Home Brew


26 May 2017

“Hi Dennis, I’ll be getting my new place on Monday. They’ve moved it up a few days. I’ve got roaches where I am now so there’s a lot of stuff I can’t take to my new place. I’ve heard that roaches are the oldest living insect. They originated over two hundred and eighty million years ago. So, they’re pretty tough. I don’t mind them so much, but they spread disease.

“My new place is bigger so I’ll be able to make wine again. That’ll save a lot of money and I can sell some on the side. It’s easy to make and it’s not illegal. I’ve made my own beer. My wife didn’t like that because I’d have guys ringing the doorbell at two thirty in the morning. They’d be yelling, ‘Ted, we’ve got some bitches in the car and we want to party. Bring us down a couple of two fours.’

“Another time I was making my own vodka. I had all the distilling equipment hidden in the attic. I’d send out bottle pickers to get me sparkling water bottles. I’d give them thirty cents a piece. They were happy. I was happy. My room was on the main floor so I’d have people banging on my window at all times of the night. These guys, alcoholics, would be drunk and noisy. They’d shout, ‘Ted, get out of bed you lazy asshole. We need a couple of bottles.’ It cost me a little over a dollar to make and I sold it for ten, so I was making big money. If someone bought more than ten bottles I’d throw in a free one. Other guys would want me to front them because they had no money. I’d tell them, ‘I’ll give you this bottle for free, but don’t ever come by again without money.’

“My landlady didn’t like the noise and had the police come by. They knocked on my door and asked if they could come in. I said, ‘Do you have a warrant?’ The cop said, ‘No.’ I said, I’ll let you come in, but I’ll stay with your buddies in the hallway.’ He went in, saw all the bottles and asked, ‘Ted, are you making alcoholic beverages here?’ I said, ‘Just a bit of wine. There’s no law against that is there? When vodka is fermenting it’s a dark color. It looks just like wine. The cop asked, “Do you mind if we look through your drawers and closets?’ I said, ‘Go ahead.’ They came around a couple of times. After the second inspection where they didn’t find anything they said, ‘We won’t be coming back again.’ If they’d come a third time I could have charged them with harassment.

“My landlady was still ticked off so she invited me for lunch. She paid. She said, ‘Ted, this isn’t working you’ll have to move out.’ I said, ‘No problem. Give me two months to organize my stuff and I’ll be gone.’ ”


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Proposed Rehab Center



19 May 2017

Bearded Bruce was sitting on the sidewalk with his back against the polished granite of an office building. An empty coffee cup was held in his outstretched hand. When he saw me approach he said, “Hey, Dennis, have you got a few minutes to talk. I’ll pull out a piece of cardboard for you to sit on. So, how are you doing, man. It’s great to see you. Loretta and I were just talking about all our friends. Did you hear that Debbie passed away? Loretta took that pretty hard. Nick and Trudy are back. They both have cancer. Nancy’s is incurable. Nick is doing everything he can to make her life comfortable. Raven passed away and I guess you heard that Shark and Irene are both gone. Loretta stayed home because she was feeling depressed. When she feels depressed she wants a drink. She’s been sober for two years. She’s decided that what she wants to do is study to become a drug and rehab counsellor to Inuit people. She’s had a lot of experience with that.”

I said, “A group I know of: doctors, nurses, psychologists, pharmacists and philanthropists are interested in providing accessible, mental and substance abuse/addiction care for the homeless in the downtown area. We have in mind an existing building with twelve beds. Is this something that you’d be interested in? Is twelve beds enough?”

“A thousand beds wouldn’t be enough, but twelve would be a dozen more than we have right now. Follow up and job placement would be mandatory. These people would need to trust that there was someone to turn to if they had a relapse or things went bad. AA has a helpline that alcoholics can use if the need for a drink is too great. They can also go to meetings whenever they want, some go once a day, some go five times a day.

“You’re asking me about this in what capacity? I’m not interested in rehabilitation for myself. I’m different than a lot of people who we both know who need drugs and alcohol. If they don’t get their fix or a drink for a couple of days they get symptoms of nausea, headaches, sweats, diarrhea, insomnia, and anxiety, among others. In extreme cases, alcohol detox can cause death. Sometimes, drugs are used to lessen the effects of alcohol detox.

