Social Failures This Week

waving-goodbyeThere were three. Kinda reinforces the fact that, well, when it comes to round holes I’m the perpetual square peg.

  1. I tried hanging out with the homeless in the pavilion of a park close to where I sleep in my car at night. When I walked in they looked at me like I was Ed Gein, human mask and all. I was only looking for an outlet to plug in this laptop but the cold looks I got could freeze a polar bear in its tracks. Goodbye, pavilion.
  2. I went to a drop-in center for the mentally challenged earlier this week to maybe watch a movie on this laptop, eat lunch and help with the dishes. I was attacked by this heavy set woman. She yelled, “Don’t brush up against me!” as I walked pass her. Mind you, I was no where near this woman, but her challenge was unnecessary. I’m trying my best to avoid any kind of confrontation so her vitriol caught me off guard. I’m homeless, dammit, and I’m just trying to make myself useful. Anyway, the center was too noisy and emanated too many bad vibes. Goodbye, center.
  3. I went to see a few of my street friends down at a local park last night. They were hanging out with other homeless folks cooking around an outdoor pit. Yes, they were smoking weed. That didn’t bother me. What caught me off guard was I suddenly wanted to drink because I wanted to join in their party. The feeling was unbearably strong; also, because there was more people in attendance than I’d like, I bounced. Going down there was a mistake. Almost brought me back to drinking which, in essence, would’ve brought me back to drugging. Goodbye, homeless folks huddled around outdoor fire pits at night.

In Defense Of Beggars & Begging

SoulI don’t do it, but apparently, many do around the world. You see them everywhere – outside the malls, outside the grocery stores, standing on street corners, sitting beneath the protruding glass and concrete awnings of metropolises everywhere; you can’t miss ’em. They’re beggars. They want your money for food, for beer, for drugs, for a bus ticket back home (so they say), for whatever. I’ve never looked at them with disdain; however, I never did give them money because I felt they’d just use it for drugs and, if they really were hungry, they’d hit up a food pantry somewhere.

Because of Jainism, I’ve come to look at beggars differently. I now see what they do as being a service to mankind. Yep. With a simple donation of food or cash you eradicate some of the negative karma that has built up on your soul. Since you have to do one act of kindness every day, helping a beggar out in his time of need is but one way to accomplish this task. It’s real easy, too. It’s not like you have to go out of your way to help them. They’re right there, under your nose. So give generously, people. The soul you may be saving is yours, not theirs.

R.I.P. Ken Cruz

Ken and Keena

Ken & Keena Marie

 

I’d read that my old friend Ken Cruz died on April 17, 2016 at 4PM. I didn’t register it at first as being Ken Cruz, the drummer from Seattle rock/ska/reggae band MOON. As a matter of fact, I thought maybe it was a message from Ken stating that someone with his name had died recently and he was simply appropriating the guy’s misfortune. Of course, when I realized it really was my old MOON friend, I was stunned. I’m still numb. Everything I’ve been doing lately has been done with this deep, dark pall that hovers over me, rendering me almost speechless, if not downright feeling miserable.

Ken leaves behind his family and friends and his three year old daughter, Keena Marie. I  remember Ken as being the driving force behind MOON, the band which he’d formed and given its name. We were together for 2 1/2 years and included Ken on drums, Luke Swart on bass, Ben Dorcy on vocals and sax, and myself on guitar. Because of our love for all things ska (The Specials, Sublime, No Doubt, Aquabats, etc) we sought to emulate our heroes by covering their songs as well as writing our own. Consequently, we recorded a few albums and played quite a few shows in and around the Seattle area at venues like Studio Seven, El Corazon, Mirkwood & Shire, Poggie Tavern and others. Our idea to perform dressed only in black and white came from Ken, no doubt because of his fascination with The Specials and other Two Tone groups.

Ken will be missed deeply. He can be seen in all the videos on the Video page of this blog and MOON’s music can be obtained online at iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and elsewhere.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004Y9OGL2?ie=UTF8&keywords=MOON%20the%20landing&qid=1461262035&ref_=sr_1_27&refinements=p_n_feature_browse-bin%3A625150011&s=dmusic&sr=1-27

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007DM6GDS?ie=UTF8&keywords=rockskars&qid=1461262031&ref_=sr_1_1&s=dmusic&sr=1-1-mp3-albums-bar-strip-0

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0058XBNPK?ie=UTF8&keywords=moon%20the%20moon%20ep&qid=1461262096&ref_=sr_1_10&refinements=p_n_feature_browse-bin%3A625150011&s=dmusic&sr=1-10

 

Summer Concerts, Seattle

Piece of cakeThere are going to be quite a few big acts in town this year – Kenny Chesney, Billy Joel, Sting & Peter Gabriel, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Carrie Underwood, Iron Maiden, Rihanna, etc. The ticket prices will be around $250 to $1000 per person. Sweet. Now all I have to do to get a seat is decide which arm and leg to chop off or sell my first born into bondage. Piece of cake.

