Ice House in Pasadena to Host Memorial For Duane Thorin
Duane Thorin had music in his heart from birth. He loved to sing, play the guitar, entertain. But the path to that musical life was paved with obstructions and suffering. It was only when he was crushed by the 2008 meltdown like millions of other folks that he somehow rose from the ashes of despair to be able to live his dream of music, storytelling and song and make his mark on the Southern California cultural scene.
I first met Duane in the 1990’s when he was a frequent visitor to my bookshop in Burbank. At the time that I met him, he was installing swimming pools in middle class areas of San Bernardino and Riverside. Those were the years of the housing boom. The government and the banksters were pushing everybody who was breathing, and some that were possibly not even existing in this dimension, to buy a house. Out in the hinterlands of San Berdoo, there was a huge housing boom. They were springing up in every desert plot and sandy hill that was available. Mortgages were rubber-stamped, and the middle class, eager to participate in the great American dream, poured into the area.
The families that bought these new digs got settled in, but then they got a taste of summer. It’s not Death Valley, but it is boiling hot out that way. The moms and pops had to hear their kids whining about it every damn day. The summer boil. No school with air conditioning. No nice grassy back yards like in the Westside of L.A. Just sand dunes. What to do? Paying the mortgage was tough enough, no way for a real swimming pool like in Beverly Hills. So how about an above-ground pool? They are just big enough and deep enough to keep the kids wet, a place to play in the yard at least part of the brutal summer days. Once the parents bought the pool, they would be given a referral to a guy like Duane who would come out to your place with a crew and actually install the thing on your sandlot.
Duane was a big sturdy guy. Although he had worked in the entertainment world part of his life, several years booking acts into the Ice House in Pasadena, he still had to make a living. I don’t remember how he ever go into that business, but he did. Part of the lure of it was work like a dog all summer and make enough to live the rest of the year. The reward during Fall and Winter was to do the things that he really loved to do, singing, music, reading. But installing pools out in San Bernardino in the middle of summer is brutal work. The area had to be leveled, the rocks, snakes and lizards moved out, and then the pool put together so that when it was filled the water would stay inside.
He always had a tough time keeping a crew, the work was hell, long days when 100 degrees was the lowest it ever got, burning your skin off. Take your salt pills and drink gallons of water ’cause you’re going to sweat until you end up looking like a prune. Duane would come into my shop and occasionally dragoon some unemployed book – lover to work for him in the pool biz. If those guys lasted a week it was a miracle. Most were skinny and pale, night owls with an aversion to sunlight. I used to joke about it with him, telling him he was killing my customers. He said he was just trying to put some money in their pocket for an honest day’s work. Usually they were done in one or two days, and after a couple weeks of recuperation they looked forward to something a little less physical, like working at a Starbucks. Anything other than the sheer brutality of that scalding sun.
At times, even Duane had to back off for a few days. The pressure from the pool companies was intense. They would sell scores of pools and they depended on Duane to put them up. He had all his equipment loaded into a trailer, which he would pull out to the customer’s property. A difficult pool installation might take more than one day, sometimes several days. He would get a cheap motel and the crew would have to crash there until the job was done. Just before the economic crash, an omen had popped up: his main guy, a really hard working Latino, was arrested and sent to prison for something. Duane was upset about that because he depended on him. It meant hiring 2 guys to replace him. The work load was intense, the phone always ringing, more jobs than he could ever handle. But it all came to a dead stop with the 2008 crash.
The big Meltdown hit everyone. The middle class was devastated. The poor class swelled with new members. Millions lost their houses, their savings, their way of life. San Bernardino looked like a big ghost town. Within a couple years, the City was sending guys out to the neighborhoods to spray paint green lawns on the abandoned properties so they would look lived in. The pools were a big problem. The happy days of children splashing in the pools became the nightmare of the City, as the thousands of abandoned pools, now with stagnant algae packed water, became a breeding ground for billions of mosquitoes. City crews spent months draining the pools that Duane had built. We joked that maybe the thieving bankers visiting their now empty houses would get a well deserved dose of malaria in the process.
