On the Road Again

A Place in the Sun

My stay at the corner of Chelsea and Hyde Park in Memphis was bracketed by gang violence.  The day before I arrived a guy had been gunned down just up the block from the auto shop where me and Bandit were staying.  His T-shirt was one of two planted in a makeshift memorial, in an untended lot just across the street from where Bandit and I were holed up (see header pic).  A daily reminder of the senseless randomness of street thuggery in the US today, a good deal of which is fueled by the ongoing refusal of some states to come to terms with legalizing marijuana.  As was the case with alcohol prohibition, this inevitably leads to black market activity and violence is the only ‘legal’ recourse for solving “market” disputes.  There’s a “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre” happening almost every day somewhere in the poorer parts of the American landscape, but since the dead are mostly poor Blacks and not upscale Italian mobsters, it doesn’t make the ‘news’.  I knew moving in here that the area was a sketchy, but this was underscored in a seriously dramatic fashion Sunday evening. 

Why We Left

IMG_1165

“Nelly Belle” loaded up with Bandit taking one last look at the ‘hood.

There was an honest to goodness running gun battle that took place right at this spot early Sunday evening.  

Bandit and I hunkered in for the night and when daylight appeared Monday morning, I decided not to continue to remain in an area that appears, for all intents and purposes, to be one of the primary gang “drug dealerships” in Memphis.  

To be fair, I had never before felt personally threatened by the gang activity.  I was living in their neighborhood and they treated me with kindness, dignity and respect. There was no hint of racial animosity whatsoever.  This in no way abated the fact that the internecine gang skirmishes were a fact of life or that the general deprivations of the area played heavily on my ability to retain my exuberant upbeat attitude.  None of the businesses seen in the pics below are open and even the church shown in this slideshow was ‘out of business”.  You know things are bad when both the pool hall and the church give up on the area!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Though the deprivations in our living arrangements were harsh. I was thankful to have a place for me and Bandit to bivouac while attending to the issues of the van that my friend Drew Pittman had so graciously gifted me.  I consider Drew one of my secular guardian angels.  The van he gave us is truly a life saver and game changer for me and Bandit as we continue the daily struggle to rebuild our lives back here in the US.

What’s Next?

Bandit and I have moved to a safe location outside Memphis and are in a holding pattern awaiting paperwork on the van which has been promised to be forthcoming.  I will be meeting with Drew over the fourth of July weekend to finalize all that before heading on to Pike’s Peak as has been my intention since arriving back in the US last November.  In the meantime we are both doing fine and expect to have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend just like the rest of America.  Memphis wasn’t all bad by any means and I do not wish to leave that impression.  We loved the parks and the general vibrancy of the city.  Memphis is definitely moving in the right direction and there is a lot of opportunity awaiting those with the gumption to grab it.

The circumstances of my poverty greatly exacerbated the situation and though I actually started working within a week of my arrival, getting both the van in shape and trying to acquire the basic items necessary for life made it difficult to accumulate any real wealth.  It’ll be touch and go for sure until we’re actually in Colorado and settled in but that challenge is more appealing to me at this point than gambling with my safety in Memphis.

Enjoy.

Advertisements

The Latest Challenge

Continuing Adventures of Two Old Dogs

Distant Horizons

Bandit and I now must manage to traverse a distance of 370 miles to get to Memphis where I’ve received an offer of a vehicle, shelter and employment.  It’s the first honest offer of employment I’ve managed to secure since regaining my ID and driver’s license two months ago.  I’ve only been back in the county for five months now which seems like ages, but given the amount of forward progress I’ve actually made, I don’t feel bad considering how far in the hole I found myself in upon returning under such harsh circumstances.

The exact details about how the stars aligned on that job offer (etc.) is a serendipitous example of reciprocal karma in action and will make for an interesting blogpost sometime in the near future.

International Bandits

Travel Bandit

Traveling with Bandit, like traveling with a child, adds a great degree of responsibility and challenge to the travel equation, not to mention the extra cost. Keeping him by my side precludes any form of the more affordable mass transit options (trains/buses) available back here in the good ole’ USA.  We got used to traveling everywhere together overseas where dogs are welcome most everywhere.

There are a few of my (misguided) friends and followers who have suggested I offload my beloved dog into the hands of a trusted caregiver.  Given Bandit’s ebullient and gentle demeanor there are no shortage of folks who are willing to provide excellent care for him.

Kissing Bandit

Let me be perfectly clear.  Bandit and I are a family and a team.  He will NOT be handed off or left in the care of anyone other than myself for a time period that exceeds an overnight outing.  Loved ones aren’t a disposable commodity to me.  There is no amount of suffering I will not endure in order to keep Bandit near and dear.  Some of you will relate.  Some of you will think me crazy.  The ones who can relate are those who I feel the deepest kinship.

Donations Clearly Helpful – Press to Help

I’m now left trying to figure the best and most affordable way of getting the two of us to Memphis from here in Oklahoma.  My timetable is flexible but the sooner we can get from Tulsa or Muskogee (pick one) to Memphis the better.  If I don’t find a more suitable way to travel than walking, we’ll walk back towards Memphis just as we were planning to do in the other direction towards Colorado.  It’s half as far as we were planning to trek in the other direction and we had no offer of employment, shelter or transportation once we got there.  @thetimchannel   Email: thetimtimes at gmail.  You know the drill

Enjoy.

