A little more information

The two main activities in my life: Helping the hungry in the late hours of the night and helping guitar players sound better one amp at a time.

I always try to remember that in order to do good one has to take action and actually do something.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I have watched the city and Southern California change for well over half a century.

I can be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/mylesr or on twitter at www.twitter.com/myles111us

As of late 2019 the music related links and prints noted on this page which had their links to by GAB (Guitar Amplifier Blueprinting) website are no longer accessible. I grew weary of updating my GAB website and let it go away. You can contact me on Facebook. Saunders Stewart Models continues full operation but we are not accepting new clients without a referral.

Los Angeles Architectural History

Los Angeles Architectural History
1935 Art Deco at some of its finest: No. 168 - Griffith Observatory- (click on the photo for information)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What kind of business has their objective to end their business? Union Rescue Mission

Today I spent the day downtown at Union Rescue Mission.  My head is filled with new knowledge and information but I walked away with a few heavy questions with no answer.  I also learned there are apects of what people think they know about URM which are not factual.

Before I continue, please excuse spelling and typing errors as well as the basic flow of this bit or writing.  I have a thousand thoughts in my head from the day.  I could have broken this down into many blog entries and perhaps should have done just that but don't worry, I have not even begun to start on this subject.

I cannot figure out how to wrap my head around a business model that makes no sense to me.  What I have been taught over the years does not seem to be applicable in this sort of business.  The business model of Union Rescue Mission is a 180 degree departure to any conventional business.  If one wants to get directly to the bottom line or cut to the chase so to speak, they seem to be in the business of putting themselves out of business.

Some forms of business such as police and fire services loves when business is slow.  Most forms of business do their best to grow and expand. 

Union Rescue Mission supplies food and shelter.  That is what most people think the downtown missions do.  It is a very small part of the picture.  URM supplies food, shelter, medical, dental, legal, training programs, guidance and the list goes on and on. They take people in who have nothing, who have lost their life, their way, their home, their job and more.  People that have nowhere to go.  They have many sub-objectives and all of these leads to one major objective, help people to become self reliant and productive.

URM puts as many people as they can on a road to being productive using various programs.  Get folks on their feet, get them help in a number of areas, get them trained, get them organized or back on track, get them out the door and hope they never see them again unless it is when they visit the many friends they made during the time spent at the mission.

If there were not a steady inflow of people in need they would put themself out of business and that would be just fine with them.

Unfortunately, there is not a steady inflow of people.  The inflow is not consistent, it has increased.  The economy is taking its toll on the resources and finances of Union Rescue Mission.

I am posting a video from URM where Andy Bales gives some figures about how donations have gone down while the necessary services required have gone up.  Not a comforting thought.  On the surface these figures look a bit scary.  It is considerably more critical than the video might indicate initially.  I am just starting to grasp how critical the situation is after learning a bit more today.

Here are a few facts or observations that I learned first hand:

Union Rescue Mission has stockpiles of cash and generate a substantial income?  Nonsense.  The have had to reduce staff and the remaining staff have taken deep pay cuts.  These folks were not in what most would define as a high income braket even before the cuts.  As a personal observation, one of the members of the executive staff takes public transportation to work each day and rides the URM shuttle from the bus stop to the mission.  What about the head guy, the man in charge, the head cheese.  Andy Bales.  The guy drives a Honda.  Not a Mercedes or BMW. 

"The Church" donates big money to the mission.  Uhhh, well ... more nonsence.  Churches take care of their own property and their own people.  Just because some of the missions follow religious doctrine don't believe for one second that the big Church in Rome or anywhere else is sending money to Union Rescue Mission.

So where do they get their money?  Many of you know the answer to this.  Donations.  Donations from big corporations, small business and individuals.  Sounds workable, right?  Everybody repeat after me, the new word of the moment .... NONSENSE.  The economy has taken a toll and continues to take deeper cuts each month.  The data is all around us.  Increasing unemployment and rising foreclosures on homes are only two of many indicators.  Business is changing.  Companies are trying to be viable again by reducing operating expenses and increasing profits.  This is most easily accomplished by reducing staff and reducing compensation to staff who remain employed.  As things improve these companies post profit on Wall Street in many cases but their remaining workforce who are employed have been transformed or educated.  Simply, they are thankful they are employed.  The lost jobs for those gone will probably never be replaced.  Money will be spent on less costly automated systems that do not require salary, benefits or retirement considerations.

