Yep, Here They Come

One by one now they will answer that call. The call of insincerity, the call to power, a call to govern and be remembered as the one and only President of the United States. The question is, who are they and why should we believe they will be any better that the lame duck we have at this present time? We all know who Hillary is, and bar an international incident where she shoves her private Blackberry up Putin’s arse, (we all live in hope), we know she will run in 2016. But what about the other side, the good guys with all the bad ideas? They think they know better, they think Obama’s inconsistent government has given them an opportunity to reform our once proud country. Are they right? Only time will tell, but if Jeb or Rand or Chris, et al, decide this job is for them, will they too end up grey, battered and bruised and also lame? Of course they will. That’s the unfortunate way this country runs. Get in, get out, build your library and walk into a sunset, often clouded with the pollution of poor decision-making and bad judgement, to make over $100,000 per speech at dinners and fund-raisers. Oh how stupid we all are.

They say downloadmore than 6 will throw their hats in for the Republican nomination, and I really think it will be 8 or more. The problem is, are any of them truly worthy of that nomination? If we look back in anger at those who we have voted for in the past, other than Clinton, perhaps Reagan, have we at all been impressed with anything to have come out of such closely fought elections over the past 50 years? Not me. I think each President has brought about his own demise through insincerity, inaction and a great inability to communicate with modern society. Look at Sen. Cruz for example. He’s led off the flurry that is sure to follow with his right-wing Christian beliefs, all wrapped up in a nice bow called elitism. The man who stood for 21 hours reading Green Eggs and Ham now wants to negotiate Middle East peace? Come on Sen. Cruz, get a grip. Go back to Texas or where ever it is you are from and get a proper job. Then you have Gov Christie. Surely, and I mean this sincerely and without bias, his obesity and his desire to kiss Jerry Jones at every opportunity will lead to an instant demise should he win the country over? The fact of the matter is, there is no outstanding candidate on the Republican side who would stand a chance against Hillary or any of her cohorts.

So here we go, it’s March 2015, we have 18 months to sit and listen to all this crap, to watch billions of dollars get washed down a drain called popular misconception and at the end of the day what happens? We get a man or a woman, (and I pray this time we get someone who can make a decision), who will take office, become older and grayer, do very little outside of raising more money for the next time an election comes round and then, as I so eloquently put it, fuck off from whence he or she came. Do me a favor, don’t watch, don’t listen, don’t vote and then don’t complain, because if you do, you are just pandering to their every desire and their very inflated alter ego’s, an ego which is turbo charged until they too end up in a gutter like the rest of us, complaining that it wasn’t their fault defeat landed right bang smack in the middle of their total inadequacy to relate to what is really going on in the United States of America. They have no fucking clue, they never will have and the sad thing is, they don’t care, none of them, not one. We are alone people. Not one of our current or future politicians care about you or me. They are all self-centered, power grabbing ego maniacs who are so out of touch with modern-day society that if a solution stared them right in their own face they’s ignore it in favor of deferring to another non answer.

The time is now. Let’s change America. Let’s not give any of this moronic crowd the benefit of the doubt. They are all wankers, each and every one. Let’s try to find someone, anyone, who can stand up and say quite honestly, “I am one of you!” I know it’s an unlikely scenario, but we have to try. Fill the position with normality for once or I’m telling you, in four years, eight years and even sixteen years from now, we will be so much worse of then we are today.

Rant over! I am off to watch Obama play golf yet again!

Show Us Your Willy!

imagesI’m amazed, no, I’m baffled, perplexed and insulted that any man can expose themselves in the flesh, not once, not twice, but several times more, and still run for Mayor of New York. It’s incredible how that man is still in the race, in fact, his ratings haven’t altered since his latest brush with nudity, and to top it all off, his ‘poor’ wife is standing by him like the good little lady she is perceived to be. Mind blowing!

How can you, the American public, watch this unfold without laughing, crying or indeed throwing a brick at your 65 inch Plasma TV set? Why do we let these morons run for office in the first place? What is motivating his wife to stay with him? Why on earth would anyone vote for him, ever???

I’m talking of course about Anthony, and I’m not even going to give him the dignity of stating his last name. His sexting escapades have been well documented over the past years, and quite how he’s managed to make this political ‘comeback’ is all down to you, yes YOU, the voters of NY, who for whatever reason are determined to let this idiot be part of their political landscape and make decisions that will affect their lives. It’s not just that he’s addicted to exposure, of the wrong kind, the man is a moron, and unlike some other morons out there who also claim political entitlement, Anthony is a perpetual offender of the worst kind. Watching him on TV last night, cowering behind the bravest of ladies, his wife, I was ready to call up NBC and beg them to take this sick man off my screen with immediate effect. Thinking back though, I was sorry and saddened to recall that Anthony isn’t the first man who has created such political havoc since I moved to these shores, some 20 years ago and I’m sure he won’t be the last. I remember the Jewish joke telling cowboy who ran for governor of Texas, and I just witnessed the Mayoral reelection of a 4-year-old boy in a small town in Minnesota. Then there’s out current governor here in CA, a cad, to say the least. Rebounding from many a scandal to run our fine state, the 5th largest economy on the planet. None of the last three in any way shape or form resemble the inadequacies shown by Anthony, buy hey, it shows you by example who we are as a nation! What the fuck is going on?? How do these people get to where they are, after creating lives that are, to say the least, non compliant with todays supposed morally strong, politically correct work place environments? More and more of the corporations I deal with will not tolerate a joke aimed at any particular race creed or color, let alone have their senior management send sex texts to other employees, rap them across their twisted wrists, and then, promote them to higher office. No, this country has gone completely bonkers!

‘Show me your penis” seems to be the cry that every voter wants to make, and doing so only confirms election or motivation for higher office. Our system is all wrong. I’ve mentioned this in past blogs. Take the cash out of politics and let’s see if the ‘best’ man ever wins. The best man is not always the richest, or the bravest, or even the most good-looking, oh, and why are women never caught up in any of these scandals? Why does it seem that women, elected by us, the public, hunker down and do their jobs without the indignity of having their face plastered all over the press for something they did that was unsightly or miss judged? I take Sarah Palin out of that equation, even though she’s done nothing truly improper, she’s a complete ditz and deserves all the negative press that has followed her for ears. Women are no more morally immune than men are, but time and time again, its men who screw up, men who hit the headlines and men who seem to offer complete disdain towards the office they intend to run for or indeed occupy.

Get off your arse America!!! Speak up. Tell the world that you will not put up with this crap. Gert rid of Anthony before he exposes more or all of his body parts on the Oprah show to a huge hoorah from all those 40 something women watching. After all, she got Obama into office, so why not Anthony? I know Oprah wouldn’t entertain that weasel, but you get my point? Lets not all become the prick following Neanderthals we seem to have become.

With NY his intended prize, Anthony, if elected, can turn the Big Apple into the sexting capital of the world. He can bring nudity to the forefront of politics, right where it deserves to be, and he can do this while the rest of the planet stares in disbelief that we Americans are as stupid as we appear! Get him out now! DO NOT vote for this moron. Wake up America. Speak up America. Stand up America, for what is morally correct!

OK, rant over. I am off on holiday now. I know I intimated this several days ago, but Alaska beckons, hopefully without a Palin sighting!!

Blog Complete

New design is complete, hope you like it. Posts will commence in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, please enjoy some pictures that I took in my back yard. I’ll post more later this week. Oh, and if you get a chance, drop me a wee line and let me know what you think of the new color scheme?

Back after my Alaska trip!

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Detroit- Broke City

imagesAlas, no longer can the words from that famous Kiss song be applied. Detroit Rock City. Today, late breaking news, the city of Detroit has filed for bankruptcy!  It’s now Detroit Broke City. This is the largest civil bankruptcy in US history and as I watched the news a few minutes ago, I was dismayed with not only the way it was being reported, quite matter of factly, but also by the scale of the event. This city used to boast a population of over 2 million people, now it has about 700,000. It housed the entire automobile industry of the world, let alone the USA. It was the home to Motown, GM, Ford, Chrysler and many many more iconic brands. Now however, and particularly tonight, Detroit is dead.

