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For the Love of the World
Index

Journeys With Chuck

On Being Homeless
The simplest things become illegal

 

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Global Peace
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1/29-2/5 2009

Universal Church of the Kingdom of God Fleetwood Mac - Never Going Back Again

It was probably 10 years ago when I was thinking about my life, how it was turning out, how I thought it was going to be, how I wanted it to be... I'd always joked around about how I'd had a bizarre life, but there were many things that happened that just never made sense. I always took it on that no matter what happens, even if you're not at fault, you can always find ways to have done something better.

But I noticed a pattern since about 1989 that was clear. Every time I was at the point where things were going well financially and professionally and personally, something really bizarre would happen that would have me leave the area, or leave a job for ethical or professional reasons, or  involve myself in companies that should have worked out, and it seemed like a recurring theme of the outcome of these situations is that it would leave me technically, if not on the verge of or actually homeless.

The only conclusion I could come to, given the pattern and record of my life that it left behind, was that I was tired of paying for debts caused by people committing crimes and /or unethical activities against me.

I thought it was particularly odd when, in about 1995, I went about the usual procedures for renting a small house in the Yosemite area 6 weeks prior to moving there through a prominent real estate company, was told I was approved (I was making $5-7k per month), and arrived on schedule with a trailer full of possessions and my pets, and they acted like they never heard of me, and refused to discuss renting any properties to me at all. They also refused to speak to my brother about it, who is a respected member of that small town.

Nonetheless, after returning to the West Coast from Atlanta to Santa Cruz in late 1994, I remember the day I came to the realization that despite my usual ability to rebound from these kinds of circumstances, that I was going to be homeless. But I thought, I've paid  a good share of taxes throughout my life. So I went down to see what assistance I could get. They told me I could get an appointment in about 6 weeks to be interviewed to see if I qualified for any assistance. The good news, though, is that they were able to issue me emergency food stamps, which was quite welcome under the circumstances.

Still, I was terrified. In the past, when I faced tough circumstances, I always believed my orientation to self-employment and consulting made it a little easier for me to find work or a contract as I needed to. I have a lot of qualifications and good references, but when you don't even have a phone or a place to shower, let alone a way to print resumes or clean your clothes it makes it pretty tough to get a job.

You could say it's a matter of  pride, but it's actually the knowledge that I'm a capable human being able to deliver an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. I believe in pulling my weight, and doing a ob to the best of my ability. Not so much because it's what you should do as a society, but as an individual contributing to a community... and I had never envisioned myself needing to beg for money for food. And I wondered how I'd dig myself out of that hole.

I was terrified because I really didn't have any money, my possessions were in a trailer I had to return... I had a dog and a cat.

And I was going to be living in the streets long before the six weeks before the appointment came.

I remembered that one time, in about 1974 in that same town, I was sitting outside a restaurant with my girlfriend, talking late into the night, and we both fell asleep, and a police officer came up and tapped on the window, saying "it's illegal to sleep within the city limits".

Beyond all that.. beyond wondering what I was going to do with my pets... I considered how I'm no fighter, I couldn't defend myself against anyone who wanted to rob me. And my car wouldn't take too long to run out of gas. And I wasn't getting anywhere finding a job. I'd worked  at some major software companies and had been quite welcome a number of places, but now, I couldn't get interviews because I didn't have a college degree. Yet, in 1981, I had more computer experience than 92% of the people in the computer field.

But, once again, I escaped homelessness. I was lucky, sort of.

I landed a programming contract that paid me very well that I could do at home. And a friend who I allowed to live with me while he was going to college allowed me to live at his place while I got back on my feet.

I say sort of, because in other stories of strange occurrences, not related to this one, that contract led to the exposition of a sweetheart deal with a contractor in Vermont, all loosely related to the State of California Dept. associated with the Exxon Valdez Disaster cleanup and Pete Wilson. And, while I enjoyed sharing the house with my friend, also known as the Pizza Messiah, a guy I think of as the little brother I never had, there were complications I never imagined.

That's another bizarre story all by itself. He was cool. Some things happened though that lead to us being evicted. I swear, there was no basis for it, and the truth was, after consulting an attorney, the eviction was supposed to have been dropped because her grounds for eviction were actually illegal in Santa Cruz County and it was weird, because all we did was ask her to fix the washing machine, which was actually in the lease as supplied with the property. And we were nice about it. I fixed it myself, anyway, it was only about $30. Like I said, it's been bizarre.

Nonetheless...

