Down and Out in Portland October 22: Misery under the New Order

Old Town
Central Eastside Industrial District
Third Avenue and Alder, downtown
Fourth Ave, downtown. This person remained in place like this for at least two days.
Downtown
Downtown. She is rising from the overturned pedestal of a George Washington statue toppled in summer 2020. Behind her is the German American Society of Portland where the statue stood since 1926
Downtown riverfront
From before the 2020 rioting; downtown
Resistance. Apple Store, 2020
Chapman Square; Justice Center in the background
. From 2020. After the city removed a 120 year-old elk statue and fountain here to save it from antifa’s nightly bonfires, the anarchists erected makeshift replacements, beginning with their “Evil Elk”, which was taken as a trophy by patriots. This was the last iteration, toppled here by black thugs during their shakedown of the “Jail Support” tent encampment nearby.
From before 2020, near PSU across the street from a former antifa house.
Louis Vuitton, store downtown, 2020
Chapman Park downtown, 2020
Pre-2020; Such graffiti claiming Portland for antifa’s “4th Brigade” disappeared with the ascent of George Floyd and BLM
.”The Promised Land” statue commemorating settlers, since removed. Lonsdale Park, with the Justice Center in the background. 2020

Standards, Disparity and Equilibrium

White American and black American culture have always been largely distinct. Until recently, as a matter of course, the European Christian “white” cultural standard determined the nature of our society and law. It had to, just as any nation and society has to have a similar basis. Before the civil rights era of the sixties this was taken for granted. In the time since critical theory working through media propaganda has moved heaven and earth to invert this reality, making commonplace the assumption that the European basis for our civilization is dysfunctional and unnatural, created with the express intent of controlling non-whites, even somehow anticipating in its earliest form the arrival of blacks and the necessity of keeping them down. Black criminality and mediocrity are cited as proof of the dysfunctional nature our society–not, God forbid, the dysfunctional nature of black American society.

Critical race and associated theory operate by identifying the white European origins of what is normative in our society and casting them as unnatural, transgressions against a universalist order with no basis in ethnicity–or reality. Something that has never existed anywhere and the appeal of which is hard to see, if you’re not invested in the destruction of this particular society and order.

This model assuming a vague, lost Eden to which we would, will, naturally default once the unnatural order of “white supremacy” is removed (somehow as durable as it is unnatural) applies throughout progressive theory; feminism for instance proceeds as if “patriarchy” was a trick the men pulled at some point, upsetting the natural non-patriarchal order–to which feminism seeks to return us, never finally, for that would end the game, but over and over. Yet just as America would not exist without its European origins, society would not exist if pre-civilizational tribes had attempted “equality” between men and women–ignoring the demands of pregnancy and child-rearing in pre-technological society.

Men, having created the modern world relieving women of the demands of reproduction that nature saddled them with, are now being thrown under the bus for their trouble; feminist theory exists in large part to obscure the reality of male invention freeing women from drudgery. Feminism also has its attendant mythology of lost matriarchal civilizations, even finding presumed matriarchies in the animal kingdom. Ethnic theory likewise spins tales of the “hidden” contributions of minorities and of great non-white civilizations–Wakanda. Likewise, white Europeans, having created the modern world, are now to be thrown under the historical bus. They are inconvenient to the narrative and their achievements are an affront.

The difference between black and white culture has always been the true source of the racial disparity in incarceration, as undeniable now as it is unmentionable. Like the definition of family, also distinct between white and black, a culture’s definition of the criminal is essential. A savage beating taken as a serious violent crime in all but the most degenerated white communities is nearly routine in the black hood. The disparity in violent crime rates must in fact under-reflect the disparity in violent behavior between white and black

The tension created by police enforcing white cultural norms in black environments has always been the ultimate source of black rage against police and the legal system; in addition to the stress of laboring under white standards of justice, it’s seen as an insult. BLM and the movement to defund the police is from one angle the struggle for preeminence between white and black value systems, and is producing two partly separate systems of justice, one white one black, under the guise of eliminating police brutality. If the result was merely driving police and attendant white norms out of black neighborhoods, as is happening, it would be bad enough, but the fact is we cannot segregate, even without the progressive left’s determination to prevent it. So the effect is a two-tiered system establishing black norms for black people but not white norms for white people, who in fact are stranded in this new order.

In an all-white context there is no pressure on authorities to adopt the black standard; a white criminal is just a criminal. The movement against “mass incarceration” on the other hand, driven to reduce black prison terms at all cost and led by elected officials and district attorneys, means that in an all black environment a criminal is not necessarily a criminal. In conflicts between white and black actors, the white party is held to one standard–often impossible to meet–and the black to another.

Problems occur, over and over, when blacks, now dimly aware of the privilege assigned them to assert their own cultural norms, take their application of these norms in broader society as an essential right. Overwhelmingly issues of alleged police brutality involve black people who simply refuse to comply with white standards of decency and submit to arrest.

The truth is a wholly black “America”, left to its own devices, would eventually settle into a system with harsher laws and customs. Chaos can’t go on forever. In our perverse environment, where we cannot acknowledge the true problem, that natural process is prevented from happening. Black America’s culture of the criminal is sustained by this unnatural order of things. The ongoing, enforced misunderstanding of that criminal culture as the result of the law and order it opposes is the mechanism by which law and order is being eroded. The two competing standards, white and black, cannot co-exist; eventually one or the other has to give or, as is planned for us, a third way establishing a sort of racial privilege for blacks must–ironically just what they contend we have regarding whites.

I first thought of this years ago, when listening to the classic Wu Tang album 36 Chambers, when this piece of flotsam surfaced, in the random fashion lyrics appear in rap songs:

…then Bernhard Goetz what he deserves”

I realized Goetz, the half-Jewish New Yorker who raised a national scandal when he shot four black thugs about to mug him, had done nothing so much as adopt the same ethic as those very rappers, the celebration of which the lyrics here interrupt to condemn him. That ethic holds that the weaker party in a fight can avail himself of a weapon. No gangsta would condemn another for using a gun against four assailants; he wouldn’t call it cowardly and he wouldn’t call it criminal. The right to use a weapon when otherwise at a disadvantage is a core value of the gangsta worldview; it’s even somewhat defensible, when the alternative, for an average black boy in the hood, is to be bullied, often literally to death.

Bernhard’s crime was not in defending himself but doing it while white, and against blacks. What the Wu Tang rapper should have said was that the gangsta form of justice is proprietary, for me and not thee, white boy.

Blacks are becoming supra-citizens, enjoying not-yet explicit legal privileges denied whites.   Non-black non-whites appropriate some of this license by mimicking the narrative–carefully, and often with a tributary nod toward black supremacy.  A latino can easily take advantage of the police racism narrative built up to elevate blacks, and the media system, with the automatic efficiency that a culture of something has over a conspiracy of something, accepts but assigns it a lower level of hysterical amplification, and the paler brown pays a tribute, like lesser mafiosi “giving a taste” to the Don. When Al Sharpton shows up in solidarity with a given non-black anti-white grift, the paler browns are “kicking up”.

Chicago DA Kim Foxx advanced the cause of black-values-for-black people when declining to prosecute the combatants in a deadly shootout, citing “mutual combat“. Notably, whites aren’t allowed the mutual combat excuse when fighting among themselves, and definitely not if engaged even in defensive combat against black aggression.  Only the clearest example of self defense, at least for the moment, will excuse the cursed white who raises a hand to a blessed black. 

Remarkably, despite the shootout in Chicago in which over a hundred shots were fired and a stolen vehicle crashed and set ablaze (a totally unnecessary and stupid attempt to destroy evidence, apparently) in a residential neighborhood, the DA’s derelict prosecutors recognized no right of the public to reasonable security.  Instead they made the remarkable calculation that if no offense is committed by either criminal party against the other (when blacks are involved), no crime was committed.  In the old order the warring factions would be recognized, at least, as entering into a criminal conspiracy with their “mutual combat”, like illegal dueling, without the honor that leaves innocent third parties out of it.  “The people versus” the criminal is a dead phrase.

A black boy who recently shot up his classroom after getting beat up wasn’t characterized in the media as a “school shooter” but a bullied teen. Indeed the case wasn’t typical of a “school shooting”, but of black mayhem. Fortunately the bully was black (of course); had the shooter’s bully been white he likely would be a hero and the school picketed. The fact is the shooter adopted the gangsta ethic, and as a black boy he’s allowed to. Needless to say, if all parties were white or, God forbid, the situation involved a white shooter and black bullies (and many school shootings do, as in Columbine, where the shooters sought out jocks and blacks), the media line would bear little resemblance to the one we see.

