Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Homeless Man Used to Be a Banker Before the Recession

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- [Interviewer] Okay, Mark.

Tell me your story.

How long you been out here,

what's going on, how you survive.

- Basically, I've been out here all my life,

even though I haven't,

in the sense that my name is Mark Alexander.

I was born to a family that had eight children,

a mother who was raising eight children

on $250 a month welfare in Minnesota.

We lived in a basement house.

Didn't even have a first floor.

Sometimes eating one piece of white bread with lard and salt

on it a day as our meal,

and I was designated as the house slave,

in that I had to do the cleaning,

the ironing, the scrubbing, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera

while everybody else was out

playing baseball, basketball, whatever.

So I left home when I was 12 years old for the first time.

I left home for a year during the end of the hippie days,

because I met two hippies on the outside of my hometown

in Minnesota, and they told me what hitchhiking was.

So I thought I'd give it a try.

I came back home,

and my mother said I couldn't stay with the family,

because the welfare would take her off

of the welfare system, at that time,

because they had already excluded my portion

of the welfare checks.

So I left home for good, and I spent about

two months in every state in the United States

over a period of 15 years from north of Fairbanks, Alaska

to Presque Isle, Maine to Key West, Florida.

Even flew over to Hawaii and hitchhiked over there.

So I had a great life experience.

Then I settled down here in LA,

and got into the investment arena.

The first project I sold was investment grade diamonds,

when you could put them in your IRA.

I went from that into movies,

raising money for independent films.

I did pre-IPO or private placement stock,

FCC licenses when they came out for pagers.

Investors could invest in that.

Oil and gas, foreign currencies, et cetera, et cetera.

Well, about a year ago, my conscience got the best of me,

and I was working for an oil and gas company

in Beverly Hills,

and I got tired of them

saying on film and in writing

that they were promising 29% annual rate of return.

My clients weren't even seeing 1%.

So I decided not to bring any more new clients in

until they got everything squared away.

Well, unfortunately, a lot of things happened at one time,

financially and otherwise,

that put me into a downward spiral,

where I ended up being evicted from my apartment last year

in December by a family that owns 28 apartment buildings,

the Einsteins in Beverly Hills.

And have been with them for about 15 years,

but I was eight days late on my rent,

and to be with them for 15 years,

I must have paid every month, but unfortunately,

the sons had taken over, and they were pretty greedy,

and they wanted me out to raise the price of the apartment,

and they got me out.

So unfortunately, that started my on-the-street experience.

And then, I had paid for my storage,

where I put everything in,

went up to Rapid City, South Dakota

to see three brothers who I hadn't seen in 20-some years.

The rest of them are in Minnesota yet,

and I haven't seen them in 20-some years, as well.

Thinking that my youngest brother,

who has a small construction gig,

I could go to work with him, but this spring they had floods

in the Midwest, and particularly in South Dakota,

and we couldn't get any work done, whatsoever.

So I came back out here, I was going to go into my storage,

and sell a bunch of stuff.

I came back out here on 11th of June this year, 2008,

and I thought they locked the storage on the 15th

of the month before they keep you out,

because I had paid May, but I hadn't paid June yet.

And I was going to get in there and sell a bunch of stuff,

get an apartment and everything else,

because I have hundreds, I don't know how much I had,

but a lot of stuff in there, including all my writings.

I had written 10,000 pages or more over the past few years,

including a book to my daughter

who I haven't seen in nine years in London, England,

who is 15 years old in January.

And I was doing a leather-bound beautiful book

about my history and her history and so forth.

But anyway, I get out here and the storage is locked up,

and I couldn't get in.

So I end up on the street,

and with a lot of promises but nothing came through.

I lost my storage, as well,

and it was just auctioned off last month.

Everything I've ever produced, created, owned, whatever,

I have lost in that storage, and that was a crushing blow.

But the biggest crushing blow was that I found my daughter

on the internet, and there was a site called Spokeel,

and she hadn't written to me in many, many months.

And a couple years ago, I got pissed off

and her mother had stolen all my money,

or most of it at the time

and most of my things and my daughter.

And she claimed that my daughter wasn't writing,

because she was the top student in her school,

and she was studying all the time,

which I thought was a bunch of hogwash.

I wrote back and said,

"Can you imagine me telling my mother, at your age?"

She was 11, at the time.

"That Ma, I can't talk to you. I'm too busy studying."

You know, that kind of thing.

Of course, I didn't put it in

that nice of a language, but...

Anyway, I went onto this site, and I found out my daughter

has been doing drugs since she was 11 years old.

She doesn't even read, never has read a book.

She is not the top of her class,

and I saw 100 friends on a Friendster of hers,

and they'd talk about doing ecstasy

and all this other crap together,

and having sex together at that age.

So it wasn't a very good year for me,

and right now the only way I heal myself

was by writing,

because I was about to take a nosedive emotionally

through all this stuff.

But I wrote and got it out of my system,

and now I'm waiting for the election.

I am waiting to see what's going to happen with the markets,

especially the investment markets.

Maybe I'll get back into that business.

I don't know.

I don't think I can.

I think we're in a shit load of hurt here for the next--

Bush says, "Five years, oh, we'll be okay."

But it's gonna take 10 years

just to pay off the interest on the Chinese debt alone,

so I don't think we're in a very good disposition

in this country.

And if we stay in Iraq any longer, then hell,

we might as well just fold up this country,

because it's costing us so much money

that they don't even have facilities for me,

because I don't do drugs.

I don't have mental problems,

except the normal life emotional problems

that you're not supposed to have, by the way,

because they have addressed me in the park,

and I wasn't crying.

I wasn't raging or whatever.

But they come up to you and they politely ask,

"Do you have any emotional problems?"

Well, of course, we all do.

But what they want you to do is to get into their programs,

so that they can participate in the drug company's

pushing of their drugs across to the American public.

And get you hooked on Zoloft

or whatever the hell they prescribe,

which I have never taken a drug, since I was 17 years old,

because during the hippie days,

I studied alternative health.

And the only thing I've ever taken is a few Advil

every now and then for a headache,

but I don't even think I've been to a doctor,

except for a nose operation, which was never fixed.

- [Interviewer] We only have about a minute left.

- Okay, gotcha.

- [Interviewer] You said you've been out here

for about four months-- - Yeah.

- [Interviewer] How do you survive?

- Well, I got GR food stamps.

They won't give me the money,

because I don't go to their BS GROW meetings,

because I can't walk for hours a day with this trolley.

And they won't let me take it on the bus,

so I've been working selling Obama pins here.

Not selling, but setting up the Obama bin stand

here on the promenade, and then occasionally I'll even sell.

Believe it or not, they buy from me dressed like this.

One day, I sold $130 worth,

but I make about 10 bucks to 20 bucks a day,

which is going to end soon.

It's been going on for a couple months.

- [Interviewer] You got 30 seconds.

- Okay.

- [Interviewer] How would you like to close?

This is your story.

- I have very little faith in my own destiny,

based on what's-- if the world isn't functioning,

the United States is not functioning, I cannot function.

So I will not cause anarchy,

but I think we're headed for some very terrible times ahead,

and I'm just going to react as best as I can

in a healthy, wholesome manner,

and if I can't, hey,

I've had to protect my life several times here

in the park and in the alleys.

So maybe I'll have to do that on a constant basis,

I don't know.

Thank you very much.

The Description of Homeless Man Used to Be a Banker Before the Recession