Tag Archives: gross negligence

Distressing Displacements

Was the summer heat so relentless in Southern Arizona, in the Sonoran Desert, as it is in a Las Vegas set amidst the Mojave? Just as likely. Possibly even more so. The Sonora sits at a lower altitude. Its desert classification aside, it’s also a less arid ecosystem than the Mojave.

Youth, accompanied by more involved living, frequent insobriety, and greater disregard of nuisances like heat and lack of sleep, probably registered those Arizona Augusts on some lower discomfort scale. The escapades immersed in then must’ve somewhat negated the arduous climate.

Almost five years living in Las Vegas and I’ve learned to evade a trap that snares too many willing natives and long-time residents. I’ve managed to look through the transients, deadbeats, and bums littering the street corners and raised medians.

The effects of environment, narcotics, and living without care so harsh, these street skeletons easily call to mind those mannequins seen gutted in Cold War Era nuclear test films. Yes, an appropriate comparison. Many of those tests occurred in the Mojave within view of Las Vegas. Except the long-ago explosions were filmed in black and white while the people among us today are quite colorless.

While temperate weather alone should suffice to draw down-and-outers to Las Vegas (better to beg in Las Vegas during the winter than Salt Lake), that so many of the targets are soft touches makes it an ideal hunting ground.

Who among us doesn’t believe we’re susceptible to debilitation through complete surrender to the right (wrong?) kinds of inhibitions? This is why most of us work like hell to distance ourselves from such ruinous compromises.

Invading Las Vegas intending to prey upon the weaknesses and decency of the presumably good and responsible citizens who’ve made this home, why not present the visage of some absolute devil who’s succumbed to Sin City temptations and lost him- or herself among them? In the back of countless residents’ minds exists the possibility that they too may career off the paths of moderation which allow us to gently indulge in the city’s amusements, but stops long before indulgence utterly devours and destroys us.

Even before moving here, I understood the power of the Big Mayberry’s temptations. Nonetheless having witnessed it the problem apparently resides in individuals who’ve succumbed.

The idea that Square John or Jane can suddenly be transformed into the same dirt-encrusted, hollowed out meth creature, skeavy street wreckage one wished invisible, though if must be acknowledged, prefers doing so from peripheral distance (the better to banish them from our sight and consciences) than nearness where the whimpers of “Got any spare change?” are more disturbing. To become that devolved a human being takes effort.

Such perilous descents don’t occur overnight or over a weekend. Numbing flights of stairs need stumbling down before one becomes a wretched and despised dreg. And until reaching a certain depth, there are still ways of turning around, climbing the same path, and rescuing one’s self.

One bender weekend, one dissolute incident, isn’t going to result in our living rough on unforgiving pavement and drawing sparse sustenance from begging alms. It takes dedication to become the sort of piece of shit who reviles somewhat sober, hardworking people into convincing themselves that, ‘hey, a few bad breaks and that could be me with filthy hair, mangy, hollow-eyed, barefoot, and bedraggled.’

Those viewed with disgust aren’t victims of misfortune. They’re living an extreme lifestyle.

Sun and drugs have untethered them completely from awareness, made them strangers among functioning society.

I’ve managed to ignore the wasted devils cluttering city pavement. When aren’t they among us with their ubiquitous cardboard placards beseeching “Homeless. Hungry. Anything Will Help. Please. God Bless”?

The destitute can afford marring their bodies with tattoos, care for mutts – one wonders as pets or “service animals” – yet seek handouts to scratch up meal money? Being entirely practical as well as heartless here, let’s recommend they forsake further ink and eat the dogs.

By the way, how does the Almighty invariably get dragged into these fallible human dilemmas? Surely it wasn’t in His plan that these poor specimens of revulsion appear and pollute our horizons?

Really? Do those of us already toiling hard to keep wolves away from our doors need further incentive? After all, imagination is the most effective terrorizing force of all. Why, if it weren’t for the abominations we conjure ourselves, we wouldn’t have any organized religions, would we?

Steps before yet seemingly approaching the fork in the road between salvage and abandonment in desultory limbo are people who’ve come to Las Vegas, were successful for a time, but then fell on true hard times or bad luck. Maybe they spent extravagantly and sunk in deep arrears. Likely they fell afoul by somehow losing their jobs and with that loss also their residences.

Or more probable, people still employed but whose rents have increased beyond their budgets.

When I relocated to Las Vegas almost five years ago, the Big Mayberry was still in the throes of deepest recession. Unemployment was high and costs of living were generally dirt-cheap. Since then the region has rebounded mightily. After a lengthy financially fallow period, what enterprise isn’t looking to recoup curtailed profits?

Therefore, adios poverty-level leases. Say hello to landlords charging higher rents an improved market can bear. The only problem with that is the wage lag. Incrementally rising costs might be borne easier. But sudden jolts are enough to jar the lives of those earning lower-middle and lower incomes. Those wages have yet to rise appreciably. Likely these never will.

And don’t let an emergency splat on the doorstep.

