Thursday, November 10, 2005

Homeless For The Holiday

Beginning Christmas Eve, Tulsa Indy Gazetter will be following the life of Harold from Stockton, CA, homeless in Tulsa for two years. It will be a nine-day, 24/7 coverage. The reporter himself will be homeless and blogging, using only the resources available to Tulsa's homeless people. Stay tuned to this post.

The feel-bad blog of the year to make you feel good.

TIG intends to provide our kind and generous readers unbiased reviews of fine establishments that cater to the homeless palate. We will seek out plush overnight accommodations. And, a special review of the Grand Old Dame on North Denver, where free meals, a warm bed, and sparkly clean pods are available even if you are drunk several times over. All this, of course, without incurring the long wrath of Tulsa's finest boys in blue, formerly in green.


Pose next to this sign with the TIG garb. Random winner gets a visit from Santa. danchangtulsa AT yahoo. Entry deadling 23 December 2005.


Who me worry? Two happy dudes finished with the morning chow at Trinity feed zone. We are ruminating on how to prepare for our upcoming foray into the feel-bad blog of the year, Homeless For The Holiday.

How does one, weaned on well-manicured lawns, spit-shining SUVS, and Pet's Mart, prepare to be homeless? Do we go research the various feed zones? Do we find the hot spots for overnight accommodations? Which begs the question, does anyone prepare to be homeless? We prepare our kids for college. We prepare for retirement. Some of us even prepare for our final resting place. But, preparing to be homeless, no.

To maintain as much realism as possible, we will not prepare, taking only the basics. Warm jacket, shoes, and toothbrush. Boy howdy, it's gonna be a long holiday.


In the abyss of Tulsa's concrete jungle, denude of daylight predators, two universes intersect at the Civic Center. Every Monday night for sometime, this stretch of barren concrete, projecting out from the tomb that is the Tulsa County Courthouse, holds court for inhabitants of two universes, who cross paths and serve each other. One serves food and brief snippets of spiritual salvation. The other return the service by providing a sense of purpose, a sense of direction. Welcome to the Homeless Zone.

At approximately 7 p.m. Monday nights, a couple of shiny new pickups pull up to the curb at 5th and Denver. The motors growl like empty stomachs. Out of the comfortable confines of plush leather seats, softly illuminated dashboard, and warm heater, comes a group of friends from various Tulsa churches who bring brief spiritual and nutritional nourishment to hungry men and women who line up for the evening's meal, before leaving in search of tonight's sleeping quarters.

For some, sleeping quarters change night to night. Brandy, pictured above with boyfriend, David, is twenty-years-old. She has be living off and on the concrete jungle for two years. Our first word upon approaching her was, "Hey, where's the chow?" She was immediately forthcoming with useful information about where to sleep, where to eat, and how to keep warm.

We listen intently for any nugget of information which could be applied to our upcoming foray into homelessness beginning Christmas Eve, Homeless For The Holiday.

For Mr. Scruffy, who denied our request for photo, and in fact, threatened us with a lawsuit for an unwanted photographic intrusion into his personhood, the term "homelessness" does not apply. He is at home.

Indeed, there is some sense of freedom, a sense of community, and raw humanity tucked amidst the towering concrete monuments to society's conventions, confinement, and conformity. As we discussed in a previous post, beginning Christmas Eve, TIG will put a staff member out into the concrete jungle to take a path less travelled, a nine-day, 24/7, journey to get up close and personal with Tulsa's homeless citizens.

As such, expect our attempts at poignant, visceral essays to appear from time to time, as the spirit moves us, until Christmas Eve, when reality bites.

Films about the homeless: Beyond The Lights

The movie financed by panhandling. Tulsa Premiere, Thanksgiving 2006, on CineGrafique. A visual tour d'force. Mesmerizing, original upbeat/downbeat jazz and blues soundtrack by local musicians. A hypnotic, voyeuristic experience into the abyss of Tulsa's underbelly.

Thank you in advance of offical movie credits to our investors who believe in letting the homeless speak:

Amber Niemann(Blogger note: You are Numero Uno, baby!)
Jamie Moore
Clay Robertson
John Ermann
Kerry Orr
Kenny Hopkins(Blogger note: Your quarter will go a long way!)
Mike Toon
Utica Cleaners and Alterations
Dan Ross and Peace of Mind Books
Andrew Fell
Mike Wozniak
Sammy Davidson
Karen "Che" Guevera
Sound Pony Lounge
Andy Wheeler
Shannon Fitzpatrick
Yoon's Judo Tae Kwan Do School
Danille Larooso
John Holmes
Chuck Spoon
Marilyn Davis
Matt Carney
Kym DeCorte
Gina Maxwell
The Board Shop
Sacha Lanford
Earth Friendly Goods
Dave Eagleston

UPDATE--27 NOV 2005: In conjuction with HLH, Section 8 FilmWorx is in pre-production of two short documentary film called "Tent City Tea Society," and "Reality Bikes."

