Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dec. 27 Through Jan 15 (final draft!)

...He must be some famous writer; that weirdo keeps taking pictures of him....
This is the longest post that I have ever written in my blogging life; 6,703 words... 
Prologue: A Suggestion to Blogger
I wish that posts could be scrolled left and right, with the most recent to the right rather than on top, that way
one could read in the more natural direction of left to right, rather than having to scroll down to the last post which you have read and then; read down and then scroll up to the subsequent post; read down; scroll up etc. (like a snail that climbs a wall during the day and then slides back down while it sleeps at night) and the ending might have already been spoiled by having the most recent stuff appear by default when you first come to the blog. 
With my "system"; when you come to the blog it could default to the page where you last left off reading...
I might just start my own Blogging service and implement my innovation.
This is an issue with such a long post such as this...

A Blessing In Disguise?  
I have taken my "tour of the jails of the southern United States" to the Orleans Parish Prison.

I have spent the past 15 days there; on a ticket for "obstruction of a public passageway" which I failed to appear on in September (because I was in the Baton Rouge Parish Prison at the time).

My new friend, Steven (the Shaman) had showed up at the Westin on Thurday afternoon, while I was blogging.

Steven carries a 100+ pound backpack with a small guitar in case tied to the back of it.

He is a very spiritual man; and practices the science of enlightenment, and has made strides in being able to see visions and to at least approach the gates of the kingdom of heaven. He has a great deal of the bible committed to memory; and believes that the parables can only be truly understood by those who are actively seeking and on the verge of finding the kingdom of heaven.
So He Claims
He can see evil spirits flying around and entering the bodies of people. People like the lead singer of the band called "Tool."
"It Went Into His Solar Plexus..."


This was our second encounter.

He is the guy who took the photos of myself sitting at the base of the statue playing my guitar during our first encounter.

He showed me some cool videos showing the differences in molecular structure between water which had been blessed by monks, opposed to water which had been cursed (by monks?)
We talked about related spiritual matters.
Steven chanted quite loudly in the Starbucks cafe at one point; and he also told me that he had seen me in a vision where he and I were standing "at the gate" and I threw a huge purple ball at someone and when it hit the person, a huge dark cloud hanging over his head exploded into brilliant light and dissipated, for example.
He struck up conversations with children seated nearby us; and even gave the rain stick which he had been carrying to a young black boy after talking to him about Bruce Lee and martial arts (from a spiritual perspective) in general.

Well, we left Starbucks and I was on my way to busk and Steven walked along with me. We were picking butts up off the sidewalk (he is a chain-smoking shaman) and I stopped for a beer at Unique's which he didn't seem to judge me for, although he doesn't drink and I get the impression that he thinks what is good for the goose is good for the gander; and we wound up walking down Bourbon Street in the direction of my favorite playing spot.

Steven was not shy about checking trash bins for discarded food items nor asking passing strangers for cigarettes as we walked.

We got to my spot at 8 o' clock exactly.

That is the exact time that the curfew starts in residential areas for street musicians. There was a cop car parked at the corner with its headlights on and an officer sitting inside it. The headlights were aimed almost at my favorite playing spot.

Taking this as a sign and being further encouraged by Stevens sense that there were not enough people walking about, we moved to Royal Street, past a guy playing classical music on a nylon stringed guitar; and then to Decatur, where I got my second beer at Sydneys and where we sat down in front of that place and soon had both of our guitars out and a cardboard tip box in front of us.

I didn't think that anyone was allowed to busk in front of that place, not just because of the obvious implication that the busker is busking for beer, wine and cigars; but because I had seen them running off gutter punks (and their dogs) several times in the past.

One of the Sydneys guys came out and merely asked us to move a few feet further down the sidewalk.

I thought this might be because they know me so well, or because we actually had a protective force of angels hovering around us and were emmitting unmistakable holy auras which made us invisible to the police and irresistible to the tourists.

Tourist began to put cigarettes in our box, as well as small amounts of change (not even enough for beer) and food -plenty of food- we were soon eating crawfish and smoking cigarettes. These were probably the things that Steven was praying for.

I knew that it was not the best idea to be playing there; having warrants for my arrest in the system; and sitting down also; but, I was kind of buying into the shamans belief that nothing but blessings were going to flow to and from us.