In this environment redemption too looks different depending on the shade of your skin. An NBA executive thus loses no position in broader society at the same time he gains credibility by revealing a murder he committed as a sixteen year-old. Despite being convicted of the crime the issue never came up; the “white” society said to be obsessed with criminalizing blacks and thus holding them back was incurious, and now can only congratulate him for what would appall them if they found it out about a white man.

In Oregon an aspiring rapper invoked his privilege by hitting on a man’s girlfriend in his presence, The white man refused to recognize that privilege so the would-be Jay-Z started a fight and was shot and killed by the white guy. As Andrew Anglin pointed out, it all looked very much like “mutual combat”; the local district attorney, sensing opportunity, has decided to feature it as white supremacy, citing the long history of lynching black men for interest in white women.

But “mutual combat”, difficult enough for whites engaging with aggressive, tougher and more reckless blacks, is not legally possible for white people. We are to be caught between a rock and a hard place.

Into this wonderful future we go.

Hunter’s Laptop is a Force for Good

Joe Biden appears to me to be a man with no real convictions who has “sold his soul” to be president, by adopting without thought the radical goals of the post-Trump Democratic Party (or simply agreeing to be a figurehead for them).

And that is certainly true. But with the new revelations about Hunter’s Laptop (can I get a band named that?) I realize those for whom Joe acts as a front have a hell of a cudgel to keep him in line:

A former federal prosecutor and expert on money laundering and criminal tax law tells DailyMail.com that if money was flowing between Hunter and his father, that could make Joe a target of the probe – but that investigators would have a tough time sitting down with the president…

John Cassara, a former U.S. Intelligence Officer and Treasury Special Agent who is an expert in money laundering investigations, said that were Joe not president, he would probably be in prosecutors’ crosshairs by now along with his son.

If, somehow, Joe Biden developed integrity and opposed any of the serial abuses of power coming out of “his” office, he would be instantly reminded of his vulnerability to prosecution, if he hasn’t already. He has the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head, in the form of Hunter’s hard-on.

He appears to be in the very position regarding the Deep State the Russia-gate hoaxsters alleged Trump was in regarding the Russians–someone holds the “dirt” on and controls him. It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.

Portland Dispatch 9.20.21

A thousand people descended on Oregon’s capitol to protest the governor’s mandate firing all health care and school workers and volunteers who aren’t vaccinated by October 18.

An estimated 1,000 people rallied at the Oregon Capitol Saturday to protest COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates.

Protesters identified themselves as health care workers, teachers, emergency services workers and state employees.

Gov. Kate Brown has ordered those groups to be vaccinated by Oct. 18.

Rally-goers lined both sides of Court Street in front of the Capitol building, and filled the first block of the mall during about two hours of speeches, then marched through downtown Salem during the peaceful event. Salem Police estimated the number of participants at about 1,000.

“Apparently I’m not essential anymore. On Oct. 18, Gov. Kate Brown’s going to take my job,” said Adam Cunningham, an instructor at the Oregon State Police Academy. “I’ll be terminated because I refuse to give her and the state information about my personally held religious beliefs and my medical history.”

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The governor announced the executive action on August 11, taking away the testing option for employees.  She also restored mask mandates inside and outdoors.  As an employer the governor can require state employees to take the injection, but I don’t know how she’s allowed to require it for hospital workers or (presumably covered by the mandate) private school teachers.

Kids are returning to school here soon and already have in parts of the state.  Outbreaks (two or more cases within a month) of the Delta variant in newly reopened schools in southern Oregon are being cited for the new rules and more to come.  This seems to follow a pattern nationwide as the pro-vax narrative turns to the eventual compulsory vaccination of children.  The governor would not rule out mandating them for schoolkids once they acquire FDA approval.

There are more children hospitalized with COVID-19 in Oregon than at any point in the pandemic. They’re also making up a larger proportion of the total cases, at 12.7%. And despite the availability of vaccines, more cases are spreading in 12- to17-year-olds than any other group of children.

Brown sidestepped giving a direct answer when asked if she might mandate vaccines for school children older than 12 once the COVID-19 vaccines receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. “All options remain on the table,” she said.

The focus on children seems to be a national trend for the vaccine push, and the governor’s actions are supported by Oregon’s teacher’s union.  Hospitals support mandatory vaccinations as well and are moving aggressively, but the nurse’s union is against it.  Meanwhile cases have peaked here, as they have everywhere else, and from a certain vantage the fervor over schools and potential outbreaks appears as if to keep the hysterical narrative going.

