Saturday, December 13, 2014

December 13, 2014

What a difference a few weeks makes. Right before Thanksgiving, I was told there would be hours reductions but no layoffs at my job, and as of the afternoon of December 9, I am unemployed again. I don't know how long it will take to find another job- since December is the absolute worst time for job searching in Colorado Springs. So for now I am waiting for my unemployment paperwork and pouring my free time into promoting a song submission I made to Indaba Music at this link.
For now, Colorado Springs is warm for this time of year and looks something like this:
But thanks to an impending storm that brought flooding to California, tomorrow might resemble mid-November when the streets of Colorado Springs looked like this:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

November 23, 2014

4 months ago, I had no idea what to expect or if I would even stay in the Springs. By the end of July I was stuck in the local shelter. And in the beginning of August, I found out my uncle and Godfather Larry Bowling had died. But I managed to find work with a local temp agency that picked up many of the contracts of the now-departed SOS Staffing (my previous Springs employer from 2007-08 and 2010-11). Now I have spent nearly 3 months in a transitional housing program that is nicer than my previous residences in Texas and New York. That housing is in Knob Hill, just west of my home neighborhood of Rustic Hills, where I have worked at a metals warehouse since early October.

Now I get to enjoy Colorado winter weather- including half a foot of snow and a 55 hour stretch below 10 degrees, and a 35 minute walk to work in those conditions.

I released a few original songs in September on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. I also submitted alternate versions of "Down" and "Ask" to Indaba Music.

Now on to Thanksgiving, December, and the commercial nightmare known as the Holiday Season in the United States.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 29, 2014

I have been back in Colorado Springs about a month. So far, I am not employed, and I have to move out of where I was staying on Thursday. But I still have one more interview scheduled tomorrow in Briargate before I have to move, and another offer for local employment that requires 3 weeks of training in Utah. I also have more songs recorded and for sale. I probably will update this blog again whenever the employment and housing situation settles, because this is really starting to resemble my last stay in the Springs (2012-13) and that resulted in the longest period of unemployment I ever had since I entered the workforce and the longest period of homelessness I ever suffered (although I didn't actually stay in a shelter until after I left the Springs).

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 17, 2014

The theatrical production ended nearly 2 months ago. The Pearson job ended about 4 weeks ago. And now I am back in Colorado Springs. I wish I could say I am gainfully employed, but I cannot. I wish I could say I reconnected with old acquaintances when I moved back here, but I cannot. I was able to move all the stuff out of Austin to here. I came up with a few new songs. I even came up with another listening page and a sales page with the following 2 albums: So now it's a race to see if I end up getting a job, royalties, or unemployment by August 1.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

April 12, 2014

I don't know how it got pulled off, but it did.

A weird dream to try and pull off a multimedia production about the problems facing Austin's homeless community. It involved an overeager Israeli theater director, a few UT students, a couple of professional actors, numerous contributors from the ARCH, and a certain aspiring music producer with bad stage fright who had the misfortune to have experienced homelessness in Austin and New York in 2013.

It took over 6 months of short videos, interviews, monologue creating, and rehearsing and more rehearsing. Several dropped out of the project due to creative differences or out-of-area job offers. A couple of people were added late to the project, including the music producer. He even created the theme song for the project, titled "Am I Invisible".

An arts grant was provided for the project. St. David's Episcopal Church offered their gymnasium as the first performance site for the project. Sets were built, rehearsals were practiced and practiced. The music producer got a warehouse job in Tech Ridge and a short term rental in East Austin. A short play detailing how a man went from housing to eviction to arrest for sleeping on the street was added. One of the ARCH participants had way too much fun with the baton during the arrest scene. April 12, the day of the performance, arrived. More rehearsals, more intensity, more flashlights, and costume changes. A big pizza lunch about an hour before the performance. Most were expecting about 20-60 viewers for this performance. Instead, about 150 showed up, ready to witness either disaster or a theatrical statement.

The music producer slightly overcame his stage fright. And due to some pre-production technical glitches, his music wasn't even featured in the production. But somehow the thing was pulled off, with loud applause after each monologue and the final scene. Hopefully this project will lead to changes in the way Austin treats its homeless population, preferably doing away with the tight restrictions on shelter and policies that make housing more unaffordable for at-risk low income people. And hopefully those theater participants that are still homeless can use their exposure in this project to get out of shelter alley.

As for the music producer (who if you haven't figured out by now is me), he walked home after the performance to his modest dwelling in East Austin and wondered whether it was worth it or not to have moved back to Austin after his disastrous 3 months there (mostly in shelter alley) in 2013. Yes, he got 2 jobs in 2 months. But all his friends are back in the tri-state area along with a few politicians who probably deserve to get impeached or worse for their views on religious Catholics and conservatives. And his hometown of Colorado Springs is a lot more affordable on housing than Austin is. But their economy is in bad shape, and moving there now without job offers or a car would probably lead to a lengthy stay on Sierra Madre St (the shelter alley of the Springs). Many with money in this town would enjoy 6th Street. But it is too close to shelter alley, and brings up a lot of bad memories I associate with this town.

