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Chernynkaya On February - 6 - 2011

Signs like the one I posted above appeared out of nowhere in Toronto. They were bolted to posts at major intersections in busy downtown areas. “Quiet,” read one, “Homeless people sleeping.” Another advised, “Homeless warming grate. Please keep clear.” But they were unofficial and taken down.

I have an affinity with the homeless. Becoming homeless is my biggest fear, and I never see one homeless person without thinking “there but for the grace of God go I.” I think most of us have the same thought. I sometimes (during my bravest and darkest periods) imagine myself as a street person. I think there is a part of me that could go there, and I’m not talking about the Will Smith depiction of that heroic figure in the biopic about Chris Gardner, or about the schizophrenics talking to their voices.  I’m talking about the others.

I don’t remember ever noticing a homeless person when I was growing up. But I had an experience with the homeless when I was about 18, when I went to try my hand at being a hippie in San Francisco in the early Seventies. To this day, I think SF has more homeless crazy people than anywhere else I’ve traveled and more than L.A. Back then, it felt as if they were on every single corner and in every doorway.  It was my first time living away from home, in a strange city with colder, foggier weather, and I had barely any money.  One afternoon I was in the downtown area riding on a street car when a middle-aged woman, obviously crazy and homeless got on and took the seat right next to me—mumbling to herself, and smelly. I averted my eyes and assumed that stoic far away stare. Within about a minute, she started whimpering and getting agitated, and she urinated. Right next to me. I can tell you, I was appalled and freaked. She got out of her seat and ran to the exit, dribbling urine, getting off at the next stop. A huge sadness overcame me. It was the first time I felt the weight of the world. I thought, “What can I do, in the face of all the pain I see around me?” I remember having a bonafide epiphany.  I understood the concept of Christ dying for our sins. At that moment I wanted to do that too if it would take away all the sadness I saw around me. Young people are like that.

When I was in my late twenties and thirties the homeless were off my radar. For one thing, there were very few of them in the San Fernando Valley suburbs (at least not visibly in an area where walking is practically unheard of) and for another, I never gave them a thought. I was too busy trying to live the most conventional life possible. Part of that conventional life was joining a synagogue. That’s when I learned something about the homeless that changed my attitude. Without going into the whole teaching, I learned that it is very wrong to ignore the homeless—to even call them “The Homeless.” I learned that giving charity is essential, but more important, I was taught, was acknowledging them as individuals. (The Hebrew word for charity, tzedakah, means “justice.”) We don’t have to give them any money necessarily, but we are forbidden from ignoring them. When they approach us, we can’t pretend we don’t see them. Instead we must look them in the eyes and talk to them, even if what we say is, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any money today.”  Once I started doing this it was a blessing to me. Literally. Every time I interact with a homeless person, they bless me. What a bargain! Not coincidentally I also began to notice how many previously unseen homeless people there really were.

There was this one homeless man around that time who I met through my ex-husband.The man was in his late sixties and he lived in his old Cadillac in a parking structure in Sherman Oaks. It was the structure next to my ex’s bank, so he saw him every week. My husband got to know him and it turned out he had been a second-string baseball player back in the day for a major league  team.  I’d cook extra food and my ex would bring it to him and they’d talk. Eventually, we tried to get him some state aid but he wanted no part of it. He didn’t have a substance abuse problem. I don’t know what other demons haunted him.

I’ve had debates with people about whether or not to give money to people asking for spare change. Some say they will just use the money for drugs or booze. Others say it keeps them from getting a job, or that it is a scam. Another argument against giving them money has to do with the effect it has on the small businesses they tend to loiter in front of—that they scare away business. (Of all the arguments, I am somewhat sympathetic to that last one, but just barely.) As for me, I don’t care why they ask for money or what they are going to do with it—they just obviously need it. And I also think that standing all day in the sun or rain or cold is hard work; it’s not as if they are merely lazy. And I have never encountered one who was belligerent or demanding. It must take a lot of patience to be turned down over and over and still maintain some equanimity.