My Conversation With Michael Jackson at the Food Bank

michael-jacksonHiya, folks. I was sitting here on the floor at the Wallingford Food Bank surfing the internet when I happened to look up. Lo and behold, it’s my old pal, the king of pop, Michael Jackson. He’s trying to be incognito wearing torn jeans and a grey hoodie but I’d recognize him anywhere. He’s always been a good conversationalist so I’ll secretly now use my laptop to record our conversation.

Me: [I get up and walk over to him] Hey Mike!

Mike: [Puts an index finger to his lips] Shhh! Hey Robin, I’m trying not to be noticed.

Me: [I sit next to him and we shake hands] Boy, a lot of people sure miss you.

Mike: That’s sweet. I miss them, too.

Me: Man, I haven’t seen you since the ‘Bad’ tour.

Mike: Just busy, you know?

Me: Yeah. Of course. So how have you been?

Mike: Okay. Can’t complain.

Me: What brings you to this food bank like us poor folks? You can afford to have steak and lobster at the Waldorf-Astoria every day.

Mike: Well, they keep us on a strict diet in Heaven, so every so often I come down here for something different.

Me: Uh huh.

Mike: Oh, sorry, man. I forgot you don’t believe in God. My bad.

Me: Actually, Mike, this morning I had an epiphany.

Mike: What happened?

Me: I was lying there at the transitional shelter thinking about Anekāntavāda and saw life in a new light, if you will.

Mike: What’s Anekāntavāda?

Me: It’s the Jainism belief that truth and reality can be ascertained from different viewpoints, that there is no single truth.

Mike: I’ve heard of Jainism. Are you a Jain now?

Me: Oh yeah. I’ve been a Jain all my life, just never knew it. A lot of the tenets and beliefs in Jainism I could have written myself because they’re right in step with how I think anyway. A lot of penances they suggest, I’ve done. You know, Mike, over the years I’ve practiced fasting, eating food without seasonings, getting rid of things I like my concert shirts, walking miles instead of driving or taking the bus, sleeping on surfaces other than a bed, etc.

Mike: So you found religion.

Me: Yep.

Mike: That’s your epiphany?

Me: What are we sitting on?

Mike: Chairs?

Me: Why do you call them chairs? Why not footstools?

Mike: [Looking puzzled] Because they’re… chairs?

Me: Says who?

Mike: I guess everyone. It’s common knowledge.

Me: Around the world? They call it ‘chair’?

Mike: Well, in different languages, of course. In Beijing, it’s ‘yizi’. In Mexico City, it’s ‘silla’. In downtown Addis, it’s ‘weniberi’. In Moscow, it’s ‘stul’…

Me: So it is footstool in Russia!

Mike: Nope. That would be ‘skameyechka diya nog’. Where are you going with this?

Me: Where does the word ‘chair’ come from?

Mike: I don’t know. Maybe European or Native American?

Me: And it’s an old word.

Mike: I guess.

Me: Maybe Caveman Og called it a chair and the name stuck.

Mike: Could be.

Me: So now it’s widely known as ‘chair’, not ‘footstool.’

Mike: I guess so. That’s how everyone knows it.

Me: Can I change it to footstool?

Mike: You can change it to grease paint if that floats your boat. It’s still a chair.

Me: The majority of people call it a chair so I may as well, too. It’s ridiculous to refute that, even if Og was wrong by calling it ‘chair’.

Mike: Yeah. I mean, if you want proof, you can always go back in time when Og was naming things. Even if it wasn’t ‘chair’, it doesn’t matter. Just accept it’s a chair. Millions of people have been calling it ‘chair’ for centuries. Even if the word for it really is ‘footstool’, it’s still a chair because they all believe it’s a chair.

Me: Right. And millions of people over the centuries have said there is a God. Even if I doubt that, it doesn’t matter. God still exists.

Mike: [rubbing his chin] I see where you’re coming from. So you’re not an atheist anymore?

Me: Oh, yeah. I still am, but Anekāntavāda says there are different viewpoints to truth and reality so it’s a concept I accept. With Anekāntavāda there is space for more than one viewpoint which Jainism teaches us to accept. If people say there’s a God in Heaven, I have no choice but to accept that. That’s my epiphany.

Mike: Wow. Robin, you must be getting old. Years ago you would never have said that.

Me: Yeah. I’m still learning. Student for life.

Mike: You were always inquisitive anyway.

Me: That’s true.

Mike: Hey, Robin, they just called my number. I’m gonna get my bag of groceries and bounce; [points to the sky] get back up there before they notice.

Me: Thanks for talking, Mike. People really miss you down here. You’re one of a kind.

Mike: Thanks. Take care.