What is important. What is real. What you need to know to survive the 21st Century. How to live a million years and want more.
Published on April 10, 2004 By Phil Osborn In Politics
I was asked to write up my experiences as a homeless person recently for use in a possible dramatic presentation. I haven't really qualified for the title for over a decade, so much of my knowledge may be out of date, but here goes:

When I moved to California in early '76 to start the revolution, I had about $1,000 total in cash, plus a large camper pickup truck full of my junk. At that time, $1,000 was five or six months rent for a decent-sized apartment or a small house in Long Beach. In fact, I lived even more cheaply as a guest of the recently deceased Sam Konkin of local libertarian anarchist fame for free for about half a year and rented a couple of storage garages at Sam's "anarcho-village" thru the next decade for $25 per month each.

My plan was to find a girlfriend, rent a house, and start organizing projects, such as an advanced early childhood learning center, that I saw as contributing to a real revolution in America and the world. To that end, I haunted the Cal State Long Beach (CSULB)campus, looking for the plethora of interesting discussion groups that populate every East Coast College I've ever visited. To my dismay, I discovered that California is different. It took me about a month to find the one really interesting ongoing discussion group at CSULB, centered around mathematical genius and iconoclast Phil Alvin. Alvin was then - 1976 - pursuing the line of research with cellular automata that Wolfram later capitalized on. However, Alvin was for years denied any recognition and even blocked in getting his degree, due to academic myopia. Ultimately, he dropped out and became lead singer for "The Blasters."

Another downer example of Kalifornia Kulture was the student bulletin boards. On any East Coast campus, there will be HUGE bulletin boards with hundreds of cards asking for or offering rides home, bikes or cars for sale, and especially, roomies wanted. CSULB had less than an tenth the postings. When I first moved to South Carolina to join up with the New Banner Institute, I headed straight for the USC (South Carolina) campus, and wrote down a dozen or so numbers of girls looking for roommates. I didn't see a single card that stated "girls-only respond please." In fact, every girl I called was absolutely thrilled(!) that a MAN(!) was interested in rooming with her or her and her girlfriends. I got so many gushing invites that I finally decided that it would be too much distraction to have horny coed sex in my face at me every minute of the day and night. All these girls could seem to think about was partying, and I was a serious philosopher/revolutionary. So I lived alone. (Hey, I was young and stupid, ok?)

At CSULB, when I called the handful of women who had posted similar cards, I invariably got, "But.... Didn't you READ the card??? I'm a WOMAN!" I finally found a notice for a libertarian or objectivist group meeting, and right away hooked up with my first - and virtually my last - Kalifornia girl, a tall, nordic-looking, buxom blond. She and I had a lot of similar interests besides philosophy, and I introduced her to the anarcho-village crew, and to probably the majority of friends she would have for the following several years over the following year or so of our semi-relationship.

Then I and my new underaged girl-friend from CSULB (Hey! She would've been legal in most states. I didn't even know that 18 was the cut-off here... * Not that a silly, stupid, utterly evil and vicious law that forbids LOVE on the basis of some arbitrary number would have stopped me, anarchist, had I known, but I might have been more careful...) moved into a nice little house for about $165 per month. A few months later it was sold and we had to move again.

*(And, with the usual totally blase' hypocracy that now typifies Amerikan - and especially Kalifornian "morality," the 18 year mark only holds for relationships between someone under with someone over 18, and then only if the difference is several years. That's not the LAW, but that's how the LAW is applied. One day difference and suddenly you're a rapist, when you thought you were a lover. And if you're from Mexico, then you can marry a Mexican girl at age 14, which is legal in Mexico, but, again, strictly illegal here, but the authorities ignore it, unless there's some other issue involved such that they can use the law to blackmail the husband into doing what they want - as in, plea bargaining, acting as an informant, etc.) What a sicko! society we must be to generate such a legal system.

We thought we had lucked out on a nice two story, two bedroom townhouse, again for $165, not realizing that the walls were fatally thin, and that there was an incurable repetitive sewage blockage caused by regrowing tree roots, which the landlord denied existed. (In fact, he had evicted the previous tenants, insisting that the floods were their fault.) Also, we were not getting along all that well, as she wanted sex, and I wanted to wait until we had a true romantic relationship, but that's another story. Bottom-line (no pun intended), she found sex elsewhere, and I was left alone. Not a problem, especially after I landed a job at the West Coast's largest health food warehouse, Kahan and Lessin, making $8 per hour and benefits, good money at the time - and, ironically, now as well for a lot of people, even though it only buys about 1/3 what it did back then.

Unfortunately, then a gang moved into the unit on the far end of the building. The residents in between were a couple or three - sometimes more - early middle-aged gay guys who loved to play Rogers and Hammerstein, etc., 24 hours per day at rather high volumes, which did not work for me, especially working swing shift, and occasionally we had words. The gay guys, however, were paragons of neighbors compared to the gang, which consisted of a bunch of white guys who apparently all worked as Navy Shore Patrol.

These guys had formed a little gang that was into drug distribution, violence for fun, and heavy metal music, among other things. They also hated gays. And they wanted to take over the complex and move in all their buds and party, party, party. So they did. They smashed up the gays' vehicles, hooted and taunted them mercilessly at every opportunity, completely blocked the exit drive frequently, making it likely the gays would lose their jobs, and much else that I have forgotten or never witnessed personally, I'm sure.

