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jay busse

jay busse
Sonoma, California, U.S.
January 04
Idiot Savant
I'd like to write something new and fun. But I'm drawing a blank. How do you draw a blank? Is it the simplistic beauty of the blank page?


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MAY 4, 2010 2:47AM

How To Become A Migrant Worker In 38 Years or Less

Rate: 6 Flag

Choices, good bad and ugly, shape who we are.

I mentioned in an earlier stream of semi-consciousness that I'd spent time as a migrant worker. Building golf courses to be exact. It's back breaking work at any age, I was 38 at the time.

I had long ago decided to stay single and stay the insane course of the writing dream. It wasn't difficult staying single, being me. None of these selfish adventures would've been possible with caring for a partner or children.

August 2001 found me wandering aimlessly a long way from Wisconsin, still in search of new adventures and perspectives. San Francisco proved a beautiful place to be, but it wasn't advancing my quest.

Golf course building and re-working was going full steam and a friend of the family offered me a job (thank you Mike Oliphant) working on The Virginian in Long Beach, CA.

Finding myself ever short of funds, my friend Roger Fallihee funded my aimless crusade for knowledge (for which I am both grateful and sorry for, because I have yet to repay him).

Roger and I had a farewell breakfast at local diner and I pointed my Blazer south.

I had the luxury of showing up to the job at my leisure. This meant my first stop would be Hollywood, where dreams are made and destroyed.

My dreams of seeing one my screenplays brought to life on the silver screen necessitated I spend a few days exploring the magic of tinsel town.

I don't like to do things like most people, I attempted to locate the seediest hotel available. The worse the area the better.

I stayed on Sunset for a night or two and on the corner of La Brea and Hollywood Blvd. for a couple more nights. I love the movie Hollywood Boulevard, but remain apathetic towards the actual boulevard.

It was just a facade. The lights and glamour seem manufactured after you witness the abundance of homeless people no one sees at movie premieres wandering the streets. The people mowing the park at the end of Sunset nudging homeless people, covered in newspapers, from the seats of their lawnmowers, so they'd get out of their way.

This in an area where real estate goes for a million dollars per square inch.

I love seedy neighborhoods, I learned to blend in and loved the shitholes I stayed in. I'd just spent 4 years immersed in the ghettos of Milwaukee (PC term: urban areas), an eye opening experience for milquetoast Jay from the shire.

People are just people, no matter where you are in actual location or social status. We're just as disappointing rich as we are poor.

What I discovered in the ghettos wasn't just a lack of wealth, it was a lack of hope. This was their fucking life and nobody gives a shit about them, so everybody can fuck off.

In the relatively nice shithotel I stayed in on Sunset Blvd. I was befriended by hookers.  Standing outside my room with a nice glass of box wine I watched the world pass by.

People seemed so friendly, waving up at me with smiles and the occasional shout-out. A pretty young woman appeared next to me, only moments after I wondered where all the perfume was coming from, and told me they thought I was a male prostitute.

I gladly accepted her invitation to join her friends in the back rooms of the hotel, where we shared more wine and stuff. Sometime during this surreal evening I decided it was time to get to Long Beach and find a place to live.

Neither of the two places I stayed in Hollywood were nearly as shitty as I'd hoped.

I knew I could do better and Long Beach did not disappoint. 


Hindsight provides one with a different view of the past. It occurs to me that it's quite possible I was going through a period of self-loathing and decided I didn't deserve anything nice. I deserved a shithole.

Next: Fear and Loathing in Long Beach   

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The trip to migrant work gave me a wonderfully different insight into an alien world.

This was so far from where I was from, it may as well have been OZ.
Cool story! Looking forward to the next.
My sister worked the fields with migrant workers for a season. she never went back, not b/c the work was all that hard, she was embarassed b/c "Not only couldn't I out work the teenagers, but the old people just blew me away!"
The work was/is grueling. It was a fascinating trip.

Thanks two thumbs.
OK, you've got me hooked. Now I'm looking forward to the next installment. And you're right, Hollywood is itself seedy. It's nowhere near the glamorous spot that the rest of the world or nation thinks that it is.
You must live to write like this folks. Very nice work here. rated.

It is entirely refreshing this week to read an accurate accounting of our culture's actual interaction. Of course, if you never interact with "others" yourself you really should pay close attention to this man's work.

Having passed through pretty much every hood from coast to coast I'll say this: The LBC is one of the fiercest places in America- I do imagine it did not disappoint; Jake's in Milwaukee has the best corned beef outside the lower east side.

PS nothing humanizes the demonized like doing actual hard work with them ... you know, when they say it builds character it is because those who don't ever experience lack it.
Thanks Oahusurfer,

I spent my twenties talking about writing and wiring fluff, because that's all the depth of perspective I had.

The 4 years in Milwaukee and the year as a migrant worker gave me a new perspective and compassion for my fellow man.

I was raised in an area that felt people got what they deserved. If you were poor you deserved it, if you were well off you were better people... we are not born with the same amount of opportunities.

What you never see must not exist and when was the last time we were told about conditions of our poor? Only if it involves crime and/or sensational story lines.

By only reporting crime we demonize the poor and make them easy to label undeserving of our help. By reporting nothing else it's easy to pretend they don't exist.

They're just urban situations...
"What I discovered in the ghettos wasn't just a lack of wealth, it was a lack of hope."

I love that line. It's so true. Even though I'm very familiar with this story I look forward to the Long Beach chapter.

Don't worry about money but Cheeky owes me a couple of hundred and I'd love to get it back from his sorry ass. (Do you remember Cheeky?)
I remember Cheeky...

Thanks for the comment and the help Roger.
Enoyed reading this. Lokking forward to reading more.
Thanks Patrick and to all of you who commented and will comment in the future:

Whether nice or complimentary or argumentative or provocative. I appreciate your comments.

I took the trip you're reading about to gain perspective. Constructive criticism and counter-thoughts provide different perspectives as well.

I like a good argument, as long as it's not insane name calling. Then I assume decorum is out the window.

Thanks again.