“I’m not one of those people. For me it’s a lifestyle choice. I want alcohol, but I don’t need it. Deciding to give up sex doesn’t mean that a man doesn’t get a hard on. The want is always there. I used heroin for a while, but didn’t get addicted because I don’t have an addictive personality. Also, I wasn’t trying to escape from anything. There was nothing that I wanted to forget. I came to Canada with five friends, we called ourselves a gang. Can you guess how many of them are still alive? One, and that’s because he’s serving twelve years in prison for murder, or manslaughter. Have you seen the movie Trainspotting? If you haven’t you should. It was filmed near where I used to live. Do you remember the urinal scene. I was there. My friends were just like the characters in the movie.

“If you’re thinking of a model rehab situation you should look at Holland. Prohibition never works. See what happened in the States, it put all the money in the hands of organized crime. In Holland, what they did first was to eliminate the money. A drug or alcohol addict could get a government licence and he would be provided a limited amount of the alcohol or drugs of his choice. He didn’t have to buy from underground sources, so they dried up.

The overall vision puts addiction clients in charge of their own addiction treatment, by shifting the care towards empowerment, reintegration and self-regulation of the clients. Since the start of 2014, addiction care has been provided in a three-stepped approach: with frontline support from a general practitioner or a general practice mental health worker, followed by the primary mental healthcare and secondary mental healthcare. http://buff.ly/2rDPSiz

In case after case, those who have completed the drug rehabilitation program in Zutphen state that this treatment center saved their lives. One woman told a terrifying tale of years of crime perpetrated to maintain her drug habit. When she woke vomiting blood one day, she realized that she would die within a week if she did not get help. She had heard that the Narconon drug recovery program in Zutphen could help and she went to them. It took several months for her to finally rebuild the life that was destroyed by substance abuse, but she did it. She got completely clean and became a productive employee again, also restoring her relationship with her family. http://buff.ly/2qCvWPz

Bruce continued, “You must be willing to accept people who are drunk and/or on drugs. At present these people are turned away from AA and the Salvation Army. They demand that an addict be clean for twenty-four hours before entering their premises. There is a small window where addicts have hit rock bottom and may decide that they desperately want recovery. If an addict or an alcoholic can resist for twenty-four hours they don’t need a program. In Scotland and Holland, addicts commit to seventy-two hours where they are locked in and sometimes tied down. After that it is their decision to stay or go.

“There would need to be a pharmacist to administer the drugs of choice. Methadone is not a substitute for heroin, it replaces the craving and is administered to a user who has given up the drug, much like a nicotine patch is used by someone quitting smoking. You can’t just slap a patch on a smoker and expect any results. They have to have a deep desire to quit. Being told by a doctor that you either quit or die is often enough motivation.

“It’s essential that there be representatives on the board who were down and out drug users or alcoholics and are now in recovery. Nobody else would know the hell that recovering addicts go through. As an example a man wouldn’t be effective as a counsellor at a rape crisis center, unless the man had himself been raped. A healthy youth wouldn’t be effective counselling to elderly arthritis sufferers about how to deal with their pain. As a parent you wouldn’t be effective counselling pedophiles, you’d look down at them with disgust. Am I getting my point across?

“Another thing you would need is security. If addicts can’t get money for drugs they’ll resort to violence and stealing. This causes bad feelings. If both the thief and the person stolen from are in the same room, or if one is outside and the other is inside, they’ll break down the door to get revenge.

If you’d like I’d be willing to speak to this group, and could refer other people who may be of value in the program.


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Rehab Clinic



“Good morning, Ted, I have some questions for you. If you don’t mind.”

“Go ahead, shoot.”

“There is a group that is planning to open an addiction clinic in the downtown area. Do you have any thoughts on that?”

“Is this going to be a safe injection site?”

“No, not specifically. It’ll be housed in an existing building. The facility will have twelve beds. There will be doctors, nurses, psychologists, pharmacists and counsellors. What do you think of the idea?”

“Yeah, it sounds like a good idea.”

“Do rehabilitation centres work?”