When I headed for Southern California I really was hoping this minister I had been interacting with was for real, but the setup was so familiar, the pattern in the last 7 years of manipulating circumstances so that I was in the situation of at least facing homelessness, in the winter (the "joke" of the Psyops that the son of man wasn't supposed to start his journey until the spring) with little or no money, and clearly nowhere to go...

Given the options and the work I saw as being ahead of me, there's a part of me that says that the only way my work will be possible is to leave the United States, because if no one has the courage to assist me, or to understand what God needs the world to know now, then there wasn't any point talking to "ears that wouldn't listen", even though I have a great deal of love and loyalty to America.

So, I actually prepared myself to have the resources to go all the way to south of the border, where I believed I could make my way to find people who would be receptive to me, particularly given my knowledge of people who believe Christ is in the world, and are seeking Him. I believed at least they would listen, and be willing to look at my evidence.

I had things to sell to raise money, appliances to work off my car battery.  I really was the best equipped homeless person under the circumstances and given the vehicle I had. To really make it work, I'd have had to sell a bunch of my cargo, which wouldn't have been that hard. So, I was mentally prepared, I figured they finally got me - making me homeless - so I had to find a way to take it to the next level. And that I would make the best of it.

Still, hoping the situation with the minister was for real, for so many reasons, including attempting to stop the hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians before it happened.I'll just say there was a wide variety of reasons why I decided to return to the Pacific Northwest.

I think what's most important is to tell you what I saw and experienced. And to ask you to think about some things.

Universal Church of the Kingdom of God Phil Collins - Hits - 01 - Another Day In Paradise

Let's say you were going to be homeless in 2 weeks, and you had to decide what you'd take with you, how you would pay for things, having less than $1000, and never having faced homelessness before?

It's an interesting question if you  really put yourself in the place of the people who really have to face those circumstances. For whatever reason. And I've said this for years as I spoke out for the empowerment of homeless people that when you live in a country that stereotypes homeless people as simply lazy, mentally ill and simply having to live their lot in life, it's a pretty hard row for a homeless person to hoe when there's a reason, a root cause for their homelessness, otherwise they wouldn't be homeless.

I'll always remember the face of the woman I saw in San Francisco in the mid 90's, on my way from the office to the parking garage in the financial district in San Francisco... she had to be 70. She had a small cart with 4 or 5 hand-made afghans in it, and two cute little dogs with their own afghans on. She was just sitting there. Not asking for money. Just sitting there. Here face wasn't too weathered, so you could tell she was new to homelessness.

All I could do was look at her, wonder how that could happen to her, at her age, in this world. And then she looked at me, and I could see the embarrassment and shame in her eyes, and I just couldn't fathom how we could let it happen to someone like her, someone who could just as easily be my grandmother.

Back in the late 70's I worked near a park in the Westwood area of North Hollywood. I'd go out to the park at lunch or on breaks and began noticing homeless and "schizophrenic people" walking around, a few begging, most walking around, mumbling to themselves. Some were yelling at times.

I picked out a few to pay particular attention to, to see if I could figure out what they were talking about when they were mumbling or yelling, trying to find out if I could decipher their reasons for being this way, if there was some pattern to the behavior.

There was a pattern to the yelling and anger: something had happened, some injustice had occurred, and they had been left to suffer as victims, and no one would acknowledge their suffering or assist them.

Somehow or another, it was about justice.

Some would say, and sometimes accurately, that their actions were the result of paranoid responses and behaviors. Even if they are, what caused them? Marshall Rosenberg, founder of the Center for Non-Violent Education, says there is no such thing as mental illness. How could that be true? In the abstract, I agree with him.

U.S. Representative Ted Poe of Texas recently made a remark on the floor of the House of Representatives that "justice is what we do in America"....

However, and to have to be unfortunately candid with you, with what I've witnessed and experienced, I'd say that justice is a fundamental principle of this nation and its citizens, but has actually long been abandoned by the "backbone" members of government, the puppets of financiers and corporations, and justice - particularly when speaking truth to power, Democrat or Republican - is a hard commodity to come by, especially when you oppose the United States Government in any way.

I have no doubt that many of these people who are homeless... however they are judged and stereotyped... have reason for their predicament.

And regardless of your opinions, I ask you to consider why you don't believe that you should be concerned with resolving their situation? If we are Christians, the answer to the question "Am I my brother's keeper" is yes.

Universal Church of the Kingdom of God Orleans - Still The One - 08 - What I Need

What assistance do you believe the government offers? I assure you, it's little or nothing. This, is in a country where I distinctly remember my father telling us - in the late 50's - about how we were so compassionate that it wasn't actually illegal to steal food if you were starving and/or without food. Not like something he'd recommend anyone should do.

