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Boo, hoo, according to this issue of Key West the Newspaper –www.thebluepaper. com – my two submissions in the Key West embedded in sidewalk poetry contest did not make it to the finals:
Again, my submissions:
where people accused
of being weirdos some place else
can come mingle with real weirdos!
Only fools rush in
whe where angels fear to tread,
But if there were no fools,
Who’d lead the angels?
The first thing that popped into my mind after seeing my poems did not make it to the finals was, maybe that’s a sign my time in Key West is winding down, a sign of my moving into something else altogether. Then, I bonked myself on the head, told myself, “You dumb shit, you know the angels ain’t gonna let you let out of living in a place where even real weirdos think you are weird!”
There is a serious kick-ass cruise ship poop-dumping article at the top of today’s issue of The Blue Paper, YES or NO?, just beneath the newest award-winning sarcasm by cartoonist and co-publisher Arnaud Girard. If today’s cartoon and article don’t put the cruise ship lovers into cardiac arrest, then they don’t have hearts. Same for some other folks, who are supposed to look out for the environment, but don’t.
I submitted this comment, still waiting moderation at this moment in time:
Bravo! Did you get your Kevlar body suits yet? So much for NOAA being reliable in this conflagration. The referendum passes, the city asks the Corp to do the study, NOAA rolls over and plays dead, issues the permit. Overly simplified, but not entirely far-fetched. Head if off at the pass, vote NO. Take NOAA and the Corps out of it altogether.
I raised the dumping in 2007 and 2009, when I ran for mayor. Nobody seems to believe me. Or, nobody seemed to want to deal with it. Reef Relief knew about it. I have to think Last Stand knew about it. I have to think the EPA and Congress knew about it. I have to think the mayor and city commissioners knew about it. How could they not know? How could they not know now?
Head them all off at the pass. Vote NO.
Quite a bit more interesting reading in the Blue Paper today, and a modified version one of my recent homeless articles:
This gemstone is in the Key West Citizen today:
Lack of compassion
for the homeless
With those Key West citizens who voice the view that our homeless are a shiftless lot of stab-happy freeloaders, I’d like to share my own experience as a day supervisor at KOTS. A number of these “ne’er do-wells” volunteer each morning to clean the place thoroughly. Though they make it spic and span in short order, that’s when I have the chance hear their stories.
Perhaps you may have wondered what happened to the people who lost their jobs, homes, insurance and supportive loved ones during the nation’s financial meltdown of the past five years. Well, they’re here nights at Key West’s homeless shelter. And some of them have physical conditions that can’t be treated by a “free” visit to the emergency room. Or maybe you thought that “deinstitutionalized” patients of the now-shuttered mental health facilities simply melted away. No, they’re at KOTS, too. They did not choose to be homeless, and MOST certainly did not earn the epithets you sling at them.
I’m frankly surprised how some of them are actually able to find enough work to fund “kots” of their own and to put their lives back together. Your intolerance and lack of compassion are duly noted and unlikely to change, but do be grateful that your home and income are secure. Being homeless, even in Key West, ain’t no sunshine.
I spent last evening socializing in a friend’s home in the Trumbo affordable housing project. He is on disability and is a convicted felon who did time in a federal penitentiary, because he would not serve in Vietnam. Also present was a Cuban refugee, who came to America over 30 years ago, and the homeless woman mentioned in yesterday’s and day before yesterday’s posts. It was the most fun social outing I had in Key West since arriving here penniless in mid-December 2000.
Besides the fun conversation, which, except for what comes next, had nothing to do with any of this shit I am involved in, the homeless woman reeled off one after another actually hilarious, if you have a black sense of humor, stories of Key West police telling her she had to do this, or she could not do that, because the police said so, having zip, nada, zero, to do with that the law said so. The Cuban fellow was reminded of living in Cuba. The disabled fellow, our host, was reminded of living in a federal penitentiary. I was reminded of living on a locked ward with Nurse Rachet. It was side-splitting hilarious.
As was watching the Cuban fellow try to outwit the convicted felon at chess. When he was in the federal prison, all he did was play chess. Took on all comers. Never lost a game in three years. All he ever wanted to do was play chess and draw mandalas, of which their are hundreds, perhaps thousands, in his apartment. I have a couple. Little doubt, at some point in time he was a high lama.
He provides a place for the homeless woman to lay down her head at night, after recently was on her bicycle and was run into by another bicyclist and ended up with a broken hip and had surgery in the hospital and was kept there ten days during rehab walking in the corridors, which she said she could have done outside the hospital, if she had been released, and was discharged with a $70,000-bill she never will be able to pay.
