Take it to the Top

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. That depends.

Q. On what?

A. On what day it is and what mood I’m in.

Q. And what day is this?

A. It’s the Day of Reckoning.

Q. Day of Reckoning?

A. Well – perhaps not in the strictest sense.  That day is in God’s hands, not mine.  But in my own limited realm of self, I essentially have reached the place where something has got to happen, or else I just know  – from knowing myself — that I might implode.

Q. What would “imploding” entail?

A. I don’t know, man.  Some kind of total breakdown.  I’ll think of something.

Q. So you secretly *want* to implode?

A. Of course not!

Q. Then how can you avoid it?

A. That’s a good question.  I would say, by coming to terms with my issues of frustration.  Not so much anger issues — that would be true in a different sense, in a different context — but issues of frustration.   Frustration, and — confusion.

Q. Can you elaborate, please?

A. I will try.

Sad man silhouette worried on the beach

In certain sects of Buddhism, we are taught that frustration and confusion are the natural states operative in the human condition.  I resonate within this framework, to a degree.  I find that they work in concert with each other, within me.  My oft-expressed frustration with my professional and creative challenges seems to be proportional to the confusion I have as to how best to actualize my artistic goals.   Take this musical, for example, Eden in Babylon.

There are basically two ways I could go about this.  One way would be to complete my package, including a vocal score, demo of three songs with instrumentation and vocals, and complete libretto — or musical script — and submit the package to theatre companies interested in producing original musicals.  I have a few companies in mind, several of which include people with whom I’ve worked in the past, people who respect me enough that they will probably prioritize taking a look at my work.    This way of going about it would cost me considerably less money than the second way.

Q. What’s the second way?

A. I was just getting to that.  It involves coming up with a budget of about $50,000 and self-producing the show.

Q. Roughly speaking, how would that $50,000 be spent?

A. First off, I would find a theatre of sufficient size to accommodate a 27-member cast and small orchestra, as well as (perhaps more importantly) a moderately large audience.  Let’s say, about a 400-seat house.   Included in the budget would be the rental rates for a run of, say, twelve performances — ten evenings, and two matinees.  

Q. What next?

A. Hire the production staff.  I would need to pay a technical director, a stage manager, an ASM, a musical director, a rehearsal accompanist, perhaps a separate conductor and/or vocal director, a choreographer, a lighting designer, a set designer, a costumer, a props master, and a few other stage hands and gophers.  Oh – and a director.

Q. And then?

A. Auditions.  Although there would probably only be a mild stipend available for most of the Actors, the cast quality would be strengthened if we included at least three Equity Actors, hopefully reputable, popular Actors and Actresses.   In fact, I would even call people I know, people with whom I have worked in the past, to check their availability, if need be.

Q. So the Actors you have in mind would need to be available during the period when the theater has been rented?

A. Yes.  During the run.  I might even try to get the run to coincide with the prior availability of somebody whom I want very badly — for example, the main character, Winston Greene.   

Q. Any ideas who can do that?

A. The ideas are brewing, but not yet solidified.  We need a dynamic rock tenor capable of coming across like a 23-year old man.  And there are certain other requirements.   Could be a challenge.  But he’s out there somewhere.   

Q. What about the other main characters?

A. I have two people in mind for two of the supporting female roles, but nobody specifically lined up for the female lead, Taura.  Both the male and female leads will probably need to be AEA, along with the male antagonist: Benzo Diablo.

Q.Benzo Diablo?

A. It’s a play on words.  If you’ve ever taken a valium, you probably know what I mean.

Q. Now why would I ever do a thing like that?

A. I don’t know – that’s up to you.

Q. Well, this is mounting up monetarily.  But don’t you think $50,000 is a little steep?

A. Not at all.  We need props and set pieces.   I may need to hire a Master Carpenter.   Lights might be provided with the theatre itself, but there will also be technical effects.  It adds up.  I can do it on $50,000 — and do it well.

Q. What will be your own role in the production?

A. As the Author, it stands to reason I should be somewhat detached.   I would want my presence felt, but not in such a way as might interfere.  Moreover, I would like to come see the show, and not to have to be involved with performances. Perhaps I would be the Accompanist, Vocal Director (but not conductor) or even the Artistic Director.  Of the three, Vocal Director is my forte.   But any one of those positions would enable me to actually come and see the show on Opening Night, perhaps even with a date.

