Tuesday Tuneup Twenty

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. Does it matter?

Q. Why have you summoned me?

A. You didn’t answer my question.

Q. Am I to provide the answers?

A. Yes.

Q. Then why can I only ask questions?

A. Because that’s how the answers come.

Q. Through questions?

A. Through questions.

Q. Such as?

A. Such as why.

Q. Why what?

A. Why not?

Q. What kind of an answer is that?

A. A frivolous one, I suppose.

Q. Frivolous? Or evasive?

A. You suddenly seem to challenge me. I would say — frivolous, and evasive. I did have a question looming in my mind. A question that begins with “why.” But it doesn’t end with the word “not.”

Q. Why not?

A. Because it’s deeper than that. And larger. And more germane to my recent struggles.

Q. What was the question?

A. The question was: “Why can’t I let go of past hurts, and enjoy the blessings of the present?”

let-goQ. Was that your question?

A. Yes, it was.

Q. Then why didn’t you ask it in the first place?

A. Because no sooner did I form the question, than I had already realized the answer. And then I didn’t need you any longer.

Q. But — but — what is the answer?

A. Ask me the question, and I will tell you the answer.

The Questioner clears his throat.

Q. Ahem.  Why can’t you let go of past hurts, and enjoy the blessings of the present?

A. I can.

Q. You can?

A. Yes, I can.  And, in fact, I have.

Q. You have??

A. Yes, I have.

Q. When did this happen? 

A. About a half hour ago.

Q. Are you trying to tell me that a half hour ago, you let go of past hurts, and began to enjoy the blessings of the present?

A. Yes.

Q. How did this happen?

A. It’s a miracle.  It’s the Miracle of Life.   The hurt was huge, and I prayed, and I prayed fervently, even after accusing God of never answering my prayer.  And then, I can’t explain it, but the hurt was lifted from me.  The hurt of an entire year or more, the way I was mistreated by — by someone whom I loved.   Somehow it was removed.  Completely removed.   And the whole world opened up to me.  I am no longer angry, or afraid.

Q. You aren’t??

A. No.  I’m not.   

Q. Will this last??

A. Does it matter?   All any of us have is today.

Q. But what about tomorrow?

A. We know not what it brings.

Q. And yesterday?

A. Gone.  All gone.

Q. Are you honestly trying to tell me that you have let go completely?

A. Yes.  And there are tears of joy streaming down my face.  All the anger: all the inner rage; has been replaced with inner peace.  This is one of the greatest days of my life.

Q. Then what more can I do for you?

A.  Not much, I’m afraid.  But I do appreciate your indulgence on this matter.   It’s just that — I have no further need of you — for now.

The Questioner is silent.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Gratitude List 869

(1) I was able to finish the remake of my new speech last night, even though it kept me up till 4:30 in the morning.  Grateful for the space and privacy to do such things without disturbing others, or being disturbed.

(2) Jan loves me.

(3) A great way to overcome the bitterness of a troubled past is to indulge the blessings of a promising present.

(4) Somebody made a nice, detailed comment on my piano playing over the weekend.  Grateful to have been trusted enough to be given a key to a church building with a Baldwin grand piano.   There was a time where any effort to play a church piano was met only with concern over “insurance issues” — implying, of course, that I was the type of guy that would do damage to the property.

(5) Nice strong coffee.  Grateful to have my own place of residence and my own coffee-maker.  There was a time when the only reason I went to a 7am A.A. meeting was because it was the only way I could figure out how to get a cup of coffee in the morning.

(6) It was suggested last night that every morning when I wake up, I can “dedicate the day to God.”  It took a while, but I’m thankful to have done so.

(7) Glad to hear that the heat wave will be over on Thursday, which is great timing, since I get paid on Friday.  Thankful for the promise of double blessings, back to back.

(8) Happy to have heard from Alistair Boone, the new Editor-in-Chief of Street Spirit, with the news that I’ll be kept on as a regular montly contributor, in the wake of Terry Messman’s retirement.  

(9) Extremely grateful to no longer be homeless in the San Francisco Bay Area.   I honestly thought I would never be able to live indoors again.

(10) Extremely thankful for the State of Idaho, where my experience has been that people treat each other decently and respectfully — like equals.   Thankful no longer to have to be lectured, ridiculed, dimissed, ostracized, vilified, and looked down upon as though I were not even fully human.  It is incredible to no longer be regarded as a piece of worthless homeless scum.   Thank God for my new and remarkably better life.  I never dreamed it possible — He loves me, after all. 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Homeless by Choice

On the Q&A site Quora, dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge by those “in the know,” I was asked if I thought there was anything wrong with being “homeless by choice.”  Here’s my answer:

There is nothing morally wrong with being homeless by choice. One has a right to do whatever they wish to do as long as it does not impinge upon the rights of others. Therefore, if one wants to be homeless, and one is not harming anyone in the process, one can rightly exercise that choice.

However, this does beg the question as to why one would want to be homeless by choice; and in fact, if one choosing to be homeless is actually choosing a preferred lifestyle, or merely the lesser of evils in an untenable situation.

home sweet homelessThere are three general reasons why one would “choose” being homeless over an indoor living situation:

(1) lack of privacy in the indoor situation

(2) abuse or neglect in the indoor situation

(3) inability to keep up with the cost of living indoors

I was homeless in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years.  As I stated in this post, I often had a difficult time with shelters and other group situations due to the lack of privacy. I also found it next-to-impossible to keep up with the rising cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area. The trade-off was made palatable due to my not having to pay exorbitant rental fees, often subjected to rent increases every six months.

