Saturday, 28 March 2009

The Homeless in Obama-ville, CA

I've chatted over Sacramento's Tent City episode a little in the past week or two. So the newest update? Straight from the LA Times:

Tent City residents gather as the city of Ontario starts the process of sorting out who may stay and who must leave. The city issued wristbands – blue for Ontario residents, who may stay, orange for people who need to provide more documentation, and white for those who must leave. The aim is to reduce the number of people living there from over 400 to 170. Officials begin thinning out the encampment, saying the city can provide space only for those who once lived there and can prove it.

I sat there for a while reading over this. Rules in Tent City? Rules for the homeless? Is this a joke? Well....it is California....you know.

So basically....you have to prove you are from Ontario....to be homeless in Ontario....otherwise....you'll have to move on. Where to? Well...I'd go fifty feet beyond the city limit and camp out. Or you could just go to a city park and be a regular homeless guy there. Or you could register in the city.....as a real Ontario resident, and then be homeless.

From my period of living in an Air Force Tent City....I came to realize that each week involved new Tent City rules. There was the one rule which kinda surprised us one day.....we weren't supposed to relive ourselves anywhere in Tent City.....except the toilet facilities. We stood and discussed this rule...wondering why the heck it would come up.....and then realized that some guys would wake up in the night....preferring not to walk 400 feet to the toilet tent, and just pee there by the tent.

At some point, we had the rule about what could be hung on the interior of the tent.....like posters or such....which had to be in good taste, but then they wouldn't give us an absolutely complete list of good taste.

So I'm looking back at those poor saps in Sacramento and this entire game of color coating.....and the where you end up going next. I'm guessing that fifty lawyers are packed up and ready to do battle with the state....to guarantee your rights to camp just about anywhere in nature. The curious thing....is that this is only happening in California. That should make you pause and think about this.

Lost: Moral Judgement

As most of you know....I have this addiction to "Lost". I've considered it one of the best written shows of all time....and the characters cannot be beaten.

One of the primary factors of the show....is the moral decisions that have to be made. Of the one hundred-plus shows so far....there have over thirty five-star decision moments....where you had implications no matter what happened.

This past week....it was the first six-star decision moment of the show. If you've been watching it....several members of the "crew" have landed back in the early 1970s on the island.....and amongst them is Sayid confronting the young Ben. Ben at his present age....has turned into the most untrustworthy individual that you can possible imagine. Every ten steps forward....end up with twelves steps back.

There is this moment where Sayid realizes that he has to power to kill a 13-year old Ben.....who has never done anyone wrong (at least not yet).

This is a highly unusual moral position....you have a person of innocence....but you know they will eventually turn into something evil. It's like the scenario that you are in 1909 Austria and you've got a 16-year old Adolph Hitler in front of you. Do you kill him or not?

This episode of Lost has gone on in my mind for two days now....after watching it. I have to admit....I'd probably have done the same thing as Sayid.....and shoot the young Ben. The thing is....this may have been part of the history of Ben anyway.....you can't tell. And the sad thing is....if you take Ben down....is there something more sinister to replace Ben in the end? Thats what I'm thinking with this script. Ben was bad.....but we may find some replacement scenario where things are alot worse.

So on we go with Lost....and I suspect we'll have another 6-star moral moment in the next week or two.

Homeless in Hollywoodville

Over the past fifteen-odd days....out in the Sacramento area...the media came up and realized that a homeless tent city had erupted and it was like discovering a new breed of elephant. After a couple of days....international media came....then finally came NPR (they typically get to the big stories four days late, if you didn't notice).

The horror? Well....there are around 250-odd people camping out. Homeless.....without jobs. I tried my best to analyze a dozen stories over this....even reading one British version.....and I really couldn't find anything much else to say.

So....in the last three days....state and city officals began to realize the huge political pressure on them. Naturally, the answer comes quick. Move those damn folks out of tent city.

So the governor has rigged up this "mess"....folks in tent city over the next week or two.....need to move to the state fair grounds....about ten miles (more or less) away. I had four different newspapers tell me various distances.....one claiming it was over 100 miles away (which I'm pretty sure is totally wrong). There at the wonderfully enhanced fair grounds....are toilets, shower facilities, and potential security to protect those poor folks.

Naturally, this moving and support at the fair grounds for the 250-odd people comes at a cost. In Bama, you ask about this at the very end. To get them moved, supported, protected, fed, and whatever....until the end of July (the governor kinda spoke that)...it will cost $1 million.

$1 million.

Yep....you read that correctly.

So, you divide (this is Bama math, for those who aren't simple-minded)....and basically....each guy costs $4,000.

I sat there for a long time. Thats a fair amount of money to support one guy....living on the state fair grounds.....for roughly 100 days.

Naturally....some reporters have shown some brilliance and asked what happens after July? Well...the state and local guys just kinda stand there....trying hard not to grin or smile. They believe that the 250 will be incorporated into the regular homeless folks already in Sacramento. The regional director of homeless folks (yep, there is such a job)....says around 1,200 exist in the area....and this would just make sense in combining this group with the regular group.

There is a remaining issue though. The NPR interview guy went through the crowd, and by the end of the interview.....I got the impression that most of the 250.....don't care to move.....and don't see this as anything but a show. In fact, one guy was sick of the media showing up and it was obvious in this discussion of the affair....nothing positive came out of the past fiftteen days except for more chit-chat on the news programs.

People want to badly compare this against the homeless life of the 1930s. The problem is.....we are nowhere near that grim picture.

I'm guessing at some point....someone is going to write a script....produce a comedy....and make this homeless city episode into a 3-star movie. There's an Austrian-Governor, a bunch of Democrats and Republicans, some nerdy news geeks, a bunch of community organizers, and likely some Latino dudes who aren't really citizens but we don't want to discuss that part.

So stand back and enjoy the show......Hollywoodville.