But, expressing that people had a right to have food to eat, as a basic right.

Just like many nations and faiths acknowledge a basic right to have water, which is something we take for granted but is quickly becoming a thing of the past worldwide, and is actually a very large problem that we can not afford to allow to be privatized.

Just as many qualified organizations recognize the need for people to have at least minimal housing so that things like cleanliness are possible. As a right. As a matter of honoring human dignity, and truly being  anation that stands for the opportunity to live whatever the "American Dream" actually is.

I'll bet that soon, you'll understand more of why.

Around 1997, I lived in the Washington D.C. area. I had to loop around from Virginia traveling south from Maryland, and everyday, while waiting in traffic onto Connecticut Avenue while going to work, I'd come upon a few familiar faces of people asking for money. Familiar, because the same guys were always there. And after a while, I got to know them a little. And it seems like it was every Thursday, I'd give them at least $20.

This one guy who I'd usually make contact with was named Jim White. Seems he was a veteran. Turned out, most of the guys in his "group" were veterans. It looked to me like there were 15-20 of them. They lived under the cement of the bridge supports of the highway above. I saw a few cheap mattresses, a lot of newspaper... it was 19 degrees outside sometimes when I went by them, all huddled up in blankets and papers.

And I'd think, at least they found a place to stay, and then realized it was in a place where they were constantly breathing carbon monoxide from cars, listening to endless noise, freezing and hungry, their only real place to bathe would be the Potomac River, which was freezing,  and I'm driving by giving them $20 bucks a week thinking I'm doing a good thing, justifying things by deluding myself into thinking they at least had it better than alot of other homeless people. Thinking, why are all these veterans homeless?

The truth is, I tried to get them to take some motivational courses at my expense, hoping it would help them "get going" again, willing to feed them and assist them afterward, but the truth was, what their minds were focused on was simply on "how do I survive?" I remember the last time I talked to Jim about it, he looked at me like he understood what I was trying to do, and started to get sort of emotional and then drew back, and I could tell that what he didn't want to say most of all is that he'd simply given up. I never saw him there again.

Universal Church of the Kingdom of God Pink Floyd - Delicate Sound of Thunder On the Turning Away

I remember some times in the streets of DC, coming upon a homeless person asking for money, a particular guy in fact who was being boisterous and acted angry and resentful, and then he came up to me and asked for money.

I have a policy that if a person is subjected to the indignity of having to beg for money, they deserve the money. I'm not talking about large sums, but hopefully at least enough for some soup or a sandwich.

So I gave him a little money. And he started his angry rhetoric and then realized I was actually listening to him and asking him questions, and he settled down and started talking to me. I can't honestly say I remember what he told me, but I noticed that as soon as he was treated like a real person, as soon as he believed someone would actually listen to him and that someone believed he mattered, he became a friend, and not some street person demanding to be acknowledged as existing and being of value. He actually walked away singing a hymn.

I tell you things for a number of reasons. First, because you need to know what happens to people when they become homeless, some of the reasons they become homeless, the indignities they endure and the inconvenience that criminalizes them for doing things like sleeping.

I'm not asking you to think about passing some grand welfare giveaway.

I'm asking you to consider what it would be like to be homeless. Not the idea of not having a home, a source of food, water and other things you think are easy to get.

Think about sleeping on the same streets you tell your children aren't safe to be on. Think about being considered a person who makes the streets unsafe.

Think about being hassled out of the neighborhood by the local neighborhood watch group, all well intentioned. Think about being someone who believes in neighborhood watch groups being harassed by a neighborhood watch group. It's like being imprisoned for a crime without even having a trial. Even if it is understandable.

Think about some of the things you think when you see homeless people, and then ask yourself, what if I became homeless tomorrow, and people said and thought those things about me? It's important that you ask yourself that question because the global economic crisis caused by manipulative financiers could easily spur a huge wave of homelessness in the United States, and around the world.

The government shows that its primary concerns are with the welfare of the corporations, the very companies that generated the problem.  Surely you can understand what that means regarding the relationship of the government and the corporations and financiers.

And finally, I want you to be aware of stories like those I told because homelessness doesn't happen to people thousands of miles away. It happens to people all around you for all sorts of reasons, for blameless reasons or because of victimhood, and they mainly remain silent and suppressed because they have no one to speak on their behalf to people who actually care enough to empower them, no money to take out ads or launch internet campaigns, and have little more time and energy than what is required to survive.

