A real fool that gets paid to talk to strangers in the street.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Care?




I went jogging tonight in Los Angeles. The setting sun and the fall breeze coupled with the full moon made me eager for another beautiful autumn on the west coast. I'm 33 now – I’ve experienced 33 autumns, and I’m lucky - I’m lucky to be alive.  I think about that all the time. Every once in a while I’m reminded why.

As I approached the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd. & La Cienega, the center of the city, I heard the sound of breaking glass. My eyes searched for the origin of the sound and found a young lady that had just dropped something on the concrete. Out of instinct I ran to her. She was frozen there on the sidewalk with a horrified look on her face, trembling. Two other people stood by as she shook in silence. I told one of them to call an ambulance. I asked the girl her name, if she knew where she was, and if she could tell me where she was going. Her response over and over was “What?”  I asked her if she’d taken anything we should be aware of, and if she had the ability to sit down. Again she responded “What?”

The man who called the ambulance was instructed to tell her to lie on her left side. I held her hands, guided her to the ground and gently placed her on her side. I laid down facing her and calmly tried to make her feel better with my words. I had her breathe with me and follow my smile. She eventually told me her name, where she lived, where she was coming from, and that she lived with a sibling but she was still very incoherent. Her pupils finally started to stop rapidly jumping around her eyes as she heard the sirens approaching. She then sat up slowly, began speaking very clearly and informed us of three things; she is an epileptic and this happens from time to time when she forgets her medication, she had to go before the ambulance arrived because she couldn’t afford the treatment, and if her sibling found out about this something bad would happen. 

This girl was afraid to accept professional help because it would put her in debt.  As I was realizing this, the firemen and EMT’s approached us and she very articulately informed them of her epilepsy and that they need not worry. They probably saw the look on her face they’ve seen before on many strangers, the look that says, “I can’t afford your help.” They spent a couple more moments with her.  I held her hand, said goodbye and went on my way.

The look of fear I saw on her face is one I know all too well.  A few years back I contracted a staph infection that almost killed me. I was 4 days shy of eligible for benefits at my job. I was in a hospital, without insurance, for nearly three months. I was a 25-year-old bartender being sued by that hospital for $185,000. After years and years of hard work and help from my family we were bled dry until the debt was gone.

Then two years ago while riding my bike, I was hit by a car.  The driver, busy texting, blew a stop sign and hit me going 60MPH.

I didn’t have health insurance because I couldn’t afford it. I was a struggling artist in a new town just trying to get ahead. At that point even a full time service industry job wouldn’t have provided me health benefits.

I don’t remember being picked up by the ambulance that afternoon, but they told me later I’d said I was fine and could just go home. Even in a state of complete shock I was wary of the looming price tag of the care I’d need, and horrified of telling my family I was in a hospital without coverage yet again. I got 17 stiches in my face that day and needed 4 months of physical therapy.

I don’t know the circumstances of the young lady I met tonight, but if she’s taking the bus, has no health insurance and has had multiple seizures in a short period of time it’s not because she forgot her medication but because she can’t afford it. 

I don’t follow much policy, or even take sides that frequently. I grew up in a household that was one part hippy, one part frat boy, passionately exposed to both sides but I didn’t like the turbulence so I stayed out of the sky.  When my brother joined the Marines I was forced to follow policy so I began reading the news. Now that I had a horse in the race I’d started taking sides.

Calling an ambulance shouldn’t be a luxury. We shouldn’t recoil, afraid of the expense, we should take solace in the approaching sirens, thankful the help we need is on the way. People should have the right to stay healthy regardless of their rank in our socioeconomic hierarchy.

Our president made it his mission to afford us ALL this luxury. His plan isn’t perfect, but it strives to be. People are historically uncomfortable with change, but if we gave into the resistance we’d still have slavery.

Yes, our country is running out of money.  We needed to raise the debt ceiling. I guarantee that most people don’t know what it is or understand its correlation to the government shutdown. But I bet that they know someone with cancer, or a child with autism, or someone who was in a car accident, or someone who has epilepsy. 

These are real people who we all know, people who contribute to society.  Marshal McLuhan stated that it takes a village. It truly does and it always has. It’s time the villagers ask the right questions.

I’m 33. I’m an artist. I’m an American.

I’m happy to be alive, to experience this autumn, this year, this life. Who knows what would have happened if an ambulance didn’t come get me that day. Who knows what would have happened tonight with this young lady, maybe she’s someone you know.

Health insurance is a ridiculous concept when you think about it. People and employers spending ridiculous sums of money every month their entire lives in the event something happens. Something always happens. How about just making health care affordable for when it does?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

We.


We kicked rocks. We knocked back pints. We rounded up the troops and packed our fists and hearts full of memories.

We drank sunlight and exhaled the Atlantic ocean. We trapped our pasts in the past and we worked at a company with cement ceilings.

We all had the same favorite moments in films and reality.

We traveled short distances together. 

In between those lines - air that listened to  dreams and a darkness that only the dead could understand. 

We laughed out of necessity - we tried out of normalcy.

We were just for nothing.

We were kids forever.

We.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Why We Rule


As this town sleeps a million children of all ages lye their head's down to dream in Los Angeles. Some for the sake of dreaming and some to actually dream. Lonely is the brain without a dream, and lonely is the heart without a brain. That's why a scarecrow needs a lion and the lion needs a tin man, and three men traveling alone together to save the world need a woman and a wizard.

Every day 3000 men and women get off the bus, train, or plane and dream the same dream. That dream mutates into whatever it becomes, much like us. We say goodbye to the lives we knew as realities, to create one specific to our creative self, in a time where both or nothing is certain.

That's why we rule.

Nothing is certain across the board. When the world is uncertain, it looks to smile, and we are in the business of personal uncertainty and professional smiles.

We are entertainers. When you go back to St. Paul, New Hampshire, Colorado, Florida, Puerto Rico, or wherever the shit you're from, you see TV and movie posters everywhere. These posters are put in place but marketing companies and advertisement agencies so that the masses can be entertained.

Everyone of you, every single one of you see these posters when you go home. You are reminded of where you've been living and where you live. You move here for reasons that I am unaware of but, I think and hope, because you want to make the world better place with what you have inside your brain.

It's hard because our dreams are untouchable, and at times unattainable. We're addicted to the dream much like some suburban women are addicted to the idea of a family, much like a heroin addict is addicted to heroin, we are addicted to the dream. Sometimes we may feel the inclination to run, the dream still courses through our veins though, in hallways, in staircases, behind doors, and in front of them.

In time the competition turns to camaraderie, and strangers quickly turn into a group of friends that can support each other, and combine hearts and talents. The orphanage that LA is, is a weird place to live. It's absurd if you think about it in depth. Write down three bullet points each day for a week of the crazy shit you experienced, in the end you'll have 21 fuckin crazy stories. Stories. I have one. You have one, and so do they. Some are bad, some are good. Some are really bad, and some are horrible. Point is, we live in a story land inside a bubble at the end of our country plucking our souls out on a daily basis in order to express a story. Although the journey may be daunting at times, it never gets old.

We'll grow old together too, just tellin stories to make smiles, and that makes me happy. Now let's go for a hike at Runyon and get fuckin crazy this weekend.