“Yes and no. I’ve been in rehab five times. I’m still an alcoholic, but they kept me clean for a while. The longest period was five years. That’s when I was living five miles in the bush of B.C. The outreach workers were great. Each Friday they’d walk the five miles into my camp to see if I was okay. They’d bring soup and other food supplies. I felt guilty so I said to them, ‘Instead of you walking here, I’ll be on the highway at eight o’clock every Friday evening.’ So, that’s the way we worked it out.”

“What was the best facility that you stayed in?”

“That would be in Vermont. It’s closed now. My dad arranged an intervention. He came to my apartment with two goons, they kicked the door in, threw me in a van and took me to this rehab centre. It was really expensive. I stayed a month and said I was ready to come home. He phoned the administrators and told them, ‘He’s not ready to come home. Keep him for another month.’ I was clean for about two years after that. It boils down to people, places and things. I was told not to associate with other alcoholics or drug users; to stay away from places that serve alcohol and to avoid anything else that I associated with drug or alcohol use. I have some brochures at home. I’ll bring them to you.”

“Thanks Ted, I’d appreciated that.”

“What about priority.”

“Well, old farts like me are a waste of time. It’s the youth that need guidance and treatment. You saw the Paramedic van in front of the youth shelter yesterday? There were two kids that had overdosed. Later a woman came over to me and asked for a smoke. I asked her if she knew anything about the two people who were brought out on stretchers. She said, ‘Yeah, that was me and my boyfriend. We’d overdosed on Xanax. They couldn’t wake us up in the morning, so they called 911.’

“I know so much about those places I could be a counsellor. In group sessions when you first arrive you’d have to give a statement. It would start with, “I am an addict and I can’t control my addiction.” Sometimes, when young girls were asked to describe their situation they’d start crying and say they couldn’t talk about it, the counsellor would say, ‘Go over and talk to Ted. He knows what’s going on.’ So, they’d come over and I’d say. ‘You have to be open and honest. You say you can’t talk about what happened, but the truth is that you’re not willing to talk about it. The only way this program is going to help is if you put your heart in it.’

“The counsellors would question me and I could tell them just what they wanted to hear. They’d say, ‘Ted you have such good retention of information.’ It was like going for a school exam when I’d taken the same exam five times before. These places all asked the same things.”

So how are you doing now, Ted?”

“I drink, smoke a bit of pot, occasionally take meth. I don’t drop two tabs like some of these kids; I cut a tab in half and take that. It helps with my sexual performance, if you know what I mean.

“I made a commitment this morning. I’m going to cut out the hard stuff. A couple of days ago I got really wasted. When I woke up this morning I had the shakes, my legs wire twitching. I had two beer, 4.9 per cent, and it leveled me off. From now on I’m going to stick to beer.”

Later, I was talking with Little Chester, “A group is proposing a drug and alcohol addiction facility in the downtown area. Is that something that would interest you?”

“No, but it would be good for the youth.”

“Have you ever been in a rehab program?”

“Yes, three times. Each time I told them the same story and each time they said, “We don’t want you here.”

“What was the story that you told them?”

“I said, “Each morning I wake up, get drunk, fall down and have fun.”



Providing at no cost accessible, mental and substance abuse/addiction care for the homeless.

Utilizing a service system that emphasizes trust, respect, confidentiality, compassion, empathy and spirituality.

Collaborative professional effort and commitment from volunteers in the healthcare industry (Doctors, nurses, psychologists, pharmacists etc…), administrative support as well as spiritual direction.


Register a non profit corporation and charity

Secure working capital for start up project

Be cash flow positive in 5 years

Purchase of a clinical facility and equipment

Developing and establishing a network of professional volunteers

Hiring and training administrative staff

Establishing relationships with healthcare providers

Creating community awareness

Building strategic alliances


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8 July 2013

Joy was smiling when I greeted her this morning. “How have you been doing? I haven’t seen you for a while.”

“I’ve just been chillin’ in my apartment. I didn’t feel like coming downtown.  Last Wednesday I had a fight with Magdalene, so I didn’t stick around. Butthead was over once.”

“Which Butthead was that? Jake Butthead or someone else?