My story of homelessness is quite different than the story of most people. I want to be clear about that. I wasn't looking forward to it, I had given the challenges some thought before, I had electrical gadgets and coffeepots and cookers for a 12 volt system, digital audio and video recorders, a complete audio and video production studio, mobile internet access and cellular phone.

I wasn't looking forward to it, I wasn't happy about it, there was nothing good about the situation.

For whatever reason, I was homeless. And this is what I experienced.

Even though I didn't really believe I had a schedule to keep, I'd said I'd be in the L.A. area by 4pm on New Year's Eve, 2008.

I drove down the coast, really enjoying the views, the small towns and remnants of Christmas decorations that people and cities still had on display. And of course, there were all those people saying hi to me along the way.

In the back of my El Camino, I had 14 boxes of old lp's, many collectible, that I assumed I was going to sell in Los Angeles, along with  a few hundred dollars worth of CD's on the "used" market. The idea was that I would sell them there, where there were enough collectors and stores that it would be easier to sell them for a fair price.  Then, I'd spend about a hundred dollars on the additional materials I'd need to make a camper, and head for Mexico, where I could live on a very small amount of money while I did other things of a political nature.

I  also had about 7 boxes of evidence of crimes and historical information that I was quite concerned about, and relied on my vehicle as my ultimate means to protect it. I carried spare car  parts, lights, oil and fluids for the engine, lots of tools, too. For the most part, I was prepared for most things that could happen.

The vehicle was overloaded, but I'd put heavy duty springs on it the year before when I rebuilt the suspension. Still, it seemed to warm up a little too much in warm weather. Otherwise, it was a reliable car, I never had any trouble with it, and despite knowing it had a few things that would need a little attention before too long, I had no trouble relying on it to make the trip.

The first couple of nights was like camping. It was a little cramped sleeping in my sleeping bag in the seat of  the car - a front seat only mini-truck. Once I got things moved to the floors from the seats, it was easy to keep warm and fairly comfortable, even though being 6'3" tall, it was never possible to stretch out. I'd wake up in the morning to beautiful ocean views on a nearly deserted stretch of highway (not tourist season) and just take it in, drinking my coffee from an excellent thermos that kept it hot, and just wonder what God and the day would bring.

Universal Church of the Kingdom of God Yusef Islam - Morning Has Broken

I wasn't about to worry about anything or be concerned about anything. I was just enjoying the beauty and the feeling of freedom - like going camping in redwood trees hundreds of feet tall, and hundreds of years old. It makes you feel new again.

It almost makes the idea of being homeless sound good. Even though I didn't have a home, I didn't think of myself as homeless yet.

Of course, living out of the car, and generally trying to conserve money, I was getting grubby. I wasn't eating normally, and I wasn't hydrating normally. And of course, I never gave it a thought. I should have known that when the Ho-Ho's ran out around San Simeon, it was a sign that I needed more substantial food.

But I was a man on a mission, the last leg of a journey for truth, and likely homelessness. I was a little nervous, a little apprehensive, and a little excited that I was in Southern California, that it was warmer, and that I had a great number of options available to me by being there.

I got a little worried when the car started overheating going up a hill somewhere around Mulholland. I got off the highway at Sunset. The traffic wasn't too bad, but it was enough that the car finally overheated. I got it into a parking space, and waited. I looked at the engine, and realized it was suffering vapor-lock, meaning the heat of the engine was causing a vacuum in the carburetor that prevented fuel from getting to the engine.

The problem took on a new dimension. I figured that I needed to replace a thermostat or a water pump, and now we were looking at more than a day's worth of repairs. The last time I'd replaced a water pump, it was over $100. And not easy to do. I'd need to replace a fuel filter, as well as remove and re-seat the carburetor. I had the tools and adhesives to do the work. The question was, where?

I got the car running, and kept the revs up to keep the water pump pumping faster, and shifted into neutral, and turned on the heater. It seems I got the heat problem under control, so long as I didn't turn the engine off. If I did, it would take 15-20 minutes or so for the engine to cool off before it would start again.

I was determined to "make it to the church on time", and even though it had been nearly 30 years since I had been in Los Angeles, it felt familiar, and if I had gone with my instincts, I would have done much better. In the end, I realized that Sunset would have made a perfect "connector road" between the places I was trying to find.

Meanwhile, I pulled into a gas station to get a map and fill up with gas. Thank God gas prices had gone down.

I came out of the station door with the map, and saw that my gas tank was leaking. Then I remembered a neighbor told me a story of how certain people were cutting gas tanks where I used to live. He'd usually only say things like that when people were planning to do that to me. It explains why the car would seem to use more gas right after I filled it. I thought the guage might not be working properly. Anyway, there was gas everywhere on the ground. I'd say I lost at least a couple of gallons.