Q. Aren’t you dreaming?

A. I am indeed.  But what does the Bible say?

Q. I don’t know — what does it say?

A. It says:

And your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.
Joel 2:28

 

Q. Are you an old man, Andy?

A. Well, I sure ain’t gettin’ any younger.  I might be putting a little wear and tear on the old running shoes, but sometimes I feel like the only race I’m running is the race against against Alzheimer’s trying to get this show on the road.

Q. Do I detect a wee bit of impatience?

A. What you are detecting is Awareness of Mortality!

Q. And when you were younger?

A. I saw visions.   This is one of them.  My dream is for others to see it, too.

Q. But wouldn’t the first way be easier?

A. Not necessarily.   For one thing, it’s proven more difficult to get singers interested in helping me make a demo for a show that no one knows will ever be produced, than it naturally would be for one that had a definite production schedule.  In fact, with definite production dates, after holding auditions, I might not even bother with the demo.  Not to mention, there would be a lot of compromise in taking the less expensive route.  Compromise – and working intensively, sometimes intimately, with others.  Multiple conflicts of interest, and strange bedfellows abounding.

Q. But wouldn’t $50,000 be a considerable chunk of change?  I mean, how likely is it that you, Andy Pope, who has been homeless throughout most of the 21st Century, will actually come up with $50,000?

A. Oh, it’s very likely indeed.  For I have taken this matter to a spiritual level – not only to my pastor and close spiritual confidantes, but all the way to the Top!

Q. To the Top!?

A. You heard me.

Q. Really?  The Top?!?

A. Is there an echo in here?

Q. But aren’t you being a bit — grandiose?

A. Grand? Yes.  Grandiose?  Perhaps.   Delusional, however, as in “delusions of grandeur” — no way, buddy boy!  This type of grandeur is written in the Stars.

Q. You seem a shade more — confident than usual.   What about confusion?  What about — frustration?

A. Very good questions indeed.   These truths, my friend, are for me to know – and for you to find out.

TO BE CONTINUED

Make Haste Slowly

Just a brief update to fill you in on my progress as to the new composing project I have undertaken.  (The gist of the project is described in this entry.)

I’ve succeeded in interweaving two of the pertinent themes in such a way as appears to hold promise.  Should you choose to indulge me, you might recognize a few of these strains from my Berkeley Page.  Hopefully, however, you’ll find that they are much evolved since you tuned in last.  In general, the piece is very very jazzy compared to any of its previous components.

I mentioned that this composing project is one of three current projects, along with the writings I’ve been producing for Street Spirit, and the demo and revision of my musical, Eden in Babylon.   As far as Street Spirit is concerned, I turned in four new pieces to the publisher, but have not yet heard back.  Of course, I don’t know if any will be accepted, but I got the feeling earlier we were headed toward a possible monthly thing.   He published the first of my articles in August, and three in September.  So of course, I’m hoping he will publish two or three this month.  The paper will be issued at around the 10th of this month.  So I’ll let you know by then.

On the demo, I found the two male singers I woulds need, in addition to myself.  So, in addition to Erika, the new Director of Music at my church, I only need one more female singer.  So it looks like things are slowly coming together in that area as well.  We’re shooting for the week before Thanksgiving vacation.

Make-haste-slowly.__quotes-by-Polish-Proverb-98The revision itself is another matter.  I lump it in with the demo as part of the same project, which is the ongoing thrust to move Eden in Babylon toward production.  When I rewrote the lyrics to Midnight Screams, I realized that I needed to make other subtle changes — in addition to some fairly major changes – at other spots in the recently completed script.  So I’m moving on that as well.  But in all these things, considering my sometime tendency to push myself a bit too hard, I am evoking the motto of the Emperor Augustus: “Make Haste Slowly.”

Earlier, it seemed I flew just a bit too close to the sun.  So, it seems prudent to take things a little slower —  but steady all the same.

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

Frequent Flyer

This version of my song “Bone of My Bones” is far superior to whatever I posted the other day.   (Incidentally, it’s Version 18-Y, for whoever’s counting.)

It still isn’t quite “complete” yet  — at least not in terms of its capacity to replicate what I’ve got going on in my head.  But is it ever complete?   I don’t think so!

In any case, as of this morning, I’ve moved on to new arrangement of the song Bubbles Taboo, intended to segue into Bones as part of the larger work described in this entry.   It’s all rolling along so sweetly that, to be honest with you, I’m having a hard time stopping all the composing in order to attend to the more mundane functions of modern life.