There are a few of varieties of begging, at least the ones common here in Los Angeles.  The most frequent form of panhandling is to stand in front of any Seven Eleven store and quietly ask for spare change. There are homeless people who sit on the sidewalk, leaning against a building with a paper cup for alms. There are many, many beggars who stand along the side of freeway onramps or on traffic islands with signs: “Please Help,” “God Bless You,” “Homeless Disabled Vet,” and the now out of fashion, “Will Work for Food.” Personally, I enjoy those with a sense of humor and candor: “Why lie? I need a DRINK.”

Several months ago, I experienced a new form of begging when someone knocked at my door. He was a older middle-aged man, cleanly dressed in well-worn clothes and combed gray hair that was a little too long. His horn-rimmed glasses  had a band aid keeping them together. He was even wearing a tweed sports jacket, and I noticed he had a paperback book in his chest pocket by a mystery writer I enjoy. When I opened the door, he simply asked if I had any money to spare. I went to get some and we struck up a conversation but I can’t remember how that came about. He told me he hangs out a Starbucks where they allow him to use their rest room to clean up. He can stay there for a few hours and get refills and read the paper that someone’s left behind, or read his paperback. He told me that he had recently had a bad experience with the Long Beach cops. While he was sleeping on a bench, they rousted him and broke his glasses and they took his driver’s license for no apparent reason. He explained how hard it was to get a new one. Aside from the expense, he has no way of proving his identity—his papers were downtown in the Hall of Records, and he had no address where his new license could be mailed. Fortunately, he knew a kindly person who was helping him get his paperwork completed. I was really shocked and asked why in the world the cops would do that. He just kind of laughed and said, “Oh, they do that to the homeless all the time.” I never asked about how he came to these circumstances. He was clearly not schizophrenic or a substance abuser. He could have been anyone you’d see anywhere. After we talked for a while, I brought out some paperbacks I thought he’d like, judging from the one in his pocket. I told him to please come back next week—I could give him a few more bucks then too, but he said, “Oh no thank you. I don’t want to start depending on that. And besides, I try to keep from staying in one neighborhood too long.” I haven’t seen him again.

There are, though, a few homeless men who I see on a daily basis. I live near a portion of the L.A. River that has been turned into a bird sanctuary, with lovely trails. I walk my dog, Zorro, there every day. It’s about a three mile loop, and people bring their dogs and there are horse trails too. I don’t know exactly where, but beyond the end of the loop is a homeless camp. I got to know one of the residents because he has a dog, Sasha, with whom my dog plays. He’s wiry and quick and probably a lot younger than he looks because he has that leathery tan that comes from living outside. He adores his dog. Every summer, he scrapes together enough money to get her a haircut. He makes some of his money (as many do in my neighborhood) by going through the trash in our alleys and redeeming recyclables. He told me the other day that a “nice old English lady” just paid for Sasha’s dog tags and rabies shot so that the cops wouldn’t take her from him. (He also scolded me for giving money to that other homeless gentleman who came to my door. He said I can’t really know who he is. He has a point; a few years ago three men and two women were shot to death in that homeless camp I mentioned.) Also, whenever he winds up in jail, he knows a family who cares for Sasha when he’s away. The last time we spoke, I noticed he had one of those tattooed teardrops in the corner of his eye. I thought that meant death row, but I guess not.

The other homeless man with whom I regularly speak lives in his van by the river. (I know—that sounds so trite, like that old SNL skit with Chris Farley.) He has a dog too: Oscar. The last I saw him, he said he was moving to the Mojave desert with his brother. They were going to build a shack and live off the land, he said. He wanted Oscar to be able to roam free. How one lives off the land in a desert is beyond me. By the way, neither of these guys has ever asked me for anything. I have only given them food or treats for their dogs, for which they are grateful. (Zorro takes some umbrage at this.)

