Thursday, December 30, 2010

Suicide By Behavior - Terry Nicholson 1965 - 2010

People literally die every day. They have for some time now, but I could not quite tell you the last time in the history of the city of Modesto at least, that there has been a day without death of one cause or another.
Though there have been literally hundreds of days that people may have died, but not anyone that I had any type of connection with socially or otherwise. The days between those days have become fewer days in between as of late however.

A few of these days ago, it was Christmas again in the Modesto Airport District and other areas throughout the city as well. Tevan Nicholson, known to me and several others as Terry, was found mortally injured in a house not far from where we have chatted daily for approximately the past four months now. Long enough to offer up interesting anecdotes and stories regarding our time together, however briefly one may say it had a quality for me that was useful in describing the negative aspects of outreach advocacy.

In other words, Terry was the poster child of how useless and futile my progress has been in affecting lives and returning to another part of the city with methodology that can be counted on as effective in the solution of “poverty problems” for the “rest of the population”.

Terry was quite the challenge – every day – In the early mornings, 7 to 9 am, I could catch Terry sitting on an obscure curb in the Yosemite Jack In The Box parking lot, reading. We would discuss various authors, often trading several names in rapid fire succession, seeking for recognition within each other’s memory.

But after about 9 in the morning, the conversation would begin to change as a mutual friend of ours, Ricky, would rise from his “camp” slumber around 10 in the morning – every day, mind you. That was before the weather began to change to a tepid chill in the nights. For then Ricky and Terry had foregone their camps to reside in the mission. This would mean that they could not stay out until 9 or 10 o’clock at night, as Ricky normally camped at this time, with Terry following, if he had been lucky enough not to be arrested that day for public intoxication.

Both of them were able to take up residence at the mission, however, it was no more than a week at the most, that one of the Black Shirts (a term many of the Mission residents use to describe the staff) banned Terry from the Mission for six months.

It was far later than the 9 Am threshold for Terry. Terry was quite verbally abusive by this time to anyone he thought were not willing to either give him change for a beer, cigarettes or food. This of course was inclusive of everyone, except for “Mr. Stanford”. I had a free pass because I was a “beautiful man” and Terry would drone on and on how I was the only person that ever gave him two dollars. I didn’t have to, but I did. I did that for him. I am a beautiful man. But to everyone else, including our mutual friend, Ricky, it was, “bend over bitch. Let me fuck you up the ass. Shit if you don’t want to just give me fifty cent. Fifty cent. God damn, that ain’t much!”

It was that kind of talk that got him kicked out of the Mission. I did happen to catch the Black Shirt that had banished Terry into the cold, one night in the Vietnam Refuge Donut Salon, parked like a 25 year old RV right next door to the Mission.

Often the Black Shirts roam in, like eugenically rogue Modesto Police officers and order their sixty-five cent donut and eighty-five cent small coffee, making small talk with the frightened refugees behind the counter and saying ad-noseum, “praise God”. “Praise Jesus”. “Glory be unto him”.

It was during one of these “look how much I act like Jesus” diatribes of the Black Shirt, that I caught him off guard by actually making conversation – “Hey, there’s this black guy that you kicked out of the mission last night……”

“Hey, I know you have a heart for these people, but they gotta follow the rules.”

“I understand that, but look, what if I come with him and have dinner every night and stay until he goes to bed – I can keep him calm for you.”

“Sorry bud, no can do. He knows the rules. He broke ‘em. My hands are tied ‘brother’. Have you tried the other shelter at 9th and D?”

“Yeah, I’m working on that – I hear they have a breathalyzer though – my guy’s not going to be able to pass that. Look, we’re going to have some freezes pretty soon and I don’t wanna to pick this guy up in a body bag along the river. Can you please, just let me come with him and stay with him until it’s lights out.”

“I gotta go bud. God bless you.” He summed up, extending his gritty slimy hand, like his shit didn’t stink.

“Allright, look”, I said, “ I will let you know about the Red Shield ok, but if I have to, I’ll go to the office during the day. I can’t leave him in the frost.”

I knew of course, how bad Terry got between the hours of nine to nine every day. Drunk. Belligerent and oh so verbally assaulting. Because, it was not more than perhaps a week before my plea to the Black Shirt that I had gone into the Jack In the Box to acquire some tacos for a junky senior citizen sitting in Terry’s morning spot.

But this was before the nights pushed many into the Mission. Several of us would converge at the same spot where Terry and me would discuss literature in the mornings. As I came out of the restaurant, I was consumed by a mother’s force of will to defend Terry from five white teens beating on him with their fists.
The automation of my actions took me almost as much by surprise as my sudden increased strength. So much so, that shortly after freeing Terry from this hate crime, the little Okie red-neck’s returned with their numbers doubled and wielding a machete during my ensuing 911 call.

