Sunset Boulevard 2
Have to go to the DMV today, it’s December almost and I still haven’t renewed my driver’s license that expired in August. As a result I can’t take an Amtrak trip or check into a hotel, no way to make any kind of a fast getaway, although I wonder. If you take the city buses and just keep transferring going north, is it possible to go all the way from L.A. to San Francisco without having to show ID. . .
I know this is another sign of madness, or should I say, of me being functionally insane, or just barely. I'm okay as long as I never leave the house, which means a mandatory thing like keeping my state ID current, has become something monstrous. It means I’ll have to go several blocks on Sunset Boulevard, may even have to walk from here all the way to Vine, then down to Cole and Willoughby, to the same DMV office I’ve been going to since the 1980s. It should feel like a comfortable experience, it’s just getting there that is for me a problem.
I can’t explain, yet feel like I have to explain, it’s like an electromagnet field, this force that wants to keep me in the house. Some of it is genuine fear, as this neighborhood has some Dark crevices.
Some of it is irrational. I have to renew my driver's license. So going to wear my hunter’s vest and hiking shoes, walk like a mountain climber on level ground, carry my camera, pull it from my waist like a gun if I need to …
Yes, an outing as mundane as going to the DMV takes strategy and planning for me. Early in the morning used to be best time to get out, but somewhere in L.A. these days, in the early hours of the morning, they are burning some hellaciously poisonous chemicals and pouring the smoke into the air. It’s likely that in the last 10 years of Republicans running things corporations have gotten permits that say it’s okay to burn this stuff at 4 or 5 in the morning. When Democrats run things, they have to stop burning the chemicals into the air. But things haven’t quite ironed out since Obama took office, so these chemical corporations have permits to burn this stuff, apparently in the early morning hours. Reason being hardly anyone is out during early morning hours. Same thing happened to the air in L.A. back when we had Ford and then Bush 1 as presidents. The air in L.A. got un-breathable under them as well.
So in the early morning hours, the time you’d think the air would be cleanest in the city, instead you go outside and inhale and your lungs give a small collapse, you double over, try to find escape from the poison, try to inhale and instead choke more, try to find a place in the area around you where your lungs can find air. If you're close enough to your front door you can re-enter your home and real fast close the door and usually can get a deep breath again once you're inside the door.
Last time we lived in environmentally unregulated L.A. in the 1980s the air got so bad you could actually see atoms popping and recombining in the haze that was always in front of you. It was strange because also during that time, you could hear dial tones in the air. I was also pregnant and then post-partum during that period…
Daughter did not get pregnant last month, thank god, and strangely enough, even though my kicking her boyfriend Mortimer out of the house after Thanksgiving caused a stir between Lizzie and me (neighbors once again banging on the walls), when she returned home from work the next day, she had a serene smile on her face, and announced to me her new plans for her future with new found strength. And didn't even mention Mortimer.
This has happened before. My daughter has the same strange attractiveness my sister had, and when it was my sister, it was hell for me, always being the chubby freckled off kilter version of the beautiful sister in the background. But as a mom, I'm proud to see it in Lizzie, but also concerned. It’s a power some women just have, they have the right combination of everything at a time that is perfect for that combination of everything… And when Lizzie shows the slightest interest in a boy, he becomes obsessed. Her phone is always ringing, they show up at our door, banging, begging me to tell them where she is, they spend their last dime on her. It’s a curse almost to be that beautiful and attractive, even my sister had problems because of it, back in the early 1960s.
In around 1962, on a family vacation to San Francisco, when I was still the dumpy junior high girl and my sister was wowing everyone at San Marino high school, we stayed at the Fairmont hotel. No it was called “The Top of the Mark” at the time because that's the way my dad liked to vacation, the best hotels, room service. In the weeks beforehand, he said it about a hundred times, “We're going to stay at the Top of the Mark hotel, and you know why they call it that? Because it sits at the top of the highest hill in San Francisco.”
Okay that night in our hotel room we dressed up to go to the hotel dining room, where folk singer Jimmy Rogers was appearing that weekend. Or maybe it was a month-long engagement, whatever, but folk singers were the new Dean Martin’s in the early 1960s, for a short blip these acoustic guitar playing guys who sang left wing workers’ rights and humanistic songs were not part of the counter culture, but part of the mainstream. Enough for Jimmy Rogers to be appearing at the Top of the Mark Hotel dining room that weekend.