I got down to the church.. it was in an area I vaguely remember in Los Angeles because I used to shop in the garment district. I knew there was a reason I recognized the neighborhood in my mind when I first saw the address. The Google map I got was useless, and the one I bought wasn't much better.

But there  I was, in front of the church, grubby as I thought I would be from traveling and living in the front seat of my car. And I already described what happened then.

Universal Church of the Kingdom of God BJ Thomas - Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head

The other part that happened, though, that amused and surprised me, was this man who came along. I was there wondering what in the world am I going to do? It's New Year's Eve, I don't know what the laws are here, I don't know where to go, I don't know anything about Glendale, especially how to get there... and this guy walks up and says "what do you need?".

And I said I was just trying to figure out what to do. Some plans didn't come through, and I had this vehicle loaded with stuff in a parking lot that was going to kick me out in a few hours if I hadn't left already. And I'm standing there with this map in my hand, looking around, trying to figure out what the cross streets are...

He says, "Here's the thing you need to do. Take that car and just find a place where there are other cars, and park with them. I lasted 11 months before getting busted that way."

I was a little startled, remembered how I looked, thought it was good advice, and was a little amused that as far as I was concerned, I had been found homeless on the streets with my hair long and scraggly and all the other stuff that was supposed to happen to the Son of Man. I thought, whew, one more thing down. :} Not really, but I thought that for a moment.

The sun had gone, so it was cooler, and I knew it would help the car situation. I finally figured out  a route to Glendale. I wasn't sure what I'd do once I got there, but giving people the benefit of the doubt, I decided to try to find the other offices just in case it was intended to work out and I should have gone there instead of the church.

Part of my curiosity, part of why I did this at all was because I just wanted to know the truth about these people. So for the moment, I still wasn't feeling homeless, I was investigating for a book I was writing as I worked to expose a number of crimes.

This one, as a matter of fact, it turns out :}

I feel a little foolish saying this, but I actually accidentally found the church offices in Glendale. Totally accidentally. I was already mentally planning to park for the night in Echo Park, and then drive to a nearby park and repair the car the next day. It looked to me like there  was at least one other person sleeping in their car there when I went by.  But I was driving along, looking for a place to turn around safely with my overloaded car, looked up and saw a street that would take me back to Echo Park. I turned down the road, and it was a different road, but it took me to the front door of the church offices.

Of course, no one was there, and because of the reception I got at the "church", it didn't surprise me, so I went back to my car and just sat there, wondering what to with myself. Wondering and wondering. And wondering.

By then I was clear that the load had shifted on the back of the vehicle and it wasn't safe to drive, especially for anyone following behind me. And I still had the overheating problem. I had some money, and planned to use some to get a motel the night before going to church on Sunday, for which I made appropriate reservations. But I didn't have enough to spend money freely, though I was willing to invest some to make a good presentation of myself.

So I sat there, and wondered what I'd do with myself that night, New Year's Eve. And it got darker, and the neighbor next door started throwing a party in his backyard, and it didn't seem like it would disturb anyone if I just stayed there. Given the car situation, I thought, I'll plug my light into the cigarette lighter adapter, listen to the party music and write a letter.

This next part may seem a little graphic, and I'm not trying to say it to be graphic. I just want you to be aware of some of the dilemmas you face when you're homeless.

I was sitting in the car, a little hungry, but with enough food that I didn't feel the need to get more food with the supplies I had on hand. I had coffee and juice, the ability to make powdered milk, my favorite cereal and more. I didn't really feel deprived of anything.

And then I realized I had to go to the bathroom.

Universal Church of the Kingdom of God Ray Stevens - The Streak

I thought about going to a gas station, but I didn't remember seeing one nearby when I was driving around. I thought about a restaurant, but it was getting late. And, frankly, I really was grubby, and I was a little embarrassed about that. I was having visions of pancakes and eggs and sausage and all in the morning, but for the moment, I thought it would be safer to just stay still.

The guys across the street at the party were going in the bushes in their yard behind a fence.  But it was their yard.

There I was, a country boy. I have no problems going in the bushes in the country, but I'm no exhibitionist, I'm actually pretty modest and shy, I'm a decent guy, I respect other people's property rights, and then there's a school around the corner... so if I get caught going to the bathroom in the streets, even in an alley, I could be listed as a sex offender because I just had to go to the bathroom. I didn't want to be doing it out in the open like that in the first place.

I don' t really like talking about this, but you don't think about these things when you think about homelessness. I thought I was set. I didn't give serious thought to this problem beforehand.

