Feb 192016
 
Sloan Bashinsky

Sloan Bashinsky

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:

http://keywestcity.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=435

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) …

Sloan Bashinsky

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 February 19, 2016  Posted by at 1:02 am Island Voices, Issue #154  Add comments

  5 Responses to “Continuing the Theme of Being Homeless in Key West …”

  1. I must admit that if I ever went totally broke and had to live on SS that KW would the perfect place to live if homeless. I am puzzled as to why the living conditions are so bad at a shelter. Maybe health department needs to investigate.

    Always sad to see people lucky enough to get a million dollars and broke again in few years. It usually is because they lacked skills to manage money. Not saying your fault as many don’t have that skill. Invested wisely is more than enough to live good the rest of your life and the money would grow to even a higher amount.

    And yes seems KW has many laws on books that where created to only be used on homeless. The open container law is clearly violated every day by tourists. But let’s be fair about this, without it they would have drunks spending the day on the beaches and tourist would not feel safe. KW must protect tourism or it will not survive. Am sure Lee instructs his officers on how to handle the homeless. Despite the efforts to run them off it still has hundreds if not thousands. If they arrest them it just costs tax payers money in free lodging and the fines never get paid. Having never come close to being homeless makes it hard to judge others that are. If not for the courts ways of handling workers that get hurt if helping a home owner with painting and yard work many of you could make enough to rent something.

    • JiminKeyWest, thanks for your thoughts.
      Did you watch the segments of the recent Key West city commission meeting, where I spoke to the elected officials about their new cigarette butt litter ordinance and trying to silently sneak without comment rejecting Centennial Bank’s offer to finance the purchase of Peary Court against the city’s general assets and revenues? I figure just for those two pieces of political insurgency, I should have been paid $5,000 by the city bursar.

      I turn 74 in October, am way past being able to do manual labor. When I had the trailer and acre of land on Little Torch, just half hour piddling in the “garden” laid me low. There was one time, I started shaking so badly, I nearly didn’t make it inside to lay down on the floor for about half hour, before I could roll over and craw to a chair and get into it. Strangely, I have little trouble peddling my one-speed conch cruiser bicycle around Key West, and even to Stock Island, if the wind isn’t blowing a gale. You’d have to live in my skin to believe me, but I have a 24-7-365 job, which pushes me to my limits in all ways.

      My board of directors are a band of angels whose names you’ve heard, or some of their names: Jesus, Michael, Melchizedek. While you are sleeping, I am working for them, even when I’m sleeping. While you are awake, I’m working for them, even when I’m awake. And for you, I am working. And for Key West, and for the Florida Keys, and for even bigger areas of critical concern on this planet am I working, at that band of angels’ behest. On which this world puts zero monetary value and tends to call me crazy, or worse. So, it’s a matter of point of view, who is working and, and how.

      This next thing might amuse you.

      Today, Arnaud Girard asked me if I would like to take over the blue paper? Naja was there. I asked if that was a joke question? Well, not entirely, but yes, maybe. I said the question did not cause my insides to revolt, let me think about it and sleep on it. Then, the conversation toward what was behind Arnaud’s question, which is he and Naja are working their butts off doing the blue paper, and are earning very little money, pennies a day. We talked about ways they might earn money, since blue paper readers apparently don’t want to support it and Naja and Arnaud financially, even though the blue paper is head and shoulders better, hell mountains better, than any other local newspaper.

      Arnaud said maybe they sell a blue paper product, a T-shirt, with an Arnaud cartoon on the front, and the blue paper logo on the back. A cartoon with general Key Westy appeal. For $20, I said. A collector’s item. Something to take home, if you are a visitor, and show around to your friends. Something to have as a keepsake, if you live in Key West or the Florida Keys. Tell you readers about the T.shirt, I said. Do that in an article, and ask for their suggestions in reader comments. Play with it, And, tell them, if they don’t start supporting the blue paper commensurate with the hard work they do each week, which has not endeared them to the local governments and local law enforcement, then they will give the blue paper to Sloan. Naja cackled, Arnaud laughed. As in, a great idea.

      I said, another way make what they are worth, Arnaud and Naja tell the city government to buy the blue paper and put it out of circulation, for just $500,000. Naja said, show her where to sign!

