The Joy of Bathing

Setting: sidewalk at the corner of Stafford and 7th Los Angeles 90021.

A large man with a forhead flattened like a Rottweiler attacked by a skillet sits overflowing a folding metal chair.
I am standing behind him holding office scissors and chopping away at his long greasy hair with islands of dried scalp sliding down the strands.
Next to us, 4 more victims sit on the stoop, smoking and drinking paper bagged beers and chattering their gossip and opinions on my cosmetology skills – or lack there of.
I had bribed these people.
Tucked under the chair , a pile of zip locking sandwich bags wait to be distribited, their translucent plastic sides bulging with trial sized shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, tooth pastes and other good smelling basic hygiene tools.

Shed hair clippings ringed the chair like a biological moat and I did my best not to step in them.

After each , um, interpretive hair styling session, the victem, um client, was given a bag and expected to go to the showers and use the Contents. There may have been some threats from me about what would happen if I found other people (namely the or dealers, prostitutes, and the like) coming into possession of these bags. They were for the client to use for bathing – not as tender and exchange.

I know. I know. Imagine reaching into your bathtub and grabbing your conditioner bottles and exchanging it at work for lunch or a cigarette. It couldn’t be done. But, in a land where almost no one has cash- other items become money.

I a fan of bathing … In part because it is where I ruin paperback books when I fall asleep in the bubblss, it is where I hide from the family who take every other minute, and it makes me smell nice. I feel great about myself when I am not crusty, dusty, or musky. A clean body inside some clean clothes makes me supercharged and I feel great about myself.

It is really hard for stinky people to feel positive, or to convince others to feel positive about themselves (unless you are a toddler – those easy people are never clean).

When I worked on Skid Row , I had a volunteer hairdresser and between her efforts and my own, we did our best to help my clients feel and look good so they could feel good and be approachable. I was not hosting get your stereotype of bedraggled and smudged homeless adults. I only wanted you to guess these folks were homeless if you tried to follow them home only to realize you both couldn’t get there.

Okay, now I have to get out of the tub….and yes, those twelve toes are mine.

Homeless People , should we beat them up?

Apparently this is less a question and more an agenda item for some people.
Bum Fights, police brutality ( l ) and the almost daily lyrics news that another poor person has been hit with a car, smacked with a bat or injured just for being available and unprotected.

The general emotional feeling is that this group is a free buffet for the psychopathic needs of others to feast on.

And when someone does step in to stop the violence : he is stabbed and dies.

Why are we not more upset by this?

Character is who you are in the dark

As a child, I loved Show and Tell and the way it told me who my friends were when we were apart from each other.

I learned Mike Detola loved law enforcement and making siren sounds, that Jeff Hoover drew dragons, and Jennifer Balmot danced. Even now, I am thrilled to find out something I didn’t know about you.

When I discover that you have no depth and your cover art tells the entire story of yours: I am bummed.

This is especially true of companies and charities – I want them to have substance. I want them to be involved in their cause or commerce in ways I would not expect. ..nut ways that deepen my respect and awe.

If you say you are all about housing the homeless but never give it a spare thought when you are away from your cameras , publicity, or board meetings then I find you boring and trust you less. I also donate less time and money to you.

If you live your cause, paid or not, I will be a life long fan.

By the way, Jen never became a dancer but she did invite me to join her in dance classes and I am still a fan.


Are you taking part in the Letter Carriers Food Drive May 10th?

Place nonperishable (foods that don’t need to be kept cold) in bags at your mailbox on May 10th. The Food can be sorted at local Post Offices and Food Banks. You will find me @MENDpoverty.


@MENDpoverty from 4pm -10pm

10641 N San Fernando Blvd, Pacoima CA 91331

@ post offices in Tarzana, Encino, Sherman Oaks,

Van Nuys, Sylmar,

from 12pm until 7:00pm.

And all of our hardworking volunteers are invited to MEND for the Big 22st Anniversary BBQ Dinner @7pm!

For more information about where to report for service

richard or 818 686 7334

luke or 818 686 7302

My Dream is to study homelessness on a global level

My dream is to combine what I have with what I like and spend a few months traveling the world comparing and contrasting poverty and homelessness in America to other countries.