Photos of the rehearsals below:

Thursday, April 03, 2014

April 3, 2014

What a difference a month makes. Last month, I thought I would have a quick 2 week warehouse assignment and still be stuck in Austin's shelter alley until something else came along or until I got tired enough of Texas to move back to Colorado or the Northeast. Now, the Pearson assignment is still going on, I am now in a house share in East Austin, and literally have 2 jobs. The other job was at first a hobby I volunteered with last year (see my 6th Street video on Youtube for some of the results of that project) that morphed into a multimedia/theater/art project about homeless life in Austin called Am I Invisible. When the director, Roni Chelben, found out I was moving back to Austin, she invited me to join the project even though I was not homeless at the time and had no intention of reliving my shelter alley nightmare from 2013. I ended up writing a monologue about my own views on homelessness in Austin (and how different it is than in New York) and contributing original music compositions to the project. For about a month, I was as much in the homeless shelter nightmare as the other 4 primary participants. But now, I am housed, in better conditions than I had in Rockaway. But that shelter alley/ARCH nightmare still goes on for hundreds of people in Austin- not counting the 1000-2000 who are camping out in vacant lots and park benches because of the extreme lack of shelter space. Most of the ARCH participants in the Am I Invisible project have gone through this nightmare of homelessness and unemployment for years- and were involved when I participated last year. By the grace of God, I was able to get employment and get out of that Hell. But most in shelter alley can't. This in a city with 4.8% unemployment and rising (but nowhere near NYC-level) housing costs.

Got off the train from New York, wonder why I'm back in the place where I was most invisible
where they who pledged to help told me to sleep on the streets
In New York it's illegal to sleep on the streets, and all who need it (by law) can get shelter
In Austin, there is not enough shelter space, and the police chief wants those than can help to move out of town.

Want to hear the rest, go to the Trinity Center gym on Saturday, April 12, at 3PM. This could be a boon for my self confidence and music career as well as helping others who are still in that nightmare get employment and housing.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

March 4, 2014

Another month in Texas. Usually March here starts off with the Texas Independence Day Parade.
This year, they also had a small civic celebration in the rotunda of the Capitol called Celebrate Texas. I got to see both last Saturday. Now I get to spend the beginning of Lent in Texas- and at a new job in Tech Ridge. I'm not sure if I have enough time to get the non-obligatory ashes or not. But I've given up even more than last year to try and make it in Austin, and I hope this all succeeds.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

February 22, 2014

A lot has changed since I last posted here. I am now in Austin, Texas- in almost the same place in the same building I was in 51 weeks ago. I now have a Texas Driver's License (which is considerably cheaper than its New York counterpart). Unlike last time, I was not forced to sleep on the street because the shelter was full, and I hadn't finished changing the local address from the hostel I spent a week at (and used as an address for over 20 job applications) to the ARCH (Austin's main homeless shelter) before I got back into the transitional housing program I was in for March, April, and half of May last year. Things have changed in Austin, too. Few of the people I was in contact with last year are around now- possibly due to moving out of the area (or possibly even death). I recognized a few people who didn't remember me. I ran into my primary local job reference (and former case worker) at her new Goodwill assignment. One of my former running partners is well established in his new job, and too busy to meet up with me, yet he still liked some of my Austin and New York photos on Facebook. I also ran into a film/theater instructor from Israel who got me into that 6th Street Video project last year (the results of which are below) and now has me enrolled in a special theatrical project with the ARCH, UT, and a few other organizations called "Am I Invisible". I created a song that could possibly accompany this project, but I have already reached the limit of SoundCloud free space. Now I have a few hobbies to occupy my time between job search, and whenever I get my final paycheck from a certain messenger service in NYC next week, I can finally pay off some bills and maybe see if I still qualify for the discounted membership at the Austin YMCA. And maybe I can qualify for one of those under $600 per month apartments once I start working. But I am enjoying not being in snowstorm after snowstorm, and I am enjoying not have that hypocritical Sandinista De Blasio as my mayor and that intolerant scumbag Cuomo as my governor. Video of De Blasio's latest miscue

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30, 2014

While I am still unemployed but housed, I have been on a bit of a creative streak. Since the second underpaid stint at Mitchell's ended on January 24, I came up with a song (1099) that blasts their pay structure and other businesses moving to that pay structure to avoid paying the new $8 per hour minimum wage. Over the last couple of days, I went to slightly less incendiary lyrical topics- the piping plovers who are holding the Rockaway Boardwalk hostage (Piping Plovers) and Governor Cuomo, Mayor De Blasio, and other ACORN/Working Families politicians who think pro-life, pro gun Catholics have no business being in New York (Heaven, Hell, and Rockaway- Coda).

