Friday, July 21, 2017

Overwhelming mess is a tragedy in layers

The back yard in this photo by a neighbor is a story all its own.
     It felt a little bit like a block party as neighbors came by to chat and laugh  a little and take a tour to view the damage. Some offered congratulations, others offered sympathy and most offered to help with the cleanup. It could have been a group of neighbors socializing on a sunny summer Alaska evening. The thirteen police cars lining both sides of the street might have given it away, but, then hadn't a block party ended now and then when one neighbor had a beer too many and let another neighbor know what he really thought of him, eventually leading to a call to the police?
The table by the bed.
     Despite the social aspect this wasn't your normal neighborhood party. What they had just observed, and were celebrating in a way, was an eviction. Neighbors who had dealt with the denizens of this home where they stood had come by to cheer and congratulate my friend for finally getting them out.
     That friend had spent the past six months attempting to evict the band of tweakers and thieves who lived in the rental unit she owns. Time after time she went to court and was discouraged by one technicality after another.    Meanwhile neighbors were complaining to the police who often visited the place finding stolen cars and investigating various illegal activities.
     Finally this week the eviction went through. It took all those police cars and some insistence but the inhabitants packed up and took what they could in a big U-Haul. and left. Then the neighbors started showing up, But there is more frustration in store as the former residents have two weeks to come back and take what they want before they are out for good, so that keeps us from getting in there and cleaning up.
     Cleaning up is a mild term for what needs to be done. It would be difficult to imagine much less describe how absolutely horrible the mess is. Seriously, there is barely a spot on a floor anywhere that isn't covered with something. Piles of garbage, stuffing a dog tore out of a mattress cover infused with spilled soft drinks next to a table in the master bedroom holding at least two crack pipes, several tiny plastic baggies, empty energy drink bottles, evidence of spilled foods, cigarette lighters and various other objects a druggie would keep next to the bed. Here and there in that room were items a child would use, toys, discarded boxes for toys, The Lego Movie DVD. Next to the table on the floor was a tangle of mattress stuffing held together by a spilled Slurpees of some sort plus anything else that would stick to the mess including a shoe, couple of broken smart phones and a couple of phone
cases. Around the room wires ran from a rack on the wall that would have held a flat screen TV. A line of small Velcro patches crosses about half the ceiling like they might have held up some kind of a curtain that could have shielded a child from the goings on in the bed and next to it.
     That's just the bedroom. In the kitchen the sink was so full of dirty dishes you couldn't even find it. We moved a big bookshelf and discovered a stack of dirty pans still thick with grease and crawling with little flying bugs. Every flat display surface like the top of the wall cabinets was lined with empty liquor bottles of one kind of another. Our shoes stuck slightly to the floor when we walked through. We got the kitchen window boarded up.
     It's a small living room, but it holds a Coca Cola vending machine, a full-sized slot machine and one of those electronic games you see in stores with the claw you can manipulate to pick up prizes in the base. The prizes in this one were soft dice like we used to hang from the rear view mirror. I counted at least three flatscreens on the floor and not plugged in. Speaking of which extension cords ran everywhere often plugged into splitters that led into a spider web of cords going elsewhere. We tried to get them all unplugged before we turn on the electricity and start a fire.      
Electronic pieces and parts and a child's book.