Although I personally would not have characterized any of my living situations as “abusive,” I certainly have met numerous people, mostly young people, who chose to live “home free” following emancipation from abusive parents or guardians. To many of them, the idea of living indoors was associated with bondage, violence, and sexual violation. Of course they should not be faulted for wishing to escape such horrible home lives. This is why many such young people will not use the term “homeless” to describe their lifestyle. They prefer the term “home free” — and this is telling.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Tuesday Tuneup 19

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. Not sure.  You could be one thing, or another.

Q. Why have you summoned me?

A. Because I am a crossroads.  I could go one way, or another.

indecisionQ. But couldn’t you have said that yesterday?

A. I could have.  And I should have — since yesterday was Tuesday.   I could have talked to you on Tuesday, like I’m supposed to.  But I didn’t.  And that’s part of the problem.

Q. Why didn’t you talk to me yesterday?

A. I don’t know.  I meant to.  I tried to.  But every time I started, I came up against a brick wall.

Q. And today?

A. Today I still — don’t quite know what to say, or to do.  I still feel like talking to you is like talking to a brick wall.

Q. Then why are you bothering?

A. Because — I’m supposed to.   I’ve found that if I see you every Tuesday — or once a week rather, even if it’s Wednesday or Thursday — I somehow stay tuned up.  I stay in touch with myself.   I know what I’m supposed to be about.

Q. You do??

A. Well, no — not now I don’t.  But over time, if I practice this consistently, with discipline, then yes, I begin to get a better idea what I’m supposed to be about.

Q. Can you really give me that power?  I mean, considering you’re not even sure who I am?

A. Not logically, no.  And I don’t mean to, exactly.  It’s not you who is the solution.  It’s the process.  The fact that I choose to engage this dialectic, once a week, with consistency.   It adds up, eventually.  It means something.  It takes me somewhere.

Q. Even when it feels like it doesn’t?

A. Perhaps.

Q. How does it feel right now?

A. Shitty.  Lousy.   It’s all a reflection of my — my uncertainty.  My unwillingness.

Q. Unwillingness?

A. Yeah — I’m not willing to — to make a move, one way or another.

Q. Why not?

A. Fear.

Q. Fear of — what?

A. Fear that I’ll be – barking up the wrong tree.   Choosing the wrong path.

Q. How will you know till you try?

A. I won’t.

Q. Then why don’t you just try one way, or the other, and see what happens?

A. Because I have not counted the costs.  Of either path.   I haven’t sat down and listed the pros and cons.  I haven’t really made an effort to scan each option, and make a conscious decision which one looks to be the better.

Q. Then why not sit down and do so?

A. Good idea.

Q. Isn’t that better than wallowing?

A. It is.

Q. Isn’t it better than being frozen in fear?

A. Yes, it is.  Even though I’m not yet taking one path or another, at least I’m doing something. 

Q. What’s that?

A. Deciding.  I’m making a conscious, concerted decision – and taking the time to do it.  I’m not juat taking this decision lightly, nor am I avoiding it.

Q. Do you feel then that I have helped you this morning?

A. Yes, you have.

Q. May I then be excused?

A. Yes.  You may go.

The Questioner is silent.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Gratitude List 866

(1) Something tells me this is going to be a very productive week.

(2) I slept incredibly soundly last night.

(3) Just now awoke and noticed immediately that I was back in my “usual good mood” — no more of that funk I was in for a few days there.

(4) Coffee was ready without even having to flip a switch.  Tastes good, too!

smiling computer(5) My computer is right here where I left it.   Turned on my tensor lamp and voilà –  the O.G. is ready to roll.

(6) Had a really nice Skype with Howard last night — noticed once again how insightful and good-natured he can be.  This is especially illuminated over the Skype interface, where one can actually see the guy.   Will wonders of technology never cease.

(7) Nice of Norman to have dinner with me at the Co-Op.  Another very insightful and compassionate man.

(8) I am not at a loss for true friends at this time in my life.

(9) This honestly is the best I’ve felt in ages.

(10) I get to meet Jan at the station tonight and walk her back home.  It sure is nice having her around.   The Lord has blessed me so much.   And I can be whom I’ve always wanted to be.   Thank God for the good things in life.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Hunted

There was neither a speech nor a piano recording this week, for the simple reason that I’ve been relying on the high-quality microphone in my lady friend’s Motorola smartphone in order to make these recordings, and while she’s away visiting our friend on the Coast, I could not manage to locate another device.

On another level, however, I am still dealing with enormous exhaustion after having put my all into the creation of this new musical, Eden in Babylon, and having at last received the recordings on the demo for that musical.  The third and final song in the demo, my song “Hunted,” is below.

Hopefully the present innervation precedes a future innovation.  It’s going to take quite a bit of ingenuity to instigate the initiation of this initial production.   I can’t just sit at home idling with incessant alliterations, to no avail.  I have believed in this message to the Mainstream of Modern American Life.   Now all I need to do is make sure the message is heard.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

The Very Same World

In lieu of offering a speech this week according to schedule, I’m writing to let you know that I’ve received the 2nd number from my Eden in Babylon demo.  It’s “The Very Same World,” (link is to lyrics), and I’m posting the demo now.