It’s amazing to me that something like this can happen in a country where so much wealth is just given away needlessly. Other countries benefit at our expense in the building and often re building of their own, delapedated infrastructure. It’s not just this present government who are to blame, although the more I see and hear of how this current regime is operating, the more dismayed I have become over their inability to live up to their promises. My heart goes out to Detroit tonight, and even though the mayor has assured everyone that nothing will change and that all public services will remain in tact and operating, one can only imagine how long that promise can last? A lady, interviewed on NBC earlier, a retired police officer, stated that her main concern was the possibility that she would lose her pension. I watched in envy, as this 40 something year old lady, who I’m sure devoted 20 odd years to her job serving the Detroit community, had the audacity to suggest that she, along with thousands of others, should in fact deserve a life long pension for that service. And therein lies just part of the issue. I, at 54, haven’t the ability to save for a pension unless I work, so why should she be exempt from seeking further employment to satisfy her will to live in the style she’s accustomed to until she turns 90? There’s such a poor outlook in this country towards health care and pensions, that it beggars belief no one in government has ever put a stop to the foolish way we treat government employees from the day they retire to the day they die. Oh, wait! I forgot, they are government employees, all of them! That’s why! None of them need to work an extra day in their lives because they are taken care of by a life long pensions, that you and I are paying for, but that they as the government implemented! Now I know I am generalizing here, and I realize that not all government workers fall into the entitlement outlined above, but seriously, has anyone ever done the math? I know they have, and yet, we, as a nation are stuck in ‘stupid’, leaving no doubt to any doubters, who are the takers and who are givers.

Detroit, I have visited you on many occasions and I am sorry to say, despite the efforts of Michael Moore, a two-faced fame seeker, in his many visits to the suburb of Flint and to the headquarters of many of the car conglomerates, attempting to get answers for the ‘workers’ who now have no jobs, and to the disgusting behavior of various corrupt Mayors and local authorities who have robbed Peter to pay Paul, you have received tonight what no one believed you deserved, no one other than those who predicted quite categorically all those years ago, that this abuse of power both in and out of the workplace, would destroy your city. A doomsday scenario come true.

So what happens now? Where will the money come from to replenish the city coffers? Why are we sending billions to Iraq and Afghanistan and even India 9to name but a meager few), when Detroit is suffering? All good questions, none of which I am willing to bet, will ever get answered. And, even if we could divert funds from our useless wars, would Detroit be deserving of that replenishment and salvation? I am also concerned that this is just the beginning of a situation which can only snowball out of control as we sit and watch the rest of our major cities crumble and fall foul to the same fate as Detroit. I hear also tonight that Chicago could be next. If that’s true, how long before New York, LA and San Francisco follow suit? How long will it take for this government to realize that the distribution of our wealth is being spread unevenly across a planet that couldn’t care less about us? How long before the rest of this planet, especially the countries we have subsidized for half a century and more, begin to subsidize us?? Only time will tell, but I am sure the answer to that last question will be never. Certainly not in our lifetime.

With so much uncertainty, so much imbalance, especially here in the USA, where the have’s and have not’s are segregated not just by color or race, but by a vast differences in wealth and wealth management, how do we create an environment where corruption greed and miss management of all our assets, whether at a local or federal level, is governed by those who know how to make things work and not by those who are waiting in hope for success? We, the voter have the power, or so I believed, but after the news tonight, I no longer have faith in anything related to government here in the USA. In fact, I don’t know if I ever did.  I have become the cynic I always knew I didn’t want to be, but can you blame me??

Detroit has the Red Wings, The Pistons and the Tigers. Detroit also has the Lions, and with football season just around the corner and Ford stadium charging $10 for a beer, a price vastly inflated by the addition of local government tax and also the huge profits franchise owners feel compelled to make, I give it three weeks, 2 wins and a loss, and everyone will have forgotten how serious tonight’s news was, with their entire focus trained on that next touchdown pass by QB Mathew Stafford, and without a care in the world what their government is doing with the $3 they take from every beer sold. Our priorities are all fucked up, and nothing on earth will seemingly change the way our careless attitudes have ruined a once great city.

Andy Murray, Wimbledon Champion.