Speaking of that, the electricity has been turned off for several months for nonpayment. There are pieces and parts of various electronic components all over the place, plus three couches where people obviously crashed. And trash, piles of it everywhere. Found three pairs of various kinds of boots. There was very little visible floor.
     The outside yard is a story all its own. I could go on and on but the pictures pretty much tell the story. At present we are boarding it up but not cleaning too much. The tenant has two weeks to get everything out so we have to let that happen. At that point we might have lots of help.
Kind of makes you wonder who Teenah was.
     As I was working through the mess moving stuff out of the way so we could get at the windows to measure them for their new plywood coverings, a thought began nagging my mind. Now and then  someone would comment something like "you wonder how people can live like this." And eventually I began to wonder too and I realized my friend Kitty had lived in places like this with people like this. If you have followed this blog you have seen snippets of a book I have been working on for years about a young girl who ran away from an abusive home, became a meth addict and prostitute and lived in crash pads with other drug users. She had even described for me once how she and her friends had trashed a woman's apartment when they were high. And, this woman had taken Kitty in after a boyfriend/pimp had almost killed her when he shot her up with a mix of drugs. She had no remorse and thought it was odd that I would criticize her for it. As I was finishing up what needed to be done and making lists of materials and tools I would need the next day, Kitty and I carried on a conversation in my head about her life in a world that looked like the inside of this house. I lost the will to socialize. I suddenly hated the people who had done this to my friend's house and, too, I hated the people who had done what they did to Kitty. Though she was a welcoming participant, still, they trashed her mind and body in the same way these people had trashed this house, and who knows how many other Kittys might have wandered into a mess like this. I felt a sympathy for them though I hated them with my whole being.
     Toward the end of the evening as the crowd thinned out and we had finished measuring the windows for boards. A young girl from the neighborhood was talking with the owner. She looked maybe 14, only a couple of years younger than Kitty was when she ran away from that abusive father and fell into the life.
     As she was about to leave, with all her innocent enthusiasm and desire to help, and standing in that disaster area she asked the owner, "are you going to need some help cleaning this up?" I laughed right out loud and then the owner joined in. For a moment the girl looked consternated wondering why we would laugh at her heart-felt offer and then she realized what she had said and had a good laugh with us.
     Are we going to need some help cleaning all this up? Yes we are, sweetheart, yes we are.


An afterthought: It turns out this isn't an isolated incident. As I have told other people about this, just about everyone at least knows someone who went through the same thing. I wrote not long ago about how in Alaska no matter what you do someone has done it better, gone farther or higher, did it faster and suffered more hardship than you have. The next day after the first entry, I ran into a guy whose father had encountered the same problem. Only that house was so bad the guy burned it down.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Catching up again, a new playlist

July 15, 2017
It's been a while since one of these. Life got in the way of facebook for a while and a lower profile seemed to be the way to deal. But one thing I noticed was not many people have been posting music lately. Maybe it's summer and people are outdoors during leisure time, or maybe it's the heat, maybe it's the politics or maybe it's just life goes on. A death in the family today reminded me how fragile life is so in remembrance and to raise the level a little, maybe it's time to put a little music into life. I have been collecting songs knowing this day would come sooner or later. Never being orthodox about this, these first three are different versions of the same song. Worth the listen I hope. First is Zooey Deschanel with She and Him. "Unchained Melody."

The next one is a little different. You maybe have heard part of it already in an Apple commercial that's been on TV lately. Lykke Li.  'Unchained Melody" again.

Now, you might have noticed whose song they have covered. Honestly, I like listening to these but nobody and I mean nobody sang it like the Righteous Brothers. (Also I am old enough to have heard it before THAT movie.)  "Unchained Melody" yet again.

I didn't realize that version didn't have the other half of the brothers on it, so just for justice and equality, here is another song with both of them singing. Awesomesauce. "You've lost that loving feeling."

The high notes Bobby Hatfield could hit brings a connection to another singer. I heard this the other night and it reminded me this is a song I don't have on my phone. A glass of wine and a credit card took care of that. I don't think anyone has ever tried to cover this one. Minnie Riperton, "Loving You."

We often focus on the contemporary. And on these lists I often focus on the past. But look who's coming along. This young lady is 11 years old. Give the drummer a little love too. She's 14 and I have saved some videos of her for a future playlist.  "The Sound of Silence."

Ok they both deserve another listen. "Go your own way." Put it on full screen. These kids are amazing. The young fellow playing the guitar is 14 also.

Not sure I can even top those kids tonight, but we could start by letting Fleetwood Mac go their own way. 

Some comments from facebook at this point in the night.
Suzy Peakall Thank you for another stellar playlist. It's been too long.

Tim Jones This one went in a different direction in a New York minute.
Suzy Peakall All part of the magic, my friend.

July 15 at 9:07pm
I couldn't resist. I got to poking around with the videos those kids put up and came across this one. It's not on the playlist on facebook, but I liked it so much I thought it might go here. The drummer Sina covering  The Who's "Pinball Wizard." with a tribute to Who drummer Keith Moon.

