The Delta Snake Review

The Delta Snake Review

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Monday, September 26, 2016

On The Road With Al and Ivy - Sept 26th: A Homeless Journal of Sorts

 

"...to satiate gluttony,
peacocks in coops are brought
Arrayed in gold plumage 
like Babylon tapestry rich.
Numidian guinea-fowls, 
capons, all perish for thee:
And even the wandering stork, 
welcome guest that he is,
The emblem of sacred maternity,
slender of leg 
and gloctoring exile from winter,
herald of spring,
Still, finds his last nest in the--cauldron of gluttony base..."

- Petronius Arbiter (The Satyricon)

The whole foodie trip isn't a new phenomenon. Mankind's upper crust has always found a way to make food more expensive, and many traditional dishes have their origins in making the less desirable parts of an animal edible after the privileged had taken the best cuts.

The best example is the soul food classic, chitlins, which were cooked intestines, and sausages, which were essentially everything the maker could get away with stuffing into a empty intestinal membrane.

In the case of lobster, it's transition to a premium food was due to a shift in taste. It was originally considered a bottom feeding lowlife, like catfish, and as a result was a very cheap meal in East Coast taverns in the 1700s...catfish is traditionally served with a peppery batter which originally was intended to hide the flavor of mud. 

Having had the scintillating experience of eating wild catfish, I think that the proper amount of pepper should be enough to numb the taste buds, any less will result in the sensation of sticking your tongue in a mud puddle when eating the non-farmed whiskered fish.

The ancient Romans would find today's foodie dishes a bit plain, with it's emphasis on "healthy" fare that is sending many fish species on an accelerated path to extinction, turned common nuts into the equivalent of gold nuggets, and made chicken more expensive than beef.

Food has always been tied to social status, and only in America would a piece of raw fish on a slug of rice cost so much. Our hamburger and fries is the modern day fish and chips, which also costs a lot as nowadays that traditional English poor man's food actually uses fish...the original fare wrapped in actual newspaper used the otherwise undesirable skates and rays that were caught up in the fishermen's net.

One of the most common homeless images is of a destitute man fishing through a garbage can looking for scraps to eat. Before the advent of garbage bags, plastic carry out containers and laws forbidding the sale of spoiled food, rummaging through the trash for a meal must have been a pretty grim experience.

It still is, though from what I've seen, it's really more a search for carry out food still in bags and containers than raw scraps. The scavengers may be desperate, but I haven't seen one hungry enough to eat raw garbage, but this country is affluent, so today's trash is more amenable to low rent foodie pleasures.

One source of left over carry out food is other homeless, but that's seems to be changing as the average cost of a MacDonalds meal has gone up to seven or eight bucks. The smarter scrounges watch the garbage can and go over when they see a new lunch or dinner bag being thrown away, fish it out and check for leftovers. The night owls check specific receptacles near restaurants and will move quickly from one to another.

Most homeless I've met try to eat well...like me, they'll often eat less to be able to afford healthier food. 

There's a practical reason. 

When you live in a car or tent, the last thing you want is the trots at 2am. That rules out Taco Hell, Kentucky Fried Heart Attack, and Murder King...in fact, most fried food, Thai cuisine, pizza (sob), and cheese whiz.

Most men think about sex several times per minute...I fantasize about pizza and chili cheese dogs...when I reach for a "prophylactic," that means a preventative dose of pepto bismul before eating beans with BBQ sauce.

It helps to be on a diet and exercise regimen. Ivy and I walk about two miles every day. Ivy assists in making it a better workout by allowing me to carry her 13 pound butt for about 1.5 miles of that distance.

Hunger is real, very real, but a good part of it is psychological, and setting a weight loss goal makes the slimmer fare seem more by design than compulsion.

When I finally leave the homeless life, my first act will be death by pizza...

...as they say about glass houses...

