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Some Teens Find Desperation in Hollywood
Yahoo! -- AP ^ | 2/27/2005 | Gillian Flaccus

Posted on 02/27/2005 9:11:31 PM PST by rightwinggoth

LOS ANGELES - The hulking letters of the Hollywood sign loom over the homeless shelter where Andrew Stone sleeps, but the teenage guitarist is no closer to stardom than he was on the streets of Atlanta. The gangly 19-year-old tells a story that sounds like the slow lament of the songs he writes.

Got here just two weeks ago in a 1985 Chevy Caprice. Car trashed by thieves who snatched a friend's guitar. Pawned a minidisc player for $27, but a thief stole the cash and a cell phone as well. Got $20 for his precious blue Alvarez guitar. The buyer planned to smash it in a rock video.

Now Stone is broke and doesn't know anyone except the few friends he smokes pot with as they roam the streets.

By day, he still sees a second chance in every new encounter. He's desperate to make music — and to recreate himself — on this new stage. At night, he's one of 64 teens who crash at the Covenant House crisis shelter off Santa Monica Boulevard.

About one-third of Los Angeles County's estimated 10,000 homeless teens and young adults live on Hollywood's streets. They're a fraction of the estimated 175,000 unaccompanied teenagers who are homeless somewhere in the United States during any year, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Here, their hard-luck stories — of gangs, drugs, prostitution and jail — have a Hollywood twist.

"Sorry to burst your bubble, but this is reality and there's no movie stars and there's no one here to take care of you," says Linda Chipres, 20, of the star-struck teens she has seen come and go during two years on the streets.

Chipres, who is addicted to crystal meth and dates a male prostitute, says the new arrivals crowd the best squat spots and siphon away the resources of aid groups.

"It's like, 'Go home, you dumb bastard!'" she says, pushing up glasses held together with a thin twisted wire. "... 'Cause the longer you stay out here, the more you get stuck."

___

Stone says his road to Hollywood began five years ago, when his mother started dating a "crazy guy." They clashed constantly and, within months, Stone and his three brothers were in foster care.

It wasn't long before their mother retrieved them. Then, two days after the reunion, she told the kids they were going to Dairy Queen for ice cream. Instead, she parked at a local foster care office, dropped off her children and drove away.

As he watched her go, all Stone could think about was his brand new drum set that was sitting, unpacked and unplayed, on her living room floor. He had just turned 14.

"I don't care to see my mother," he says now. "My mother had a chance to keep us and she chose not to."

After four years of foster care, Stone turned 18 and no longer qualified for the program.

He says his foster father was a good man who offered to support him if he chose college over music. Unwilling to give up his guitar, Stone quit high school and began life on the street.

"He always thought I was too wild and he always thought my music was a bad thing," Stone says. "He didn't see that this is what I wanted to do with my life."

An older brother is now in college, his foster father adopted one brother and the third was placed with another foster family.

At his lowest point, Stone says, he worked at a Subway shop during the day and slept behind the store at night.

"You just think, 'What did I do to deserve this? What did I do to get here?'"

___

No one is more familiar with Stone's passion for music than Paul Baker, his foster father. That passion may be the only thing Baker would recognize about Stone today.

Baker knew Stone by his middle name, Kyle, as did everyone Stone knew in Atlanta's northern suburbs.

Stone's dirty blond hair, now clipped short, was long and curly "almost like an Afro," Baker said in a phone interview.

Stone never spoke with the British accent he now affects and he wore Polo shirts, not polyester bell bottoms. He was an excellent student, active in a church youth group and was taking a horsemanship class, Baker says.

But when Stone turned 18, Baker says, he became another person. He challenged house rules and "went ballistic" when Baker disciplined him.

Baker says his foster son was so convinced he would make it in music that he "lived in a kind of fantasy world." He says he never forced Stone to give up that dream, but counseled "a balanced life" that included college.

Within three weeks of turning 18, Stone had quit high school and was gone. Baker had no idea where his foster son was until The Associated Press called him for this story 1 1/2 years later.

"This is a bright kid, fully capable of school and college, who made a personal choice to pursue music. But it didn't work out. And when it doesn't work out, he creates a new identity, a new scenario," said Baker, who directs an alternative school for emotionally troubled youth.

"He never had to be homeless."

___

Every outreach worker knows kids like Stone who don't have to be homeless.

There are the young girls who follow their boyfriends onto the street, the kids whose parents wire them money and the teens escaping foster care.