Then there are the true heart breakers. Again, by the L.A. River near me, but not in the pretty part—on the concrete embankment—is a young woman. From the overpass, you can just make out her blankets and bottles and whatnot. I have seen her walking on the street, but rarely. She is completely lost, completely crazy. Sometimes I see that someone has left her a bucket of Colonel Sanders or a box of food at the trail leading to her spot. One of the most horrifying things is, she is right next to the horse stables. I don’t even want to imagine how she might be abused. I called Social Services about her and she was gone for a while, but now she’s back, poor thing. It is a nightmare. The homeless women—they are the most heart wrenching to me. Them and the young people.

I am so disgusted by those “boot strappers” who have the smug attitude that homeless people deserve it. It seems to me that they use their self-righteousness to mask their fear. They probably are not all cold-hearted, but I’ll bet they feel at some deep dark level that misfortune is contagious, or that insanity is contagious, or that even weakness is catching. They are similar to people who shun those who have just lost a loved one. I’ve seen that happen to friends who lost a child, and then lost friends—as if their pain was too scary for others to witness. Or maybe some are too afraid of feeling the guilt and upset that  homelessness evokes.

Some facts about homelessness in the United States:

It is almost impossible to get accurate statistics on the homeless. The latest estimate from Housing and Urban Development (in 2008) is 1.5 million people who have used a shelter. There are about three times the number of homeless as there are shelters, so that figure is really inadequate. Plus, the economy has gotten much worse since that estimate; if you add all the foreclosed homes and job losses, it is much worse.

One out of 50—or about 1.5 million—American children are homeless each year, according to a 2009 study by the National Center on Family Homelessness.

From that same report, the main causes of homelessness are: Lack of affordable housing (and I wish they would add poverty to that); mental illness; substance abuse; low paying jobs; prisoner release; unemployment; domestic violence; and the release of 18-year-olds from foster care.

Almost as incomprehensible as those numbers are in the wealthiest nation in history, violent crimes against the homeless are on the rise, according to a report from National Coalition for the Homeless. And if that wasn’t despicable enough, many municipalities have made it a CRIME to provide food for the homeless in public areas. As Gandhi said,

“Poverty is the worse form of violence.”

http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/526/homeless-facts.html

http://www.nationalhomeless.org/

Categories: News & Politics

Written by Chernynkaya

I am an artist and have lived in Los Angeles all of my life, except for a brief hippie period when I lived in SF. I am currently (semi-unwillingly) retired, but have had several careers.

97 Responses so far.

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  1. jdmn17 says:

    Cher, Great article. My best friend from the Nam came home but his mind stayed over there. I lost him fifteen years ago, died alcoholic and homeless and alone. Hard to read and think about but that’s how we learn, grieve, grow and move on. I wish his name could be on the wall with some of our friends who died over there but that’s part of the agony of the times. They are the hidden casualties of that war. I wonder what the final count will be?

    • Chernynkaya says:

      jdmn, forgive me for not replying sooner--I have to get used to such fast-moving threads around here, when the blogs get moved out of sight every day! But believe me--NO COMPLAINTS!

      This made me stop in my tracks:

      I wish his name could be on the wall with some of our friends who died over there but that’s part of the agony of the times. They are the hidden casualties of that war.

      True and poignant words! I just shudder to think how many more vets will suffer upon coming home. I don’t think there have ever been as many who were forced into such long tours of duty. Add to that the many, many families you mentioned in your comment below and it’s staggering. But more than that--IT IS A SHAME ON US!

