Artisan by Dan Joyce
Salute to Stan
Today I ran into my old friend Stan on the bus stop with his girlfriend. His name is actually, Cory, but I’ve always somehow called him Stan. Maybe because it rhymes with my name, Dan, and I can relate to him so well. I first met Stan in AA several years ago. He was a young kid that wanted to be a part of my art business and showed me a sketchbook of craft tattoo type ink drawings. I told him he was good, but if he wanted to work with me he would have to draw every day. He became angry, said he wouldn’t do that and stormed away. Later, he would often visit my booth in the street market, but become more upset when I would have to attend customers and ignore him briefly.
Stan is now trying to make it back to the east coast to be with his family. He is finally off parole, but for no serious offences, just a series of drunk in public charges and vagrancy violations that have added up. He tried housing through the services 12 step programs offered, but was always asked to leave. The laws on sober livings are that they can kick you out without notice, not just for drinking either, sometimes for not getting along with others, fighting over stolen food, even petty infringements like not making the bed. In fact the contracts of sober livings state that they can kick you out for nearly any reason without notice and refuse to refund your rent… and so we find Stan. With Stan’s temper, it’s easy to see he didn’t fit in. Sober livings just kept the money and threw him out. 12 step programs are strict. According to them quitting drinking is not just about quitting drinking, it’s also about making money and a lot of recovery home owners are making cash that way.
I’ve always wanted to do an oil painting of Stan as a young homeless Sid Vicious, but I can’t afford the oil paint or canvas since Baxter took over the local art scene promising to help people like Stan and me. He has a hard time finding work, so do I. I give him money and food when I can and he surprisingly never expects it. I tell him he owes me nothing. I guess a lot of people just aren’t that unconditionally nice to him. I suppose many people see me as I see Stan. He could do so much for himself in this society if he just wasn’t so damned angry. But honestly, there is so much to be angry about with all the bad cops in Fullerton, people turning a blind I to injustices, corruption on every corner and activists and civil rights leaders claiming equality yet only proving to be as selfish and discriminating as the bigots they oppose.
Sadly, all I can do for Stan is paint him give him what I have when I see him. I can see the problem. We can all see the problem. We see it everyday at the bus stops or doing business downtown. But the solutions are much harder to find. Yet, sometimes just identifying that the problem is there can be the first part of the solution. Maybe a little love and enlightenment when you see Stan, as my friend Magoski would say, is all that Stan could really use and maybe he wouldn’t be so damned angry. I salute you Stan. I salute you in the sober livings. I salute you on the streets. I salute you in the psyche ward. I salute you in Theo Lacy. I salute you in the county jail. I salute you in Rockland. I salute you with Carl Solomon. I salute you sleeping on the bus stop. I salute you for surviving it all. Today, my hat is off to you!