A lot of this newfound enthusiasm for composing is based on my having become more endeared to the software itself.  Somehow, the challenge of getting all these computer commands to resemble what’s going on in my head has begun to fascinate me, rather than intimidate me.  It’s also helping with a second aspect of my creative-artistic trip these days.  It’s helping me to enjoy the process of notating the vocal score to Eden in Babylon.   

Note how I didn’t say “Piano-Vocal Score.”  I’ve lowered my expectations, and have taken to writing out only a vocal score, without the piano accompaniment.  This will still be some representation of the music, and it might even be enough to get a producer interested in the show.   In any case, it’s forward motion.

I also made it to Jazz Choir finally, and enjoyed singing the interesting music of Dan Bukvich in a context consisting mostly of University students, but also including members of the community, several of whom were my age or older.  I saw Erika there, the new Director of Music at my church, and she again said she’d be happy to sing on the Eden in Babylon demo.  Maybe she knows some other Jazz Choir members who might be interested.  Perhaps I won’t even have to pay them — although frankly, the idea of not being able to do so is irksome to me.   Again, if anybody wants to donate, that’s where the first money will go — to pay singers and musicians something, even if it’s not what they’re actually worth.   

But not to get off on all that.  I’ve been snagged on this demo thing, mostly in a depressed or discouraged state, for over five months now.  It really is time for this thing to pick up steam again.  But whether it does or not, there’s a third aspect to my “trip” these days, and I can’t overlook the fact that it’s the aspect that’s been getting me some recognition lately, even though I didn’t really do anything consciously to attract it. 

It’s all the writing I’m doing on the Homeless Experience.  People are tuning into it.  After A New Pair of Glasses was published in Street Spirit in August, I had three more pieces published in September.   Then I offered to come up with three more by Friday, and Terry Messman the publisher asked me to nudge him when they were done.   It’s beginning to look as though I’m becoming a regular columnist all of a sudden.  This is something I never dreamed would happen.

So, between the three, you might see a few more postings from me than usual.  There will probably be more for me to report here than ever before.   I’ll try to keep them short.  But be advised that as far as WordPress is concerned, you’re going to be dealing with a “frequent flyer” until further notice.  

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

 

My Pitch – Reiterated

Re-posted from the original ‘pitch’ of August 15th of this year.   Not one word has been changed.  Unfortunately, not much of anything else has changed either — yet.  

I have been flagrantly panhandling online for far too long for the sake of the advancement of my project.  I suck at marketing, sales, and advertising.  In fact, all those departments annoy the living daylights out of me.  I rock at playwriting, singing, playing the piano, writing music, musical direction, and homeless rights activism.  Blogging probably falls somewhere in the middle.

online-business-to-start-nowIt has occurred to me that if people perhaps knew why I’ve been asking for money, and where the money would be going, it might help me to get some donations from sympathetic people who can afford to do so.  So here goes.

I’m a person who has written a musical, and I would very much like to see this musical produced.  The musical paints a picture of the effects of homelessness on the youth of today’s America.  It is a very positive, upbeat show with an extremely encouraging, happy ending.  I have written the entire script, all of the music, and all of the lyrics.

But there I stop.  It will not be possible to move further toward the production of this musical without getting the kind of green stuff that doesn’t grow on trees.  This stuff is not known to come wafting through the window.  So I need to make a pitch.

There are numerous hurdles I need to surmount before anyone is going to take a look at this show — that is, anyone having the power to produce it.  First and foremost, I need to make an adequate demo recording of three or four of the songs, with real singers singing with their real voices, rendering the melodies and harmonies I have so meticulously created in the musical score that I have painstakingly composed, over a number of years, as I have been passionately absorbed in this project.

Talking around campus, and especially at the local School of Music, I get the feeling there are competent singers who will get behind me.  But like all singers, they will need to be paid.  My songs are catchy, urban, progressive show tunes, Broadway-influenced, and according to many, Broadway-bound.   However, it’s not the kind of stuff that even the quickest of studies are going to be able to pull off with minimal rehearsal.   No singer worth their salt is going to want to lend their voice to this endeavor without at least two or three rehearsals, prior to recording.  The very least I feel I should pay such a singer would be $125 for the whole shot.   I also need five singers to pull this off.  Even some of those five voices will be doubled or tripled, in order to replicate the chorus sections of the musical numbers that I have scored.

