May 12

Camping at the North Fresno Walmart

 

Camping at the North Fresno Walmart Parking Lot

by Skip Rorshach Freedman

 

Camping at Walmart

Camping at Walmart

You can smell the desperation in this place, like the heat that wafts off one of those old-time steam radiators. Tweekers, rednecks and illegal aliens make for an interesting melting pot in this central valley hellhole called Fresno. Even in mid-April, the afternoon sizzles at around 90 degrees – even with partly cloudy skies. There are at least a dozen people that call this parking lot and its environs home on a regular basis. There are probably at least another dozen that I never even saw. Maybe more.

Sunrise finds the lot moderately crowded with empty employee cars, except for five vans and one RV. People that were sleeping in the bushes are stirring and slowly milling around into groups on the grassy perimeter. The tweekers huddle together nervously in their own clic. Their eyes darting around like lizards, they contemplate what they’re going to do to survive another day in this dusty blast furnace. Some will start scrounging the local dumpsters, others will try to hustle people down on Shaw Avenue. This heavily-traveled artery cuts through extreme north Fresno from the 99 freeway all the way east to Clovis, where the locally-famous rodeo will get underway in a week and a half. An old-timer comes out from behind the building pushing his overfilled shopping cart/storage unit. He’s nicely grizzled and has obviously been doing this for awhile. He looks around 50, but is probably younger. This seems to be over twice the average age around here, most residents seem to be early- to mid-20’s. Several illegals have already headed over to the Home Depot down the street to find some manual labor for the day. The van people sleep in until around 8 or so, then slowly head over to one of the three nearby fast-food joints for a cup of coffee. The RV folks leave before 9. You see vacant stares as the tweekers walk by you; these are young lives completely devoid of hope before they even hit 30. You wonder if these people will even be alive in five years. The white security van starts making rounds up and down the parking lot aisles. They’re actually pretty cool here, for cops (which doesn’t happen very often). As long as you move your vehicle every couple of days or so they won’t hassle you. No idea what the record duration for staying here is. It might be surprising.

Once the sun is fully up and blazing, the groups begin to dissolve into the surrounding area for the day’s hunter-gathering. People move their vans into the shade to try to minimize baking, and a few kids mill around under trees to keep cool. The only folks coming here in the afternoon are customers: overweight suburban housewives, retirees, Armenians in scarves, and people just passing through the area.

It starts getting dark around 8, and a few guys straggle back to the lot with things like hoses, pieces of wood, and other objects they’ve scrounged from dumpsters or behind buildings. Groups reassemble and discuss the day’s catch or swap amusing anecdotes about people they met. The spring night winds kick up about an hour later, and the van people roll down their windows and crack their side doors to bleed out the day’s heat accumulation. Inside it’s usually around 100 degrees, even when they’ve been in the shade all day, so it takes a little while to make them habitable for the night. The customers all left by 10, but there seem to be employees there all night – probably restocking shelves and sweeping up the place. Just after 11 a lonely train whistle wails about a mile to the west, alongside Golden State Boulevard, signaling the end of another day of survival. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

 

Mar 14

The Homeless Go Underground

Homeless Across America Living in Tunnels, Storm Drains, and Caves.

Las Vegas StormdrainsAs the class war in America intensifies, many homeless folks have been driven underground.  Really underground.  For instance, in Las Vegas a colony of lost souls are living under the glitzy city in storm drains.  Unable to find work, and driven off the streets by cops, they sneak into the city’s storm drain system to make their temporary living quarters.  As more and more folks get foreclosed, they have to move to apartments.  If they lose their jobs then the next stop is a shelter, if a spot is available. The shelters are only temporary, so eventually people take to living in their vehicles.  Many buy old RVs to live in.  This is actually a good solution, one could live forever in a good condition RV, but many cities across the country have launched cruel wars against them.