I should have the third speech in my new series, entitled “Homeless by Condition, Part Two,” posted by next Wednesday or Thursday, or thereabouts.   If you feel like going back and listening to the first two speeches, here they are:

Homeless by Condition, Part One

Homeless by Choice

Finally, if you want to make an any-amount donation and help me produce my musical about homelessness in America, now’s your chance.    At this stage, every little bit helps.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Tuesday Tuneup 18

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. Yeah.  You’re a pain in the ass who darkens my door once a week, annoying me with an incessant series of inane questions, challenging my patience.

Q. So why have you summoned me?

A. What choice did I have?

Q. Aren’t I supposed to be asking you the questions?

A. Supposed to schummosed to.  I’m totally disgruntled.

Q. Whatever for?

A. I don’t know.  The whole thing just seems to be — on me. 

Q. What whole thing?

A. Forgiveness!  Why am I the guy who always has to focus all his energy on forgiving all these other people?   If even one of them would so much as give me the time of day, it would sure make it a lot easier.

hillary forgivenessQ. Easier on who?

A. On me — obviously!

Q. Why don’t you make it easy on them?

A. Don’t insult my integrity.  I’m already trying to do that, and you know that.

Q. How?

A. By apologizing to them.  By asking their forgiveness.  Like the Bible says.  Like Jesus says.  Like we’re all supposed to do with each other.  But they still won’t —

Q. Give you the time of day?

A. Right.  How do I know they’re even reading my emails?  Or listening to my voice mail messages?  Or even reading my carefully, prayerfully worded snail mail letters?   I wouldn’t be surprised if whats-his-face just ripped up the letter I sent to his home address, without even bothering to open it.

Q. But why would he do that?

A. I don’t know.  Fear of its contents, I guess.  Or disrespect for me as a man.  Hard to say.  Maybe his wife doesn’t want him to have anything to do with me.  Maybe his doctor told him to avoid “toxic people,” and he decided I was “toxic.”  Or maybe he’s just a cowardly wimp who can’t face up to his own bullshit unless he’s painted into a damn corner.

Q. Do you really need this guy?

A. No, not really.

Q. Then what do you need?  

Pause.

A. I need to forgive him.  To be free and clear of all the lingering resentment over the way I was treated — and the way I treated him.   To know that he has received my apologies, my requests for forgiveness, and that they matter enough to him — that Jesus matters enough for him — to say “I forgive you, Andy.”  And then we can both move on.  Or even be friends again, who knows?   God only knows.

Q. How long has this been going on?

A. Five years now.  

Q. He hasn’t talked to you for five years?

A. Not just him – but all kinds of people.

Q. Why did they all stop talking to you?

A. Probably because of the way I was coming across at the time.

Q. How were you coming across?

A. I was desperate.  I was homeless.  Sure I had all kinds of other problems, but I couldn’t solve any of them from homelessness.  And none of those damned group situations that were always recommended ever worked out for me.  They only surrounded me with thieves and criminals, and furthered the violation of my person and my property.   I was down in this hole that was so deep, I couldn’t climb out of it myself for the life of me.  I kept beseeching them, please, let me stay with you, just for a while, just for a month or so, till I can get my bearings, get some sleep, and see a way to maybe get back on my feet.  But nobody would budge.  They all rejected me.  Most of them without even a word of notice or warning.  They flushed me down the toilet like I was a total piece of — piece of — piece of  —

Q. Shit?

A. You said it.  

Q. Why did you internalize their opinions of you?

A. I couldn’t help it.  I knew I was coming across in a way that freaked them out, or pissed them off even.  But all the gross details of homelessness, the sleep deprivation, the constant insinuation from everyone around me that I was this worthless piece of crap, that my music didn’t matter, my singing, my piano playing, my writing, my public speaking, none of the good things about me counted!  I was just supposed to cram a bunch of damned pills down my throat that I knew would destroy everything I had going for me, and get into some group home where they monitored all my meds and only let me out under supervision on Sundays.   

And I had already tried all that.  And I just couldn’t do it!  I’d have rather slept alone out in a field somewhere.  So I did.  But then — all the other crap set in.

Q. What other crap?

A. You know something?  I really don’t want to talk about it.

Q. Then why are you?

A. Because of you.  And all your damned questions.  Go away! And don’t come back till Tuesday!   Tired of your robotic, unfeeling crap.

The Questioner is silent.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 
 

Gratitude List 858

1. In 11 days, it will be two years that I’ve been successfully living indoors and paying my rent on time at the beginning of every month, after years of struggling with homelessness on the San Francisco Bay Area streets.

2. Although I am up much earlier than the average person, I am grateful for the absolutely quiet hours when I can focus and get my writing done, undisturbed by the influences of others.

3. I am grateful for the wisdom of my father, who taught me to get up three hours before anybody else does, and to drink my coffee black, to avoid stomach problems.

4. I’m grateful for the freedom and solitude that indoor living has provided for me, enabling me to do all the things I always wished I could do when I still lived outdoors — things like make speeches, play the piano, write music, write blog posts, and most especially, finish a musical about homelessness in America that I could never fully focus on when I lived outdoors.

5. I’m grateful that if I wake up at one in the morning, I can make a cup of coffee and go straight to my computer, rather than wander the streets amid cops & robbers, fearing for my safety and preparing for the worst.

6. I’m not only grateful for the freedom to write about the Homeless Experience, but for the increasing awareness that a lot of other people are writing about it, too — people who, like me, spent years outside, and were gifted with the blessing of indoor residence, and the freedom to shape their thoughts.

7. I really like my pastor and my church.  Even though I’ve had problems, they were not quick to expel me, or tell me to go to the Salvation Army or some other unappealing indoor group living situation where I would have had orders barked at me day in and day out, and all my freedoms would have been removed.