Another vehicle greets the morning with windows broken...it's an empty RV that's been in a lot for four weeks, parked away from the trees, out in the open, which indicates that the owner is just storing it there. It's position puts it under the store's security cameras, though the guy has to be smart enough to realize that management isn't going to devote even a second of security involvement for liability reasons...probably just figures that the cameras will deter any vandalism or theft. 

What's more interesting is the guy's reaction...it took a couple of days for him to realize some windows had been punched out, and once it was clear that the RV was targeted, it was moved closer to the store and what appeared to be a posse of friends in cars and RVs formed a loose ring around it and stayed for a few days...a drama occurring in that lot with the rest of the world around it going about it's business.

I avoid the area, of course, a vigilante group that is so focused that it forgets it's on private property is a bunch that'll act without caring about the consequences. It's a lawless sentry perimeter formed in response to a lawless act of vandalism, just a gang in adult clothes, and probably being laughed at by the vandals who've probably returned a few times to admire their handiwork from a distance.

Any vehicle just left in a lot is eventually going to be vandalized. A Volkswagen that was apparently abandoned in a nearby lot sat there for months, and was gradually stripped till it was sitting there without wheels before finally being taken away.

Some homeless will store a second vehicle in a street or lot, but will rarely leave it unattended for long. They'll go off and do their thing during the day, but come back and sleep next to it at night...others will literally stay in an RV and only leave it to buy food, etc., not simply out of apathy but because any vandalism would probably be permanent due to a high insurance deductible policy (or no coverage, which would also see it gradually develop windows with garbage bags taped over it, etc).

The best way to avoid vandalism is to be constantly on the move from place to place. In my case, it's to never hang out where I intend to sleep, to avoid being seen in a place all day and night...a sure sign that one is "living" in a place and breaks the tacit agreement with any tolerant management, which is, "don't stick it in our faces."

Some chronic RV homeless will go from place to place, staying till they're kicked out, often retaliating by dumping garbage and sewage on the pavement (though some just do it out of habit as they don't intend to return)...they may seem like an angry bunch but it's really just a more showy state of apathy, being bounced from one place to another, often returning to lots they've been kicked out of, waiting around till the latest 86'ing sends them on their way. 

Just a bunch of rudderless boats swept by the current and wacking into every rock and sandbar along the way.

...Ivy's story, part 2: socialization...

 
Shih Tzu's have the amazing ability to nap anywhere...

Ivy grew up for three years in a cage, and it did affect her behavior. For one thing, she didn't see other animals besides Shih tzu's and as a result, would just sit and stare at other animals, or even ignore them...cats were puzzled by her...she smelled like a dog but would just sit there or ignore them...one time Ivy was talking a nap on the floor, snoring loudly, which brought three cats in one at a time, creeping up and sniffing her, then they'd sit there and stare as this small dog who had slept through the whole thing.

 
Ivy seen here after pushing the blanket off the leather seat...she loves to lounge on leather upholstery

One of the early things I noticed about Ivy was that she was comfortable in cars and loved long car trips, which she spent mostly sleeping...she learned quickly that a bathroom stop would end as soon as she was through, so developed a routine of acting like she was trying to find the perfect place to pee as a way to get a longer break...I indulged this, as with any of her little routines as a way to encourage creative thinking and it's generally cute to see...the funniest routine is when she fakes taking a pee in order to get an extra treat (positive reinforcement to encourage going outside). Ivy still doesn't get that a one second squat isn't a convincing show of making water, but it is hilarious and worth an extra treat...life with a dog is really about such things anyway...

 
Ivy showing her usual reaction to being ordered back into the car...she counters by waiting till I come around to pick her up, though softening the blow to my status as master with a cute smile...

I once read that Shih tzu's are manipulative dogs that try to train their masters, and it's probably true...they have the will power to overcome normal conditioning techniques like letting them go hungry till they finally eat the dry dog food, and letting them bark all they want but they still have to stay in the frickin' car dammit...Ivy no longer just barks to get out of the car...at night in a mall or garage, the windows have to be closed or she'll stick her mouth out and bark till security comes...I've been able to locate my lost car in a packed place many times because of this...

