Thursday, June 30, 2011

Letter To Cellblock C

Dear Gentlemen,
A week of freedom has been interesting.
I left the jail and started walking towards that water tower thing, which has the town’s name written on it, as if that would be a good place to try to get a ride to Mobile, but not before going into the “employees only” area of the jail and picking their ashtrays. (Note to Leonard: Some very good quality; premium brands; much unsmoked, out of camera range. Rating A-.)
The jail gave me no cash. They are going to mail the balance of my account, to my friend’s house, pissing them off even more than the FBI agents showing up at their residence and giving them possession my coin-holder, wallet type thing. I’m sure that, for their own safety, it had been thoroughly checked for weapons prior to being handed over. Now, they are going to be getting mail from the Baldwin County Jail.
So, I am walking down the street at this point, evening was falling. The setting sun glistened off the shiny water tower thing, with “Bay Minette” written on it, which also stared down upon me like a menacing eye, which seemed to foreshadow doom, by the way.
I had the nagging feeling of being stared at, as if someone was trying to see what kind of vegetables I had.
I got directions to a Wal-Mart, from some guys at an auto parts store. Guys that work at auto parts stores are usually good for directions, especially the one’s who sit out front puffing on cigarettes, I find. They directed me to the Wal-Mart, saying that it was 24 hours in operation, and that it would be a good place to find somebody with a phone that would let me call my friend Jeff, who was on the road, returning from Louisiana.
I somehow walked right past the Wal-Mart. I wasn’t sure if the auto parts guys meant that it was quite a ways, all the way to the Interstate, or what. I had gotten confused because they were debating the wisdom of me taking either of two routes to get “back to Mobile.” One of them would put the tunnel in my path, but would be advantageous in my desire to meet Jeff at a spot convenient to someone coming in from Louisiana way.
The other one involved me walking the opposite way and encountering a 15 mile long bridge at some point. A bridge that at least could be walked across, though, everyone I spoke to added that they “wouldn’t want to do it.”
This is where I've decided to insert this picture of a place
where it gets "pretty darned" cold
Between the two routes being discussed, with road names and numbers being bandied about, an me trying to scope out their ashtray while we spoke, I kind of lost track of where the Wal-Mart was situated. So, when I didn’t see it after walking a mile, I thought that to the auto parts store guys, it may have been “right up the road,” because they are used to driving. I walked another mile, and then another one, because, by now I didn’t want to turn back and wipe out all the positive strides that I had made by walking off in a random direction somewhere in Alabama.
I figured the Wal-Mart was probably at the Interstate Exit, which turned out to be 5.5 miles from the jail. It was about as much leg exercise as I wanted after 70 days of “things that you do while sitting down.” 
I finally saw a glorious light on the hilltop! It wasn’t the radiant image of God; coming down to me as an angel clothed in the light of 1,000 suns; to ease my burdens and carry me home, but it was a BP gas station. Beggars can’t be choosers.
I got to the gas station and remembered the axiom that someone once said: “Do what you can; where you are; with what you have to work with.” That is an axiom that usually comes to me when I am feeling powerless; in a shitty place; and I ain’t got shit, but, nevertheless.
I realized that I had “just released” written all over me, from my ghostly pale skin to the plastic bag I carried.
I decided to work it into a hustle.
I asked the female cashier where the Wal-Mart was. She informed me of my missing it about 5 miles back.
I then launched into a tirade about the harshness of being released to the street with no money and only the clothes on your back, and being expected to find your way home, like a certain pigeon is know for (and stories abound about dogs which were left behind in Kansas after they wandered off; only to show up three weeks later on the doorstep of their New Jersey home, a bit skinny and with something like motor oil on its fur.)
Then, I got my break. The manager lady was trying to get someone to clean the bathroom.
“I’ll clean your bathroom, for a cup of coffee. No, seriously, I’ll hit it with bleach really good...”
I didn’t get the job, but I was offered another position in the “Parking Lot Trash Can” department. The pay was the same; one cup of coffee (of course we all know that refills were had) and the work pleasant. There was a middle aged lady, picking trash as she walked around the parking lot using a giant tweezers type devise to snatch it up. I had sharpened my coffee hustle in the "big leagues" of the Baldwin County Jail, I guess.
I had a conversation with her, where the subject of pickling food came up, almost immediately.