Sunday’s protest was organized by the Oregonians for Medical Freedom PAC organized by health care workers to oppose vaccine mandates, not by the local Proud Boy affiliates (as virtually all non-antifa demonstrations of the last few years).  As a result the rally didn’t draw the usual anarchist counter-protest and in their absence the mood on the ground, according to a friend, was “electric” among a crowd of “non-fringe, ordinary” people, making the patriots’ last effort look like “child’s play”.

 The rightwing patriot groups have been intrepid but inept (and isolated) in their efforts and don’t appear to have the human capital to move beyond their street-level actions.  If there’s more to the movement that announced itself yesterday, the progressive uniparty running our Democratic super-majority state may have real problems, finally. 

Pozztown Police Blotter

Don’t call it an officer involved shooting, call it officer involved diversity!

Local lefties think it’s the height of cleverness whenever the police announce an “officer involved shooting” to ask “how was the officer involved?” and this would work well if they didn’t traffic in so much passive language themselves (my favorite is the characterization of black youths being “impacted by” the violence they engage in).

The Portland Police Bureau appears to have at least one Jewish/Latino partner combo out there patrolling the streets, Gellman and Alvarez. Both fired their weapons early Sunday morning when arresting a truck thief.

The officers who fired their weapons in this incident are Officer Ivan Alvarez and Officer Jonah Gellman. Both officers have been with the Portland Police Bureau since November 2019. The involved officers will be interviewed within 48 hours of the incident. The officers will remain on paid administrative leave until the completion of the investigation.

This update also reflects the full and correct spelling of the suspect’s name.

###PPB###

###ORIGINAL MESSAGE###

The suspect in this case, 27-year-old Andreas Julian Pavel Boinay, has been booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center for Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Reckless Driving, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, and Attempt to Elude in a Vehicle…

On September 12, 2021 at about 1:37 a.m., Portland Police were dispatched following the report that a pickup truck had just been stolen from near Southwest 3rd Avenue and Southwest Ash Street. After several minutes officers found the stolen pickup near Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard.

A Portland Police air unit began watching the truck as the suspect drove through southeast Portland, into northeast Portland along Hwy 99 and then onto Interstate 5 northbound into Washington state at about 2:12 a.m. The air unit provided updates that the suspect was driving at high speeds, sometimes into oncoming traffic, and that the pickup nearly crashed into other traffic on more than one occasion.

The suspect drove the pickup in Washington State for about ten minutes, then drove back into Oregon on Interstate 5 south. The suspect drove across the Fremont Bridge into northwest Portland and then west up West Burnside Street to Southwest Barnes Road. The suspect drove north on Northwest Miller Road to Northwest Ash Street, which is a dead end.

Officers converged on the suspect in the pickup in the 8300 block of Northwest Ash Street and at about 2:38 a.m. broadcast that shots had been fired. Officers took the suspect into custody and provided first aid until medical personnel arrived.

The suspect was transported to the hospital by ambulance to be treated for a non-life threatening gunshot wound. The suspect is an male adult and will be identified after he is booked into jail.

Two officers discharged firearms. By directive, the officers involved will be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation and will be interviewed within 48 hours. The names of involved officers will be released tomorrow. No officers were harmed during this incident.

Despite the promising name Andreas Julian Pavel Boinay appears to be another white tweaker, previously arrested in Clackamas south of Portland on drug charges. No controversy surrounds the shooting and he’s drawn a slate of of charges of course. I suspect it’s actually a little more treacherous for the white criminal in Portland now–you’re the guy a progressive District Attorney like Mike Schmidt can charge as much as he likes, thrown as a sop to police and other remaining adults, without angering his progressive supporters.

The tattoo appears to be new.

The Hispanic-Hebraic duo of Alvarez and Gellman should be promoted by the Bureau looking to brush up its image with the painfully progressive city. I’m offering my services writing a glowing profile (under a pen-name of course, probably as a young Jewish-Latinx they-person). Perhaps a reality show riding along with the guys? Think about it PPB. Couldn’t be any worse than the attempts I’ve seen so far, and we all know they haven’t worked:

“Women’s March”, 1/21/2017, Portland Oregon

Barring that a sitcom or film of their antics. I’m reminded of another movie I’ve never seen, Freebie and the Bean, about a Latino and, maybe, Jewish detective pair. The Latino is played by the Jewish Alan Arkin and the other is played by the Jewish James Caan, who often plays Italians. I can’t be expected to go watch a dark comedy by Richard Rush that is a favorite of Quentin Tarantino, of course, so any similarities will be incidental.