"Tent City Tea Society" is a short documentary about homeless musicians living in Tulsa's refugee camp, Tent City. A visceral music video celebrating the human spirit in squalor's midst. Mesmerizing, acoustic journey with echoes from the Buena Vista Social Club Documentary.

We need various musical instraments. Guitars, amps, drum sets, winds, and strings. Instraments can be in any shape. We will refurbish them and let the musicians have them after the shoot.

"Reality Bikes" is the second short documentary. A woman has lost everything except her dignity reaching beyond the daily grind of finding food, staying warm, and shelter, to start a bicycle shop providing affordable transportation. Unimaginable hope, vision, and compassion. Destined to be a sleeper classic in the tradition of Breaking Away.

Along with HLH, both productions begin principal photography on Christmas Eve. If you can help, email tulsaindygazetter (AT) yahoo Dot com.

Musicians and bike mechanics are welcome as non-paid on-camera talent. There are also 50-100 non-speaking background actor slots available for those with own costumes for a special out-takes segment, titles and credits.

If you are a Tulsa filmmaker, we will have some non-paid crew slots, especially continuity, available for principal photography and post positions.

UPDATE--28 NOV 2005: From inside the warm, cozy space that is DoubleShot Coffee Company, my legs feel like limp, wet noodles. The aroma of the well-appointed is coffee. Ambience feels like someone's living room. Most everyone here is online with a laptop. A whole world away from John 3:16.

I decided to eat tonight at 3:16. I was very hungry. After a brief service of salvation, dinner was served. The crowd of about 60 was mostly men. Dinner is spaghetti and meatballs, bread, corn, and cake with the most brightly lit blue frosting. It turned my tongue blue.

I am looking for Tent City, Tulsa's refugee camp. Sorry I am not my usual witty self. But, I am so tired, I am brain-dead and couldn't resist the warmth of DoubleShot.

Didn't say if they were homeless. But, they were tagged standing in line to make a deposit at the Tulsa Federal Employees Credit Union drive-thru window.

UPDATE: 24 DEC 2005--City on the Edge of the River.

I must have passed Tent City a million times. But, this is the first time I have actually seen it or have looked for it. It is a small collection of campsites located near Newblock Park on Charles Page Blvd., behind a levee.

Every campsite is guarded by at least one dog. As I tried to move further down river to see more campsites, a pack of dogs greeted me. Like many of the gated communities in new South Tulsa development, it seems Tent City is no different. I will probably need an invite to get in. As I look over the whole scene, Christmas music rings out in my head....I'll be homeless for the holiday...Chestnuts roasting on the open fire....Steady winds blowing from the river...I'll be homeless for the holidays...

Santa Claus Rock: Here's comes Santa Claus...Here comes Santa Claus...Coming down Homeless Lane...

Headed home with Old Yeller.

Remains of the Day.

Home is where the heart is.

Wreckage of the Valkyries.

UPDATE: 28 DEC 2005--Tent City on Christmas Day.

Tent City Chapel

Main Street, Tent City

UPDATE: 20 JAN 2006--We are back on track on this project. The original concept, Homeless For The Holiday, was a wash. No snow. We don't have enough footage to begin laying down the appropriate soundtrack. We had hoped to completely trash some Christmas classic tunes. But, the weather didn't cooperate. No snow falling quietly on Tent City. No homeless people sloshing through dirty snow.

But, today, we are back on track. We are out on the road. Started with breakfast at Irongate. Macaroni and meatballs, salad, fruit, and juice. Got second and third helpings with coffee. Needed some money and tried to sell a used cigar for $2. Not successful at all. No one was interested. So, decided to get a bag of groceries: rice, beans, dry spaghetti, tuna, spaghetti sauce, applesauce, bread, toilet paper, peanut butter, and jelly. Loaded most of it in the bike bag and carried the rest in the paper grocery bag. I want toothbrush and paste. Damn, I am so itchy in spots where the sun don't shine. I don't want some of the stuff so I am trying to trade it away for more spaghetti or rice. Got an extra spaghetti for the asking though. I am looking more and more the part. I find out where to get some healthcare, Morton Satellite Clinic, behind the Sallie, Salvation Army. I decide to get a TB card so I can sleep in the shelters.

UPDATE: 22 JAN 2006--Fat Cat Livin' Large at IronGate. Hey, isn't that a 50-leaf Churchill he's smokin'?

This dude is gonna be famous!