“My Jake, he reeked. I told you he gained a lot of weight in prison because of his bad hip. First he used a cane, then a walker, then a wheelchair.  I asked him, ‘Babe, don’t you ever take a shower?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I had one yesterday.’ I said, ‘You need to take one every day, being stuck in that chair. You smell like piss. Have you been pissing yourself? He said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘You can take a shower here if you like.’ He said, ‘No,’ so I left it at that.

“When he was ready to leave I went out to the hall to get his wheelchair. I could smell it from ten feet away. He had a folded blanket to sit on. I asked him, ‘Where did you get this blanket?’ He said, ‘The Sally Ann.’ I asked, ‘Was it clean?’ He said, ‘No.’ I haven’t seen him since then. Maybe I hurt his feelings. I don’t know; I don’t care. He phoned once and asked if he took the bus to my place would I push him up the hill. I said, ‘No, dude. You’ve been in that chair long enough, you should be doing wheelies. I can after all the time I’ve been in a wheel chair, for my broken ankles and my fibromyalgia. You really need the exercise.”

“Is he still drinking?”

“After his piss test, he drinks as much as he used to. That’ll never change.

“I’ve been picking away at the stitches in my head. Sometimes I’ve scratched some hair out — they didn’t shave my scalp where  they stitched me. Mariah was looking at my head the other day and said, ‘You’ve got a bald spot!’ All day long she was calling me Spot.”

I said, “I’ve got a scar on my head where I had eight stitches as a kid.”

“Yeah, “I’ve got a scar from my forehead right to the back of my head. My sister pushed me down the stairs on a stuffed lion. I’ve got another one on the side where Buddy hit me with a crowbar. My scalp isn’t a pretty sight. It’s like a road map. There’s no way I’m going for that shaved look.”

A lady stopped to put some change in Joy’s cap. “Thanks, Sweetie, I haven’t seen you for a long time.” It’s true. I wonder if she changed departments or something.

“I’m still getting those headaches and dizzy spells from, the concussion I got.”

“Have you seen a doctor? Do you have your health card yet?”

“I’ve been leaving messages with my workers, but they don’t get back to me. I’m hoping to see one of the outreach workers. They haven’t been around lately either.”

Another lady stopped, smiled and dropped some change, “Bless you, dear,” she said.

“Bless you too,”  said Joy. “Have a nice day.”

Joy asked, “Have you been up to the park lately? I haven’t been keeping in touch with anybody.

“I hope Chester doesn’t come by. He’s been getting really cranky lately. I don’t like being around him.”

“I saw him Wednesday. It was after you had the fight with Magdalene.”

“Yeah, I went after her because she was harassing Chili, in her walker.”

“I was talking to Magdalene. She was drunk and nobody else would talk to her. I didn’t know the circumstances from before. Anyway, Chester asked me for some bus tickets. I said, ‘Okay, Chester, hold on, I’ll get to you.’ Magdalene was sobbing and talking about going home on the weekend.  I agreed with her and said it was a good idea. Then I went over to talk to Shark and Matches. Chester  was getting so agitated, he was shaking.”

“Magdalene didn’t go home. I’ve seen her since then, but she needs to get straightened out. I don’t know how old she is, but she seems like just a kid.”

I said, “She’s twenty-four. Alphonse is forty.”

“I thought she was young,  just like Sinead, who sometimes hangs around with Ricky. I think she’s twenty. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen her passed out in the bushes with her panties  around her ankles.  She probably doesn’t even know what happened while she was unconscious. I never let myself get that wasted. After I get a little buzz I go home.”

I asked, “Have you seen Shakes lately. Lucy has been staying at his place. Frank was worried that she’d beat  and rob him. I thought that maybe she had split with Daimon, but I saw Little Jake on the bus and he told me that he’d seen them together. They were both wired.”

“That’s bad news. Lucy told me they had their own place… Why would she be staying with Shakes? She’s smacking that stuff in her arm… I’m worried about Shakes.”

It was time for me to go to work, Joy said, “I’m off vacation now. I’ll be at the park for most of this week except for tomorrow. I’m getting a land line hooked up and cable installed. I’ll be human again. I’m tired of watching the same DVDs over and over again. Last night I watched “Pirates of the Caribbean” for about the hundredth time. I have all the dialog memorized. That Johnny Depp is weird.  Did you know that he based the Jack Sparrow character on Keith Richards? Now there’s a pot headed, druggie to have as a role model.”