Back in the bookstore, I saw Duane on almost a daily basis. We became fast friends. He was talented, intelligent, funny and literate. His business had collapsed but he lasted a couple years on his savings. I had to close the book store about the same time, and move into my van. At some point, he ran out of money totally. There was no work in L.A. The homeless population was swelling, thousands of families living in cars and vans. He lost his apartment, but I found him an RV which he got parked on a friend’s property, a lovely couple living in the mountains of Altadena. Through this crushing defeat, Duane Thorin was reborn. It wasn’t easy, he and I were often together at food banks. We hung out at coffee houses. The weird thing was that he was free. Free to change. Free to pursue his dreams.
He now had time to devote to his music. He sang at coffee houses, ran open mic nights, sharpened his skills with his guitar, hustled some music jobs, wrote songs. He was killer at it. His creativity exploded.
He also had time to do something that he wanted to do for years. His dad had been in the Korean war. He was captured by the North Koreans and thrown into a jail with other G.I.s. He managed to escape and was free for some time, trying to make it back to friendly lines, but was recaptured due to another G.I. making a stupid mistake. Duane’s dad was one of the only Americans to ever escape from the North Koreans. His recapture meant that torture and punishment would now be his life, and the North Koreans turned him over to the Red Chinese.
Duane had made a recording of his dad telling his story before his death, and wanted to get it out, so I helped him to produce a CD of the original recording. It’s an exciting story, although agonizing to re-live the captivity. Duane, was very patriotic, and wanted folks to remember what those who served for us had to go through. Listen to Duane singing the National Anthem. It will floor you.
Duane’s career soared in the last few years. He was in demand as a singing coach and manager, he arranged and ran the musical entertainment for private celebrity parties, he sang at venues around the southland and wrote songs. We were blessed at Gypsy Cool to have Duane’s music video, Occupy Your Car, and his original song about Walmart moving into a small town.
The songs are so powerful because Duane lived through it. He knew what it was to live in a car. He could write his songs from his heart, drawing on his own personal experiences. His good friend Donna Barnes-Roberts has filmed and recorded Duane for years, and we are blessed with her preservation of his music.
His sudden death last week was a shock. He seemed healthy, in good humor, and leading the life he always dreamed about, the musical life. He had created a character called Chef Duanio, an Italian Chef who sang opera. Duane had so much fun with that, and Chef Duanio was a hilarious musical show that played around town.
L.A. has lost another great voice, a bard, a troubadour.
Duane Thorin joins some other noted musicians who have passed recently. I can’t help thinking that Heaven’s gotta be rockin’ right now.
Duane Thorin’s website, click here
Chef Duanio website, click here
Waltadena an original song by Duane Thorin
Donate your gently used clothing and household items to the Mission. We will use your donations to provide clothing to those in need and all proceeds from our 3 thrift stores provide food, shelter, counseling, and care to those who need it more.
Hope of the Valley….Where Everyone and Everything Gets A Second Chance!
Here’s a few great programs for seniors in the L.A. area. Similar programs may be available Statewide.
1. TRANSPORTATION Check out Metro, which operates the buses and trains, including the subway system. If you want to get around the area without driving your car or RV, you can apply online for a senior tap card. You can do this online. www.metro.net. A senior tap card will get you rides for 75 cents Peak hours, and only 35 cents Off Peak. This includes a free transfer to another bus or train within 2 hours, meaning you can scoot a long way around the city for 35 cents Off Peak. There are many other programs for seniors, special passes, etc., including some available at senior centers in cities other than Los Angeles. Santa Monica, for example, has a fantastic bus system, The Big Blue Bus.
2. HEALTH If you are on Medicare and need a supplemental plan, try SCAN. It’s free. Along with it you get a free Silver Sneaker Fitness card. This is good at thousands of gyms across the country, including exercise equipment, pool, steam/sauna (when available). You can go to many different gyms, so that means that you will have access to showers as well as fitness. One of the problems living stealth in a vehicle or living in an RV is shower and clean-up. Although there are shower programs in some cities and facilities, this is a great solution for seniors.