I was still somewhat insulated, down at the far end of the complex. Finally, however, the gays moved out, after finding no support from the landlord (himself openly gay, but allegedly getting $300 per month in payoffs from the gang.) The incredibly corrupt Long Beach cops were of no more help, as, when anyone called them about the gang, they routinely referred the matter to Navy Shore Patrol - which was the gang.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles had started rent control. Simple economics tells us that when you institute price controls, you get lines. It happened. Housing almost instantly became impossible to find in Los Angeles, so, like ripples from a rock thrown into a pond, people moved out and commuted back. In Long Beach, as a direct consequence of Los Angeles rent control, rents doubled over about a year's time. My rent went to $265, then $300. (Of course, that's nothing now. Try finding anything for under $500 in Long Beach now...)

So, a young extended family of several brothers, a wife, and a couple girlfriends, and a baby or two, all moved into the unit next to mine. It soon became clear that they were close friends and likely business associates of the gang. Clearly, as well, they needed more space. And, there I was. On day one of move-in, they fired up a huge stereo system and started playing non-stop heavy metal. Then they began parking in my spaces, leaving me nowhere to park at all. Ultimately, it became a war of the stereos, as I played non-stop Wagnerian opera, wearing ear plugs, while they or the gang creeps repeated the pattern of smashing up my vehicles.

For a couple of years, I rode a motorcycle to work in Compton at K & L, parking it in the living room for safety. Then the motorcycle broke down, and I began commuting via bicycle. I could handle the 14 miles each way, as I could take the bike trail up the Los Angeles river for most of it, but there were other times that I needed my truck, so I began parking the truck a couple miles away from home at random locations, and then biking the rest of the way. Often I would meet the shore patrol guys coming or going at 2 or 3 AM in the thick nightly fogs. I began arming myself with tear gas and ultimately two handguns. I had a light-duty kevlar jacket as well, which might have stopped shotgun pellets - their weapon of choice. I always took different routes in, knowing that they were trying to catch me alone in the fog.

I recall coming upon them in their pickup one night in that fog, almost home. There were three of them and a shotgun. I pulled off onto the sidewalk and just stood there, waiting for them to make a move, my hand on my .38 S&W Officer's Match Special under my jacket. One of them was holding the shotgun, pointing it straight up. If he started pointing it in my direction, my plan was to blow them all away. Finally, they decided not to press their luck, and drove on, which was perhaps a loss for the general welfare of humanity.

The conflict reached a point, finally, that the landlord intervened and evicted all of us, after I threatened a lawsuit. I also was facing knee surgery for a job injury, and knew that I could not handle the situation on crutches, so I was gone one way or another. I moved my stuff into storage and then moved my bod into a cheap ($10 per night) motel. The motel was not bad, and I spent several months there, but then I attended a Libertarian Party conference at the Kona Kai Hotel in San Diego. I was off-put by the $89 rooms there, and, having noticed a number of campers pulled up on the street, right on beautiful Mission Bay, decided to try it myself. I had never slept in a vehicle before. It was the best, most refreshing sleep I had had in years.

So began my homeless era. I learned not to keep parking in the same spots. Occasionally someone in a neighborhood would call the cops to roust me. Parks were usually good, and I often had plenty of company, as there were no laws against sleeping in a vehicle then. People like myself, who simply liked the freedom from hassles with neighbors - got a loud jerk pulled up behind you? Just move on down the street. People who were out of work and living cheap. People on vacations. People who were retired and typically drove the enormous motor homes.

It was a free and easy way to live - and cheap! I also had several cheap powered garages by then, as well, so that I could maintain my vehicle as needed, run my Vic 20, Commodore 64 or, ultimately, Amigas and video editing systems. My rent expenses were under $100 per month, and I had my Jack LaLannes membership, so I could always shower, work out, and relax in their jakuzi. I had my friends at the local Dennys to drink coffee with, the Cal State Long Beach wonderful library to hang at and research anything I wanted, and "The Bistro" (aka Dick and Fayes) intellectual bar to drink beer and argue politics. Life was good.

I was toying with the idea of going totally vonu. There was the whole vonulife movement, which had evolved mostly from the libertarian movement, but also from the surviving hippies and people who just liked to wander and see new things. At the time, tens of thousands of people all over the U.S. had abandoned any ties to a fixed piece of land or property and began perfecting the skills of living on the road, and/or in the wilderness.

Too good to last, I suppose. On Tax Day in 1980, I put on my own protest against the income tax at the downtown Long Beach Post Office. I was pretty in-your-face with my placard, which read something like "SUPPORT THE DEATH SQUADS - DONATE TONIGHT" on one side, and "THE AMERICAN BANKING EMPIRE NEEDS YOUR CONTRIBUTION" on the other. The bank was right next door, and I noticed the bankers in their suits gesturing and pointing at me from a window there. I also parked my camper right in front of the entrance to the IRS tax lane that circled the block, with a huge banner that read "TURN RIGHT AHEAD TO SUPPORT NUCLEAR WAR." A local popular tax resistance group also sent people with their own placards later on that evening, but nothing as nasty as mine.

A week later, exactly, April 22nd, the police showed up at my camper in Ocean Park. They arrested me for "Loitering With Children." No victims were ever alleged, and no specifics of any behavior that could justify the charges were ever produced, and about a year later, the court dismissed all charges, the court record reading, "defendant exonerated." This cost me, I figured, at least $50,000. The police had largely insulated themselves from possible damage claims by convincing a local elementary school principal to file the actual charges after I went to his school - and specifically to his office - trying to locate a friend who had suddenly disappeared, who had her kids there.*

*(I had gone to the school the day before looking for a missing friend who had her kids there. I had gone straight to the office and asked to see the principal, providing identification as well, but to no avail. Although I was very polite, he was totally hostile from the get-go. The next morning, I had stopped by the school and parked for a little while accross the street, to see if my friend, who had simply disappeared with no warning, would show up with her kids. A teacher allegedly thought I looked suspicious, wrote down my license number and gave it to the principal. The Long Beach PD apparently convinced him that I was some kind of pervert, and so he signed off on my arrest as a citizen's arrest. No victims, no crime, no evidence of anything.)

