Friday, April 18, 2008

Home-less.......

Remember that whole Compassionate Conservative thing with our former President?

By the way...thanks to an electronic calendar someone brought us at Monday Night Dinner.....I can tell you we have only 275 days, and some 22 hours left to endure this awful, useless prick......

Well, those of us who think of themselves as actual Compassionate Conservatives.... I guess that we ran smack-dab into John Calvin with these current douche bags we call a government......Everything is pre-determined, you see. God's way of showing his favor is to make you rich. Poor people are depraved and unworthy.

In Cachagua, we are surrounded by poor people. This is the ocean we swim in.....even though we sally forth to take care of our wealthy friends in town.....Cachagua is really is all that John Calvin needs to know about us!

Actually, the REASON we are in Cachagua has more to do with corrupt Monterey water use regulations and politics.....but nevermind. The fact that we tolerate these folk is all that anyone need know about us.

Part and parcel of moving to Cachagua to operate our catering kitchen has been to deal with the homeless, and the peri-homeless.

Is it a home if you live in an illegal dwelling and have no lease...even if you have been there for forty years? Oh, and you have no electricity, and carry water in buckets....and the daughter your raised there is graduating magna cum laude from Carmel High and is stressing out over whether to go to UC Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Davis or Santa Barbara on full scholarship?

Is it a home if....even though you have paid cash and have legal title....the property you bought is so stuffed with old cars, batteries, water heaters and such that five years hence you find yourself fighting not only foreclosure but Monterey County: "Maintaining a Public Nuisance"? Because you irritated Officer Cocksucker.......

Or guys like Dave...with no car, no ID, no social security.....who lives in a trailer I bought by the creek out back of the Store. Dave is a steady pack of Camels, 12 pack of Coors, food, electricity and so on...in exchange for sorting the re-cycle, filling the Monday Night water bottles, and raking the yard.

Dave has cost me $60,000 in the past five years.

I used to be bitter. I work my ass of every day. I get three weeks off a year....in Spain. These homeless, low-lifes seem to have every day off.....and I am supporting them?

It is like my immigration thing....I used to blame the immigrant, ignoring the fact that US businesses are luring these people north by promising them jobs that violate every possible aspect of modern employment law...actually even Victorian employment law......for decades now. And have been cashing in on the difference between illegal wages and benefits and American wages and benefits.....for decades. And then call themselves True Americans and rail against the poor bastards that they have lured in and have been under-paying.......

Wait. Upton Sinclair ran for Governor of California in 1930 on the EPIC platform. End Poverty in California. Sinclair was concerned with these exact same issues. William Hearst made short work of him....with the able assistance of the California Highway Patrol, the Kern County Sheriffs and other stalwarts. 1930 is perilously close to a hundred years ago. Nothing has changed.

Anyway, we have a lot of contact with homeless guys.

Exhibit One: Grant Risdon.

Grant....just go to Conall's blog on the left over there....or go to YouTube and type in "jackabdiel" as a search and look for Conall's 'Granting Rant' stuff.

Grant is a poetic and artistic and lyric genius. Well, he does have some drug and alcohol problems.....but having Grant around is like having Jesse James, or Ike Clanton, or Brendan Behan's fucked up Dad out back. The man is living history.

Grant lives on the Hillbilly Bocce court behind The Store in late winter and early Spring ....then moves into the creekbed when it dries up for Summer and Fall. Winters he searches out Jesus, in his many forms and appearances, and lives in various Missions in Salinas. The Victory Mission embraces Jesus and eschews alcohol. Grant luckily found a Latino Mission that is kinder towards fermented beverages and appreciates his musical bent.....though he happily took his free teeth he got from the Victory folks and ran like the bandit that he is.

They don't fit well...the teeth....and Grant did better as a toothless guy, but what the hell?

Here is Grant's Corner at The Store....shot by my awesome friend Brian Buck:

Grant has been profiled here before. Do a search for "Grant".

I understand that Grant gets about a grand a month from his police brutality settlement from the 80's....when he lassoed the sheriff and dragged him up the road and got beat into a six-month coma for his troubles. He is on a strict budget.

We buy less than sterling wines for Grant that he can get for $4-5 a bottle. Grant comes in at the end of our various meals and takes what we can give for $5 or so. Everything is served properly on real plates. There is no condescension on our part.....Grant is a real customer. Dignity....ours and his....is crucial.

Other times, Grant comes by with a joke, a witticism, an anecdote....or just a happy-go-lucky attitude that helps us through our day. We make him a sandwich, or a plate.....all parties are happy.

Tonight, I caught myself being Republican. People made reservations for dinner tonight....we are secretly open on Friday.....so I came in and Micah and I worked for a couple of hours on a simple prix fixe. No one showed.

Whatever.....fuck 'em. We all made prime rib sandwiches for ourselves, down to the nub...which was slightly dry and overcooked, but not much. Niman Ranch prime rib. I was wrapping up the nub to take home to Xabi the Wonder Dog. Fuck these people....I love my dog. Better he should have your food.

Grant had been around during the evening at a polite distance. I have learned to judge his relative hunger by his relative distance from the kitchen. Tonight he was on the periphery, waiting to go to the Evangelical Mexican Band Practice.....he is the castanet player.

I took a moment......let go of my anger at the no-shows, and any lingering resentment at the not working homeless guys......and got some of Micah's bread from Monday.....sliced it, hosed it down with good olive oil and fried it in a pan. Sliced up the prime rib nub, laid it on the fried homemade bread, spread on some Whole Foods mustard and wrapped the whole thing up in parchment for Grant. I took extra care to make sure that everyone knew that this was not charity, but us just involving Grant in the same Workers' Community of Left-Over Niman Ranch Prime Rib Because the Rich People Didn't Show Up that we all were part of....