Ok sticking with young female singers. This is Suzi Quatro. A nickel if you recognize her. Never mind: Leather Tuscadero from the TV show "Happy Days." "If you can't give me love"

All right with all these female musicians, somehow in the back of my mind I feel like I am violating some kind of bro code. So, here's a transition.  Maria Muldar, Leon Russell, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson.

Seems like somebody cut that one short. So, moving on. I keep going back here. The first and biggest of the "girl groups" the Supremes first big hit. "Where Did Our Love Go"

Now we are heading off into random songs that caught my attention over the past few months: Starting with One toke over the line, a song Lawrence Welk totally misunderstood. "One Toke Over the Line."

I've already mentioned Leon Russell once. Here he is again. In 1971 Beatle George Harrison organized a benefit to help refugees in Bangladesh, a largely ignored part of the world. Anyone who was anybody attended and participated. Too many to mention. This is a memorable performance as introduced by George, "a couple of numbers from Leon." "Jumpin' Jack Flash and Youngblood." 

Would you believe a duet by Judy Collins and Peter Seeger? "Turn, Turn, Turn." Did you know the lyrics are based on biblical scripture? The song was written by Seeger and includes word for word passages from the first eight verses of the Third Book of Ecclesiastes. 

Why is it we don't hear more from Judy Collins these days? "In my life"  

This came up in conversation tonight, memories; first with the cover by the young girl above and then in conversation. Paul Simon with a good back story. I actually rode down a road once with a lover I was leaving and we sang this song, even made up verses.  "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover"

Here's a lesser known Paul Simon song, but one that speaks to me. "The Boxer." 

Simon & Garfunkel were so good it would be difficult to pick their best song but this one would be near the top. For one it relates to my experience with Sweet Judy Blue Eyes (Yes Suzy, another one who got away) but also to a happy day driving to Anchorage when I actually hit the high note. I have NEVER hit the high note in Unchained Melody.  If you listen closely Art Garfunkel doesn't hit the high note either in this rendition. "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

One last song. Watching Mic Fleetwood and Sina (the drummer backing that 11-year-old singer) play drums earlier tonight reminded me of this story. When Peter Gabriel left Genesis, the group went looking for another lead singer. They auditioned several people but kept looking for someone they said "sounded like" (drummer) Phil Collins. Then the dawn broke and the rest is history. From their extensive library this has always been my favorite. "I don't care anymore."

More music and playlists

Interesting quotations

"In the final analysis your life is only as good as the background music you dance to." – that was me

"Whether you think that you can or you think you can't, you are right." – Henry Ford

"You want to feel alive until the day you croak" – Frank Gallagher Shameless

"Smooth is good but sailing takes a brisk wind" – me

"I'm a drinker with writing problems." ~ Brendan Behan

"Religious Freedom is not about stopping persecution; it’s about being the one who gets to do it. Glory!" – Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's best Christian

It doesn't matter what you write, it only matters that you write.

"Give someone a book and they'll read all day. Teach someone to write a book and they'll spend a lifetime mired in paralyzing self doubt." – internet meme

"It's been a long time since I heard my backbone crack – Chuck Berry

“Don’t think you’re on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path.” – JD

"I was the only person up on the hill with both racing numbers and a handicapped placard." – Kitty Delorey Fleischman, a grandmother who occasionally still races her Porsche in hill climbs.

Like most writers, I feel like a reprobate who does not deserve to live on any day that I do not write, but I also feel that four or five hours is enough to earn my stay on the planet for one more day. – anon

"Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool." – Mark Twain

Shit happens; you just come up with a different plan. – Kitty

Your body is not a temple. It's an amusement park. – Anthony Bourdain

Never too late for a happy childhood – Berkley Breathed

A real writer doesn't just want to write, a real writer has to write. – Internet meme

"It was like the aftermath of an orgasm with the wrong partner" – David Lagercrants, "The Girl in the Spider's Web"

The non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

We never comprehend how heavy the things are we insist on carrying until we set them down. jd

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio talk show host

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve