Black Friday

The Jena Six Rally may be over but I'm still dressed in black.

What can I say? Advocating for justice is an everyday thing. And black is my favorite color. In fact, I have enough black clothes that I could wear a completely different all-black outfit every day of the week. Someone put me on "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" so I can learn how to incorporate color into my wardrobe, okay?

I also have another reason to be wearing all black: I'm possibly mourning one of the drunks down the hill.

Yes, one of my warm beer drinking "buddies" may be no more. I mean, I clearly want these drunks gone but I don't want them dead, you know?

When I walked by around 2:00 yesterday afternoon, he appeared to be passed out under his favorite tree. That in itself is nothing new. That's par for the course. However, when I drove by around 5:00, it looked like he hadn't moved. That definitely concerned me. Usually, he moves from the tree to the sidewalk, and then back to the dust that passes for grass in drought-stricken Los Angeles.

I called LAPD on my cell phone. They said it sounded like paramedics were needed and then connected me to the fire department. The Fire Department operator asked me questions like, "How old is he?"

I had no idea. I mean, it's not like I've ever stopped and engaged in conversation with this man. He's always very dirty and disheveled and his face has that hard-core alcoholic look to it. I've never felt inclined to ask, "So, how old are you? Do you prefer warm beer or whiskey?" Nope, we've never talked. I've had nothing to say in response to his slurred, "Hola, bonita!"

I told the operator that he looked older than 35 but younger than 60. I could hear the pause on the other line, like the operator was thinking, "Okaay, that's a 25 year age span. What a dummy!"

I felt distinctly unhelpful. That feeling got worse when the operator asked, "Can you walk over and check if he's breathing?"

Um, NO! I wasn't about to get that close. I'd walked by earlier on the opposite side of the street and besides I'd just seen him when I was driving by on my way to the bank.

The operator sighed, thanked me and asked for my cell number. I sort of hoped it was so he could call me back and say, "He's fine. Just a little too much Jim Beam knocked back today."

Twenty minutes later when I drove back home, the drunk was no where to be seen. One of my neighbors said they'd seen an ambulance zoom up our street with it's lights flashing and sirens blaring.

Today, the guy isn't there. His three buddies are there, but he's not. Does this mean he's been arrested for public intoxication? Does this mean he's dead? Is he in the hospital? The cops never called back to tell me anything. I'm left wondering.

I'll keep my black outfit on tonight since I'm going to see Muse out in Irvine. I definitely need a little amazing guitar playing to start off my weekend. Watching this clip of Muse playing "Stockholm Syndrome" live absolutely convinced me I had to see them. I'll tell you, the last minute of this has some of the best guitar riffing I've heard in quite awhile.



And people wonder why my youngest child wants to be a rock star...

Comments

Anonymous said…
Its really sad, because I think about our neighborhood crackhead the same way. Unfortunately my neighbor has taken to using her services (no not the sexual one, but she sure can landscape)!But when I don't see her for awhile then I start worring, hmm where is sharon...is she okay? Her grandmother or maybe mother got put out of the house they were living in so now she's out there alone...

I hate to say it, but I think the Jenna 6 Rally was worthless...I don't believe it will enact change...not the way it did 25 or 30 years ago...
Ian Lidster said…
Well, as the old saying in the rehab business goes: "No drunk ever dies in vain, he can always be used as a bad example." Sad but true. My mother died drunk, she just was able to disguise it by living in an upper middle class home rather than sleeping rough under a tree. But the sad end was the same.
I guess without a name, there is no way to check on whether he was admitted anywhere. Maybe he was just sleeping it off more deeply than usual.

It's a very sad problem here as well, and I also keep track of the local drunks who hang out in my neighborhood. There are so many people who for one reason or another, have given their lives to booze.