After the dust settled and I spoke with the police, once again later that evening, one officer said, “Hey your friend got a free pass today, but we had to kick him out of Jack in The Box. He laid down and was going to sleep on the floor, right in front of the counter!”

For the next several days, my routine walks through the Airport Business District was comprised of scenery and reminders – SS symbols and White Power slogans. On telephone poles and crosswalk controls.
A few days after my altercation with the Black Shirt at the Vietnamese Massaged Donut Parlor, Terry boldly came to my work. And as I met him at the door, the first thing I asked him was, “So, what did you just get out of jail again?”

“No man. I’ve been sober for two days!”, he replied with his scrunched up eyebrows launching a celebration of sobriety. I was able to enjoy 3 more days of Terry’s sobriety after that.

Terry never wanted me to video tape him or take his picture, so I cannot show you what he looked like. Though it would be nice if the McClatchy Bee Pravda would take some sympathetic time to provide these things, it would probably not fit their “homeless elimination” agenda.

I could probably fill in the missing pieces that led to Terry’s injuries at the hands of this neo-nazi skin-head – but, even he has little to worry about.

No one really cares about Terry. Not even the false prophet Black Shirt that shrugged his shoulders in the name of God when he condemned Terry to die, if not from the freeze, then by the Nazi disease.

Rest in peace my friend, we will meet again.

In Loving Memory - Terry Nicholson 1965 – 2010


Terry, God even loves the vacuum guy. I’ll tell him you said hello! Naw, just kidding!

Copyright 2010 Robert Stanford all rights reserved.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Recession, Depression and Correction

As one looks about themselves, as if anyone actually would, they see the plight that has been brought upon the working individuals and families.

It does not matter from which vantage point observations are made. All across America, it is the same. So many people losing everything they have worked for all of their lives to obtain.

Homes well into foreclosure, record numbers of individuals and families on food stamps and aid for dependent children. Charitable organizations are experiencing demand like never before with funding and donations at all-time lows.

Like the eerie creaks from within a building, on the verge of collapse, so too, is our socio-economic structure showing the foreboding signs of certain doom A catastrophe that very well may make stern separations between the strong and the weak. A rigid division between the rich and the poor.

In a desperate attempt to secure Western civilization’s standards to coincide with the expectation of American citizens, the federal government pelts funds on the local level with conditions of demonstrative need, hoping to keep the wolves of discontent away from the gates of the oval office for just another day.

And in so doing, it would seem, to many a conservative and liberal alike, that a grand conspiracy is afoot. A master plan as it were to harvest what toil is left from the American masses by perpetuating a dependence upon the American Government, from Washington DC to the local level. A direct refusal to allow the natural cycles of free enterprise to reinvent our socio-economic way of life through death and rebirth from its own ashes.

All counties throughout the United States are being infused with general assistance and food stamp funds. Unemployment, just a year ago was on the verge of insolubility, and now has now been unnaturally extended several times. And local law enforcement agencies across the nation have had a steady infusion of cash – million and millions of dollars funneled to them, causing fake prosecutions, planted evidence and what appears to many to be the granting of prematurely derived federal powers to local officers through spontaneous deputations.

There is a dependency that has weakened and threatens to completely annihilate the American spirit.

Already, most Americans today consider the proverbial American dream, nothing more than a cruel hoax.

Meanwhile, the American people become addicted to the blame game for emotional relief and as a way to preserve what little self-respect they still have left.

Immigration – both legal and otherwise becomes an immediate prime target. The concepts which become immediately acceptable are mostly comprised of generalizations that encompass all immigrants and for the sake of providing venting comfort, the negative aspects are singled out, embellished to an extreme and redundantly chanted through sensationalistic media and wide spread word of mouth, so that the definition of immigration and only it’s negative assets become common and collective knowledge.

The same begins to hold true for those that look down upon others that have fallen further down through the socio-economic ranks to a status of intense poverty. Compassion and empathy no longer stands on its own as a naturally occurring social value.

More and more we see that to be maintained, these values must be propagated by churches, charity groups and local community leaders. As though these groups and leaders were like coaches, pushing an exhausted sports team to finish out a losing game and remain respectfully good sports to the other side, regardless of the point – spread mentality of each individual player.

Since even before the technological miracles spurned by the tumultuous and now all but forgotten necessities of invention of World War II, contemporary American society still has yet to ask where all their time is going now.