I like people ( in general, there are some individuals I do not enjoy at all) and I like to travel, and I am fascinated by the American ideas of poverty. I have a friend who is a travel agent, a child who still has years before she requires formal education and an excessive amount of knowledge on poverty and homelessness in America.

I need help though. This has been in the back of my mind for a decade and I do not know how to begin achieving this goal.

I am open to suggestions.


I am designing a behavior chart for my youngest daughter. She is very hard headed and has a hard time following directions and is goal oriented ; if the goal is designed by her.

There is a great deal of laughter and finger pointing in my general direction that accompanies a storm of “Who could she get that from?” drenching me.

As I build this chart, I am flashing back to my sea foam closet of an office on Stanford Street in Los Angeles. My oldest daughter was about 10 years old at that time and quietly well behaved ( at some point a genetic test came back with the results that she isn’t actually mine – but I met the other mothers in the labor and delivery room when she was born and she is definitely not related to any of them). Behavior modification wasn’t so much of a parenting need for me. Most of my charts and behavior goals were directly related to my clients.

I bought calendars and golf foil stars for my clients. Each day they went without Crack, or a hooker , or fighting, ___ fill in any number of personal goals here__ they earned a star.

I think I need to build chart like this for myself too , to mark my progress on my measurable, observable and achievable goals.


Would You Call the Cops on Jesus

Do you call the police when you see a homeless person sleeping on a bench.

One lady did , only to find she had reported Jesus to the Popo. Well a statue of Jesus.

And for the record, Jesus wandering around gathering followers and starting in the dessert…Jesus was homeless.

Read more ♡♡♡

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Book Report

Did you just flash back to your 3rd grade classroom?

You may have guessed that I’m an avid reader. There are boxes of books in my garage , a crammed Kindle bookshelf, and when I can hold the materials:I listen to Audible or books on tape. I am a junkie. My keyring has fobs from the Arcadua, Burbank, County of Los Angeles and Los Angeles City Libraries. I am super thankful to have a Lifeproof case on my Samsung so I can read in the bath since the contents and instructions of all my bath products are all but memorized.

My childhood was spent in public schools where I received a world class educat. The  Arcadia Unified School District doesn’t mess around (although please keep me from ranting about the current and recent Superintendents). Even a rudimentary education is worth gold if it teaches decoding and reading well enough to make a book a pleasure trip. Reading was  not an easy trick to learn and my spelling is , um, interpretive . Now that I have mastered the devouring of words -I understand their power.

Why am I posting this on a site dedicated to poverty issues?

Library cards are free. Having millions of dollars gives you no better selection of reading materials than someone carrying only the change they found in the parking lot. 

Public Libraries are a great equalizer.

A good public library can change a life. It holds the instructions to reading and information on every topic. The stacks hold the static equivalent of the Internet without the snide comments section or porn collections.

It also offers escape. Books are portals into the minds of other people, into locations the reader might never visit in person and into idea landscapes that would swallow us whole without the author to lead us home again.


The book I listened to this week during my commute

It is no mystery as to why so many homeless folks find their way to the library. There are chairs and protection from the elements, and accessable indoor bathrooms, use of the Internet and books.  The Burbank Library even has literacy tutors who teach adults to read.

Words have the power to change the world…or overthrow and control the political system. There us a reason many countries don’t educate their citizens and expressly forbid females to learn written language.

Hitler never used a gun in his rise to power.  He used words. He wrote a book. I read that book in Junior High, it was a copy brought from Germany.

Lincoln, the first Republican President, was like generations before him. He learned to read in school and then continued his education by lamplight , learning from books. Then Lincoln used his words to change the world.

Read a book. Support your local library.

Change the world.

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Closing Arkansas Clinic. Awesome!

Everyday I hope I get a call that there is no longer a need for my specialized knowledge.

These doctors got that call. It’s wonderful!


Closing Arkansas clinic: ‘We’ve done our mission’:

The Wage Gap and Gender

Two out of every three minimum wage workers is a woman.
       Go to the mall and check the female to male ratio while eating your food court pretzel.
A single kother, working full time at minimum wage is about $4000 under the poverty line. These kids have a working mom but no money for school supplies.


♡♡♡read more


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