And here are the lyrics below to those songs:
1099- by Thomas Clarke

Minimum wage, we've got a way around that... You've heard me talk about the 1099 before but here's why it's such a threat to the poor For 1099, you're supposed to be a subcontractor setting your own pay, setting your own hours Getting commission on something that's supposed to pay a decent wage It was never designed to be a way for employers to enslave and impoverish employees under the guise that they're just independent contractors But that's what it's become in New York City It's not working, get it right and fix it $8 an hour might be too high to be the minimum but for $5 an hour for twice as much work for overtime hours with no overtime pay is too little And it's not just the milkman messengers from Long Island City (Mitchells) that are doing this How about some inedible fruit arrangements from Manhattan with a legal wage the reward after months of 5 an hour? How about the big kahuna of messenger companies (Urban Express) that switched to low commission and no tax help after paying above the old minimum wage last year? Nobody seems to know or care and they think the ones getting paid a legal wage are the only ones getting screwed Some think that more pay with benefits is too little and some think that the taxpayers are their piggy bank Why should they get one penny more when there are people earning far less, working a lot more and not getting a legal wage? Fix the 1099 gap so those trapped in it can get a legal wage fix the healthcare system but not by forcing people to buy insurance and driving those premiums through the roof fix poverty by helping the poor become not poor instead of punishing them by making them or keeping them poor The leftist ideas from before didn't work then and they are making stuff worse now Quit making stuff too expensive Quit overtaxing the rich when their money can alleviate some of the suffering and they can move their money with them Leaving those who cannot afford the bill the only ones who can pay for it. Quit saying life and self defense and religion are part of the problem and not welcome When they may be part of the solution The 1099 perps aren't the only problem the jackasses need to go too get it right before the wrong type of revolution comes and heads start rolling and no one wins it's not working, get it right and fix it

Piping Plovers lyrics (c) 2014 by Thomas Clarke

we fly across the waves without much ease we look cute when we strut and when we feed we look cute, but don't mess with us we're the piping plovers we migrate west, we like the upper crust we trot across the beach so cute and so free we look cute, but don't misjudge us we milk "endangered" for all it's worth we look cute, but don't mess with us we'll get our gull goons after you we look cute, but don't mess with us we're the piping plovers we left our nests on the ghetto beach we claimed it was because of Sandy we look cute, but don't misjudge us Don't think you're getting your new boardwalk anytime soon Not until you pay for our new beachfront property! we look cute, but don't mess with us we're the piping plovers don't mess with us we'll get our EPA lawyers after you we're the piping plovers think we should press FEMA for a new jacuzzi? no, let the pigeons pay for it from their tributes

Heaven, Hell, and Rockaway (Coda) Lyrics- (c) 2014

Trapped somewhere between Heaven, Hell, and Rockaway between what's left of America and Europe somewhere where the poor are getting poorer the Faith is under attack what used to be wrong is now right and what used to be right is now not welcome Somewhere in Rockaway the pigeons, seagulls, and piping plovers are fighting over food at the shore and the plovers are holding up the new Boardwalk until 2017! politicians are fighting over monetary food over how progressive they can be when they're really regressive who says someone being pro-life and wanting to defend oneself has no business being in New York? Maybe Cuomo, DeBlasio, and their ACORN and jackass buddies should leave New York instead! I'm to poor to live here comfortably............ Stuck somewhere between Heaven, Hell, and Rockaway and maybe somewhere between Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Texas if things don't work out here...... Who said I had to stick to one style? who said I had to leave things the way they were? it's a brave but messed up new world and I'm trying to adapt

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 29, 2014

New year, same old problems. I am unemployed again- because 5 months worth of sub-minimum wage commission delivery work did a number on both my wallet and my right knee. I started the new year in Rockaway Park with my sister and nephew visiting from Dyersburg, TN. This was the first time I had seen either since my 30th birthday- in May 2002! Not long after they got here, a major snowstorm socked NYC with 6-12 inches of the white stuff.
My nephew, of course, enjoyed it. I nearly got frostbite taking those pictures.
On the way back to Pennsylvania and Tennessee, my sister got trapped in an ice storm. About 2.5 weeks later, another snow storm of around a foot hit NYC.
Supposedly NYC is not the only place in North America with horrifically-below-average January temps. Austin had temps in the 20s- a good 20-30 below average (and a humanitarian crisis with 4000+ homeless flooding the shelters that were designed for one tenth that number). Colorado Springs had major snowstorms. Minnesota had days in which the high temperature was below 0. And the Southeast got paralyzed this week by snow- albeit far less snow than what NYC has seen this month. Even Florida and Texas can't escape this cold. The Super Bowl will be held across the river from NYC on Sunday. I hope the NFL knows what it's in for- cold (although 30s by then will be a heat wave compared to most of this month), chance of snow, unfilled seats because few sane people want to pay 4 figures to see an outdoor game in the cold. Even the hotels (which unlike Met Life Stadium do have heat) are having trouble filling their rooms. I can see now why Liz Stonehill (an EMT dispatcher whose office is probably warmer than my room in Rockaway) considers snow to be a 4 letter word.