Essay from Tony Nightwalker LeTigre

blac-bloc-it

Old Town Tony & the Second-Hand Smoke Shop

By Tony Nightwalker LeTigre

A friend asked where I’m going to go now that I’m houseless again in winter.

(Winter hasn’t officially started yet, but in reality it started December 8th. That’s the morning I woke up cold in the unheated Rat House from icy winds. You know what’s amazing? December 8th is also the exact I remember noting last year as the day the weather turned shitty!)

What am I going to do? I’m going to do what I’ve been doing for five & a half years now: find a new place to stay, for as long as it lasts. In the meantime, I’ve got a rainproofed tent to sleep in. It needs to be rainproof, otherwise last night I would’ve got soaked. I’m not sure if this mummy bag is filled with down, but if so, it might lose its insulating ability if it gets wet. Keeping it dry has been a challenge.

But it’s not the first time I’ve faced this challenge. I made it through last week & I wasn’t even in a tent, I was straight up sleeping in the open air, & if you live in Portland, you know what last week was like. It was rough. It sucks when things close when you’re houseless, ’cause then you don’t have anywhere to go to warm up even during the day. You’re basically confined to your sleeping bag.

I found a house that’s vacant & for sale & slept in a covered part of the outside of the house. Shielded me from snow & rain at least. Each morning got up & trekked my stuff to a hiding spot & had to hope no one removed it, since then I would be screwed. If someone steals my mummy bag, I have no way to stay warm.

Anyone who thinks the last five & a half years have been a free ride since I haven’t been working a regular job is mistaken. It’s been five years of continuous stress & instability to a quite insane degree. In SF alone I lived in 40 different buildings, some of which lasted as little as a day or two. Just the physical exertion of having to move that often & find new vacant places to stay (in cities with near zero vacancy rates) is enough; on top of that, there’s the considerable stress of frequent faceoffs with police, hostile landlords, etc; plus constantly losing everything you own, which keeps setting you back to zero & makes you apathetic about things after a while. Who cares what stuff you manage to accumulate? Don’t get attached to it, because it’s just going to be stolen, or lost, or rained on & ruined. Public laundromats are disappearing, so there’s no way to wash your clothes even if you have money, which I usually don’t.

Still, I take pride in doing it myself instead of relying on the gubberment. Shelters suck. Well, I’ve never spent a single night in a shelter the entire time, but I know they suck. I used to visit one to shower occasionally in SF. It was like prison. The sense of gloom & despair was palpable, soul-crushing, toxic. I gave up showering entirely, more or less. Not worth it for a dip into those poisonous waters.

So yeah, I’ve done it mostly myself. Without a family to take care of me. Without ever asking to stay with any of my friends. Only twice I have stayed with people, once in SF & once just recently in PDX. For about a month & a half in each case. I didn’t ask to stay either time, & they didn’t tell me to leave. Someone else asked on my behalf, or they offered. Both times I contributed something in exchange, though it wasn’t rent. I’m kinda proud of not paying rent for almost six years. Rent is a huge scam that’s getting huger all the time. Rent is theft.

You don’t have to tell me about ‘minimalist’ living. I’ve taken living simply to an extreme that many people would find very challenging.

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I get a little worried when I see people saying “the world’s going to get crueler, life is going to get harder.” Maybe it’s inevitable given the exploding population, but I feel we should not be too quick to embrace the Malthusian, survival-of-the-fittest worldview that Donald Trump & the haters who love him want us to have.

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Read a poem this morning by Bukowski that included the line
“a poem is a city through which God rides
naked on a horse like Lady Godiva”

I dropped the book & howled in vulpine joy

Fucking genius
Not overrated
Rated rightly

____________________________________

*Snow day in Portland Thursday 15 December 2016*

The streets are a ghost town today
Whiter than sheets the morning after
We used to love snow days
Back when we had a house
We sat with our cat in our castle & dreamed
effortlessly, our heavily mortgaged daydreams
which now lie in disgrace, by default

The other day at the soup kitchen someone said
“I see people wait in line, fill up their whole tray,
Sit down, then get up & leave the whole thing — what gives?”

“That’s when their dealer texts,” said I
“I just re-upped, come on over!”

