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Jerry Weinstock, M.D., Psychiatry, replied to yesterday’s angel psychology, human psychology, storytelling slam, homeless fractions, eco-terrorism, who invented Jesus, and other ponderations – Key West of Weird and beyond post:
Sloan: your blog today was both fascinating,
informative, entertaining, full of
creativity and truth. The attorney for
the environmental destroyers: An
attorney who is a model of sophistry
and could be studied by law students
as to her techniques and strategies
of distortion. Truly a master of her craft.
The lady lawyer is Jennifer Hulse,
who represented the Chamber of Oldest Profession Commerce’s bigger cruise ships referendum PAC, which all went down like a brick at the recent city election.
On the southernmost homeless front,
yesterday evening, I pedaled my bicycle up to Winn-Dixie and arriving there saw two KW police officers giving two homeless men sitting maybe 30 feet from the entrance of Winn-Dixie a hard time. One of the homeless men was in a wheel chair. I hung around long enough to hear the police tell the men they could not drink in public and could not be in the beaches after 11 p.m., and to move on, which the two men started doing as I walked into the Winn-Dixie. About half hour before, I had pedaled by the Green Parrot bar on Whitehead Street. There was a big party going on. Outside on the sidewalk were Mayor Craig Cates and his wife, Cheryl, drinking something out of open containers.
From Winn-Dixie, I pedaled up to Regal Cinema to see “Machette Kills,” which turned out to be a pretty racous movie, in which I burst into laughter several times. Pedaling home from the movie, I went by the Winn-Dixie again, and the homeless man in the wheel chair was back near where the police had rousted him. I talked to him a while, learned his is a disabled Iraq vet; he said being in Iraq was being in hell. He said he had been in Key West only four days, was an alcoholic, which meant he could not qualify to get into Florida Outreach Coalition’s turn-around shelter program. He said he had no interest in staying at KOTS, he had money coming; for 8 years the US Government had screwed him out of the money he was due. Sounded to me he hoped he had money comming. I told him the police would put him in jail, if they caught him drinking in public. I wished him well, and got on my bicycle and pedaled home thinking only God will be able to turn that poor man around.
Received this comment yesterday on Frisbee Dave, a homeless man, who has received coverage the past few days at this website:
Hey there Sloan,
Just wanted to chime in on the recent publicity given to Frisbee Dave. He is a polarizing figure as well as a sly one. There is no such thing as bad publicity for Dave and he will revel any attention he may get from it, be it positive or negative. That assessment is based solely on my own experience with him, some of which was constructive.
The latter years of my youth were spent in Key West, ages 25 to 30, and during that I time played close to a hundred frisbee-golf games with Dave. Many philosophical discussions were had between us, about all and sundry, and a fair amount of my wages went to helping him during that time. although I’m not sure it actually helped anyone in the long run. It was closer to my being a patron of his “art”, since I considered him to be a sort of modern day Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn; and, after a couple years, a much older brother that was always in need.
When measured against the material “reality”, that most of us can agree on, he is an eternal teenager- in short, a narcissist. He doesn’t want to beg because of some distorted view of his pride, yet his survival, for the last 25 years, has relied on the charity of friends and acquaintances. He doesn’t want to be beholden to anyone, so the assistance has to come free of advice or criticism concerning his lifestyle, if not the bridge will likely only be milked and then burned. Though a few of his stays in the clink have serendipitously coincided with some dental or medical complaint that needed to be resolved (his last name is Bloom), he had been on the island and out of legal trouble for as long the police force had old friends or kids of old friends on it. Now that his antics are not so overlooked he has a lot less water to do his treading in.
That is all just background for why I’m contacting you now. The contradictions in his character make him someone not to take too seriously, or too lightly. Many people in Key West will only ever see him at a glance and as a fringe character passing by, not knowing that he has had roots there longer than they’ve known of Key West’s existence. He straddles the line between light and dark, but I can affirm that he is tri-polar; just like the rest of us he is largely a grey, conflicted, and neutral area. I’ve witnessed him return a twenty dollar bill to the person that dropped it, outside the coffee shop, at the end of the month when he was broke and starving. His other side can be illustrated by investigating about when made the alleged “lewd” comment. That time he was combing the sea weed on dog beach for cash tips that may have blown off of tables from Louie’s backyard (an old trick of his, pre-dating the ubiquitous use of credit cards), when he told a 12 or 13 year old girl, in his own words but paraphrased by my memory, “don’t become a fat-assed zombie like your mom”. The mom and girl were out-of-towners and did not return to do or say whatever might have kept him locked up for longer than he was. He also once asked a person walking along the beach to call animal rescue for a Pelican which had fishing line wrapped arounfd its throat. So depending on when or where you meet him, he may come off as anything in the spectrum between transparent and opaque, and sometimes even simultaneously both. His own madness being very intricate and occasionally tempered with apparent goodwill. Not unlike the rest of us at times.
His homemade prayer struck me as genuine the first time I heard him say it, and is something that still makes me hold out hope for him. Even now when my only interaction with him is a yearly frisbee sent to him by general delivery, without knowing whether he gets it or not. All this being said, we come to my request to you to maybe plumb something else he once told me. He was in his “wealthy” time of the month, and treating us both to meal at the wafflehouse, when he declared “of course I would never have chosen to be who I am” to which I replied “and who are you that is so bad?” His reply raised the hairs on the back of my neck and also made me laugh, “the devil” was his straight-faced reply. During the five years I had known him he had never done anything so bad as to describe him as diabolical, mischievous at worst. But upon asking him further he admitted “well I’m not THE devil, just a devil” and I mentioned the “legion” mentioned in the Gospels his only reply was, “well, there are a lot of us”. The last occasion I saw him was on a visit to Key West a few years later, during one of the last frisbee-golf games we had, he lost a round and that rarely happens. So I joked that I had “beaten the Devil”. To which he replied “yeah, but the devil doesn’t stay down”.
Never too lightly or seriously, JWH
I wrote back:
Hi, Harry, thanks for writing. I am drawing a ageheimer’s blank, where do we go back to? How did we meet?
I think I recall Dave once telling me much the same thing about him being the devil. Sometimes when people ask me what I do, I say I’m the devil, although perhaps not in the same sense. No doubt, probably not more than a few people think I am the devil, in the larger sense.
I’m going to rest on what you wrote, and might have more to say later.
Again, thanks for writing.
Ginger, of Jupiter, Florida, replied to yesterday’s post:
What’s the new movie? Is it the one from the O’Reilly book, KILLING JESUS? Heard Bill O’Reilly’s book best seller as well as his 2 other books, KILLING LINCOLN and KILLING KENNEDY. Haven’t read any of them but now I am curious.
What I find mysterious is the Jewish populations behavior in Jerusalem that brought about the Jewish Rebellion that caused the Romans to tear down Solomon’s Temple in 79 AD. The Hebrew King Herod spent a fortune building the huge, beautiful Temple to replace Solomon’s Temple, appointed a Hebrew Governor over the area, so why would the Jews revolt. The Romans had moved in and controlled most of the Mediterranean, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and most of Europe. If the Hebrews had waited 340 years, actually less as Rome fell before 410 AD when occupied by the Barbarians [actually Roman trained soldiers who were Visigoth, Francs, Huns, etc.,] they could have taken their country back. They just had to lay low while the Romans ran things. Like Vietnam, question is does the occupied country wait out the invaders or try to rebel against a superior power.
Homeless Conflict in the Keys: You have experienced, thought and written about this problem for a long time. If you don’t have an answer, who does? I try to use common sense to come up with solutions, but this problem appears to defy common sense solutions. Does anyone TALK or have contact with the homeless people to find out what they might view as a solution? Have any City Officials gone out and interviewed and talked with perhaps 500 of the 2000 homeless people. I would create ID cards with their photographs and finger prints [thumb or forefinger] interview them, have different programs for the alcoholics, drug addicts, depressed, mentally ill, physically ill, those who have lost their jobs, those who have lost their jobs and don’t know how to start again, then try to treat each group separately and solve the problems separately. HOMELESS PROBLEM has to be solved as more and more homeless people will be drawn to the area if TOO easy to survive in the immediate downtown area. There are health problems, need to vaccinate everyone to avoid outbreaks of measles, chicken pox, mumps, whooping cough, TB. A disease outbreak could destroy tourism in Key West for several months.