This belief was challenged when officer Adams and his rookie trainee came around the corner a block up the street and began to approach us..

"I think we should stand up," said Steven, too late..
Officer Adams And I
"You'll learn, kid..."

We stood up (and I was about to add walking off to my standing up) when the rookie cop asked for ID.

He took them to his car and got on his computer and then came back with the information that I had warrants for not appearing in court and for trespassing on the rail yard in neighboring Avondale, Louisianna.

"Did you verify them?" asked officer Adams of his trainee with a squeamish look on his face.

"Yes," said the rookie.

Officer Adams winced and told the guy that there was a better way to handle "situations like this," and that because he had verified the warrant, they had no choice but to take me to jail; otherwise they would have to call back and explain why they were letting me go. "And we're going to have to go through his stuff and itemized every little thing on paper and it's a pain in the ass...we could have just let him walk with a summons and gotten back to work; but; you'll learn, kid..."

So, Steven was issued a summons, I was put in the cruiser (Steven took a photo of that, right) after he had argued every which way against his being issued a summons citing almost every cliche line of reasoning that the cops have heard a million times and had pat answers already waiting for.

"There are a thousand people on the sidewalks and you're not giving them tickets!"

*Looking left and right: "I don't see thousands of people."

"If we were dressed in expensive clothes like these tourists, you wouldn't even be bothering us!"

"If you were dressed in expensive clothes and were sitting in front of Sydneys playing guitars for hours, I would be bothering you..."

"There are people getting mugged and raped and shot out there, and you're wasting your time on us!"

"We try to get the minor stuff out of the way so we can concentrate on the more serious stuff"

"This is just a money making thing, and you know it!"

"You guys don't actually look like Fort Knox here, if you'll excuse my insinuation..."

"You'll have to answer to the Lord on judgement day for this!" was Stevens final parry,  saving the best for last; to no avail.

No angels swooped down and wisked us off the street. I went to jail and Steven later told me (today) that he thought if had been a blessing from God that I went to jail; and the picture that he took of me being put in the police car had a bright glow from the Holy Spirit visible in it; as further proof of this...

At The Jail

I quickly assimilated my environment and was soon rapping alongside my brothers long into the wee hours of the mornings; while someone kept time on an emptly rack* (bunk bed with no mat upon it so that it is just a crude metal panel which, when struck with the side of a fist sounds uncannily like a nigga banging on an empty rack with the side of his fist in a jailhouse..., or a bass drum, if you will):

    "I'm in jail for blocking the sidewalk -obstruction of a public passageway; motherf***ers can kiss my ass, ok?"
    "I'm bent at the back as I walk and I stalk -looking for butts in the cracks of the sidewalk- Marlboro lights are white and they look like chalk;
    Well, I get up at sunup get my buns up; get done up and run up to the church...for my hard-boiled egg
    Take a few steps got stiffness in my leg; human beings on the church steps like a human powder keg...
    I peel my egg and eat the white part (White part, yeah!!)
    Over in the corner I see a fight start (Uhh!)\
    Man gets hit in the face while I'm saying grace; got to get out of this place while saving face...
    Yeah, I'm locked up for blocking up the sidewalk -obstruction of a public passageway; police can kiss my ass, I say...."

A Jail "House Call"

And on, and on we went, jacked up on caffeine; provided in large part by a doctor who was locked up with us and who had someone (whom he referred to as his "fag hag") sending him money.

The openly gay surgeon couldn't say no to anyone who asked him for a *shot of coffee (*one jail-issued spork full; rounded if a nigga is looking out for a nigga; flat otherwise) and so everyone in the house was gettin' wired...

The doctor was in jail for stealing his (late) fathers Rolex watch; with motives which are beyond the scope of this blog...

The doctor, let's call him Victor, is a surgeon; and a surgeon who didn't have the $5,000 to bail himself out; and who received a message back from one of his friends whom is wealthy and whom he had supplicated for his bail money: "I would bail him out if he had just one redeeming quality."

And so, in the Orleans Parish Prison sits the surgeon, who is (openly) gay and who can't say no to anyone who asks him for a shot of coffee.

The Wondrous $1,000 Harmonica

I was telling Victor about my lifestyle and when I mentioned playing the harmonica, he told me that he was just about to ask me if I indeed played the harmonica. The reason being that he has a $1,000 harmonica (some kind of chromatic one) which he never plays, and that something had just told him to give it to me.