She told of her first heart attack, and being taken to Miami and having open heart surgery, the put a stent directly into her heart, and she never got a bill from the hospital, but eventually, a collection agency got her cell phone number and started harassing her, and finally she told one of the callers that had no money, she was homeless, and if they kept calling her she would sue them for harassment, and the calls stopped coming. I said maybe it was the threat of the lawsuit, but maybe it was finding out she was homeless, that caused them to stop bothering her.
She said, what, she was supposed to give them her Platinum credit card, to pay the bill when she left the hospital? She wasn’t always homeless; she used to work and live inside, but misfortunes came, and she kept struggling to get back inside, some of which I reported in previous articles, but it didn’t work out and now she is homeless and it does not seem she will ever not be homeless, absent something beyond her control happening.
I told them a credit card story of my own, which also was about how I became homeless. I said it was a pretty long story, if they wanted to hear it. Yes, tell it.
It started out in August 1998, when I, and two of my best men friends at that time, one of them had worked for my father’s company, all three of us dreamt of my having an older half brother who was half white and half black, his mother was the daughter of the black servants of my father’s parents. I sat on that news until December 1999, when I felt moved by the angels to write to my father and tell him what my two friends and I had dreamt. I said if I had such an older brother, that did not bother me, but if he existed, I would like to meet him, if my father knew where he was.
I wrote to my father, because we were not on face-to-face terms, but sometimes I wrote to him, and he would write back.
He did not write back. The annual Christmas gift of common stock he gave to his children for Christmas did not arrive. I said to myself, and to my then wife, “Oh, well.” It was not unexpected, but I was already struggling financially and that common stock not coming that year did not bode well for us living inside much longer.
Well, next thing, I felt moved by the angels to legally change my name from Sloan Young Bashinsky, Jr., to Sloan Young. And my wife felt similarly moved to legally change her name to Cathy Young. Her name had been Patti something, but I was already calling her Cathy, for some reason. So, we did that.
We also each felt moved by the angels to change our driver licenses, and pass ports and Social Security cards, to our new names, which we did.
Then, we also each felt moved by the angels to leave Birmingham in my old nearly worn-out car, and go “westerly”. We already had been down to Key West, in a rental car, to check it out, and nothing seemed to beckon us there. So we did not consider heading back down there, although it was “westerly” in the big scheme sense.
Instead, we headed westerly from Birmingham in the geographic sense, and about 90 miles down the road, in Demopolis, Alabama, the car engine gave up the ghost at an exchange on the Interstate, and we were stranded at a service station/convenience store. Most of Demopolis is a black community. A white fellow and his wife in a double cab pickup truck offered us a ride down to Livingston, where there is a university and the racial demographics are mixed white and black. Cathy and I went to the car, packed one bag each, and left the rest, and got into the back of the cab of the couple’s pickup truck.
Cathy struck up a conversation with the black night clerk, who the next morning offered to drive us down to Slidel, Louisiana, just because he was interested in us. We spent the night at a motel in Slidel, the local owners, a white couple, gave us some money, I gave them my half-dead laptop, and we walked to the nearby ramp to Interstate 10 and hitched a ride to just past New Orleans, where we were let out at a clover leaf.
We walked though that, Cathy pulling her suitcase on wheels across the land, me shouldering my backpack, to the other side of the cloverleaf, where we were picked up by a Jehovah’s Witness, headed west. We said we were headed to Baton Rouge, he said he wasn’t going that far, but he wold take us to Baton Rouge. Cathy was in the back seat, where she wanted to be. She said nothing, as the Jehovah’s witness began his spiel. I engaged him. Maybe by the time he let us off at a motel just across the river in Baton Rouge, he was glad to be rid of us.
I descended into a horrible blackness, which left me bedridden most of the time, but each afternoon I rallied and we wandered across the highway to a local Cajun pub and had dinner and talked with the patrons, who seemed to like having us visit with them. One night, I asked one of them if it was true that all Cajuns had pet alligators? He looked surprised, asked I did I know that? I said I figured Cajuns had pet alligators. I asked if they ate their pet alligators. He said sometimes, and they were really good.
About the fifth day in the motel, I started hearing “Costa Rica.” Cathy started hearing “Costa Rica.” I was still really bunged up, so she caught a cab into Baton Rouge, went to a bank and drew $3,000 against one of our four credit cards, one of hers as I recall. She had three cards, I had one. Mine had a $10,000 limit. One of hers had the same limit. Her other two cars had slightly lower limits. She then went to a travel agency and, using one of the credit cards, bought two round trip tickets to San Jose, the capitol of Costa Rica. The next day, we caught the Greyhound bus from Baton Rouge to the New Orleans airport, and we were on the way to Costa Rica.
Two months there, another $3,000 bank draw against a credit card later, we were hearing “South Africa.”We were sending a friend in the States enough money to pay the minimum on the credit cards, so we could keep drawing money against them. So, we went to a travel agency and, using a credit card, bought round trip tickets from San Jose to Capetown, via Amsterdam. Round trip tickets were cheaper than one-way tickets. That flight laid over in Miami, and looking back, I figure we should have stopped traveling right then and there, and headed “westerly”, down to Key West. But, we went to Capetown, and spent two months in South Africa, where we drew another $3,000 against a credit card.