I tried to help my friend who was a Skidmore graduate, smart, beautiful, formerly employed by Swiss Bank and Colgate in international marketing but by 40 her control of drinking was out of control. She couldn’t go half a day without beer, then one hour by age 61. The access to her Social Security money made her go wild and she would go through $700 in 2 weeks spending it on beer and alcohol-vodka/rum. And she couldn’t see herself disintegrating. She looked like a 90 year old woman at 63, yet thought she was still attractive as she remembered herself when she was beautiful. [I tried everything, but any money was enabling. If I bought clothes for her for an interview, she sold them and bought liquor. If I gave her food or she picked up food from the churches [they would provide a weeks supply of food to individuals without questions or ID] she would take the food to PUBLIX Markets and get money and buy liquor. Everything was recycled into money for alcohol]. But there isn’t enough money for all the homeless to get mental health counseling. Perhaps there could be GROUP OUTDOOR [on the beach] MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING OR GROUP THERAPY on the beach. Then lunch or dinner would be served to all the homeless who attend.
I remember in New York City when the State let a lot of people out of the MENTAL INSTITUTIONS and many of them were on the streets in NYC. They would ride the buses back and forth across 57th Street .talking to themselves, singing, shouting. They would walk along the streets yelling and talking. Many disappeared by the 1980?s. No one was sure where they went or whether they passed away. One question is: Why have the numbers of homeless grown? In ancient societies, societies couldn’t support the homeless. The mentally ill were exiled and died in the wild, or they had menial jobs laboring in the fields or cleaning stables, but there was no way that thousands of homeless people would exist. Rome was the first city to have a problem with thousands of unemployed people, perhaps due to the large number of slaves resulting from military victories around the Mediterranean.
Does the City of Key West have a specific person working on the Homeless Problem or an effort to solve the problem or does the Mayor look into it now and then?
WATCH THE BOND MARKET ON TUESDAY when the markets open. Apparently costs $1.6 billion a day for the Government to be shut down! Just announced on MEET THE PRESS. How can it cost so much to “not run the government.”
I wrote back:
The new movie is described in today’s post, a link to which I am now emailing to my contacts list.
Over the years, I talked intimately with lots of long-term homeless people. Not one seemed capable of turning him/herself around, nor of being turned around by being pressured. Certainly, there are cases of homeless people who suddenly are inspired to change, and sometimes that comes about because someone took a special interest in them, but in my experience those are relatively rare occurrences.
I have had a great deal of experiential training in psycho-spiritual healing, as a “patient” and as a “practitioner”. Becasue of that, I see psychically-injured people differently from the way most people see them. I realized early on, when Ilived on the street on Maui, and later in Key West, that there was nothing in my healing arsenal, which would help the walking wounded, or nearly dead, homeless people I was encountering. Psychiatry has no cure for mental illness. It has pills, which are used to control it. Psychiatry has no cure for addiction. The best programs for that are AA and NA, and old-timers in those programs, if they are honest with you, will tell you the relapse rate is very high, 95 percent I was told by them, reluctantly. So getting homeless people off their drug of choice, booze mostly in Key West, by drying them out, nursing them through the DTs, counseling them, hardly is any guarantee of success. The jail dries them out and nurses them through the DTs all the time, and after they are released, they go right back to their drug of choice, instead of applying to enter Florida Keys Outreach Coalition’s program. Sure, maybe one of them occasionally applies to get into FKOC, but most don’t.
The founders of AA believed only God could cure addicts. The first three of the original 12 Steps say just that. They were right, in my opinion. Later, AA, and then NA, took God out of the 12 Steps, and inserted Higher Power in God’s stead, because God was too off-putting to many addicts, and Higher Power was more acceptable. The first three steps basically say, my view: (1) I’m insane: (2) on my own, there is nothing I can do about it; (3) if God doesn’t fix me, I’m a gonner, so I turn me over to God to do with as God pleases.