I am a serious composer who emphasized in Music Theory and Composition at a major Conservatory, and I hung out with my composition mentor, Dr. Stan Beckler, till shortly before the day he died.  My music draws from folk, classic rock, hip-hop and rap as well as from traditional comic light opera, but by no means does it entail your typical, tired old  1-4-5 progressions.  I have taken great pains to honor the genre of my youth, and bring fresh life and vigor to my favorite Performing Arts Form.  So basically, I need $625 to get started with this leg of the project, and create a decent demo of at least three songs.

I am technically situated so that I can record the singing over the instrumental tracks you hear on this page, eliminating doubled melody lines when necessary, to emphasize the live vocals.  This will sound a lot more authentic than one might think, and any irksome complaints regarding the “canned” use of the “electronic” sounds wll be instantly jettisoned, once my project is heard.   If I had the money to hire musicians and schedule studio time, I would probably go that route instead.  But I don’t have the money, and it would take quite a bit more rehearsal time — so this is the starting point that I propose.

It has not been easy to write these words tonight, much less paste them in three different spots on this web site, and blast them all across the Internet, to the expected ridicule of those who don’t believe me.   But because I know what I am doing — musically, artistically, and theatrically — in the realm of Musical Theatre where most of my lifelong experience lies, I can confidently tell you that I will back up my claims with action — as soon as I have the bucks to make it happen.

powerofprotestWe can take it from there.  I am not above self-producing the show locally, and directing it myself.  But all these moves will require money, which a mere church musician in between jobs on a fixed monthly income cannot possibly conjure.  Rather, if I could conjure up that kind of capital, I’d neither have the time nor the energy to pursue my passion, and the dream of my lifetime will land in my grave.   Daylight’s burning.  I’m in my sixties already.  Let’s get a move on.  Let’s get this show on the road.

If you’ve been reading this blog, and listening to my music, and reading my posts about the Homeless Phenomenon in America, then get the word out to those who have the power — assuming you don’t have the power yourself.

And power to the people.  Power to all the people!  Power to the Homeless People of the United States of America.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps.

Despair

I’ve never felt a depression anywhere near this deep before.   The depression keeps me from being able to do simple things in life.  Wash the dishes.  Take out the trash.  Make my bed.  Wash my clothes.  

It just doesn’t seem that there’s any way out of it.  I hesitate to write, to even post, because it consumes me so entirely.

It used to be, there was a reason to be depressed.  Now it’s just — constantly happening.  I keep telling myself that maybe if something changes for the better, I will feel better, and I can start anew once again.  Or I tell myself, I will just pick up where I left off, before I got so sidetracked.  But nothing works.  Nothing helps.  

I used to be able to rely on this person, this Andy, who was always motivated, who always gritted his teeth and faced whatever adversity there was, and endured it.

Now I can’t rely on him anymore.  He’s missing, he’s vacant, he’s gone astray – he doesn’t know where he is.  He can’t do the things he used to do, and enjoy doing them.

I’ve been writing music for several days.  But I don’t like the music.  It’s lousy.  I don’t enjoy it.  I don’t want to be writing it anymore.

I wrote this musical – but – how easily it came to appear to me to be useless.  I can’t even put a demo together; I can’t find singers; I should not even try any more.  All it does is increase the depression.

I just feel like – God blessed me so hugely in bringing me here, bringing me off the streets. Then I somehow transformed the blessing into a curse.  It used to be the other way around, and it should be.  I used to be able to transform curses into blessings.  That was my strength.

I just don’t know what to do with myself anymore.  I pray – but I feel so disconnected from God.  I just can’t see a light at the end of this tunnel.  It just goes on and on, winding in a way that I never can tell what’s ahead.  All I know is what is ahead — is total darkness — and I am always, always in despair.   

Use Fire

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. Yes.  It took me a while, but I figured it out.

Q. So why have you summoned me?

A. Because I am miserable.

Q. Why are you miserable?

A. What a stupid question.  Isn’t it obvious?

Q. I don’t know.  Is it?

A. Of course it is!  I can’t seem to get back to where I was before March 4th of this year.  Try as I may, everything I do turns to dirt.

Q. What happened on March 4th?

A. I finished the script to my musical, Eden in Babylon.  

Q. Isn’t that a good thing?  

A. In and of itself, yes — a very good thing.  I had been blocked up for over three years, over something stupid.   Something a friend of mine did — or a former friend — or someone whom I thought was a friend.   It’s hard to explain, but once I got past the block, I finished the script with a vengeance.