8. Glad I no longer have to struggle with the choice either to live outdoors in danger, or indoors in a group situation among dubious denizens, in just as much danger, despite.

9. Glad that the person I am living with now is probably the only person whom I know for sure I can live with without feeling like we’re in each other’s way.

10. Grateful to be living with the woman whom I love.  The Lord has blessed me so much, my cup runneth over.  The sky is the limit from here.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

The Eye of a Needle

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ ”

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

–Mark 10:17-24

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Homeless Shelters

Note: this post was first written here in an answer to a question posed on the Q&A site Quora, which I am acknowledging according to their terms of service.   The question, as posed, was “What are homeless shelters like?”  Of course, I could only answer according to my personal experience.  But I did my best.  

During the many years when I was homeless, I stayed in a number of different shelters, as well as in other group situations that were even less favorable and less appealing to me than the preferred choice to sleep in a secluded spot outdoors.

I did get a good feeling from one or two of the shelters, but most of them gave me the creeps. Even in the one where I felt most “at home,” it was still assumed that I was of a criminal mentality, and that I had a criminal record. I had a hard time believing that all of us who had fallen into homelessness were “criminals” – and of course I gravitated toward those who clearly were not.

I eventually realized that part of the reason why this mentality was so widespread was because the people who ran the homeless shelter were themselves ex-convicts or criminals in varying states of reformation, rehabilitation, or recovery. So from the top down, it was pretty much assumed that one was comfortable with the criminal element.

A great plus was my being able to get a free breakfast with unlimited coffee refills in the morning; in fact, Peet’s coffee was served, which I loved. At night, there would be dinners brought by organizations in the community who desired to help the homeless. Usually these were religious organizations having a strong bent in the area of converting the homeless to their particular brand of faith. That I already had my own religious preferences was usually dismissed as irrelevant, since it was assumed that if I had a true “relationship with God,” I would never have wound up homeless to begin with.

The preponderance of religious zealotry mixed in with a criminal mentality made it almost impossible for me to feel “safe” in the shelter. I slept on a fold-up cot that sank down very low in the middle, inducing backaches, and not conducive to a good night’s sleep. When the night manager shouted: “Lights Out!” at ten at night, all that this meant, literally, was that the lights were turned off. It did not mean that people kept their voices down or made an effort to stay quiet.

In close proximity to my cot was a large T.V. where a number of the men who had rented pornographic movies stayed up and watched porn flicks all night, reacting as men would do in private to the various suggestions of these movies, while I was trying liberty-safetyunsuccessfully to sleep.

I constantly feared for the theft of my laptop and cell phone. I kept my backpack attached by one of its straps to my body at all times, even while I slept (or tried to.) Although there were lockers in the shelter, one had to fill out a lengthy application in order to obtain one of the lockers, and there was a long waiting list to get one. I often declined to take a shower in the morning after I watched a young man’s Ibinez custom electric guitar be stolen during the five minutes he was allotted to shower. But at least they had showers, and it was also a good place to shave and brush my teeth, both of which activities were frowned upon in the library bathrooms, as well as in the bathrooms of local cafes and restaurants. It was nice having a bathroom right nearby during the night, and this was one advantage that staying in the shelter had to sleeping outdoors.

I also was able to do my laundry on Tuesdays and receive razor blades on Wednesdays. There were several other perks. In general, however, I felt “safer” sleeping outdoors in a secluded place known only to me. But I must put the word “safe” in quotes, because the concept of “safety” is meaningless on the streets. We did not think in terms of “safety;” and whenever anyone made references to our “safety” (or the lack of it) we were generally baffled. Homelessness was best regarded as a wild adventure, where one had to be ready for anything at any time, almost like being in a war zone. The word “safety” has very little relevance to that manner of life.  

I must also disclaim that in this brief exposé, I have tried to describe only the shelter I liked best. The last one, the one I liked least, was the one where I was kicked out for catching a flu, even though I had obviously caught the flu in the shelter itself. There followed an awful scenario in which I was denied a stay in a hospital because I was homeles and kicked off of the all-night bus (where several homeless people regularly slept) because of my having the flu. Having a bad flu and being forced to stay outdoors was the catalyst toward terminating my homeless “adventure” of twelve years. But I owe that termination to prayer and to my God. Homelessness is a hole so deep, one really has to have lived it in order to understand how next-to-impossible it can be to climb out of it. I consider myself therefore lucky and blessed. 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

(Talks 2018) – Talk No. 2

Here’s the second talk in my Talks 2018 series, intended to illuminate the realities of the Homeless Experience to those who have not yet been there.   This talk shows how a person having found themselves winding up homeless more often than not might eventually make a conscious choice to live outdoors, rather than inside an untenable situation.  

Homeless by Choice

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

Tuesday Tuneup 17

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. Yes.  You are a part of me.

Q. Why have you summoned me?

A. Quick, spot-check tuneup.  I know, I know — it’s Thursday, not Tuesday.  I’m two days late.

Q. Why so late?

A. Exhaustion.  Sleeping round the clock ever since July 4th, for eight days barely fitting in all the things I’m supposed to be doing in this world.

new-beginning-quotes-picturesQ. What happened on July 4th?

A. Independence.

Q. Independence from what?

A. From Eden in Babylon. 

Q. You were — enslaved by Eden in Babylon?

A. I was indeed.  Enslaved by my own work.

Q. And now you are free?

A. In a very real sense, yes.  I need no longer belabor this script.   It’s as good as it needs to be, in order for me to submit it.