I think we even wore gloves. In those days a shopping trip with my mother would be a trip to Bullock’s or Robinson’s in Pasadena, stores with valet parking. I miss those days, I miss my dad’s money. People wonder how Lizzie and me could be so poor with all this San Marino San Francisco Paris stuff in my background. Well, it’s because someone embezzled my dad’s money in the last years of his life when he was blind… I know. Sometimes my life is too poor pitiful pearl for people to believe, but that's part of our story. I wasn’t supposed to be poor, but when I went to get my inheritance after my dad died in 1997, the money just wasn’t there, and the woman who we all know now stole the money, she too was long gone. My mom thought that upon my father’s death she was now a millionaire on her own when my dad died, and when she found out it was more like $80 thousand dollars left in the bank, it caused her to have a kind of psychiatrically caused stroke, she just closed her mouth and shut down and stayed unmoving the next five years until she died in a sick bed, in San Francisco, in my sister’s studio. I honestly think my mom thought that embezzler was going to share the money with her when my dad died, and yes, he died under questionable circumstances. My mom didn't realize she too was being embezzled and hoodwinked and conned and now she was an old lady in her eighties and broke. Worse yet, the address where all this embezzlement and suspected murder happened was San Clemente, California. So when I did go to the police, when they found out it was only $1.5 million dollars that was missing, and a man over age 90 who died strangely, the police lost interest. I mean in San Clemente, families embezzle from each other to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, our puny little misdemeanor one point five million didn't matter to the San Clemente Police Department. One Orange County sheriff put as much time into it as he could, told me he believed me that the crimes did happen, but as is so often the case in life in America, the criminals went on to live their lives unfettered. Except the woman who embezzled from my father was then embezzled from herself by her own son. She ended up dying in a welfare hospital in Las Vegas, no one at her side…
So I'm not used to being poor. I grew up rich, always had my dad's money to fall back on, he'd always come through with a check if I needed help. After he died and his money disappeared, I held things together as best I could after all that happened and my daughter and we left Orange County, moved to L.A..
"That's where people who are running away from their families go, they run away to Hollywood,” I said to my daughter as we drove one last time out of San Clemente. “And I promise you, Lizzie, we will never step foot in Orange County again.”
She made me make that promise. She hated Orange County more than I did.
We drove to L.A. and never looked back, got a luxe apartment on Franklin in Hollywood by paying a year's rent in advance, just about all that was left of my inheritance, and I held things together pretty good here in Hollywood, in fact started doing the work I still do today, transcribing for documentaries. That job became transcribing for reality TV shows and the amount of work grew.
It's a job I could do from home, so I could be a Stepford Single Mom. Then in late 2003, I just kind of caved.
The real reason we became homeless in late 2003 was not that we didn't pay our rent, or that we were making too much noise, it was because the landlord wanted us out so he could raise the rent on a rent controlled unit, and I didn't have any fight left in me. What the landlady did was totally illegal, all I had to do was call Legal Aide or the Housing Authority, and my daughter and I could have kept our apartment on Franklin, up above the Kodak theater, in a cleaner less intimidating part of town.
I'm not used to being poor, so I thought when we became homeless that there would be a safety net there, the welfare department that we all hear is so benevolent that thousands of people live luxurious lives on its benefits. Guess what, most that stuff only exists on paper.
And there is a Church pedophile priest tie-in here.
It was at that time, in the months that we were falling through the cracks and becoming homeless, that the Los Angeles Archdiocese suddenly was in touch with me, their Victim Assistance Nun came to our homeless hotel and walked me around the block, interviewing me, I thought she was there to help us stop being homeless, instead she asked me all about Father Horne and what happened to me as a child in Chicago in the early 1950s.
Still I thought the Catholic Church would help us out from our homeless state, I mean they own all this property around L.A., much of it condos and apartments. Rumor was they had townhouses in Westwood for homeless people. So I called the nun who was supposed to be helping us out, on one of the more chaotic mornings, and told her, my daughter the night before had to give up her laptop to a guy in order to keep him from raping her. "We are in serious bad shape here," I said, "and if the archdiocese could just help us get into a home again, one of those condos in Westwood."
They didn't help, in fact, I don't think that nun even returned that call.
It's strange now I look back, how was it that the nun from Victims Assistance came to interview me, there, when we were living in one of those weekly rent homeless hotels. I cannot remember how that original contact got made.
Then Sister Sheila didn't even call me back about my daughter’s near rape and all the rest of our vexing situation.
However, she did call the Chicago Archdiocese, who then, unbeknownst to me, started the clock ticking on Illinois’ screwy statute of limitations. As a result, during the chaotic two years that my daughter and I lived in our car, or in motels when we had enough cash, then in a homeless shelter, then in a "transitional" shelter, and finally getting into an apartment, this one, in a seedy part of town- in that period of time by Illinois law, I was supposed to be contacting a lawyer in Chicago and arranging a lawsuit. If I didn't file within two years of the time I contacted the archdiocese, I was disqualified or something like that.
And my two years started to run the day Sister Sheila came to visit us at the Homeless Hotel.