He told me that he would give me that harmonica, and then added that it was at his place in Mobile, Alabama.

Uh-oh! Mobile Alabama?!?

Could it be the insidious spirit of that city trying to draw me back there; after I had finally succeeded (after waiting for a train for 4 days) in leaving. But, it sounds like it.

I wonder if there is even such a thing as a $1,000 harmonica, anyway.

I wonder why someone had made the "redeeming quality" comment about him.

And, I wonder if it is yet another empty promise that is going to entrap me in Mobile, Alabama yet again...

I am going to bug the guy (and I told him so) about it. Bugging him will entail finding him on Facebook, perhaps chatting with some of his "friends" there; keeping track of his release date, maybe sending him a letter or two and maybe a dollar or two, in good faith and seeing if there is a harmonica at the end of the rainbow. But I won't hold my breath, in anticipation of releasing it through the harmonica, though...

Fresh Meat

When I first walked into the tent, which is the type of building that the entire jail is constructed out of; the scene I saw was 50 bunk beds; bolted to the floor less than 3 feet away from each other, so that it appeared that every available inch of space within the tent had a bed shoved into it.

And the 100 or so men who slept on those beds were swarming around like fire ants, down the aisle to get hot water from the shower* (I found the shower to be actually too hot initially; and then I think I, actually, developed a thicker skin and grew to tolerate it; the shower was the heat source in the place; and if you wanted to be able to close your eyes and be transported in your mind to a beach on an island where you are laying in the sun and a bikini clad female is regularly giving you free drinks) then, rather than bundling up in the blanket that they give you; -note: there were two classes of blankets, the white ones, and the colored ones...

The Whites And The Colored

The white blankets were flimsy and thin and actually had holes sewn into their patterns, as if designed for cool spring nights.The temperature in the tent fell well below a slight chill upon those nights when it was cold outside. I would estimate that it was in the high 50's, Fahrenheit.

The colored blankets were more woolly; or more synthetic woolly, based upon my experience with the two; their thermal protective qualities exceed those of the white blankets almost 3 to 1.

99% of the white men (who composed 7% of the population) had white blankets??

93% of the inmates, who were almost as plentiful as beds, were African American, and the sight of "a skinny white boy with a pony tail" (you know their ilk...) walking in, toting his mat and expected to find an empty bed and just plop said mat upon it; after asking someone to please remove his items (bowls with food being saved from a prior meal with plans to combine it with an upcoming meal; creating a culinary masterpiece; clothes which were washed in the shower and hung to dry by someone whose standards of hygiene are more rigid than the institutional laundry schedule of twice a week can satisfy; books etc) so that he can plop down his mat; and in doing so stake his claim to that particular sleeping spot and by will, insinuate himself into the lives of those inmates (3 feet) to his left and right, north and south and below him.

The inmates; and -I guess I can't blame them; it's a pretty boring jail; took the opportunity to have some fun with the incoming skinny white inmate with a pony tail.

The 65* or so that I could see, became very animated; with several of them, especially those propped up on the top bunks so as to be especially visible, removing their shirts and presenting me with a very primitive looking portrayal of the human condition.

*The influx of "fresh meat" being such an intriguing form of entertainment, 15% of the guys from the other half of the tent (as, it was vaguely divided in two; with the guard tower with its two-way mirrored windows interposed between the two sides) were drawn by curiosity to leave their dwellings and/or their rummy games, chess matches, watching of some pretty heavy set black women in bikinis on a beach, etc. and grabbing a vangtage point for the viewing of the incoming captives and the titillation of watching the more seasoned convicts try to make fun of them.

More smiling pictures on the way...


Walking into a room which is already crammed with enough beds and inmates to make it seem crowded and which is further congested with onlookers who migrated from the other half of the tent gives the immediate visual of living like a sardine with these men. Hey, I can pretend that the inside of the tent is the inside of a submarine; and we are all on a mission to the bottom of the sea; and the orange jump suits are just our submarine-guy uniforms.

"He scared. White boy scared!," said a voice from somewhere; as I pushed my way through their bodies; which they had positioned purposely so I had to do so; as I began to look around for a nice "neighborhood" to plop my mat down in; and thereby insinuate myself into the lives of those around me for 15 days.