Q. Don’t you need the demo in order to submit it?

A. The demo is on its way.   The pieces for the final mix are coming in.  Listen to this one, the first one — you gotta admit it’s not bad:

Q. Who’s the singer?

A. Her name’s Erika.  Very good singer, classically trained with a degree in Voice, and having musical theatre experience.  Obviously, she put her whole heart into it.  I acknowledge her in full, along with the sound engineer, on the credits.

Q. But don’t you need more than one song on the demo?

A. They’re on their way.  I’ve heard drafts of the mixes.  The engineer is in the process of preparing a final mix.   It won’t be long now.

Q. And then what?

A. Then I package the show, of course.  I send out packages to theatre companies who accept submissions of new musicals.  And also, to theatre companies where I’ve worked in the past, or where I know people with whom I’ve worked, people who might think well of me from the start (as opposed to hearing from a total stranger.)   

Q. Won’t this cost money?

A. Gee, I thought you’d never ask.  Of course it will cost money.  And this could take a long time.

Q. Won’t that be a drag?

A. Maybe.  But the way I look at it, it’s all part of the process.  It could take a long time, or it might not take very long at all, depending on how it’s meant to be. 

Q. What if it’s not meant to be?

A. Oh, it’s meant to be all right.  If it weren’t meant to be, it wouldn’t have gotten this far. 

Q.  But once you’ve sent out your script and your music, won’t you have to wait to hear from these companies?  For months on end?  Possibly years?  What if you never hear from them at all?

A. Then there’s another alternative.  Rather than put most of the money into submissions, put only a little bit of the money toward that aspect.  Say, 20%.  The other 80% will go toward funding a trial production — a local production, renting out a local house that will be ideal for the show.  And then — inviting key people to the production.

Q. So then you can invite the people to whom you’ve submitted the show to come to this local production?

A. Yes.  And not only them – but all kinds of other people.  We’ll run the show for six nights only, over three weekends.  

hartungQ. Can you get this venue for three weekends in a row?

A. If I start soon enough, I can.

Q. How much does it rent for per night?

A. Two hundred bucks.

Q. So that’s $1200 you need already?

A. More than that.  Add an extra four nights for tech week, and make it $2000.  Plus, they provide the technical staff, and I have to pay them $15/hr.

Q. And won’t there be other costs?

A. All kinds of costs.  I need to print out scripts.  I might need to rent a rehearsal space, some building on campus somewhere, a space to use only to rehearse.  Then of course I have to hold auditions somewhere, and get a cast together.  Prior to that, there will be advertising costs.   This thing could cost me hella money, let’s face it.

Q. Won’t there be some kind of return?  Or profit margin?

A. I wouldn’t say profit.  But a partial return, in terms of box office receipts.  Even for the trial production at the perfect 400-seat theatre I have in mind, there will be ticket costs.  I won’t let people in for free.

Q. So some money will be coming back?

A. To somebody, yes.  Maybe that can go to the investor, or investors.

Q. Investor?  Investors?

A. Yeah.  That’s what I’m thinking,.  Some detached person with little more than a monetary interest, might kick down some reasonable sum of money in exchange for box office receipts, and a small profit.

Q. But will that be enough to produce the show?

A. Naw, it would only be a jump start.  A drop in the bucket, maybe.

Q. Where will the rest of the money come from?

A. Grants.  Loans.  Financial aid.   LP sales.

Q. LP sales?  

A. Yes.  First off, I’m trying to sell my LP.  I’ve managed to sell over 15 CD’s – you know, hard copies, to people in the hood who like my stuff.  But online, last I checked, only two people had bought one.  And they were both, like, friends of mine.

Q. Isn’t that discouraging?

A. I try not to think in those terms.  I just have to push harder.

Q. But doesn’t this all go against your grain?

A. What grain?  You gotta do what you gotta do.  And relax in the process, knowing that the outcome is inevitable.

commitmentQ. Inevitable?

A. Inevitable.  It’s meant to be.

Q. How can you say that?

A. I just can.  I just know.  It has something to do with the nature of complete commitment, and forging forward continuously, despite obstacles.  

Q. But how do you know that your commitment is complete?  I mean, if you did nothing but sleep for eight days after you finished your script, that hardly indicates the kind of commitment that suggests hard work and fortitude.  

A. Maybe not.  But it shows how much work went into that script, and why an eight day crashout would be warranted.   And besides, there’s a universal nature to all of this that plays upon my very laziness, the very burnout of which you speak.

Q. How so?

A. It’s like this.  Whenever I sink, whenever I crash, whenever I begin to feel that the whole project is random, and senseless, and pointless, and useless, and doomed to failure from the start, something happens in the Universe that alerts me back to the program.

Q. What do you mean?

A. Take for example when this demo came about.  I had all but given up on the project.  I had turned my attention to other things, more tangible, lucrative ventures.  But at that very moment of disillusionment, the sound engineer appeared, willing to provide his services for free.   This revitalized me.

And then, the money for the singers manifested at the exact time when we could do the studio work, and I could actually pay them.   Saving up for months to pay competent, trained singers, actually worked.  It was frustrating having to scrimp and save, while former associates of mine, people with money to spare, were only laughing at me and scoffing at me.  But they too were a provision of the Universe.

Q. How so?

A. They provided the Resistance.  Without resistance, there is no creation.  Without an enemy, there is no battle.

Q. Then this whole thing is a battle?

A. Yes. I am at war.

Q. At war with whom?

A. With you, to be truthful.

Q. Why me?

A. Because you always question everything I do.  

The Questioner is silent. 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Gratitude List 853

1. It’s great to have my own shower and be able to change into clean clothes, and lay on my own bed, and feel as though I am an honored guest in my own home.