Now hearing “India”, we went to the Indian Consulate and got visas and, using credit cards, bought round trip tickets to Mumbai (formerly Bombay), with a lengthy layover on Mauritius, en route to Mumbai. We loved Mauritius, hated India, left there after just three days, using new airline tickets to Honolulu, via Tokyo, purchased with credit cards.
Arriving Honolulu, we used a credit card to fly a local commuter airline to Molochai (spelling?), one of the islands I had not yet seen. When we checked into a resort, we learned all the credit cards had been cut off. So, we paid cash to stay there. We had just under $2,000. Not caring to be stranded on Molochai, glad we at least were in the States again, using case, we flew over to Maui. When the cash ran out, we lived on the street.
Eventually, a couple, who owned a bed and breakfast where we had stayed before we ran out of cash, gave us a tent and let us stay on their land. Cathy helped clean rooms and babysat their kids, I brought their old vegetable garden back to life and mowed their large yard on a riding lawn mower. After it finally came to an end for Cathy and me, I was told in my sleep to go to the Keys. Three days later, I was in the air, everything I needed was magically provided.
I stayed a few days in Los Angeles with an old friend and his family, they gave me a Greyhound bus ticket to Key West and about $75 dollars, and along the way, I stopped again at the Baton Rouge bus station, and then at the New Orleans airport, feeling a bit weirded out, to said the least.
Passing through Tallahassee, I fell asleep, and the US District Judge, for whom I had clerked after I got out of law school, came to me in a dream and said he was thinking about getting into politics. When he was alive, he had run the Democratic Party in Alabama. No Democrat ran for state or federal office, without getting his blessing. In the dream, I told him that I didn’t think his going into politics was a good idea, but knowing him, he would do it. I awoke in shock, I hated politics, and I knew that was where I was headed.
The rest, as they say, is history. I arrived in Key West, homeless. Broke. I lived on the street, slept in doorways and other fun places. More and more, I became involved in Key West and Florida Keys politics, which I still hate. I told my friends last night, if you live on the street, if you get involved in a city’s politics, you learn stuff about that city, which you would never otherwise learn, stuff you don’t want to know. They agreed.
I told the woman that I nearly died from MRSA in 2003, and but for surgery in the hospital, I would have died. The bill was $13,000. They told me they would write it off. That was when the angels told me to legally change my name back to Sloan Young Bashinsky, Jr., which I did in the Key West court.Later, after my financial situation improved, because my father died and I received an inheritance, I went to the hospital and said I wanted to pay the bill. They tried to talk me out of it. I insisted. They tried to talk me out of it. I insisted, said they saved my life when I had no money; help someone else with my money, who cannot pay. They seemed to like that, took the money.
I said when I went to the bank, where I had gotten the credit card, which was used to make the trip about the world, they had no record of the card or the amount I owed. They had sold the bad debt to a collection agency. There were no records. I tried, but was unable to pay them back.
I don’t know what happened to Cathy, but in the summer of 2001, after the novel HEAVY WAIT: A Strange Tale fell out of me, Cathy was the inspiration for the heroine, she came to me in a dream. We were in a movie theater, watching the premiere of the movie adaptation of the novel. Cathy said, we were now even, and she would see me at the “Capriati Hotel”. She left, got into a Yellow Cab, and they drove away, as I was getting into a Yellow Cab going some place else.
I to this day do not know what that was about, but it was the angels and Cathy’s way of telling me not to fret about using her credit cards to go around the world.
No, no move was made of the novel, so far; and the novel did not make me any money, so far. It was a darn good novel, though, and I can’t imagine ever writing another to match it, and the three novels before it were hardly slouches. They didn’t make me any money either.
It ain’t for lack of trying to make money, that I ended up broke and homeless.
I told the homeless woman last night, not to worry about the recent hospital bill for her leg. If you heard the stories I hear from her, about how she tries to teach the Key West police officers how to be real police officers, you would know she is paying her way in Key West.
Cathy and I paid our way. The entire trip around the world, we worked our butts of in the spirit realms, for humanity. We suffered internally in ways nobody I now know can comprehend, nor imagine. I have no clue if it did any good, but it was given to us to do, and we did it.
Naja and Arnaud Girard aren’t making dingsquat from publishing Key West the Newspaper, but that doesn’t mean they are not working their butts off for Key West and the Florida Keys. Money really has nothing to do with anything, but money. Even so, not having it ain’t the same as having it.