Portland Saturday Night

Happened upon this around 1:00 AM. Portland Police cordoned off dozens of blocks around, presumably, a suspect’s car, abandoned on Burnside eastbound at Third Ave. The car sat with doors open and a shoe on the ground on each side; they didn’t match. Police left the area cordoned off from around 12:30, when a massive police response descended on the intersection. I’m assuming this investigation has to with a shooting that took place a few blocks over, in the upscale (but increasingly) shabby Pearl neighborhood.

From Portland Police Bureau https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police…

Three people are recovering from gunfire related injuries after a shooting inside and outside of a busy restaurant in the Pearl District Neighborhood. On Saturday, September 4, 2021, at 1:19p.m., Central Precinct officers were dispatched to a report of a shooting at Northwest 10th Avenue and Northwest Davis Street. When they arrived, they did not locate any victims but found evidence of gunfire and a significant number of people in the area. It took a significant number of officers to secure the crime scene.

Crews from the Portland Bureau of Transportation assisted officers with traffic control. Officers soon after learned that three people had arrived at local hospitals with gunshot wounds. One adult female and 2 juvenile (teenage) males were treated for injuries that are non-life threatening. Officers confirmed the injured were connected to the Pearl District shooting. The Enhanced Community Safety Team responded to the scene. Preliminary investigation indicates that a verbal argument led to a physical fight between a group of known people inside the restaurant. Shots were fired and the group moved outside the restaurant where more shots were fired. Investigators have confirmed the three people injured were a part of the prior confrontation and there’s no indication any bystanders were struck. One adult male was detained for the investigation and a gun (photo) was seized as evidence. No charges have been filed at this point.

Detectives believe that several people left the scene without waiting to speak to police.

Police in the broad cordoned off area engaged in a search for evidence on the ground and maybe a suspect. NIghtlife continued bumping along just north of the event.

Larry and Tonto

“This is the part where I disappear into the night.” I said over my shoulder, not intending to be heard.

“What? You don’t want a ride home?”

“No, I’m going somewhere else.” I lied, all but running as I picked up my pace, giving in to an old familiar impulse to flee social awkwardness, and its constant companion, dumb pride. I would navigate the five miles or so home at two am rather than incur a favor and endure a conversation. Have you known the feeling?

I realized I’d probably end up hailing a ride share, and I might even converse with the driver; dreading that wouldn’t even occur to me. So: I was about to pay a stranger, to be a stranger; like the celebrity who said he paid call girls not to come over–that’s not a problem–but to leave after. Needless to say, I’m no celebrity. I’m crazy.

I made for the black shadow of an unlit parking lot across the street to more quickly pass out of view. The vaguely human outline of a pile of rags under which a man crept along turned toward me as I passed. Briefly I saw a glint of eye there. Something shuttled across my path over the black ground, heading for a row of food carts. I relaxed and settled in to my stupid decision.

I’ve always done this sort of thing; the behavior is long set. Diligence is required in resisting it, and I’ve acquired some–or just calmed down with age; it happens more and more rarely, fading out like an echo. Still it strikes with the old vigor sometimes and must be appeased with an occasional indulgence like this, paid like a tribute. My burnt offerings are Saturday nights, blistered feet, relationships.

Sometimes I can only watch with dread as I act–noting it with a weird passivity and alienation, marveling, yet again, at myself: front brain sits on the bow, arms crossed, shaking his head, glaring with familiar resignation at back brain, hand on the tiller and mouth agape in determined oblivion. Still this isn’t what I’ve come to tell you about.

Two blocks on I peeked at the ride sharing app, balked at the cost, saw the wait, pocketed the phone. Waiting twenty minutes in the windswept–it felt like fall already–boredom of the south end of downtown was unappealing; I preferred, if not the human contact at least the presence of the degenerate denizens enlivening the north end. And you never know what you’ll see. Something occurred to me; I patted myself down for a mask. I would need one to ride. That settled it. The nearest 24 hour outpost, a boarded-up fortress of a Chevron station at Burnside, would be my destination.