At the jail, the first thing that happened was that I was put in an elevator with an inmate and left alone with him with the door closed for several minutes. While I waited for something to happen, this inmate pulls out a joint and lights up. Then he offers it to me. I'm thinking, "right, and you really think that I'm that stupid." As soon as I refused the joint, the elevator started up to the floor where the "tank" was. Sharing the tank with me was a long-term inmate stoolie, who spent his time pushing around a broom and otherwise setting an example of subservience while he collected information from all the conversations around him among the twenty or so young guys who had been arrested in a street prostitution sting that day.

No option to make a call had been available so far, but then a huge, heavy, black payphone on wheels, about eight feet tall and two feet wide and deep was wheeled up to the bars and we were instructed to make our calls by reaching through the bars to it. It turned out to be electrified with 110 volt house current relative to the bars. The thick black paint on the bars was insulating enough to keep one from being shocked, where it had not worn off from years of this. Of course, in the unairconditioned tank (everywhere else it appeared to be airconditioned just fine), everyone was sweating, and the salt sweat made a perfect conductor.

So, you'd see guys in the middle of a call to their wives or mothers or brothers or dads, etc., suddenly flung ten feet onto the concrete floor by muscular shock spasms. The observing cops would just laugh and advise us, "you better be careful, there, or we might have to curtail your phone privileges, ha, ha, ha."

I managed to call ALH&Co. with only minor stings from the bars, every few seconds suddenly jolting me while I attempted to formulate plans with Anthony. Anthony sent one of his associates, Howard Hinman, to Long Beach with my bail. I cannot imagine what it must feel like for someone who has spent weeks, years, or months in such brutal little hell holes to be finally freed, but the only comparable experience for me after that one night was the first time I drove down to Tijuanna, before it was cleaned up for the tourist trade. It was such a filthy, corrupt, nasty, hostile, degraded place that I almost got down on my knees to thank God - which would have raised problems for me as an atheist, for sure - when I made it back to the good old U.S. of A.

I had made plans to visit Belize for a month or two and take photos of the land. Then I would return to the U.S. and attempt to find investors in a "land trust." A Denny's friend of mine who had travelled all over the globe - mostly on foot -had spent several months in Belize, and filled me in on all the charms of the place. Then Belize gained independence from Great Britain, and became an independent member of the British Commonwealth. For a LONG time, however, Guatamala had considered Belize to be properly part of it, stolen by the Brits. There was widespread fear that the Guats would invade over the mountains. This caused a drop in typical undeveloped land from about $100 per acre, to about $10 per acre.

I figured that Maggie Thatcher would NEVER allow a member of the CommonWealth to be taken over by forceful invasion, so the actual danger was minimal. Meanwhile, the land was a SUPER bargain, unlikely to ever be repeated. So, I came up with a scheme to take advantage of the opportunity.

I knew from discussions with a black artist from Belize who I met at Sheenway School, when I was putting together computer access for them, that foreigners could not directly own land in Belize. So, I would have to find proxy owners. Reliable proxy owners... That would take some time. According to my Denny's friend, Belize had some of the finest beaches, as well as a whole lot more on the beautiful coastal islands, of the entire Caribbean area. Thus, the potential for resort development was ripe.

The strong likelihood, I concluded, was that as soon as things had stabilized politically, Belize would be targetted by major hotel firms. These multinational corporations would do their usual thing, buying influence among an elite group of local politicians, then acquiring long term leases on prime land for a song, and finally building exclusive resorts and possibly retirement communities. Only a small set of politically powerful natives would directly benefit, and the locals would become the servants and ground keepers. Nothing would happen as far as generally cleaning up the environment of the endemic tropical diseases, creating infrastructure leading to general prosperity, etc. Then, of course, the neighboring Marxists from Nicaragua, etc., would move in to offer the natives a solution and the U.S. would start providing military support and a dictatorial government would sieze power, and the death squads would start up, etc., etc., etc.

I had a better plan. I would convince local Orange County libertarian real estate moguls to start the ball rolling to create a land trust in Belize. The trust would offer shares in exchange for land titles. It would be aimed primarily at the natives of Belize, who would end up with controlling blocks of shares in the trust. In most cases, the original owners of the land would continue to have the use of their land, while the trust explored ways to use the equity as capital to bring in outside investment and developers. Eventually, I schemed, virtually everyone would be a member of the trust, and most of the land would be owned by it. Then the trust could manage the country for its own benefit, meaning the benefit of the natives - and those others of us who got in early.

All the problems of outsiders coming in and bribing politicos for special privileges and then corrupting and looting the country would be completely forstalled, while all the advantages that the trust structure generated would bring in even more outside investment than would have happened the other way. Belize would rapidly move from being a disease-ridden, poverty stricken semi-paradize to being a rich, educated, healthy paradize that would even outshine Costa Rica.

'While I was awaiting trial on the Long Beach charges, however, the Fauklands war happened, and land prices in Belize immediately jumped back up to even higher than their previous levels. So, my land trust never happened, probably a million people, including a lot of kids who never had a chance, have doubtless died of diseases, including AIDS, who would be alive and happy now, and all so the Long Beach thugs who ran that corrupt city could teach me a lesson... Someday I will get even. (This is just the first taste, jerks.)

