In Steve Lopez's column today on the homeless Skid Row musician (Nathaniel Anthony Ayers) he has been chronicling, he finally found his voice for this series of articles. Gone are the bizarre metaphors and similes and the straining for affect. Instead, he uses simple, elegant language to describe the troubled world of a talented musician whose mental demons have prevented him from living the life he should have been able to have.
Lopez also takes a more proactive approach to the story, trying to get him professional help when Ayers gets a gig at Downtown's famous Little Pedro's Blue Bongo after Alexis Rivera heard him play near the mouth of the 2nd Street tunnel.
But there is no happy ending here and there are no easy answers here; just the start of a long process.
Ironically, I have been working with one of the homeless living in the Third Street Tunnel for some time and he should - finally - be able to get permanent shelter. But, then, another homeless addict I have been working with, who just finished drug rehab, vanished before I could convince him to return home to the Midwest where his brother lives. After searching for him for days, I today found out from one of the newsstand owners on Broadway that he has been arrested again.
And an alcoholic who has been on a downward spiral also recently vanished for a month - and then suddenly reappeared when he finally got out of jail. But when it came time for him to meet me to go into the program I arranged for him, he never showed up.
Again, there are no simple answers, and there are no over night success stories. Just a long process and a lot of patience.