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"Homeless In Miami"

This is how Misty and I became homeless in Miami.

We were living in a cabin in an old motor court type motel on 79th Street, 
paying rent by the week. 
We were buying a junky used car, 
paying by the week. 
Our rent and our car payment were exactly the same amount.

Just starting out, we had no equipment or instruments. 
At a lounge in Hallandale, 
I talked the owner into trying us out as a duo. 
We were both piano players so we had a problem. 
We went to see Gus Rubin, a friendly man 
who ran a little music store called Ace Music. 
He rented us two mikes and a guitar amp to sing through, 
and an accordion. 
Neither of us played accordion, 
but in a pinch we figured we could fake the right hand part... 
and it WAS a pinch. 
We were the worst duo we had ever heard. 
We knew we sucked, 
but we hoped the owner had a tin ear. 
At the end of the first night he looked at us with pity, 
and told us that our music was not good. 
The understatement of the year.

Gus had rented us the equipment on the honor system. 
We were to pay him when we got paid. 
We took the stuff back, paid him for one night, 
and had exactly enough money left 
to pay either the rent, 
or the car payment. 
The landlord wouldn't budge, 
so we packed all our belongings in the car, 
and drove through the Friday traffic to make our car payment.

We parked in front of the Intercity Finance office and went in. 
The woman behind the counter took our money and gave us 
a receipt. Just as we were about to leave she asked, 
"Why do you have the car packed with clothing and bags?"

I, being young and still honest, 
said, "It was a choice between our rent 
and our car payment, 
and we decided to pay you."

She asked us to please wait for a moment 
and went into the back somewhere. 
She came back and said their legal department ruled 
that without an address, we couldn't keep the car. 
We told her we had just given her all our money, 
but she wouldn't return it.
 
This was the help she gave us: 
She would allow us to keep our things locked in the car 
at her office until Monday, when they would reopen. 
If we had an address by then we could have the car. 

A few years later we read in the paper 
that she and her whole outfit went to prison 
for doing bad things to people. 
That was no help on that Black Friday.

We didn't know which way to turn 
as we went out into the late afternoon heat. 
For some reason we hitchhiked to Hollywood. 
Maybe because we had worked around there 
and might run into somebody we knew. 
The sun went down fast, the way it does in south Florida, 
and we got hungry. 
I knew the family that owned Jimmy's Italian Restaurant. 
The son was sort of a friend of mine. 
He gave us dinner, and we promised to pay later.

Midnight came and went and we were still walking. 
No luck anywhere. 
We were sitting on a bench in the big circle 
in the center of town. 
Directly in front of us was the old Hollywood Hotel, 
a castle left over from the Al Capone days. 
I remembered that I'd met somebody 
who told me he was the night clerk there. 
We went in and I asked the guy if he had a place we could sleep. 
He said, "Well it's now 3 AM, the day clerk doesn't come on till 
seven, 
so I can let you sleep in a room for four hours." 
We took the deal.

Somehow we got through it. 
Things didn't get better for a long time. 
Just different.

Yesterday we got an email from a disc jockey in Australia 
who is playing a cut from our new CD album. 
It's a song I wrote:

    MIAMI SIDEWALKS

    Hand in hand, we walked Miami sidewalks
    The summer sun burning through our minds
    When you're busted and you got no friends
    Seems like the bad times never end
    Never thought we'd leave Miami sidewalks behind

    And the nights on Miami sidewalks
    The booze and the music driftin' from the barroom doors
    A nickel and a dime, the chili was cheap
    Then you got to worry about a place to sleep
    We tried to get five on our rings, but the man said, 'Four'

    Looking back on Miami sidewalks
    Cryin' on each other's shoulder, havin' them heart-to-heart talks
    Somebody musta been lookin' down from up above
    'Cause if we had anything going at all, it musta been love

    Someday honey, you and I
    Gonna jump on a big jet plane and fly
    To the neon land where the summer wind blows
    See if our rings are still in the window
    And then goodbye, Miami sidewalks

Copyright  March 12, 2001 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. 
"Miami Sidewalks" lyrics and music by Jack Blanchard 
 Jack Blanchard Songs (BMI). All rights reserved.

 

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