3. FOOD When you are living in a vehicle or RV, food becomes an issue. RVs usually have good cooking facilities, but if you are in a car or van it is a little harder. Small camp type stoves are good, but you need to be in a sheltered area to use it, away from prying eyes of residents who will call the cops if they see anyone using a cook stove on the street. Some people go to a park where there are camping or BBQ pits. The big parks in L.A. like Griffith Park have campsites where you can cook dinner.
Another way to go is to eat hot meals for free at Churches and other Food Coalition sites, like those we frequently post on this website. Please note that there are hundreds of free hot meals served in So. California every day. Check around the area you are staying in, the local city, the local churches, and look for food banks. The County, through Senior Centers, have hot lunch programs for a couple of bucks. These are decent meals, and are served around the County at designated park buildings and Senior Centers. The Senior Centers in some cities are really great, with free computers to use, free wi-fi, exercise programs, libraries, good bathrooms, etc. They have all kinds of free or cheap programs so check them out.
Even if you are living in a vehicle, a senior can have a great time in Southern California. Although many of us do not have large Social Security checks, if you don’t have to pay rent or utilities then you can have enough money to get by on using the strategies like those listed above.
Send any information you get or comments to email@example.com
Dinner is served here, 5941 Hollywood Blvd., Walk in the driveway and kitchen is just to the right. At this time it is served Monday through Friday only. Saturday and Sunday is still back at the corner of Sycamore and Romaine (The Line) at 5pm.
The new location for the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition is inside the Salvation Army Weingart Center. Tables and chairs, restroom to wash up. Please thank the wonderful staff and volunteers of the Coalition for all their great work.
Skip Rorshach Freedman
“The Last Free Place”
The man who has passed laws infringing on the rights of anyone in a vehicle who is carrying a sleeping bag, blanket, or pillow has been awarded the dubious honor of “Scoundrel of the Year”, by the website of the same name, www.ScoundrelOfTheYear.com. Garcetti was up against some tough competition, but his achievement in attacking the homeless community, as well as his attempt to abolish a citizen’s right to be secure in their property has made him over the top choice as the jerk of the year. (Last year’s winners were mostly Republicans like McCain for his despicable give-away of hundreds of millions in minerals to foreign corporations and the Governor of Michigan for the Flint water fiasco.)
Reports of Raids on Homeless Camps coming in.
The fact that Garcetti beat out all other rivals is easy to see. Garcetti’s henchmen, a task force of cops and City employees are raiding homeless “camps” around the City, sweeping up all their tents, personal items, food, etc. into waiting Refuse Trucks. Nothing is more pathetic than to see some poor homeless man trying to keep his bicycle from going into a dump truck, or an old homeless woman trying to hang on to her blankets as Garcetti’s henchmen “clean up”. The fat cats at City Hall don’t have to sleep on the cement tonight. If they did, they might have a change of tune, like getting some real, basic help for those in need. Criminalizing the poor seems to be a growing trend and another way for the snarky city officials across the land to turn a profit on the situation.
“Get Out of Residential Areas” Says Mayor and Council
Goofy Garcetti Fines up to $75 for having a Pillow in your car! Is he nuts?
The Shameful Actions Against Thousands of Displaced Folks Living in Vehicles
The City of Los Angeles has done it again, launching a new campaign against anyone “dwelling” in a vehicle. The new Ordinance (Fully reproduced at the end of this article) takes effect on January 7, 2017. It shoves vehicle dwellers out of residential neighborhoods, near parks and schools, and seeks to push them either back onto the street to sleep on the cement, or shove them into “industrial or commercial” areas that are already heavily posted with signs that say “No Parking between 2am-6am”. In other words, making it very difficult to park somewhere just to sleep. Many of these vehicle dwellers work in low paying jobs and cannot afford the insane high rents in Southern California, hence they live in their vehicles.
Law Applies to Everyone, Even the Thousands of Moms and Pops Visiting Their Kids.