I figured the hippie type (‘cause she was) lady had heard my “story” from the others. I was in touch by phone with a friend, who was on his way in from Louisiana. He wouldn’t be at the station until three in the morning. The station closed at 11:45. I was told by one person that there was a tree, not far from the station, that had branches that hung down and made a hiding spot where others were know to sit and wait for someone, or to sit and drink.
I went and sat under the tree. I saw a very bright shooting star. It had a fiery orange tail. It could have been symbolic. Then I saw another, dimmer, shooting star. I would have to interpret this as a warning from the gods that I would be eaten alive by mosquitoes, should I choose to kick back and enjoy the meteor shower.
Back in the parking lot, the ex hippie lady talked to me some more about her favorite hobby, pickling foods. She invited me to spend the time until 3 a.m. came at her house “in the country.”
Her house in the country was 4 miles out in the country and was a museum for mason jars of pickled foods; artwork, and dolls. It seemed like everything was from a certain time period; even her piano was probably circa 1800’s.
She had all kinds of pictures that basically depicted women and girls from at least 100 years ago.
Dolls stared out from everywhere. She had made some of them and some looked very pretty; especially to a man who had spend 70 days with little more than the Miss Universe Pageant, and Hailey on American Idol the time she wore the shorts, in an otherwise barren desert. But that is a story for another time.
Oh, and to put the icing on the cake, she told me that there had been a murder in her house. Of course there had been a murder at her house! What self respecting ex hippie lady that has a hobby of pickling foods hasn’t had a murder at her house?!?
She pointed to where the couch had been where the person that was murdered was murdered. She didn’t elaborate much more. Becky, as that was her name, gave me an enormous amount of food. A lot of it pickled, but some of it super sweet, like the candied figs. I wound up sleeping there pretty soundly. She got up in the early morning to go to a funeral. I slept more. It was afternoon before she returned from the funeral. She then gave me a ride to Mobile.
I wondered at the coincidence of a lady who pickles food coming into my life at that exact time. I had left a perfectly good cup full of pickled vegetables in my jail cell. I was planning upon a quiet evening, curled up with a good book and lukewarm coffee, after eating Ramen-with-pickled-veggies-and-essence-of-shrimp. They ruined a pretty good evening, did the jail with their piss-poor timing of a man’s release.
Becky got me back to Mobile.
Well, I just wanted to say hi to everyone. I have good news for you. Your sentences are just flying by now. It seems like time is just flying by, too, now that I am out of jail. So, you guys will be out in no time, I figure.
My attorney is actually an acquaintance of the editor of the Press-Register, and is going to make him aware of what happened to me in court, so that they may print a follow up article, bringing my case to a conclusion, in the media at least. It will go right into Dee’s shoebox, and be rarely seen in C block, I imagine.
Then, I had been out only three days.
My friend, Jennie, wife of Jeff, The Potter, was to bring my stuff by and drop it off to me. My stuff would be one guitar, one backpack, and the little change holder thing, which had my Mr. Nola Diamond botanical incense in it.
She had to make it Sunday. Sunday, it was and by that night, I was in my graveyard spot, reading a book by the light of an old whale oil lamp which Becky had put in with the pickled things.
I ate pretty well that week. I now stir peanut butter into my Ramen noodles without hesitation, nor fear of alienating myself from society.
I have a renewed interest in reading books, and I picked up a copy of The DaVinci Code at the Wings of Life thrift store for 50 cents. Gosh, that’s less than one soup!
Ironically, Becky threw a six pack of Ramen noodles (beef flavor) into the bag of pickled and sweetened foods. And just for you lovers of the bizarre; there was a mason jar of jalapeño jelly snuggled amongst the newspaper in the bag. Jalapeño jelly, honest to God.
Well, this is going into 5 sheets; at 10 cents per sheet, plus the envelope; damn; this is going to cost me an item before it’s through.
The botanical incense has been good for the laying in the sun, reading and sipping on gin and juice part of life (with my mind on candied figs and candied figs on my mind…) It has made me a little bit slothful.
I am not in a big hurry to perform music in public, I have the luxury of working my fingers into shape gradually; taking a good week to warm up.
I hope Ray got a good cellmate after I left.
I’m thinking of either, getting a good bike, and then being able to visit Becky in the country, as well as get around to Fairhope and other places where the clubs will let a guy play for tips.
The other option would be to get a huge duffel bag and go on the road, working my way towards the general vicinity of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

There I sat, under the branches of the tree of which I was told about.