During that two years we didn't even have a phone number, or a street address, or any way for a lawyer’s office to return my calls. And the L.A. Archdiocese made sure we didn't get any help with housing when we needed it.
It’s all very strange. I cannot for the life of me remember how that nun from the L.A. Archdiocese became part of our lives right then, at that time that we were homeless, not in the five previous years when we had an apartment, nor ever in the following four years that we've now been in an apartment with a phone number and an address. The Illinois archdiocese through the L.A. Archdiocese ran the clock during the same time that they were letting my daughter and me fall through the cracks so we had no way to carry out any kind of legal matter, I couldn't even set up a job interview.
When we did get into an apartment and right away contacted the Chicago Archdiocese to start some kind of claim, or ask for help, I was still so stupid and naïve I was still going to the Church for help in 2005. And the woman in the Chicago Archdiocese victims assistance office said to me, “You should have followed up back in 2003, now it’s too late.”
That's one of many reasons I didn't get a settlement when so many other victims did. I think the church did everything it could to keep survivors from being able to come forward, in our case even intervening and obstructing our efforts to get off the streets, a 15 year old girl and her sick mom homeless right in front of them, victims of their priests, and the Church looked the other way.
The Church uses every technique it can to keep from having to shell out one more settlement dollar on us opportunistic money grubbing adult victims of pedophile priests.
A good two months of the period we were homeless were spent in waiting rooms in the offices of a long list of L.A. non profits, organizations that are set up to help homeless people. The closest we came to shelter was the hours we would sit in their waiting rooms, after six months, my daughter and I were still living out of our car.
One of those waiting rooms where we never got help was at the Salvation Army, the golden doorway to those Catholic Church owned townhouses that were rumored to be somewhere around Westwood. The guy never showed up when I had appointments to connect with those Catholic townhouses, I went there twice, with appointments, and sat in the waiting room. I’d get paranoid and say, why is it he doesn't show up when it’s me he has an appointment with, but the few other people waiting there said, no, he never shows up, you have to just keep coming back, and keep hopeful. Never lose the faith.
I still kept us on or near Sunset Boulevard.
When we were homeless I hanged onto the boulevard like it was the only connection to anything stable in my life, driving endlessly up and down its blocks looking for that room for rent sign cheap that would end this experience.
In fact, I’ll hang onto Sunset Boulevard while the earth quakes and L.A. takes on new shapes and forms in the next hundred years, I’ll still be there, holding onto the tail of Sunset Boulevard, riding the waves…
(I'm drifting in my life right now, feel like exiting but really have no other place to go, I'm pissed, tired of the topic of pedophile priests, pissed that any attempts to really network in the victim community just … )
Stop. Leave that frustration for the SNARL fiction piece.
Okay, the family was on vacation in San Francisco, and we're dressing for dinner, I think my sister mom and me were are even wearing gloves.
Patricia had her natural blond hair pulled back into a French twist, very chic in circa 1962 when we were staying at the Top of the Mark hotel on a family vacation. My sister Patricia, Patsy at the time, was wearing a modest form fitting dress as was popular in those years, she likely was even wearing a girdle because as far as I remember, girdles, and things that pulled you in tight and perfectly formed were a regular part of a female’s wardrobe in the fifties and sixties. Women didn't push themselves to perfection in gyms, they just pulled on a girdle under their dress and got pretty much the same result.
Most women did not take off those dresses and girdles in front of their man no matter how long they were dating, until they were married, still in the 1960s.
In Texas the women stayed tightened up fast in girdles all the way into the 1980s.
Even me, a chubby 12 year old, I too was probably cinched, though wearing a more childish dress, maybe a ruffled sleeve, gathered at the top, a little cumber bun at the waist, and my 11-12 year old body cinched into an oddly wide hourglass shape by a girdle under the little girl dress, though chubby junior high school girl was still the first impression one would have upon looking at me. This was not a period of great looks for me, but in all my life, I never attained the heights of beauty that my sister attained. In college a few years after this incident in San Francisco, they made her homecoming princess when she wasn’t even running for the position, people just wrote in her name on the ballots, because she was so stunningly beautiful. And that was at UC Santa Barbara. My sister Patricia was this incredibly beautiful female all her life. And now my daughter seems to have inherited the same power.
That night, the family all dressed, my mother always tres chic in some suit or dress she had just bought and one of those hats with a little dotted veil over the eyes, tres perfect, dad in a suit, we went down to have dinner in the cocktail lounge restaurant dinner show place, and somehow, I don't know what it was my sister did. I'm pretty sure we were all sitting at our table watching the show or maybe it was between sets, when a note came out to our table asking my sister to meet the folk singing mainline entertainer Mr. Jimmy Rogers backstage.