I turned up Third at Market Street, overtaking and passing wide around a frail figure going my way when he hailed me. I stopped and let him catch up. He was walking as if falling forward on his stiff bowed legs, which seemed to trail behind as they worked, feet splayed, barely bending at the knees, favoring a wasting lower back. He had over his shoulder what looked like a white sheet folded up and fashioned into a pack, tied bindle-style at the corners and hanging from his shoulder over a clump of bags in his hand. Something under the other arm; when he came close I saw a cat peering out through mesh with alert curiosity. At first I wasn’t sure he wasn’t acting a little, as homeless will, when he staggered up with evident exhaustion, and presented himself, stooped at the waist in a perpetual bow.

“Can you help me find this place?” He wheezed. His shaded eyes were barely discernible, like a faint impression left behind on stone, imploring. A narrow face, narrowed further with age, tapered into the point of a wispy beard. He was winded; at points he would draw a deeper breath, groaning a little inhaling and rattling a little exhaling.

“What place?”

His answer was hard to hear.

“I’m not sure it exists. It’s supposed to be somewhere around here,” he rotated his stiff trunk weakly to indicate the surroundings. Seeing he held a scrap of paper:

“Is that the address?”

“Yeah.” He said enthusiastically as I took it from his hand. I squinted in the dark: VA something-or-other scrawled over a legible address. The address was on my way, a good ten blocks.

“Three oh eight first. That’s this way.” I gestured north. “Come on. We’re going this way.”

“What?” He asked.

“Come on. I’ll take you there.” I waved at him a little more emphatically.

He gave a little wheeze of surprise, and fell in.

He said his name was Larry. I don’t remember telling him mine.

“I’m a veteran.” He said. It didn’t occur to me to tell him I was too. Then:

“I’m sixty six years old.”

And a moment later:

“I was a minister.” He said these things with a morbid enthusiasm, offered like credentials in a routine pitch for relief. I didn’t tell him how old I was. He was homeless of course.

I tried picturing the block we were headed for, a distressed nook near a commuter train station and rotten with homeless. I thought as likely as not the place wasn’t there. But, someone had written that address down recently, before sending him on his way–to happen upon me, and here I was, assisting the hand-off. Absently I said:

“I think there’s a Salvation Army there.”

“I was a minister in the Salvation Army” he said with heightened enthusiasm, as if to reiterate what he’d said before. I was now confused and it was hard to hear everything he said, but it sounded as if he was some sort of evangelical minister who spent time working with the Salvation Army. I didn’t take him to be lying. Could it be that he had spent his younger years ministering to the needy and now here he was?

He struggled to keep up and I struggled to go slow. He huffed and wheezed along periodically cursing the effort but each time I offered to stop he insisted we press on, determined, giving out another tepid little curse. I think with his last-hope destination so close and an unlikely guide at hand he wasn’t going to rest until he got there.

“You want me to carry the cat?” I asked.

“Well he’s pretty heavy.” He said, as if to politely decline, but he didn’t resist when I gently lifted it from him. I could feel the outline of the cat through the soft fabric carrier; he was a good twelve pounds or more. The old guy laughed as I tucked him under my arm.

“See?” He said.

He complained things were getting worse on the streets.

“I’m surprised you stopped.” He said. “I can’t get anybody to stop. Not even the cops. They won’t even talk to you!” More grim enthusiasm.

I said something about last year’s riots and reduced police patrols. He didn’t understand me. I made mention again of it, but he still misunderstood; I’m not sure he knows about the riots and the diminishing role of police here.

The cat gave out a plaintive meow.

“I’m trying to position myself so he can see you. as we walk.” I explained.

“That’s not it. He’s just hungry. He won’t stop til he eats.”

By all indications the cat was eating better than he was. Nonetheless he began his own periodic lamentations, miserable little meows.

We arrived where First Avenue ducks under Morrison Bridge, where two rail lines take over the street heading into the MAX station. Car traffic is banished and the street is brick cobblestone; a tent camp, of course, has taken over the sidewalk under the bridge. He hesitated.

“Come on. We’re going up.” I said. He didn’t understand but eagerly followed up the concrete steps leading to a parking lot at Second Avenue. We neared the top when a furtive whisper came:

“Hey, you got a lighter? Got a lighter?”

Turning I squinted through chain-link into the black wedge under the bridge where it made landfall. The voice seemed to be coming from behind a strung-up blue tarp. The old guy got a little spooked, letting out a hollow whine under his breath as I let him pass me to the other side.