  2. jdmn17 says:

    A lot of the homeless appear to be either those with pre-existing mental health issues who can no longer be institutionalized because the states closed the mental health facilities, others are sadly, PTSD, many from Viet Nam never made it home, bound in their own particular brand of hell. Many of these men and women (far fewer of course in those days) actually came home and seemed OK for a long time. But downturns in their careers, losses within the family, something caused them to snap and their lives disintegrated. Now we add to that the younger men and women (more of the latter this time around) who are out on the streets because the current VA is overwhelmed and under-prepared for the influx of new people needing help. Now we are piling on a bit because the explosion of the housing bubble has created another new class of homeless and what can we possibly do to help these people and all the others when health care services are contracting around us? We can’t so we are faced with a perplexing dilemma. What do we do with these people? What can we do to help them? Why are we abandoning those who, in many cases, gave everything they had and came home imperfect, overwhelmed by the things they saw and did? What of the people who listening in good faith to sharks doing loans for homes they couldn’t afford but let themselves get sucked down the golden path because they wanted the American dream like everyone else. It’s all very sad. I think, I laugh actually, because to write something like this on the dark side would have me beset by snarks and trolls tearing me apart. So many of you are right here. This place, for now, is safe to ponder, grieve and explore your own feelings and experiences.

  3. whatsthatsound says:

    Such a great article, Cher! I was away or would have commented much sooner, so I hope you’re around to see this.
    Like you, I have thought about the possibility of becoming homeless at some point. Maybe it’s related to being an artist! And have considered how I would get along. Here near the river I definitely don’t feel that the men, and occasionally the women, are “homeless”. They are mostly day laborers getting by on tiny amounts of money. But since their jobs, when they come, are usually related to construction, they have skills they have put to use. They’ve erected a squatter’s village right on the banks, with plastic, wooden frames, metal sheets, etc. They repair their bicycles, they grow food, they’re good with their hands.
    When the river rises, two times a year maybe, they pull up everything for a short time and then go back. The police don’t evict or harass them. They are the “elite” of the homeless community, not like the mentally ill folks who live in the major stations.
    I have often thought how simple their lives are, and how close to nature they are. They share their modest homes with worms and flies, perhaps a snake or a mole. And they have learned to deal with that nuisance as well. Two hundred years ago probably most people lived like they do. At times when I’m stressed, and the demands of modern lifestyles seems so unreal and disconnected from anything of true value, I imagine (probably foolishly) that I could live among those guys.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Whats-- I just came on and saw your comments--thanks! But now I wonder if you will see the reply! 😮

      I absolutely love your POV on this, but I think you realize that you feel that way because those people live by the river. It makes all the difference, doesn’t it? I mean, when you imagine that life for yourself--it can more easily be imagined if you lived in nature. But even if they lived on the cold, hard streets of metropolis-- in a way, they are the ones who are free, and who have the power, in one sense. They have nothing to lose. The rest of us fear.

  4. Abbyrose86 says:

    Slightly OT but related. TO those of you in a cold climate….many towns are issuing code blues for the homeless tonight. IF you happen to see a homeless person and can direct them to the nearest shelter, PLEASE do.

    I just got the notice, code blue in effect for WNY

    CODE blue is the code for extremely cold weather conditions for the homeless.

    Please, check out your county system and where the shelters are if you are going to be out and about and may encounter a homeless person. They may not know to get to a shelter. Most shelters when cold blue’s are in effect, CAN accommodate more than their usual number of guests OR can provide food, clothing or other necessities.

    THANKS

  5. VietVet67 says:

    Great article Cher. And this begs the question: How can we honor a homeless person on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?

  6. boomer1949 says:

    Cher, This is a follow up to what I posted yesterday about Ted Williams…

    ‘Golden Voice’ Williams Living In L.A., In Drug Treatment

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ted Williams, the former homeless man who gained national attention for his “golden voice,” returned to Columbus late Monday night.
    Williams met with reporters on Tuesday to set the record straight on his manager, Columbus-based promoter Al Battle, 10TV’s Jerry Revish reported.

    Battle, who like Williams has a criminal record, has been criticized recently for his checkered past.