Q. A vengeance?  Against whom?

A. Against the guy I just told you about — the guy whom I thought was my friend — who ripped it apart – ripped it to shreds, assassinating my character in the process.  I finished it, not despite his scathing condemnation — but because of it.  I wanted to show him what I was made of.  And then —

Q. And then?  

A. I dedicated the musical to him.

Q. (trying not to laugh) How masochistic can you possibly be?

A. It wasn’t masochism!  More like — manipulation.  I thought that, somehow, if I dedicated the script to him, it would soften his heart toward me.   He would relax about it all, and then sit down with a glass of wine on a Sunday evening, and read the script more closely, with caring, savoring every word.  He would be willing to believe that it just might be a good thing after all — since I had (after all) dedicated it to his very self.  Finally, with an approving smile on his face, he would at last come to appreciate what I was trying to do with it — before just assaulting my integrity and writing me off, along with my hard-earned labor of love, as though I were just — just — scum.  

Q. Scum?

scumbagA. You heard me — scum!   I keep thinking about all these rich people I went to high school with.  They think I’m scum because I wound up on the streets — or maybe I was scum beforehand, because my parents were poor.  I don’t know — if I hadn’t have been a piano player, they’d have never given me the time of day.  And now, even with the piano playing, it’s not powerful enough to negate that image — the image of the guy begging for change on the streets — even though I never really begged, but — 

Q. But wait – what does it matter what they think?

A. What do you mean, what does it matter?  Of course it matters!  I’m trying to produce a musical — not just trying to be some random guy who’s into not caring what anybody thinks of him, as though that’s what he needs to maintain his mental health, or some other boring, irrelevant proposition.  Of course I care what people think.  I need an audience — I want them to think well of me, or at least — of my work.  

Q. But what does it matter what he thinks?

A. Lifelong friend?  Theatre Arts professor – reputable?   Certainly, his opinion counts.

Q. But does it count enough for you to have let it condemn you?  Snag you for three years?  And then want to dedicate the show to him?   Have you even heard from him since you did so?

A. No — he won’t talk to me.   He hasn’t talked to me since shortly after he condemned me.

Q. Why would that be?

A. I guess because — well — I sort of accused him of not having carefully read the script.  I said something snide, like – maybe he gave me twenty-five minutes at the most on a busy day, feeling pressured.  I might have pressured him.  I was stuck at page 58 — eager to get feedback, to be encouraged . . .  to move forward . . .

Q. Wait wait — you think he didn’t read the script very carefully?

A. No – not at all.  He might not even have read any of it.  His comments were all the kinds of things he could have said had he only skimmed it briefly.  All except for the big one, where he insinuated that I was some kind of over-the-top political activist, or grandiose sociopath, or whatever it he perceived my main character to be.

Q. Now Andy — let’s get down to it.  Do you think that he even read your script?

A. No, I do not.  He did not read the script.

Q. Then wouldn’t that explain his silence toward you?

A. How so?

Q. Could it not be that he simply is shying away from you because he doesn’t want to fess up to the fact that he dissed you so flagrantly?

A. Cowardice.  It’s occurred to me.  But I am not one to complain about cowardice.  I myself am just about the wimpiest bloke on the block.  I struggle to promote myself; I faint at the slightest trace of adversity.  I can’t even get a gig playing the piano anymore, I’m so timid about letting them know my interest.   I’m just not courageous, like I used to be.  

Q. Like you used to be?  When?

A. When I first decided to live outdoors – to be homeless by choice — in Berkeley, in April of 2011, six years ago.  I was brave then.  I spoke my mind.  I was inspired.  I didn’t just cave in to the Mainstream.   

Q. And you have been “caving in to the Mainstream” lately?

A. Yes.  I’m becoming passive, like most people in the Mainstream.  I’m starting to just “go with the flow” — even if the flow is decidedly downstream.  I do nothing to attack or challenge my circumstances.  I don’t fight like I used to.  I just – shrug my shoulders, and let it all happen, even as I descend deeper and deeper into hell.

Q. And this descent all began on March 4th?

A. Yes.  I had reached the highest height.  I had finally finished Eden in Babylon – or, a first rough draft, at the very least — after all those years of blockage and despair, feeling mocked by friends and family, and by prospective producers everywhere — I had reached the pinnacle —

Q. And then you fell down?

A. I fell off.  I plummeted down to the dunes.  I sank in the quicksand.   I still sink, ever lower, even to the heart of the earth.

if_all_else_fails____by_picolo_kun-d9p190aQ. Do you know the story of Icarus?

