2011 – Drinking, Drugging, or Shopping…

schrodingerscat_fullpic_3667In the mornings at Mill Street (our communal compound) I always finds the usual suspects on the back patio. Gregor is smoking and pontificating on Liberal politics (and its current demise); Young Thom has his large sack out (of pills and supplements); the Apostle Paul (quiet in person but mighty in letters) is silently waiting to pounce with a witticism and I am slamming strong coffee and about to launch into a story that is far too long and convoluted for most (I will be chided several times for this in its course).

This morning though it was the Apostle Paul who piped up that quantum mechanics could be used as an argument to get out of running a red light.

AP: You can make the argument that rolling through the stoplight entails an intricate numbers of “stops” as it is happening

Mac: Too bad you cannot produce Heisenberg there in the courtroom…you know like Woody Allen produces Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall. That’s shut the judge up…case over!

AP: Yeah but Heisenberg is dead.

Mac: Okay, so instead you bring in Schrödinger’s cat.

AP: I’ve a better idea. How about Schrödinger’s cat in Heisenberg’s suit!?

Well it is just this sort of nonsense that goes on every morning in one form or another. Of course all homeless people are hopeless drunks (except those here) or uneducated…hmnnn.

Later, Astro Steve (he is a genius who has applied his mind to astrology) stops by and sees I am reading Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, a book about the disenfranchised on Cannery Row after the Second WW. It is a funny, poignant, romantic witty tale that is both rich and sparse at the same time.

AS: Steinbeck eh? He writes a lot like Hemingway.

Mac: Yeah, but he is a lot funnier. Come to think of it Hemingway is never funny.

AS: No, he’s not. He’s self-absorbed, too serious and Steinbeck is warmer…that’s because he was a cancer.

We’ve both read a lot of both and we’re right. Steinbeck is hands down the better writer in almost every way. The other thing is (I think later) Hemingway became emblematic of the lost generation. Steinbeck actually found some answers, found some ways home.

That’s what a lot (not all) of these folk want. They want to find a way home. They want to belong; they want to feel affection and that their lives matter.

Don’t we all?

______________

Granted, this was a shelter in Marin California, which only means that the people in the shelter were generally five to six times more interesting and conversationally literate than anyone I ever met in Marin who made any serious money. Those fobs wouldn’t know Steinbeck from a Steinway (“Oh, my neighbor has a lovely Steinbeck”).

There is perhaps a good reason for this actually.

“Mankind is drinking and drugging themselves out of awareness; or they go shopping, which is the same thing,” wrote Ernest Becker. They won’t let you stay in the shelter if you have been drinking and drugging; and if you had the money to do serious shopping you wouldn’t be homeless.

That leaves a lot of “awareness” time. I kinda like it, and them.

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