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

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“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!

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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.

In the Meantime

Muskogee to Memphis

Hell's Hole, OK

While I am working on soliciting donations to continue on my path down the road of life I am not sitting idly by twiddling my thumbs and toes just because there doesn’t seem to be an employer in my local vicinity who is interested in employing me at slave wages and exploiting my superlative set of skills.  I don’t get too bummed out by that seemingly incomprehensible set of circumstances given the overall state of educational and economic depravity I’m surrounded by.  It’s just further evidence of the bad decision making skills of the people in the area.  LOL.

In the Meantime

Yes You Can

In the meantime I’m spending my time doing what any able bodied homeless vet (or bag lady) would do given the ‘opportunities’ that present themselves in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  I’m out collecting aluminum cans.  I have no idea what they are worth as I have yet to actually sell any of them but they must have some intrinsic value greater than zero or our cities wouldn’t be overwhelmed with images of homeless folks pushing shopping carts stacked to the brim with them.

Making do

I’d mow lawns if I had a lawn mower.  I’d do some other odd job if I hadn’t lost all my tools in my moves back and forth beyond the oceanic horizon. Lacking a vehicle does nothing to improve my situation one bit as I’m sure there are some jobs right outside my limited field of travel that I might be able to bag but given my experience to date I wouldn’t call that a ‘slam dunk’ either.

Sonic Tim

I’d put on a pair of roller skates and deliver your slush and corn dog order to your car at the local Sonic for that matter,  but I guess the sight of a skinny ass old guy wheeling around in their parking lot isn’t as desirable in terms of public perception as I had otherwise hoped it would be when I wandered into the place based on their “Walk In applications welcome on Tuesdays” flashing sign, only to find that “walking in” for the application required I first do their online application (WTF?) which of course I did before returning for my walk-in application the following Tuesday!   I’m nothing if not persistent and I’m trying to put to rest the tired stereotype that folks who want to work can easily find jobs because that’s as old a trope as “both parties in this country are the same, so why bother voting at all”.  Vote for Bernie Sanders, 2016.  Before it’s too late.

Enjoy.