Might I Recommend A Roadshow?

The LA Times headlines today with a story about the plethora of Thanksgiving dinners being served in and around Los Angeles this week.

Free Thanksgiving dinners for the needy have been an annual event in Los Angeles since 1891, when the Union Rescue Mission began serving them. For nearly a century, though, the holiday meal was dished up on Thanksgiving day itself.

That began changing two decades ago when skid row’s population of both the homeless and homeless service providers began to swell. At about the same time the simple Thanksgiving meal began to outgrow Thanksgiving.

It became a celebrity-drenched event that drew paparazzi, politicians and jazz musicians, who provided entertainment and even foot massages to those who lined up to eat.

After my post from yesterday, I guess this should give me cause for joy. But it doesn’t. I compare that to the news coming out of Las Vegas via MSNBC

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is losing the fight over his no feeding the homeless policy. A federal judge struck down the ordinance Monday after complaints from the ACLU. Now, the city has to find another way to deal with the problem.

Mayor Goodman is already vowing to pass yet another law, one that won’t be ruled unconstitutional. But the charity workers who have been feeding the homeless say this is a fight the Mayor will not win.
Circle Park on Maryland Parkway is a haven for the homeless, and Lyla Bartholomae is getting her kitchen ready for action. She says now that the ban on feeding the homeless has been blocked, she’ll be headed back to the parks, offering food to anyone who needs it.

The federal court ruling is a major blow to Mayor Goodman’s get-tough approach to the city’s homeless crisis. He believes handouts are not the answer, and from the beginning, he’s been ready to do battle with the ACLU.

So one city, named for angels, is praised for helping and feeding the poor, the other city, an oasis of empty wishes, attempts to implement a policy of forcing people to look the other way.

The thing that really turns my stomach oddly isn’t the Las Vegas policy but rather the ‘show’ involved in the demonstrations in LA. Much like the nip and tuck and botox injections required in Hollywood, I get the feeling you aren’t anyone until you’ve fed the poor in LA.  Mark Wahlberg, Walt Disney Co., Kirk Douglas, Minnie Driver, the list goes on.

“The notion of giving thanks should be something done on a daily basis,” said Driver, who planned to observe Thanksgiving with friends today in Malibu. “If this dinner was to have been held tomorrow I’d have come here tomorrow to help.”

I’m sure many do want to help. But why all at once? Reading the article one gets the feeling that once a year the rich and famous, the politicians and the philanthropists remember the poor. There are famous people who work tirelessly throughout the year to help, to feed, cloth and house those less fortunate. Those mentioned above likely fit those categories. But, in the face of overwhelming plenty in one week, wouldn’t spreading the help across several months make more sense? If advertising agencies, of which I am sure Hollywood has no dearth, can come up with slogans like ‘Christmas in July,’ can’t the actors and stars and starlets try ‘Thanksgiving in June?’

The attempts of the Las Vegas mayor are despicable; he doesn’t understand the problem and thinks that stamping out one symptom will cure the disease. He is deluded but not dishonest. He just doesn’t want to see the problem anymore.

But the ‘chic’ of feeding festivals a la Hollywood just ruins my appetite. And if the table is full in LA, why not go to San Diego, San Francisco or – just a  thought – Las Vegas?

(Hat Tip: Kevin Barbieux/Homeless Guy for the Las Vegas info)

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