The local efforts to criminalize homeless and poor folks across the State and other states in this Country reveals such a sick situation of conflicting laws that it is amazing the public puts up with these loony politicians. For instance, with this new law in Los Angeles, relatives who have traveled from afar to visit their moms, dads, or other kin, cannot park their RVs in residential neighborhoods. Many cities have also banned the parking of RVs in residential driveways. In some cities, like Burbank, a police permit and fee is required to park an RV anywhere on a city street. The arriving moms and pops have no idea what a hassle they are in for just coming to Southern California for a friendly visit.
Pasadena Rose Parade Out of Town Visitors Targeted by Cops.
There is no parking anywhere on any street in Pasadena without an expensive permit only issued to residents. Imagine the surprise the tourists get who come out from another area to see the Rose Parade. They face tickets and tow. The rich folks who run Pasadena, the same folks who actually gave their City Manager in effect a lifetime job, really don’t want a lot of visitors, especially ones in RVs. The thousands of small businesses suffer from a constant loss of business from out of town visitors who are denied a place to park overnight. Unless you can afford to stay in a $300 dollar a night hotel room.
LA Outlaws Sleeping Bags, Blankets, Pillows, Cooking Utensils, in any Vehicle
The new Ordinance actually prohibits the public from carrying a sleeping bag, pillow, sheet, blanket or other items in your vehicle. Ironic as the City disaster folks are telling everyone to carry just those things in your vehicle for an emergency, such as an earthquake. Will the City set up checkpoints around town to search all vehicles for pillows? The perfidy of the sociopaths who run the City has now hit an all-time high with this one.
The City Does Not Have Even One Decent Solution to the Many Problems of the Poor
Many thinking people and websites have sent in or published solutions to some of the problems. The City has ignored all of them. We have proposed safe overnight parking facilities, for instance. There should also be well placed areas for RVs and Campers to dump grey water and get fresh water. The City has never tried to even provide adequate rest room facilities for both homeless and tourists, Much of the low-cost housing that was built for our poor and seniors is occupied by foreign immigrants who never worked a day in their life in this Country. Another taboo subject not to be mentioned in the hallowed chambers of City Hall. And by the way, we are not talking about Mexicans or Hispanic folks. We are talking about the many thousands of old people brought in to L.A. County from European, Russian, and Middle Eastern countries and given low cost housing plus benefits for political asylum.
Not Everyone Sleeping in Their Vehicle is “Homeless”
Let’s face the fact that many folks could have reason to dwell in their vehicle. Folks coming into L.A to live and work sometimes have to live out of their vehicle until they can even find an apartment and a job. Tourists from around the world travel in RVs and Campers on their vacations. Seniors who can’t get into the low cost housing that was allegedly built for them are more and more living in their cars because they can’t afford rent. There’s also a growing trend of folks who just want the freedom of living in a vehicle. There’s also the traditional gypsy lifestyle. And then there’s the 50,000 homeless in L.A Criminalizing poor people, homeless folks, seniors, visitors, and tourists is a despicable act of cowardliness by the Mayor and Council.
Below is the Complete Text of the New Ordinance.
ORDINANCE NO. 184530 An ordinance amending Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 85.02 to establish regulations governing the use of vehicles for dwelling on City public streets and to provide a sunset of the regulations in 18 months. The City finds and declares the following:
WHEREAS, for a variety of social, economic and personal reasons, many people dwell in their vehicles on City public streets;
WHEREAS, some people with homes choose temporarily to dwell in their vehicle on public streets because of financial considerations, such as a person catching an early morning flight or train and instead of paying for a hotel room decides to dwell in his or her vehicle overnight on a public street near the airport or train station;
WHEREAS, some people have no housing and they believe their safest option for dwelling is in their vehicle on public streets;
WHEREAS, substantial public health, safety and quality-of-life concerns are posed by persons who use their vehicles for dwelling on public streets, especially on streets in residential areas or in sensitive areas, such as near schools, day care facilities and parks;
WHEREAS, there have been numerous complaints by residents of litter, unsanitary conditions, noise and crime, sometimes resulting in altercations, when persons dwell in their vehicles in residential and sensitive areas;
WHEREAS, the conditions described above have resulted in and will likely continue to result in blight, sanitary and public health concerns, excessive noise and crime, not only affecting residents, but also affecting persons who dwell in vehicles and are at a heightened risk of assault, robbery and other criminal activity;