Because he belongs. Grant is an organic part of our community....work or no work. "From each according to his abilities.....to each according to his needs." You just have to pay close attention to the "from" and the "to".

A no-brainer, right? But this dynamic goes on every day......in our town, our dogs eat better than many of our people.

There is a dog caterer. Really.

Speaking of dogs.....

Two other homeless guys....Jay and Fred....used to be Cachagua residents, for years and years. Fred's dad, Pablo still lives out here. Amanda says that Pablo at age 80 has the prettiest legs in Cachagua. Pablo has a great story about driving over the Oakland Bay Bridge with Richard Brautigan with a dead guy in the car...back in the day. Pablo was a butcher at Nielsen's in Carmel on Day One.....in 1940 or whenever. Pablo is the first to tell you that he smokes Camel Filters in the box....because the box protects his drugs (meth) from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune....but he still has the prettiest legs in Cachagua.

Fred was not Pablo's real son....but a homeless kid that Pablo took in fifty years ago. When Fred got polio, Pablo went to the wall for him....gave up his house and his life and his job....to make sure that the kid got treatment.

Fred was our dishwasher, and Jay was our painter. The painting sucked and peeled immediately, and Fred broke nearly as many dishes as he washed successfully. Both guys are working fools, though. They did our roof, and it mostly doesn't leak....too much.

Fred is such a hard worker that his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not in his mind...but in his hands. Fred worked in concrete.....smoothing the stuff with his hands for decades....and on fishing boats. His hands are so preternaturally rough that the cracks and fissures will actually tear denim if he is not careful and mindful.

Fred and Jay lived in little cabins in Prince's Camp right on the river. Unbelievably idyllic. Thoreau...eat your heart out. We rent a cabin next door for our interns.....and we are still waiting for the novel. Steinbeck and Cannery Row? Fuck off. Sam Urmy...bring it. A Spanish kid is moving in this spring.....maybe.

Fred and Jay love dogs.....Fred has Henry, and Jay has Blue. Henry is a purebred some kind of something that reminds me of Michael Spinks.....sleek, black, incredibly strong, gorgeous and possibly scary, but kind and ironic. Blue is a Cachagua dog....a Nason mix of border collie and various cattle dogs who is a first cousin to our Tassajara dog, Floyd.

Fred and Jay are also the two guys that made possible our Memorial Day thing on the beach two years ago.....by painting 2500 stakes white on all four sides on three day's notice. Again....check out Conall's blog for the results. Or look here....

These guys did this work because they believed in us, and supported us to the very best of their abilities.....the one time anyone gave them a chance. They did this work for friendship.....because friendship is their core value. Oh, and they did it for free.....even though they had no money.



Eventually, Jay and Fred came to the decision that the $250 a month they were paying each would be better spent on drugs and alcohol. So they moved to the mountain canyon above Whole Foods in Monterey.

Blue is kind of scary looking, so the legion of homeless guys who live on The Mountain use Henry to beg outside Del Monte Center....or on the corners of Munras and Soledad.

Turns out the joke is on them....Henry is so sleek and gorgeous that the Carmel and Pebble Beach ladies would do u-ies and go back inside and buy bags of organic dog food for the lad. The campsite has a mountain of dog food.....and not so much cash and people food.

One night last week, a pack of coyotes attacked the campsite to get at the dogfood. The homeless guys rallied, but Blue and Henry really rallied and kicked some coyote ass. There was a huge fight....and Blue and Henry disappeared into the woods in a snarling mass of angry canine war.

Fred and Jay freaked out, too. They ran off in search of their buddies. Fred fell into the canyon and broke his ankle. Jay climbed down, did the first-responder thing on Fred.....learned over years on tuna boats in Alaska....and back packed Fred up the hill to CHOMP.

Unfortunately, there was a journalist present......and when Henry killed a coyote the fucker ratted him out to Animal Control.......who responded and took a now placid Henry off to the SPCA.

The boys....left to no other option....called The Cachagua Store for help.

This is the definition of being Shit Out of Luck....calling the Cachagua Store for help.

But.....we responded.

Two hundred bucks to bail out Henry. Driving to the SPCA to talk to the ladies. Having our lawyer call the Monterey cops to make it all cool.

Sadly, Henry is now labeled as a "dangerous animal" in Monterey....so we had to find him a temporary home in Cachagua.

Even more sadly....Jay and Fred have to move out of the Monterey city limits to keep Henry and Blue....so they are going to have to move back to Cachagua.....away from any source of cash and dog food from the rich ladies of Carmel and Pebble Beach.

Luckily, we are Compassionate Conservatives......anyone who would give up his home and income, however humble....for love of his dog......is my kind of human.

I am trying to figure out how to explain this to my accountant....and inevitably, the IRS.

Oh....and my wife!

Oh....and Officer Cocksucker...who will not be far behind, enforcing ordinances protecting the rich folk from any possible vision of people like Jay and Fred....and Henry and Blue.....

I have come around. I am no longer angry and resentful. To me it is an honor and a privledge to know and support these guys.

I know, John Calvin......total losers, all of us.

3 Comments:

Blogger Lee said...

Grant made an appearance in town yesterday with a lady friend in tow (or he was following her lead, it was hard to tell). He was hot on the trail of 2 for $7 wine at rancho cellars to pass the cold gloomy overcast afternoon. Unfortunately, the cheapest bottle they have there is $9 segura vidas cava.
He is truly a legend in our midst, and deserves a photo spread in the society pages of carmel magazine next to the self-righteous charitable elites. I will find a way to make this happen.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Pexster said...

I never used to read or enjoy the society pages, but this version has me coming around!

3:41 PM  
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