They did not convince me to give up living vonu. The Long Beach police did not seem to increase their occasional harassment of me while I was sleeping, but they did occasionally pull up next to me in traffic, turn on their bull horn, and make some inane remark like, "Hey A...H...., how does it feel to be a felon?" Of course, the Loitering with Children charge was not a felony. But when I chose to go pro per (represent myself) and showed up in court with perfectly processed documents generated with the help of some of my libertarian legal buff friends, then the D.A. decided to "pile on," adding charges of possession of concealed handguns.

In that case, the alleged facts were true, however, the law - 653G of the California Penal Code, as I recall - stated explicitly that one could legally possess concealed and loaded handguns at ones "place of residence," "even if this be any temporary .. campsite." The appellate courts had already ruled that a vehicle, such as a camper, qualified as a temporary place of residence,* and I'm sure the D. A. knew this, but he proceeded anyway, and succeeded in scaring me into hiring an attorney, which is what they wanted, I'm sure. So, goodby to another $1,000. Of course, I had a good reason for keeping those couple of handguns in my camper under my bedding, as I still frequently ran into members of the gang who had driven me out of my home less than a year prior, and THEY were definitely armed.

*(Lest someone try to use this information and get in trouble, I should point out that about a year later, a further appeal resulted in a reversal of the previous ruling and suddenly concealed handguns in campers became illegal again, altho they were still perfectly legal if you stepped out of your camper and laid out your sleeping bag on the ground. Apparently the police were upset over the idea that some motorists might be armed (even though the guns had to be out of access to the driver while the vehicle was being driven) and of course the safety of the police comes miles ahead of the safety of any private citizen.)

One of the kingpins of the D.A.'s case was the woman who I had been trying to locate at the school. A young black woman from the East Coast, I and my Denny's buddy had run into her one evening when she asked about buses to some club in L.A. My bud liked to do things on the spur of the moment and we were just driving around looking for something to do that night, and so he offered to drive her the 25 miles himself just on a whim. She gave me her number when she left us at the club.

So I called her, and soon was going out to dinner at local burger joints with her and her tiny kids. She had come to the West Coast, she said, to start over in her life, was about to enter nursing school, with prior experience in health care, and was living with her sister and brother-in-law. She and I hit it off really well, I thought, and I had promised to drive her to the nursing school in Orange County to complete registration. For me, this was a big event and a major breakthrough. I had had only a few short relationships in the years after my first California girl had left me, what with the war with the gang, etc. Then she simply disappeared.

Well, not quite that simply. She informed me a few days into our relationship that her sister had just left her brother-in-law and now she was stuck with him, and he did not particularly care for her company. Then it became that he was now expecting that in return for housing, etc., she should take up where her sister had left off - in all respects... Not too difficult to imagine why a woman might chose to leave this jerk. Since her financial resources were nil, she felt as though she was trapped in an ugly and degrading situation.

And then, she was gone. When I called for her, I got the "brother-in-law." I was afraid for her, and naturally went looking for her, just in time for synchronicity with the designs of the Long Beach cops to put me in harm's way. To make matters worse, now it wa clear that she apparently had something to fear from the cops herself. According to my lawyer, the D.A. was now saying that they had located her and interviewed her, and she claimed to have never met me or ever gone out with me!

However, I clearly remembered having a conversation with one of the employees at a Carl's Jr. restaurant where we had eaten. This young black girl - Loretta - had impressed me as being totally positive, on-the-ball, and absolutely the perfect employee, and I had praised her at the time. We had had a little conversation about her college plans as well. So, I located her, and explained what had happened. She agreed without hesitation to testify that she had seen me and the woman and her kids all together. Things were looking up. I went to my attorney with the information.

Then Loretta disappeared. Her family had no idea where she had gone and didn't care, as she was apparently now involved with a gang. I could not believe that this pretty, positive, smart, girl could just suddenly join some gang. If she could do it, then it seemed that anyone must be at risk. Now I was frantic. My main witness was lying and the person who could prove it was missing. If the police could show reason to think that I had lied about the entire school episode, even though nothing whatsoever had happened, then a jury might be convinced to convict me just on circumstances.

Then I found Loretta. I completely forget how. I think maybe she called me at work after I left my number with her mother. So, I went to her new apartment, paid for by her new "friends." Her attitude had undergone a sea change. "Positive" was now "nasty." She talked in tones of contempt about her former work at Carl's Jr., referring to the "peanuts" that they had paid her. She had new clothes, similar to the kind one saw in the red light districts, and she off-handedly showed me a sawed-off shotgun that she kept - loaded - in her closet. She had a foxy little roommate, as well, whose language made what usually we flush seem clean.

While we were talking, another of her new "friends" showed up, a lean and mean older black guy, who reeked of slime. This guy took me aside, after letting me see his piece tucked in his belt, and informed me that he was "keepin an eye on de girl." "For someone" went unsaid, with a wink. For whom was an interesting question. In a further uninvited intimacy, my new chum mentioned that he worked "undercover" for "military intelligence." Right. And I'm the president's secret investigator.

Loretta absolutely promised to keep in touch, or course, and then she disappeared again. But it didn't matter, because now the original disappearing woman had now changed her testimony and had exonerated me. I saw Loretta one last time a couple years later as she entered the local downtown Denny's. At no more than 18, She looked forty years old, sick and fat, but the most striking thing was how utterly miserable she was. It was stamped so clearly on every line of her face, that I had to marvel that anyone could be so unhappy. My guess is that Loretta is probably long dead, likely of AIDS, as that would have been the most logical next part of her sad story.

