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As reported in yesterday’s post at this website, I wrote to Tim Gratz:
“A long roll in the hay with a lady I care about, and vice versa, might start my Christmas Day off pretty nice, but after living in monastery for 9 years, with one divergent getting picked up for a little while by a biker chick back in 2010, doesn’t encourage me to look for something fun like that in my Christmas stocking, but it’s only Christmas Eve and maybe there’s still time :-).”
I wondered how the angels would field that request, and later yesterday I got their reply via mi amiga Christine Russell, aka Jaguar Woman:
I wanted to wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS Sloan.
I want to wish you a peaceful and healthy NEW Year.
I sometimes experience the unrest and torture you feel – it is because we care. Because you want to make the world a better place. May sound simplistic and idiotic, but we are getting to the point we either work together in solving problems and making each of our communities and countries a better place – or we are doomed to a dark future.
You take everything so seriously, like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. I sometimes feel this way and it will drag you down. The stress and taking it all so personal – can kill you. It can certainly ruin your life.
So I am wishing for you a different and better 2014. I will say Key West really has a year coming up – power boat deals being conducted in back rooms, channel widening study potentially rammed down ours waterwayponsored by the FDOT, city staffing issues, and the upcoming elections. I will give you my predictions on that at a later time. I will just say it is going to be the most interesting of years, and one that will shape or reshape Key West’s future for better or worse. Don’t let all that is about to happen drag your spirit to hell and back. Find a positive to work for. Maybe you can lead the way regarding homelessness and ways to help.
I believe you really true care Sloan. And that type of person is the most punished. They fight the system of greed, corruption, self-centeredness, and stupidity. The evil ones give no thought to their dastardly ways – they just keep sucking the world and environment dry, until one day! We watched a really interesting movie last night Elysium. I can’t say I liked it. But it was thought provoking. If you look beyond it being just a movie – it was a real statement on political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, transhumanism, health care, exploitation and class issues. The1% lived pretty well in the movie and the rest of us – well, there was justice in the end. And I believe in our end there will also be justice. We all just need to decide how we want to live and make that happen, and where we want to be when that poo hits the fan.
I do wish you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS, and a BRIGHT New Year of peace, health and happiness.
Hi there, Christine –
Thanks, I wish the same for you.
You describe me pretty darn well, and global and local situations, too. Agreed, something needs to really change, or the poo will hit the fan. Hope I’m not here if that happens.
I don’t get to pick and choose what I engage, that is determined by the angels who run me and arrange my itinerary. Although the going often really taxes me, the angels have their ways of getting me though and restoring me when I am depleted.
They have emmersed me into lots of Key West and Keys sagas, and sagas beyond the Keys. I see that continuing. Seems the saga which keeps coming back around the most down here is homelessness. I seem to be the resident expert on that, having been homeless in Key West in all its variations but living on someone else’s boat.
From direct personal experience, I know the homeless dynamics. I know KOTS. I know Florida Keys Outreach Coalition. I know what has a chance of working and what has no chance. I know the legal terrain. I know the toll city police have on homeless people, which makes them even more miserable and even more prone to acting out and illness and death.
Until recently, the city has not been interested in using me in helping “manage” its homeless situation, which is more intense than other places experience because of Key West’s fair climate and many seaside and roadside attractions. Recently, City Commissioner Teri Johnston, mainly, has seemed interested in drawing me into that discussion. From Teri’s and my discussions, I anticipate she will continue doing that. Maybe other city officials will follow suit.
There’s nothing in it for me, but grief. I do not ask to be paid for it. Angry citizens are up in arms, want magical fixes which do not exist. Some city officials are like that, too. City police are taking orders from above to persecute homeless people to the max. I can’t imagine what that costs the city in dollars and public saftey. In the Bill O’Reilly video slam of Key West, Watter’s said he saw no police in Key West. No wonder, they were off searching for homeless people to harass and jail. Finally, they found a new arrival suspected of living in his PT cruiser, and fifteen minutes later he was dead. 14 city police were in on that by the time it was all said and done. Looks like mass insanity to me.
Well, maybe that hapless man’s death actually woke up some city officials up. Maybe it woke up Police Chief Donie Lee. Maybe it woke up some city police. It appears to have woken up lots of city residents, who are horrified, based on what I’m hearing on the street, about what happened to that hapless man, who apparently retired up north and drove down to Key West where he had for some time wanted to spend time and perhaps live.