The middle class and rich class elitists look upon homeless folks with fear.  They don’t want RVs parked in their neighborhoods, the occupants could be serial killers.  They could also more likely be really nice folks just down on their luck, or seniors making a new life by taking the gypsy trail around the country.  No matter, in city after city, the upper classes have passed very mean-spirited laws against anyone living in a vehicle.  RVs are particularly vulnerable because they stand out like a sore thumb.  In Southern California, for instance, cities like Burbank want anyone with an RV in the city limits to go to the police station, register with the cops,  and pay a $5 fee per night.  In Pasadena there is no parking on any street without a permit that can only be purchased by a resident.  The going permit is around $65 per month.  Outsiders, post-foreclosed refugees and homeless need not apply.  Gypsy Cool gets reports from all over the southland of folks who are getting harassed by the cops, getting tickets, getting their rigs towed away and actually getting arrested.  One man told us the cops knocked on his RV door the day before Christmas and ordered him outside, then towed his vehicle away.  There was no “warning” notice posted.  The cops told him they were going to “get rid of you people.” It cost the man around $700 to get his rig back.  He is a retired aerospace worker trying to live on his social security pension.  Like the veterans who served their country, now this guy is no longer “needed”, he’s superfluous to the ruling class.  Any wonder why so many veterans are committing suicide every day?

Vietnam War Comes Home

Kansas City tunnels

Kansas City tunnels

Meanwhile, in Kansas City, the cops raided 3 homeless camps and found that many of the folks there were living underground in tunnels. The excuse for the raid was that some copper was being stolen from a near-by grain storage facility.  Possibly a few of the people in the camp were bad apples, the cops should have found the culprits and arrested them, but they instead bull-dozed all the camps and filled in the tunnels, punishing all the homeless living there.  Looking at this, it is like the Vietnam war has now come full circle.  Remember that the Viet-cong guerrillas in Vietnam lived in tunnels, in fact much of the rural population lived in tunnels for protection against air strikes.  American troops punished all when they could, destroying the tunnels and moving the population into special “security” villages. It seems that things are going in a similar way in Kansas City.  The homeless can’t even find peace hiding in caves and tunnels.  Viewing the photos of the caves it looks like they were very professionally made, in fact, they were so perfect it will probably turn out that the tunnels were made by others in past years, maybe dating back to the civil war.  It seems unlikely that a few homeless folks could have made them, no tools or shovels were laying around, and no dirt displacement was seen in the video.

Columbia South Carolina Most Depraved City in America – Mass Deportations of Homeless to “Camp of No Return”

Councilman Runyan sends poor to camps

Councilman Runyan sends poor to camps

In Columbia, South Carolina, the war on the poor has now gone into the mode of an outright Nazi operation.  The City passed an ordinance to criminalize the homeless.  The cops are giving people who “look like” they are homeless a choice: go to a special “camp” that is 15 miles outside of town or go to jail.  That’s the choice.  Once in the “camp” there is no return, cops are stationed on the road between the camp location and the City of Columbia to make sure the poor don’t try to wander back into town. This is nothing more than a concentration camp for the poor.  The cost for all this is huge, over a million bucks to start.  This mass deportation of the poor is nothing short of a mass kidnapping.  Is the U.S. Justice Department going to let this pass?  Imagine during the Civil Rights movement if Southern cities had started deporting African-Americans out of cities and into special internment camps.  During World War 2 America “interned” all people of Japanese ancestry and sent them to concentration camps.  Much of their personal and real property was confiscated and they never got it back.  These were also American citizens, victims of the same cabal that still runs this country.  It is now happening again right before our eyes.

