those things mean something.

I have to cut this short because I was told the computer lab is closing.

To make a long story short. I left there with a big smile on my face. This adventure downtown is indeed an interesting one.

I could not have celebrated my father's birthday any better than I did today.

Thank you MS. R.D.

Walter Melton aka Scribeskidrow.