So, what was really going on? All the signs indicated to me that someone, on discovering Loretta's importance to my case, had simply suggested using one of the hundreds of local paid informants among the criminal gangs to lure her into oblivion. I mean, who cares that a truly nice young woman is going to have her life wrecked? Or likely die? After all, she was black.

It was at this point, while awaiting trial in Long Beach, that I managed to get myself into further trouble. Another local libertarian - let's call him Jim, since it isn't his name, and although last I heard he was indefinitely incarcerated in one of the institutions for the criminally insane, "Jim" has consistently demonstrated a remarkable ability to cause all kinds of trouble - had been organizing libertarian family outings, running an organization with the acronym LOALA, as in Libertarian Objectivist Agorists of Los Angeles, or some such thing. And if it strikes you that the name is only one letter from Lola, which might be short for Lolita, well, heck, what a bright person your are...

"Jim" was a pedophile, as his thirty or so LOALA families eventually figured out, especially as he proudly carried around a three inch thick stack of photos of him in bed with girls ranging from 11 to 14 - tops. Nothing X- or even R-rated, but still quite suggestive. Of course, one of those litle matters of "sniping from the grey areas," that George Smith and Wendy McElroy managed to keep off the discussion menu of the local libertarian movement, was this whole issue of children's rights. (See my obit on Sam Konkin for more details.) So, the libertarian parents had no real answer to "Jim" when he accused them of being non-libertarian, if they objected to his relationships with their young daughters. If the daughters wanted the relationship, it was none of their business.

Eventually, however, common sense and caution prevailed, and "Jim" abandoned LOALA, just ahead of the enraged parents, and fled from L.A. in disgrace. He then joined up with Anthony Hargis & Company, discussed in other blogs of mine, convincing Anthony that he was harmless and setting up a black-market anarchist bar of sorts in the unused rear section of ALH&Co.'s industrial unit, where "Jim" also slept. I don't think that "Jim" was a complete hypocrit about his anti-politics. He managed to create a completely off the books bathroom cleaning business for himself in the endless run of small, industrial park businesses typical of that area of OC, and was even pictured and written up by the local paper, the "Orange County Register," once.

The picture shows what looks sort of like a miniature Micheal Keaton - the chipmonky kind of face - with one of those floppy-eared green aviator caps and a black flag with a big gold dollar sign on it stuck in the sand of a local beach. I think "Jim" may have had his arm around one of the ubiquitous cute little thong-bikinied teeny-bopper beach bunnies as well. He was allegedly engaged in proscelatizing among the heathen surfers, spreading the good news about anarcho-capitalism. Meanwhile, at ALH&Co. "Jim" was trying to put together a school for young libertarians, restricted, for some reason, to young girls.

To bring "Jim"'s story to a close here, he decided to move toward his school by first offering tutoring and chaperoning services to local libertarian parents of adolescent girls. In short order, he found a couple of takers, and soon thereafter managed to almost get himself snuffed after practicing his version of sexual liberation on a friend of one of his clients, an 11-year-old girl whose Catholic Sicilian parents had mob connections. Jim had changed his story about the incident every time I ran into him, but the final version was of course that she had come on to him. Why she then went to her parents and accused him is left to the reader's imagination.

. Eventually, of course, after trying to ruin my reputation, after I began informing people of his true intentions, after he tried to blackmail the parents whose daughters he had been chaperoning that time, knowing that there was a prior husband from a divorce who had hired detectives at times to try to find some way to get custody of the kids, "Jim" finally had to flee the U.S. after yet another little girl mysteriously lied about having tried to seduce him, for the Balkans, from which I understand he had helped smuggle in several teenage girls, so he had connections.

Finally, he made his way back to San Francisco, where his parents lived, but would no longer let him in their home. So he lived in Golden Gate Park, until one day when he allegedly wandered out of the woods, joined a group of young girls picnicing right in front of their parents, and proceeded to start sexually fondling them. Which is why he is, fortunately, permanently (one truly hopes) out of circulation.

However, none of this had happened when I ran into "Jim" at some Libertarian gathering, where he mentioned that he was starting an epistemology discussion group which was meeting at the Velvet Turtle restaurant in Woodland Hills. This was about a 40 mile drive for me, but I really wanted to pursue that subject, so I made the trip, only to discover that "Jim" was both ignorant about real issues of epistemology (the theory of knowledge - one of the fundamental branches of philosophy) and arrogantly certain of his own silly beliefs.

However, he did have one thing in his plans that interested me. He said that he had been exploring the homeless kids scene in L.A. and was planning to create an anarchist "safe house" for the Hollywood street kids. This seemed like a good idea. So, I decided, on my drive back, to camp out in Hollywood and explore the scene myself, so that I could report back to him and offer a critique of whatever plans he might propose. So, I parked my camper near a liquor store at about Hollywood and Vine, planning to spend the night and the following day there.

I decided to take a little exploratory walk-about, as I was not really very familiar with Hollywood, having only been there a couple of times previously. At one of the cross streets, I found myself joined by a half-dozen black hookers, who I ignored. While crossing the street, suddenly a van pulled up blocking my way and another little crowd of hookers piled out of it. I was now completely surrounded by the hookers, who moved in, pretending to be propositioning me. Then I felt hands all over me, and realized that they simply wanted my wallet. (I discovered later that they had been doing that all night, and several other men had had their wallets lifted.) In spite of my best efforts, swinging around and trying to fend them off, one of them managed to get her hands on my big leather truckers' wallet, and it was gone, together with the hookers, in a flash, with my ID and $300 cash.

