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A Marathon snowbird duplicate bridge amigo replied to yesterday’s “musings of a former homeless man” post at this website:
I dono Sloan, kinda looks like you!
Hope you’re well, gett’in some bridge and glad you’re making a big difference in other’s lives. See you around Dec 1. BASHINSKY FOR PRESIDENT!!!
Jolly Benson replied to my recommendation that he become Mayor of Key West via write-in voting:
Thank you for your kind words the other day, but I must clarify one thing: I have no interest in running for mayor. It just isn’t really appealing to me.
I wrote back:
Hi, Jolly – not wanting the job is the first, second and third most important criteria for someone being drafted as a write-in candidate. It should be the first, second and third criteria in all events.
Years ago, I concluded people who actually want to be elected to public office, are crazy, or liars and crooks, or all three.
Jerry Weinstock, M.D., Psychiatry, wrote that he liked my promoting you as a write-in candidate. With friends like Jerry and me, you don’t need enemies, but it might be you will find after this referendum election that it might not be so easy to mend fences broken during the campaign.
I think Swift, Walsh, the Chamber, etc. may have felt they had it in the bag, and then you and your brother got involved and all of a sudden it wasn’t a slam dunk any longer. They did not know Naja and Arnaud would get Key West the Newspaper, either, which brought a very different slant to the referendum than the Citizen would bring, and has brung.
Swift, Walsh, the Chamber, etc. probably expected me to be my usual pleasant self, but I’m crazy and nobody listens to me.
Didn’t you just love the recent referendum editorial cartoon in the Citizen? Except the boat I been a riding sort of reminds me of the boat the cruise ship lovers in that cartoon are riding – lots of big sharp teeth, plus cannons, missiles, etc.
Nashville J replied to yesterday’s “musings of a homeless man” post:
Thanks for the stories this morning, particularily about your two long time homeless friends you caught up with yesterday.
They both sound like good people and I WONDER! Why is it that government will spend so much money taking care of people who don’t give a damn about anything but themselves. People who take, take, take, take and then demand more because we owe it to them. I believe the world would be a better place if government spent money to take care of people like your two friends from yesterday, put then in their own apartment and gave them an opportunity to just be good people and not have to worry everyday. I’m sure they are good people NOW, the both of them, but somehow I would like my taxes going to help make their lives better instead of people who feel like they are OWED something.
I wrote back:
Hi, J -
The stories I did not tell today were more interesting and were jolting. Heard more of same from the woman again tonight. She is terrified of retaliation, if I publish her stories, so, and despite the angels beating me up in a nap dream today, about not already publishing today what she told me last night, I’m not going ignore her feelings. Key West is becoming a police state, as far as homeless people are concerned. Some cops are acting toward homeless people like Alabama and Mississippi rednecks acted toward civil rights marchers, except the homeless people are not doing anything but being homeless. In the woman’s presence, I told Archangel Michael tonight, I can write about this stuff until hell freezes over, but unless he and his band of angels intervene and get the Nazi cops’ undivided attention, and their masters’ undivided attention, I don’t see anything changing. The woman said she might go to the ACLU some day. I said, if she tells the ACLU the stories she tells me, and it causes them to want to file suit, they might put her in a safe place before they file the lawsuit, but in the end, she will have to testify, and she and I both know that could be very dangerous for her. Darn, do I wish Mayor Cates and the six county commissioners could be in on these conversations I am having with her, in the presence of a witness I know very well. He and the woman are old friends, too.
I could ask the same question about why the government spends so much money on wars and getting ready for wars?
I could ask the same question about why the government gives so much money to foreign countries, when so many Americans are in or close to poverty?
Most homeless people I have known, long-term homeless, have serious psycho-spiritual problems and are pretty much doing what they are able to do. Not really any different from battle shocked veterans, who become homeless, but a different origin for the non-veterans’ battle shock. They all mirror mainstream.