Bill O’Reilly’s ensuing slam of Key West became irrelevant to people I am hearing from, who are horrified over what happened to that man who died on Thanksgiving Day on South Beach, and then his body disappeared for two weeks, and the Key West Citizen did not report it until after Key West the Newspaper blew the lid off Friday before last. Hopefully, that soul now is in a better place. Certainly, that place is not Key West, whose city officials were outraged over the Bill O’Reilly video, but are in hiding over the Thanksgiving Day tragedy. Tells me where their priorities are. Tells me what they really are made of. Not pretty, is it?
I mentioned in a post at goodmorningkeywest.com the other day of asking a man who only recently arrived in Key West with little money and no place to live, to write me a report of his experiences with Key West police, after the first encounter, which I witnessed and reported maybe ten days ago now. He was shaken down one night by the cemetery, because he was toting a backpack, actually, it was a daypack. Then, I caught up with him and as we walked and talked, the same officer came around three more times in his cruiser, and one of those times he made like he was going to ram me with it, before he stopped just short.
The new arrival told me the reason he came to Key West was because he would have frozen to death in Philadelphia if he had stayed there. Here’s what he emailed me the other day using a library computer:
When do you normally visit Harpoon Harry’s? I could meet you for some paper and a place to write. Otherwise, it may not be as good via the internet.
My first encounter was at the cemetary. The officer approached me by car and mentio0ned there had been a bunch of buggerlies, about one a night for the past fortnight. He got very defensive with me about not telling him exactly where I was going. I tried to explain I was just walking, but that was not good enough for him. I asked if he preferred me to tell him the truth or something he wanted to here. He explained that as long as I was walking with that bag, I was not welcome in this neighborhood or anywhere on Key West. He told me to go back to the main tourist area, which I was on route for, when I met a kind gentleman who talked to me a bit and found a place for me to rest for the night.
My second encounter was at a gated spot, behind the rest rooms over by the Mallory Sq. It was somewhere after 2 am. The Officer explained that I would be arrested sooner or later. He said parks and beaches were off limits. He asked for my ID also and then questioned what information was on there. He told me if I was caught again, I would be arrested and put in jail and would remain in jail for either 30, 60 or 90 days.
The third encounter was at some box nearby Mallory Sq. I was awoke by three Officers. They pointed to a man, who had called and made the complaint. The man stood there the whole time looking at me and observing from a distance what was going on. One of the police officers was very catious and asked that I keep my hands in sight at all times and not to stand up. When he asked for my ID, I tried to explain I could not get my wallet out without standing up. When I tried to move a little to get the wallet out, he called for backup. There were already 3 Officers there. I got a huge lecture by the 3 Officers. All telling me how important a resource tourist is for Key West and scum like me just drives the businesses down in an already hurting economy. Another 3 Officers showeed up and now there were a half down all encircling me. One had a tatoo on his arm and they explained he was the only one with such. He gave me all this low down on status and ranking of the homeless and how they were territorial and would not let me in their community. I would be an outsider everywhere and no one would welcome me and it was best if I just left the island and never came back. They all joked and mocked me as some Chicken had made some mess with me. They told me to leave and to get my sleeping bag. I explained it was not mine. They said, “it is now, so does as we say and remove it.”
The 4th incident was at a place by White Street, where I had found a bench. Again, it was in the early morning hours. A police car drove around the block and I knew he would stop and come around the other side on foot, which he did. A few minutes later he was followed by two other police. Of the four encounters, he was the friendliest. I offered him another ID, so when the dispatch countered I had a different one, he just shrugged his shoulders. He offered a resource map and was quite friendly. He two Officers remained silent. I did not have my back pack at this time and contribute some of the more hospitible manners to this.
I have noticed the homeless may pass out on the beach all day and this does not present a problem of an “eyesore” for anyone. They are at all the bars getting drinks from the money they pan handle all day from the tourist and that is not a problem. I know there is controversy over the KOTS and plans in the works to change things by February with the Commision. I also know there are laws that allow for one basic humanities in absense of certain facilities, as have been cases out of Miami. A balance needs to be found and protecting and serving and the rule of law should apply to all, not just the few. If there are 8 jobs and 10 men, 2 are going to be without work or means. No one asks to be down and out. No one bothered to discover the reasons behind my plight or offer a way to fix it. I was just in the wrong, social or criminal a preson should be innocent before guilty. The problem of homelessness is deeper than just shuffling people along or giving them criminal records to perpetuate their problems. President Truman created legistlation to erradicate homelessness for veterans, yet today a third of our homeless population are Veterans. There is no reason why anyone who sacrifices their life on behalf of our freedoms should return home not to have one. The words on the Statue of Liberty mean very little other than idle words when those very people become a burden for our society.