As far as dry dog food...I remember once seeing a bowl of dry food laid out for another dog, and as I explained to the people in the room how difficult it was to get Ivy to transition from canned food, she walked up to the bowl and ate half of the contents...luckily the bowl belonged to a male dog that just sat there and stared while Ivy ate his dinner...she still won't eat dry food on demand, but seems willing to eat cheese crackers and pretzels...small steps...

                  ***********************























Sunday, September 18, 2016

On The Road With Al and Ivy - Sept. 19th: A Homeless Journal of Sorts


 

"More heavenly than those glittering stars we hold the eternal eyes which the Night has opened within us."

- Novalis (Hymns To The Night)

...small business and the homeless...

One of the most common areas of conflict is between small boutique businesses and panhandler/homeless groups.

One primary reason is that the concept of the small business has widened and changed with the advent of malls, superstores and the Internet.

Small business used to also sell necessities; whether it was groceries, prescriptions, clothes or tobacco. It didn't matter if the street had a bum or two hanging out, the customers still needed to come.

Today many small brick and mortar businesses are specialty goods or boutiques, and are often in locations where the optics and atmosphere are important to spur impulse sales from tourists or upscale customers.

This can come into conflict with panhandlers whose income ironically depends on optics, but in reverse. They need to spur spending by creating a picture of hard reality, the opposite of a carefree holiday with an air of prosperity and free spending.

What can cause conflict isn't only a homeless population that has too many aggressive panhandlers but also who don't understand the type of small businesses that they're coming into conflict with, who would react and feel that their livelihoods were directly affected by their behavior.

In a town like Gilroy, which has homeless wandering around on their Main Street, you generally don't hear complaints from the owner of the archery and bow hunting shop. The reason is that the business has a specialty that attracts enthusiasts and isn't dependent on walk up traffic.

In a place like Santa Cruz, most of the Main Street businesses wouldn't survive one hour next to a Walmart. Those businesses are geared towards upper class customers and tourists who might see a nice item and have the disposable income to drop a hundred bucks or more on a pair of unique sandals or blouse. 

It's a purchase dependent on the leisurely ambiance of the street and the mood of the customers. If the buyer doesn't like what's outside the store, like a lot of loud and aggressive homeless, there's nothing compelling enough in that store to prevent a simple change of direction to another place of business.

This isn't to say that the business has trivial goods, it's just the nature of the tourist/leisure retail industry.

In the case of Santa Cruz, there was an incident where one of the owners, who had apparently been sympathetic to the homeless, spoke up publically about the disruption of business and drew an organized campaign of harassment by homeless groups who parked themselves outside the person's store. 

The homeless must have had among them people who understood that the businesses there were owned by independents who had much to lose by anything that repelled tourists, but really had no say in what was really a mob action that was an economic attack dressed up as a social protest.

The media characterized it as organized almost along the same lines as a political rally, but it was more like a demonstration that was dominated by it's most aggressive members. It was the usual tendency to simplify the image for a newsbyte.

It's arguable that the small business community were tolerant of the earlier homeless who hung around, but practiced benign neglect until the homeless population got too large and it led to conflict.

The reality is that the larger the homeless population gets, more diverse personalities enter the mix, and panhandlers in particular find themselves competing with each other for the same territory or income that used to go to one or a few. That can create competition and behavior that's always interpreted as aggression.

I remember talking to one hard experienced pandhandler, and he told me that one location used to yield up to two hundred dollars a day in donations. Then, he added, the word got out and then there were ten people working that spot, and the amount of money drastically dropped because of the numbers involved but also due to people getting turned off by the agressive ones in the group.

The Santa Cruz homeless were really individuals that grouped into an area and didn't most realize or were sensitive to the fact that they were in an area with upscale and tourist businesses and that the owners would be acting more aggressively if their presence seemed to be hurting business. 