Embellishment:

No, I wasn't scared....I knew it was just a game...but it was a game that I wasn't in the mood for playing, so I did a bunch of Bruce Lee kind of stuff and beat some niggas pretty badly before the rest of them decided that it was in their best interests to just not interfere....
End of embellishment.


I was asked by one young predatory gentleman if I was going to eat the food in the white Styrofoam container that I was holding in the hand that wasn't holding the plastic bag which contained one extra orange jump suit; one hand towel; one large* towel (*given that "large" is a relative description), toothbrush, toothpaste; half a bar of soap (bisected, for real, by someone, somewhere; probably a Trustee) plastic cup and spork -you only get one spork; guard it with your life unless you like eating macaroni and cheese using a a utensil that you manufactured out of Styrofoam.

I technically was not going to eat the food, but was rather going to offer it as a token of good will to my immediate neighbors; names forthcoming.

"I don't know; I'll have to look at it," I said. ....good answer!!!

If I gave my food to him, then the theory of "He so scared he just gave a nigga his dinner!" would come into play and an aggressive bid might be made for the colored blanket, which I had somehow come into.

Then, I walked past one of the few white men; who had his arm around the neck of a young black man. He was tattooed all over his neck and down his arms; which the tank top he was wearing revealed. They both smiled at me as I pushed my way past them.

"You've got nice hair," said one of them this was my que to set the record straight, once and for all; by getting in his face and saying: "Yeah, well as long as you keep your hands off my nice hair, we'll be alright; I ain't down with that punk bullshit; I go all out over that; I don't care if I get my ass beat; It's all or nothing; I'm 100% nigga!!" -well, maybe I would leave out the last part- or ignore them.

I recognized the ploy as one of the "classic" jail house forms of playing games with new arrivals...What, did they put me in with the queers?!? designed to make the arrival uneasy; as  a form of entertainment.

I chose to ignore them; and then walked the entire length and back of the tent; down its aisles which were made narrow in order to squeeze more beds in; all the while using my intuition and consulting the voice of "the silent witness," "the Holy Spirit," and common sense in an attempt to discern some kind of sign as to where I was going to live, for at least one night.

Nothing jumped out at me, so I sat in a neutral area, sitting on my mat and eating my food and soon, I was called out to go to court.

I was called out for afternoon court, but soon realized a tactical error that I had made by not allying myself to anyone by choosing a bunk somewhere -someone whom I might entrust to watch over my plastic bag containing all of the aforementioned items.

They Steal My Bag

I left my plastic bag containing all the aforementioned items on top of  an empty rack, near the gate which the black female kind of heavy set but with a pleasant smile was standing at; chastising me over the fact that she had called my name several times, pointing out that she could have easily gone to the courtroom without me and I would have to wait another day for my day in court.

This would only be a "threat" to an inmate who was expecting to be let out that same day and who would double his sentence by staying another day. Not so much a threat to someone who would wind up getting 15 days and to whom it wouldn't ultimately matter upon which of those 15 days he would  actually be going to court.

Her assumption was probably based upon her seeing that my charge was for "obstruction of a public passageway" and her chalking up to her experience that such an offender (an he white, too...) would be going home that very day; (some time before sundown, to reduce the risk that I would be mugged within a few blocks of the jail for the amount of cash that was refunded me from my account before I left the building).

Had she examined the paperwork in her hand more throughly, she would have noticed that I was actually there on a charge of "contempt of court" for not having shown up -a much more serious matter.

It can be inferred that it really pisses off the court when you don't make a court appearance; or if it doesn't really piss the court off, the court does a very good job of affecting anger and passing more subsstantial sentences.

Had she realized this, she wouldn't have acted as if I would be going home that day; and all the contents of my plastic bag would not have been stolen while I was in court.

When the nice black female guard brought me back from court; I immediately noticed the theft and I told her "Look, someone stole all my stuff while I was in court!!" ...because you made it sound like I was just going to get a slap on the wrist and would go home before I even needed a colored blanket, officer...

She casually mentioned shaking down the whole tent, in order to find my stuff (and finding all the pot and home-brewed wine and extra blankets in the process) whereupon a few inmates approached me and handed me some form of replacement for the items; if you can call a white blanket a replacement for a colored blanket...so the morale of the story....