What we have now is big companies cutting back on contributions, small and mid size companies just trying to stay in business and many individuals out of work.  The operating cash flow has dried up.  In California we have a water shortage, shortage of jobs and shortage of resources to folks like Union Rescue Mission.  I don't want to scare folks but URM is something of the lifeboat on a ship in trouble at sea.  The lifeboat may or may not be usable if and when it is needed by you.  You don't think it can happen to you?  I have heard this every day for months as I meet one new unemployed person after another, or somebody who has lost their home after loss of employment or financial difficulty.

Bottom line econonomics - Income is down and services needed are up.  The lifeboat needs attention in the form of paint, caluking and routine service but there are not enough funds to do this.  Don't look up though as you may become a bit concerned at the increasing clouds, wind, darkness in the sky and the waves are growing larger as well.

I have met many folks in the area known as Skid Row and have learned more than I could attempt to articulate in any media let alone writing.  I am not a writer.  I was never on the school newspaper.  I never took any classes other than basic composition stuff long long ago in some school somewhere.  I write technical material and can get those ideas and lessons across to many but I am weak when it comes to trying to express things I see every week.

People on Skid Row are not all crazy.  They are not all drug addicts.  Then again, spend a month or two sleeping on the street and being without a safe place twenty four hours a day and you will probably become a little crazy yourself.  There are a lot of great people that just need help or a helping hand.  Some need a safe place for a new start.  Many crave a chance for a better life.  I will post a few videos at the end of this blog.  One I have posted before on a student named Kenneth.  Spend a bit of time talking to some of the folks who are homeless and you may learn how full of dreams and strength some of them happen to be.

People on Skid Row don't work, do not want to work and just want to panhandle.  Not total nonsense but again, NONSENSE in most cases.  There are jerks and lazy people everywhere.  I was in the corporate world for decades and there were countless jerks and lazy people all around me every day.  Look at the news.  Some of the biggest names in the business world are now spending their time in prison.   By the way, most of the folks on the streets do have forms of income and many do have regular jobs.  Unfortunately the compensation may not be adequate to have a home and raise a family.

What is my point here?  I don't know.  There is just too much to think about.  When life gets a bit too complex for me I step back and try to simplify things into fewer objectives.  I will try to do that here.

1.    Go here and donate something to URM - https://secure3.convio.net/urm/site/Donation2?idb=606437098&df_id=1320&1320.donation=form1

A few dollars on a regular basis will go a very long way.  These folks need income they can depend upon.  URM does not have a stockpile of cash and the situation is critical.

2.  Go here and read a bit about Hope Gardens.  Some of this information is a little older but it is still quite important and current in the scope of the message.  The video I will post was done almost two years ago but is filled with good information.  Hope Gardens is run by Union Rescue Mission and without your help it may not have a stable future.  You can help.  Take a stand and make it personal.  Too many of us just leave these sorts of things to others.     http://campaignforhopegardens.org/

I am sure many of you saw the recent news stories about a person that went to the aid of another who was being stabbed.  The person was able to save the person under attack but was stabbed himself.  Security cameras showed people walking past the bleeding individual for an hour, doing nothing.  Psycologists on the news said it was human nature in society where we shut down and ignore situations like this one.  Self protection.  Feeling that somebody else will help or somebody has already made a call for help.  Well call me crazy as I have a very difficult time letting those shut down mechanisms blind me to these things.  Bottom line here .... I am telling you....  your eyes are open, look at what is going on, do something, others are not doing anything, YOU can make a difference.

Hope Gardens from Union Rescue Mission on Vimeo.

Kenneth | Stories from Skid Row from Union Rescue Mission on Vimeo.

For something good to be accomplished one has to actually do something.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

You do have the ability to change things - really!

I spent a lot of today at Union Rescue Mission.  I took a number of photos which I will upload in the next few days.  Alex and Jacqui spent many hours with me and I would like to thank them once again.

But .... even though it has been a long day and the day is not over yet I just wanted to post this video.  The video is only a minute and a half but the message is powerful.  If you want to change something, not just be a cog in the wheel but be the wheel yourself, you can by being a part of this program where a little gift from a lot of people will make a huge difference.

These folks know how to get the most out of a dollar and I have seen what they can do and have done.  In a word - amazing.

Click on the link above if you want to change a life.  Please forward this to folks that you feel would like to help.  Remember, to do good one actually has to do something.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The homeless, the economy, food, photos, meetings and escorts

The last week or so has been somewhat busy.  I don't know where to start so I will just start with today and work my way backwards I suppose.