With a third of everyone’s lives spent sleeping and another third spent with brain wave flattening television viewing, the other third is spent amongst fast food, star bucks, drugs and alcohol and these days, if one is so fortunate, under-paid and overly taxed labor generally for a corporate interest as opposed to private small businesses.

In the mid 1970’s it was found that many children in the urban areas of California (Bay Area and Los Angeles) believed that agricultural products were manufactured, rather than grown and harvested. This misconception was prevalent in the most disparate areas of the metropolises and occurred despite information that available to them otherwise via the sixty to eighty hours per week of television viewing informing them otherwise (PBS).

Since the 1970’s the urban areas have grown immensely throughout California, encompassing both North and South and our children born of generations since, have had even less exposure to information programming credited to the advent of redundant VCR/DVD/Tivo recordings and violent video games that glorify brutally criminal violence.

Diets of the masses that were still in the 1970’s at least partially balanced to adhere somewhat with Governmental recommended daily nutritional allowances have now become saturated with trans- fats, sugars and corn syrup.

As a rule, American civics and the study of what is arguably America’s most important historical lessons, such as World War II and the Great Depression are hardly even mentioned throughout the course of a students primary American education today.

American education has become a bureaucracy that has created a “teach to the test” type of an education and as a result, drop out statistics and general populace illiteracy rates have soared to proportions never seen before in contemporary American history.

All that the American people ask of themselves, their community and their Government today, is nothing more than immediate gratification, verbal reassurances for token ideals that reflect mocked values and stimulus funds aimed at cruel and unusual immigration reform so they might be able to acquire the easiest to be had jobs – food service and hotel/motel labor.

And for the news and other media on the television radio and major internet sites, there is nothing more than one huge distraction. A preoccupation of events much larger than ourselves and our individual lives despite the paltry taxes we pay, we constantly insist that all our needs be provided for us.

Our survival skills are now only honed to build a retirement to bed at the end of a look for work day or work day.

The prophesies set forth by Orwell’s 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World have already come to pass, though society at large still consider these concepts to be no more than extraordinary literary fiction.

Both of these works written in a story-like fashion and at a time when the only acceptability of concepts such as these could be had was through the subtle delivery of fictional prose.

So easy then today, it’s just a story. And even easier now, as such reference to ideology such as this provides comfort from the American Governmental storm as we turn a blind eye to atrocities occurring in our very neighborhoods and business districts all around us, while a handful of greedy autocrats on every local level clamber for United States Federal Stimulus dollars.

Even now, as our neighbors are taken away from us in shackles, accused of the most heinous of crimes and immoral turpitudes, we dare not lift our gaze in any demonstration of support for the innocence granted by the United States constitution as an inalienable right, lest we ourselves might suffer a similar fate and spend the rest of our lives in a prison, never to breath free air again.

Our journey’s to imprisonment are being christened by rogue cops, corrupt district attorneys and an ever-increasingly corporate government overseer.

God help us all, for we certainly seem entirely incapable of making a single stand for our brothers and sisters falling victim to faceless greed.


Copyright 2010 Robert Stanford all rights reserved.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Apocalypse of the Common Wealth Private Club

So now everything seems to be calm with a few strangler issues out there, ripe for speculation, but seemingly impenetrable to ay influences outside the current City of Modesto Mayor, Ridenour and the go along to get along, do nothing - Modesto City Council.

McClatchy Park is one of the hopeless causes of the day. An experiment as it were to circumvent possible ACLU intervention in their general treatment of the homeless, addicted, mentally ill and alcoholic that reside in the downtown area.

Like the dumpster diving ordinance, the open container in the park ordinance, and some others that have also been misused and enforced differently from what was promised by their sales pitch promotions put on by the Modesto Police Department, the La Loma Neighborhood Association and yes, even myself. Another tool in the belt of law enforcement to be used for good or ill against the impoverished that occupy many of the parks surrounding the downtown Modesto areas. This one is best called a park privatization ordinance.

The same instigators of this new park privatization ordinance also bring us via City Hall, the Common Wealth Members Only club. What better way to put lip stick on a pig and thereby beautify the City of Modesto, then to eliminate the “undesirables”?

Now there is talk of Modesto City Council member, Brad Hawn carrying the torch of Moridian of the La Loma Neighborhood Association and starting an Association of the Graceda Park and College areas of Modesto. A wise move considering that if they could get a newsletter off the ground before November, there would be one less voting base to worry about. Hence come the rumors over the privatization of Graceda park. Just as fresh and vibrant as the same rumors heard from the Moridian camp. If you listen closely, you can hear the wind between their ears howl - “At last, we have a way to get rid of these bums.”