However, there is another view, which I shared with someone else today. It is that people like this woman, and the man I also wrote about today, simply found mainstream to be insane, and their best solution was to leave mainstream and be homeless.
I find mainstream to be insane, but I didn’t like being homeless, either – another version of Hell. I don’t see a solution for my problem, any more than I see a solution for mainstream’s problem with homeless people.
When it’s all said and sone, the war against homelessness will end up like the war against poverty, the war against drugs, the Vietnam war, the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war. A lot of money spent and nothing to show for it, and probably nothing learned from it.
The angels continued beating me up in dreams last night, because of my position on not outing my homeless woman friend. So what I’m going to do is share an email from Paul yesterday, on same topic, and a redacted version of my reply. Paul used to live in Key West, and now lives in the Homestead, Florida area.
Reduced to one sentence, this seems the Mayor’s current thesis: “We will not allow them to sleep on the streets or live in the mangroves because we will have a location to take them 24 hours a day.”
That is, if there’s a problem on lower Duval at one in the afternoon, it can be removed identified 24 hours a day.
No jail, no booking, no lawsuits expense emanating from that ’90s Federal ruling in Miami.
Some people would say the Mayor is well advised on this particular point. On the College Road’s preferred use as an Assisted Living Facility, however, the Four Commissioners’ are right, hands down. The City needs to look south of US 1 for homeless space. OK, it may be County land, but that’s not an insurmountable problem. There’s a lot of unused space, and underutilized buildings on South Stock Island, NEAR BUS STOPS, that are far more suitable for use as a homeless facility than anyplace on College Road.
I don’t think Cates stays up nights inventing stratagems designed to cause your two nice friends gratuitous pain.
There are other people on lower Duval who are also “homeless” but who share absolutely no other personal descriptors with your friends: Aggressive Panhandlers. Little, constantly roaming crews of aggressive panhandlers. They’re out there right now, as you read this, day or night. OK, between 5:30 and 8am, when Duval is shut down, they go someplace else.
So, Downtown business owners complain to the Mayor. They tell him that aggressive panhandlers and unconscious drunks are bad for business. Are they Wrong?
Sloan: When you were homeless, would you ever select Duval Street as a desirable sleeping location? I’m guessing that your two friends, if they do get tipsy, would avoid passing out in a Duval Street doorway like they would avoid contracting the Plague. They would find some place on the island with the absolute lowest public profile they could manage on a zero budget. And they don’t panhandle, period. Right?
Because the Mayor needs to enact an enforceable policy but the problem is so complex in its parts, your two friends may well wind up as ‘collateral damage’ in the unfolding scenario. Not a happy thought.
Back in the Seventies, in Miami, there was a debate over the ‘homeless/indigent question. A truly venerable Miami institution called Camillus House was being considered for augmented public policy support and big Federal grants to increase their downtown presence in Miami. Their main location was recognizable because, three times a day, there were lines around the corner for food service. Picture Star of the Sea on Flagler and multiply it. In those days, in Miami, the homeless problem was both seasonal and growing. Hence, the extensive public discussion in’76-’77.
The position of those then opposing radical improvement to Miami’s homeless accommodation and multi – goal people servicing capacity was this: “If you build it, they will come.” Homeless people in Chicago, Detroit , Pittsburg and New York have long known that you don’t freeze to death in South Florida in the wintertime.
A Key West policy on homelessness may recognize that most homeless people here are not reprobates, but making KW an absolute model of homeless program availability may manufacture more problems for this 4 mile island than it ultimately resolves. Maybe if Key West were in North Dakota , one could ask local people and local government to “give, give, give ’till it hurts”, but not here. It’s just not a geographically practical sentiment.
Homelessness is a hard problem to solve anywhere in America. It’s at least doubly so for warm spots like Key West or Miami.
It’ll never be 1976 again here, for your two friends – or anyone else. Sorry, Sloan.
