this precocious thirteen-year-old slept in a thicket in the heart of downtown los angeles for weeks
until the cops captured me. i had hitchhiked from new york with three cents in my pocket and a
suitcase full of oil paints, brushes and a few canvas boards. i can't remember a single day of those weeks but i rememember i wouldn't tell them my name for over a week until a really mean kid beat me in the face with a ping pong paddle in reform school in gardena…. poor loser.
anyway, i'm journaling about the homeless. i was stimulated by kay four's entry which i read this morning and commented briefly on. to whit…
Saturday, 19 March 2005 00:31:51
i can speak from experience if you don't mind.
and since i think it's a very interesting question you've been gnawing on, i will essay a journal entry later after dinner.
addictions come first when you're homeless. food will always come to you, at least in the usa.
no, the homeless are not happy, but they get used to the pressure being gone. the pressure of a job or family and caring for a place etc.
they don't miss the struggle at all.
here in l.a. where i was homeless twice; as a teenager and three years ago in venice beach, the
homeless people i know don't want to deal with being in the 'system', even shelters. it takes too much time.it's a day to day suffering though and even if it wasn't drugs or alcohol that brought them low, most people are stuck and the vagrancy begins to affect your mind. many of them have a screw loose, but half of them at least are just sick of hasseling and have some serious resentments towards life. they discover that just like other animals, god provides.
but offer them a room without strings attached and they all would prefer the 'four walls a free man makes' (persian proverb)
by: I_ArtMan | Reply to this comment
this is my friend ooo…
and me last month.
he let me take this picture. and i asked him to take one of me.
on my birthday, sept. 2nd, 2000, when i descended from the skagit valley in the cascade mountains of
washington i first made my home on the pacific boardwalk of venice beach in los angeles.
ooo was my first friend. he had spent every day of 29 years under this palm tree.
he is a veteran homeless poet, alcoholic, pothead. he pays dearly for his palmtree
but at least he is free.
i set up on the boardwalk to do pencil portraits for $20 apiece.
i slept outdoors on the elevated life-guard stand nearby and ooo camped
in his own private handball court.
all i had was a pile of old paintings i inherited from my father's collection
and i sold them off one by one for the cost of a night in the hostel and
a bottle of brandy and cigarettes.
when the cold pacific breezes (relentless) of november kept the tourists away
i moved into my father's 1978 cadillac deville that he called xanadu. i wrote
a screenplay in the back of that car four hours a night for five months.
i'm leaving a lot out because this is a journal not a biography.
ooo and i would walk up to the tabernacle church and pick up our three
boiled chicken drumsticks and two baloney sandwiches on tip top bread.
then we would spend the live-long day hoping for a miracle to provide for our addictions.
this is my main point. cigarettes, drugs and a modicum of happenstance food
were the only relief from the forum of voices caged in our skulls who never
tired of arguing the causes of our deprivation. regrets
and you know it wasn't that bad half the time… we had some wonderful and very
spiritually satisfying conversations after the day was done. and a lot of laughter.
laughter of course released by the relaxing and salutary effects of the brandy.
i could go on and on but i'm not writing this to tell the story but to give kay_four
a glimpse into the 'honest' life of at least one 'type' of homeless.
the homeless have to be where there are other people, it's part of the matrix.
and finally, if a few more people were more generous instead of being judgemental,
the vagabond vagrant bohemian hobo wouldn't have to suffer as much as they do.
fortunately, there are many such people. but if there were more, 'true christians'
there wouldn't be those bad days when suicide is a jolly option.
THE POOREST OF THE POOR AM i
the poorest of the poor am i
my two hands rhinoceri
still can craft substantial life
with bleeding blasphemy deformed
the center of my core
for the worm of desire
continues to gnaw on my soul
so full of life, a past
a trail of noble efforts
a showering of gifts of god
the children still giggling in my brain
caged with me
in a fiery furnace of a cranium
the pearls of pleasure
strung in sequence sublimely sustaining self
still i see a secret satisfaction
my shame is of the hardest sort
my remorse eternal
the grace of faith eludes my prayers
and disaster dogs my path
I_ArtMan thanksgiving day 2000