Many probably saw them as wealthy businessmen who were in an ecosystem that could support them no matter how individuals among them behaved. 

It's an oversimplification on the part of the homeless, seeing things in stereotypical class terms, and mistaking the high priced goods as a sign of easy prosperity, and not a reflection of the fragile nature of boutique and tourist oriented retail, which is generally under heavy pressure from high commercial rents and fluctuations in sales due to the ecomomy. It's not a trivial concern to be worried about how the area looks to tourists in such a retail environment.

What business owners don't always realize is that the panhandlers really have the same motive, to survive, but the homeless are often described in herd terms like sheep or cows and their motives are judged along the same lines.

This creates reactions on their part that can come off as anger over ingratitude or low class behavior, and as homeless are people, that patronizing tone will create pushback.

It's common in media comment sections and even news articles to assume an increase in transients is due to "overly generous benefits" or climate, as if it was a grazing and watering situation.

The increase could simply be due to the next town over ejecting it's homeless population, or a simple shift within that area. 

An increase in sharks in the water would trigger off a study on migratory patterns but with the homeless it tends to come off as a series of the same image, a horde coming out of nowhere and taking over a street or neighborhood.

Agencies also look at the problem from their own perspectives; it's a shortage of housing, lack of mental health facilities, employment rate, the economy, and it's really a combination of all those factors. But a myopic view can send aid money in the wrong direction for that area. Sociological situations are really like microclimes.

It's not the thing that the homeless will know, or care about, in their own concern for survival, but the main takeaway is that it wouldn't hurt for business communities to begin outreach and communication before trouble starts...most homeless talk to each other and a little communication goes a long way...but it's always a mistake to group the homeless into a supposedly homogenous group and expect them to act in concert.

Such generalization prevents understanding the human elements that are in play when there's panhandlers outside...they aren't alway a bunch of mild and humble Charles Dickens characters begging for a crust of bread...they're human beings trying to make a living, perhaps not in the way society would approve of, and because of that, will behave pretty much like other people will when their income is cut off or threatened. 

Santa Cruz, like Berkeley later on, had a problem with aggressive panhandlers and it developed along the same arc from tolerable to excessive, and it's a cycle that can be understood and perhaps even dealt with before it gets to the law enforcement point.

Seeing an increase in homeless in an area should prompt an inquiry as to where they came from, why they chose that area, to understand what created what is in effect a migration to the new spot. It's not just simply a matter of services acting as a magnet, etc., there'll be a multitude of reasons. 

The conflict there was because certain elements of the homeless could tap into anger and other emotions, and a widening of services dilutes that influence. Most of that is based on the ability to deliver services or tolerance that is perceived to be be absent, and while the measures won't necessarily generate Hollywood movie style cries of gratitude, it does diffuse emotions that can be brought to the boiling point by hunger, and paranoia over oppressive measures.

Keep in mind that I'm not saying that this or that city isn't trying to do something, it's just an examination of deeper issues that can get lost in the turmoil of daily problems and conflict, which are symptoms, not causes.

...talking demographics...

It's also important to note that one size fits all solutions don't generally work...each city's homeless population will tend to be at least a little different, and often have different demographics within the same region.

The crowd in the San Mateo area will differ depending on whether they congregate near 280, or on El Camino in the downtown district. Salinas has different subcultures, and it can also differentiate by ethnic groups also...though it doesn't seem like it on the surface, there's economic and cultural strata also. 

There's Silicon Valley homeless that can range from high tech workers to backpackers, and San Francisco has a huge population that often gets grouped into one mass image, but  it's actually quite diverse.

It can range from those who desperately need a meal, to those who simply need time to save enough money to venture back into the mainstream. Forcing car homeless to shelters, for example, can derail their attempts to mainstream and knock them down a rung.

...Ivy, the whose home is the universe (part 1 intro)...