This is an educated man, who wrote to me quickly, having only half and hour to get it down and sent before he had to give up the library computer. He said he has traveled overseas, and has worked overseas. I do not know what led to him being poor. I do know he is appalled at what he is encountering with city police. Yet, he told me yesterday, when we met in Old Town for a while, that he is not yet ready to take me up on my offer to give him a one-way bus ticket to anywhere in the 48 states, plus some traveling money. He continues to live on the street. He is on foot. He likes beer, but is not an addict. He looks, but is not able to find work so far. He has not used KOTS. As I wrote the first time about him, for all I know, he is Jesus. Or, he was sent to Key West by Jesus, who sent me here in late 2000, to be homeless. Not something Christians I know seem able to grok, but it’s true.
Below, is further email discussion with Tim Gratz,
who seems to represent a strain of Christianity I did not know existed before Tim revealed it to me. Well, it’s early Christmas morn, might as well give the devil its due :-).
I wrote to Tim, he replied in italics, I replied to his in bold.
Just so happens, as I keep writing and it seems to keep bouncing off your head, Jesus is on my Editorial Board, who (the lot of them) like Fantasy Fest the way it is, proving once again that Puritans and other uptight self-righteous Christendom sects don’t know shit from shinola about much beyond their own self-elevated tiny navels.
What my Editorial Board, on which Jesus sits, doesn’t like, however, are the degenerate businesses on and just off Duval Street. Nor do my Editorial Board, on which Jesus sits, like Key West being the international poster city for public drunkeness, rampant street drug use and sex-trafficking, none of which in God we trust capitalist endeavors have I seen or heard of you, in your almighty great righteousness and grave Christian concern for your brothers and sisters, make even a peep of protest, much less put your own carcass on the line.
Well I really hate being the bearer of bad news but if you think Jesus has told you that he approves the debuachery that FF has become, you ain’t hearing from God and you ought be very careful listening to those spirits! If you ever hear a voice that contradicts the Bible you are hearing from the dark side and extreme caution is needed! Much evil has been done by charismatic leaders who claim they are hearing from God. And this goes for tv evangelists as well. I am certain God never told Oral Roberts that he would die unless he raised certain monetary goals. Bottom line is although much of what you “hear” is good and truthful, if you think God approves of the extremes of FF you are at that point hearing not from God but from demons. But you are correct in your last paragraph about other evils in Key West that should also be addressed.
I hear voices which contradict Jesus in the Bible all the time, Tim, and they come out of the mouths of Christians. I’m not going to argue with you, though, about how Jesus feels about Fantasy Fest. I’m going to let him tell you in his own way and time, since it was you who wrote, “you surely cannot believe that Jesus would approve of public nudity do you?”
Instead, you line up with Harry Bethel, a known war monger, who nearly blew a head gasket during that 2002 city commission meeting, when Mayor Jimmy Weekley cast the tie-breaking vote to pass a resolution saying Key West did want USA to go to war in Iraq without UN backing. I wager Harry is a good Christian, as were about half of the audience that night, who also nearly blew head gaskets over that vote, and even over the resolution being on the commission’s agenda that night.
Sloan, are you engaging in a logical fallacy here. What Bethel wrote aout FF cannot be judged by who he is or his position on other issues. Kind of the reverse of the logical fallacy called “arguing to authority.”
Fair enough. What Bethel wrote about FF was his opinion of it. An opinion shared by you. I don’t recall Bethel dragged the Bible or Jesus into it, but since you did that for him, and since you and Bethel want the city government to yield to your demand to abolish nudity from FF, and since your and Bethel’s demand comes from your and his view of the Bible, the city cannot yield to your and Bethel’s demand, because to yield would violate separation of church and state, which would violate the First Amendment of the United State’s Constitution.
Traitors, they called the rest of us. They should have pointed the traitor finger at themselves, and at their beloved demonic-possessed Christian President, G.W. Bush. If they were followers of Jesus, they would have booed Harry Bethel out of the commission meeting hall that night. If Harry was a follower of Jesus, he would have called for a resolution that night nominating Jimmy Weekley for the Nobel Peace Prize.
