Thursday, February 25, 2016

11feb25016 -- Homeless, Super Bowl, Broncos, Joe Hutchison, Looking South to Lone Cone, Wendy Videlock, Science News and a poem, “Listserve”

The dark underside of the City

Colorado Poet Laureate Joe Hutchison

HOMELESS … That was the biggest downside of returning to San Francisco in January. There were whole tent cities under freeway overpasses and along other busy thoroughfares. Bums, we used to call them, sleeping in the street. Or in parks. Cardboard for covers. But these days both sexes. And sometimes whole families … Of course, I had no defense when someone asked me for money. I’m from Norwood where we help each other out, even if we don’t particularly like one another. I had a roll of ones in my pocket, just for that occasion -- of being asked … Still, I wasn’t naïve. I grew up in the City. I kept my eyes averted walking in the Tenderloin. The Mission. Letting anyone engage your eyes as you passed was tantamount to inviting trouble. Better to pretend you were deep in one’s own thoughts than to register anything even faintly hinting of recognition. That’s the urban way … But if someone asks me, I have a hard time saying no. As long as I have enough to share, and someone asks, it kind of feels like it’s my duty to oblige … My daughter got mildly annoyed with me, as we walked the night streets returning from shows or scooter rides. If asked, I shared. It made for slow walking on some jaunts … Maybe the worst example (although it felt like compassion to me) was entertaining a homeless sort while Iris went to a class nearby. An older woman, but not elderly. Asking strangers odd things, questioning stuff, ranting about her last hotel, and her aunt, and others who had wronged her. I was in a trendy hipster yogurt and pudding shop off Polk Street. I was typing out a column (like this one) while enjoying a bowl of rice pudding (like my mother used to make). Lady GoneGone (or whatever her name was) sat at an adjacent table. Soon she was plying me with queries and telling long stories that made little sense. Or repeating stories over and again … I guess she reminded me of my mother, who had lived in the City. And had only been saved from homelessness because I moved her into an apartment in Noe Valley I’d rented for a half-dozen years. The landlord was a good-hearted sort. The rent was affordable for someone on Social Security and food stamps. The second-floor railroad flat of the three-story building wasn’t pretty. But it was clean. And livable … She stayed her last years there until the cancer took her. Lady GG reminded me of what might have become of Blanche, if I hadn’t been around to watch out for her. So, before long, I was buying GG a pudding. Telling the waitron it was okay. That GG wasn’t bothering me … For about an hour I half-listened, half-typed. Not only was she a talker, but she scratched her arms and legs ceaselessly. Finally explained she had lice, about the time she got moved out of her table by other customers and sidled in next to me. Not touching. But close … Finally, the time came to meet up with my daughter at a jewelry workshop a couple doors done the street. I politely, if firmly, detached myself from GG, said goodbye, wished her well, and scurried off. My compassion tested. My heart also a bit sore, thinking of where GG would spent the night. And the next day. And the rest of her life.

SUPER BOWL … Sadly, Mayor Ed Lee and the not-so-progressive San Francisco pols used the Super Bowl down the Peninsula at the new Levi Stadium in Santa Clara as an excuse to roust the homeless from their tent city at the foot of Potrero Hill. Which, in turn, sparked public protests from the decidedly liberal element still infiltrating the hipster capital of California … Not that having hundreds of people (they actually estimate about 1,500) living in the streets is a good situation. It’s not. And so something has to be done … But moving people for a football game is maybe not the best thing to be done.

BRONCOS … You didn’t have to be a Broncos fan to root for the Manning underdogs against the Newton upstarts. But the Angler Inn was a good setting to watch the upset. Not a spectacular game. Lots of turnovers – mostly benefiting Colorado. But a hard-fought slog that went our way … Life doesn’t always happen like that. Nice to be part of the good times when it does.

JOE HUTCHISON … Colorado Poet Laureate Joseph Hutchison has a blog []. He recently sent out an email with a list of his best books in 2015. And two Western Slope poets made his list … “Best Poetic Discovery: Wendy Videlock (how did I survive without her marvelous wit?) … Best Floating World Poetry: Art Goodtimes’ Looking South to Lone Cone, where the local and the spiritual intersect and release astonishing flashes of, well, I can only call it wisdom.”

SCIENCE NOTES … What were the science breakthroughs this past year that you won’t find in textbooks, but are important changes in how we as a culture see things? To find out I turned to Science News, published by the non-profit Society for Science & the Public … Pluto, that demoted sub-par planet, turned into the year’s hall-of-fame superstar -- thanks to a robotic spaceship the size of a grand piano named New Horizons, which revealed its ice volcanoes, mountain ranges and regions devoid of craters, in transmissions still being received … “Seeing a new world for the first time,” opined Cathy Olkin, a planetary scientist at Boulder’s Southwest Research Institute, “I mean that’s huge.”



where theorists
bat intellectual systemologies
back & forth like bric-a-brac

you can almost
smell where they’re headed
& beat them to the seat

though, careful,
they like to piss on new poles
& bark up each other’s trees

I like the leads

they give us


  1. Me at this advanced age and I still have no clue what a listserv is. This may be one. Is it? Are you a listserv? What list do you serve? Or do you serve up a list? I'm befuddled. Flummoxed. Listing in the mist, amigo. Gad!

  2. befuddled. flummoxed. listing to port. or maybe sauterne. all good.

  3. Liberals have me flummoxed. They are the chosen ones to end homelessness. They are commissioned to teach Conservatives how to have a heart. But they just chuck small change and go on their way while the city fathers bulldoze shell-shocked homeless families out of the way for Stupid Bowl 50. Bernie will not fix homelessness. He will only enable it by feeding their habit. Hillary will not fix homelessness. She'll get Bill Gates to vaccinate them. Old Bill has some really good formulas and 'shot' troops ready to stick it to them. Trump? No time for anybody not in his paygrade. We save the best for our mothers... "A Home for Mom." Just call this 800 number and we'll hook you up (if you've got the dough). And the God of the Old Testament will seriously smote your ass for jaywalking. That Soylent Green is looking better every day. Just turn yourself in and take the ride. More and more the Legislatures are stacked with fools, sociopaths and certifiable psychopaths. Like the man says, why even go there?! Better to just get out of Dodge. Damn, where did I put the key to that pot room?

  4. fair enough. neither side of the American political establishment is going to help, until we get a real champion, like Canada does in Trudeau, the young one... meanwhile, I am out of Dodge -- Wright's Mesa, who's heard of it?


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