Ivy was most likely born in Fremont, California about nine years ago, into an illegal puppy mill based in the back of a barbershop run by Chinese Americans...I mention the ethnicity because it has a bearing on her later life.

Ivy was kept in a cage as a breeder, a Vet estimated that she probably had at least three litters, one only a few weeks before her rescue and the puppies already sold.

The puppy mill's specialty was breeding white or very light colored runts to create "teacup" Shitzus, and Ivy was a normal healthy sized dog used to mate with smaller ones.

She was shown no affection by her captors, though it was obvious later on that women fed and cared for her. The reason is that after her rescue, she tended to readily trust women.

A love wolf animal activist spotted the puppy farm, and did an undercover investigation, and called in the police once it was established that the illegal breeding operation existed and sold puppies for an average of 300.00 cash.

Ivy was one of 13 Shih tzu's recovered in the raid, and one of the few normal sized ones. She was fortunate in that respect as she didn't have serious health problems, some had lost an eye or were weak runts.

 
         Ivy's First Picture At Home

I was looking for a dog about that time, and spotted her ad with the rescue organization, and had people recommend getting a Shih Tzu...I did some research and liked the description and saw Ivy early on in the search.

My first contact with Ivy was confusing, she had spent some weeks getting care and being socialized with volunteers but clearly didn't like me...I hadn't had a dog since childhood, and this was my first contact with a rescue pet, so her nervous behavior seemed typical. I realized later on she was like that with any Asian male due to her experience in the barbershop.

I took her home and she seemed OK and ate some food, and appeared to be cautious but liking the new home. I tried to name her "sushi" but Ivy wouldn't respond to it, and I quickly gave up and Ivy became her permanent name.

One day later she ran away, and her rescuer came by and taught me how to do a search effort, from how to drive through the area and search where Ivy would likely hide, to checking Animal Control and putting up signs.

She was recovered a few days later by Animal Control, and after a day waiting period to medically check her condition, I was asked if I still wanted her.

I figured there was a reason she entered my life, so she stayed, and for about a month kept bolting out any open door, though it seemed easier and easier to catch her. The woman who had rescued her told me that it probably wasn't personal, that it was more a case of not feeling that she was in a real home, and perhaps even searching for the last litter that was born before the rescue.

She was so quiet that the vet thought an operation on the vocal chords to stop barking was likely done, and when she barked for the first time 6 months later, I actually looked around outside not realizing it was her.

Ivy began to trust me at about the 6 month point, but was very socially awkward and acted more like a cat...except that she was curious about other animals like squirrels and ducks, staring at them while they stared at her wondering why they weren't being chased.

 
             Ivy In A Band Promo Pic

To this day she thinks cats and other creatures are part of the dog family, and tries to make friends.

About this time I also found that her favorite places were couches and car seats, she was relaxed in both. Also, she was comfortable with being photographed if the session was kept to a few minutes. 

These days I have to catch her by surprise as the sight of an iPhone being pointed brings out posing behavior and the same pose and smile.

Ivy has gone through a few phases, from being stoic, to the present day where she has a vocabulary of grunts and panting that signals when she's hungry, wants to be taken outside, etc., as opposed to going to the door and other dog body language. One breakthrough was figuring out sentences, combining a series of sounds into a string to reply to spoken words, and replying when talked to. She knows it's a vocabulary as she'll experiment with sounds until one gets the result desired (mostly food of course).

Like most Shih tzu's, she naps a lot. Being in a car hasn't been a hardship and there's been no antsy or stir crazy behavior. She's been given the whole back seat, has two beds and also will ask to be put in front in the passenger seat.

Ivy's seen a lot of places, from LA to the Sierras, from beaches to ocean. She knows most places by smell and sound, and a new location brings out a desire to explore it.

She's been pretty healthy, but does have a heart murmur and dry eye condition now, both of which she takes medication for. She always has an air of good cheer, and as we've spent more and more of life together, the picture of her personality gets more and more detailed, and I can say without exaggeration, that a day hasn't gone by where she hasn't made me smile or laugh at least once. 

