Non-Profit Corporation

The Marina Dock Newsletter April 2004

The goods new about the last month or so, is that people are concerned about our financial stress and apparently they are talking about it. It would be nice if that concern were translated into something tangible like a donation. We are however grateful for small mercies. Last month a number of individuals came through and saved the day. In fact, without their support last month we would be in dire straits. The bigger question of course, is how can we get more people to contribute. We have over a thousand on our mailing list. Of course it's unrealistic to expect everyone on the list to contribute every month, bearing in mind that some people have made a one time donation or became one or two year members. In case you are wondering why our newsletter last month sounded more like an economic forecast on Romania, it's because in January and February, the first two months of this year, our income was down about 25% over January and February of last year (2003). Don't get me wrong. Anyone who even commiserates with us on our plight - whether it translates into a donation or not is greatly appreciated - for at least knowing we are just like the rest of the world, in need of relief.

Bad Chili With The Right Message

About two weeks ago I happened to find myself once more at a popular San Francisco diner (which shall remain nameless). It does however happen to be the home of the worst chili this side of the Rio Grande. Sitting there feeling sorry for myself for having gone back on my pledge never to eat chili at this establishment again. Chili that tasted like it was made around the time Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie were heroically defending The Alamo. Then I spotted my old friend "Big Tom the Teamster" from the early Dry Dock days, sitting by the counter. On his way out he spotted me and ambled over. We reminisced about the old room in the back where we used to have meetings before we acquired the East Room. "We were all nuts in those days" Tom recounted, "but you know what? That place saved my ass, many, many times, and I don't forgit it." And with that he sticks his hand in his pocket and pulls out a couple of Jackson's and a Hamilton. "Here he muttered", almost apologetically, "It's not a lot, but I know you guys are hurting." Minutes earlier, I had decided the whole world sucks. You can't even get a decent bowl of chili in this town anymore. The economy is in the toilet. America's favorite pastime is under the gun. Everyone is broke and depressed. What's the point?

The Point is you dummy that " we are willing to grow along spiritual lines"! What a concept. Reflecting on this, I thought. Instead of harboring deranged homicidal ideation against every bad food experience, I have had over the last half century, why don't you just chill dude, and "let go and let God." Just because the food is consistently lousy here doesn't mean God has boycotted the place. God is everywhere. Remember? That's right. I forgot. I was too wrapped up in myself again. Oop's sorry. Tom, the big burly Teamster tapped on the window from outside on his way to his truck, his huge frame causing a partial obscuring of The Inner Richmond. His big friendly face etched with lunar-like fissures from years on the waterfront, cracking a slight grin he gave me a thumbs up. That Tom! The son of a gun he knows what I am thinking. He's reading my mind.

Ours is not to question why

It is these random acts of kindness that restores our faith in the human propensity for universal egalitarianism. Why do I sometimes lose faith in the power of God? I should never question it, or try to figure it out. Then I promptly proceeded to find some hidden transcendental meaning or message in Tom's magnanimous gesture. I started to think about how this whole thing started out with a not unexpected bowl of bad "chili". Then the divine intervention of Tom, suggesting that "I chill out", which in turn, led me to reflect on one of the most poignant and compelling pieces of reading in AA literature. "As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settled down." Isn't that the truth? We can all relate to that one.

How many times did I stumble aimlessly along a crowded noontime city street, a street bustling with humanity, the deafening sound of traffic, the laughter of schoolchildren dashing in and out of doorways? The midday sun relentlessly beating down on my ravaged body, as I make my way back to the relative safety of a dingy Tenderloin hotel room. Sweat oozing from every pore and a head throbbing with a hangover from hell, as I desperately try to recall the events of the previous 3 or 4 days. The darkness of the flophouse lobby, the familiar stench of stale tobacco, and the odor of unwashed bodies are a welcome relief to this shivering denizen. Then the reentry, waking up about 14 hours later, trembling and confused, to the sounds of creaky elevator gates opening and closing, and slum landlords with heavy accents, banging on doors demanding last month's rent. That, for me, is when the "chilling vapor of loneliness settles down."

We have come a long way baby

Yeah we have and "I don't forgit it." There is a great story about Brendan Behan (1923-1964), the boisterous Irish Playwright and raconteur extraordinaire. Behan liked to imbibe and had a reputation for being generous when under the influence. He did however have little tolerance for sham or deception, especially dossers (freeloaders). One time Brendan is bar hopping in Dublin, when a dosser approached him on the street and asked him for money. Behan told him to take a hike (he phrased it a little differently). "Jaysus" said the bum, "I remember you, Behan, when you had nothing." Behan turned, and shot back venomously "not near as well as I do."

I had so much business to discuss, but alas, I got carried away. Maybe there are a few people out there who have a few extra bucks to spend, compliments of Uncle Sam. If you do and need a write off, we could certainly use it. If you are tapped out and need an orange, a banana, a cup of coffee, or a meeting at midnight, then The Marina Dock on Friday and Saturday night is a good bet. We deliver. With your help of course.

Anthony T. Murray

"Irish Tony"


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