2. Good exercise today, a brisk three mile walk in the warm breeze, between around six and seven.

3. There is a wonderful woman in my life today who loves me.

4. God loves me. He doesn’t see me according to my past, or my sin; but according to my future, and my righteousness in Christ.

5. Nice hanging out with R. today, and having him over for conversation with me and Jan.

6. It is great that Echo found a room on the Delta, and that she’s going to have a dog.

7. I finished Eden in Babylon on July 4th, and here it is again linked to you, formatted as best I can. It’s a much better script, thanks to the MFA playwrights at the critique, and very special thanks to Jan.

8. Stats are booming:

booming

9. Jan gets to visit our friend Sippa for a few days, and this is a very good thing.

10. God is Love.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Dives and Lazarus

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.  At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

lazarus“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

   — Luke 16:19-31

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

The Long and Winding Road

Hey, it’s Friday, and I got some piano for ya.  This one’s an old Todd Rundgren tune I kinda like:

This one here’s a Christian tune I heard in the 80’s.  (I had to google for the name.)

And finally, the famous Beatles song:

Usually I use a high-end Motorola smartphone, the property of my lady friend, to record these piano vids.  But she’s housebound with a bad knee, so I used the low-end Motorola of my Pastor Norman (the guy I’m talking to at the beginning of “Torch Song.”)  Its quality is not quite as crisp.

If you want even better quality, feel free to make a contribution.  The O.G.’s coming off of twelve years on the streets, and it’s not as though his net worth is anything bigger than Zero Point Zero at any given moment.

That said, still very grateful to for the blessing of indoor living.  I’m putting it to the best use possible, in God’s good time.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

Compassion and Complaint

Lately I’ve encountered some pretty disturbing questions on a certain forum where I am expected to provide intelligent answers. One such question was this:

“Why are poor people so much more compassionate than rich people?”

Another Deteriorating Bridge...Obviously, the question contains a covert statement; i.e., “Poor people are more compassionate than rich people.” How do I answer such a question? After all, there are plenty of poor people who aren’t very compassionate at all. Moreover, there are plenty of so-called rich people who have lots of compassion. So the question, as posed, is unfair.

But even more disturbing were some of the answers offered. Several people, like me, objected to the rhetorical nature of the question. But unlike me, a number of them contended that “rich people” are more compassionate than poor people. They also gave their reasons why they thought so. One such answer was as follows:

“Poor people do nothing but complain, and this lacks compassion toward those who have to hear their complaints, since nobody likes to hear people complaining all the time. Rich people hardly ever complain, so this is more compassionate.”

In examining this answer, I cannot help but recall a statement I made yesterday in this speech. I related how, when I was first becoming homeless, I didn’t seem to be able to express any of the details of my situation without coming across as though I were “complaining.” People who had never been in my shoes, and who were baffled at how a man like me could possibly have descended to such a depth, interpreted my explanations of the homeless condition as “complaints.”

But when I was hurled into Poverty Culture, and I discovered the refreshing candor with which poor people discuss their common obstacles with remarkable honesty and openness, I began to understand how such a level of untainted, clear communication could easily be construed to be a “complaint.” After all, these obstacles were of necessity negative in nature, and to delineate them in detail would necessarily constitute a negative statement. Moreover, since the “negativity” of homelessness is even more pronounced than that of sheltered poverty, these communications will bear even more of the aura of “complaint” to those who don’t wish to hear such “negativity.”

FIRST HOMELESS GUY: “Man, I really tried to get a shower before the job interview, but I waited in line at the Multi-Agency Service Center for three hours before a shower opened up. By that time, I was afraid I would miss the bus and not make it to the interview. But I really needed a shower. So I showered as quickly as I could, and shaved and put on my best clothing. Then I literally ran half a mile to the bus stop, only to find that I had missed the bus, and that there was no way I would have made it to the interview on time.”

SECOND HOMELESS GUY: “Dude, I feel for you, but you gotta get a load of what happened to me! On the night before my interview, I was sleeping at my Spot when all of a sudden, two rookie cops woke me up at one in the morning, ran my criminal record, searched my backpack for drugs, and then told me to move on, after they found out I didn’t have any drugs in my backpack and didn’t have a criminal record. It rattled me just enough that I couldn’t get to sleep. I got showered and got to the bus stop on time, but I fell asleep on the bus, missed the stop, and missed my interview!

RICH GUY: “Would you both just quit whining? You spend all your time complaining, it’s no wonder you never can find a job. I bet both of you wouldn’t have even been able to keep a smile on your face throughout a 45-minute interview.”

Here, to me, the schism is obvious. The “rich guy” interprets the empathy with which the two “homeless guys” identify with each other as “complaints.” But to the homeless men, that conversation is simply a communication — not a complaint. They are relating to each other on the basis of their common ground, and such a conversation actually affirms their common dignity.

FIRST HOMELESS GUY: What do you mean, “smile?” Are you trying to tell me for one minute that the phony plastic smile you have on your face is genuine? Sure, I can put on a smile at a job interview or on a job. That’s what we call a work façade. But you’re smiling even as you rip us to shreds, and that’s nothing more than hypocrisy.

SECOND HOMELESS GUY: That’s right, Rich Guy. I bet you’re not even a happy person. If you were happy, you wouldn’t feel the need to put us down, when you’ve got everything you’ve ever needed in this life, and we’re busting our guts every day struggling to survive.”