If I'm surviving the homeless life, it's her survivor instinct that has been a big part of it. I couldn't ask for a better friend in my present journey...

 

I'll be putting more of her adventures in future blog entries, many of which helped shape the nature of our road experience.

End Part One Ivy...

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Saturday, September 10, 2016

On The Road With Al and Ivy - Sept 12th: A Homeless Journal of Sorts


"The streets were my refuge. And no man can understand the glamor of the streets until he is obliged to take refuge in them, until he has become a straw that is tossed here and there by every zephyr that blows."

- Henry Miller (Tropic Of Cancer)

...does big business thank the government for tax breaks, bailouts, rigged bids and protection from procescution? 

Of course not, they're the customer; all that stuff was bought and paid for with women, money and goods...but that's how perception works, one can think big business runs the country, but the reality is different...they're like gamblers who think they have a winning system, or an effective rabbits foot, like in Phillip K. Dick's "Solar Lottery," where luck was considered ability. 

Same with the police and the homeless...society pictures law enforcement relentlessly hunting down the homeless, to ensure that the rituals of four dollar coffee drinking and enjoying the tech boom while it lasts, isn't alloyed by the sight of a subhuman whizzing on the sidewalk...notwithstanding the fact that no cop is ever going to make detective by busting tramps, most police enforcement of laws prohibiting overnight parking and vagrancy tends to run counter to the black and white outlook of the contemptuous who talk about police action the same way janitors are ordered to clean up a spill.

In cities that have major problems like murders, rapes, and drug trafficking, the officer on the beat has to prioritize time and a car with a homeless person in it isn't worth the paperwork if there's a crime wave going on. 

If anything, that sleeping person is an easy mark for a mugger, and it's better to know where that person is than to move him along, possibly deeper into a crime zone (or to a respectable neighborhood where there'd be an immediate call to arrest the poor guy).

I'm not saying that the police tolerate homelessness, but there's clearly a sympathy that exists with most officers we encounter. They don't view themselves as society's hatchet men, that's a 1%er stereotype...they tend to grow into pragmatists and protectors with experience and while there's always exceptions, the sight of a patrol car generally reassures me...though there'll always be the thought in the back of my mind that I could win the lottery and get a cop that wants to put my entrails on a stick, it's only happened once in seven months, and even then, it was catch and release after a severe chewing out about the evils of living in a rest stop.

The police and the homeless do have one thing in common; both are viewed as outliers by many people and in particular, the wealthy and privileged tend to treat police like hired help. Yes, they will crack down on a homeless camp if ordered to...if not, they'd rather be out after bigger fish.

The lot of the homeless would be a lot worse if the police were in lockstep with the people who view transients as vermin...luckily the average officer on the street views his or her job as making sure everyone, both high and low, are safe.

There was a time when smoking a joint could get you ten years in prison, but that changed with time...there'll be a time when society will look back on how the homeless problem was treated and realize that it was punishing or neglecting a symptom of a larger problem.

I've heard homeless praise the police many times, none have ever praised a CEO...

...nomads and the concept of property...

The conflict between the propertied and nomads isn't a recent development...as far as back as you care to go, there's always been tension between those who believe in private or state ownership of land and nomadic tribes...often settled by genocide and war, and dates back to the first instance where someone felt that property was worth a man's life...in all fairness, the early nomads were sometimes trying to kill or rob the settler. In America, this clash tended to be portrayed as barbarians trying to halt the advance of civilization...but it was really just run of the mill imperialism with the usual propaganda about a bloodthirsty subhuman enemy to justify subjugation and genocide.

Past wars are often started over the commercial concerns of the wealthy, with buy in from the Church and other allies, and often end up with the coerced or paid participation of the common man...the concept of individual willing to buy into the program ran and win a mini-kingdom in the form of a house or farm, with the right to kill an intruder was a powerful motivation for a settler, which ensured that the war against native Americans stayed vigorous to the end...

