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 or on my own Guitar Amplifier Blueprinting website at www.mylesrose.com

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)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A long day. Then again, most days seem to be long ones.

Two shifts again downtown today and that was after a few hours at the shop with the 65 Amps folks.  A long day and long night. 

Yesterday I headed downtown in the late morning.  I took the red line to Union Station.  I wanted to try exploring a different route to the mission area and I thought that walking from Little Tokyo could be a good route. 

At Union Station I transferred to the gold line and got off at the first stop on the south leg, Little Tokyo.  I grabbed a spicy tuna roll and started to walk.  As I was walking I received a text that Andy Bales of Union Rescue Mission was cooking chili for 1000 people.  I texted back and asked if he needed any help as I was in the area.  I did not really expect a quick text back as Andy Bales is one of those sorts of folks that packs 18 hours of activity into an 8 hour day, that is ... if he even knows what an 8 hour day is in the first place. 

Andy Bales is the CEO of Union Rescue Mission as some of you may know from other blog posts.  Today Andy was cooking chili for 1000, performing his daily tasks of running the largest mission in Los Angeles, continued his ongoing battle of raising money for the mission to help more people on the street without a place to go than the entire population of Santa Barbara, oversee the cutover to a new website which is in the process of being updated at http://www.urm.org/ and Lord know what else.

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Above - Some homeless folks do not sleep on the street as in, on the ground. They sleep in their cars or in places such as this old van. This van was parked directly in front of Union Rescue Mission yesterday 1/4/10.

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Above - the rear intake area of Union Rescue Mission.

By the time I arrived at URM they were loading one of their vans out in front of the place with large silver containers of hot food.  My guess was the chili was all done.  I went inside and found out from the gal at the front desk that Andy had completed his chili.  I talked to another staff member on the phone and told her that I was on my way back out "into the field" for the rest of the afternoon.  I went to the Central Market to pick up some things so pass out in the evening.  When bananas are 2-3 pounds for $1.00 for the general public I now get 5-10 pounds for the same price.  I also am able to get the last Chinese food of the day for nothing and pretty good discounts on other things.  I already brought down a good supply of breakfast bars and oatmeal bars from Smart & Final in the past and have an friend at an SRO Hotel on Wall Street that lets me store stuff at his place.  I was set for the evening.

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Above - some of the SRO Hotels less than one block from Union Rescue Mission, The Midnight Mission and the Los Angeles Mission.

Financially things look pretty good.  There are a number of folks that are helping and I have mentioned some of them on the right side of this blog.  I will just take another moment to say thank you again.

I walked back up Fifth Street to the redline stop at Pershing Square, headed back to NoHo to pull things together for the evening, check email and reply where a more detailed reply may have been nice for folks in response to some of the SMS messages I received during the afternoon.  My replies had been short but I did upload cell photos and cell video during the afternoon.  I also took better photos and video with the #2 camera when I had the chance.  I will upload those when there is a little more time.

In the evening I headed back downtown for my night shift.  The weather had turned cooler, jacket weather for sure, even though the day had been warm.  I walked by my favorite alley as I always do.  There are folks that expect me to be there now and I try to give them something they can count on by showing up.  I have had some interesting talks in that alley and have even slept in the alley on an occasion or two.  I stopped by "my alley" for a few minutes on my way to the SRO to pick up snacks for the night folks.  I met an interesting fellow who calls himself Gilez.  I have no idea of the spelling, vocally it sounds like gill (as in a fish gill) and then ez ... or Gillez?  He talked to me for over an hour.  He insisted that he was 1/4 Aztec Indian.  I tried to wrap my head around the generational (is there even such a word) math but it did not work out unless his great grandparents and possibly grandparents lived to be about 250 years old.  Well, in any case, he was darn sure he was an Aztec Indian.

I walked my rounds and was able to feed some snacks or provide snack for later in the evening to the felt pad and blanket division who live on the street.  I spent an hour talking to Isabelle.  Isabelle is somewhere between twenty something and thirty something.  She is Hispanic.  She is not a legal resident.  She has been in the area for a little over a year.  She walks the streets in the evening and stays in an SRO hotel with a friend.  I asked if the hotel was used in her effort to make money.  She said she generally does not bring clients to the hotel for many reasons.  More affluent clients will generally opt for a hotel room elsewhere.  Some of her clients are the same people one sees cruising the streets at night looking to purchase drugs.  I have some photos elsewhere that I have posted of a nice high end car or two that may look out of place to some who do not understand the situation or place. 