RICH GUY: See what I mean? Both of you have a lousy attitude. It shows in all this negativity you keep throwing at me. Neither of you will ever be able to hold up and roll with the punches day after day in the workplace.

Here we have another schism. The well-meaning smile of the ignorant “rich guy” is being interpreted as hypocrisy by the homeless guys. Add that to the fact that their mutual affirmation of common dignity is being interpreted as “complaining,” and what does this tell us?  How about this:

And besides all this,
between us and you a great chasm has been set in place,
so that those who want to go from here to you cannot,
nor can anyone cross over from there to us.
– Luke 16:26

While the above Scripture pertains specifically to the “chasm” set in place between the heaven and hell, one does not have to delve very much further into the substance of the 16th Chapter of the Gospel According to Luke, before one realizes that it is the rich man who is in hell, and the poor man in heaven.

This is yet another instance of what I said in yesterday’s speech, and what I say continuously to all who would undertake an objective study of the Holy Bible. Despite the Prosperity Gospel and the modern-day deception that equates material gain with spiritual fulfillment, the Bible in general does not hurl warnings at the poor. It hurls warnings at the rich — all throughout the Book.

And as far as that smile we’re supposed to plaster on our plastic faces every morning before we sign our lives away to the daily grind, are there any particular references in the Bible to Jesus having smiled? None whatsoever. But there’s a reference to what Jesus did, rather than smile:

Jesus wept.

And that’s the 35th verse in the 11th chapter of John, in case anyone wants to look it up and actually read the Book (hint hint).

I get tired of smiling myself. Lately I’ve been looking at my picture here, and all I can think of is “Wipe that smile of your face, you phony hypocrite! This message is serious business, and you look like you’re trying to sell me a used car.”

I’ll change the picture. I’ll change it — because this is serious business. The chasm between heaven and hell might be a gulf we will never be able to bridge. But we need to bridge the Class Gap in America — and soon. If we don’t, we might just lose our country.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

(Talks 2018) – Talk No. 1

A while back, I mentioned I was going to try to start posting a speech here every Wednesday.  Well, I never got around to doing it.  That is, until now.   Happy Independence Day — and God bless America.  

Homeless by Condition: Part One 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Tuesday Tuneup 16

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. Sure do.  You’re a creation of mine who always questions everything.   

Q. Why have you summoned me?

A. Because I can.  I have the power to do so — the God-given right, and the authority.

Q. Are you my authority?

A. Yes, I am.

Question AuthorityQ. Are you proud of that position?

A. I am indeed.

Q. But why, specifically, have you summoned me today, sir?

A. For the usual reasons.  I summon you every Tuesday, when I need to do a little introspection.  You might say, a tune-up.  I’ve done it 16 consecutive Tuesdays in a row now.

Q. Are you proud of that accomplishment?

A. As a matter of fact, I am.

Q. Why?

A. Because it represents consistency.  And consistency represents stability.   

Q. Are you usually unstable?

A. Yes.  Or so I’m told, anyway.

Q. Who tells you this?

A. Stable people.

Q. Such as?

A. I decline to name names.  But I’m sure you know the type of person I mean.  The kind who can hold down a 9-5 job, stay in one town for a long time without wanting to vamoose, and so forth.

Q. Are  you unable to hold down a 9-5 job?

A. Not for very long.  

Q. Why not?

A. I’m not sure.  But I do know that the last time I held down a 9-5 was in the year 1990, and I didn’t last through the year.

Q. Why not?

A. Got fired.

Q. Why?

A. Got beat out in the competition.

Q. With whom?

A. With a more stable person, obviously.

Q. Are you sure this is the real reason for your not holding down a 9-5 job?

A. You paint me into a corner, you  do.

Q. How’s that?

A. You force me to seek out a deeper reason.

Q. Such as?

A. Such as maybe I just don’t want to hold down a 9-5.

Q. Why not?

A. Because I have no confidence that I won’t be fired.

Q. Why not?

A. Because every time I start out with confidence, I wind up getting fired anyway.  So I’ve developed a —

Q. Block?

A. Maybe.

Q. Disdain?

A. Closer.

Q. Frustration?

A. Closest yet.

Q. So why do they fire you?

A. Three things.

Q. Namely?

A. Number One, I’m extremely absent-minded.  I space too many things out, and it frustrates my employers and co-workers.

Q. Number Two?

A. I show up late.  I keep looking for things in my apartment that I’ve spaced out, things I need for the job, and can’t find them.

Q. Why don’t you just leave them at work?

A. My glasses?  My keys?  My wallet?  Come on.

Q. What’s the third reason?

A. Can’t handle stress.

Q. What happens when you’re under stress?

A. I implode.  I shut down.  I can’t function.

Q. Is that why you’re on disability?

A. Pretty much.

Q. So how do you spend your time on disability?

A. Doing things I can do.

Q. Such as?

A. Play the piano.  Sing.  Write music.  And write.  Oh – and run long distances.

Q. Why is it that you can do those things, but not the normal 9-5 office type things?

A. I think it has to do with the fact that they can all be done while I’m totally alone, with no other people around.

Q. Does being around people stress you out?

A. Somewhat.   Although I am in a relationship now, and I spend a lot of time with my flame.

Q. How’s that going?

A. Amazingly well.  We seem to compliment each other nicely.

Q. But don’t you get stressed out sometimes being around her?

A. Sometimes.  But we take the time to work through the stressors, and wind up the better for it.

Q. Then why can’t you do the same thing with your office mates on the 9-5?

A. Because they don’t give me the time.  Everything is done according to deadlines, and time pressure.  

Q. You don’t work well to deadlines?

A. Not at all.  I cease to function completely when under time pressure.

Q. But you work well without deadlines?

A. Look at all the stuff I’ve accomplished.  All over this website.  Were any of those things accomplished according to deadlines?

