Wednesday, June 26, 2019

SHE CAME INTO the store about noon. She is in her early 30s but looks twice as old. Living on the street for a decade or more will do it to you. Sheryl was running errands so it was just me in the store, and I immediately seized up.

"I haven't eaten for five days," she said. "You helped me before. Could you help me now?"

Many years ago I encountered her near Sixth and Maine. She looked a lot different back then. She was hungry, she said, and asked for a couple of dollars to get a hamburger. Instead, I took her to the coffee shop and lunch place then inside the Granite Bank Gallery. I bought her lunch and listened to her story. I think I even wrote a column about it. But it was a long time ago.

I've seen her many times since. She's been in and out of jail, battled substance abuse issues, been physically abused, and probably had worse things happen. Lately she's been wandering downtown and yelling into her phone, which I don't think works. She is battling demons most of us will never see and experience, thank God. I think the technical term is schizophrenia.

I'm amazed she's still alive.

She came into the coffee shop next to us twice last month. Both times she said it was her birthday and asked if she could have a cup of coffee. Two birthdays. In the same month. They had pity on her and gave her coffee, which is no big deal.

Yesterday she said something getting into a fight with her "dos." I thought she meant dose, as in medication. "I'm not taking any medication," she snapped. "My dos. My double. My twin sister. I can't call her my sister, you know."

She's homeless, staying here and there. What about a shelter or food pantry? "Most places have kicked my twin out, so I can't go there," she said.

I felt really uncomfortable. It was just us in the store and all I could think of is her accusing me of something. It's the world we live in and I hate it, but it's reality.

I told her I wasn't giving her any money, and there wasn't much I could do. She stood there. I think she realized things weren't going to go much further. I finally gave her a bottle of water and she left.

Was there more I could have done? Do I have a degree or experience in helping people with mental issues? The answer to both is no but I am a musician and teach people how to play guitar. That probably would not have helped.

How does this happen? How does somebody go so far off the rails? And how do we take care of people like this?

It twists my brain and the more I think about it the more it screws me into the ground. My lack of sleep last night pales to her getting by, one day at a time. Sheryl has been losing sleep over the immigration camps on our southern border. We are both a mess.

Getting help with mental health is a massive issue in this country. Joe Schmo on the street is not a substitute for mental health care.

It leaves us all in a precarious situation.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Saving the world a kitty at a time

EARLY YESTERDAY MORNING in front of Electric Fountain Brewing, Talia found a tiny black kitten. It was cowered against the building and quite afraid, so Talia picked it up and got it some creamer and comfort.

The kitten was tiny and had little white boots. It was scared but seemed quite tame and in good shape. You have to wonder how a little thing like that ends up on the street and in downtown Quincy. Sheryl called a friend of ours who specializes in taking care of kittens, and she agreed to take him in.

That wasn't until the evening. He spent the day in the store in a back room, safe and sound and with food and water. He slept in the corner and would come out when we entered, and he was quite content sitting on my lap. He meowed loudly after either Sheryl or I left, which means he might have had some human interaction already.

So he's off to a good home and will have a good life, and we've saved the world yet again, one kitten at a time.

Monday, June 24, 2019

WHILE FEEBLY ATTEMPTING to recover from the rock and roll truck that is HartLyss, it's with a start I realize this weekend is Q Fest weekend.

Yes! More too much fun days and nights! Sleep? We don't need no stinking sleep! It's one of our best weekends in Second String Music and we are right in the thick of things, and love every second of it.

It starts Friday at noon as the artists set up tents with our Noon Acoustic show featuring Steve Rees in Washington Park, and continues with Blues In The District and the amazing Amanda Fish playing in Washington Park Friday night. Music continues all day Saturday and Sunday in the gazebo, and our street party Saturday night will be off the hook.

Josie helping me rest.
Local band Jared & The Gentlemen start at 6 and KC Flo from Kansas City follows. If you haven't been down here for the Q Fest street party, it's a great time. Seeing Maine between Fifth and Sixth packed with people enjoying the music is a beautiful thing.

On Sunday we'll get up and do it again with more great music in the gazebo.

And then we'll wake up in a week, shrug off the rock and roll truck, and get ready to do it again!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Summer on Sixth rocks

WE HAD OUR first of the Summer on 6th Block Party Thursday night and it was a roaring success. Sixth Street between Maine and Hampshire was closed, legendary local band Fielder reformed for a one-off street concert, and there were tons of people down here.

