Saturday, August 18, 2007

Periodically, cities roust out the homeless...

...send 'em packin'...

…from their alleys, junkyard cars, rooftops, from under bridges, in the weeds; tear up their cardboard shebangs and send ‘em packin’, move along, get outta here, find somebody else’s neighborhood to dirty up. No question about it, a homeless ghetto is as about as welcome in the neighborhood as a methadone clinic.

Don’t think that the homeless are a vast array of unemployed suddenly thrown out of work after a lifetime of labor, o no, o there are some of those yes, but the legions of homeless are heavy with junkies and drunks, head cases and thieves with an occasional ax murderer thrown in. Lots of ex-cons, many people you wouldn’t want to bring home to Mom if you had a home…I suppose if I’m going to say that I must say your Mother would not have been overjoyed to see you walk thru the door arm in arm with me neither…

Mine in this instance is the voice of experience as I lived amongst – indeed was one of - these subterranean denizens for a number of years many years ago and escaped that sad life only by fortuitous intervention on the part of others; anyway, I was there in the alleys and on the rooftops, in the junk cars, the weeds, on floors of abandoned barns in all kinds of weather, for a number of drunken/drugged-out lost light years.

I learned a lot. Unlike the sheepskin degree from an Ivy League school, there is no diploma nor accolades greeting you as you leave the streets, if you get lucky, and somehow weave your way back into society; I guess those wasted years should be a source of embarrassment and to some degree they are, but also: I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m glad it happened; up to that point my life had been way too simple and easy.

Living in the weeds was root sociology at work, and psychology, physics, art, insanity, anger, joy, funny and sad all at once, but that is hindsight, from an 85-degree wood stove-heated, comfy room in a knotty pineboard cabin here in East Eden; then it was 30 degrees and raining and dark and lonely and drunk and lost; I had nothing, now I have everything I need almost; anyway, I see San Francisco (once a great place to be homeless if you had to be homeless) is herding them up and moving them out.

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