I wrote back (redacted):
Hi, Paul -
I slept for months in a Fleming Street doorway half a block from lower Duval Street, until 9/11 happened and Key West police went berserk with homeless people, terrorists we all surely were.
Yes, there is a homeless problem on Lower Duval most any time, perhaps around two dozen homeless people scattered about there and a block away, and a few more on Mallory Pier. Most of them are addicts, remain drunk, live to drink. Some panhandle, some do not. You build a 24-hour a day shelter to take them there instead of to jail, when they commit one of the two major felonious homeless crimes of drinking booze in public (while people all around them are drinking booze in public and are not being arrested) and/or of passing out where they drop and sleeping it off. They sleep it off in the 24-hour shelter and wake up dying for a drink, so they wander to where on Stock Island they can try to get their drug of choice, many drug outlets on Stock Island, to avoid what they view as something far worse – the DTs.
They can’t be made to stay in the new shelter, but if it’s a few miles up US 1, say on Rockland Key, that discourages them from going looking for another drink somewhere, since there’s nothing around up there offering another drink. That long way back to Key West might encourage them to go into a nurse-assisted, pharmaceutical drug-assisted detox, with a physician on call, in case a detoxing homeless person goes into cardiac arrest, has a stroke, etc. Then, an ambulance is summoned, and off to the hospital.
Personally, I have no problem with that approach, because I feel all homeless people need to stop drinking, just as I feel lots of mainstream people I know need to stop drinking, and I wish such a facility existed near Key West for both populations. Problem is, though, and the Sheriff, the Guidance Clinic in Marathon, and the De Poo clinic in Key West, all will attest that it’s one thing to detox an addict, and it’s another thing altogether for and addict to stay off booze or whatever is his/her drug of choice. Detoxed homeless addicts leave the jail now and go straight back to their drug of choice, the Sheriff will tell you this. Maybe some of them will go the straight and narrow after being detoxed, if there are support services around, such as Mayor Cates wants to see at his new homeless shelter, wherever he puts it. But even then, there always are those damned statistics, the long-term relapse rate is horrific, as anyone who regularly attends AA or NA meetings will tell you, if they they are honest. And Key West has no place to house these ticking time bombs, which they can afford, after they “graduate” from Mayor Cates’ new shelter.
Looks like a merry-go-round to me in the long run, although short run it might look pretty good, if the homeless addicts are rounded up and put on Mayor Cates’ reservation, wherever that might end up being.
Let me give you two examples of collateral damage, as you describe it, which were told to me yesterday but I was afraid to publish it today, afraid for my homeless friends being retaliated against for sharing it with me. I was beaten up in a nap dream today for not including in today’s post what you will read below. I then went online and found your email, which gave me another chance to tell what I did not tell in today’s post. I heard both stories below from the homeless woman described somewhat in my post today. The first story is about the homeless man mentioned in today’s post, the second story is about the woman.
The homeless man used to spend a lot of time each day in the library, reading. He read the NY Times, Forbes, Barrons, Fortune, and all sorts of other weighty stuff. He read fiction and non-fiction books ongoing. He slept at the library every night. He did that for years, and years. Everyone working at the library knew he slept there. They apparently did not mind. They apparently really liked him. Finally, the Key West police arrested and jailed him for sleeping at the library. After that, he quit using the library to read. Now, he told me yesterday, people who know him go to where they know they can find him and give him books and food, and tell them their stories and he listens to them, sometimes for a long time; one person talks his ear off for an hour and a half every time she sees him.
He probably is the most educated person in Key West, and in the Florida Keys, too. He easily could make anyone I know sound like an idiot on most topics they chose to discuss with him. When I saw him yesterday, we spoke of stuff I cannot talk about to anyone else in Key West, because there is no interest, eyes would glaze over. He will not go to KOTS, nor would you, if you were him, or sane. He will not go to Mayor Cates’ new shelter, if it is built. Take him there, he will leave. He cannot be held there. Take him there again, he will leave. Put him in jail, he will go back to his living style upon release.