Cori and I (HartLyss) played inside Dame & Hurdle in the Maine Center at Sixth and Maine. Terry Britton had her artwork for sale and the jewelry store did some major business. Vince and his crew were thrilled and noticed there were quite a few first-timers in the store. How can you live in the Quincy and not know about Dame & Hurdle?

Sixth Street was packed and several people mentioned how nice it was to start an event like this. Start? I believe there were a few events two years ago on Sixth and last year they did one the third Thursday of June, July and August. Sometimes you just gotta keep plugging away and hope people will notice the great things that are happening downtown.

Then again, we work down here and we can't expect the world to come to us. It's about effort and teamwork and getting the message out that downtown Quincy is alive and well.

A big thanks to Joy Berhorst and the staff at Domestics for tirelessly promoting the event and visiting everybody to let them know about the party.

HartLyss will be back at Dame & Hurdle July 18 for the next Summer on 6th Block Party. See you in downtown Quincy!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Elder's and tradition

SAD TO HEAR Elder's at 18th and State is closing. It's a Quincy restaurant staple. The owners say the building has issues and they are temporarily closed. Employees are saying the closure is permanent. It must be true. It's on the internet, right?

The big loss isn't that we can't get Elder's fried chicken anymore. The big loss is that Elder's is a Quincy tradition. A gazillion Quincyans have gone there simply because it's, well, Elder's. The servers were nice and the food decent and the prices reasonable, and people felt comfortable. There are lots of places like this in Quincy and it's part of the small-town river town charm.

Quincy isn't dying. This isn't the end of the world. We might just make it through the next few days, weeks, months, maybe even years, without Elder's.

Why not relocate? Well, Elder's is Elder's because it's at 18th and State, and it's been there a million years. If you move it, and moving isn't cheap endeavor, there's no guarantee it will work. And there are lots of great choices for restaurants in town, and thank god we aren't talking about Olive Gardens or Red Lobsters.

A restaurant is as much about atmosphere and comfort level as it is about food, service and price. And you really don't need a reason to like a place if you, well, just like it. I'm sure there were tons of local connections and friendships involved with Quincy's love affair with Elder's.

A piece of Quincy goes with Elder's closing, and it's a sad day, indeed.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Blame Mike Terry and Bosch

LOOK. I REALLY like and respect Mike Terry, the hall of fame Quincy High School tennis coach and John Wood Community College teaching legend. He's a great guy. His son, Jake, is one of my favorite guitar students. Mike is knowledgeable about pop culture and music. He's often in EFB drinking coffee, reading and pondering life.

Again, I really like him. But right now, specifically this very yawn-filled minute, I hate him. A lot.

A week or so ago Mike was in the store and told us about an Amazon Prime series called Bosch. Sheryl started watching it and couldn't stop. Then she sucked me into the Bosch vortex. Last Sunday we watched almost every episode of season two and I was hooked. Last night I started watching season one and it was the same thing. What a great series.

So I got about four hours of sleep and I'm literally walking into walls right now. Thanks, Mike. It's not like I have a bunch of guitar lessons and a HartLyss show tonight at Spring Lake Country Club. Nah. More coffee, please.

The show is about a Los Angeles detective, Harry Bosch, who is the good guy but struggles to play by the rules. In the first season he deals with a civil lawsuit over a shooting, tries to reconnect with his daughter and chases a serial killer. There are three or four stories always at play and the series writers do an excellent job of tying everything together.

It's like Game of Thrones with less killing. It sucks you in and you can't stop. You. Can't. Stop. Last night it was nearly midnight and I got to the end of an episode in season one and I could barely keep my eyes open, yet I couldn't not watch the next episode - I mean, the serial killer just smothered his mom to death, for crying out loud.

Sheryl says it gets even better is season three and beyond. I think she's up to season five or six by now. The next time I can binge watch is Sunday, so guess what we're doing?

"I need to watch season three again anyway. There's a lot of stuff I missed," she said "Once you know how it ends you gotta go back and catch the clues they were giving you."

The great thing about things like Netflix and Amazon Prime is that they have tons of shows like this but there are no commercials and you can watch as much or as little as you want. I know a lot of people who will wait until a season is done before they watch any episodes - they want to see them all together in one long ride.

Anyway, I'd like to thank Mike for the suggestion and curse him for losing sleep. At least I'll get some tonight. Unless I start watching Bosch again.