All but one. In the process of flinging my arms around to defend myself, I had accidentally hooked one arm through this lady's purse strings, and I hung on, once my wallet was gone. So, I figured that I would trade it for my wallet. I knew that the cash was forever gone, but at least I might be able to get my ID. The hooker was interested in one thing only, however, and that was getting her purse. She followed me as I crossed back over to where my camper was. I went directly to the pay phone by the liqour store and called the police, telling them that I had just been robbed. The dispatcher informed me in a bored drawl that it might be at least thirty minutes before anyone would be available to take a report.

As I hung up, in a flash the hooker pulled a little knife and started lunging at me, chasing me back out into the middle of the boulevard. I finally remembered my tear gas and sprayed her with it, which made her back off a little but not leave. At that point the crew of pimps who had gathered in front of the liquor store started running toward us. Clearly they were not likely to be on my side, and they were between me and my camper.

Then, miraculously, a cab appeared, and I ran in front of it, blocking it and, telling the driver that I was under immediate attack, asked him to get my out of there! As we drove off, I suddenly realized that I had no money to pay him. I told him so, and he waved it off. So, I asked him to circle the block and come up behind my camper. Meanwhile, I glanced inside the hooker's purse, wondering why it had been so important to her. I saw a couple of dollar bills, some small change and some cheap costume jewelry, nothing to justify her obvious desperation. I did, however, notice that the walls of the fake leather purse seemed to be too thick.

Then we were at my camper and the pimps had noticed and were running towards me. I managed to get the rear door open, dove inside and retrieved my long barrel .38 Officer's Match Special from under the sleeping cushion as the cab sped off. At that point one of the pimps stuck his head in the door, took one look at the wrong end of that 6-inch barrel and fled unceremoniously.

I immediately went back to the payphone, holding my gun, and called the Hollywood PD again. The response was the same - that no one was in the area and no one was available - until I mentioned that I had a gun... "GUN!" About ten seconds later this black and white comes screaming around the corner, bounces up over the curb onto the sidewalk and these two cops are out on the sidewalk in a crouch, with guns pointed at ME! "All right, drop the weapon, NOW!" Not wanting to have it discharge accidentally, I carefully lowered the .38 to the sidewalk and stepped back.

So, of course then I am handcuffed and my camper is searched, as a whole squad of officers shows up somehow, despite their not having anyone in the area or available just minutes before. Along with the other pistol, and my camping gear, including a hunting knife and a machete, they also find my silver coin stash, my anarchist literature, my computer books, and my collection of children's literature from various garage sales, including a controversial "Show Me," child's intro to sex, direct from Barnes and Noble.

During all this time, no mention of my stolen wallet or the assault on me is ever made, despite my attempts to bring it up. Clearly there was absolutely no interest in anything except their fishing expedition to find evidence to convict ME of something. Note that under California law, it is perfectly legal to have a loaded weapon in your hands in plain sight in a public place if you are under attack and in fear for your life or serious bodily injury. Like somehow I just wanted to go to jail, so I pulled out a gun and called the cops to arrest me. Right.

The Kafkaesque quality of the experience should be a lesson to anyone who thinks that the police are anything but a mechanism for making successful arrests leading to successful prosecutions. I cannot recall any situation in my entire life in which the police were actually a help, now that I think about it. No recovered stolen tools or cars or wallets, ever. No help in dealing with the gang that ran me out of my home in Long Beach or any other similar situation.

When I was driving a cab in Santa Ana, years later, every so often I would have to call the cops to get a fare from some beligerent drunk, and the cops were happy to roust the guy and hand me my money, but that was a quid pro quo in reality, as - before cellphones were everywhere - cabbies were a major resource to the cops, calling in accidents or the nightly knife fights in downtown Santa Ana, etc.

So, after thirty minutes or so, during which the cops were universally hostile, abusive and contemptuous toward me, suddenly one of them got really friendly and respectful. (Note to the reader: this is the time to worry. They only do this when they're about to shaft you.) So he says to me, "Uh, sir, by any chance did you get a chance to see what was inside the lady's purse that you grabbed?" I told him what I had observed, not mentioning how thick the purse walls seemed to be. He nodded, all serious and respectful, "Yes, that's what we found, as well."

Of course, now I was going to the police station to be booked for something or other, whatever they could come up with. I asked about my camper. Were they going to tow it or what? The officers said they had no plans to tow it and asked me why I would think that they would. Oh, so they were just going to leave it there for the locals to loot? They asked me if I wanted it towed, to which I said, "of course."

On the way to the police station, now handcuffed in the hard plastic rear seat of a black and white, a call came in about a possible shooting, and so we made a little diversion to the scene, where the two cops with me got out of the car, shielding themselves carefully behind vehicles or other solid objects, while they approached where the shooting had been reported. Of course, I was left unshielded to fend for myself. Being a suspect, I had no rights to even the minimum common decency. (Remember this, if you are ever arrested. You are no longer a human being, and have no rights whatsoever.)

At the Hollywood police station, I was interviewed as to what had happened, and repeated every facet of the experience about ten times to the interviewing officer. I was then told that a report would be written up and supmitted for my approval. Next, I was taken to a tiny holding cell, with only a couple of benches against the walls. These benches were about six inches wide, at most. When I asked about my handcuffs, the cops just laughed and locked the door. So, I sat, more or less, jammed against the wall, with most of my weight still on my feet and bad knees, doubled over with my hands cuffed behind me, for at least an hour or so, in a state of quiet, exhausted desperation.