Following in the Footsteps of Nazi Germany

This operation, pushed by Columbia Councilman Cameron Runyon, harkens back to the days of Nazi Germany.  Once Hitler took power, the poor were rounded up and sent to forced labor camps.  Next it was the “radicals”, the communists, anarchists, and non-Nazi socialists.  Then it was the Jews, gypsies, and others.  Marching down this same path is new would-be “gauleiter” Runyan and his crew of mean-spirited “business men” in Columbia. Runyan claims to be a Christian, but he must have been dozing in church when the minister talked about Jesus.  His plan of mass kidnapping and relocation is spun with words like “shelter”, instead of what it really is, a concentration camp for the poor.  First it’s the poor, then who’s next on the list? Ignore this raging class war at your own risk.

Criminalization of Poverty

Former President Lyndon Johnson must have a smirk on his face, even though he is certainly burning in the fires of hell for his many evil deeds.  His War on Poverty was a complete success.  It took some time, with a lot of help from the banksters, but about 40% of the population is now in poverty of one sort or another.  The final step of this “war” is to make poverty itself illegal, a move that various state and local governments have been pushing for over ten years.  The National Coalition for the Homeless published a monumental report in 2004 that chronicled the evil deeds being put into “law” around the country.  They even listed the 20 meanest cities in America.  Now, ten years later, Columbia, South Carolina can be put right up on the top of the list.  As the class war scales up to new heights of depravity against the poor in cities across the land, we can see the beginnings of a new nazi-style state, complete with cameras and spies on every corner and concentration camps for the poor.  When will Americans wake up and realize that the beginning of the solution to the problems of poverty is to help the homeless and put the banksters in jail.  Blaming homeless folks for the evil deeds of the financial terrorists is the biggest irony of our time.

Story by Uncle Paulie

News Report on Kansas City tunnels Click Here.

Columbia South Carolina story Click Here

Criminalization of Homeless Report Click Here

Jan 13

An Ode To Homeless Folks

A Poem About Being Homeless

by Julie Webster

The concrete is cold

The wind is worse

When I sleep on the street

I hold on to my purse

 

Not that there’s anything in it !

It’s been empty for so many years

But today I was surprised to find

Instead of its usual crumbs and tears

 

I saw there a twenty dollar bill

When was it put there, by whom and why

Was this really for me?

I started to cry.

 

I started to think

of what it would buy

Thinking of buying anything

was hard to try

 

A bag without holes?

Shoes from Goodwills?

A muffin with coffee?

Or refill my pills?

 

God bless the good soul

Who brightened my day

Don’t worry ’bout me

I’ll be ok

Nov 04

Walmart Nomads

Meet the American Nomads of Walmart’s Plentiful Parking Lots

By Jakob Schiller

11.01.13

If you’ve ever tried to sleep in your car on a long trip without planning ahead, you may have run into the law at some point. Each U.S. city has a different policy and tolerance for car-sleeping and it’s hard to find a legit spot if you don’t know where exactly you’ll be stopping.

What you can count on is one of Walmart’s over 3,000 stores being nearby. The company’s policy of allowing overnight stays in their parking lots is intended to boost sales, but has the tangential effect of creating a subculture around its locations (though they’re still at the mercy of local laws). Paste this url into you browser to read the rest of the story on Wired:

http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2013/11/walmart-parking-lots/#slideid-94861

Jul 06

How To Make a Birchbark Canoe

Complete Video of Making Canoe From Scratch

furtradecanoemain150smA great video made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.  Master woodworker Grant Goltz leads the team in the ground up reconstruction of an indigenous birchbark canoe. It helps to be in the northeast when you want to do this, finding a grove of birch in the Los Angeles area might be a little tough.