Now to the woman.
After I told her my story of being viciously bullied by a deputy sheriff at the county library right after 911, as reported in a recent post, she told me of recently sitting outside a place in Key West where she waits every morning to get a copy of the Key West Citizen to read. 5:30 that morning, sitting on a wall next to the store where she trades daily; she knows the owner, they are friends, but the owner is not there at that time of day. A Key West police cruise comes by, hits the brakes, backs up, the officer asks what she is doing? She says she is waiting for the Citizen to be delivered. He says she can not do that. She says why not? He says because he says so. She says she isn’t doing anything wrong. He says she has to leave. She says, why? He says because he says so. She says she isn’t doing anything wrong, she doesn’t have to leave. He says she is sitting on the wall. She says, so what? The store owner is her friend, she can sit on the wall. He asks if she has written permission to sit on the wall? She says no, verbal permission. He says without a note from the owner saying she can sit on the wall, she has to leave. She says she isn’t doing anything wrong. He calls for back up. Soon, she is surrounded by FOUR Key West police cruisers and their protect and serve officers. Now all of the officers are trying to make her leave, one officer is trying to get her to leave because he is worried what will happen to her if she doesn’t leave. Leave pronto.
Is this story the kind of collateral damage you had in mind, Paul? Is this how you think Mayor Cates’ police should behave at 5:30 a.m.? This woman will never use KOTS. She will never use Mayor Cates’ new shelter. If taken there, she will leave. She is as bright and sharp of tongue as you, Paul. She just might have you for a snack in a debate on this topic, in which you strike me as seriously unrealistic despite your having lived in Key West for years and having hauled homeless people places on city buses for years.
As for the Miami case, aka Pottinger, Key West never has provided, and so far does not indicate it intends to ever provide enough shelter space for its homeless to sleep inside, which was the Pottinger requirement for jailing homeless people who refused to go to a Miami shelter, or be taken to one by the Miami police if they could not get there on their own. Key West has always ignored that part of Pottinger, and, apparently, intends to continue to ignore that part of Pottinger, by not providing enough shelter beds while still harassing, arresting and jailing homeless people for sleeping outside, even when KOTS is full and, later, even when Mayor Cates’ new shelter is full.
Mayor Cates is well aware of what his police are doing, because I made him well aware if it, and he denied it was going on, and I told him not to insult himself, he and everyone involved knew it was going on, and he said homeless were only arrested when they slept where they were not supposed to sleep, and I said, tell me where they can sleep when KOTS is full and I will tell them where that is, and Mayor Cates clammed up.
Not that I don’t sympathize with Mayor Cates and with Key West. Homelessness is a very big problem. Some homeless people are awful to be around, are viewed by other homeless people as dirt bags, punks, terrorists. Unfortunately, such people exist, whether you, Mayor Cates, I, other people, like it or not. Unfortunately, such people will continue to exist. Unfortunately, such people as my two homeless friends will continue to exist. I used to be one of them, in case you have forgotten. I was threatened by Key West police for sleeping outside at night. A terrible crime, worse, it seemed than murder, rape, robbery, the way the Key West police often behaved toward me. While they were bothering me, murder, rape, robbery, they were not doing anything about.
If that’s how Mayor Cates and Key West wish to use their police, that’s their choice. If they wish to build a reservation, or a prison, for homeless people, regardless of who they are, that’s their choice. If they want to spend out the wazoo trying to fix Key West’s homeless problem, that’s their choice. But, is it right for the entire county taxpayer base to pay for Key West’s crusade against homeless people? Of course that’s not right. I dunno, maybe if Mayor Cates gets his way, and the Sheriff and the County Commission agree to help pay for it, they will make the new shelter take in all of the homeless people in the Keys from upper Key Largo down to lower Duval Street in Key West. I suppose that could be done. Imagine law enforcement’s time and transportation costs, day after day, week after week.