I remembered what my brother would have me do when I was a kid at the drive-in and he didn't want to walk me to the snack shop.

I got out a bottle, positioned it, started going, spilled it... and now, I not only was dirty and wrinkly clothed and long-haired. I had urine on me. There wasn't much I could do about it, and I knew I would be checking into a motel before possibly "meeting anyone", so I just lived with it. But I gave some thought to the fact that in the future, I'd have a problem, because I'm sure restaurant owners and Laundromat owners are used to having to chase homeless people out of their businesses when they try to use the facilities without being a paying customer. You can understand the business owner's point of view, but what are you supposed to do?

This was just my third day on the road, homeless.

The next day, Thursday, I woke up and went to a little restaurant down the street that didn't look like the kind of place where they would make too much fuss about my appearance.

It was a small, family-owned diner. I immediately ducked into the restroom and cleaned up as best I could. It felt good to wash my hands and face thoroughly. Again, I don't mean to be graphic, but it's a good thing I used their facilities. Otherwise, I'm fairly certain I would have ended up with a urinary tract infection. I was already feeling weak and feverish. I looked in the mirror, and there were bags under my eyes, and I was pale as a ghost.

I ate a big omelet, two pancakes, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, a big glass of milk, about a gallon of coffee, a thermos fill-up and I was ready to go again. It was sure good to have a hot meal. I'd never eaten biscuits and gravy before. It was as if I just couldn't eat enough to get full. It was a great deal for 10 bucks, but I knew I wouldn't be able to afford that kind of luxury much longer either.

Afterward, I drove around the roads and neighborhoods in Glendale, looking for a place to sleep that night, needing to repack the load on my car, and then thinking about how I would go about fixing the engine later. I really liked Glendale. I could actually see myself living there, working in the L.A. area. It's really nice. But, I didn't see too many places to park, and I figured I could get away with repacking the truck at the curb of a park, but I didn't think I could then also repair the car. The car repair would make a bit of a mess, anyway.

I didn't want to keep overheating the truck. After a while, it looked to me like the best place to stay was the place I stayed the night before. It was quiet, on the side of the street I parked on, there were no buildings so I wasn't parking in anyone's front yard, and then there was plenty of space to unload and reload without hurting anything. And the truth was, it really wasn't safe to be carrying the load secured as it was. So I just kept to myself and worked on that project all day, making sure not to obstruct anything.

Universal Church of the Kingdom of God Timmy Thomas - Why Can't We Live Together

Around five in the afternoon or so, I was starting to get close to being finished, and this guy in a white van comes out of nowhere and pulls up behind my vehicle, real close, and there was no doubt in my mind that I was being subjected to an intimidation tactic. He just sat there and stared at me.

I was a little unnerved. I realize that people get nervous when someone camps out in their neighborhood, I really do understand. At the same time, whether they knew it or not, I was a decent person, I wasn't going to harm anything.

He just sat in the vehicle and glared at me. I was rattled, even packed some things wrong and had to repack them. It actually made it take longer than it would have otherwise. And I had planned to move on after finishing reloading.

I described the exchanges he and I had - where he told me I had 10 minutes to leave the area. I asked him if I could see his credentials, and he just got angrier and more belligerent, and refused to talk to me. I don't know if he knows this, but his intimidation tactic is illegal, and I have video of him, his van, his license plate and his belligerent actions.

What's a homeless person to do, I thought. And I decided, strangely enough, I don't have anything else to do, I'm going to see where this little story leads.

Part of the truth here is that I know of many people who have been manipulated into homelessness for the purpose of becoming criminalized in  just this way, or worse, to be deemed mentally ill... or worse. So, this story, what happens to someone when they become homeless, became even more intriguing to me.

This man now knew I had audio and video equipment and had recorded the incident, so I didn't think he'd be stupid enough to commit violence. He'd already ordered two other vehicles accompanying him to move away after I informed him I was a reporter, one of which moved about 1000 feet away and stayed there for hours.

After finishing reloading, the van was still there, and I was, admittedly, taking my own sweet time just to see what this guy would do. I got into the front seat of the car, poured a cup of coffee, started the engine so I could get warm, and the van very aggressively pulled away. I guess he thought I was leaving. I was going to, after I thought about where I'd go for a while.

I sat there, like the night before, wondering what I would do. And wondering.

I realized I was getting sick, and had decided I'd spend the "expendable" money I had the next day on a motel so I could get well and cleaned up. And there I was, no one around, nothing going on, cars only going by maybe once every few hours. Across the street from Forrest Lawn. What the heck. I moved the car to the other side of the street to be out of the way of the street sweeper the next morning, and I was set.