Buskers: If I can reach just one of you with this wisdom and save you from a hardship which I am familiar with from experience, then I will feel like I have done my job. The wisdom is this: For Gods sake, Respond to your summons to court on a charge of obstructing a public passageway; you will most likely have it dismissed if you plead not guilty on it just once, causing them to have to set you upon another already crowded docket; for "trial" and making them just drop the charge, while mumbling under their breaths.

I Play My Hand

It wasn't long before a group of about 4 guys; led by the bald headed guy who had given me the mat; motioned me over to where they were sitting on a bottom bunk, and began to question me; in an attempt to get to know me.
John Doe

I was asked probing questions about my place of origin; my lifestyle and living arrangement, employment and the types of drugs that I did for recreation on the street. All asked in a sarcastic tone with smirks on their faces; prompting me to lie or exaggerate like is so common in jail houses. "Did you ever kill anyone??? *smirk, smirk"

We eventually got around to the subject of alternate identities, and I was able to regale them with stories about the assuming of the identities of people who died young, before they had accrued criminal records or bad credit etc. and the fraudulent games that can be played by the unscrupulous who obtain such.

"Selling your car to your alter ego; registering it under his name; working as one guy, collecting unemployment as the other guy; assuming several identities and starting a corporation and taking out a huge business loan...insuring the life of one of you with your other one the beneficiary and then having him fall overboard during a fishing trip...."

The smirks disappeared; initiated by the bald headed guy, who seemed to be their leader. He changed his posture, sat up straighter; moved closer to me and leaned forward; gesturing with his hand for the others to shut up for a second.

"How do you do that?"

I told him about death certificates and birth certificates and mothers maiden names and the help of homless shelters and the services that they offer to help the downtrodden obtain ID.

I had their undivided attention and had them entranced and soon had gained their respect; one criminal to another; and it soon spread throughout the 100 men that the skinny white guy with the pony tail was "a criminal genius" and I was dubbed "John Doe."

Then, I noticed a change in the way I was regarded by my peers. I was given an (orange) sweatshirt by one guy, and it was suggested that I move over to another rack to get me out of the cold draft.
Commissary: From Whence All Blessings Flow
I then felt that it was safe for me to interact with the computer terminal on the wall with the touch pad through which items can be ordered through the commissary.

I ascertained that the 33 dollars which was in my pocket when I arrived at the jail had been credited to my account; and then I ordered a 5 dollar bag of instant coffee, a couple of stamped envelopes, a pen and about 4 packs of Ramen noodles.

Within hours of being seen poking away at the touch pad and ordering items through the commissary, John Doe had gained about a dozen brand new friends.

I was offered a shot of coffee by one guy in exchange of me giving him a Ramen Noodle pack on commissary day; I was offered shower shoes by one guy as I was about to step into the shower bare footed...Don't go in there barefooted, guys pee in there; and everything....

Be careful What Your Friends Pray For (you just might get it)

Another guy offered me reading material, of which there was a shortage. Most of it was "religious" material. The first book I read was "From Prison To Praise," by Merlin Carothers. A book the reading of which, I could argue, supports Stevens theory that my being incarcerated was a blessing in disguise.

I also enjoyed A Is For Alibi, by Sue Grafton.

There were 2 TVs and all of the college bowl games were screened, along with all of the NFL games. I had a chance to watch more football than I would have if I had been out on the street.

It is Saturday Afternoon, 1/12/13

I am without my property until Monday morning after 8 a.m. when the property storage facility run by the police and used to store guitars and backpacks while whoever was carrying them is incarcerated will open. It is an odd feeling, not having my guitar on my back. Some bums actually have mistaken me for a tourist, called me "sir" and asked me for something for free...

I longed to play the Jasmine last night; and I am forced to go the whole weekend on $9.06; and well; I thank God and praise his hallowed name that I have the opportunity to learn to appreciate my guitar and backpack a lot.

I wanted to make money, dag nabbit!, too.

I am stuck in the French Quarter with 9 dollars and 6 cents until that time. But I have located Howard, who seemed glad to see me..

I am to meet him to watch football at a Mexican Restaurant; and hopefully have him buy me a beer.