When I was in Florida Keys Outreach Coalition’s program in 2003, I attended AA or NA meetings daily, because that was a condition of being in FKOC’s program. I was not an addict. The angels applied the 12 Steps to me nonetheless. It was horrible.
Just before Jenna Stauffer interviewed me the other day at Comcast, she said she agreed with my position that only God can cure homeless people. Meanwhile, what society can do is provide homeless people with what they need to stay alive: sleep, food, water, clothing, medical treatment, mental health counseling if they want it, shelter if they want it, rehab if they want it, and help with getting benefits, IDs, driver’s licenses, contact with relatives and friends, etc. That’s for the chronic homeless. For the new homeless, much more can be done, because they have not become addicted to being homeless. However, Key West is focused on the long-term homeless, not to help them, but to try to get them out of sight and out of sound.
Jesus told his disciples that the poor would be with them always. Nothing has changed, nothing will change. In fact, the way the US is carrying on, with its stupid wars and stupid economics, there just might be a lot more homeless people in America, which, of course, will bleed into Key West, which is a homeless destination because of its beaches, sea and fair weather, and pretty good programs for homeless people. No way a homeless person can starve in Key West with its soup kitchen serving daily, or freeze to death. I got a great meal yesterday evening at Winn-Dixie, chicken tenders, collard greens, plantains, for $5. Between the soup kitchen and Winn-Dixie, I could eat very well for a $5 a day, in Key West. That’s about $160 per month. The rest of my Social Security retirement benefits, I could spend on booze, if I wanted to do that.
Below, is an article in today’s Key West Citizen, which report’s our county sheriff’s view of Key West’s homeless situation, and its adverse impact on him and his office and staff, and on the nearby hospital. I interjected my own few additional thoughts in italics.
Sheriff: Homeless problem worsens
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay looks forward to the day when the city’s overnight homeless shelter packs up and moves off his department’s College Road property.
Ramsay, a by-the-book law enforcement type with a crew cut to match, didn’t offer up this sentiment on his own.
But when asked pointedly about the shelter, which city leaders recently promised to eventually move in order to settle a lawsuit by nearby condo owners, the sheriff answered flatly.
“They’re living in my backyard. It was never supposed to be permanent; everyone knows that,” Ramsay said, of the bunkhouse dubbed Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter (KOTS), which the city put up on county land in 2004.
Since then, the shelter that holds up to 140 men and women each night, has worn out its welcome with many Stock Island residents and now, with the county’s top law enforcement official.
“We’re carrying most of the water,” said Ramsay. “They’re living in my backyard.”
At the same time, Ramsay acknowledges that Key West has a homeless problem moving only in one direction: Worse.
“We’re seeing the largest number of homeless that I can remember,” Ramsay said Thursday, while a special guest at the monthly meeting of the Monroe County Continuum of Care at the Harvey Government Center. “The population seems to have exploded, in my opinion.”
Key West’s homeless number is a bone of contention among city leaders and nonprofit chiefs.
A one-day “Point-in-Time” census done by volunteers in January came up with 658 homeless men and women throughout the whole county, while the city’s hired consultant, Robert Marbut, said the data he collected from the Sheriff’s Office and KOTS showed twice that many in Key West alone on any given day.
“That 1,400 number is absurd,” said the Rev. Steve Braddock, CEO of Florida Keys Outreach Coalition (FKOC), which until 2011 managed KOTS for the city. “That’s just nuts.”
Twenty percent of the county jail’s roster of about 600 inmates are homeless, Ramsay said, and few want the help offered through his department’s rehab programs.
“You name a program, we’ve got them,” Ramsay said. “They’re only as good as those who enter the program and want to achieve something.”
While meeting with the directors of Florida Keys nonprofits who work together providing various social services for the county’s most vulnerable, Ramsay ticked off a host of tasks his team is stuck with: Cleaning up the litter and debris on College Road, sending inmates in to clean KOTS.