Today the stock market was up 103 points.  Looking into my crystal ball .... the market was up today and had a large upward trend. My thought is that tomorrow or Friday, or possibly both days will be down days as profit taking and automated computer trading programs kick off for the end of the week and/or triggered by the upswing of the day.  I would venture to guess that there will be news stories making statements of an economy turn around sign even though the unemployment numbers increase (even though when they do not rise as fast the government paints a rosy picture) and the number of homeless on the streets of Los Angeles rise from week to week.

Over on my facebook wall I posted this:  Take a moment to consider helping in any way possible to the folks out there trying to help the less fortunate - Union Rescue Mission, The Midnight Mission or one of the others of your choice. I have the links below in other posts if you wish to learn more about what these folks do.

If you want to find these folks easily ....  http://www.urm.org/ and http://www.midnightmission.org/ are their respective links.

I spent a bit of time at Norm's Rare Guitars in Tarzana California one day.  Norm is a big supporter of The Midnight Mission with concert events, donated guitars for sale to raise money for the Midnight Mission folks and is a terrific fellow.

Norm is on the left in the grey jacket in this photo.

I had a long meeting with Larry Adamson, the CEO of The Midnight Mission.  I will be working with them on a regular basis in the near future.  Larry is one of those rare folks that can stretch the most out of a dollar.  I will be working with them and will also be working with Union Rescue Mission as well.

Tomorrow I have a meeting with the folks at Union Rescue Mission ( http://www.urm.org/ ).  I may take some facility photos to post at a later date.  Andy Bales is the CEO of URM and many of you already know how I feel about URM and the staff there ... first rate folks.

I keep stretching my time continually but it seems to be working.  I spend time at 65 Amps, spend at least half my evenings on the streets of downtown Los Angeles passing out snacks to the street residents who do not go to the missions for whatever reasons they may have (I cannot seem to understand the reasons myself), taking photos of the downtown architecture and events of downtown and whatever else I can fit in. 

This is home for many on the streets of skid row or elsewhere in Los Angeles

When I feel I am running out of time I think of folks like Andy Bales and Larry Adamson and how much they accomplish in a day.  At that point I feel like a lightweight but at least I am inspired to push things a little further.

I wrote two reviews on Yelp on a few spots where I ate in the last few days.  One was a Korean place and the other an Italian spot downtown. 



The Italian spot was payment for doing a bit of photography work for two gals that live downtown and needed some photos for their webpages on an escort site.  I don't ask questions and I do not judge people in this economy.  For me it was a dinner that was compensated at a nice place. 

Jeff Beck will be playing April 17, 2010 at 8 pm. The Midnight Mission states:  We have Pit, Row K and Row W tickets available. All come with a pass to the VIP Lounge. Our friend Norm at Norm's Rare Guitars donated them to us to auction on Ebay. Check it out on our website. It promises to be a great show!


I took this photo with my cell phone one day and posted it on Facebook.

Some folks liked the picture.  I liked the building.  Some folks commented on the photo and said nice things.

I went to visit Don Garza but missed him.  But ... I took a cell phone shot going up the escalator at Pershing Square.

Sort of added an artistic touch to the cell phone photo.

I commented on a few new stories that I could not wrap my head around.  One story was about Tiger Woods.  Tiger Woods says missing son's birthday 'something I probably will regret for the rest of my life'  The story can probably still be seen here:  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/sports_blog/2010/04/tiger-woods-masters-news-conference-son-birthday-regrets.html

My own comment on this story at the time:  GIVE ME A BREAK! How many men and women are in the Mid East serving their country who are missing births, first steps, first words, birthdays etc. etc. etc. I cannot believe tripe like this makes news.

I sent 11 quads of EL84 tubes to Chad Weaver (Brad Paisley).  That should keep things going for a while.

I connected with a few old friends on Facebook which is always nice.

I will wrap things up for now and head downtown in a bit but before I end things here is the latest video from the folks at Union Rescue Mission -

Happy Wednesday and have a great remainder of the week.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

..... because it is what nice and normal people do.

Daily life events - Last night I was part observer and part participant ... a fly on the wall in my own mind as I tried to understand an unfolding dialogue going on right in front of me.

Setting the stage:  Lady and man exchanging banter.  It is clear that the two of them know each other very well and have history together.

Lady states to the man - "you always want me to just make you feel better and fix things when you feel bad".  Her tone is if this is a bad thing, something that should not be expected by the man.  Her tone and expression seem to be chosen to either make the man feel as if he was foolish or just plain stupid and his expectations were ridiculous. 

The man attempts to point out how he does this for her as a matter of fact - fixes things, comforts her when she is sick, confused, troubled, concerned, or is just there to listen when she needs a friend or advice.  It takes the man over fifteen minutes to attempt to make his point as he is continually interrupted.  It seems to me that this lady is determined to exercise total control of the conversation.  I do not think the lady ever heard the man or understood his point.