Around nine o'clock, the guy in the van pulls up next to the driver's side window, and just sits there and glares at me. I decided to go to bed, and put the recording equipment in clear sight, and ready to use, so if he came back while I was sleeping, he'd know I was ready to capture evidence about his illegal activities.

For the record: it may well have been that I was breaking the law by sleeping there. I really don't know. But, if I was, why didn't they call the police? And, if they were a neighborhood watch group, why didn't they identify themselves? That's why I wonder if it was a security company hired by the church, or a weed and seed group, using a notebook with the letters PAPCO where this guy recorded his notes about me.

Universal Church of the Kingdom of God  Prince & The New Power Generation - Diamonds And Pearls - 08 - Walk Don't Walk

Nonetheless: intimidation tactics are illegal. And I won't tell you the answer to the situation in this chapter, but what IS  a homeless person supposed to do? It's a more complex situation than it seems.

But it is the responsibility of society, particularly one that calls itself a Christian nation, to find ways that actually address the problems and empower all citizens, middle class or not, otherwise, that society has failed as a sustainable society.

And it is the responsibility of the government to see that the concerns of all citizens are addressed.

Making laws criminalizing homelessness is about as ridiculous as the illegal concept of debtor's prison.

Think about it: you could walk around a city, homeless, 24 hours a day if you wanted, but the minute you fall asleep, you could be arrested.  How much sense does that actually make to you? Talk about a built-in gotcha.

When you think of that in a Biblical context, when you consider the message of Jesus regarding economic slavery, when you finally look at the issue without the biases you've been taught in order to get you to judge these people instead of having compassion for those who are needy.. realizing you have no idea why they ended up in this circumstance...

What we are actually informed of by a country that does this to the "least of all", is that economic slavery has become legal in that if you don't fit the economic and work ethic profile that the government and the corporations require, you will ignored and criminalized.

That's like getting whipped when you're malnourished in a prison camp for not working hard enough.

It's pure economic coercion and slavery, and as the current economic depression deepens, watch how what I tell you proves true. And I don't say that with any pleasure. I say that to warn you, as the nation becomes corporatized under the guise of corporate nationalization of the financial and industrial base.

Corporate socialism, the New World Order, has truly arrived. Watch your civil rights disappear.

The next morning, I drove to a couple of motels, got a good breakfast and a haircut. Imagine being homeless and grubby, trying to convince a hair stylist to cut your hair. I did. A $10 hair cut cost me $25. I was appreciative.

I spent the next couple of days in a motel. I couldn't really afford it, but I was getting sick. I stocked up on food, hooked up the computer, parked the car in a visible place so the evidence would be safe, caught up on the news and slept.

I flipped the channels, and came across Fox News just as the Israeli-Gaza conflict was beginning. After a while, I wondered what other channels were reporting, so I flipped around and found CNN.  A little while later, I went to change to Fox again, and it wasn't there. Once again, the Psyops guys were playing tricks on me to make sure I knew they were there. I just laughed. I'm used to it.

On Sunday, I went to church, concerned about the car, but wanting to give these people one more chance to show me they weren't phonies and part of a psyop. Unfortunately, they turned me away. After paying $6 to park while they told me I wasn't welcome, the car wouldn't start, and once I got it started again, I went back to the motel to gather my thoughts.

After a few phone calls, gathering some info and giving it a lot of thought, it appeared that the best course was to return the Pacific Northwest. To this moment, I'm not sure that was a good decision.

But there I was, another two days living in my car on the road on my way to Santa Cruz to see my old Pastor, Rev. Culwell. I thought it would be worth checking out, and it definitely was. I got to Santa Cruz, and had the same problem: no place to clean up in order to be presentable when trying to meet people who I believed would possibly providing some key information.

So, I figured I had just enough money to get back to the Pacific Northwest... including one night in the cheapest motel I could find. So, that's what I did. I got the thermos filled up, and prepared for the next day. But not before I went to dinner to have tacos.

When I was in Glendale, I had a craving for tacos, and came to realize that the most nutritious, complete and filling meal at the best price was a taco plate. In Santa Cruz, I went down by the Wharf to the La Palmas Taco Bar (which was an old Orange Julius 40 or so years before). I was really hungry. After two days without having a real meal, I was so hungry. And I still hadn't  gotten over that feeling I had in Glendale of just not being able to get enough food.

I pulled into the parking lot, got out of the car, and I noticed a man - probably in his mid to late 20's - sorting of wandering around, counting his money, acting as if he was trying to figure out what to do. I knew he was homeless - you could see the weathering of his skin, and that he'd been frequently exposed to the cold and the sun and the wind.