    “He was given a second chance and done very well,” Williams said. “What other kind of example do I need in my camp to help guide me to my second chance?” (…more…)

    And he was on The Early Show this morning, Wednesday February 9, 2011. (…more…)

  7. Redemption Song II says:

    This was excellent…and that’s all I have for now. (I’m still thinking about it.)

  8. jkkFL says:

    Cher-
    Such a moving post!
    With most of the long-term unemployed having exhausted their benefits, this story is only going to continue and grow.
    Some will be on the streets, some will be forced into involuntary retirement, locking themselves into the lowest tier for life, few have savings or retirement funds left- and still DC goes whistling past the graveyards without a care.
    I swing from anger to hate to hopelessness and frustration. Isolation is an enemy and far too many are isolated and alone
    Thanks for being a bright ray of sunshine and hope!

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Jkk-- I’m sorry it took me so long to reply--I have a case of ADD today. Thank you very much for your comment--and I agree 100%, especially this:

      I swing from anger to hate to hopelessness and frustration.

      It’s hard not to! But every now and then people like you and other here give me hope and encouragement.

      • jkkFL says:

        LOL Cher! we all have it -- and I think my episodes aare becoming more frequent!
        I love the site and am enjoying the freedom; I was getting so tired of the HP negativity-I have been amazed by the bloggers here there are so many blessings!
        I will be up late tonight digging thru past blogs!

  9. kesmarn says:

    Homeless Toledo engineer with a plan to help the homeless.

    Cher, c’lady, MW and other friends, this is an amazing story. If you have a spare moment, I would urge you to check this article:

    http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110207/NEWS16/110209472

    • Chernynkaya says:

      God, kes--what an inspiring and fantastic article! But leave it to me to find the nugget that outrages me:

      “[But] money is very tight, no matter where you look for it.”

      I’m speechless. MONEY IS VERY TIGHT?? Yes, I know in reality it is, but goddamn it! What an indictment of our society, when corporations are wallowing in acres of CASH, when Wall St continues its OBSCENE bonuses. Here is a modest and brilliant proposal that would WORK! And we don’t have the relatively small amount to impact a community?

      I have a fantasy like Mr. Hatas. Across our street is an abandoned private school on 3 acres. I want to start a day care center for working parents. I want to win the freaking lottery!!

      • kesmarn says:

        Worked last night, Cher, so I wasn’t able to catch up with your very perceptive reply until this morning.

        You’re right. There’s plenty of money out there. Boatloads of it. The irony is that the city of Toledo is in the process of selling a bunch of prime riverfront property to Chinese investors — at bargain rates. Land we will not ever be likely to get back again. Land that was cleared of toxic waste at the expense of the federal government — to the tune of many millions of dollars. What are we getting from China? $2.5 million, which will evaporate in a year.

        Have a sick little one here today so won’t be able to post much, but I’ll try to check back in later.

  10. choicelady says:

    Cher -- I knew we were twins! Thank you for this careful examination of both the crisis of abandoned people AND yourself. Back in the 70s in Santa Cruz, it took me a good three years to understand that the people I saw in their cars around my apartment complex were not waiting for someone. They lived in the vehicles. How naive I was! When I’d seen people asleep on the beach, I’d assumed they were kids camping overnight. How dumb.

    Now, as an adult, I realize I’ve followed my grandmother’s lead. During the Depression -- you know, the last big one? = she fed homeless men out the back door while they did chores for her. I don’t have a back door, but I feed them or give money in exchange for chores, too. I have NO qualms about giving cash because it is not my call how it’s spent. Years ago a homeless man back East, middle of winter, said he was going to get a pint of brandy. At my scoff, he reminded me I knew NOTHING of being homeless and that brandy was what kept him warm on the wind-scoured streets. He was right. I was ashamed.