We have two announced contenders for the upcoming Modesto mayoral race- Council members, Hawn and Marsh. Already it is easy to predict that the Vache Bee is already backing Hawn, since they have changed the stock photo they use of Marsh and have replaced it with a picture of a man that looks like he is about to plunge a steak knife through his carotid just to end the pain of being a Modestan.

A good choice for the fat, old bigot – Hawn is strong with the development community and as far as the PMZ machine is concerned, Marsh has not been turned to the dark side long enough to be quantified as of yet.

And it matters. The Bee's endorsements are the strongest, considering that the average voting age of the largest percentage of Modesto residents that will cast a ballot, easily places them, even by AARP standards, as at least on the verge of dementia, therefore, they just cut out the recommendations of the Bee and place it side by side by their ballots. That is how Modesto's fate is decided. Mostly by a whole lot of people that the DMV should take a closer look at.

But then again, even in Modesto there is the motivational factor of candidate outreach. Marsh excels at that. With the precision and fortitude of a Civil War general, in every campaign, his troops leave no stone unturned when it comes to getting out the vote and getting the voters to not only vote for him, but to lobby others to vote for him.

What about a third contender? I guess that John Michael Flint, long-time columnist for the Bee knows better now than to speculate if Carmen Sabatino is going to enter the race, since his last piece on the former mayor was the only one of a few hundred pieces that the Bee rejected from him outright.

That coupled with several unprofessional jabs at Sabatino and the withholding of several letters to the editor in support of his recent supervisory run makes association with the “Target Redux” a wee bit dangerous if you want to score points with the Bee.

But when all is said and done, you are either a sold out whore or not. So Hawn will definitely have their endorsement and Marsh will not be able to sell out fast enough to get it. Besides, he is already showing weakness over his latest land use voting dilemma. May as well have Denny Jackman enter the race, now that his Shopping Cart Princess has taken her fill of the very local politics. This time around, it will probably be Marsh that will get the endorsement from Jackman.

After the Shopping Cart Princess steps into the land of milk and honey, I am sure that Jeremiah Williams will play the game just right. At least I will have an anchor on the council the next time I read off the dozen or so new names of victims of gang violence in the Modesto Airport District.

Nor will we have to worry about the stray whiskey bottles or having to stay late helping Steph sop up the vomit left at the center of the dais..

Copyright 2010 Robert W. Stanford, all rights reserved.

Copyright 2010 Robert Stanford all rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Percentages of Interest

Percentages of Interest
Robert Stanford

Much of what I write is written for a specific audience. A reader that I hold in my mind as I write. Someone that I am speaking with. A generalization of a certain percentage of the people that will read the article that I create.

Seemingly going through phases, a certain percentage of these percentages go through my mind as I prepare to write and write on whatever topic I deem is so important to communicate to a certain percentage of the percentages of people that will read it at all.

A certain percentage of everyone that reads the title will read further.

A certain percentage will read the first paragraph and another certain percentage will read the first two, and so on.

Of the total number of people that will initially read the title, further percentages are assured. Such as a certain percentage of people that despise me, know me, follow my work, are investigating me for whatever reason, had been looking for another Robert Stanford, either a WWII pilot or a multi-million dollar con artist, or even perhaps a UK based Real Estate Firm. Or simply found it by accident most random, it could not possibly be called a coincidence.

Some of these percentages I am aware of and of course, some I am not.

A certain percentage are law enforcement, social service personnel, elected officials, activists, and some are just people that find my writing intriguing, interesting, or utterly ridiculous and fun to read.

Of the total number or people that will initially read the title, there may be applied a very crude scale that could demonstrate in generalized terms, the amount that people are aware of who I am and what it is exactly that I do. From wherever people fall on this scale, say a scale of 0 to 100, is from where my image in these people’s minds are formed as though the gauge was at 100, no matter what approximate area of the gauge is an accurate representation of each individuals knowledge of who/what I am.

Some of these percentages fall into specific categories in which I can speak with a select demographic – and only to them. Often this does tend to infuriate other audiences I have addressed before, yet their confusion becomes quite evident when my writing to them is basically nothing more than seemingly contrived far side one-liners strung together and broken up in paragraphs in sometimes some rather odd places. My run on sentences suddenly become an irritant to them, when before, when they read what I had specifically written for their percentage category, they were not. The piece you are reading now, however, is intended for a much broader audience. So it will not be as funny.

And beyond the target audience, of course, falls other percentage categories of people that read the entire article.

This contemplation of interest and the percentages of the whole that are involved in some way, and the way that they may be categorized can be applied to many things that plague our very lives and quality of life itself.

