I was watching the Daily Show with John Stewart the other night and he had a guest who mentioned something that sounded kind of shocking: The majority of people receiving food stamps [EBT or CalFresh as they’re called now] are White. If you’re White and horrified by what you just read don’t be. We can be poor without having to be White trash.
Sure all of us have run into hard times before, but to run into hard times where you have to ask the government for a hand out is not something Caucasians ever really think about. Nowadays, it’s doesn’t matter what color you are, po’ folk is po’ folk. Sometimes you need a little help and you have to ask for it.
My family it currently on the San Francisco Health Plan because we can’t afford nor do I qualify for insurance because of pre-existing conditions [I could get us on the HIPAA plans, but that would cost us $2500/month]. I’m glad that it’s an available option for San Franciscans and if you don’t have insurance you should look into it.
Putting food on the table when you aren’t making any or enough money is another story. I’ve looked into this and a family of three can get up to $526/month to feed themselves. Sure you can include the food banks if you’re heavy eaters, but there are things you can buy that go a long way that are cheaper.
CalWorks is San Francisco’s version of welfare and while it helps out it doesn’t very much. I did a little research and again, for a family of three you can get $695/month, but that cuts into your CalFresh money and cuts it down to $377/month. So if you are able to collect unemployment you can get a little over $1000/month to feed and house a family of three. I went to a meeting just to check it out and CalWorks has a program called Welfare to Work where at least one of the members of the family has to attend a 40 hour a week job training service for a month. If you haven’t found a job by then, then you have to do it again.
If you’re someone like me who has a college degree and a high level of skills this program won’t work for you. The jobs they are offering are low paying and short term. Even more so it doesn’t work because you have to spend time learning how to get a job which you already know when you could be spending time doing freelance work. Even when you get a job, if it’s a contract position they don’t count that as a job so they tell you that they’ll cut your benefits if you don’t show up for the job training which you don’t need. In short the system is broken. They don’t know how to deal with middle class people who have a college degree and more skills than the person who is your job counselor who doesn’t speak English very well.
As I heard one of the people working there say, you don’t want to be on welfare because it only leaves you pissed off and poor. I seriously think they need to work on adding additional resources for helping skilled people find work instead of offering temporary part time minimum wage jobs just so they can check you off the list. That doesn’t solve the unemployment problem it just regenerates it.
Many of you are not aware of today’s festival so I will share it with you. The night before May Day was the evening of a sacred festival often portrayed as coming from the old country which usually means the under civilized parts of eastern Europe long ago, but is usually to celebrate the darkness before the light of spring.
Walt Disney took it upon himself to create a bit of a spin by associating Walpurgisnacht [also known as Hexennacht] with halloween to create a night where Satan runs amok and parties with those above ground in his symphonic masterpiece Fantasia. Walt even put a soundtrack to this evening by using Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Moussorsky to help emotionally build upon the notion of how evil tonight is supposed to be. Walt is to Walpurgisnacht as Cecil B. DeMille is to the Old Testament. More people know the story of Moses as Cecil made it than who have read about it in the bible. Of course Walt had to end it with Ave Maria so keep from turning all the kids watching into evil incarnate, but I digress. Another fun fact was that Moussorsky wrote Night on Bald Mountain originally as a celebration of the Summer Solstice.
While I don’t have definitive proof I’m fairly certain Anton LaVey was influenced by the last segment of Fantasia and it’s imagery to claim today as the starting date for his Church of Satan in 1965. So maybe even old Anton was more influenced by Walt Disney than the true folk festival that tonight is where the locals would celebrate until sun up for the first day of May so they could work off their hangovers by participating in fertility rites that they probably had done the night before, where I doubt Satan was in attendance.
The festival was accompanied by night time bonfires. If you’d like to participate I suggest you light a few torches after dark [I personally recommend Home Depot’s] and look out into the night sky and realize that tomorrow is the awakening of spring and better days are ahead.
Or if you don’t you can watch Walt’s version below 🙂
I went over to my friend’s recording studio in the Richmond District one day a few years ago to help him fix some problems he was having with his mac. We were upstairs and and he was running all about and he came to me and asked me if I could take over for him in the sound check downstairs because he had to run out to the store and pick up a few things for the two guys he was recording downstairs. I didn’t think anything of it because I knew my recording skills were good and my friend Pete had taught me a lot.
So we go downstairs and I start looking at where he was so far and and I hear him say, “Arlo, Jack, this is Eric he’ll be getting you set up.” I turned around from the recording console to be staring in the face, Arlo Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. I believe I should have been wearing diapers at the time. The first thing that hit me, other than shaking a little bit were the words, “You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant.”
Shit, Fuck, OMG. I was being asked to do a sound check for Arlo Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. I wasn’t too big on folk music and at the time I looked like your typical metalhead, but still, these guys were famous musicians and I freaked a little bit. Would they think I totally sucked? Would they yell at my friend Pete for giving the sound check and prep for two folk singers over to a METAL HEAD!?!?!
I took a breath. They could see I knew who they were were and kind of laughed at the fact that a metal head would feel nervous around them. Thinking back that was kind of a funny moment all in all. I sucked it up and sat down at the console and checked the levels and adjusted the mics. Pete had a heater running in the studio to keep their bones warm and that was something I had to make a few adjustments for but the studio was practically air tight so we could turn it off once they got their end together along with me.
What seemed like hours, but was probably only about thirty minutes Pete came back and took over and I went upstairs to fix his computer. A couple of hours later they took a break and invited me down to have a beer in the backyard with them. So there I was a metal head sitting with two folk legends and a man who was in the rock and roll hall of fame for producing the UK’s first psychedelic song [that was Pete, if you can’t make the connection] drinking beer and just talking. It was just one of those experiences that make you realize that people are people no matter how famous they are and most of the time you can just walk up and crack a beer with them and chat.
No I will not yell “Freebird!” and hold up a lighter. Ya’ll don’t pay me enough to do that.