Then, some other prisoner was paraded to a point directly in front of my cell, which had a little window in the steel door. I immediately assumed that this was all staged for my benefit. A loud conversation between the prisoner and the cop took place right in front of my door, during which the prisoner demanded various rights, accused the cops of various rights violations, in response to which the cop just laughed, and then they both left. I am still clueless as to why this little play was staged. Meanwhile, it suddenly occurred to me that I might be able to just step thru my handcuffs and put my hands in front, so that I could at least sit without straining. The instant I did so, I was addressed from a hidden speaker, "All right, A..H..., now you can put the cuffs back behind you." I refused to do so, at which point officers appeared at my door.

I assumed that now I was probably going to be beaten into submission, but no, they were just coming to get me to review my crime report. It is now probably about 4AM. I was taken back to the office area, where the officer had completed my report. He handed it to me and asked me to sign it. I said that I would have to read it first. When I read it, there was no mention whatsoever of my being robbed or attacked, or of the hooker's purse. Instead, for some unfathomable reason, I had pulled a gun and called the cops. Wow, I must be crazy! So, despite my madness, I pointed this out.

Then the officer got beligerent, insisting that I had never said anything about any such thing. Like I hadn't repeated every little detail at least ten times. When I refused to sign, he finally agreed to rewrite the report, saying that I would still have to sign off on the portion he had written so far. Too stupid with exhaustion to think straight, I did so. Of course, the report was never rewritten.

I was released on my own recogniscence that morning. When I was allowed to inspect my property that had been siezed, I noticed that the silver was gone. I demanded it's return. The property officer tried to pay me instead the face value, which would have been about 1/16th the actual value of the silver at that point in the market. I finally got the silver, or at least most of it. All the officers in the office were meanwhile passing around my copy of "Show Me," sniggering over the nude photos and making insinuations about me and children, of course.

Out of jail, with my camper back in my possession, I began to look for a good lawyer. I definitely did not want to involve my Long Beach case attorney. Although the charges were all dismissed, and the court itself found me innocent, not merely "not guilty (which only means they failed to make the burdent of proof sufficient to yield a conviction), I well recalled passing by the judge's chambers and overhearing the judge telling my attorney, in an angry tone "Well, I can't GIVE YOU Osborn!" What the deals being made involved, I have no clue, but it was clear - as though it hadn't been made abundantly so already - just what kind of "justice" was being meted out.

And, even though I was found innocent, part of the "deal" my attorney informed me I would have to go along with was that I would make no attempt to ever contact the black woman who I had been trying to find. If I did attempt to contact her, I was told by my attorney, then the charges would all be reinstated. Naturally this made it much more difficult to establish police conspiracy in the projected lawsuit I planned on bringing. At least the unbelievable jerks who ran Long Beach were consistent about covering their asses. And any attorney who could work with them could not be trusted. That much was clear.

So, I decided to find an attorney with integrity, who would actually fight for me. From some program on KPFK, I had heard of an attorney's organization dedicated to fighting police abuse, corruption and brutality, and I tracked them down and got a referral to a black woman attorney in Los Angeles. She agreed to take on the Long Beach suit, on which I had already filed the papers, as well as the new Hollywood case, which was so absurd on the face of it that I felt that any competent attorney could easily have it dismissed at the first hearing.

A couple of months later, with the trial in Holly wood looming, and she had done absolutely no work on either case. No discovery, no filings, no defense, nada. She simply took my money and was going to sit and watch me go to jail for being robbed. Meanwhile, "Jim," on whose projected safehouse's behalf I had gotten myself into this jam, was telling me that he felt no need or obligation to testify for me, leaving the police to make up whatever story they felt like about my motivations for being where I was. "Jim" told me that he would feel that his plans for the safehouse would be jeapardized if he had to testify, and so I should be happy to be able to sacrifice for the cause by going to jail. Or course, his "safehouse" would doubtless have been open only to pubescent girls, and it never got done anyway, which was a good thing....

Finally, in desperation, I contacted a couple of local libertarian attorneys, neither of whom handled criminal cases. However, they referred me to a Mr. Franzen, who was now a corporate attorney, but had a long history as a radical libertarian activist. He had the Hollywood case dismissed in no time at all. The Long Beach case was simply not worth his time, and eventually it lapsed, as I no longer had the resources to continue pursuing it.

My hypothesis about the strange behavior of the Hollywood cops? I think that the purse with the thick walls probably was filled with funny white powder of one form or another, which was worth significant money. Of course, the hooker had to have had a motive to be following me around, attacking me with her little knife, etc., beyond the dollar or two and cheap jewelry, so any mention of her and any of that had to be deleted from the police report, which is why I was pressured into signing a report with no mention of any of that. No doubt, if I had had the ability to check, any record of my first call to 911 would also be gone.

So, bottom line, the only explanation that fits their behavior is that they were perfectly happy to send an innocent person to jail for a few bucks, which is also consistent with what I heard from former Hollywood vice cop turned hooker and later libertarian gubernatorial candidate for California, Norma Jean Almodovar.

Norma Jean had gotten so fed up with all the corruption in the Hollywood police force, during this same period, that she decided to quit and make an honest living as a call girl. However, she also decided to expose everything she had witnessed and was ready to publish her book, at which point the Hollywood police, realizing they were in deep shit, entrapped Norma Jean, then searched her apartment and managed to somehow lose all her notes and manuscripts, which they had siezed as "evidence." Actually not that surprising in general. The Santa Ana jail is notorious for losing arrestees' money. I understand the standard return is 50%.