Some people have logic that does not always seem human.

Well lady ....  when friends, couples, or any two people who know each other and have any sort of relationship interact or get together it is normal to expect that as human beings we try to help one another, listen to each other, offer support and comfort if possible.  .... because it is what nice and normal people do.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spending Easter on skid row with old friends and new friends as well

Before I write anything I would like to thank Larry Adamson (the President and CEO of The Midnight Mission) and his staff for putting on such a spectacular event.  The event was truly the crown jewel in the Easter / Passover week festivities in which so many of the missions and shelters participated.  As a side note, if you click on the title of this blog entry you will be redirected to The Midnight Mission website where you can get the latest info, see how you may be able to help or donate to a great organization.

I spent April 4, 2010 downtown for Easter Sunday.  Easter weekend is pretty serious business for the missions down in the skid row area of Los Angeles.  Celebrations and activities abounded and the jewel in the crown of the events is hosted by The Midnight Mission. 

From 10am until 3pm 6th Street is closed between San Julian and San Pedro.  A stage is set up for live music and there is a strong focus on Blues with some terrific entertainment.  There are activites for children, art projects, great food including fresh baked goods and even the amazing Easter Bunny!  I do not know if the bunny was male or female but I will say it did not miss a beat during the entire event.  Energy +++ and made the Energizer Bunny look like a light weight!

From the Midnight Mission website on this particular event:

Easter/Passover Celebration 2010!

On Sunday, April 4th our staff, participants, and 200 volunteers come together to create a special brunch and celebration for about 2,000 of our closest friends... this year will be no exception!

We clear the street in front of our facility, set tables and chairs for our 2,000+ guests, most of who happen to be suffering from the condition of homelessness. We have an Easter Village for children, clothing giveaway and live entertainment.

For more information about the event or for sponsorship opportunities please contact, Mai Lee Community Relations Manager 213-624-4588. Volunteer opportunities, send an email to volunteer@midnightmission.org.

The link to the Easter event is http://www.midnightmission.org/frontstory1.asp

The Midnight Mission is quite entrenched in the music community with many supporters in the music industry.  One of these folks is a very close personal friend of over two decades, Norm Harris of Norman's Rare Guitars.  You can learn more about this store which is a part of music history at http://www.normansrareguitars.com/    Norm puts on events to support The Midnight Mission including the donation of artist signed guitars and major concert events.  Norm is a guy that walks the walk.

As a side note before I forget to post the link since I was talking about music, Jeff Beck will be playing for The Midnight Mission.  Here are a few details:

Jeff Beck Live in Concert!  Jeff Beck's show will be held in Los Angeles at the Nokia Theatre on April 17, 2010 at 8 pm.  Exclusive Orchestra tickets, Row W and Up Front Pit tickets, Row 3. Price includes concert ticket and pass to the VIP Lounge.

Jeff Beck is one of the UK's true music heroes, a visionary musician and guitar god admired by everyone from Eric Clapton, who he famously succeeded in The Yardbirds, to Morrissey, on whose new album Beck appears. He is recognized by his peers as perhaps the greatest guitarist of them all and has already been inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Yardbirds.

Proceeds to benefit The Midnight Mission.  Contact Georgia Berkovich at 213.624.9258 ext 1243.

The website page for this event is - http://www.midnightmission.org/frontstory3.asp
I will be posting photos from Easter Sunday on this blog post which means it will be updated over many days with a few of the photos.  I will also provide a link to all of the photos I took at the event and the photo album might take a week or more to complete but some photos will be posted here in smaller format.

The link to the entire photo set is http://www.flickr.com/photos/myles111us/sets/72157623769798512/ but it may be as long as a week before all the photos are uploaded as there are about 100 photos that need to be edited or tossed out in many cases.


Part of the group "Rebellious Blues Dogs". The keyboard player is cropped out of this shot (sorry).

In the center on the red bass is Big Mike, a very cool fellow. At the front of the stage the sharp dressed man in the gray suit is Don Garza. You can find Don on my facebook page in my top friends.

The band can be contacted at stonefre1313@verizon.net and do blues, swing, Latin rhythm and more.


Some folks might recognize LAMP from the movie The Soloist. This is where Nathanial Ayres lives.



In the photo above check out the fellow dancing and the fellow seated with two thumbs up. Great music and terrific folks.

I may post more photos later as they are editied or sorted but if I do not the photos will be uploaded for the next week to http://www.flickr.com/photos/myles111us/sets/72157623769798512/