There is a study showing the disaster threshold for Americans is $400. Meaning a high percentage of us couldn’t draw into our pockets and yank out 400 bucks to cover an unexpected expense of that amount or less. Four-hundred dollars. Think about it. How narrow must one’s margins be if life demanded several sudden hundred dollars and we find it impossible to meet?

So, a familiar and stressing sight on Las Vegas sidewalks are unfortunates who’ve lost their addresses yet may still work. Their modern malady has them resorting to couchsurfing among relatives, friends, or co-workers. Good parts of their lives are folded and packed in rolling suitcases. Doubtlessly portions of these wanderers have placed the rest of their lives in storage.

Amazing. Worldly goods can still find protection because storage is cheap whereas housing body and soul is costly. Such are our values.

Worse Than Death

Met one of the world’s most remarkable men recently. And he wasn’t drinking a beer after performing some incredible feat.

Arturo. Pudgy, balding, brown eyes the depth of infinite sorrow sat on a face that struggled and failed rising past sadness. A great achievement did not distinguish him. Noble, though? Yes. What separated him from our mass of humanity? Arturo had been able to forgive his wife’s killer.

So much so he intended supporting her murderer’s parole bid before the board. Continue reading Worse Than Death

Shoulder to the Wheel

Three Augusts ago I resided at ease in suburban splendor. So much so I took several vacation days to visit Kewpie in Miami. She’d been laboring on film shoot. Warren joined us.

When she wasn’t eye-rolling on-set shenanigans or prima dona outbursts, we treacherous three gamboled along South Beach. Had I known my carefree days were short, I would’ve behaved way more carelessly.

Hmmm. Just might suggest that as my epitaph.

Two years ago, Quarropas, the old hometown, remained somewhat recognizable. That was if a long-time resident squinted. By this time last year, it was less splendiferous since every soul making that loaded word “home” a desirable refuge had died away.

August 2014 marks my first year in Las Vegas. Continue reading Shoulder to the Wheel

Saturated Flesh

Both women must’ve been epiphanies. There are no mirages in Las Vegas unless one is homeless or high.

At the bank to pay bills and withdraw cash, two uncommon sights filled my view. Uncommon for Las Vegas.

These visions were tall, slender, dressed in pleasant near peasant summer wear. Billowy dresses. Sandals only remarkable for their utility rather than bizarre design. Shades. Long and free hair bounced along the smooth shoulders of each.

Amazing. No wild-style coif that defied convention. No tinted tresses which burned retinas. Nor any sour couture that assailed good taste.

Neither had disfigured herself through ink, piercing, nor had succumbed to the apparent Southern Nevada female extremes – hypertrophy or obesity. These were normal women, no? Femmes I might’ve lent cursory views before relocating to Las Vegas. Now, though, they became revelations.

Each was a plain beauty. And I was grateful. Continue reading Saturated Flesh

Down Time

    Ideally this post would flog Properly Stirred, the 2013 Slow Boat Media short-story compilation. The three interludes feature Paul Knox, a man who enjoyed his pleasures (okay, more than his fair share of pleasures), yielded to the demands of age and status, believed himself to have contentment, then got bushwhacked. 

    Better than a redo, Knox reverts throughout Properly Stirred. While not indulging in irresponsibility, he must no longer conform. Paul Knox has achieved an enviable state. He’s been released. And he returns to situations and conditions which had earlier occupied him to happy ends.

Continue reading Down Time

Am Facile. Will Travel.

     Isn’t today’s job search akin to escaping a pitch-black labyrinth? Landing new employment challenges during prosperity. Prospective hires and potential employers are now further separated by debasing technology and muddied qualifications.

   The latter can be overcome. The former fairly requires a semanticist. You know, a specialist who renders the fat around bullshit down to its bones. Continue reading Am Facile. Will Travel.

Off the Mat

    Consider this a Green Venom addendum.

    After nine months of unemployment I deserted the idled ranks in July. My formless time was not a vacation. Unemployment insurance neither made me lazy nor enriched me beyond my wildest dreams.

    Like the millions with whom I shared the same boat, I owe the American Labor movement a giant deal of gratitude. Without organized labor’s steadfast agitation throughout prior decades, enduring unemployment would’ve been Capital A arduous.

    By the way unemployment benefits, subsistence provisions really, are a safety net segment the GOP eagerly intends to shred. Insurance. It never matters. Until it suddenly does. Continue reading Off the Mat

A Short History of Willful Failure


    Second half of 2011 I wrote numerous posts about my former employers, the Mugwumps. They were the biggest fools I ever met. It’s no stretch stating they embody the American Nightmare.

    Not an American Nightmare, the horror. So unique, theirs make the rest recoil. These people aren’t Snopeses living down in Dog Patch, but an upper middle-class clan anchored in one of the tonier Gold Coast Connecticut enclaves.

    Who didn’t expect better from them?

    On the plus side, without the Mugwumps there never would’ve been a “Rex Merritt.” He’s their creation. Continue reading A Short History of Willful Failure