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At Peace

 

At peace now with the knowledge that a true champion is anointed

Made whole by perseverance and dedication, and then, and then that dream

Pounding hard, night after night inside a body that said, ‘I can do this’

Proclaimed by a nation as the man who actually did

No questions asked, though all now answered, finally and hopefully for good

Laying to rest those ghosts who have haunted his relevance and meaning

Being there, if not in sprit, perhaps in person, for all to admire

Now king of a jungle he seemed to dominate in all but crowning glory

Headed towards eternity with a mantle that can never be erased

Pride, his motivation, his desire, and now, his affirmation

Showing off to all those who were doubters that ignorance rarely triumphs

Atop a perch where folklore shall remain forever the only truth

Yes, at peace, one nation, one man, and of course, that myth, made whole by one victory

 

 

© Alan Zoltie July 7, 13

www.alanzoltie.com

www.electrichaggis.com

 

How To Make Baseball (The World’s Second Most Boring Game) – Exciting!!

imagesCricket is without a doubt THE most boring sport on the planet. It’s so boring that I used to say to my friend Paul, when we attended games at Lords one of the most famous cricket grounds in the world, “It’s more exciting to watch paint dry!” He would laugh and tell me that I didn’t really understand the game and that if I took time to investigate its nuances, I might enjoy it better. That never happened, but what did is even funnier.

When, in 1986, I attended as an exhibitor, a trade show in New York, our whole exhibit got stuck in US customs. We were left high and dry and ready to go back to the UK having shelled out thousands just to be at this Promotions show in the then new and very shiny Jacob Javits Center on 34th and 11th Ave. A reporter from the NY TImes came by our ’empty’ booth and suggested the we just stand there dressed in our full Highland Regalia and look good. We did, and he put us on the front page of the following day’s business section. He also suggested we catch a NY Yankees baseball game in the hope that once the game ended our issue with US customs might be resolved. Dressed in kilts and armed with a real DIRK (a knife that slips in the right hand sock), Andrew, Tim and I went to the Bronx,to find solace, not trouble, at Yankee stadium. It was 85 degrees that day, we were still semi-jet lagged, and having purchased cheap seats and then being upgraded into better seats just because the admissions guy took a fancy to me in my kilt, we sat dumbfounded as we watched what had to be, the second most boring game on this planet. Baseball! I recall falling asleep in the middle of the 2nd inning and waking up at the top of the 5th, burnt as a cinder down the right hand side of my face where the sun had conveniently been shining and had decided to slow fry my pretty white skin. “Never again!” I vowed. 4 hours of complete and utter snooze ball. My cousin, who lived in NY, told me that baseball was actually a great game and that if I learned its intricate plays and discovered how much of a ‘chess’ match it was, I might really enjoy it! Now where had I heard that before?? Yep, Paul had said exactly the same this to me whilst watching cricket!

Fast forward some 20 odd years. Alan, no longer dressed in Scottish regalia, is living here in CA in the San Francisco bay area, and has a 5-year-old daughter who wishes to play softball, AKA baseball for ladies! The league was asking, no they were begging, for parents to volunteer as coaches and with time on my hands, a desire to be more involved in my daughter’s life and knowing absolutely nothing about softball, I accepted. About the same time, The SF Giants professional baseball team was moving into or indeed had just moved into a new ball park up in the city of SF. It was named AT&T park, and everyone who went to visit came back with glowing reports. Baring in mind that the Giants had never won anything in the history of their existence here in SF, and due to the fact I despised the game of baseball, I was reluctant to go and watch, no matter what anyone else said to me. To drive an hour up to San Francisco, pay $35 to park my car and $100 for a ticket to watch a game with the team in orange and black supplying 4 hours of sheer boredom, well that just wasn’t cricket!. Things however were about to mysteriously change, and this is what transpired.

In 2002 the SF Giants made it to the World Series. The world championship of baseball, though how they have the gall to call it world series when it’s only US teams playing I will never understand! At the same time my daughter has just started playing softball and I had begun my coaching career. Put two and two together, and suddenly my understanding of the game, even though I believed it was a slumber party for 40,000 drunken Americans, improved dramatically. Low and behold, with 2 free tickets offered to me for game 4 of what would become a 7 game series against Anaheim Angels, I decided to go and watch it live. My opinion of the game developed from it being immensely boring, to moderately interesting. I enjoyed the ball park, the atmosphere, the food, and the victory that night. SF lost the series in game 7,all due to a monkey they said,(another long story in that one!), but my appreciation of a game I had previously refused to watch, had now spiked. With my daughter enjoying softball and the Giants in a bit of a resurgence, suddenly baseball became interesting, so much so that I would attend at least 3 to 4 games a season, on top of the 20 or so softball games I had to attend as a coach.

