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Old 12-12-2017, 08:01 AM
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The man lay on the cold concrete. I stared at him as I walked past, wondering how long he had lain there? An hour? Two? All day? It was about 2 a.m., and the temperature must have been below fifteen degrees. The bitterly cold evening forced me to keep both hands tucked inside my coat pockets to stay warm. However, my face wasnít so lucky; my ears and nose were stinging from the frigid weather. My own discomfort made me momentarily forget about the poor creature sprawled on the sidewalk.

The night freeze propelled my legs, as my quick steps carried me farther and farther from the lonely spot where he helplessly lay. Men on the ground wasn't an unusual sight for me. I had been accustomed to witnessing these horrors since childhood. A neighborhood to perhaps Americaís largest skid row, I couldn't avoid the seeing misery up close. The heart-wrenching scenes were natural for me, and over the years, I had developed an immunity to other's suffering. But, tonight, my immunity system was failing me.

I couldn't shake the shadowy figure from my mind. His pain travelled alongside of me, gripping my soul and refusing to release it. Why was his misery moving with me? Perhaps, his pain attached itself to me because I was drunk. I couldn't be certain if the alcohol had caused my surge of sympathy for the fallen stranger. But I knew I had to do something. What though? As I entered my warm apartment, which was three blocks from where the man lay, I was unable to rid myself of the pitiful image.

With guilt directing my actions, I opened the door of my closet. At the bottom of it I saw the folded blanket. It was a worn blanket filled with tiny holes, one that should have been discarded in the trash long ago. I reached for it and raced from my apartment, rushing through the lonely streets again to complete my mission. I found him motionless, exposed to the elements, the way I had passed him. I opened the worthless rag to cover his body. After draping it over him, I turned to leave. I should sleep comfortable now.

"If our poor die of hunger, it is not because God does not care for them. Rather it is because neither you nor I are generous enough." ĖMother Theresa





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Old 12-16-2017, 01:35 AM
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It made me mad. It’s as if the only thing propelling this character to do good is to feel like a decent person and not to actually make a change. You have built this story around the hopelessness of the poor and yet the homeless man got an old, damaged blanket, and the narrator instantly felt a sense of greatness. I don’t buy it, it felt superficial, like the main character had no emotions at all but simply felt the pressure of society to do something.
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Old 12-16-2017, 03:21 AM
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I liked this - particularly the last line. A very honest approach to superficial acts of charity that are motivated by making ourselves comfortable with our conscience and less about alleviating somebody else's suffering.

Yes, it's ugly - but its honest and I thought the last line drove the point home.

For me, this is the best thing I've read from you City.
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Old 12-16-2017, 05:01 PM
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Old 12-18-2017, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Grace Gabriel View Post
I liked this - particularly the last line. A very honest approach to superficial acts of charity that are motivated by making ourselves comfortable with our conscience and less about alleviating somebody else's suffering.

Yes, it's ugly - but its honest and I thought the last line drove the point home.

For me, this is the best thing I've read from you City.
Thanks, Grace. True story. Long time ago. We lived side by side with thousands of men like the one in story. Passing them on freezing nights while they slept on cold sidewalks was a way of life. It was no big deal; after all, as children, we had to occasionally leap over one as he lay sprawled in the narrow hallway of our tenement to get to the staircase to go home. They were our neighbors. Good ones too. I wish they would have cared for themselves much better though. They sold their souls to the devil for whiskey. And suffered dearly, especially during winter.

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Old 12-18-2017, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by pralina View Post
It made me mad. Itís as if the only thing propelling this character to do good is to feel like a decent person and not to actually make a change. You have built this story around the hopelessness of the poor and yet the homeless man got an old, damaged blanket, and the narrator instantly felt a sense of greatness. I donít buy it, it felt superficial, like the main character had no emotions at all but simply felt the pressure of society to do something.
Alcohol was responsible for the actions of both men -- one for lying in the cold and the other for pitying him. Though a blanket on a freezing night is the equivalent of a band aid over a shotgun blast to the chest. Nevertheless, it was still something.

Have you ever been homeless?
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Old 12-18-2017, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Cityboy View Post
Alcohol was responsible for the actions of both men -- one for lying in the cold and the other for pitying him. Though a blanket on a freezing night is the equivalent of a band aid over a shotgun blast to the chest. Nevertheless, it was still something.

Have you ever been homeless?


Itís not enough to tell the reader afterwards that alcohol was responsible. Show the reader (in the story) why and how this event happened. Show both plagued with alcohol. The story now leaves the reader confused, and some readers mad.
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Old 12-18-2017, 04:40 PM
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I mentioned skid row and alcohol in the four paragraphs. The alcohol connecting the two was an afterthought anyhow. There are many types of audiences. Someone unfamiliar with the circumstances in real life might have a difficult time understanding the story. I can go only as far as my writing will allow me. Perhaps, in the future, the scenes will become crystal clear -- though I'm not so certain a Hemingway could present the exact scenes to someone who is unfamiliar with the surroundings.
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Old 12-18-2017, 04:41 PM
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You mean angry or dissatisfied.
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Old 12-18-2017, 04:50 PM
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How it happened: one guy, lit up like a Christmas tree, coming home from a night of drinking walked past an alcoholic sprawled on the sidewalk like a wounded soldier on a battlefield. The alcohol in the walking dude filled him with compassion, pity, and guilt. So, when he went home, he gathered an old worthless blanket and returned to cover the man with it -- only because the alcohol propelled his actions this night. For hundreds of times in the past, he had walked by fallen comrades without doing what he had done. That's the story in a nutshell.