I have heard Pastor Omar give many Sunday sermons at Higgs Beach. I have eaten many of his breakfasts, which he got up maybe around 4 a.m. each Sunday morning to prepare from scratch for hungry homeless people, whom he served at the kiosks now reserved only for mainstream children and accompanying adults.
Yes he continues to get up (he told me it is 4:30 a.m.) and I know that he really loves these people, as you do also and as I try to. Like I said my heart thrilled me to hear them listening to Omar so intently.
It’s been years since I heard one of Omar’s sermons. Except for one he gave in November 2003, which was about commitment, moving forward and holding fast to going into the new, his sermons mostly sounded the same to me. Boiler plate. His listeners often seemed deeply moved, but they did not seem to change. Nor did Omar seem to change. I tried to speak with him a few times, but his cup was full. I don’t know what his sermons are like now.
The good city of Key West took Pastor Omar’s Sunday morning beachside ministry away from him, maybe now he has it back, because the good city didn’t want homeless people out there on Sunday morning hearing his sermons, during many of which he confessed he himself once was homeless and God lifted him out of it, the same thing I told Harry Bethel and the other city commissioners and Mayor Weekey quite a few times during citizen comments – Only God can change street people.
As much as I believe in God and want all to know Him I believe that many street people given their own determination and perhaps with guidance can change their lives even absent God.
I’d love to see you move that belief into you producing street people who, without God’s help, but only through their own determination and perhaps guidance from you, actually change their lives.
Often I heard Omar tell his listeners, if only we would accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, we would stop being homeless. Far as I could tell, we already had done that, some of us several times, except for on Jewish man, Frisbee Dave. Much the same spiel, in that regard, we heard on Sunday afternoons across the road, when Glad Tidings fed us.
If he said this it was certainly an over-generalization. But I believe that some homeless can indeed change their lives with or without God but God certainly helps.
It was not an over-generalization, it was simply not true; Glad Tidings preached the same untruth and I grew weary of it and started letting them have it in front of everyone present. I told Omar privately he was mistaken, and was unable to reach him.
Of ministers I have known in Key West, Omar and Steve Braddock are the closest, whom I have met and gotten to know, who are born again in the sense Jesus meant when he told Peter he would have to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God. I have not met anyone at your church, Glad Tidings, who struck me as being born again in the sense Jesus meant when he said that to Peter.
Agree that both are great people serving the Lord by serving others. Re Glad Tidings remember the admonition to be careful about judging. The Sunday School Superintendent for instance has spent years treaching the Bible to young people. I believe that Christian parents who raise godly children are doing God’s will as well. Should all also be reaching out to those less fortunate? Yes no doubt and many will when GT reinstitutes its “soup kithchen” in January.
Did not you recently write to me that Christians, who are not born again, do not die and go to heaven, but burn in hell forever?
I hope Glad Tidings reinstitutes its soup kitchen, but why wait on that? Anyone can reach out to homeless people in Key West. They are easy enough to find around Key West.
I spoke with two homeless men today at the county library. I did not tell them, if they accepted Jesus as Lord, they would no longer be homeless. I did tell them, that when I was in the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition program in 2003, Jesus and Archangel Michael applied the 12 Steps to me, and it was terrible, and it seemed, based on what I heard said in 12 Step meetings, that I was the only person in the meetings who actually was living the 12 Steps.
I told the two homeless men that Bob and Bill, who had started AA, were taken over by God. The first 3 steps, in the old days, were about that. I described the first 3 Steps in this way, which is not verbatim:
1. I’m insane.
2. There’s nothing I can do it.
3. If God doesn’t take me over, I’m a gonner.
I said, the rest of the Steps are ornaments on the tree, the first 3 steps are the tree.
I said, later, God was changed to “Higher Power” because so many people reacted to the word, God. I said, 12 Step programs today are nothing like what Bob and Bill used and shared with others.
I said, in the 12 Steps, and in Bill and Bob’s stories, God was their sponsor. There were no human sponsors.
I said, going to 12 Step meetings and getting up and talking is not doing the 12 Steps.
I said, after Jesus and Archangel Michael abducted me in early 1987, they did many things to me, and being homeless was not nearly as terrible as other things they did to me.
I had gone to the library to meet up with one of the homeless men, whom I met about a week ago, after he was shaken down by a Key West cop next to the cemetery because he was carrying a small backpack, what I call a daypack. I had reported some of my time with him, and some of his roughing up by KW cops, at goodmorningkeywest.com. I had not seen him since our first encounter. I had offered to give him a bus ticket out of the Keys and some traveling money, and we needed to meet face to face.