Being perennially blasted seems like the waste of a life to me.
Jameil said…
they never call back unless they need further info. since they knew you didn't have it, no "he's okay ma'am call." sorry. i saw this insane accident where the car hit a guiderail at a high rate of speed, richocheted off across 3 lanes of traffic and smacked into the concrete median. i called 911. they got my info and that was the last i heard of it. since i was at work, i had the desk ask questions of 911, but they said minor injuries (person drunk and loose and therefore nearly nothing wrong). lmao @ "Do you prefer warm beer or whiskey?" neither!! cold beer, tequila, please! wear your black daily girl!!! hotness!!
Jess said…
Liz,
I just stumbled on your blog. Love it. I linked to it from mine.

I love your school comments.

I'm a teacher. I got into education to "make a difference". On my really cynical days I wonder if we do more damage than good.

Institutional racism is alive and well.

I believe that there won't be a serious dismantling of institutional racism in education until the teaching ranks reflect the myriad of races, cultures, languages, and socio-economic statuses of the students that fill our classrooms.

Keep fighting the good fight!

Jess
Liz Dwyer said…
Gyamfua,
I don't think the march was worthless. I suppose Bell being denied bail could make it feel that way, but really, anytime people stand up for what they believe in, it's a good thing. Of course, what needs to happen is for people to go back to their own cities and demand change locally as well. I hope that happens.

Ian,
That is a sad end indeed. Too many of us have had family members meet that end. And it is easy to disguise. People become those "functional" alcoholics and think they're just fine. The outside world thinks they're fine, too and the families suffer and watch the person self-destruct.

Heart,
It does seem like such a waste of life. He wasn't there yesterday so I really am worried that he's not okay. I have often wondered if he has a family and where he gets the money to buy the liquor...and how does someone get to that point in the first place.

Jameil,
Yeah, it's pretty clear I was not a font of information for them. They're probably hoping I never call back again. They probably roll their eyes when they see my number show up. I'm becoming one of those old biddies who call the police all the time!

Jess,
I'm so glad you came across my blog! Welcome. I agree with you about the dismantling of institutional racism. But even with that diversity represented, if folks don't work to change their own hearts, the oppressed become the oppressors, you know? Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I'll be over to visit your blog soon!
Anonymous said…
Drunks are resilient. They don't die they multiply! I once knew a drunk that always looked dead even when he was walking around. To this day he lives. Now he drinks his warm brew out of apple juice bottles.

It was good of you to call for help. I'm trying to get better at those helpful citizen things. In NYC it's easy to become hardened and cynical.
1969 said…
Hey at least you called. Hopefully you saved him and he is somewhere getting medical attention in a nice bed. (I can dream right?)

Have fun at the concert tonight.
M said…
I hope he's okay. That would be a sad way to go.

I think the Jena 6 rally might be something that woke up a few more people to the fact that institutionalized racism is alive and well in the U.S., and that there is still such a long way to go toward true equality. I know more than a few people who said things like, "I can't believe that something like that could happen in this day and age!" Which makes me think that they needed to see something as glaring as all that to get what's really still going on.
Liz Dwyer said…
I still haven't found out anything and today, miracle of miracles, the other guys weren't down there drinking today as I walked the kids back and forth. Really weird.

Keith,
I think because I'm out in my neighborhood so much these days, and I'm on foot most of the time, I feel connected and responsible for things being safe and people being safe around where I live. It is easy to become hardened. I have to fight that though because once you harden, it's tough to thaw out, you know?

1969,
The concert was CRAZY great. I'm so glad I went. I'll tell you though, the last show I saw before this one was New Edition featuring Bobby Brown. Two totally different crowds, genres, everything...but I kept wondering if Bobby Brown would rock out to Muse?

Maia,
Good point. It's so easy to say that racism is a vestige of the past. And I hope folks get that it's not, and it's not just because Jena is in Lousiana. I really think this could have happened in any state.
oh no, I hope your neighbor is okay.

I too wonder what brings people to that point. Is there a sliding scale you keep drinking more and more to dull the pain, then you have to drink to just make it through the day?

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