...squatting as original sin...

One of the biggest sins in early American history was squatting, which would quickly bring out the authorities, or if necessary, the militia or army, even if the settlement originated from squatters on Native American land...the point is, the concept of state and private property evolved in this country in a way that had the buy-in of even those who could at least dream of property ownership.

If you read the media stories about community concerns and complaints about the homeless, it's obvious that local governments and police forces are more often than not, reluctant to take the kind of action that the community demands...business and property owners are generally the angry ones, and expect authorities to at least move the problem elsewhere, calling on the cavalry to drive off the lowdown and dirty from their delicate eyes and preserve the resale value of their investments.

...gentrification is really a two sided issue...

It's a one sided view to think that gentrification is an improvement simply because the place gets more expensive, as nothing happens in a vacuum...if the middle class gentrifies a poor neighborhood, they view it as "raising the value" of an area, which previously did have an equal value to society as a place where the lower income workers, who make the middle class lifestyle possible, can live and grow. 

Instead, the takeover is more like a bad treaty with some Native American tribe, complete with promises to assist the poor in moving which mainly pay the bureaucratic support system, create low income housing that will be built, if at all, too late and with insufficient capacity to help, and with the primary intent to just keep people talking and stalling till the fait accompli of a gentrified neighborhood is well under way.

Like a big corporation that pays wages at the poverty level, gentrification and other developments that radically shift the poor into other areas already crowded with the poor, is an environment ripe to create more homelessness via displacement, particularly in an area with overheated property values, and foists the social costs onto the taxpayers, most of whom have no stake in the matter.

There should be no doubt that major elements of the conflict between the propertied and homeless is rooted in a class system that goes back centuries, and the perceptions not far removed from the concept that a settler could take up a musket and shoot an intruder on sight. 

...money simply clouds the issue, it's what people think a life is worth...and there is always a hidden cost to aspects of American prosperity...

That's not a self defense concept, it's a perception of what a person's life is worth if they own property or not...the idea that in a natural disaster, the National Guard should be wasting their time shooting looters is an achronism in a age where the real issue should be access to government relief funds or insurance if one's store or home is robbed.

...some Americans think beef comes from the grocery store, others think oil comes from a gas pump, and yet others think homeless just come to their area from elsewhere...

Many Americans probably couldn't pass high school history and geography if a snap quiz was given to them...as a result, many events and developments seem to come out of nowhere when covered by the media, and they accept propaganda at face value with a faith stronger than any Holy Roller or political party...

Like the war on terror...yes, it's a real war, with real people who would like to kill every American, and spend every waking hour thinking up ways to do so...but terrorists are killing people all over the world, but the ones we're bombing and doing drone R&D on threaten our oil supply, and while the average American doesn't make the connection at the pump, that gas has a real human cost in blood and treasure. 

It's easier to think that our government wants to protect us from fanatics who cut off heads on TV, than to realize that our lifestyle has a human cost.

That goes for homelessness, which isn't a growing problem because people are lazy, drug addled, or want to be; it's one of many symptoms of a societal change that's being driven by new technologies and of course, the people getting rich from it.

Most Americans are a long way from truly understanding homelessness, and comprehending an era that historians will see was as much about change as the advent of the automobile or steam, and like those eras, the transformation of a multitude of livelihoods and subcultures into irrelevant skills and lives.

...the mythology and reality of "homeless camps"...

A homeless camp is a label that's become the standard term for a gathering of transients, and like most generalizations, misses important details and can even be misleading.

Using the term "camp" glosses over the fact that it's really a third world type slum, and generally forms and develops along the same lines. The community and media's motives for using the term is self serving, as is redefining the same type of poverty in cities as an "inner city" area; it's really modern society ignoring or being in self denial about poverty in a nation that presents itself as the apex of freedom and prosperity. 