A. I do.  I even wrote a song about him, years ago.

Q. Have you heard of the Icarus Project?

A. I have.  I believe I receive their newsletter.  I pay them no mind though.  They all seem crazy to me.

Q. But don’t they have something in common with you?

A. Well – looking into them a bit more closely, they do appear to be more-or-less like myself.  They’re activists.  They would like to see transformative change in society.  Many are Artists.   Many have Bipolar Disorder.  

Q. Do you have Bipolar Disorder?

A. Ha!  They say that I do.

Q. Do you believe them?

A. When I’m not too busy being offended by them, yes, I do find a shred of truth in their undying diagnoses and psychobabble.

Q. Then why not revisit the Icarus Project?  

A. You bore me.  I would have liked your suggestion to have more to do with my regaining the courage I lack.  The courage with which I once gave up everything I had — and chose to be homeless in Berkeley.

Q. Will you regain courage by returning to the streets of Berkeley?

A. Probably not.  Especially since I’d be escaping all the things I’m afraid of at Friendship Square.

Q. What are you really afraid of, Andy?

Short pause.

A. Myself.  I’m afraid of — my own self.  Afraid of where my mind might take me.  Indeed, where it has already taken me.  Whenever I am not consumed in a creation about which I am passionate, my mind takes me to deeper forms of darkness than I’d thought imaginable.   It’s the difference between day and night with me.   Day — and night.

Q. And now?

A. Deepest, darkest night.  It’s unfathomable — I can scarcely even see where I’m going.  It pains me.   For seven months, from when I first moved here at the end of July, till the beginning of March, I was shining as bright as the day.   Since then – my God, it’s been almost six months now — it has been nothing but the dreaded, dead of night.

Q. When will it end?

A. Will it ever?

Q, Won’t it?

A. I suppose a new day will dawn.

Q. Doesn’t it always?

A. Has so far.  But all my efforts at seeing the light of day have failed me.

Q. And when all else fails?

Long pause.

A. Use fire.  Flame the fan of the sun yet to rise.  Light the heart of the night with fire.

Use Fire!

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

I Want to Be Homeless

I have these two friends I’ll call Randy and Roger.  Both of them are what I would call “rich.”  Neither of them would call themselves “rich.”  Most people would call them “rich.”  But they live in these insular, wealthy worlds in which everybody with whom they contact would be at least considered “upper middle class.”  Occasionally, they fish out a poor person and help that person out, just to assuage their guilty consciences.  But neither of them will ever do the one thing that a poor person needs the most, which is to offer that person respect.

Neither Randy nor Roger ever listens to me.  They both constantly lecture me.  If either of them does, on rare occasion, appear to be listening, they show no confidence that the viewpoint I am espousing might be valid.  Instead, they sort of look blank for a moment or two, and then go on lecturing me.  I have known Randy for almost fifty years now, and Roger for twenty years.  But there was a time when the three of us were all in the same boat.  We were all what I would now call “rich,” and what in those days we might have referred to as “upper middle class” – or at least “middle class.”  For me to be making $50,000 a year and have $13,000 saved up in an IRA and a market rate savings account definitely does not spell “poor.”

Now I’m getting around to something.  A while back, when I was frustrated that I couldn’t find singers for my project who would work for free, I sent a joint email to Randy and Roger, asking them if they could help.  Roger replied by suggesting I was having an “episode.”  Randy did not reply, but the next time I spoke with him, he insisted I should be “taking my meds.”  I am searching for my email in my Sent Folder now, among myriad other emails addressed to one or the other of these guys, and I can’t find it.  I’ll be sure to show you it once I do, but I can assure you there was nothing in the email that a reasonable person would hold to be an indication of a mental health crisis.

Not to mention, taking my “meds” isn’t going to help me find the singers I need for the project.

KJV_Luke_16-26One of the points I often stress (that neither Randy nor Roger will listen to) is that it is unfair to those of us in the poorer socio-economic classes to be told that our abject poverty is the result of, or indicative of, a “mental health condition.”  Granted, we all have our mental health issues.  But there have been so many times when I have had a problem that could simply have been solved by money, and that a rich friend of mine, unwilling to let go of their money on my behalf, attributed to my “mental health disorder.”