It is Monday Afternoon 1/14/13


Howard and I watched football Saturday night, milking one order of chips and salsa Howard: "$1.50, not bad..." for the entire game. We had our own chips and salsa in Howards backpack which we used to create the illusion of a bottomless bowl of chips and salsa.
Be Sure To Visit Felipe's When In NOLA
It is a credit to the staff at Felipe's Mexican Taqueria that they didn't deport us because we weren't fooling them, I'm sure -even if they belive that thousands of people can sometimes be fed off of 5 loaves of bread, with enough left over to fill 3 baskets with crumbs....

Sunday night, we repeated the procedure and I got to watch the Patriots dismantle the Houston Texans in high quality resolution; with closed captioning for the hearing impaired.

It is Tuesday 1/15/13

And to bring this up to the present...

I still have not picked up my mail at the Rebuild Center. I am expecting some money to be there from a Christmas gift that my mother sent and from the balance of my account at the Baton Rouge Prison, which I finally sent off for about 3 weeks ago.

I am faced with being broke for another night in the French Quarter, where everything is for sale.

Tonight is Comedy Night at The House of Blues; I am waiting for inspiration to strike me.

Yesterday, I was on the second day of a juice fast, consuming nothing but apple juice over a 3 to 5 day period, in order to flush the jail food out of my system and to regain my vigor.

I ran into Steven, the shaman.

We walked down Decatur Street, with Steven checking every trash can along the way for food.

The first score was two candied apples, still in their protective sleeves.

I bent the rules of the juice fast to include a candied apple, since it was almost apple juice.

Then, a little further, he found a fried shrimp dinner in a Styrofoam.

It was cold and drizzly and there were few tourists out. I drew the line at the fried shrimp, being unable to stretch my imagination to see it as being almost like apple juice. It is the hydrogenated oil used in the frying process which I can't have too much of without it messing with my white blood cell count.

We stopped at a spot under  overhang and Steven read to me from the book of Joshua in the bible. He then lectured me about how love and fear are in harmony with each other and how the love of God and the fear of Him go hand and hand and make a joyous sound.

The cop from Walgreens came out at one point and approached us. I think he thought that there was a drug deal going down, but it wasn't a drug deal. It was just Steven, placing a spiritual serpent into my waiting hands and asking me if I could feel it. This was in response to a question that I had about the scripture which states that a person who has the protection of the Holy Spirit could handle serpents (and drink poison) without fear of injury.

I had told him that when I lived in a cave in Phoenix, Arizona in 1999, there was a 4 foot long diamondback rattlesnake which took up residence under a rock nearby the entrance to said cave. The snake was attracted by the multitudes of mice which were attracted to the peanut crumbs dropped by the squirrels which I had attracted each day with peanuts, corn and sunflower seeds.

I was telling him that I hadn't quite been able to bring myself to try to befriend the diamondback and eventually make a pet of him; walking to the Circle K with him around my neck and such. It made me feel like my faith was weak, I remember.

The Walgreens cop saw the bible, open to Joshua, and that nothing had been passed to me except a spiritual serpent, and he calmed down and asked me what kind of music I played on the Jasmine.

We talked for a while. He invited me to yet another open microphone night at a place called Melvins (St. Claire and Elysian Fields) setting up a tug-o-war in my mind between that and the Comedy Night at the House of Blues on the same (to) night.

Another young black man approached and asked for a light. Steven gave him a light and then prayed for him and his girlfriend and their unborn baby.

Then, we walked along Decatur Street and encountered a man who asked for directions to a store which sold cigarettes.

We guided him to Rouses Market on Royal Street where he turned to us before entering and asked us if there was anything that we needed.

My defenses were down at this point, and I told him that I "needed" a 24 oz. can of Tecate Lager Beer. Steven "needed" a pack of smokes.

Continuing on, we were caught by a surprise downpour while we were sitting under a little gazebo.

I took the opportunity to tell an abridged version of a story which I am working on and hope to publish soon as a Flashback Friday piece. It is about an amazing religious experience which I had in 1984; (which probably has a bearing upon how screwed up I still am today LOL!).

Then, if my juice fast wasn't already broken by the Tecate Lager, the rain let up and we started walking towards an encounter with a trash can containing about 25 pounds of pecan brittle. Glazed pecans stuck to planks of brown and white sugar, and the deal was sealed. I ate some.
A Warning
Then, we parted company, the shaman and, and I walked to the dock where I discovered that "No trespassing; violators will be prosecuted" had been stenciled onto the beam above where I came and went from in yellow paint; some time during the day.*

*Let me clarify that last sentence: I don't wear yellow paint (anymore) -the warning was stenciled in yellow paint...