    During the last Great Depression, there was a symbol tramps and hoboes, as they were then called, put on fences and other places -- a crudely drawn cat meaning “a kind hearted woman lives here”. Cher -- somewhere there is a symbol at your home telling people that -- a kind hearted woman lives there. My house, too. Probably more word of mouth, but a recognition that someone who sees the men and women on the streets as human beings. Small enough compensation for the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

    I fear homelessness, too. Wonder how I’d survive. I have food intolerances, and they are to all the things that are cheap to eat. How would I manage THAT, among many other things? I’m fine, but…yes, there but for the grace of God go I.

    Disdain for those in need is based on fear for many and smug superiority for others. Too many Americans have been brainwashed by Reagan and his successors to believe you can achieve anything if you only work hard enough. Oprah feeds into this as does “The Secret” and other nonsensical fables -- if you “see it” you can “be it”.

    Until someone in charge tells you -- NO.

    We cannot control all or even much of our environment. Those who survive well, and I’m one of them, are just plain lucky. We landed in the right place at the right time. Sometimes we push the boundaries to keep on keepin’ on, but sometimes we’re just pushing the boundaries and they push back. No help for it. We are not in charge. Those who are -- the billionaires sitting on trillions and not hiring -- have a kind of power over jobs and income that only a massive alteration in our society will fix. But that takes time, and some people, sick and alone and without shelter, are running out of it.

    People think the homeless are anarchic, but they are not. They have societies and neighborhoods. Those seeking shelter in Sacramento have elected “elders” who police the populations sleeping in area churches. It’s not the church but the elders who determine whether you are drunk, high, or otherwise not following the rules -- and the community itself sets those rules. Wow.

    We are not all that different, the homeless and those who are housed. If we can recognize the commonalities rather than the differences, it might go a long, long way to building a stronger society.

    Paul Hawken’s book, “Blessed Unrest” is about movements, large and small around the globe that seek first and foremost to give sovereignty to those communities and people, and to bring people together for a common good. Bit by bit that’s happening even in privileged America. Some of it comes from the very people we threw away. But coming together we are. That’s where lies hope. Every single person who engages in equality and respect with another unlike him or herself makes us strong. That’s also where lies hope.

    Thanks, Cher. You’ve told a lot of my story, too, and I appreciate it. EAch in our own way, we will keep on keepin’ on.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Twins, huh, C’Lady? I am your evil one! 😆 But really, to me that was the highest compliment.

      Being a person of faith myself, I think it is fair for me to say that Calvinism is partly to blame too. Or any religion that teaches the God anoints the richest with wealth because of some moral superiority they are endowed with. People still actually believe that! It’s the Divine Right of Kings residue. Of course, even in the Middle Ages, the peasants got wise and the Magna Carta was signed. (not that simple, but you get my point.) Also, though its influence seems at a nadir, one of the most rebellious forms of religion served a great good: Liberation Theology. Where are those voices today, when we need them most of all? I KNOW they are still out there--heck, you WORK with them every day. But the movement seems quieted.

      I was interested to read what you said about the societies that homeless people have informally set up. Now, THAT’S what being human means. That’s who we all are, except for the aberrant--who seem to run for office. It reminds me of the leper colony on Molokai, even before Father Damien came. It took years, but gradually they began to police themselves--that’s what we DO. We may act like animals briefly, but let one person show you some dignity, and all our humanity returns.

  11. zootliberal says:

    This is truly a wonderful post, I feel now it is no coincidence that I saw your comment today on HP directing one of your friends to this site, as just your story made my coming here so worthwhile.
    We have much in common, hippies, the city (though I spent that period of my life down around the Monterey Bay area plus hitch hiking across the states -- not homeless, but self imposed rambling). I also know the areas in the valley of which you speak -- my ex and I lived in agoura hills with our kids, but I worked all around the basin including studio city.
    I treat the homeless pretty much as you described, learning somewhere way back then that it’s terrible karma to not give alms when asked, besides looking anyone in the eye is always good advice.
    One funny story, in the summer between before the seventh grade, my family (5 kids) spent the entire three months camping at what was then known as “tin can” beach (an unincorporated area between huntington beach and seal beach) It wasn”t until I was an adult that I learned we were actually homeless for those few months -- my dad still worked but they were having trouble making ends meet. What’s funny is it was the best summer ever for us kids!
    Again, thanks for the post”

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Zoot, you are too kind, and I very much appreciate your comments. Amazing isn’t it, how much our lives might have intersected?! Just, wow.