I knew he was going to ask me for money. I didn't have a problem with that. I wouldn't have before, but I understood even more now. I felt a little guilty. Here I was, knowing I was technically homeless, spending money on one more good meal before I was delivered back to safety, wondering "How much should I give him? Enough for a meal, for two meals?"

After all, I was planning to get 3 tacos, a tostada, beans and rice and dessert... all in all it came to nearly $10. I thought about how even this minimalist diet of tacos could cost as much as $20 per day.

He asked me for a dollar, I gave him enough for a large taco, and he was actually delighted that he still had a dollar and a quarter left in his pocket. He really was.

It made me do some heavy thinking about this world we live in. Because this man, who wasn't hurting anyone, was clearly diminished by his circumstances. He approached me as if apologizing for bothering me with his existence. He had no additional possessions, was cold, thin and weak. It reminded me of how I looked and felt when I quickly realized early on that I was becoming dehydrated.

It makes you wonder what this person would be doing if they weren't homeless.

Or what they'd be like if they weren't starving and lacking all semblance of self-esteem.

As if the final reminder of the perils of homelessness, on the way back to the Pacific Northwest, I came to a place where the highway was closed, and I pulled into a rest stop, needing to sleep anyway. I was told that there was no way to travel north for 4 to 5 days due to the worst storm to hit the area in some 500 years.

I had no money, no real food,  a little coffee (of course, the VFW gives it to you free at the rest stops). And I was wondering how I'd get through 4 or 5 more days this way. I just went to bed thinking "God will provide".

Sure enough, the next morning, I'm sitting there in my car sipping a cup of coffee from my thermos, when I get a tap on the window. The guy from the VFW coffee stand is telling me there's a guy with directions for a detour to go north, and he's giving me the instructions so I can lead him through the detour.

I welcomed the news of the detour, but still can't for the life of me figure out why this person would go out of their way to have me lead them through a detour on roads I didn't know at all. I still wonder. Except, God provides. And I was back home within 2 hours.

There were quite a few purposes served by this trip, even some I wish I hadn't been in the position to fulfill. It includes being able to report to you a little about what it's really like to be abandoned to live on the streets and have to know the ridicule of other citizens.

I unfortunately learned the importance of recognizing apostasy when I see it, and maybe not to be so willing to check things out when I'm curious about the truth, although the truth is worth a little risk and inconvenience.

Maybe the most important thing God wanted me to make you aware of is what can happen when the government uses its resources to manipulate people into homelessness, the trap they set... as they did to me this time and many other people whom I have been in contact with over the years. And, hopefully, to cause you to take a look at your life and wonder if you're really prepared for the economic situation we're facing. If you really appreciate how much we take our convenient lives for granted.

Hopefully, in time, you'll see how the government uses a class system that causes poverty in order to fulfill the need for a working class of a wage standard that can be exploited.

The ranks of the working poor are growing every day, and the government's use of  a class and economic warfare system is obvious as their speeches address only the concerns of the so called middle class that barely exists anymore except in corporate media propaganda. And proposes universal health care programs that do little more than require you to buy insurance that the poor, the ones most in need of health care due to their lower standard of living, can't afford to buy in the first place.

These are the sorts of "successful" deceptions that emboldened the U.S. Government to bail out corporations who have depleted their assets in the United States, get bailouts, and use the transferred assets to other corporations and countries to build the new, cheaper manufacturing base in China and India. At the expense of the United States taxpayers.

This ends up concerning me because of the homelessness that always accompanies economic depression and manipulation of this magnitude. Homelessness that has been hastened by the sub-prime crisis. And those people who seek to force you to deal with the "problems caused by the crisis" that they knew of long before they took the steps to cause it. Such as Congress.

These are the kinds of deceptions being foisted upon us all. I hope you will be able to see it before it has detrimental effects on you and your family, even though the indebtedness it has already caused will already affect our lives for generations, unless the evil-doers are ultimately expelled.

You don't want to be homeless. And you can't rely on the government to save you. Ask the victims of Katrina and Ike.


See also: From June 2003, A Conversation With America: Universal Church of God - Bluebeam Homelessness

See also: From June 2003, A Conversation With America:  Universal Church of God - Bluebeam Poverty

See also: From 2002, bluediam.gif (123 bytes) From the Memory of a Child A retrospective of the heritage and memories of my life that relate to the world, and this nation today., at the beginning of my deep concern for the trends I saw developing based on things my father had most certainly thought it was important for me to know.


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