“Yeah, some things do trump food”

Speaking of President-elect Chump:
Did he turn off the public water already?
The Benson Bubblers are running dry

I make people laugh in picayune ways
I throw cheap glitter to brighten the days

“I’m a crazy homeless person, you don’t want me!”
made the solicitor on the street corner laugh
(I smoked a joint with her outside Macy’s once
she told me about a drunk guy waking her up in her tent at 2 a.m.
Insisting she drink with him
“what’s a matter with you, you don’t wake a girl up at 2 in the morning
& tell her to drink with you!” she said
I felt for her
women shouldn’t have to put up with that
on the street or otherwise
I imagined In Other Words putting together a mobile girl posse
to stand with their sisters on the street
& help them stay out of trouble)

“These pigeons are addicted to crystal meth” I said by Paranoia Park
made the guy in the food cart laugh
(what do psychiatrists call that… projection? Transference?
ah, who cares what psychiatrists call anything)

Clerk at Food Front accidentally knocked the phone over
while ringing me up
& apologized
“No problem,” I said
“I’m sorry that you experienced that”

If I never grow up,
Will I never grow old?

I emerge from my lugubrious cocoon to take another stab
At this stark & flimsy sham, this increasingly unshared delusion
That some call reality

WELCOME says the door mat
NO TRESPASSING says the sign in the window

____________________________________

We felt the Bern last night, & I took a step toward being a more serious activist. Good crowd of people. Two hour workshop. I’m not going to spill all the beans, I want people to know I can be discreet & they don’t have to be afraid of my participation in public actions. I introduced myself as a KBOO volunteer cause they asked if media were present. They had no problem with that; KBOO gets lots of love from all the right people of course! Girl leading the session said “I’m a very risk averse person in most ways, yet I do direct actions all the time. Every time I say in the morning, ‘What am I doing, this is crazy, I hate putting myself at risk this way!’ And then when it’s over I’m always like, ‘Best day EVER!'”

Yes, a few days after saying I’m not really an activist, I’m taking steps to correct that. I didn’t feel socially awkward at all, actually. I felt like I contributed just the right amount. (“Step forward, stand back.” Good to keep that in mind especially when you’re a white male. I’m queer though… HAY!!) It inspired me to see that more people, ones I would superficially judge as “normies” appearance-wise in some cases, are stepping up the game with the resistance & I walked home, barely feeling the cold, actually feeling revved up & ready to stand up & fight back against this Trump-induced shitstorm that’s a brewin.

Me & the guy seated next to me during one of the conversation exercises told one another about our feelings around direct action boundary issues. When it was my turn, I told him about how, the night of the protest I took part in downtown, I just happened to be there, wasn’t thinking of taking part in it although I knew the mood was crackling since it was the night after the election. I heard this roar coming toward me, was afraid at first, then elated when I realized this was *my* storm, the one I’ve been waiting for! I only stood gawking for a few minutes before I joined in the march! So much electricity going through my body I completely forgot I was already footsore as we went on a long march, swarming & bringing to a halt the freeway—the big one, I-5 or whatever!—which was an incredibly electrifying moment, one of the most exciting things I’ve experienced in any public action I’ve been part of so far: the initial anxious feeling of “we can’t really do this, can we? Can we really shut down the INTERSTATE freeway?” But we did! It was an empowering moment of “these are OUR streets, & this is OUR city. Yes we can!”

I owned up to feelings of ambivalence with regard to the black block-ers: a feeling of attraction, arousal by that energy, combined with fear, like “I don’t know if I want to be part of violence, this could get real.” And it did get real later, but the night I was with them, I didn’t witness any violence taking place even against property, other than tagging. And if you consider graffiti to be violence, I just can’t take that seriously. Sorry.

____________________________________

I was one of a handful of hardcore library fans waiting for one of the branch libraries to open this morning. And I was the very first one. God dang, Portland today feels like the way I remember Minnesota feeling! Icy wind chill. And I’m out walking in it. Snow on the way, I hear.

But I went exploring a little this morning, & it may have paid off handsomely. As in… Sha-ZAM! Looks like it may be a merry christmas after all!

I just saw this book on the new books shelf. Pablo Escobar was a Colombian drug lord whom I know of because of my interest in hippos. He imported a menagerie of exotic animals to his sprawling south american estate. He’s long gone now, & no one knows what to do with the animals on his abandoned estate. The hippos have grown into a pod sixty strong & counting!

Surely you know what I’m about to type next. Put it together: an abandoned property, & not just any old ‘coon shack, but a bona fide bonanza, a cocaine kingdom gone to seed! You know me & squatting. And you know me & hippos.

Tony lives happily ever after?

____________________________________

*Word at the soup kitchen*

There was talk at the church of chili (home of the Holy Nightwatch) today. We discussed Trump & billionaire’s disease, which is my name for what I define as “the mental illness that results from having too much money.”