As the years moved on and my daughter improved at softball, my attendance at Giants games became all the more frequent. Eventually in 2010 they won the world series and again last year, a magnificent achievement and very exciting to watch. By this time my daughter had become quite proficient in her sport too, without my help I hasten to add, (I had stopped coaching after a 6 year stint because I knew I couldn’t take any team she played on to the level required to be moderately successful), and she would come with me to the Giants in a father/daughter bonding session that even today is not only enjoyable but also necessary (ah yes, those teenage years!).  She is nearly 16 and prefers to go out with her friends rather than me, quite understandable really. Another good reason for attending baseball games was this supposed ‘chess’ match and the way the pitcher battled each batter. It was actually intriguing!  Coaching softball had really given me an appetite to sit and appreciate all the skills involved in the professional game of baseball but, and there was always this BIG but, what I failed at first to comprehend was the audience who came to watch never really watched at all. They would spend 4 to 5 hours, eating, and walking around the stadium looking at memorabilia meeting old friends and then eating some more!, ALL this, while the game was in progress! At soccer games, we are up and down and shout and scream, but rarely move from our seats until half time. Yes, there was an atmosphere, but it was by no means electric. Everyone wanted to be doing something else, mainly eating and drinking, as I’ve mentioned before, but very few of the spectators sat in their seats remained there from the first pitch to the last hit! I decided I had to look into ways of improving baseball to make it more exciting, just as they did in the UK with cricket, taking it from an all day spectacle (in one day matches the game goes from 11 am until well into the evening) to an event played over a few hours that enthralled and involved crowd participation and a willingness to come back night after night as an ‘addicted’ fan. Baseball teams play 162 games in their regular season and then they go to the play offs (if they are fortunate to make it that far), and I found that there were very few people indeed if any at all, who would come to all 80 odd games played at home. Most fans shared season tickets or families would buy seats for just one or two games a year. Loyalty was there, but no undying support. This led me to question exactly why this was happening and so, with that in mind and sitting in the upper deck at AT&T park earlier this week, as the Giants played the A’s from Oakland, our neighbors from across the Bay Bridge, I came up with this new and improved version of the game. Its called ………..

RACEBALL

With the advent of 20/20 cricket, speed golf, Futbol Rapido and most people’s desire to live life in a very fast 21st century lane indeed, there are so few hours left in the day for wasting any precious moments that we may have as we check our emails, App’s, and social media updates. Why would anyone want to sit still for 5 hours, when there are so many other things that can entertain us? This makes RACEBALL, the perfect game to be the NEW favorite American past time. Let’s review the rules one by one, and I’m sorry in advance if you don’t know the rules of baseball because RACEBALL is going to be a derivative of that game.

The entire game will last 5 innings, or 2 hours, which ever comes first. If an inning has commenced and it’s not over when the time limit expires, then time will be allotted to allow it to be completed. There will be no breaks, no interval and no community singing in between innings.(AKA 7th inning stretch)

Each inning will consist of 4 outs for the hitting team, and not the standard 3 outs as we are accustomed to in todays regular baseball game.

A pitcher cannot be changed, unless injured, until the 5th inning of any game,. If no 5th inning is achieved due to time restraints, no changes can take place.

Fielders may rotate into any position on the field  even while the game is in progress, except the pitcher and catcher, who must stay where they start the game. During the game the outfielders must change positions at least one time. There will be 4 in the outfield instead of 3.

Pitchers do not have to bat. There will be 6 hitters, 10 fielders, once a hitter is taken out the game, he can no longer field. The substitute bench can contain up to 6 additional players. No one player can re-enter the game after being substituted.

A lead off batter on deck in any inning, either left or right-handed, can hit the ball and run either from 1st to 2nd to 3rd base and then home or go in the opposite direction, but once he has made his decision, the rest of the players batting behind him in the line up must go the same direction. This will leave the fielders totally confused every time a leadoff hitter comes to the plate at the beginning of each inning not knowing in advance if he will run counterclockwise (the normal progression) or clockwise.

