Sep 12 2005

The Bums of Santa Cruz

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The mornings have been crisp and clear the past couple of days, with no fog.

The pattern for the past several months has been clear cool mornings that got cold as the sun came up and the wind blew the fog in off the ocean. During June, July and August it was foggy until 11 or so, and many days the fog never burnt off. But the past couple of days the mornings have been colder but gradually warmed up, rather than beginning mearly cool and then becoming downright frigid.

The beans were burnt in the chili at the church last night, but the cornbread was good. Howard put gasoline in the diesel bus a couple of days ago, so it’s out of commission and they’re having to use an old, smaller bus, and a van to transport the groups to the churches.

Charlie mentioned yesterday that the winter program hasn’t been funded yet and they need $61,000. During the conversation it came up that the $20 a night they pay the monitors for each groups is a significant part of that, and I did the math and found out that it works out to $7,300/year/monitor or $3,650 for each monitor for the funding period, or $14,600 total.

Howard’s birthday was yesterday. I believe he’s 62. You pretty much have to be over 50 and/or disabled to be on the church groups (Interfaith Sattelite Services Program – ISSP). There are 4 groups, 2 for men and 1 for women and 1 for families. The groups (at least the men’s) go to a different church every night with mats and blankets, make beds on the floor and sleep. There’s no television, except Jeopardy once a week. I asked why once and someone said something about no television after 7:30. Lights are supposed to be out at 10, and on until then, but the last several weeks they have been turned off as early as 8 pm.

And even though lights aren’t supposed to be on until 5 am, frequently people make noise or get up as early as 3am, waking everyone else up.

One thing I noticed when I spent 30 days in the ‘shelter’ and could sleep on a ‘bed’ was that I didn’t fall asleep sitting up like I did after ‘sleeping’ on church floors.

WAMM had a fundraiser yesterday. Jane & Big Mike were there. There were staffing the NORML tent. I avoided them and, evidently, they avoided me. Bob, Charlie and I were sitting in the park when Jane & Big Mike drove up in the BUDFARY van. I didn’t get a chance to speak to Valerie Corral and she didn’t speak to me, but Rick Steeb did come up out of the crowd and speak to me. I didn’t recognize him until he told me his name.

I also got the card of a local Patients Advocate group that I plan to check out in the near future. I felt put off by the lady at the booth when I tried to ask some questions. But the fact was there were a number of people there ready to sign up without asking any questions.

I was also able to check my email today and I see another patient, named Sarah, has been arrested by the San Bernardino Sheriffs and that she will be represented by Hal Margolin, who I could have had represent me, but I refused because of the Victor’s experience with Shevrin (I probably mispelled the name).

It’s been six monthsw now since I’ve been able to smoke a cigarette while using the computer, which makes it pretty much impossible to do anything. And while Santa Cruz has a patina of liberality, it is truly discriminating when it comes to some things, like smoking. I am getting so damn tired of coffee cans instead of ashtrays. And the lack of trash cans or anywhere to put your butts, much less stub them out. They have an ordinance prohibiting smoking within 40 feet of a busstop, which means if you’re legally smoking a ciagrette when the bus comes you will miss the bus as it will pull off before you can make it to the door.

I’ve decided against spending $50 on a monthly bus pass this month (they won’t give me a disabled discount pass for $25). Their reasoning is that I’m not physically disabled. Well, physically abled or not, I don’t get any more money than a cripple, and probably a lot less. But the fact is I can walk anywhere faster than I can get there on the bus. There is no bus to Harvey West (the Homeless Services – it’s NOT a Shelter – Center) on the weekends or after 5 pm on weekdays.

I’m thinking of buying a bicycle. I haven’t so far because I figured I would be lucky to have it a week before it was stolen. Seems just about everyone at the Homeless Services Center (It’s NOT a shelter) has had a bicycle stolen. I was told two of the monitors of the men’s groups have had two bicycles each stolen. Patrick and Bobby both told me when there’s was stolen. Bobby told me Marcus told him to just leave when he tried to get him to do something about it. Patrick told me they showed him the surveillance video and it was impossible to see the face.


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