by Sloan Bashinsky…….
I don’t suppose I’m a typical homeless person, if such even exists …
How did I become homeless? I’m sometimes asked. I ran out of money, I say. Oh. Well, why don’t you work and make money and get yourself a place to live? I do work, very hard, but the job doesn’t pay money, and the kind of job you are talking about would not pay the rent in Key West, I say. Nor could I stand up to such a job, stick with it – I’d wear out fast, maybe in hours, or less. Disabled by angels, life, gravity, various physical woes. And, alas, there is a spirit block that does not let me earn a living wage at what I can do well, still – mostly shoot off my mouth speaking and writing. That’s the job I don’t get paid for doing.
Sometimes I’m asked how I came to live in Key West? I say, I ran out of money on Maui, in August 2000, and went to living on the street there. Some months passed, and I was living on the land of people who owned a small inn, who had bought me a tent, and I was doing yard and garden work for them in exchange. I was traveling with a woman, who was doing housekeeping in their inn. She and I started not getting along, can’t say I blamed her, if she’d never met me, she’d probably never become homeless, but she was the one woman I’d been with who heard from the angels as well as I did, or she heard even better.
Anyway, our devout Christian hosts told me they wanted me to leave, and said they would buy a cheap ticket for me to fly to Los Angeles. I said living on the street in Los Angeles did not appeal to me, just give me the cost of the airplane ticket, probably $150, and I’d head back over to the other side of the island. No, they would not give me money. Okay, I’ll figure out something, I said, not having a clue what I would figure out.
Waking the next morning, I heard a familiar voice (not human) say, “Go to Big Pine Key.” Well, I’d heard the very same voice tell me the very same thing in 1995, when I lived in Boulder, Colorado, and had plenty of money, and I went to Big Pine Key and had a phenomenal experience on No Name Key Bridge, about which I wrote many times after I moved to Little Torch Key in early 2006. By phenomenal, I mean supernatural. Huge supernatural. Took my breath way. I bawled like a baby. Rivers of snot rushed of my nose. The long and the short of it, I was told, “Because you love this place so much, you will be used to try to protect it.”
I went back to Boulder, my life there soon went to pieces, all sort of strange things then started happening, strange even to me, which I will skip over telling here, which landed me on Maui five years later, penniless, after the credit card companies cut off me and the lady I was with, and finally I was wondering how I was going to get back to Big Pine Key?, which I told the voice I liked, but I had no money.
Later same day, I received an email from an estranged friend living in Los Angeles. In three days time, I was in the air, headed to LA International Airport, where he picked me up and I spent a week with him and his family. They bought me a Greyhound ticket to Key West, gave me $75 dollars, and saw me get on the bus. I didn’t know a soul in Key West, and only barely knew one person on Big Pine Key.
Passing through Tallahassee, the Florida state capitol, I dozed off and was told in a dream that I would be getting into politics. I awoke, in shock. I detested politics. Reaching Big Pine Key the next day around noon, I heard for me to go on down to Key West. There you have it, I was homeless in Key West.
Slept the first night on the sidewalk on the Southard Street side of the Pegasus Hotel. Back in those days, we were allowed to do that, and sleep in doorways, and lots of places outside. 9/11 stopped all of that in its tracks. We street dwellers somehow had gotten ourselves mistaken for terrorists.
I sometimes lived on the street, and sometimes I lived inside, sometimes in Key West, sometimes elsewhere, depending on what was provided, until I inherited a million dollars from my father on Valentine’s Day, 2006. Ten years later, that was all gone bye by due to a huge loss, about $285,000, I took on the sale of the one-acre of mostly wooded wild land and and single-wide trailer I had bought for cash on Little Torch Key, which is the next island below Big Pine Key. I had to sell my Walden to pay rent and eat.
For I had doled out about $300,000 to a younger woman with enormous spirit potential, who lived in north Georgia. Like I had informally adopted her after she was given to me in the summer of 2005 to look after. She had lots of physical problems, and her thinking often went out of whack. Still, the angles wanted me to look after her.
And, I had given about $50,000 to other people in need, and to worthy causes dedicated to trying to help down and out people or save Florida and the Florida Keys from being paved over by developers and their lawyers and politicians.
I probably spent $25,000 on fools errands, ie. running for public office several times in the Florida Keys and Key West.
The rest of the $1,000,000 I wasted on myself, living a whole lot higher on the hog that sleeping in doorways in Key West, but modestly compared to how lots of people I knew were living.
Until December 2014, when there was no more of the $1,000,000 left, and all I had was Social Security retirement benefits, which I had elected to start receiving when I turned 62 in the fall of 2004. Nearly broke again led to me spending maybe 100 nights in 2015 at KOTS, Key West’s homeless shelter on Stock Island, which schooled me in what it’s like to sleep in a disease magnet with homeless people, many of whom are wasted on something not doing them a bit of good.
Oh, yeah, I used some of that $1,000,000 to have goodmorningkeywest.com built in July 2007, and then goodmorningfloridakeys.com. There are over 3,100 separate articles at goodmorningkeywest.com, and maybe half that many different articles at goodmorningfloridakeys.com. Articles you are not likely to read anywhere else on this planet, maybe not anywhere.
So, a couple of recent examples of my politicking during this past Wednesday’s Key West of Weird city commission meeting.
Here’s a link to the city’s video of that meeting:
I signed up to speak to item #13, which took the item off the consent agenda and led, after I had my say, to a most interesting and revealing pearyng into a crystal ball on the dais, aided by a jolting reality check from Assistant City Manager Mark Finnegin, which I can’t imagine City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley and his the city should buy Peary Court PAC ever wanted to ever see and hear the ever-loving light of day.
13 *Rejecting the proposal received from Centennial Bank in response to Request for Proposal #16-004 for Peary Court Financing, pursuant to Section 2-834 (3) of the Code of Ordinances. Sponsors: City Manager Scholl
Click on the link above, then click on the arrow to start the video, then slide the button rightward to the 00:37:10 mark, where I speak to agenda item #13 and kick start the great fun show that otherwise would have sailed quietly into the night.
After you’ve had all of that fun, or whatever, getting to know your elected officials better than you perhaps now know them, or ever wished to know them, slide the button rightward to the 01:32:44 mark, where I speak to the elected officials about their new ordinance making it a $100 civil fine to drop a cigarette butt on the ground in Key West.
When the cigarette butt ordinance came up for its first reading at the prior city commission meeting, among other things, I told the elected officials I had been pushing for something like this ordinance since I ran for mayor in 2007, and I hoped they would pass the ordinance and enforce it vigorously, it would swell the city’s treasury immensely. The looks on the elected officials’ faces did not reflect any intention to do any such thing. It reflected, actually, terror of killing the Key West tourist trade. That’s when figured, which I told them at that meeting, they intended to enforce the ordinance, if at all, against homeless people, like they enforce the city’s open container ordinance only against homeless people.
Then I told them to hire homeless people, dress them up like pirates, and pay them a living wage to wander the streets of Key West, uttering threatening pirate oaths and waiving their fake pistols, swords and daggers at litter bugs, enforcing the city’s litter ordinance already on the books, and the new cigarette butt ordinance, which put some homeless people to work program I have been promoting since I ran for mayor in 2007.
Ta, ta (stay tuned) …