Scoring. When a player scores, the scoring team will be awarded 1 point. If the batter has runners on base and hits a home run, his score will double. For every strike out the pitching team will be awarded 1 point. There will be a bonus point for a strike out with no balls throw, only strikes.

No outfielder can wear a catching mit. Bear hands only.

If the fielding team manage a double play, they are awarded a bonus point.

The strike zone allowed by the officials shall be from the neck down to the top of the knee.

If during the game, and at any point in time there is a point differential that exceeds 10, the team leading must remove a player from their team until that differential is halved. Every 5 points after the initial 10 will result in the removal of one more, up to a maximum of 3. It can be a hitter or a fielder or both.

No game can end in a tie. If there is a tie then starting pitchers will be forced to bat in a ‘hit off’. The hit off will have each pitcher hit balls from a chosen pitcher who cannot be a pitcher that has played in the game. The hit off will consist of 5 throws by each pitcher to each batter, and the one with the greatest number of hits, including foul balls and bunts, wins the game.

With these rule changes, baseball, and all its long drawn out tedious innings would be revolutionized instantly. People will flock to see battles that will be unpredictable, exciting and most importantly, last only 2 hours. The attention span of most who will attend these games will ensure they keep their bums on their seats and will be less tempted to spend $10 on a beer or $5 on a bottle of water, both which actually cost less than 20 cents, for fear of missing some action. The owners will have to re think, the fans won’t have to think at all, and complete equilibrium could be achieved in the flash of a simple idea called, initiative! Try playing this in your local park, try it in the streets, but at least try it and then let me know what you think. It worked for cricket and I promise it will work for baseball. The new RACEBALL season is but only an out away!

I am taking a break for the summer.(Don’t fret, I shall return), and hopefully when I do come back, I will have some more exciting news, a change of format and at least a decent read for those of you who kindly follow me every week. Stay out the sun, stay healthy and be happy.

Peace!

Pimp Your Ride

imagesThey stand at every street corner. There is no escaping them. Have you noticed that over the past 12 to 18 months there are no traffic signals without them? Who are THEY? I’m talking of course about those irritating wannabe homeless people with signs. “Will Work For Food” “Homeless Vet. Please Help” “At least I am Honest. Need Money For Beer” etc etc. Well, the truth of the matter is, they are not homeless. Indeed. they are far from needing anything, at least not from us. Now, let me clarify that last statement by confirming that I have not, nor will I ever, be able to go and interview each and every one of them. Quite impossible. But, from the research I have done, virtually all on site up close and personal, and the experience I have had, not trusting anything I was told, I have discovered that 95% of these ‘con-men’ and women are completely disingenuous with regards their financial circumstance and living accommodation. No surprise there, I here you shout. Well, what might come as a surprise is how these panhandlers are organized, how they are chosen and lastly, how they are rewarded. No, they don’t get to keep all they receive, far from it. Let me explain.

Just like prostitution, there are needs and there are desires. Everyone has them, everyone wants them, in this case, money, or lack of, is of course the main catalyst for the propulsion of such an energetic transformation of our normally mundane landscape. Over the past few years, due to the economic slow down and instability in the work place, most of us have become accustomed to seeing more and more of our friends and relatives losing their jobs and being unable to find employment. This has led to desperation, isolation and lastly, deception. All of these factors placed alongside a somewhat alternative and affluent society, especially here in the San Francisco Bay area, leads to this insane form of entrepreneurship, perhaps better described as criminal behavior, that we see at every traffic light and street corner. My father used to say, ‘it’s not the way you make a living that counts, it’s that you indeed make a living!’ Perfectly true, only in this case, organized crime is right behind what we witness through our windshields when we stop to make a perfectly legal left or right turn.