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Isabelle.  I don't think I need to paint a picture.  She is still intact mentally for the most part and is pretty in the right light.  I think with a bit of clothes, hair and makeup work she could be quite pretty.  Her attire is what one would find as quite sterotypical for her profession.  Commercial pilots wear a uniform, mechanics at a car dealership have a uniform as do people in the medical profession and the list continues.

Perhaps the model agency side of my brain kicks in at times when it really makes no sense to go down that thought path.  I have talked to Isabelle for the last two nights and I think I am coming close to being able to have her talk to the folks at URM.  I do not know how things like their Hope Garden facility works when it comes to selecting people.  I actually need to learn a lot more about Union Rescue Mission in general.  I know little about the infrastructure.  I need to know more. 

I do not understand why some people are afraid of the missions.  Some prefer the street.  They tell me it is a matter of freedom.  I see people come and go at the missions.  Seems to me they are free.  The number of people that the mission help on a daily basis is staggering.  They are overloaded, an understatement of the obvious.  The mental image I have in my own mind is that of an overloaded lifeboat on a dark and angry sea.  Too many people with too much sadness and dispair in their eyes and in their faces.

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When I try to take some people to the missions some refuse.  They say there are too many rules.  I hear people talk of violence at the missions.  Maybe I am totally off base but I have been inside the URM and folks are all pretty darn upbeat and they are smiling a lot more than I smile these days.

The URM staff are kind and open in their conversational ways to everybody.   It feels very safe inside.  Maybe I am just blind but I generally think of myself as somebody who is pretty darn aware of the environment.  In any case I will try to convince Isabelle to try to think about URM as an option.

I am not sure what I will be doing later today but I will be going back downtown.  I may drop by URM to see if I can learn any more about the way they do things.  They have orientation on Tuesdays and I tried to sign up for the one tomorrow but it was already full.  I don't know if their signup is currently working with their new website.  Some of the content seems to have been moved and there are still a few bugs.  Reminds me of my past where we used to spend many hours regression testing software and still were tripped up by many problems.  You train for the problems you expect.  You cannot train for the things you know nothing about.  I suppose I could offer to help them on their website but there are thousands of web savy folks within a few mile radius of anywhere in any city or town.  Computer and comm stuff ... did that for three decades or so already.  I worked well in the field in 1968 in the military and am finding comfort in the urban field in the fifty square block area of Los Angeles that is referred to as skid row.

I think last night I made things a little less painful for at least a dozen people.  Not a huge amount compared to what the missions do.  Not long term as the missions do.  But these are folks that have nothing and nobody in many cases at 2am when it is cold, sometimes wet and they wake up when they are not tossing and turning all night and are hungry.

There are countless reasons people are here.  My current path in life was chosen by another just as the path of many of these people I try to help may have had their path directed.   Sometimes it is the luck of the draw.  It can be where you grew up, your parents or lack of parents, economics or people who toss you away when they want a change in their own lives for their own reasons.  People who don't want to put out any effort in an attempt to consider changes let alone attempt to make changes.  People that see the dark rather than the light.  Single mothers who think of their children as a burden and abandon them so they can have what they feel is freedom.  People who turn to drugs or alcohol to forget the past, be able to face today and ignore the future ... if there even is a future in their mind.  The list goes on and on. 

I have been trained by the United States military complex for good or bad.  I am educated.  I have an artistic mind and I feel I have an open mind.  I can sail a boat across an ocean, fly an airplane or helicopter, play a guitar and fix a car.  I was also trained in computer science, communications and am a pretty decent medical corpsman.  I was a reserve sheriff for two years.  More weighty than any of that:  I had been trained for over two decades by somebody who saw the dark rather than the light.  I used to tell them that they always let the bad outweigh the good and they would argue the point.  In the end I was proven right and therefore it seems to me that I am well versed on how some people can just give up on others.  It is easy for me to understand how some of these people in the streets have given up on their past family or given up on hope, given up on God.

I will do what I can to help as long as I have the strength to help, even though there are people in my life that work against my spirit.  On the other side of the coin so to speak, there are people that support me and give me the hope.  They supply strength so I can walk into the middle of the problem for another day and hope that I can do my best.

Please try to overlook all my spelling, grammar and other errors in the above writing.  It was a long day and long night yesterday.  I got back to NoHo a few hours ago and just pounded this out.  I did not proof read this or attempt to correct errors.  Perhaps in the future I will attempt that but for now I will just post this.

Thank you to all of you who stood by me yesterday and last night via cellphone, texts, facebook dialogue via SMS messages and mobile support.  It can be a bit of comfort knowing that so many people are watching as I walk down a new alley in the late hours of the evening or very early morning. 
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