I changed my course in the direction of Simon Bolivar, hoping to join Howard in slumber at that rain resistant spot.

First, I stopped at the Unique Boutique to spend a dollar which the guy who asked directions to a store which sold cigarettes had given me; on one more beer.

I was exiting that store and practically ran into Steven, who let out a laugh when he saw the can of beer in my hand; a laugh which I was at a loss to determine the meaning of. Certainly he couldn't have been mocking me and my beer drinking ways; him a chain-smoker and all...

I told him about the warning at the dock.

"I wouldn't worry about it, I sleep in places like that all the time," said Steven, conjuring the memory of him saying a similar thing about playing music in front of Sydneys and not worrying about the cops because we had "permission" to play there....

He invited me to crash at his spot.

Along the way, he checked a trash can which "always has a full meal in it; I think they leave it there just for me" and found a full meal in a Styrofoam. Spaghetti and meat sauce with a slab of pork chop.

Resolving to start another juice fast the next day, I heated up the meal, along with one of the meals "ready to eat" of which Howard and I found sitting next to the stand of trees where we sleep, as if someone left them there just for us.

They come with a flame-less thermo chemical heating pack which I employed for the task. I stuffed my face and then went to sleep. We were in the employee parking garage of the Hilton Hotel, behind a dumpster and a piece of plywood which he had propped up.

I was planning upon getting up early enough to go and get my mail and use any money to have my guitar repaired and do some laundry (I am still wearing the clothes that I was arrested in three weeks ago!).

But, my plans went awry after Steven let me sleep in until it was past the hour that the mail room was open at the Rebuild Center, because I was "sleeping like a baby."

I was pretty upset (with myself) over having my fast broken and having to spend another whole day flat broke. I was trying to be mad at just myself and not to blame Steven, but it seems that when I hang out with him my plans become derailed or I wind up in jail.

I decided to make a bee line for Rebuild, on the chance that they would open the mail room back up, especially for me, if I used the cold and rainy night as some sort of excuse.

Steven made a bee line right along with me, picking ashtrays as we went.

We got to Walgreens and I decided to go in and get a morning energy drink, as is my habit. He followed me into the store and stood next to me, looking at the energy drinks along with me.

I felt an invisible pressur to buy him one and I could almost feel him thinking that this was a test of me to see if all of the lecturing about "the greatest of these things being charity" had sunk in.

I got pissed off, instead. Why are the people who quote scripture about charity the loudest always the ones with their hands out?!?. The problem with everybody giving each other the shirt off their back is; eventually the shirt becomes threadbare and then nobody has anything to wear....

I started to think of him as just a glorified panhandler, hiding behind an ideology.

I made it to Rebuild where I was told that I was too late to get my mail. Come back tomorrow.

The shaman, who had stopped to pray, soon arrived.

I was out front talking to a guy who knew a bit about computer programming. The guy asked me if I was going to eat lunch there, within earshot of Steven.

I told him that I wasn't going to eat because I was trying to cut down on hydrogenated soybean oil.

Steven burst out laughing, not realizing that of the things one can do to piss me off, "the greatest of these" is to laugh at the intolerance to certain foods that I have discovered that I have. Like the people that I have borne my whole life who have tried to tell me "It's all in your head" or who have determined through their own experience that there is nothing wrong with eating such a food; or who believe that if you have the Holy Spirit protecting you; then any garbage can you see is fair game -dig in!!

"You were eating like a beast last night,"
Steven said after he stopped laughing. Interesting choice of words for a biblical scholar.....

I needed a break from him at that point, because it seemed like I had become his subject in some sense; and he was accompanying me like a personal spiritual trainer, in his esteem, perhaps, drawing my attention away from my task at hand with tacit implications that there are much more important things for me to be focusing upon.

Now I sit at the Westin and he is at the next table, listening to music. He wants to come to see me do stand up at The House of Blues.

I jokingly (pun intended) said that my whole routine was going to be a roast of him.

He told me that the Holy Spirit would "convict me" against saying anything derogatory against him. Is that a recipe for disaster for a stand up comic, or what?!?

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