But it’s the growing medical costs and “revolving door” of homeless into the jail system that prompted Ramsay to speak out on the matter.
“It’s not against the law to be homeless,” Ramsay told 18 nonprofit leaders at their meeting. “I’m not sure our efforts right now are helping.”
While Mayor Craig Cates has suggested and made preliminary steps toward opening a 24-hour homeless shelter filled with programs and hopes of rehabilitation, the sheriff said he doesn’t see any real plan.
“The question is, until I know what the game plan is I can’t ‘play ball,’” the sheriff said. “Get on board with what? There’s no plan. It’s not that the city isn’t trying. People are so divided.”
A 24-hour shelter, Ramsay said, will only attract more homeless to Key West.
One homeless couple hit the Lower Keys Medical Center four times last week, Ramsay said, and one homeless man cost the county a half-million dollars in medical services last year.
The Sheriff’s Office spends some $40,000 in overtime each year to keep deputies on patrol at Higgs Beach and the Key West Library, two homeless hot spots on the island.
“This isn’t anti-homeless,” Ramsay said. “It’s a big financial, operational, quality of life issue. There has got to be some answer.”
Sorry, Sheriff, there is no answer, unless God provides a solution everyone will be happy with.
Key West leaders made their first commitment to moving KOTS from College Road this month.
A lawsuit by Sunset Marina, whose entrance is on the homeless folks’ daily walking route to and from the shelter, succeeded in forcing city leaders to agree to eventually move it.
Cates, who on Oct. 1 won his third consecutive term as mayor, is taking political hits on and off the dais for suggesting the city build a 24-hour shelter on the old Easter Seals property, just a few blocks down College Road.
This week the City Commission will consider a proposal to order city staff to stop spending money or time on a pro-Easter Seals homeless shelter plan “until such time as the best use of the property is determined.”
Commissioner Billy Wardlow is sponsoring the proposal, on the agenda for the 6 p.m. Wednesday meeting at Old City Hall, 510 Greene St.
Wardlow’s constituents at the Key West Golf Club gated community have organized in an effort to block the city from planting a new 24-hour homeless shelter on its side of College Road.
While agreeing that solutions to the island’s homeless problem need “must be explored,” use of the former Easter Seals building “is not in the best interest either of residents or the homeless themselves,” wrote Ed Stieve, a resident who lives at the Golf Course, in a recent email to Wardlow.
Across the mainstream board, city officials and residents want a solution to the city’s homeless problem, but no neighborhood in the city, nor any elected official in the city, wants to be part of that solution, by having the new homeless shelter located in their own backyard. Someone recently wrote to me asking if that decision could be put out to referendum? I wrote back that it would be virtually impossible to put that decision to referendum; the city commissioners and mayor had to make the decision.
Peggy Butler, formerly of Key West, now living in West Palm Beach, Florida, replied to yesterday’s post:
I’ve found all this “invention of Jesus” talk very interesting. I once read a book along these lines, except the authors said Jesus did indeed live, but that he kept denying he was the Son of God, not proclaiming it. It is called The Betrayal: The Lost Life of Jesus. http://www.amazon.com/The-Betrayal-Lost-Jesus-Novel/dp/076535456X and the co-writers are a husband and wife team of archaeologists, Kathleen and W. Michael O’Neal. They have hundreds of pages of bibliography in the back of the book, and I found them as fascinating as the rest of the book. It took me a very long time to finish it, for that reason, since I kept going back to the bibliography to read the history of the text I was reading. Fascinating book and easy reading.
Many people say they’d rather believe in God, Jesus and a life after death and in the end there is nothing, than to denounce God, Jesus and a life after death and find they were wrong and suffer the consequences of not believing. I find it more difficult not to believe than to believe that there was/is a Creator who started it all. Life is too precious, beings are too symmetrical in body and mind to believe it is just an accident. Seems to me that people would be born with one ear and an arm where a leg should be every time one is born if there had been no master plan and master creator. Yes, things happen in the mother’s womb to cause deformities, but for the most part, every human being I ever saw being born was pretty much perfect. As a nurse, of course, I saw in the lab how cells divide and all that, but what force caused them to do that from the very beginning?