To be quite frank, one had to be there in the moment to fully capture both the image and feeling. Writing is almost like re-creating scenes on the big screen. The directors and actors try like hell to duplicate the exactness -- but, though the directors and actors do an outstanding job, the one watching with the keen eye knows that it's just a performance for the screen, not a replication of the exact moment. What I guess I'm trying to say is when I write as well as a Jack London, a Herman Melville, or a Robert Louis Stevenson, then I'll be a bit better at getting closer to duplicating an "exactness."

But, now, pardon me if my writing makes you angry.

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Old 12-18-2017, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Cityboy View Post
I mentioned skid row and alcohol in the four paragraphs. The alcohol connecting the two was an afterthought anyhow. There are many types of audiences. Someone unfamiliar with the circumstances in real life might have a difficult time understanding the story. I can go only as far as my writing will allow me. Perhaps, in the future, the scenes will become crystal clear -- though I'm not so certain a Hemingway could present the exact scenes to someone who is unfamiliar with the surroundings.


Hemingway could definitely. You nor I will ever be Hem.

I mean, there is a distance between yourself and your prose. You need to dig deeper. Itís in you; itís in all of us. We just need to find it.


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Old 12-18-2017, 06:16 PM
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Never say never -- every human being has within seeds waiting to sprout into some tree of greatness. // Returning to the writing, I try to clean mine as much as possible. Perfection takes a lot of practice. Yet, one has to consider this forum "Free Writing." I'm not looking to short change anyone reading my material in this forum, but this indeed is a good place for "target practice."

Besides finding anything within, I definitely need to spend more time on grammar and sentence structure. Though, really, I cannot complain about my development as an amateur writer. But, I do agree -- it is more important to please the audience. The reader is the king or the queen.

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Old 12-18-2017, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Cityboy View Post
Never say never -- every human being has within seeds waiting to sprout into some tree of greatness.

I donít think this is true. You and I can agree to disagree.



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Old 12-19-2017, 04:23 AM
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All in all I guess it's better that your writing makes people angry rather than not make any impression at all.
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Old 12-19-2017, 05:51 AM
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Most likely, a writer's best works derive from his or her own personal experiences. Whether a person's reporting his/her journey through life should impact another in a positive or negative way is, indeed, in the heart of the reader.
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Old 12-19-2017, 06:00 AM
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Probably, the ideal solution to the problem in the story was that the passerby wake up the man on the sidewalk and take him home. Unfortunately, he didn't (but, then, again how many of us would have? Should you (or anyone) get mad or angry at another's shortcomings or flaws? I would say you would be foolish to do so, especially when there is the opportunity to correct the wrong committed in the story. Just walk down any main street in an inner city in the U.S.A, and homeless people could be found easily. To "unmadden" yourself, you may do the right thing and take one home -- at any time!

That is the act (unconditional love) of a highly evolved being. Unfortunately (again), the character in the story hasn't arrived at such inner heights. I tried to make the point in the story. A few readers picked it up, but to those like yourself who didn't, I apologize.

I mean, we all talk a good game. It's easy and it's cheap. But, in life, the "putting up" is what really separates the men and the women from the boys and the girls. In the story, the character failed the test.

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Old 12-19-2017, 06:23 AM
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Yes, he failed the test, but he behaved as if he didn't, as if he did something amazing for the homeless person. It's like all these videos of 'good people' giving things to the poor - they do it so that their friends can say "you are such a good human being", and because it makes THEM feel good; otherwise they wouldn't bother filming it in the first place. I don't live in the USA, and there are no homeless people where I live, so I cannot exactly do what you suggested, but I am aware of the problem in the USA. My point is simply that if you want to help - just do it, don't expect to be praised for it. That's the main reason for my emotions towards your story.
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Old 12-19-2017, 06:40 AM
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You shouldn't be angry that someone doesn't measure up to YOUR standards. Put YOUR standards into action -- you have vast opportunities.


Unfortunately, you misread the point of the story.

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Old 12-19-2017, 07:07 AM
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You cannot control how people interpret your work. And I am not angry at you nor your story, this is not a personal attack. There is no need to point fingers, as in fact you have no way of knowing whether I already put "my standards into action". I feel like this whole exchange has become hostile and it was never my intention.

Your piece made me feel something, I would take that as a win; let's move on.
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Old 12-19-2017, 07:59 AM
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What Have You Done for Me, Lately? I believe was a Janet Jackson hit.

