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7/23/06
I like chocolate, but not that chocolate.

Dear Kim,

The other day, as I was taking my walk, I ran into a big gathering to feed some of the homeless in Santa Monica. On that particular day, it was being facilitated by something called the Church of the Open Air. Both homeless and non homeless were feeding their brethren.

(Kim: It almost seems like yin and yan how part of our civilization is somewhere between making a profit and making a war, and the other part is focused on spiritual values and giving. I see faculty who are deeply concerned about the amount of their paycheck, but are passionate about helping students.

Some of the greatest capitalists were also the most generous with their wealth. Though I suspect that in the end the capitalists gave unsuspectably through their self-interest by creating jobs and wealth for others.

It is very difficult to live above the poverty level in America. After reading Nickel and Dimed I realized that a good work ethic is not enough. Without a marketable skill and good habits one is doomed to be in a bread line.)

I asked if I could stand with them, keep some of the workers company and also help. So I opened sealed boxes with my car key and handed out chocolate.

I'm happy to say that our corporate giants had donated a lot of the food. There was gorgeous white and blue snowflake cookies from Starbuck's that retail at $1.75 in the stories. There were miniature Heath Bars from Nestles.There was a lot of sugar.

The people with whom I was working, a woman named Viper and another one named Angel said people liked the sugar. Some turned down the spaghetti and salad in favor of the sugar. I wondered if the people who did that were junkies.

It was very telling to stand on the line. We gave out over 600 burritos. When I remarked to Viper that not everyone looked homeless, she said, looks can be deceiving. And that at the end of the month, some people who are not homeless are so strapped for cash, they show up for the meal. She also said that a lot of people who came by were on passes from mental hospitals..

Whatever their circumstance, almost everyone was friendly and polite. A lot of the regulars joked and seemed happy to shoot the breeze.

What I found most interesting was that, whether or not they were hungry, they still had the dignity of preference. One woman turned her nose up at the Heath Bars and said, "Well, I like chocolate but not that kind of chocolate."

Viper and Angel are both homeless. Viper is staying somewhere in Venice and Angel said she has been staying in the bluffs in the Pacific Palisades until she got kicked out recently because too many homeless have been starting fires there.

Both Viper and Angel were missing several of their bottom teeth but Angel had on bright turquoise liner that carefully rimmed the inside of both eyes and exactly matched her sweater.

I felt in awe of her. She was so warm and kept calling me by my first name. And I was stunned that her femininity could be so in tact under the circumstances.

Some women just need to feel pretty. I called her pretty lady. And she was. I don't think I could maintain such a sense of self under the circumstances.

Later,

Joan

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2006

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