      That summer with your family reminded me of this story--have you heard of it?

      http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90272530

      Paskowitz is one of the nine children born to Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, a onetime physician who in the 1950s quit his practice, dropped out of the mainstream and raised a family while living a nomadic surfing lifestyle. So Jonathan Paskowitz grew up on the beach, essentially, as part of what has been described as the first family of surfing.

      Jonathan Paskowitz’s story, and that of his family, is the subject of the recent documentary Surfwise, directed by Doug Pray. (Watch a trailer.)

      • zootliberal says:

        It is amazing, perhaps we danced near each other at the Fillmore! Or ate lunch across from each other at Art’s Deli.
        Thank you for the link. I have seen the trailer for the documentary, but missed seeing it. I will check it out now at that NPR link. Look forward to more stories, please keep them coming.

  12. boomer1949 says:

    And then there is someone like this man…Ted Williams. Dubbed the man with “the golden pipes.” A voice I remember hearing years ago and was ecstatic to think he had been given a chance at a new life.

    It bothers me as much now as it did when this story broke; no one wanted to stick with this guy. It ended up being all about the story — from the Dispatch, to Dave and Jimmy @ Clear Channel’s WNCI 97.1, to Today, to freaking Dr. Phil and every other media leech in between.

    Grant it, the man has enormous (ENORMOUS) issues, but he also has enormous talent and an enormous gift. The locals (Dispatch and WNCI) should have done their homework, kept Al Battles and his “whatever company” at bay, and kept Mr. Williams as far away as possible from national scrutiny until a complete evaluation had been conducted.

    Many people dropped the ball on this, however once I heard Dr. Phil McGraw was involved, I knew Ted was doomed. Ratings became more important, and Ted Williams became instant, discardable, collateral damage.

    Seriously. Who exploited whom?





    • Mightywoof says:

      Oh no, Boomer -- I’m heartbroken! I hadn’t heard/read any follow-up on Ted Williams and it’s disheartening to think that he didn’t get the help he needed to give him that hand up :( -- what a voioce and what a loss to his family and his commmunity.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Boomer, that whole episode was shameful, and didn’t we know it would end like this, one the media got him in their clutches? He was woefully exploited and that was worse than ignoring him.

      • Abbyrose86 says:

        No doubt Cher.

      • boomer1949 says:

        Absolutely Cher. Seriously, I do remember his voice-overs from years ago (Smooth Jazz WJZA) and just hearing him made me feel better. Weird, but it did.

        Initially, I thought the locals and Today were looking out for him, but as I learned more, I realized not only did Mr. Williams have problems, but so did those who appeared to be acting in his best interest. He still did, and they definitely weren’t.

        The locals screwed up, Today screwed up, and any organization dealing with the local promoter/agent should have (ethically?) known better.

        I realize Mr. Williams has issues, but shit happens, you know? For those who should be more savvy, there is no excuse for shit.