Jun 23

Life and Death in Dirty Dave’s Homeless Camp

Filmmaker Michael Arth Spent Years Documenting the Drama of

A Homeless Camp in the Woods of Florida

200px-Michael_E._Arth_5-21-09His film, “Out of the Woods” is an engrossing study of the folks who live in a camp in the Florida woods.  Some are drunks, fighting the demons created by alcohol; some are dopers, others just out of work or homeless with no place to lay their head at night.  Dirty Dave Grimsly, who weirdly has a slight resemblance to George Bush (the Junior one), takes them all in.  He feeds them, cooks meals, gives them a tent or a sleeping bag, and tends to them.  Because of their emotional and physical situations, the people who live in the camp provide us with dramatic statements of the personal horrors and the angst they are going through.  Michael Arth is to be honored for this timeless study of those who need a helping hand, but find that the there is none from the local government.  For those poor folks, the last stop is a tent deep in the woods, in a camp run by a good natured alcoholic nick-named Dirty Dave.  And if there is an unlikely saint in this film, it is Dave.  Every day he lives through his own hell of being a drunk and an ex-con sent to prison for manslaughter  But it is Dave who gives his love and attention to a squad of lost souls who occupy the camp. It will probably be a long time before you forget some of these characters and their sad and tragic lives.  Filmmaker.Arth holds up a backwards-looking mirror in which you not only see them in the present, but you see them as children, growing up, handsome and beautiful, ready to jump into the American dream.  The juxtaposition of their youthful years, so hopeful and full of life, with the shocking reality of their hopeless descent into the swirling hell that lies beneath the surface of our society, is a major achievement by Mr. Arth.

Mr. Arth made this film in part to promote the construction of a project called Tiger Bay Village, to give a last chance to homeless folks in the area, a place to detox and recover their health, as well as living quarters so they can recover their personal dignity. Michael Arth has been working for years to push through this project, which is still stalled by the local government.  The pathetic, actually enraging and ironic slap in the face to the American people, is that when our own folks need this kind of help it is not to be found, and our own government, year after year dumps millions of people into the U.S. as “refugees” or for “political asylum”.  As this is syrian_refugeeswritten, your tax paid mentally ill rulers at the Department of State are planning on bringing one and a half million refugees from Syria into the country.  What for?  We don’t need them or want them.  We have our own to take care of.  Every war that the CIA loses becomes another humanity dump of millions more into our decaying cities.  With the jobs sent to China, and the banksters pushing millions of families from their homes into the streets, the homeless population is increasing at a rapid pace. Tell Washington to STOP NOW.  Get out of these foreign countries, and please, no more refugees until the American born homeless are taken care of, and that includes our Veterans, 800,000 of whom have been waiting for years for their benefits. The smells in homeless encampments are nothing compared to the stink from the politicians in Washington, D.C., the world’s biggest sewage pit masquerading as a city. Those politicians are not fit to kiss the feet of a guy like Dirty Dave Grimsley.

Watch the film below, or find it directly on youtube:  Out of the Woods

Contact the filmmaker Michael Arth at www.goldenapplesmedia.com

Check out the Tiger Bay Village site at www.villagesforthehomeless.org

 

Mar 26

Couch-Crashing In Los Angeles

Forced Homeless, Teacher Survives in Storage Unit and Friends Couches

by “Elisabeth”

About ten years ago I was living camped out in a back add-on building, called the ‘chapel’, of two story old house in the edge of Hancock Park, actually on the border of Korea Town, when the house was sold and I had no clear vision as to where to go. With my brother’s brainstorming help, I decided to put all of my somewhat gypsy belongings into a storage locker right off a main freeway in downtown LA…but still didn’t know what I was going to do next.

At the time I had my own business teaching, well, actually tutoring, doing educational therapy with kids of all ages with learning differences. My weekdays varied. I worked with my students, after school, at their homes, and in all different areas of the city, On a weekly basis I would drive from Malibu to Silver Lake, from Glendale to near LAX. to tutor academically and emotionally challenged children of mostly above average income parents. Since I had been doing this work for some years I didn’t mind driving and actually grew to feel like a taxi driver, knowing all of the short cuts and shops everywhere. I felt at home in all of the different areas of LA. My varied friends were also scattered throughout the city and the expanded metropolis.