“No, I don’t.” I said, after taking a moment to decipher.

An obese rapper wearing a crown, five stories high, bearing an expression intended as pensive, looms over the parking lot. “The King is Back”, declares the billboard promoting his new single available on all platforms, “Bussin’ [shooting] Back”.

“Couple more blocks.” I said.

We turned back to First and I was relieved to find the 300 block accessible. I scanned across the solid old brick building across the street for a number before landing on the sign over the door right in front of me:

VETERANS COMMUNITY RESOURCE AND REFERRAL CENTER

“Here it is.” I said. “Nice.”

“Is it?” He said hopefully.

We crossed the train tracks and he set his bags down in the door’s alcove, expressing gratitude it was empty.

“Where you going to sleep?” I asked stupidly.

“Right here until they open.” He said

“Of course. Well then. Now to find you some water.” He’d been complaining miserably of thirst the whole time, and I’d promised him water.

“Where we going now?” He asked, discouraged, arranging his bags to hoist them back up.

“We’re not going anywhere. You’re going to rest here. I’m going to find you some water. There’s a place nearby.”

He sighed in gratitude, whistling a little. I set down the cat.

The Chevron on Burnside is girded in plywood, like a lot of places have been over the last year, but it’s the regular clientele, not antifa, against which fortifications are sometimes necessary. You can no longer go inside the little store, I think because of Covid. The door has been fashioned into a sort of Dutch door with the glass taken or broken out, and paneling over the bottom half; the attendant sells goods through it when he isn’t pumping gas.

His face is imploding, the homeless man at the window. His forehead tilts down and his chin tilts up, like rock outcroppings being drawn into the sinkhole of his toothless mouth. His mottled skin is dotted with open red sores that match the red around and lining the white of the eyes. His body wobbles one way and his head teeters another, as if having no relation; his collapsing chin bounces back and forth, his face makes little circular motions and his mouth works continually as if he’s in silent conversation.

The words bubble up as if through a viscous fluid, and he’s looking nowhere in particular when he says to the attendant:

“I’d like one of those double breve lattes.”

What? Do they have an espresso machine in there? And he’s ordering one? Now? What in the hell? I nod excuse-me to him, he appears oblivious–his eyes never look at anything–when the attendant lets me go first. The attendant’s facial expression and accent are both indecipherable; he gives me a Cheshire Cat grin when he says he’s out of masks. I think he’s East European.

The old guy didn’t recognize me at first, squinting up at the figure hovering over him.

“Here you go.” I said, opening the liter of water and handing it to him. The cat was out of his bag, a couple of tins laid out for him.

“Oh.” He sounded surprised, recognizing me finally. “Thank you.” He took the bottle in his shaky hand. Turning to the cat and filling one of the tins he said, “and there’s some for you buddy.” I stood there for a moment.

“Well, good luck.” I set out on my second escape of the night.

“Hey, wait a minute.”

I turned around and he was up and coming toward me, walking with a little more vigor and a little more upright, with all the dignity he could muster, his bow legs and skinny arms angling outward as he moved. He brought his hand around wide to shake mine, sharply, like a salute.

“God bless you” we said, and I patted his bony frame as he pulled me close.

I headed back in the direction and Old Town and then Broadway, still not sure how I’d get home. I wended through the tent camps, here an there stirring with life, if just barely, and then over the bridge, the silence occasionally and gently broken by the crashing wave sound of a passing car, and the city twinkling impassively and small behind.

I was well past the bridge when I came upon another service station. Around the corner a homeless camp had made a bonfire in the street. The maskless attendant gave me a pitying look as I approached with my shirt over my face; nobody among the clientele, typically motley, as required of a gas station convenience store at the hour, was wearing one.

“I don’t care if you wear a mask.” He said.

“Where do you keep them? The masks. I need one to get a ride.” I explained, embarassed.

Again the wait for a ride was unappealing, the service station parking lot an ugly drag (a middle-aged black man was fiddling with some sort of antenna mounted on his van while his slatternly white girlfriend brought out an armful of bright shiny food product), and with the perverse exhausted energy released by the evening, I decided to walk a bit more. I wouldn’t walk all the way, I told myself.

That would be stupid. And if I did walk five miles home for no good reason, I sure wouldn’t tell you about it here, now would I?