My statements aren't aimed at you, pralina. Never were. They are "general" for all to chew on, even me. As a rule to measure the character of a person. A person should help another without any expectation down the road. Not even the slightest favor. Do for a person as though you will never ever see him/her you are helping again and you have met the "standards." No strings attached.

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Old 12-19-2017, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Cityboy View Post
What Have You Done for Me, Lately? I believe was a Janet Jackson hit.

My statements aren't aimed at you, pralina. Never were. They are "general" for all to chew on, even me. As a rule to measure the character of a person. A person should help another without any expectation down the road. Not even the slightest favor. Do for a person as though you will never ever see him/her you are helping again and you have met the "standards." No strings attached.


My the bubba bless you and let you into heathen.

Doh! Damn autocorrect!


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Old 12-19-2017, 03:17 PM
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Not to concerned about heaven and hell, never was. Most of us have already had a slice of both places anyhow.

You're a strange critter. You enter a thread under the pretense of helping me with writing, but you revert to making a clown of yourself with your traditional nonsense.
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Old 12-19-2017, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Cityboy View Post
Not to concerned about heaven and hell, never was. Most of us have already had a slice of both places anyhow.

You're a strange critter. You enter a thread under the pretense of helping me with writing, but you revert to making a clown of yourself with your traditional nonsense.


I will still always help you with writing. I love the written word. Itís not personal with me.

I think you are a batshit narcissist, with a shallow world view, but I will still help you with writing if you ask. Again, itís not personal.

Sometimes I play with you because you are easy to play with. Maybe thatís mean, but are cats mean when they play with mice? Or are they just doing what is natural?

I donít know the answer, but I bet you do.


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Old 12-19-2017, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
I will still always help you with writing. I love the written word. Itís not personal with me.

I think you are a batshit narcissist, with a shallow world view, but I will still help you with writing if you ask. Again, itís not personal.

Sometimes I play with you because you are easy to play with. Maybe thatís mean, but are cats mean when they play with mice? Or are they just doing what is natural?

I donít know the answer, but I bet you do.


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There has to be a seed of willingness -- something that indicates a desire to accept criticism and use it going forward -- otherwise, what's the point?
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Old 12-19-2017, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Myers View Post
There has to be a seed of willingness -- something that indicates a desire to accept criticism and use it going forward -- otherwise, what's the point?


For me itís the word. Nothing but the word. If you can lay it down, Iíll listen. And if you want help, Iíll help.

Honestly, CB canít lay it down. I donít think he will ever be able to. Iím still willing to help on the outside chance he finds it, but Iím not optimistic.

Still... if youíre trying, thereís still hope.


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Old 12-19-2017, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post

Honestly, CB canít lay it down.
Okay -- good for you. For me, life is too short...
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Old 12-19-2017, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Myers View Post
Okay -- good for you. For me, life is too short...


Thereís always the comedy. That doesnít ever go away.


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Old 12-20-2017, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Cityboy View Post
Alcohol was responsible for the actions of both men -- one for lying in the cold and the other for pitying him. Though a blanket on a freezing night is the equivalent of a band aid over a shotgun blast to the chest. Nevertheless, it was still something.

Have you ever been homeless?
I have, Cityboy. One of the best poems I ever wrote was titled, "Down and Out in Oceanside (or 'The Hill Street Blues"), about the bitterness of waking up in a cold concrete doorway on the main street in Oceanside, California, with nothing to my name but an almost empty bottle of Jim Beam (...is that all it is?/A big roulette game/in which some folks are picked to succeed/and others are doomed/ through no fault of their own/ to work hard and be always in need?...pick a number and watch how she spins/ see your life pass before you/ in the wheel as she's rolling/ now it slows...stops...see?/Someone else wins...

It went on about the bitterness of losing a wife and child and going from having everything to having nothing but what it didn't have was how I picked myself up out of there and made something of myself again.

There are two types of homeless: those who have encountered serious misfortune not of their own doing, and are trying their damndest to get out; and those who have put themselves there by their own stupidity or laziness, and have resigned themselves to the "cold concrete doorway." There's no helping them and they don't deserve your sympathy. They don't want too much of a "come-up", because that would ruin their fishing, as in fishing for handouts, so don't feel bad about being such a miserable person that you'd actually get a sense of righteousness from dumping a ragged old blanket on a drunk.
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Old 12-20-2017, 12:35 PM
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And there are some homeless who are seriously mentally ill -- but probably not as many as some people think or want to believe.
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Old 12-20-2017, 01:35 PM
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I lived in my car for about three months in Venice Beach California. I didnít choose it, but I didnít do enough to avoid the scenario. I just failed to plan for the potential.

I really learned a lot in those days.

Iíve been meaning to write a story around the experiences, but just havenít yet.

Hereís the set-up: a skinny pot-head and acid aficionadoís luck runs out forcing him to live in his 1981 Honda Prelude for a few months with his bass guitars and a Fender Bassman full stack, before scoring a touring gig with a regionally working cover band and eventually moving into the drummer and his wifeís guest house in North Hollywood.

Or, something like that.


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