Q. I don’t know – were they?

A. Not at all.  They’re all labors of love.  And no deadline has been involved whatsoever.

Q. What about the Tuesday tuneups?

A. I space a lot of them out, too.  Some are composed over the weekend, or late Monday nights.  Some I don’t even get around to until Thursday.   But I’m trying.

Q. Why are you trying?

A. Because I’d like to show the world some consistency.  Some stability.   So I figured I’d set some mild deadlines for myself, and see if I could keep them.

Q. What other deadlines have you set?

A. I’m supposed to come up with a Scripture every Sunday, a Gratitude List every Monday, this tuneup every Tuesday, a speech every Wednesday, a substantial essay-like blog post every Thursday, and a piano video every Friday.

Q. Who says you’re supposed to?

A. I says.

Q. And if someone else says?

A. No can do.

Q. Problem with authority?

A. Hey!   What are you trying to insinuate?   

Q. Does it . . . seem like I am . . . trying to insinuate something?

A. You heard me!   You’re insinuating that I have a problem with authority, aren’t you?

Q. Am I?

A. Of course you are!

Q. But aren’t I . . . only . . . doing my job, sir?

A. Don’t put words in my mouth!   You actually have the audacity to insinuate that I, your sole Creator and Absolute Authority, have a problem with authority?   What authority?  Who’s my authority? 

Q. Well . . . isn’t your own Creator your authority?   I mean  . . . isn’t God your Creator and your Absolute Authority?

A. GOD??  And who, pray tell, would be God’s Creator?  And His own Absolute Authority?

Q. Why do you challenge me with such intellectual matters, sir?

A. Because it’s your job, damn it!   I summoned you to do your job!

Q. Are you going to fire me, sir?

A. I just might!  And if you don’t want to get fired, young man, I suggest you keep your big mouth SHUT!!

The Questioner is silent.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Gratitude List 850

(1) Coffee tastes great this morning.  Once again, it’s nice to be able to get a cup of coffee in my own apartment, having used my very own coffee maker. 

There was a time not too long ago when, if I wanted a morning cup of coffee, I had to wait at the bottom of a church stairway with about forty other people, enduring orders being barked at me by a security guard, being made to feel as though I were a criminal, even though I was a free man with no criminal record.

(2) Somebody left a great Black & Decker coffee maker out by the bin, and my lady friend prepares nice Seattle’s Best coffee every night. 

All I have to do these days if I want a cup of coffee is flip a switch when I get up.  I am truly living the dream.

(3) I think I’ll have my second cup right now.   

There was a time when they denied me a cup of coffee because I didn’t have forty cents, even though I had just played piano in the same building to a group of applauding fans.

(4) I slept in a nice warm bed last night, with the mother of my daughter and the love of my life. 

There was a time when I slept in a tent made of cardboard, worried that the approaching thief would find me, recognize me, and steal everything that I had – with violence.

(5) It’s been almost two years now since Somebody Up There snatched me off of an all-night bus on the S.F.Bay Area Peninsula and set me down in a studio apartment in another State, in a warm-hearted, Art-positive community where people took me seriously from the start.

(6) It used to be that I was widely disrespected, and literally mocked whenever I spoke of my work, or of Music, or of Art, or even of God.  I was thought to be either impudently arrogant or incorrigibly insane if I spoke of anything higher than the widespread assumption that I was nothing more than a worthless piece of homeless scum.  People these days may think I’m an oddball, but it sure is a relief they don’t think that I’m “scum.”

(7) I must never forget that a single 48-hour bus ride and a $200 loan landed me in a community where I was instantly accepted, and nobody doubted my words of truth, nor judged me as a pariah, nor cast me out as a leper.

There was a time when, for the life of me, I could not find anyone who would accept me as I am. 

(8) I have since then wanted to shout to the world that my personality did not change on a single 48-hour bus trip.  And in so many words, I am doing so.  Homelessness is not the problem.  It is the result of the problem.   When the world sees that, it will be a Great Day Indeed.

(9) That man who has not changed still comes across as a ding bat to many, all over the map, hard to follow, maybe even hard to work with, with impulse control issues, and dyslexia, and all kinds of other strange mental processes working against his ability to survive.  But my once and future wife came back to me when she saw this on the Internet, and saw therein the man whom she loved.  The words of the Preacher have never rung more true:

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
–Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

(10) After twelve years of struggling to survive on the San Francisco Bay Area streets, I’ve been able to write a full length musical about Homelessness in America, all because I was finally able to get inside.  Yesterday I received the mix of the first song in my demo for that musical, the demo that  it took me months to save up $950 to record.  I worry that my bumbling personality might be a pain in the ass in the eyes of the very orderly engineer who helped me to produce that song.  But that worry is nothing compared to what I and countless other homeless people had to worry about on the streets, in a hole so deep you’d have to live it to know how hard it was to climb out of it.

We were assumed to be criminals.  We were assumed to be, as the singer states, “litter, scum and slime.”  Please help me to get the truth about Homelessness to the People of America.  Please support me in getting this message across, in the manner I know best — before it is too late.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!