Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Friday, January 3, 2014

Legalized Marijuana-What's the Problem?

I have absolutely no tolerance for the opinions of people who condemn the use of marijuana-medical or recreational-but have absolutely no problem with alcohol. Alcohol is a dangerous, addictive drug; marijuana may be addictive to some (isn't everything addictive when it's pleasant?), but it certainly isn't as dangerous as alcohol. Not by a long shot. The state of Wyoming is warning Coloradans about bringing their newly legalized pot into their state-an ironic situation, to say the least. What is legal and not criminal in one state could fetch you a hefty fine and jail sentence in another. And meanwhile, people are free to drink all the booze they can afford (and not afford) in Wyoming, killing innocent people when they get behind the wheel of a car, physically abusing spouses and children, losing their jobs and homes from abuse, developing hideous diseases like cirrhosis, and generally being a public nuisance. These are not the type of behaviors associated with pot use or even pot abuse-marijuana smokers mostly tend to be a peaceful lot. I will concede that my evidence for this assertion is mostly anecdotal and from personal experience. I am sure there are incidents out there were someone stoned on pot did something stupid and/or criminal-but I'm willing to bet that these cases are statistical anomalies, and not the norm. Being tolerant of alcohol but intolerant of marijuana is strange, a blatant moral contradiction and a largely emotional issue. Marijuana may not be as safe as mother's milk, but it is no way nearly as dangerous as opponents tend to claim. It produces a mild feeling of well-being-much like having one or two drinks of alcohol, and then stopping. It heightens sensory perceptions, increases creative activity, and has very significant medical benefits for glaucoma, nausea sufferers,  and chemotherapy patients. On the down side, excessive marijuana use makes the user slow and stupid ("stoned"), and can lead to the abuse of other drugs. But yet, this is true of alcohol, as well-in fact, drunk people infamously have a lowered sense of judgment and discernment, are prone to impulsive actions, and take foolish risks. For those afraid that legalizing pot is a slippery slope that will eventually lead to the legalization of the truly dangerous drugs like cocaine and opiates, I get it. But we need not fall down that slope if we are vigilant. Having marijuana legal and readily available is really just a matter of giving people a safe alternative to Demon Rum-and as such, I heartily approve and concur.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Two of my friends didnt show up in the yard last afternoon, but I made a new friend. Don't get me wrong; it's not that I'm not concerned, but this happens all the time. My two friends probably found better places to sleep. And I finally got the respect of a middle aged Latino-an excellent chess player-by simply making direct eye contact and not looking away. Well, today's a normal business day, a perfect day for a reunion with a long lost friend. Certainly not for standing in line at the Food Stamp office. Or hanging out in the yard at the Ozanam Inn.

Sundays are a bad time for the hang-out-at-the-library homeless crowd. The library closes on Sunday, you see, so what can they do? Hang out in the yard at the Oz. Complain about the library being closed.

Some men aren't happy at all. They refuse to be, usually because they feel guilty. Some men in this group can get a small amount of happiness annoying others with their mouth. Others smoke crack. I am truly lost in the land of the lost.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday Morning Dispatch From the Land of the Lost

Greetings and best wishes from John Russell Turner, your commentator and (unlicensed) tour guide to the Land of the Lost. Today, I'm having trouble with my smart phone's wi-fi, and I've been trying to fix the problem. Actually, the problem is my gross unorganization: smart phones are not PCs, Macs, nor laptops-it's a different set of procedures and file management that I am only now beginning to learn.
Your Humble Tour Guide
Yesterday, it cold-rained all day, and when it wasn't raining, a dense mist hung in the air, reminding me of Seattle. All in all, however, I had a productive day. As I was walking back to the Ozanam Inn to sleep there another night, I noticed a lot of traffic getting off the Expressway at Camp Street heading towards the CBD/French Quarter. That was about 4PM.
Anyway, I got to the Ozanam Inn, chatted with Mike and Randy, two friends I made a long time ago. Randy is younger than me, has decidedly left-leaning beliefs, but has a keen, sharp intelligence that keeps me interested. Mike is a stolid, down-to-earth kind of guy who's always polite and never unfriendly. He also is intelligent and affable. We three had a few laughs-Mike was telling us about a Monty Python movie segment in such a way that we were literally roaring with laughter. A few of the other homeless guys waiting to get in the shelter for the night looked at us as if we were strange (or possibly stoned with the giggles). We were all definately out of place, laughing and being friendly with each other. The Ozanam Inn, while efficiently run with most of the staff helpful and courteous, remains a dark, joyless place, pervaded with the reek of despair. But! Three or four friendly yard cats hang out with us. They'll let just about anybody pet them, and anyone at all can certainly feed them. They are a bright spot in this dark, almost Kafka-esque landscape. And there are two or three program people (homeless guys who work for the Ozanam Inn) who forbid feeding and petting them. I'm not sure if this is official policy, i.e., sanctioned by the administrator, but it strikes me as very mean spirited. The air of depression out in the yard is so thick you can cut it with a knife. I mean, these guys all would certainly prefer to be somewhere else other than stuck in the yard at the Oz. Yesterday, with the steady, hours-long rain, many of them had no choice but to huddle under the crude shelter alongside the building. Where else could they go? They and their meager possessions  would become wet in seconds. The misery! The depression! The hopelessness! I can feel it tug at me, but I resist it. And one of the things that helps me do this are the kitties in the yard. One of them is the type of cat that, when it senses that I want to pet her, actually charges forward with her head, leaping at my hand, with eyes closed in unashamed pleasure. Another, the one I like the most, will come and sit next to me, close enough to pet, and look at me as if saying "pets or food accepted". So, what with my two human friends and my three or four feline friends, I do well enough waiting in line at a homeless shelter. I just wish the others could, too.

Update, 12-28-13/1545/3:45PM:
Sitting in the lobby of a hotel on Poydras
 Street, watching the game. Saints just called for false start. 7-7.
Got my wi-fi problems fixed. Next project: organization! Go Saints! Win the Super Bowl!

Dispatch from the Land of the Lost

I met an old acquaintance of mine last Friday afternoon, at Harrah's Casino.  Joe-not his real name-is a healthy, good looking guy when he's got money. I always admired his self-assurance and intelligence. Joe helps his friend Tom-not his real name-cajole money from pedestrians here in the CBD.  Both these men are bright, intelligent and affable people-I am proud to be trusted and welcomed in their company. I strongly suspect that most people would think these guys are just a pair of bums, but I know better. Tom is a very articulate, sociable guy who likes to approach people and say: "Excuse me sir, we're exactly 47 cents short of our next alcoholic beverage." Most people actually smile; a few will laugh and even fewer will donate. I imagine people are like I am-I'm generous with my money, but only when I can afford to be. 
Here are two homeless men doing the best they can, and for whatever reason they found themselves in such straits, I love them both.