You seem to not be reading what I write, Paul. Or you seem not to understand it. Or you seem not to want to understand it. I simply tell it like it is, based on real experience, and based on the law, with which I have training, experience and familiarity. It’s not my call what other people do with what I report and say. What they do or don’t do is their call, and what that might cost in taxpayer dollars is on them. I don’t imagine, though, it matters how much money Key West, with or without the Sheriff and the County Commission’s help, throws at its homeless situation. In the end, Mayor Cates and Key West will be just as unhappy, if not more unhappy, than they now are.
You cannot fix homelessness, anywhere, by throwing money at it. You cannot fix homelessness, anywhere, with police, jails, hospitals, nurses, doctors, mental health counselors, detox programs, shelters and subsidized housing for recovering homeless people, most of whom also are recovering addicts. Nor can you fix homelessness in Key West by sending homeless people on Greyhound to the mainland, because Key West is, as you point out, a warm clime, homeless people cannot freeze to death here in the winter. For every homeless person who leaves Key West, and quite a few of them do leave, another homeless person arrives.
The only way to deal with that is a polar axis shift, and Key West ends up where Greenland now is. That would fix lots of other serious Key West problems, too, which have nothing whatsoever to do with homeless people.
Speaking of polar axis shift, the homeless man told me yesterday of how we first met, mid-December 2000.
We were sitting on one of the benches at St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen, when it was still at the church on Truman Avenue. Between us was a fellow holding forth to whomever would listen, that the reason for the 4 seasons is the earth rotates on its axis. My friend to be told the fellow that was mistaken, for the seasons to happen that way would require axis shifts, which would cause huge earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, etc. My friend to be said how it happens is the planet maintains its same axis and, as it circles the sun, the southern and northern hemispheres move closer and farther from the sun, and that creates the 4 seasons. The man kept arguing it was due to the earth spinning on its axis, which is what causes day and night. After not getting through the man’s thick skull, my friend to be told the man he had explained it to him, and my friend to be shut up. He said he could tell I was listening. After that, he and I started talking about things that probably would not have interested anyone there that day, nor any other day.
I did not tell him yesterday that I had no recollection of what he told that man that day about the 4 seasons, or of sitting at the same table with him and that man. But if he said it happened, it happened. Just talking with him, or with my woman friend, will produce a polar axis shift, if you are listening to what they say, if you can hear them. Maybe that’s why they are homeless? Nobody in mainstream could hear or understand them, so what was the point in being part of mainstream? I often wonder the same thing for myself, but being homeless was no solution as far as I was concerned. It was just another form of Hell, for me, sometimes softened by meeting precious gems like these two remarkable people, whom I never would have met if I had stayed in mainstream.
On same topic, from Ginger of Jupiter, Florida:
Sloan, I just went through 25 years of trying to help an alcoholic or a drunk. She was a Skidmore grad 1972, William and Mary MBA 1975 but she could never slow down on the alcohol or cigarettes. The cigs killed her first ironically with a heart attack but the liver has already disintegrated. She was intelligent, 135 IQ, but she didn’t have the will power to quit. She was beautiful, self indulgent and spoiled as a child. That was the problem. No self discipline. She didn’t deny herself anything. She died this month of a heart attack. She became very nasty, angry, unpleasant, disagreeable the last few years and no one missed her. She had 5 wealthy friends who tried to help her for 20 years and stopped when they realized they were enabling her. Changing one’s lie has to come from within. She drank herself to death not believing it until it suddenly happened. She had a heart attack at 2:00 am going to the fridge to get a beer. Everyone warned her, everyone tried to get her to the hospital or her doctor’s to get checked, get diabetes medication, stop drinking, stop smoking. Nothing worked. It’s over. No more 2 am or 4 am phone calls wanting to talk because she was depressed. She called herself homeless, yet she had a boyfriend who provided a nice home, cooked for her daily, loaned her his car, tried desperately to help her. She lied to everyone. She would buy food and then return it to buy beer. She would call me claiming she was homeless or needed money as her boyfriend hit her [not true], try to file claims for abusive behavior to collect $1500 relocation funds against the man w ho was providing her a home, steal/shoplift from thrift shops and resell the items at flea markets or on the street. I only found out a lot of this behavior after her death as I only heard her side of the story. I was shocked going through her bank accounts provided by her boyfriend as I was handling the funeral arrangements as she had no relatives in the area. Everyone had passed away. She was 63. I finally located the younger brother in Virginia and arranged for the ashes to be sent to him. Her alcoholism and drinking were similar to a drug addict. She didn’t do drugs but I saw the mental deterioration over the years and the effect on her brain. It was frightening and sad.