When my friends heard of my new lifestyle they wanted to be supportive and to my surprise offered me the keys to their houses. Since most had a spare bedroom they were happy to have me crash at their houses one night a week. On the weekends I would visit my storage locker in order to get a change of clothes and different educational material that I needed for the week. I had part of the storage locker set up like a bedroom with chest of drawers highly organized into categories of clothes and racks of shirts,sweaters, pants and skirts from which to choose.

When I finished tutoring sometimes the parents would invite me to stay for dinner. In addition I soon discovered how to eat simply out of grocery stores and that McDonalds had the best chicken salad of all the fast food places. At that point I wasn’t fussy in my eating habits. After tutoring I would call my friends who lived in the area in which I was working and ask if I could spend the night at their house. Their answers were always an excited, “Yes, you have your key, just let yourself in and I will be back from ‘wherever’ soon.” Sometime they would welcome my company for a delicious dinner that they had fixed or an impromptu dinner that we co-created.

I was able then to visit my friends at night and in the morning, and quality time too. Invariably they had problems in their lives and they welcomed my counseling expertise. They seemed to at least listen to my input and It felt good for me to be able to help them.

I had known that I liked spontaneous living and that the word ‘plan’ wasn’t really part of my vocabulary, but existing in this ‘free-spirit’ way showed me just how content I was to simply be ok with what was. Actually the whole thing was more liberating and satisfying than I could have imagined. Well really, I did not go into the future enough to imagine anything. I didn’t do any planning, other than my students, and just went from doing one thing to the next. Since I love short trips and people, this life style suited me well. I learned a lot from my constant interaction with people…and that hiding within myself, in my room, wasn’t the most productive for me. I was amazed at how my self confidence and self esteem grew, just realizing that I was flexible enough to fit in anywhere. People seemed to value not only my counseling and people skills but my astrological knowledge as well. Everyone wanted me to look at their charts.

This experience was so positive I would love to do it again. Unfortunately, I now live in a cottage in Santa Monica that has rent control. and I am afraid to give up this low rent to venture into the unknown. Since I have temporarily abandon my nomadic ways and collected a cottage and a garage full of ‘tools of the trade’ and semi ’emotionally attached to’ precious possessions, I will continue to hope that someone reading this will be able to help me get unstuck. Suggestions and comments are most welcome.

 

 

 

Jan 15

Nomadic Food Farms In Pick-Up Trucks

Bucket Gardens are Perfect For Nomads and Tribes

New Concepts To Carry Your Food Farm With You

The Gypsy Cool Way To Farm

New concepts in growing food in “bucket gardens” is totally relevant to today’s nomads.  The discovery of growing food in buckets is not that new, but using the 2 bucket system means that your entire food farm is portable.  Let’s face it, we need water and sunshine to grow food. With the 2 bucket system an entire food garden could be loaded on the back of a pick-up truck.  The truck becomes the farm.  A tribe or extended family might have several vehicles in their caravan and the addition of a pick-up truck means that their garden moves with them.

Let’s take a small tribe, anywhere in the world, but this is written for the Gypsies of the New Millennium right here in America.  You may have several vehicles in your nomadic caravan.  Maybe a couple of RVs, a few cars, a couple vans.  In the hot summers you want to move to cooler climes.  Why burn up in Arizona when you can go north to a nicer, more mellow climate for the summer?  If you get a pick-up truck or a small flat-bed type vehicle, you can outfit it as a mobile garden.  Plants don’t like to necessarily get moved a lot, but you are in your spring encampment in the southwest and it is starting to get hot.  Your bucket garden is all planted and hooked up with the self-watering system that we will refer you to.  The self-watering system means that you don’t have to even bother watering every day with this simple gravity system that connects a hose to all of your food buckets.  Summer is around the corner, and the tribe is set to move north to some cooler digs, say Utah or Northern California. The tribe moves out, the portable farm in the bed of the pick-up truck goes with the caravan, no problem.  When you get to the new spot up north for the summer, just make sure the buckets are secure, have water, and get a lot of sunshine where you park your pick-up truck.

