Last Friday I was alarmed to read the breaking news on the Daily Press website about the tragic homeless gun violence which left one dead and another wounded and charged with his murder. Upset, I decided to get some fresh air with a walk on Main Street. As I approached the door leading to Neilson Way, I stopped dead in my tracks. (“Dead” being the operative word.)

In the pitch dark I saw the outline of a man sprawled on the ground, face down. I cautiously got closer and, not seeing signs of breathing, concluded he was wasn’t alive. I raced to get help when I practically bowled over a female security guard holding a flashlight. (She was as startled as I was.) “I think there’s a dead man around the corner,” I said breathlessly.

As we walked apprehensively to the spot, I noticed the man whom I had thought was dead was slithering away in the darkness.  I turned to the security guard, “I think I want to modify my report.”

The diligent guard followed the man toward the park, while I, feeling somehow slightly responsible, trailed after her. (Though how much help would I be if I couldn’t tell the difference between dead and walking.)

Homelessness has been a sad aspect of our society going back to the Great Depression and further. Only then they were called “hobos.” As I was raised in a liberal household, as a kid and even in college I heard impassioned songs about homeless plight like Woody Guthrie’s,  “Hobo’s Lullaby.” Now it seems we’ve become inured.

While the guard  didn’t want the homeless man anywhere near the property, I found myself hoping he had found some grass under a tree in the park where he could sleep. I kept wondering what has happened to us.

Speaking of “what has happened to us,” I digress, briefly. On Tuesday, Donald Trump shocked aides when he issued an off the cuff, Armageddon-like threat to N. Korea of “Fire and fury like the world has never seen.” (Off the cuff is for golf scores or favorite TV show, NOT for threats about nuclear bombs! Especially on the 72nd anniversary of us nuking Nagasaki!)

We also learned Trump recently retweeted a Fox News story with leaked classified information and, supreme narcissist that he is, twice daily studies folders of admiring tweets and photos of himself! Former GOP Senator, Gordon Humphrey (N.H.) seemingly summed it up best,

saying Trump is “Sick of mind” and urged his removal from office. Until then, heaven help us. Now back to last Friday. 

When the guard and I returned from the park, strangers were suddenly sitting on the sidewalk in front of our building. The whole evening was so discouraging, after they left, I thanked the security guard and headed for Main Street.

Unfortunately, at Main and Hill I nearly stepped into a huge pile of someone’s dinner, to put it politely. Other people seeing the same sight turned the corner into collective nausea.  Whatever charm Main Street might have had earlier in the evening, had clearly vanished.

As I walked, the sidewalk seemed unusually filthy, littered with trash, broken beer bottles and cigarette butts. (So much for our “strict” smoking ban enforcement.) I suddenly got angry. This is my neighborhood! Why don’t we ever see beat cops patrolling or on bikes along Main Street?

When a few more loud and drunk people passed by it dawned on me that getting fresh may be overrated. At least that night. I started thinking what the hell has happened to Santa Monica? Or, maybe it’s just that I’ve gotten old?  (Not that the two are mutually exclusive.)

Take increased noise. It’s so bad lately my neighbor Barry jokes, “It’s so noisy I can’t hear myself snore.”  Realistically, could it be the advent of what other neighbors of mine not so affectionately call the Metro Line, “The Crime Train?”   

In the account of the homeless shootings, Hollister Avenue was mentioned. I’ve recently written about crime on Hollister and received numerous emails of even more criminal activity, including aggressive homeless behavior. In fact, on the morning of the shootings, Hollister resident Summer and her mom were walking to get breakfast when they were spat on by a homeless man. Not exactly bon appetite.

As I often think things aren’t what they used to be in our fair city, I’ve reflected on the movie “Jaws,” where businesses wanted shark reports minimized so as not to dampen the tourist trade. As it might have read in the Jaws screenplays, UP ominous MUSIC. Is it the shark, or developers? Or, as some disgruntled readers email me, is it our city council?

Next week I promise I’ll try to be a little cheerier. Even it means I don’t leave my apartment.

Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and jackdailypress@aol.com

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