Fishing in Public

by “Tackle Box” Billy Kelley

Hobo Jungle Boogie

How ya doin’ folks? I’m not too bad this time around. Month’s been total hell for me in a way, though. Different folks coming all the time checking on my PNES and whatnot. Get to meet two or three nurses a week anyways and some are real eye-candy! And yesterday my month was topped off by my very own colonoscopy! How’s that for tricks?

But I’m back in the saddle and rarin’ to go, ready to report on what I see as the latest, for lack of a better description, total fuck-up from our Portland City Council. Goddamn sons of bitches stick a homeless shelter way out in Riverside. Well, don’t they realize it might say “Riverside” but it’s not a riverside in my conception of riverside. Plus the big thing: there’s no fishing in that river. Or should I say sewer? In fact, my question is not how many will try to go fishing out there but how many people will drown out there? Sounds harsh, but you and I know it’s true. Christ, people won’t even stick their little toe in that moving swamp, let alone eat fish out of it.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. The whole river ain’t bad. I had made plans myself to go fishin’ down river a ways.

Jesus, I just had a great idea! Maybe the homeless folks could join the golf club! Think about it. They could use their beat-up grocery carts as golf carts. And I notice golfers like umbrellas. Well, homeless would be all set now, wouldn’t they? I wonder if you can fish in that part of the drink. Well, they can always scrape up a few bucks diving for the errant golf balls. And hey, maybe they can unionize the caddy operation?

But seriously folks, it’s really a poor choice. What about the poor fucks that spend the last quarter they can beg, borrow or steal to get to Riverton, only to be turned away? Got any idea what happens? From much painful experience, I sure do. None of it pretty.

Number one is stay dry, by any means possible. Dig it? Oh yeah, fights galore over the best spots, B & E, building your own shelter out of anything around, which might mean a little thievery, ’specially out of people’s backyards. From there it’s anybody’s guess. Put yourself in their shoes — which, heaven help you, you might be someday. And then take a good look at your children and think of what you’d do in the same situation. And this is just rain. What about one of Maine’s delightful snowstorms? You know, one of those humdingers that result in more slush and mush than anything else.

I don’t imagine the Portland City Council has given this much thought. I mean, talk about NIMBY. These guys take the grand prize. Did they actually do any research at all into any other places? I know Mr. Strimling had a pretty good idea with his spread-out theory, but I fear that may be cost-prohibitive.

The other day I gave the West End a good look-over, and I’m convinced that’s the way to go. I saw a few desirable spots, and you can too — that is, if you can get your mind into vertical, instead of flat, square feet.

But I’ve got an even better idea. Ironically enough, it’s called Hobo Jungle, back behind St. John Street by the railroad tracks. If you’re too young to remember, it actually was a place for hobos to hang out while dodging the law or waiting for a train, and it was close enough to the water to do some fishing! I remember the area well. I used to hide out to drink beer and such down there a lot. My buddy Dave even ditched the law by hoppin’ a train there once. And me, I’ve had the pleasure of escorting ladies through the area a few times.

It’s a seemingly remote area, yet close to humanity. And I like it for the simple reason of convenience. You got the hospital facility right there, county sheriff’s office, and another biggie: the transportation center — bus, train, the highway for hitchhiking. Right?

Oh, and another thing about Riverton. As my buddy Cliff points out, a lot of people just won’t make the trip. They’ll simply find places to stay around town. You might wish to check your basements and whatnot.

Go back to what I said and think about your family, then think: Do we strand people in what might be a hopeless Siberia or do we let them mingle with normal folks, closer to where they at least have a fighting chance to get back into life as we know it? See, some of the homeless don’t want to be homeless. Don’t we owe something at least to the folks who’re actually trying to make it in life? I mean, more than stranding them out in Nowheresville? What if it was your kid out there? Or you?

I know the vote’s already been passed, but I also know there’s time to still please, please change your mind.

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