The great thing about the 2 bucket system is that it works anywhere:  on a rooftop, on a deck, on an apartment balcony, or in the back of a truck.  Multiply your food supply by simply getting more buckets to grow more food.  If you don’t have a pick-up truck available for your tribe, you can carry the buckets in your vans, cars, and RVs to move them.  It is just easier to have a pick-up truck, because the food farm is in the back of the truck and is self-sustaining and completely portable.  Once it is set up, you don’t have to load and unload the buckets just because you change locations.  As you nomads know, sometimes you have to move out of an area and find another spot for various reasons.  If it is windy or some other weather situation, the entire bed of the pick-up truck can be covered with a tarp.  This could keep out dirt when you are moving, keep the plants warmer at night if there is a frost, and also keep out unwanted critters.  A couple of dogs tied up around the pick-up truck at night will usually be enough to keep the possums and racoons away.

A few of the Gypsy Cool crew were sitting around a few months ago trying to formulate a method to have a nomadic food farm.  What we came up with at the time was to turn the bed of a pick-up truck into a garden plot, in other words fill the bed with garden soil.  Further research led us to the amazing 2 bucket system.  We feel this is much better.  The individual buckets can be changed quickly and different plants put in them.  The self-watering system is simple and fantastic, and works even on the move.

Although some of us are idealists in many ways, we are aware of certain realities.  We think it would be hard to grow enough food to totally live on in the bed of a pick-up truck.  But it can certainly augment your foraging with some fresh vegetables and tomatoes. You will have to continue with your skills at foraging, dumpster diving, fishing, and possibly hunting,  as well as purchasing some food products.  But you can live better and a little cheaper by taking your food farm with you wherever you go.

So how do you build the 2 bucket system?

1. Google it on the net.

2. Check out the information at Yard Eats.

3. Check out the great info at Global Buckets.

4. Go to youtube.com and search for videos on bucket systems.

5. The youtube channel of jwwm2 has a lot on the bucket system,.

Start building your buckets today!

Nov 30

Desert Gypsies in 1950

Cool Story of a Couple Desert Gypsies from the May 1959 Desert Magazine.  This wonderful magazine disappeared in the 1980’s, but once in a while you can find a few old issues in used bookshops. I also found an internet archive that you can download old issues for free, check out this great site: Desert Magazine Archives. If you like to camp out and have some desert fun, this is a great resource. Although some of the places in the deserts of the southwest are now off limits because of a Federal government land grab, there’s still a lot of places to go.  The old Desert Magazine is also packed with articles on lost gold mines and places to pan gold.  Don’t forget that until the early 1970’s gold prices were fixed at $35 per once, and now gold is over $1,750.  Working hard to get a little “color” is a lot more profitable now.

Some of our greatest authors also loved the desert, a good example is Erle Stanley Gardner the great mystery writer.  Mr. Gardner loved the desert and often went on long expeditions, even down to the Mexican bad lands.  He also wrote some riveting books on “Hunting Lost Mines by Helicopter”, and books on exploring Baha, Califonrnia.  There was actually a Gardner museum up in Ventura at one time, but the web site seems to be down, maybe the museum is gone.  For a while it was in an old library bus, packed with Gardner memorabilia, and the bus would show up at schools and downtown Ventura during festivals.

Here’s a fan site that lists all of Gardner’s books on his gypsy travels: Erle Stanley Gardner Bibliography. You can see all the cool books he wrote on desert camping and exploration.  I have read many of them and they are all great.  Gardner really made a production out of his gypsy travels.  He usually had his “cast of characters”, old friends, who traveled with him.  He also brought his secretary and dictated some stories while enjoying the desert.  Might as well turn that sand into some coin while you are at it!

Desert Gypsies 1.pdf

Desert Gypsies 2.pdf

Desert Gypsies 3.pdf

Desert Gypsies 4.pdf

Desert Gypsies 5.pdf