Exodus Update

Changes in Attitude

slobdog

Today is the day after me and Bandit were planning to head west to Colorado on a seventy day forced march from our outpost here in Oklahoma.  Among those closest to me (and who chose to make their opinions known) there was an overwhelming amount of fear and trepidation about the course of action I had planned.

I thoroughly understand their many reservations and fears because I share (and shoulder) all of them.

The only difference between them and me is that their choices in life haven’t been narrowed thru circumstance and the fickle hand of fate so close to the event horizon of disaster as mine have.

Changes in Latitude

For Fundamentalist Christians wishing this Godless heathen continued pain and suffering, I have some rather bad news:

I have been showered with blessings yet once again in what can ONLY be described as a certified miracle of secularism.

I shall refrain from boring you all with the happy details at the present time. Suffice to say that it involves an offer of employment and an abode for me and Bandit to reside. It’s not the Hollywood Hilton but it’s straight up out of a Hollywood blockbuster movie the way it is all working out for us.

The Struggle is Real

btn_donate_LG

We could still use a couple dollars in the collection plate to help smooth the transition if you’re so inclined. I can ALMOST guarantee that you’ll get back multiple times the amount of any donation you make towards helping me and Bandit get a head start in the form of positive karma. After all, dog is God spelled backwards.

Bandit Vet Blogging

It’s a Dog’s Life

Worm Check

“You’re checking for worms where?”

Bandit had his first visit to the vet since arriving back in America today.  I didn’t expect there would be any problems (there weren’t) because he had been scanned, probed and microchipped for his international doggie passport just a few short months ago before we left Germany. The attentive and caring staff at the Jackson Animal Clinic are now engaged in buffing and scrubbing him up to make him even more adorable.

Jackson Animal Clinic

1740 South Gallatin Street  Jackson, MS  39201

There’s a reason the Jackson Animal Clinic has been one of the most successful vet clinics in the Jackson Metro area for decades. Caring professionals and top quality service instills confidence in all who seek assistance here.  Highly recommend you seek care for your pets at this location. Affordable ID chipping is available at this location.  I was extremely impressed that they were able to read the ID chip Bandit had implanted before departing Germany.

Visit them on Facebook

Yelp and Google reviews.

Enjoy.

Final Farewell to Fort Dodge

Although it had been my intention to regain residence in the state of Iowa and live in the city from which I graduated high school (with honors) back in 1976, the cards were stacked heavily against me. Due to the fact that I have been living in Germany for over five years, my US driver’s license was expired and of no use.  Add to that the serendipitous ‘luck’ of escaping my Nazi (no hyperbole) mother-in-law in Germany on the LAST day before my passport expired and you have the stuff of Kafkaesque nightmares. This led to a situation where I arrived into the state of Iowa with absolutely NO current ID. I imagine the Iowa DMV is overwhelmed with fake passports that are two days past expiration, such is the ease of duplicating the document.  After all, who doesn’t know at least half a dozen folks running around Iowa trying to pass themselves off as somebody else using a “potentially” forged passport just slightly out of expiration?  It’s likely just as common as tits on a pumpkin.

“Welcoming” Platitudes Were as Abundant on the numbered waiting slip at the DMV as they were about the house at my sister’s place of residence.

There were many attempts to rectify this less than fortuitous situation.  More than one of my friends back home got a front row seat to the ridiculousness as well as my personal angst and disgust which I was unable to suppress while getting involved in trying to help me solve this dilemma.

It turns out that the only quick resolution to my ‘illegal alien’ status is a trip to the New Orleans passport office, the ONLY place in the USA where this can be handled in a timely fashion:

Updated and edited to add: ONLY IF YOU HAVE A TICKET LEAVING THE US IN THE NEXT TEN DAYS, a little something I had forgotten about and which added another degree of difficulty to my life a short while down the road.

Me and my trusty companion Bandit are off to the gulf coast for the purpose of proving that I am not a foreign terrorist or Mexican immigrant.  With my passport in hand I will be able to regain some semblance of a normal life in the US (bank account, driver’s license, job….).  I’m glad to have found a quick course to the resolution of my troubles and a return to a normal life in the US, even as I’m painfully aware that there may never be a return to ‘normalcy’ for the ‘family’ I left behind in Iowa.

It’s a sad situation when the Iowa Department of Motor vehicles isn’t even allowed to check the Fort Dodge Senior High 1976 yearbook or accept the dozens of signed affidavits on my identity that I’m sure I could have collected from my many friends there in the city in order to ‘prove’ my identity, but we must remain HYPER vigilant against the communist ..err…Muslim threat.

I would have liked to open a business (or two or three) in Fort Dodge and maybe even paying some heavy taxes to help rebuild the blighted areas, but such is life.  I doubt I’ll ever move back to Iowa after the fiasco I endured, unless I get a penchant for frostbite or pick up a really heavy methamphetamine habit.

Enjoy.