The older I get, the more I question the biblical accounts. I’m not afraid to question. After all, if God created mankind, he gave us these brains to think, and questioning is thinking. Some believe if we question any of it, we’re going to go straight to a fiery hell. I used to believe that when I was growing up until I got out of my teens. If there’s a hell, I think we create it here on earth when we don’t follow our hearts, our gut instincts and end up living lives that are emotionally deprived instead of lives of fulfilled happiness. These people say they follow the Bible explicitely, yet I don’t see them stoning or beheading people who “do wrong”, I don’t see those women who believe this not cutting their hair or not wearing pearls, etc., as the Bible instructed. I believe the Bible was historical, that those customs (we see that in the anti-woman customs of the Middle East today) did exist. I think as man evolved (except in the Middle East), he became kinder and more reasonable in his approach to women and children, not holding to those old anti-woman customs and beliefs.
Because of things I witnessed as a hospice nurse, I do believe this is not all there is. I do believe our souls, be they light or energy or whatever else, do continue to live on after this shell has given it all up. I won’t take up space here relating some of the most dramatic ‘proofs’ of that at the bedsides of many of my patients, but they were dramatic enough and real enough that I did and still do believe them. There was a book that one of the hospice doctors forgot to give back to me that held pages and pages of a scientific study of “hallucinations” in the mentally ill and in the dying. The overwhelming conclusion of it (it’s been so long that I don’t remember the name of it) was that the mentally ill see the bizarre when they ‘hallucinate’ but the dying see people, usually loved ones who’ve already died or great and kind people who once lived. They concluded that the dying are not ‘hallucinating’ at all, but are being visited by one or more persons who will walk with the soul out of this life into the spiritual life when they take that last breath. From our experiences, as nurses, at the bedsides of the dying patients, this was our conclusion, also. I think that accounts for the peace the dying find toward the end. They know they won’t take that journey alone.
I would like to continue to believe Jesus did live, because like Sister Theresa, I believe he was a superior being who taught loving our fellow man to be the most important thing we could do for each other, just as did Sister Theresa. Whether he did this as the Son of God or just as a really decent man who loved God and his fellow man, and wasn’t afraid to stand up to those who would persecute others, I can’t say. And again, I’m not afraid to state that for fear of being punished for it. Taking communion in honor of Jesus offered by good people I care about at MCC Key West (before I left and when I return for a visit) provides great comfort and is a time of quiet reflection for me, despite my continued quest for the truth, which I realize I might not find until the end of my own physical life on this earth.
Peace and love,
I wrote back:
Hi, Peggy – Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts.
As time passed, as the other side impressed on me that it was real, I came to view all people as sons and daughters of God, and the main difference between Jesus in the Gospels and the people around him was he knew what he was and they didn’t know what they were. Certainly, he was far advanced spiritually, relative to people in that time, and he knew it and that his assignment was to do his best to instill in the people around him what he was and what he knew.
Christendom is so caught up in its dogma, that it seems to have missed the essence of Jesus. I am glad I am not sent into churches any more. There was a time, even after I came to Key West in late 2000, that I was sent into churches quite a bit. It seldom ended up going well after my mouth, or pen, got into gear.
In 2001, when I was in Helen, Georgia for the hot months, I met a country lawyer, who took interest in me. I shared some of my experiences with him. One day over lunch, he asked if I attended church? I paused, looked at him, said, “When am I ever not in church? We are in church right now, aren’t we?” He said yes, we were.
A big piece of Jesus’ life, which Christendom does not recognize, is he and Mary Magdalene had a “fling”, like, they got married, and they had a child, sex female, and that child ended up with Magdalene in southern France, and her bloodline now spans the globe, and anyone in that bloodline does not feel like he/she is from the planet. The book written about that wasHoly Blood, Holy Grail.
I imagine a good many descendants of that child are mentally ill, addicts, homeless, due to inability to cope with mainstream society. Jesus in the Gospels didn’t seem to cope well with mainstream society of his day, nor did it cope with him.