Another thing I’ve noticed about these guys is that neither of them has a “concept” of respect.  I once very respectfully asked Roger to stop introducing me to people as “bipolar.”  I told him that this is a personal matter, and that I had mentioned my alleged mental-health diagnosis to him, because was a trusted friend.  

So – what do you think Roger did?  Nothing at all, in terms of actually honoring my request.  He continued the same pattern, introducing me as “bipolar” to every person with whom we mutually came into contact.  One day he sent me a copy of an email he sent to a Choir director, trying to get me a job as an accompanist, which contained the words: “Andy does have bipolar disorder, but he still can be trusted.”  Did I get that job?  Of course not!  On to the next applicant.

Similarly, when I asked Randy to kindly leave all talk about psychiatric medications I should be taking to my doctor. my therapist, and I, nothing at all changed. Instead, he ramped into high gear, and indulged such talk even more so.  Why?  Well, this is my point:

People in the higher socio-economic classes who feel inwardly guilty over the plight of those less privileged than they will invariably attribute functions of abject poverty to those of anything other than abject poverty in order to avoid the guilt they would have to face if they saw these factors for what they are.

The past few days, I have been so angry at both of these old friends of mine, it has really weighed me down.  Because I’m a Christian, I know I have to forgive these guys.  But how do you “forgive” somebody whose behavior never changes?  They seem to act as though there is nothing about themselves that should ever change.  Their money entitles them to all kind of behavior that, if it were me, I would certainly want to take a look at, if somebody pointed it out to me.  

Something tells me that I’m supposed to just let go of the whole idea, but it irks me that they both claim to like my music so much, and yet when it comes down to my financial need to produce this demo, not only will neither of them budge an inch to help me, but they have to attribute my legitimate request for help to some kind of “mental health crisis” or “episode’ on my part.  It just seems that if they were really my friends, they wouldn’t need to belittle me like that.  So I’m bipolar.  So what?  They’re not my damned psychiatrists, for God’s sake.

Here’s the thing about my two old friends that gets me the most: Randy and Roger have never met each other.  Yet they live three blocks apart.    To me, that’s just insane.  How can they possibly be two of my closest friends, and live so close to each other, and over a twenty year period of time never once think it a good idea to meet?   It just makes me sick to think I ever lived the life I once lived.  Being poor isn’t a whole lot more fun than being homeless.  In fact, being homeless was a lot more fun!  If things don’t get better for me financially, if I can’t find another job around here, I think I’ll just pack up and go back to Berkeley and live outdoors.   Why not?

Homeless-ManHere at Friendship Square, I am forced to hang around every felon, ex-con, tweaker and sex offender that my landlord sees fit to rent to.  I’m not like that.  I’m an Artist.  I want to write.  I want my space.  But they won’t give me my space.  Not anymore.  In a little over a year’s time, I somehow, though all I wanted was space, wound up knowing everybody in all forty apartments.  

So much for all those prayers I thought had been answered.  In the eyes of this small, narrow-minded Northern Idaho community, I am no different than any of the other people hiding out on Friendship Square.  If this town that calls itself the “Heart of the Arts” truly had any heart for the Arts, they’d have embraced me long ago.  Instead they branded me.  I’m unemployed.  I’m low life.  Will I ever get a job again?  I should never have quit that church job!  At least it gave me an identity.  I could say I was working.  I wasn’t just a bum.

I’m tired of it.  I want to move forward with my project.  Since I left my job in mid-April, I’ve spent the latter half of each month starving.  Starving!!  Would I be starving on the streets of Berkeley?   Hell no!  In Berkeley, there are thirty-five free meals a week — many of them with unlimited free refills of Pete’s coffee.  And not only that – but in Berkeley, there is inspiration.

I keep trying to pretend that moving indoors was a good thing for me — but it’s not in my blood.   I’m tired of not being able to move forward with my project.  I’m tired of rich people dismissing my need for financial help as some kind of “mental health issue.”  I’m tired of waiting.  I’m tired of having to kiss up to rich guys to make money I need — either for the project — or just to go on living.  I’m sixty-four years old.  I brought up a daughter and a stepdaughter – halfway anyway, or at least I tried.  I’m tired.  I’m old.  I’m tired.  I’m old.  Rich people have everything.  I’m sick of it.

Three more days till I get my pay.  I want to just hit the road.  I want to be me.  I’m tired of living in a box.  I want to be homeless.  I want to be free.   

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