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Cheap Trick


Surrender (Cheap Trick song)
Surrender (Cheap Trick song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3 July 2013

On the bus home I met Little Jake. I said, “Hi, I haven’t seen you for a while.”

“Yeah, I haven’t been down to the park. I’ve been staying at Debbie’s place. The other morning I was walking the neighbor’s four-year old, black lab. I’d never walked him before. He was on a leash but, he just took off. I ended up on my ass; I scraped my arm and tore something in my shoulder. I can barely lift my arm now.”

I said, “I suffered something similar when I was hit by a car. They called it a torn rotator cuff. It took about a month of physiotherapy before I was able to raise my arm, and months before I had full use of it.”

“The worst thing is trying to sleep. I always seem to roll over on that side and the pain wakes me up. I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in days.

“I haven’t been drinking all week.”

I said, “That’s a good thing. What made you decide to stop drinking?”

“It’s staying with Debbie. She’s a heavy drinker. If we’re both drunk it’s like oil and water; they don’t mix. I figured if I wanted to stay there, the only thing to do was to stop drinking.”

I said, “I was at the park at noon, so was Shakes, Lucy, Little Chester, Gene and a guy named Keith. Do you know him?”

“Keith? Yeah, I know him.”

“Lucy’s been staying with Shakes. He said she’d be safe there.”

“Yeah, he’s stayed at her place so I guess he’s returning the favor.”

“Have you seen anything of Daimon lately?”

“Yeah, I saw them both today, they were pretty wired. I hope they don’t try to rob Matches. I think I’ll drop in on him tonight to see if he’s alright.”

“I worried about that too. They have a habit of beating and robbing people. Remember, that’s how Daimon got his ankle broken. He and Lucy were trying to rob Buddy. That was a mistake.

“How’s your ear, where Danny punched you?”

“It’s still bleeding. I should get that looked at.”

We were passing a large empty lot with transport trailers being unloaded. Jake said, “Look at that, they’re setting up for Blues Fest. I love going there.”

I said, “That’s a place that Shakes loves to go. He always finds someone to get him drunk and get him high. Except for the disaster in 2011 when the winds blew down the stage for Cheap Trick.”

“Yeah, that was something. We were watching them, then all of a sudden the stage just started to lift. Then all hell broke loose. It’s a miracle that nobody was killed. One roadie was injured.”

I asked, “Have you had any luck with your worker getting you furniture? It must be ten months now.”

“Actually, I put the kibosh on that. When my lease runs out at the end of August I’m going to find a new place.”

“Don’t you like your apartment?”

“I love my apartment, it’s just too far out. It takes me too long to get there and too long to get downtown. I don’t know anybody out there except for Shakes. He lives two buildings down. I get lonely. I want some place closer.’

“it’s more expensive downtown; isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it’s more expensive, but then I wouldn’t have to pay so much for bus fare. I only got out at four this afternoon. I panned for two hours and do you know how much I made?…one dime. A buddy of mine was out for four hours and he made forty cents. Problem is, our regulars aren’t around; they’re on vacation. There are lots of tourists, but they don’t give a shit. They’re not going to see us again.

“Jacques still owes me fifty bucks. I’m going to have to get that from him so I can get my bus pass. I know he’s good for it. I even borrowed money from him to buy some pot. That’s desperate, eh?”

The man sitting in front of us turned around and asked, “You wouldn’t have any extra pot you could sell would you? I’ve only got a few bucks, I guess that wouldn’t buy me very much; would it?”

Jake said, “I only got enough for myself. I’m just going home to get high.”

I asked Jake, “You haven’t seen Joy recently, have you? I haven’t seen her since last Wednesday. I know she was going to see Jake. I just don’t know how that’s going to work out for her.”

“With Joy, you never know how things are going to work out. She can be nasty sometimes. I don’t like to say it, but she brings on a lot of trouble to herself. She’s always down on somebody.”

“Yeah, last Thursday she left because Magdalene was there drunk.”

“I remember that. I was sure there was going to be a fight.

“My stop is coming up, maybe I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll be there.”


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