Now when Jimmy Rogers came out on the stage, maybe that is when he got a glimpse of my sister, or maybe it was earlier. Maybe he had a place backstage where he peaked out at the audience before the show. Looking back on it now, to this day, I can't figure it out, but Jimmy Rogers apparently saw my sister in the audience and was struck, enamored, willing to commit adultery, or have a private late night supper as it was called back then, with my maybe 16 year old sister, she may have even been younger.
Somehow he saw her and got stunned, so there was a note delivered to our table that Jimmy Rogers would like the pleasure of my sister’s company for supper after the show.
Now I don't remember everything about how the family responded, the waiter probly allowed me to have alcohol, as they did in a city like San Francisco if someone like my dad slipped them a big enough tip. But I do know there was a lot of discussion around the table, and voices got raised, and in the end Patsy said angrily, absorbing all the power and having the deciding voice: No, I'm not going to go backstage and meet that old man, and that's that.
I think my dad wanted her to go meet Jimmy Rogers for supper, I think he argued with her about it, my dad not being able to see why she wouldn't see this is a wonderful opportunity.
Like the date with an old man my dad set me up for when I was maybe 14
Hmm, just now in this lame brain beat up head of mine I jumped directly from that incident with my sister and Jimmy Rogers to the time when I was in high school, early years of high school not driving yet, and I had a date with this man, a grown up mature adult man, who was still cute and kind of frail, looked a lot like the guy who played the sidekick in the Man from UNCLE, a cute guy a girl would want to date, but definitely an older man and I was maybe 14-15.
Strangest thing about this date was I think my dad knew the guy before hand, it was like, I remember being picked up at home by the man from Uncle sidekick, and it seems like in a normal family, the father would protest at such an old guy taking out his 14-15 year old daughter, but instead my dad was okay with it, waving us goodbye as the man from Uncle’s sidekick and I walked out and got into his car.
The plan for date I had with this old man when I was 14 was to go to the drive in movies. Down near El Monte, or Monrovia, there was a drive in. We saw "Inside Daisy Clover" and I really wanted to watch the movie, but this man had his hands all over me, in fact at one point he was trying and trying to get me to have an orgasm. I was so young, I didn't even know what an orgasm was, or what he was doing, I just knew there was some place beyond the point where he had me, and he kept saying, “Just let go, let it happen,” but I didn't know how to let go, so instead he just kept fingering me and fingering me, and I ended up missing the end of "Inside Daisy Clover," never got to see the end of the movie until VCR’s were invented 20 years later.
That date was so strange, with that older man, who looked a lot like David McCallum, that's his name, the actor who was on The Man from Uncle and now is on one of the CSI shows as an old man. My date brought me home and my father was, strangely, waiting up for us, and talked to the man I had the date with, as I went off to my room alone.
And what does any of this have to do with pedophile priests raping children?
Well, I'm pretty sure my dad had more than a just good friends or penitent-to-priest relationship with Father Horne back in Bartlett in the 1940s-1950s. I think my dad and Father Horne may have known each other in Chicago before they both moved out to Bartlett in 1949 when Horne became founder of St. Peter Damian Church, and my dad changed from criminal to corporate law, while flipping real estate.
In 1949, the same year that my family moved from Chicago to 20 acres on U.S. 20 on the outskirts of Bartlett, my dad was lead usher at St. Peter Damian Church and Father Horne was this brilliant charismatic handsome new pastor.
And during this time my dad had a second address in Bartlett, a second house in Bartlett, I found that out when I was there in the summer of 2008.
No one I’ve talked to on the phone from my family knows the reason for my dad to have a second house in Bartlett or even knew that he had it, one cousin remembers him commuting to Chicago every day for work. But still I found a second address listed as being owned by my dad when we were in Bartlett in the 1950s.
In 2008, I went to this mysterious address, it was a house with a large front porch and an American flag flying. All I could do when I got to the address was stand outside the house, staring at it. There was like an electromagnetic field keeping me from going up and knocking on the door, I just stood there frozen.
I need to go back to Bartlett and find out more so bad.
I want to go back to Bartlett, do some more digging on my story, so bad.
And yet here I am having trouble getting to the DMV to renew my license, and without an ID I can’t even get on a Greyhound.
Wrote about the experience with Sister Sheila in L.A. and the Archdiocese obstructing us from getting help when we were homeless and should have been working on our lawsuit here at City of Angels 4:
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Blatant lies in LA Times opinion piece by Archdiocese Victims' coordinator. I know, because they involve my case.
By Kay Ebeling
I HAVE TO SAY THIS. Sister Sheila McNiff was directly involved in my case for a few hours in 2003, the same Sister Sheila McNiff who wrote an opinion piece published in the LA Times December 18th praising the church for having obviously solved its pedophile priest problems way back in the 1980s and here’s a chart to prove it.