      Naja said, two weeks ago, the blue paper had 12,000-plus pages opened. That’s a heap of activity for a small online newspaper in a small town. Given that, and the quality of Naja and Arnaud’s output at the blue paper, it’s outrageous that blue paper readers are not throwing money at the blue paper, which is truly valuable to Key West and Monroe County. But that’s not happening, just like people don’t support my work financially.

      I would not dare offer my job to anyone else. Just five minutes in my skin, Jiminkeywest, would drive you irrevocably insane, then, if you were lucky, you would die – simply because you were not gotten ready, into shape, for the work I do, which is incomprehensible to human beings not having a similar job. Right now, I don’t know another human being, or even know of one, who has a job like mine. There are reports in the Bible, and other ancient texts, of people who had such jobs. They are revered today. I’m a lunatic.

      Well, back down to earth.

      I’m the first person to tell homeless drunks they are barking up the wrong tree, if they want this ex-practicing lawyer to sue the city for selective enforcement of the city’s open container law. Sure, there are thousands more drunks in the city, who are not charged with open container, because they are either locals or tourists, thus are valuable citizens, even if they are drunk. I won’t take that to court for homeless drunks who are arrested for open container, because I cannot bring myself to ask a judge to make it legal for a homeless person to drink him/herself to death. The city police do that for all the other drunks, by not arresting them.

      I kinda doubt painting fences and doing yard work would get me even a shared room in Peary Court, if I could do that kind of work today, which I cannot. It might get me a closet in a house shared by half dozen people, if I could do that kind of work, which I cannot. It’s probably fair to say, JiminKeyWest, that the planet where I started out, people (we didn’t call ourselves that there, or look like people on this planet look, or think like people on this planet think), all got paid a fair wage for the work we did, which doesn’t happen for a hell of a lot of hard-working people in Key West, who never even heard of the planet where I started out.

      • 74 is not really all that old today. The queen of kw is 91 and one very mind sharp lady. I feel sorry for anyone that ends up homeless. And am sure most of the city tax payers would like to see them all go away. Usually churches and salvation army try to help.

        If the blue paper had T shirts to offer we would gladly buy 2. It is one of the best means to advertise. Am surprised we do not see ads in this paper. Simple coupons for 10 % off will often work.

        Without this paper the truth of corruption in Key West would never be known. All the others are not worth reading. And yes KW would likely save money by buying the paper. They alone exposed the real truth of Eimers murder.

        What is sad is so few respond here, seems like just a couple dozen of care. Will assume thousands read it but are scared to respond own feelings.

        Maybe a printed edition available to tourist could create a profit if available on Duval .

  2. The queen of KW is?

    An all powerful queen, or a king, is what the city needs, as proven by how the city commission form of government is working.

    But I don’t see a 91 year old woman, or man, doing the kind of manual labor you suggested would put a roof over my head in Key West.

    In hoping all homeless would go away, the city kicks its official we are all created equal members of one human family in the wherever. Kicks Jesus, too, who, in the Gospels, was homeless, and said to his disciples, as they did to the least of people around them, they did also to him. Big Catch -22s there, for the one human family city claiming more churches per capita than any other city, anywhere.

    I don’t care for lots of homeless people, the living dead, zombies, I have called them. But then, when I see how the school board/district handled the theft of school district funds, I ain’t too sure I feel any better about them than I do about the homeless zombies. As if white collar felonies are less egregious than, say, homeless people drinking booze in public?

    Maybe more later, headed now to the “homeless summit” the local Democratic Party is hosting at Harvey Government Center.

  3. Edith Amsterdam the owner of the Curry Mansion is the queen.
    One of the finest bed and breakfasts we have stayed at and we been to many.

    No not suggesting you could or even should do that type of work but many at 74 still can do enough to earn a roof and food. Am sure it would be very hard at that age to be homeless. Often easy low paying jobs can be found. Must admit is very little in KW or even stock island that would be under $40 a day. SS is usually far too low to live on. That was it’s intention but failed.

    You do seem to still have a strong mind so use it to the max. Never give up hope. Nobody gets rich by working by the hour.

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