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Skid Row The Rundown

Shopping carts rattle along, collecting the recycled remains of the weekend of binge and purge excess that is Skid Row. Tents are folded up, new lines are formed for chow, and all over buses come to drop off the homeless who maanaged to escape from the Nickel for the night. Life is returning on a Monday morning, but all along the gutters there are signs that the weekend is a parade of gluttony and excess to those who wander these streets.

Styrofoam trays filled with congealed rice, discarded chicken bones, chip and candy wrappers, plastic bags, and mounds of discarded clothing topped with dirty socks. Even the rats are too full to dine on the weekend remains.

All weekend, church and civic groups show up and operate from corner to corner passing out food, drinks, and clothing. They also pass out help and religious tracts, but these are the first things discarded in the Skid Row Shuffle. With thier good intentions, they overfeed the homeless as at any hour, any minute, you can find someone hading out something within the radius that is the Row.

Bags become stuffed with chips, chicken, donuts, pastries, protien bars, and sodas. The homeless peruse the various buffets. Some offer chicken, some hambrgers and hot dogs cooked right on the corner, while others just seve rice and beans, pasta, or soup. Once I saw a group stir frying Mongolian style right on the corner.

All this food is above and over what is already provided by the various soup kitchens and missions. It is a staggering amount of excess, as the homeless pick and choose, and what they don’t want, they toss in the gutter. The gutters become clogged with trash as the chrch groups move on, leaving their mess and our problems behind.

In San Francisco, there are signs (and fines!) for feeding the pigeon. They say it interferes with the breeding and ability of the birds to hunt for thier own food. Well, this system needs to be applied to the Row. If they would stop feeding the homeless, we could move on our migratory path and leave downtown Los Angeles in peace.

Over the years, Skid Row has become a safer place to be, as the police have focused on the crime and vagrancy. But these streets are now a social hangout where the homeless get all thier needs catered to, and they never have to seek anything more in life.

Skid Row represents a homeless paradise with libraries, movies, showers, laundry, free food and clothing, storage, mail, and safe places to sleep indoors and outdoors. They have churches, meeting halls, community centers, hang out spots, parks, and even an internet cafe, while the state continues to give them free money every month through General Relief, SSI, and Veteran’s Benefits.

If you’re ever down and out in Los Angeles and don’t mind over a few thousand wing nuts, drug addicts, crack whores, and shopping cart maniacs, then Skid Row is Homeless Paradise. Y’all come down and see us now!

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