  13. KillgoreTrout says:

    Great article Cher. I have been homeless 3 times. The first two by choice. I wanted to get a taste of the adventures of Jack Kerouack. Made my way to California, and camped out along the coast, with a cliff’s eye view of the beautiful pacific.
    Naturally, as time went on, my finances dwindled. I had to go back to work, and found a job with relative ease. I continued to camp out until I had enough to get a small apartment. Those days were some of the greatest in my life. Real freedom is intoxicating.
    Then after several years, I became homeless, not by choice. I would work day labor for 25 or 30 bucks a day, not knowing if had work from day to day. I sold my own plasma twice a week, to buy food and cigs and beer. I was a rock bottom alcoholic at this point. The streets were no fun, especially in fall and winter. Another poster here mentioned being invisible. That is absolutely true. Most people act as though they can’t see you. they avert their eyes, or look right through you without acknowledgement. Pure freedom is brutal. With no home, no steady job, no real posessions, life becomes very basic. But I will say this, that my period of unwanted homelessness was an invaluable experience for me. It taught many things, but mainly, is that you don’t need tons of money and fancy houses and cars and all the other luxuries available here. I learned the true meaning of contentedness. No rat race, no corporate ladders, very little strife all became possibilities and then realities. I live well now, on not much money per year. But I wouldn’t trade my present stituation for all the money in the world. because I have found true contentment.

    • jdmn17 says:

      Kilgore, Great post. I walked away from a very low six figure income to build furniture. I have had so many people from the “old” days who seem astonished I could ever bear to give up the trappings. To be honest there are times when the cash flow is laboring (like the last two years of economic crisis for so many former customers) but when I put my head down at night in my modest abode I can sleep with a clear head and not anywhere near the angst I used to feel. It seems with earning comes stress, or at least earning doing something you don’t love. Now I have a passion and a much simpler life and behold, I wouldn’t trade places with myself from five years ago for anything. Thanks for sharing. I suspect that wasn’t easy but it’s good to know and I respect you for telling the story

    • 2belinda says:

      In the 2 days I have been here I have learned so much more about folks whose comments at HP were familiar to me but learning the back story is touching my heart -- deeply.
      Killgore it has always been a pleasure

    • KB723 says:

      KillGore… I faved you soo many times back there… Glad you found your way here…

    • SueInCa says:

      KT
      I always knew I liked you over on HP, now I know why. Beautiful and heartfelt post. I used to be Giantsfan44 over there.

      • KillgoreTrout says:

        I have enjoyed your comments in the past, and see no reason why I will not continue to enjoy them. Thank you for your kind words.

    • zootliberal says:

      Thanks for sharing Kilgore, so much truth in your story.

    • Khirad says:

      That was beautiful. With a little touch of Buddhism to it, as well.

    • Silentdances says:

      I completely agree about the valuable lesson from that. Going back to no longer being homeless once you discover that you didn’t really need all that stuff you once thought was important is a real freedom, in my opinion.

      • KillgoreTrout says:

        It truly is. I have all the necessities. A decent roof over my head, plenty of food, decent clothes for both winter spring and summer. No car, nor do I want one. I never go without. I have much more time and energy to devote to reading, writing and posting on blogs such as this one. I even manage to save about a 100 bucks a month.

  14. KB723 says:

    Cher… I live in Denver, and one of the cooloest things we have here is: We have old parking meters in downtown… You can add in as much change as the box will take… I used to pass through downtown every day on my way to work…. I always stopped at the Starbucks for my daily Cafe Mocha fix… There was an old parking meter, across the street and I always added change… I always feel bad when I see someone on the corner near a stop light…. I never gave them money, however, I did see a gentleman a month or two ago… He had a three fold down sign… It was a three fold sign… Clearly read, he was employed but still had family to feed… I was soo impressed with his sign I gave him $20.00’s I really liked that he was honest, and different than all the others I usually see on street corners…

    • Chernynkaya says:

      KB, that’s very cool that you do that with the parking meters. Whenever someone has done that for me, I am SO grateful. That fellow with the 3-fold sign--do you remember what it said?

      • KB723 says:

        Cher, The sign said, “Employed” top section, mid section “Have Family to Feed” third section read “Anything Will Help”

        I forgot to mention that those parking meters are moneys saved to help the homeless here in Denver…

        I myself have been homeless many times when I was younger, I can at least count my blessings that I never had to ask for money in such a manner…


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