Oddly, one of the cop names on my arrest record there is the same as the last name of one of the cops that beat up Rodney King. Don't know if it's the same jerk. Probably doesn't matter - which jerk, that is. I ate dinner for years at a restaurant in Long Beach called the Orbit, then on Atlantic and Pacific Coast Highway, as I recall. For a couple of years I frequently sat in conversational distance at the counter from a Long Beach cop. Or former one. After about a year of defending the Long Beach police, he finally announced that he had quit, "because I have to live with myself." He stated that no one could be there more than six months without being corrupted.

So, no surprises coming out of Iraq for me, anyway. People who chose to be prison guards - and go on to make it a career - are, IMHO, by and large, the scum of the earth, generally worse than the people they are guarding, many of whom are serving effectively life sentences under the Three Strikes Law in California for minor offenses, including possession of small amounts of controlled substances. I note that a couple of the Faluga guards were full-time prison guards back here in the good ole U.S.A., as well. I think that our right-wing moralists assume that if someone is in prison, then they must have done something wrong, and so they deserve whatever happens to them.

So, some 18 year old kid whose brain is not yet really mature smokes pot and is caught with an ounce or so and charged as a dealer - based on the testimony of the real dealer, who knows how to play the system, and is not only right back out on the street, but probably gets a cut from the auction of any related siezures, such as the kid's car. Then the kid goes to jail, where he is immediately raped, with consequent infections of hepatitus, genital herpes and likely HIV, all of which are endemic in the prison system. (There are reportedly twice as many men raped in the U.S. prison system as all the women raped anywhere in the U.S.)

So, besides being nearly crazy and suicidal now, due to what has happened to him, the kid is going to die of one or another of these diseases, but, hey, it's ok, because it was his own fault. Of course, just shooting him would be kinder (not to mention saving the taxpayers a lot of money). On the other hand, shooting the guards - after first slowly torturing them proportionately to as many years as they have been on the job - and simultaneously freeing all such victimless crime inmates, and offering them the job of torturer - of course, would be both far more productive and also much more morally satisfying - and entertaining to boot, possibly a real money maker if leased for satellite distribution. And even if it were a money loser, I'm guessing that millions of people would be willing to dig deep to donate to keep that program running.

Remember this true story the next time you hear that idiot "Bad boys, bad boys..."

In the late '80's, I began renting space in an industrial garage where a friend owned a business. Ultimately, for a couple years anyway, I pretty much lived there, as a hack and a hacker (I drove a cab to pay the bills, two or three nights a week, and hacked my Amiga computer much of the remaining time), which was lucky, as the various cities were falling like dominos to the need to drive out the homeless. Most of them were passing laws making it illegal to sleep in a vehicle or in public, for example. As each city innovated new ways to make life even more miserable to people who were already in misery, the homeless descended upon any city that offered a less punitive environment, forcing them to react in kind.

Now - meaning today, 2004, the typical homeless story is kind of like this: Someone loses their good job and can't pay the bills on the minimum wage job that they finally find after the unemployment compensation runs out. So, they figure, "hey, I'll just camp out in my car or van for a while and save money." That works until the cops bust them for sleeping in a vehicle, usually on a Friday, as that means that they will be in jail for the weekend and the tow company will get three days of exorbitant fees on the books. When the judge releases them on Monday, they find that they can't pay to get the car out of hock, and so they're now on the street, where they likely remain, since they will probably lose their minimum wage job now as well... But, it's all ok, because they're just losers! And the sad thing is that some of my readers will agree with that.

(to be continued)

on Apr 10, 2004
You are a very good writer and have a fascinating story. Keept it up.
on Apr 11, 2004
I'm also single and a sucker for compliments...

Send me your pic if interested. philanova@mail.com

on Apr 12, 2004
Interesting story. I'll be watching for the continuation.
on Apr 17, 2004
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA......trying to pick up on Sherye?

Dude, you have to check out my article called, "Living on the Road". Just click on my name and look in the forum on my blog. I actually clicked on this expecting to see my article. The word "Street" being the difference. haha

on Apr 18, 2004
At one point, that I haven't gotten to yet in my article, I was living in my VW van camper with my Amazon parrot for company and driving a cab three nights a week, sometimes four, weekends in Santa Ana. After 8 hours of dealing with drunk Mexicans who spoke no English - but they NEVER ran out on a fare - and a zillion more of them driving cars of their own, also mostly drunk, (and they couldn't drive safely sober in most cases, self-propelled transport being a rather new concept for them), finally it would all quiet down about 3 AM.

Then, I would lie accross that big Crown Victoria seat, with that really nice stereo tuned to the local jazz station, and just bliss out, barely conscious of the cab, the dispatcher occasionally breaking my reverie, softly, "Stand 12, Stand 12, Stand 11, Stand 11, Cab at 4th and Main.... Number 21, get the Numero Uno for Jose.... Check, Number 21." I would call up in my mind enormous complicated scenarios of philosophy or some technological concept, almost like a lucid dream, and everything would be clarity and peace, floating above it all.
on Oct 11, 2006
As a matter of fact, I got turned off before I was halfway through it. Here you are, posing as superior and righteous to those who merely try to rake in the money, when you are mainly pissed off because the Falkland Island thing came in and removed YOUR OWN easy chance to cash in on the opportunity. Sure, you talk about helping the paisanos, but they all talk about that. You can't even see how close you came to cooptation, because your eye was too focused on the game that you could play yourself.

And if you think I'm off base on this, I've been living at poverty level quite intentionally for 35 years, now, learning what it has to teach . . . which is quite a bit. I know all about VonuLife, but except for half a year when I was intentionally on the road, I've been able to keep a roof over my head, oftentimes when I had little more than donations to keep me going. Poverty is a framework for purifying the mind, from all the crap of civilization, not something to either escape from or be ashamed of. That's if you approach it in the right way.