So, we met at the county library. After hearing how it was going for him, and that he did not really want to leave Key West just yet, I said I felt the best thing for him was to get into Florida Keys Outreach Coalition’s program. It would get him off the street, but he would have to go by their rules, including getting a job, doing chores in the shelter, getting in by a certain time at night and out by a certain time in the morning, having clean urine, and attending 12 Step meetings, even if he was not an addict.
The other homeless man showed up in the middle of all of that. He knew the man I was trying to help and said he mostly stayed at KOTS at night, but sometimes on a friend’s boat anchored off Key West. We three talked about a bunch of things besides the above. A third homeless man then came along and asked the second homeless man to go have a beer with him. The second homeless man said okay and got up and left with the third homeless man.
I just looked up the born again passage, in The Gospel of John. My mistake, it was to Nicodemus, not to Peter, Jesus said, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God. We disagree, Tim, on what born again means. I say Peter is an example of someone who was born again in the sense Jesus meant.
…2this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”3Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”…
Glad Tiding’s current pastor, John Carey, certainly was arrested by God and turned in a new direction, but John is hardly born again in the sense Peter became. Nor, for that matter, is Omar. Nor, is Steve. But, as I said, they are the closet thing to Peter I have seen in Key West, except for Dorothy Sherman, who started the soup kitchen and became a living Saint – born again in the true sense.
Personally, I could care less if there ever is another Fantasy Fest. It doesn’t do shit for me, but it is really important to a whole lot of people, based on the crowds it draws on Duval Street. Probably bigger crowds than all the churches in Key West combined draw in a year’s time. And nowhere close, Tim, to the degeneration Key West allows to go on day and night, week after week, month after month, year after year, on and just off Duval Street.
Well I agree with your last statement but that does not mean that Fantasy Fest should not be cleaned up at least a bit.
To clean up Fantasy Fest, Tim, without first cleaning up the ongoing debauchery on Duval Street, would be rank hypocrisy and result in terrible karma for the city and the people who went after Fantasy Fest, instead of after the real debauchery.
More later perhaps. Off to work now!
I’m working now. Whew! I was working at the library.
Well, Christ-ine, it’s now just past 3 a.m. Christ-mas morning. Can’t say I’m surprised I’m up and at my laptop. It’s just another day for me. It’s always just another day for me.
As the homeless man Jesus told someone in the Gospels, take no thought for tomorrow, for each day has enough trouble of its own.
As he also said in the Gospels, when people pray, they should pray, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth … Nothing in that prayer about dying and going to heaven. That prayer is about bringing heaven down to earth.
I’m going back to bed and try to get more sleep and give the angels a chance to tell me in a dream how they feel about all of this above, before I dare to send it to you. Hope you are having a peaceful night’s sleep.
Just before dawn.
Well, I did get back to sleep, in three installments, increasingly sweeter, or at least nicer.
First, adding to what Jesus said about living each day, I thought, because each day has enough surprise and wonder of its own, which thought brought a wonder vs. belief pic to mind, which I will use in today’s post.
Second, since as I understand Tim, people like you and me will die and go to hell and burn there forever, I supposed we ought to try and have as much fun as possible during out remaining days on this world.
Third, I spaced out telling Tim that I told the two homeless men at the library yesterday, that I was the reason KOTS got built in the first place, back in 2004, because I, a former practicing lawyer who once had been a law clerk for a United States District Judge, had convinced the Key West city officials that, if they kept arresting homeless people for sleeping outside at night, without providing them a place to sleep at night, I was going to sue them in Key West’s Federal Court under the Pottinger case, which was decided in a Federal Court against Miami, which was doing the came thing to its homeless people that Key West later started doing to its homeless people. Miami lost that case and thereafter a Federal Judge was the boss of Miami on all things homeless, which was about the same as having 100 mother-in-laws come to visit you and they never leave. Miami and Key West were, and still are, in the same U.S. District Court District.
Fourth, that’s the same Federal Court in Key West, where the city could be sued for tampering with Fantasy Fest because Christians, who don’t seem to me to have a clue what born again means, want the city to tamper with Fantasy Fest.
Fifth, other fun things seemed to be in the making, but to guess what they might be would be just that – guessing.
Ciaosky, Christine, thanks for the nice long roll in the hay :-). Now only if Santa could come up with what I really had in mind …