America is very much like the Industrial Age British Empire, with a huge gap between the rich and poor, and a lifestyle built on the labor of coolies and in our case, the well paid labor of an elite that has access to the emerging technologies that will obsolete many of the jobs that exist today...as that process developes, the gap will create larger and largerbpockets of poverty that will rival the infamous old London slums.

Homeless camps or tent cities like in SF) are pockets of poor people who find a seam in the system that in Silicon Valley requires an extortionate rate to live under a roof, and will be tolerated for at least a while as many of the inhabitants are part of the underpaid service sector force. That's true for other cities also.

There's nothing complex about a homeless camp. A few people find a place, often by a river or stream, like the Guadalupe and Coyote Creek camps were, and the word gets out that it's a safe place to live (which it often isn't for women, etc), and the area becomes populated.

As the numbers grow, so do the percentage of drug users, chronic transients, mentally ill, and for lack of a better term, slobs. 

At that point the ills of a third world slum begin to manifest due to lack of basic services...garbage and raw sewage pile up, conflicts and crime increase (at least in surrounding areas), and finally the media notices and gives the homeless there the one thing that they and even local authorities dread; coverage in the news.

That sets off the usual firestorm of concern, outrage, action by various special interest groups and a combination of essentially cosmetic civil assistance and police action severe enough to satisfy the public that the scourge has been cleaned up.

What actually happens is that a small percentage will be assisted in finding affordable housing, most that want that help will be put on a waiting list and are on their own again, and clean up crews sent in to clean up the mess.

The local press will trumpet the efforts by local authorities to restore the area back to it's pristine state for joggers and bikers, and the homeless will scatter to try and find a new place to at least sleep.

America doesn't tolerate slums unless it's making somebody a lot of money. Slum buildings are among the most profitable businesses, as there's only the initial cost of buying the building and virtually no operating costs, just rent income coming in. 

When it's time to get out of the business, there's perhaps a convenient fire that recoups the original investment in insurance money or the government taking over the place at market value, or any amount really, as it's just all icing on an enormously profitable cake.

The poor need a place to live, and in our current society, have been made an integral part of the cost structure...you can't eliminate or push them out of reach or there'll be no labor force to perform all the low paid jobs that can't be outsourced to five dollar a day workers in another country.

Homelessness is a symptom, not a lifestyle chosen by derilicts, druggies, loafers and losers. It's one of many human crisises created by a country that has transformed capitalism from a profit motive sensibility for businesses into a philosophical outlook on life that has winners and losers; like Ancient Greece that became a Balkanized bunch of elites ruling over women, the unenfranchised poor and slaves, till Alexander The Great came along and conquered them.

Homelessness is really just of the many facets of poverty.

America has become a country with a rich elite that's becoming richer, a shrinking middle class, and a dream that says most can still buy into it, and that anyone can win the lottery of life and join the privileged.

What do the winners, the 1%ers think?

Property values in New Zealand, which is considered to be a haven from the coming world crisises, are skyrocketing, offshore banks are thriving, millionaires are building bunkers and safe rooms, and the bodyguard and private security business is booming.

The rich know where this country is heading, and have chosen to protect their fortunes instead of reforming the  system. As long as society buys the line that unrestrained big business is good for the country, there'll be homeless, and eventually a lot worse.

Note: 

Starting with the next blog entry, I'll be changing the format of the Delta Snake Review, restoring the "sequential" features that will be uploaded throughout the month in brtween the Monday Al and Ivy feature, which will be written in a slightly different style...after a great start in the last few weeks, for which I thank all the readers, it was a good time to evaluate the Review, and make some adjustments to make it better and better.

The Ivy Corner: in which she provides compelling glimpses of life on the road.

Today's Topic: Staying hydrated


Ivy understands the importance of staying hydrated for the sake of the grass and plants she helps keep nourished, and keeps her power water bowl nearby at all times. 
 
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