Last week, outside Safeway here in Los Gatos CA, a town where the average salary is probably 7 figures and where anyone driving anything but a Bentley, Porsche or Ferrari, is commonly ‘scoffed’ at, sat a gentleman dressed in army fatigues, aka Desert Storm vintage. He sat slumped at the front door, holding a sign which read, “Homeless Vet. Please Help” written on a piece of card, 12 x 12. Been there, seen that, and sometimes, though not always, I have given, and given willingly. There was something about this man however that made me look twice. In my experience, shoes are the great leveler. From my time being homeless in San Francisco, I learnt that shoes tell not only a great story, but also an accurate story as well. If a person asking for money has on shoes that look newish, or indeed are in reasonable condition, chances are, homelessness is far from something they are experiencing.  If their shoes are in tatters, homelessness is almost guaranteed. Homeless people cannot get shoes that easily, and they tend to wear what they can find or scavenge. Also, truly homeless men, women and children, should they be able to find a decent pair of shoes, will guard them with their lives. Try taking the shoes from someone who has no place to live and see what happens. I promise you it won’t be pleasant. And so, when I looked into his face, a tearful face, and one that looked very distressed, I couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on, a sure sign from within my heart that something was amiss with this so-called homeless Vet. True to form, after a long gaze and eye contact that seemed to last minutes and not seconds, which it really was, this gentleman picked up his sign, wiped the tears from his face and made his way downstairs into the underground parking lot. Curious as ever, I followed. Sitting in a spot, right at the back of the lot, a reasonably new Ford Explorer, and guess who jumped into that vehicle and drove off at the speed?

Just like those who stand in broad daylight at every street corner, this was an organized affair. These people, who claim to have little or nothing, are not who they seem to be. Another point to consider is that they are controlled by ‘pimps’ who determine who stands where and for how long. If you have a keen eye, and fortunately I was blessed with one, alongside a good memory, and you take the time to drive around the most popular spots in my hometown, you’ll see that most of the panhandlers are rotated on a two hourly ‘shift’ basis. What this does is ‘freshen’ up the workforce and of course, because they stand at traffic signals and cars passing them by rarely, if ever, come back the same way, they can keep their cash coming in with almost absolute confidence of never being seen twice or recognized again on any particular day. And what happens to that cash? Well, that’s a very good question.

After talking to one or two of those would be ‘pretenders’, I discovered that this many making racket is being controlled by gangs, and in particular, gangs who remain local and reside within 15 minutes of each catchment area. The ‘faces’ paraded on every street corner are also controlled. They ‘donate’ willingly to their ‘pimps’ on the understanding that if they don’t, well, we all know what happens in gangland when a pimp is disobeyed! By the sheer precision of this regimented system, you and I, the general public, are continually fooled into believing that these poor souls we see at the stop signs are genuinely in need of help. It’s just not the case. In fact, giving to these people really detracts from the real homeless issue that lies out there, unabated. We are giving to those who don’t really need, and those who do are going without. Hence my admiration for all those volunteers who are out on the streets trying to locate and to confirm and then register those who are really homeless and those who are not. My only hope is that they succeed in their task, a task that is often hazardous and difficult. In the meantime, my suggestion to all of you when you stop at a light and are approached by a man or woman with a sign looking for help, is to politely decline. This is a racket, and a racket that needs to be stopped. Instead it seems to be spreading far and wide across not only our state, but the whole country. The people behind these schemes are taking our money, tax-free, and indeed some of them are living quite comfortable lives from the proceeds of our ‘donations’. When I was living alone for that one week I went homeless up in San Francisco, I met a gentleman, who shall remain forever in my thoughts, who came into town every day in his Lexus, parked at Safeway in Daly City, got on BART (the local subway train) to the Embarcadero and after taking in $300 to $500 cash on a daily basis, would return back to Daly City and drive home in his Lexus to his nice house in the suburbs. All his money was tax-free and he had no qualms about what he was doing and how he was doing it. He was very good at his ‘job’ as seen by the amounts he collected, but he, like all the others who are con-men, were taking money away, easy money, from those who genuinely needed it. He had no regrets, and I’m sure the rest of them don’t have many either. The issue could be stopped through education. Education of us, the masses, teaching each and every one of us how to spot a fraudster, although, that is probably an impossible task, but a task that could start by a simple look at a pair of shoes.

As I’ve mentioned before. When is doubt, politely decline, and if you still feel the need to give, which we almost always do, do so without feeling like you’ve been bullied. Go to your local homeless shelter and donate directly to them. They need and cherish every single penny you can afford to give and they appreciate it too! You will do so knowing that your cash is going straight into a system that can feed and help those who are genuinely down on their luck and it will assist in supporting their rehabilitation and not the empire building of any pimp.