I think the homeless should be identified, interviewed and find out what they “see” as their problem, and what they think will help them. Do they actually think they can continue to drink or do drugs for the rest of their life? Do they want to change? Do they want to get out of this life style? What do they need to change? What do they see will help them get out of being homeless? I don’t know what I.Q. level we are dealing with or what LEVEL OF REALITY they are dealing with, there are homeless people that have mentally given up. They can’t deal with reality or life’s events. Their brains can’t cope any longer. In Cuba, they put these people to work in the fields, in gardening, replanting, seeing life grow. It was a very successful program. Cuba didn’t have medication so they returned to ancient methods.
How many people do we have living on the fringe? How many mentally ill people from growing up in the ghettos? How many people growing up from drug families or the result of drug mothers or being drug dependent. We have a lot of mentally ill, OFF THE GRID, people in this country. It’s frightening.
I wrote back:
Hi, Ginger -
Simply stated, homelessness can no more be fixed by mainstream, nor by any human method, than you were able to fix your Skidmore grad, or our mutual friend Deedee. The causes are irrelevant. Talking with homeless people about why they are homeless is irrelevant. There is no human fixing of the problem. And, it’s probably going to get worse.
Sloan, frustrating to accept it, but you are right. We can’t always make everything right. We can’t get people to see the error of their ways. Their reality got them into their bad habits, and their reality will keep them there.
Alison was the proof of that. The more I find out about her behavior, the more I realize she was like an addict with the alcohol. She lived with an average guy who provided a nice 3 bedroom home, furnished, yet she lied to me for 8 years that she was abused, didn’t feel comfortable living there and would plead to stay with me, then create havoc and steal from me and sell the clothes, little items to get money for alcohol, just like a drug addict. She could make $20 or $30 an hour begging telling a sad story and she dressed well. I wasted so much time helping her, trying to solve all her problems. These people also become very angry and demanding when you don’t keep helping them. I noticed that with Dee Dee. We all create our own Karma.
You are right. The City could set up a whole little village, little huts for the homeless, food kitchens and what would happen? How many would actually make the effort to get out on their own again if the life is too pleasant in their little homeless village? I have always been surprised how many students in college have no idea what they want to be when they grow up or where they want to go in life, even 5 years out. People should be thinking about their future in their teens or looking into various options or pursuing careers in fields they are interested in. Of course, many people don’t have driving interest or curiosity or have little knowledge about fields of work.
Teens spend so much time on computers and playing games, and apparently one of the most popular college courses is learning how to design video games.
As for my running for President, that is the only public office which ever really interested me. I figure there is no way I could do any worse than any President since I have been alive did. That’s a hell of an indictment, since it is well known that I am crazy. I also figure I would be assassinated within days of my being sworn in, if not sooner. LOL me running for that job. Truly, only an insane person, or a crook or liar, or all three, would actually try to get the job. There is a great deal of difference between being crazy, and being insane. If you don’t believe me, ask Jerry Weinstock, M.D., Psychiatry, who replied to yesterday’s “musings of a former homeless man” post:
“lots of fascinating experiences—–Jerry”
I bet those dumb-ass Norwegians, who gave Barack Obama the Nobel Peace prize, would do the same for an ex-homeless man, who got elected President, if that ex-homeless man was a hawk.