Yet statistics suggest that a vast majority of homeless teens are not on the streets by choice — and many struggle with mental and emotional problems.

Nearly half of homeless Hollywood teens displayed some form of mental illness and almost one in four left home because of physical abuse, according to a comprehensive 1998 report presented at the National Symposium on Homelessness Research, "Homeless Youth: Research, Intervention and Policy."

Once on Hollywood's streets, one-third engage in prostitution. About half of the homeless at a Hollywood drop-in clinic reported using alcohol and drugs, the report found.

Some children use homelessness to get attention, says Susan Ruswick, a former homeless teen who now delivers blankets, food and hygiene supplies to Hollywood teens several times a week.

These children quickly get in over their heads — but are too scared, too addicted or too proud to ask for help, according to Ruswick, who founded Youth Link of America, a support organization for homeless teens.

"If they don't get it together by the time they're 20 and choose a different life, they wind up with all sorts of mental problems," she says. "Once you're down, that's where you stay."

___

Stone gets up and leaves the shelter every morning with his remaining guitar strapped to his back, a beat-up acoustic with psychedelic mushrooms sketched in black ball point pen.

He walks the streets searching for a job, a gig and a friendly face — anything to get some money, to get a name. He plays on street corners in the rain, on the subway and for hours in the shelter as metal doors slam in the background.

Stone hopes that his donated bell-bottom polyester pants, fading rocker T-shirts and a gray cap stitched with the words "Acoustic Stone" will distinguish him in a place crowded with aspiring talent.

"I have to play my guts out every time I play a song," he says. "Out here in California, everyone wants to be original and they're so original they're all the same."

___

Stone was in Hollywood one week when he spotted the Rockotitlan Cafe. The cozy, out-of-the-way coffee shop has a cramped stage and a microphone no one's using.

Tiny white lights on the awning twinkle in the dusk, and painted black geckos climb the multicolored walls filled with artwork. A brochure on the counter offers: "Are you a musician? Just come by and play."

And Stone does, jamming for more than an hour as the rain washes down the grimy streets.

He smoked some pot a few hours before, and the music flows: a love song to his high school girlfriend, an ode to his late grandfather, a bouncing bluegrass tune that makes his brow furrow and his legs jump.

"My story has been told

I'm stuck in the middle

I have to go now

And make my decisions

You can't be in them

So I turn to dreaming."

At 7:55 p.m., Stone is ready for another set when someone in the audience who knows he's homeless shouts: "Hey, what time's your curfew?"

A few people in the small crowd chuckle. Stone glances at his watch, shrugs and decides to blow off the shelter's 8 p.m. curfew for new residents.

"Who comes in at eight?" Stone replies into the mike. "If they kick me out, I'll sleep in my car and be happy."

Twenty minutes later, he steps off stage, eases his guitar into his backpack, collects a free soda and slides on his jacket.

"I'm Andrew Stone, The Acoustic Stone," he says, but no one is listening. "All-original music by an all-original loser."

And he slips out the door into the rain.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: California
KEYWORDS: acting; hollywood; homeless; homelessness; teens
Hollywood hobos.
1 posted on 02/27/2005 9:11:31 PM PST by rightwinggoth
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To: rightwinggoth

Like this is new?!?


2 posted on 02/27/2005 9:13:08 PM PST by dfwgator (It's sad that the news media treats Michael Jackson better than our military.)
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To: rightwinggoth

One is a pothead and the other one does meth. Yeah, that should help them get back on their feet.


3 posted on 02/27/2005 9:17:08 PM PST by 12 Gauge Mossberg (I Approved This Posting - Paid For By Mossberg, Inc.)
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To: rightwinggoth

ASS-ociated Press 3-part homeless hit piece, that's all. It's appearing in my local Green Bay Press-Gazette rag. Nothing better to do than to insinuate if the mean-old Bush monster wasn't President none of this would be happening. Of course, during the glorious Clinton years the homeless were nowhere to be found.


4 posted on 02/27/2005 9:19:38 PM PST by ServesURight
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To: rightwinggoth

10k homeless in Hollywood?! Where the hell do they get that number from? I LIVE in Hollywood, and there is no way in hell there are that many here--not even close.


5 posted on 02/27/2005 9:22:05 PM PST by ECM
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To: ECM

Sorry, mis-read: but even 3300k is probably over-estimating the amount--Hollywood is NOT a very big place.


6 posted on 02/27/2005 9:22:50 PM PST by ECM
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To: rightwinggoth

This is probably Bush's fault somehow.