This fellow below is paying his way, too, although I imagine he will have to win the criminal case brought against him, to be able to use that in a civil lawsuit. Right now, I don’t know what lawyer might be interested in his case, but perhaps one will appear:
Sloan, my case was going to go to jury selection last Monday morning, but at the 11th hour, or even later, the city, yes KW, told Judge Miller that they wanted a continuance so they could develop information they had rec’d only the day before. What? You guys are working on Sunday/overtime to win this case? I guess it means a lot to them, to win the first case that tests their 2012 “no lodging in vehicle” law. Their intention is to use statements I made at the city commission meeting when they were holding the 2nd reading. $ others and myself spoke out against it, to no avail.
The city of KW should fear that I ever find an atty who has a bulldog attitude and a desire to kick some butt because I win him/her a lot of $$ and the plaintiffs as well. This will include all the homeless and those arrested for open container violations + who knows how many others. Idon’t mean to sound boastful, but I think you know I have been throught he wringer w/ KW, and I know what the cops, the judges, and the entire legal system are doing here that is totally illegal. I can prove to you and anyone else that these illegal actions could be setting the city and the legal system for a HUGE monetary hit.
I am going to win my “lodging” case, but isn’t it interesting that I seem to have less rights living in my own vehicle, causing no one any harm, than the homeless “bums” who visit KOTS or sleep in the bushes? I’ve already asked if I could park my van at KOTS and stay in it and was told “NO” !!!
This homeless man below, described by Peggy Butler, also paid his way:
Good afternoon, Sloan.
Your description of your homeless friend who used to sleep at the library could have been of my friend Kelly (John O’Calleigh). Kelly had a brilliant mind, and like your friend, he could talk circles around anyone else I knew on any subject. Like your friend, he spent hours every day reading the same types of material and truly absorbing it instead of just reading to be reading. And as he walked through Key West every day, he’d pick up all the free newspapers he saw and read them, also, making himself aware of everything that was going on in the city. When something happened to the computer system at the library, it was Kelly who rebuilt it.
When he wasn’t at the library sleeping in the side doorway or reading when the doors were open, he was at Mallory Square, sitting with his legs dangling over the side of the dock, waiting for Dennis Riley to start playing the bagpipes and for the sun to set, while he told tales about his days in Ireland. Kelly was always a gentleman, even though he was drunk most of the day. He was too proud to panhandle, but would accept an occasional care package from me and a few dollars from Dennis and was humbled and grateful to us for giving them. He loved the Florida Marlins and was so proud to wear one of their shirts I gave him. His big dream was to get his Social Security, somehow buy a little skiff and sail to Belize to live out his days, hopefully with a young restaurant owner on Duval he was crazy about (she was kind to him, but didn’t return his feelings). Instead, a few months before his Social Security was to start coming in, one early morning as he was outside wiping down the tables of the little restaurant next to Mel Fisher Museum as he did every morning, a thug or gang of thugs beat Kelly so badly he never regained consciousness and died in a hospital room at the VAMC in Miami. Because he seemed to have had a stroke, the Key West Police Department did not work the scene as a crime, so the thug or gang of thugs got away with murder. It was the VA doctor who examined Kelly who called the KWPD to say he’d been beaten. It was obvious to anyone who looked at him that Kelly had no money, so he was beaten just for the ‘thrill’ of beating him.
Dennis and I loved John O’Calleigh and I still, after seven years, find myself searching the crowds on the streets of the island for his ruddy face and red hair at times, before remembering he is no longer walking those streets. Some call homeless people bums, but Kelly like so many other homeless was no bum; he was a gentleman who just happened to lose his way after he came home from Vietnam, as so many of our veterans do who come home to no jobs, no families, but always the bottle waiting for them. Our country could do more and it should do more to help those who find themselves in that situation, whether it be from lack of work, despondency, mental illness or any other of the myriad reasons for being homeless. Our country could stop engaging in wars and take care of the people here who need the help, as you pointed out in your comments today. Our country could stop sending money we don’t have to take care of other countries’ men, women and children and help our own who need it, as you also pointed out. It has never made sense to me, having grown up in southern Ohio in the foothills of the Appalachians and seeing all the poverty, retardation and mental illness in those hills, why our country never made any effort to help those people who had nothing. In anger, I sometimes want to storm the halls of Congress, get right in their faces and ask why, but I know it would do no good. Congress – at least the Tea Party Congress in Washington now – does not give a fig about what poor and middle class Americans want or need. They are going to do what they want to keep pleasing their corporate bosses, so they can continue their ride on that gravy train and to hell with the rest of the people of the United States of America.
Have a good day, Sloan.
I have yet to meet any homeless person, who, at some point in time, did not pay his/her way, and it looks to me, just by being homeless and being mainstream’s shadow and conscience, homeless people today are paying their way, in the spiritual sense.
Meanwhile, tell a battle-shocked homeless vet, who fought in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan, he did not pay his own way.