I saw a bright shooting star, with a fiery tail. Then, I saw another, smaller shooting star. I figured that a meteor shower may have been going on. I have yet to confirm this, but the event was the evening of 5/23, a Friday.

But then, the mosquitoes started eating me up. I went back to the relative safety from getting bitten of the parking lot.

Then, along came the pickling lady.

Pickling lady, spraying the parking lot; telling me that she was into pickling and telling me about some of the fine pickled foods that she would give me if I would accompany her to her abode in the country.

The pickled foods were amazingly therapeutic.

Her house was done in turn of the century little girl, with dolls and paintings and other porcelain renderings, amidst an Old Curiosity Shop backdrop of interesting sundries.

She had a gumball machine, one from like, the 60's.

When she left in the morning to go to a funeral, I walked around and looked at her artwork. There was a photograph in a frame that looked like it was Becky, at an earlier age. Maybe about 25 years old. The woman in the picture looked like a lioness, crouching in the tall grass.

I liked the dolls. They were small in size, yet, depicted adults, for the most part.

I have emptied some of the Mason jars' contents, by now. The beans I will waste, as I fear that the "soybean" allergy is not discriminative of other types of beans, and I want to be careful and do my experiments using beans another time. I want to enjoy a bean free body for now.

My food card being wiped out (and not only that; fleeced) I am faced with the now more valid option of fasting for a few days. There will have to be a move to New Orleans considered, but not before taking care of some business.

Getting my data stick back, with all the songs and memories on it.

Getting my local newspaper to recant the allegations against my person made in their newspaper, subsequent to my arrest.

The data stick has stuff on it which I would never recall knowing, stuff that would be lost forever, should I not recover the data stick. There are songs which might be valuable to me in the future, especially in a bawdy place, like New Orleans.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The most shattering occurance was when the entire balance of my food card was apparently stolen; and not hard at all it is to surmise that the only people that I have ever given my pin to in my life, had gotten my pin just hours before the account, which was never robbed in 4 years, was robbed.

I was so full, still from the grains that I had slammed, along with sweets the past night, that I actually had heartburn. It came and went.

I had just a little bit of oatmeal with not even raisins or apple sauce, even though both were available.

I have no money on the food card. The appointment which will be set and the notification thereof which will be mailed to 15 Place, is a small concern. If they wanted to be total assholes, they could refuse to accept mail for me "We're not even supposed to; we could get in a whole bunch of shit for doing it.."

I have no food money. Will become a adept at squeezing under the gate at the Save-A-Lot, and using my fine flashlight to best advantage. There was so much ground beef last night, that if one would have cooked it up and refrigerated it, one would have at least 4 months worth of sundry meals, all containing beef.

So, then, I woke up and "baked" with the Mr Nola Diamond botanical insence.

It had the typical affect of causing me to suddenly realise that, if I were to go out in public, I would immediately be identifiable as someone who spent the night sleeping in the graveyard.
Bicylcle Sought
I am seeking to get a bycycle for the immediate future.
The next fork in the road seems to be splitting the path between entering the rehab type place, which is free and which will keep me sober for months; and not entering it.
The bicycle will help me to live somewhere out in the country, where I will not have to worry about a human raccoon rooting through my stuff most frequently.
Food Stamps Rooted
Yesterday, I found someone who would help me sell my $325 worth of food, or at least 200 of it; for cash of half the value of the food. This has never been a good idea in my mind, due to some general principles, but, in the situation that I found myself; ie. having spent 70 days collecting food money, while having no means of spending that food money.
I decided to sell "them" 200 bucks worth of food for 100 bucks cash. To make a long story short: I got the 100 bucks. This left a balance of 125 bucks on my card. I was relatively satisfied with having 100 bucks and 125 worth of food on my card, to last me until God knows when.
But then, this morning, I discovered that I had only 32 cents on my food card. I suspect that I have been robbed by the very same people who arranged for me to sell 200, but only that much, off of my food card.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Too Much Stuff