I don’t have that one at least.

Some comments were made that may be correctives to my view of current matters political. Trump may not have it all his way. The senate approves his choices for office & Rand Paul & McCain have reportedly vowed to shoot him down if he gets too nutty.

Trump has also backed down from his promise to build the walls, apparently, as well… & he’s not even in office, yet.

Is he so flushed & red in the face because he’s full of hot air?

I find it somewhat hard to take him seriously enough to fear him. But I may be underestimating his evil &/or his insanity. We’ll see.

Guy said “nobody in Portland cared about politics til Bernie came to town. Then suddenly they were all radical.”

Not so, I replied. “I went to high school in Hillsboro, & there was a big protest in Portland against Bush the first in 1991 when he invaded Iraq for the Gulf War.”

They said “in Seattle people protest everything.”

Sounds like my kinda city. That’s why I’m headed there next!

Guy mentioned living in New Orleans & I said, “I heard you can squat there, in vacant buildings. Yeah?”

He said, “Oh yeah, after Hurricane Katrina you could.” But then backpedaled. “A white boy like you isn’t gonna squat there now. You won’t survive.”

Black people squat I guess, white people don’t?

News to me. But I learned to squat in SF, where there aren’t any black people left.

I’m listening to this right now.

I forgot a couple things with respect to dialectical perspectives or whatnot: one guy said “I talked to a few latino people who are actually in favor of the border, because they live on the border & their relatives are trying to come across, & they can’t, the legitimate people can’t, because of the illegitimate border crossers.”

Another guy offered a convincing takedown of that argument, though.

Someone mentioned a vicious revolution, I don’t know where, where they went around with a guillotine to different villages & just started chopping people’s heads off.

I forgot a couple things with respect to dialectical perspectives or whatnot: one guy said “I talked to a few latino people who are actually in favor of the border, because they live on the border & their relatives are trying to come across, & they can’t, the legitimate people can’t, because of the illegitimate border crossers.”

Another guy offered a convincing takedown of that argument, though.

Someone mentioned a vicious revolution, I don’t know where, where they went around with a guillotine to different villages & just started chopping people’s heads off.

____________________________________

I read one of the kids who died in the Oakland warehouse fire @ the GhostShip texted her mom right before the flames closed in, “I love you Mom… I’m going to die”

Wow.

___________________________________

Before you call me a parasite
—–remember,
you are speaking
to Dracula

____________________________________

*I Got Dem Ol’ Gentrification Blooz Again, Daddy!*

i miss when the city was gritty
when the girls were tough titty
& the boys were so pretty

now, when i walk in the city
what i see is really a pity

____________________________________________

hey hey hey
I’m crackin’ up
so you better get this party started

The other evening as I sat in my rotting, rat-filled house
preparing to step out for a pleasant sunday stroll
a young latino fella stepped in the bedroom window
saw me & said “oh, I thought this place was abandoned… sorry!”
faux polite like, he withdrew
about a half hour later the police arrived
to kindly chaperone me out with my belongs
into the cold rain
(actually they were pretty nice, for cops…
offered me a ride downtown, even
but I had to decline
point of principle for me: I don’t take rides with pigs)

Yesterday I loaded up my rusty, trusty shopping cart
at the bus stop on Barbur
& clattered my way up Terwilliger
old lady saw me coming
“Here comes the neighborhood watch,” I muttered,
loud enough for her to hear
“GOOD MORNING!” she said to me with a friendly smile
I was ashamed of my pissy attitude
Assuming enemies where there might be friends
what’s my problem?

Well, kid, I’ll tell ya what’s my problem
my problem is the other lady I encountered later yesterday night
who accompanied her dog to the hilltop where I had climbed,
At the end of my very long, very draining day
of pushing a shopping cart up some big ass hills
laughing in the face of those who look down their nose
At people whose fingers are froze
Hauled my shit up a very steep hill to avoid people like her
thought I’d earned a night of peace
my hope to find a nice squat for the night foiled
I was left alone with my tent beneath a big bright moon
at least I was left in peace— or so I thought
til Little Miss Snobslippers came up to disturb the deep mummybag sleep I was on the verge of scoring
she lets her dog come up & bark outside my tent log & loud
not only “lets,” but encourages
“Good boy, yesss, GOOD BOYYY!” she slobbers at her slobbering canine protector
I wait quietly, hoping they’ll leave, but she doesn’t leave
takes photos of my tent once, twice… three times for good measure
I rustle in my bag, dog starts barking again
Okay, obviously this bitch isn’t gonna take “peace” for an answer
So I rouse myself to tiger strength & shout
“WILL YOU CALL YOUR DOG OFF, PLEASE?”
She calls back in a shrill stuck-up granny voice,
“WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS ILL-EEE-GULL!”
I call back, “SLEEPING IS NOT ILLEGAL. WHY DON’T YOU GO BACK TO YOUR HOUSE? YOU’RE LUCKY YOU HAVE ONE. I WISH I DID!”
“THIS IS A PUBLIC PARK & I AM ALLOWED TO WALK MY DOG HERE.”