7 posted on 02/27/2005 9:23:54 PM PST by bahblahbah
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To: rightwinggoth; Admin Moderator
Already posted here, seven items down the "News/Activism California" sidebar.
8 posted on 02/27/2005 9:28:41 PM PST by Carry_Okie (A faith in Justice, none in "fairness.")
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To: rightwinggoth

These kids are simply lowlifes seeking attention, and the stupid AP gives them a platform. Hopefully, most readers recognize this for the propaganda it is.


9 posted on 02/27/2005 9:31:14 PM PST by BlkConserv
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To: bahblahbah

I thought this was an interesting article and I didn't see how the AP said this problem was caused by George Bush. Just calm down,not everyone is out to get you.


10 posted on 02/27/2005 9:32:01 PM PST by The Chosen One (God Bless America)
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To: rightwinggoth

Choices have consequences:
"It's cold back in Chicago
In LA it's worse
When all you got is Twentynine dollars
And an alligator purse"
(Tom Waits)


11 posted on 02/27/2005 9:33:29 PM PST by 185JHP ( "The thing thou purposest shall come to pass: And over all thy ways the light shall shine.")
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To: rightwinggoth

I am amazed that the "compassionate liberals" in Hollywood don't give these kids the free shelter, meals, clothes and cars that they deserve.


12 posted on 02/27/2005 9:34:59 PM PST by CurlyDave
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To: rightwinggoth
...his foster father was a good man who offered to support him if he chose college over music.

And what does this product of a broken home, with very few real prospects for the future choose?

DUMBA$$!

People of this ilk are beneath contempt and unworthy of my pity. Maybe we'll get lucky and he'll depart the gene pool before he knocks up some crack ho out in Hollywierd and produces another burden to the State that taxpayers will be obliged to support.

Like the man said: "Choose, but choose wisely. He chose... poorly."

13 posted on 02/27/2005 9:38:12 PM PST by clee1 (Islam is a deadly plague; liberalism is the AIDS virus that prevents us from defending ourselves.)
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To: rightwinggoth
So, just so I am clear... This kid, despite having a scumbag for a mother, had the opportunity to go to college through the benevolence and love of his foster father. But instead, he travels to Hollywood with a guitar in tow and now he smokes pot and lives on the street.

Hey bro, the only one that can save you from bad decisions is yourself.

Is this article supposed to tug on my heart strings somehow?

APf
14 posted on 02/27/2005 9:40:18 PM PST by APFel (For some reason, the word "Freeper" is flagged by the spellcheck. Someone contact Websters.)
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To: rightwinggoth
Even when you make it big in Hollywood, you find desperation. What a sucker's game. What horrible people.

-ccm

15 posted on 02/27/2005 10:03:06 PM PST by ccmay (Question Diversity)
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To: rightwinggoth

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1352208/posts


16 posted on 02/27/2005 10:09:23 PM PST by upchuck ("If our nation be destroyed, it would be from the judiciary." ~ Thomas Jefferson)
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To: Carry_Okie

Johnny's in the basement mixxing up the medicine.


17 posted on 02/27/2005 10:37:59 PM PST by expatguy (http://laotze.blogspot.com/)
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To: rightwinggoth
He says his foster father was a good man who offered to support him if he chose college over music. Unwilling to give up his guitar, Stone quit high school and began life on the street.

"He always thought I was too wild and he always thought my music was a bad thing," Stone says. "He didn't see that this is what I wanted to do with my life."

An older brother is now in college, his foster father adopted one brother and the third was placed with another foster family.

At his lowest point, Stone says, he worked at a Subway shop during the day and slept behind the store at night.

"You just think, 'What did I do to deserve this? What did I do to get here?'


How did you get there?? Go back a few paragraphs and stop speaking in a British accent, your from Georgia!!
18 posted on 02/27/2005 10:50:03 PM PST by GeronL (Condi will not be mistaken for a cleaning lady)
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To: clee1

4 paragraphs later the kid wonders how he got there.


19 posted on 02/27/2005 10:51:03 PM PST by GeronL (Condi will not be mistaken for a cleaning lady)
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To: rightwinggoth

A gal in her early 20s walked up to me on the street a few days ago downtown. She didn't seem mentally ill. She started telling me how she had come from Seattle and run out of money. I gave her $5 bucks. Now that I think about it I should have taken her to the bus station and bought her a ticket home.


20 posted on 02/27/2005 11:13:13 PM PST by Odyssey-x
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

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