Last night, I ate a lot of sweet stuff. I had some candied figs, and I was pouring syrups on whatever I could think of pouring it on. There was some maple syrup to be had, along with honey. Whatever was sweetening the figs was pretty sweet, but not cloying.
The day being Sunday, I woke up with the sun was shining full opon me, in the graveyard. Going to the spigot, I washed out the tee shirt that I was wearing in the photo to the left, and upon this glorious Sunday morning.
I went to the Fellowship on Dauphin, where the others were friendly and conspicuously avoiding the subject of Federal incarceration, and whatever gossip had flown, while I was a way.
I drank coffee and listened to the gospel.
One lady, who normally hugs me and encourages me, did neither. She was standing with some guy by the coffee maker. She told the guy that she had something to tell him, "out front,"  after she had given me a dirty look. She must have been brimming over with God's love this morning.
I was at the graveyard spot before the sun went down. I had met Jennie, Jeff the Potter's wife, and she had dropped off the stuff which I had left in Save-A-Lot on the day that I was arrested the second time. She also had some clothing and some food, along with a printout from a "Men's Recovery" program of some sort. It seems like an incarceration, but it is free incarceration, and I don't suppose they are passing around any joints and strumming too many guitars, though. For those who can't help them selves (only God can) it is nice to have available programs such as the one described. It was months long, but a chance to get out of Mobile for a while.
"Chicago," who is this guy from Chicago, supposedly, who wears a camoflage jacket and is rumored to talk badly about white people behind the backs of white people, came into the Dauphin Market, when I was there early Sunday afternoon, before meeting Jennie at the library, where she gave me my stuff back.
He started saying "Hey, child pornographer," and telling me that I should leave town. I told him that I was never charged, for lack of child pornography. He kept on talking, as if I had never spoken.
I want to see if the local paper will run an article about my charges being dropped, and include a nice picture, like they did for me when I was first arrested...
It was all about eating,  tried after that. I tried  to soak some grits and prepare them for being doctored up with a little salt and a  lot of sweet things, like candied figs.
I had the wrong kind of grits; the "slow" ones. It was futile trying to get them to soften, even after an hour of soaking. Julian at Save-A-Lot had been  right about the grits being "not instant," and thus, not the right kind.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Back On The Street And Moralising

To Answer My Comments

Hi, Gloria. I start my uphill climb to catch up after another 40? days in jail; this time in the Federal lockup..

Couldn't really post because my cell only had a stainless steel toilet/sink and a Pakistani guy who got caught trying to arrange to have sex with a 45 year old Corporal on the police force, who likes to pretend that he is a liberal minded underaged girl; but I digress; -no computer and only a slit of a window to the outside world.

What happened was; I was on State property, hanging some laundry which I had washed using the state's water. I was drunk and not thinking about the fact that the place hadn't closed yet. I was stopped by the "Port Authority" police, after I had walked a ways down the railroad tracks and was out of their jurisdiction and not under their authority. I was searched and they found a little bit of a green leafy substance; then, since it was federal property, the FBI stepped in and searched my 1 gig data traveller drive and, lo and behold found 3 images of a nude beach in Vermont, wherein was depicted minors, amongst their families, splashing in the water and enjoying nature au natural..

I was charged with possession of child pornography and placed in the cell with the Pakistani guy.

It took Mobile county 31 days to drop the charges because the photos, (which had actually been deleted off the drive, but subsequently recovered using sophisticated FBI software) were not technically "child pornography" (no focus on genitals, no touching, no sexually suggestive poses, no signs of sexual arrousal; just people who voluntarily shed their clothing in public to be around like minded people, some of whom had cameras).

I was released. (see May 14 post)

Then, 4 days later, I was re-arrested by the feds, who picked up the charges, though hadn't even seen the "evidence" yet. It took them another 40 days or so to release me for the same (see above) reasons.

The moral is: if you find a data storage drive abandoned and nobody claims it and you use it; beware that stuff that is on it which is deleted and you will have no idea exists unless you have the FBI recovery program, could land you in federal prison with a Pakistani guy, who will pray 5 times a day, facing Mecca...
To Those Whom I Wrote
To those whom I wrote from the Federal Lockup, which correspondence I mailed three days before they summarily released me to "the street," please, don't send money to the Bay Minette jail.
The library is closing soon, much to do to catch up on things.
Tonight, I will probably spend in the graveyard, eating oatmeal with honey and jam which was made by Becky, the lady who let me crash at her home in Bay Minette after I met her at a gas station after I had walked 5 miles from the jail, looking for a Wal-Mart but not finding one.