For instance, if we were to take the entire population of drug addicts who reside as citizens of the County of Stanislaus (at least 30 days of some type of residence in the county). From this group, several categories can be identified as so probable it would be easy to arrive at a general consensus that they were in fact, facts.

Such as a certain percentage would be able to successfully overcome their addiction if they were in an NA (Narcotics Anonymous) program. A percentage would overcome their addiction if they had a sponsor in the program. Further percentages of this selected population could be broken down by success factors, such as the dedication of the sponsor and the branch meetings of the program itself.

To actually act upon concepts such as targeting and identifying sections of the population as a whole to recruit into these types of programs would warrant a study and speculation of interest and percentages. An identification of their categories, such as a poll to determine the difficulty of convincing the general populace that this is an effective approach to lessening the levels of drug use in their community – decrease demand and you decrease supply.

It’s the law of prohibition. A legal state of affairs that affects every single drug addict residing in the United States today. Percentages of severity could be applied through consideration and practice, which would show, most definitely a pattern of the suffering caused by a specific stigma American society places upon drug addicts as individuals as well as a generalized population – particularly during their consideration of assisting them with their illnesses of drug addiction. So much so that interest in their percentages and corresponding categories are, as a rule, taboo discussions in many communities, including Stanislaus County.

Such a large percentage of the community that comprises Stanislaus County are so quick to be cold and judgmental in consideration of the stereotypical image they hold in their mind when they consider the drug addict as an individual. It becomes for them an immediate representation that speaks to them on behalf of all drug addicts that comprise the entire drug addict population. Such a broad stroke they make. And for the greatest percentage of the people that make this stroke, this mental brush leaves in its wake the outline of absent responsibility. A responsibility that was long ago abandoned and is continually abandoned throughout the life of this drug addict individual – the assumption that their grip on reality and enjoyment of freedom of choice is just as strong as that of the individual that has created this spokesperson image.

Stigma takes over and drug addicts become their own hated race. The greatest percentage of any drug addict population is constantly faced with their cries for help falling on deaf ears. Banished they are. As if they had forsaken their own souls, they are left to their own devices and every mistake they make under the shadow and fog of their drug affliction becomes a crime because it is assumed that the line that divides right and wrong is just as clear for them as it is for those that are free from addiction.

Certainly that would apply to a certain percentage of the drug addict population. But not to all of them. And of those, why do we as a society find ourselves to be so apathetic, insensitive and lazy that we allow these people that can be healed of this disease to suffer so?

Perhaps it is because we do not realize that they exist and we allow our mental image of the drug addict spokesperson to cause by its sole image, for us to bask in the warm glow of yielding to apathy – a human tendency to wither back when faced with adversities or their very consideration. A comforting sense that all we can ever possibly do is shrug, roll our eyes and shake our heads, safe within the comfort zone of “knowing” that every drug addict has the freedom to choose and that they choose to be the mental image we have created to appease ourselves.

It is what has prompted me to point out and illustrate why would someone choose to wake up in the gutter with a needle sticking out of their arm? Interest and percentages. What percentage of the drug addict population choose to actually do just that?

At what point do we dispense with the technicalities of chain-linked events resulting from a decision that was under the duress of drug inducement and look upon these individuals as though they were inflicted by a disease rather than bad morals? Would it perhaps be at the same point that we accept responsibility for our fellow citizens with a healthy respect rather than fear and disgust? Or does it go deeper than that?

Are we perhaps afraid that we as non-addicted individuals could suffer the same fate as the mental image we have painted? Are the defining features of this image a result of our subconscious knowing that it may have in fact only been a matter of lots in life that could have lead to ourselves being represented by this image?

An image borne of stigma. The stigma of a horrible disease that in most cases can be cured. One of the few diseases in the world that can be cured by a neighbor’s love. At least a certain and definite percentage.

Interest and percentages conveniently forgotten by us all through our own design. The design of an image to hold in our minds as irrefutable proof that by cowering in fear and recoiling from the true drug problem, we do not have to fear becoming a part of it, though most certainly, it would be of no real fault of our own.

How can it be so much easier to lash out and condemn those that we fear to become?

Because when we look at them, we are truly looking at ourselves. Therefore, through no choice of our own, we already are – them.

And as drugs continue to destroy the very fabric of our society, at what point will we realize that we do not have to resign ourselves to the oblivion that drug abuse is pushing us toward – we need nothing more than community supported programs and warm extended hands that are outstretched to our neighboring Stanislaus County citizens, despite whatever mental image we have painted to protect ourselves from them.

Copyright 2010 Robert Stanford all rights reserved.