Saturday, May 16, 2009

Recently, I went to the ballgame. Baseball, unless you are a great fan, is a little like watching paint dry. What made it somewhat interesting was these guys behind us, old timers, in their eighties but really knew baseball. Both were retired
school teachers and lived somewhere in the Valley, wherever that is. I
think it is like half way between San Francisco and LA. Anyway, these
guys would analyse every aspect of the game. It was like having your
own personal sports commentator. They knew names of players, blood
types everything.

And, there were 4 guys, in early twenties, in their jockey shorts, all painted up and yelling constantly. From time to time, various people would join them. Girls came by to get their pictures taken with them. What was amazing is that they weren't obnoxious and they never ran down. I was amazed.

They constantly hassled this one player, the center fielder. I came home and googled him. Well, the guy has fathered five children by four different women. And, his team has hired a former cop to keep him out of trouble. Amazing since this is San Francisco that these guys would zero in on this perceived miscreant. Funny, guess you kind of had to be there.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


All of us know about the "dog eating the homework" but what about the dog "eating my teeth." This is Henry talking. He's a "homeless" guy that has staked out his territory at Fisherman's Wharf. I've talked to him lots. His sign says he's a vet and I love this, "I don't drink and l don't do drugs and I don't cuss." There you have it. He tells me he's been married a couple of times and he's lived with a few others but finds that he's better off by himself. He doesn't like living in a resident hotel but prefers the streets. And, the biggest mistake of his life is getting out of the "Service." He would have been at least a sergeant by now he says. I say, "Probably at least a sergeant major." He smiles and I can see he has no teeth. I say something like, "Why don't you get the VA to get you some teeth." He smiles again and says, "they already did once." Well, where are they, " I'm thinking. He's reading my mind and kind of sheepishly says, "my dog ate them." I decided not to ask how all this came about.

In some ways this could be one of "those only in San Francisco stories." However, homelessness is a global and for us a national problem which is not going to be solved. Here in San Francisco, having had some experience in working with the so"so called" homeless, the term means many things. There's a group who loves living on the streets. They are doing dope. It is a lifestyle. Then there's another group who should be institutionalized. Well, many of them. Crazy as bats and a few dangerously so. Finally, there's a small group that we could actually help. They often have children. And, they are the ones on which we should concentrate. The others are beyond us. Homelessness is a little like immigration policy. If we are honest, in our culture, it can't be fixed. We're doing about the best we can.

The dog ate Henry's teeth and getting him another set is not going to solve his problem because Henry doesn't think he's got a problem or want it solved. God bless Happy Henry.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Grandparents Day, Burke, 2009

I left my heart at Lake Shasta
Amidst the sun and waters warm,
Safe from all the winter's harm
With boats and tubes and water skis,
To splash and swim and be so free
With friends and food and laughs all day,
I never want to be away.
I come home with a suntanned cheer
Happily waiting for next year.

By Frances Jacobson

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Recently, I was entertaining my son-in-law's Mother. Mary is a wonderfully sensitive and gentle mid seventies widow. We're heading to the movie on the bus. This guy gets on and sits right next to her and proceeds to take off his shirt. He's overweight, riddled with tattoos and a bath has not been part of his agenda for sometime. 

I was keeping my eye on him just in case. You almost had to be there but Mary did not look at him. However, the guy next to him goes berserk; hollowing and screaming at him. In the course of the conversation, the shirtless man who is now putting on a shirt he has retrieved from his backpack, says something like, "You people are always picking on the homeless." 

This set the guy off with something like, "You are not homeless but a sorry bum who doesn't care for anybody but himself." And, he throws in a few expletives. At this point, I am convinced that they are going to fist city. They start back and forth, without letting up. 

I'm trying to figure out what to do when mercifully our bus gets to our stop. A funny aspect of this episode is that the guy who was yelling at the initial naked guy was covered in Tattoos, shorts, and a long pony tail which looked a little like Ozzie Osborne at his worst. 

It did get me to thinking, however. Was he right? The guy homeless or bum? I enjoyed columnist Nevius series on the homeless. I would pose a different view, however, homelessness is an intractable dilemma. Mainly, there really are three groups of those on the streets: (1) those who have an entire lifestyle and love living on the streets, (2) those who are mentally ill, and then (3) that very small group that actually could be categorized as homeless with some possibility for help. Overall, it is a problem that cannot be solved, much like immigration, racism, drugs, any of the social ills of today. All we can do is the best we can with it.