WHEREAS, dwelling in vehicles on public streets diminishes the economic viability of the City and its many tourist attractions;
WHEREAS, the City has an interest in balancing the needs of those individuals who dwell in their vehicles and the needs of all City residents, businesses and visitors for clean, healthy and safe public areas;
WHEREAS, the City’s existing law addressing vehicle dwelling was found to be unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal in Desertrain v. City of Los Angeles; 1
WHEREAS, the City currently has no reliable information on the number and location of people using vehicles as dwellings or the impacts to health, safety and the physical environment, if any, resulting from this activity, and is unable to obtain such information from other sources;
WHEREAS, the City has reasonably determined that gathering the information necessary to evaluate the impacts to health, safety and the physical environment, if any, due to the use of vehicles for dwelling on public streets will take approximately eighteen months;
WHEREAS, the City intends to allow vehicle dwelling in order to gather data and information related to impacts to public health, safety and the physical environment, if any, for use in developing permanent regulations pertaining to the use of vehicles for dwelling on public streets in the City; WHEREAS, the City intends to allow vehicle dwelling only on non-residential streets and on streets that do not have a school, pre-school, day care facility or park;
WHEREAS, the restriction on vehicle dwelling regulates the conduct of dwelling in a vehicle on a public street and is not a parking restriction;
WHEREAS, the City has determined that the regulations will not result in a serious or major disturbance to an environmental resource;
WHEREAS, the City intends to provide public outreach regarding the provisions of this ordinance, including engaging the assistance of homeless service providers such as the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and making publicly available on the City’s website maps identifying streets where vehicle dwelling is allowed;
and WHEREAS, the Chief Administrative Officer will coordinate the collection and analysis of data and information by City departments and third party organizations with relevant expertise for purposes of determining the impacts to public health, safety and the physical environment due to the implementation of these vehicle dwelling regulations and will compile the resulting data and analysis into a report with recommendations for action to the City Council and Mayor within eighteen months of the effective date of this ordinance.
NOW, THEREFORE, THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES DO ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 85.02 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code is repealed in its entirety and replaced as follows: SEC. 85.02. REGULATING THE USE OF VEHICLES FOR DWELLING.
A. Use of Vehicles for Dwelling Restricted on City Streets. No person shall use a Vehicle for Dwelling as follows:
Between the hours of 9:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. on any Residential Street; or
At any time within a one Block radius of any edge of a lot containing a park or a licensed school, pre-school or daycare facility.
Nothing herein precludes the enforcement of any other laws such as parking restrictions, including, but not limited to, prohibitions on overnight parking.
B. Definitions: As used in this section:
Block is defined as 500 feet.
Dwelling means more than one of the following activities and when it reasonably appears, in light of all the circumstances, that a person is using a vehicle as a place of residence or accommodation:
Possessing inside or on a vehicle items that are not associated with ordinary vehicle use, such as a sleeping bag, bedroll, blanket, sheet, pillow, kitchen utensils, cookware, cooking equipment, bodily fluids.
Obscuring some or all of the vehicle’s windows. Preparing or cooking meals inside or on a vehicle. Sleeping inside a vehicle
Residential Street means any street which adjoins one or more single family or multi-family residentially zoned parcel.
Vehicle means any motor vehicle, trailer, house car or trailer coach as defined California Vehicle Code.
C. Penalty. A first violation of this section shall be punishable as an infraction not to exceed $25. A second violation of this section shall be punishable as an infraction not to exceed $50 and all subsequent violations of this section shall punishable as an infraction not to exceed $75. Violators may be eligible for referral to a prosecutorial-led diversion program such as the Homeless Engagement and Response Team (HEART). D. Sunset Provisions. The provisions of this section shall expire and be deemed to have been repealed on July 1, 2018, unless extended by ordinance. E. Severability. If any portion, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this section is for any reason held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such a decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this section. The City Council hereby declares that it would have passed this ordinance and each portion or subsection, sentence, clause and phrase herein, irrespective of the fact that any one or more portions, subsections, sentences, clauses or phrases be declared invalid.