yes, you are, lady…
So go walk your dog
& fuck yourself
at the same time

I don’t give a hot red fuck
If you call the boys in blue
I’ll never be so down on my luck
that I’ll defer to the likes of you

earlier I stopped to check out the view outside the Chart House Restaurant
well-heeled folks dining opposite throw a wall of windows
Here I come, clattering down the path with my rusty, trusty shopping cart to crash the party!
Sat & read my Kate Bornstein memoir about her time with “Elron Hubbard” & his rather frightening “Church” of Scientology
delivery truck parked in the lot with its back doors open—
I entertain the thought of dashing in to steal away with a case of wine—
what warmth it would bring to this cold heart,
What crimson zest that sweet red potion would return to these
All-too-pale-of-late lips!
my grungy presence seems to discomfit those pampered patrons
An old sweater clad man comes & stares at me pointedly through the door
“WHAT’S UP, POPS?” I call
& roll away with my shopping cart laughing

a friend was going to take me out a while back
she warned me in advance, “my mental health is a bit shaky of late”
oh darling, why apologize?
Don’t you know I’m loopier than a Christmas rooster?
crazier than a cross-eyed chipmunk!
& cuter than a pig in a wig
(all three of those are mine, thankyou)
well ah don’t know
But ah been told….

this morning exploring a new patch of relatively private land beneath a bridge by the freeway
I found a stuffed animal horsey bearing a WELLS FARGO emblem
I wanna implant ‘er with an audio recorder featuring a loop of whinnying horse noise
very Young Frankenstein… quite funny, I think

PORTLAND SOUP COMPANY
What exactly is Portland soup?
San Francisco has cioppino
Seattle has clam chowder
What do we bring to the table?

WHEN IRISH EYES SPARKLE, IT MEANS THEY’RE UP TO SOMETHING
said the bumper sticker
hey, hey, Ray!

CHIPS & QUESO on the menu at Taco Del Mar
I used to slurp that shit down by the bucket
Back when I could afford to feed myself

anyone remember Old Man Tony?
he’s long gone now, I hear
so I’m thinking of sporting the new moniker
Young Man Tony

guy offered me free drugs once outside the Moda center
if I came to his friend’s porn house to hang out
I turned him down, high on pseudosobriety at the time
three days later I kicked myself, saying
what was I thinking, turning down free drugs???

boy on the bus had meth nostrils
Kept sniffling, over & over, loud
See that happens if you rail too many lines of speed
It burns your nostrils open wide
Makes it easy to “farmer blow” your nose, on the plus side

(singing in a deep, Irving Berlin voice)
Crack rocks roasting by an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at my balls…

down the sidewalk I keep up a cheerful burble of self-conversation
at least I’m cheerful & of good humor
some crazy people are so damn ornery
I figured out a good response to petition-gatherers on the street corners
I just say “I’M A CRAZY HOMELESS PERSON, YOU DON’T WANT ME”
works like a dime-store charm

check myself out in the mirror
what’s my look today?
“visibly homeless,” I would say

Cobwebs beneath the bridge don’t mean shit to me
less than the smirk on a hipster’s face

“you don’t understand economics,” he told me
“If you understand economics, you’ve wasted a lot of your time,” I replied
that’s what homeless people need, I suppose: a better grasp of economics
the next time someone asks me for change on the sidewalk,
I’ll tell them, “Instead of money, I’d like to offer you a better grasp of economics”

I’m reading Bukowski’s poetry lately, & it’s kicking my ass
that man could write damn well for a habitual blacked out drunk with a ten-cent typewriter
I’m gonna have to step up my game or get out of the sport

find me under the bridge tonight
I’m gonna get drunk on red wine by yellow moonlight
& laugh with Kate as she struggles to free herself from the clutches of Xenu & the thetans
& plot my rise out of poverty

No, no…
This time
I really mean it.

+6+1+

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