No Shirt Billy and the Crazy Jesus Lady

“The best thing we can do is go on with our daily routine.”

-Nurse Rached, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

I have now come to realize the worst thing the Occupy Denver people have to face is not the wrath of rich Wall Street fat cats or organized police squads, it is the mental conditions being created on the street. The afternoon was a balmy mid-fifties so I cruised down to Colfax and Broadway to see how the crowd (or lack thereof) was holding out. This seemed like a perfect day to bask in the sun and warmth, which is what a large percentage of the downtown park inhabitants took advantage of, catching up on some much needed sleep.

The scene there is becoming more and more a haven of lost dreams and mental deterioration with street urchins running in and out of the main vein of activity, meth pipes being ignited in broad daylight accompanied by gangsta thumping rap songs squelched over low output smart phones, washed out signs and banners hanging in the trees-there is actually a floor model fan hanging from the trees across the street, draped with red police crime scene tape that snakes through the bare branches that line Broadway. Heaping piles of old refuse and discarded paper plates, people scouring round for cigarette butts, a melting snow fort with the words ‘Occupy Denver’ spray painted on the side in day-glo pink, cookies and assorted snack items left on a plank of wood makeshift table for anyone hungry enough to risk it….and then there’s No Shirt Billy.

No Shirt Billy is this semi-insane juggernaut running rampant around the occupy Denver site, bare chested and sporting a scarf and do rag combo head gear. When I first arrived he was banging on a conga and shouting with this voice that sounded like Tom Waits with a sore throat. He was bellowing at this one woman who appeared to be in her mid to late thirties, shoulder length auburn red hair with a cross scrawled onto her forehead. She carried a shoulder bag with her that had a post it note attached to it reading ‘Crazy Jesus Lady’; I took her word for it and decided not to get into any religious debates with her. The Crazy Jesus Lady and No Shirt Billy were having this confrontational spat that was most likely brought on by one of Billy’s deranged ramblings. He picked her up a few times over his shoulder like a WWF wrestler while she beat him on the head and back, finally being released; at that point Billy would take off running and striking poses with his face upward like some ebony warrior praying to the heavens. Then he rattled off some insane shit and ruined the whole image. Billy is bat shit crazy and he was loose in the Occupy Denver scene.

The Crazy Jesus lady honed in on Billy with the accuracy of a shark and started lashing out these maniacal untrained karate kicks at him. Billy kept rattling back at her like James Brown on PCP, it was intense underlying sexual/harassment stuff going on. Not much time passed before some of the regulars down there intervened and kept Billy back. Apparently Billy must be a new fixture down here, a new problem to contend with. I saw some BMX bikers doing stunt jumps over their friends, prone on the sidewalk while the bike attempted to hop over their body; this was a month or so ago and I thought that was a circus to witness, but now, Billy the Howler, No Shirt Billy doing the wild dance with Crazy Jesus Lady. Yes people, Occupy Denver needs help.

One of the helpers down at the site trying to keep an eye out for the needs of the inhabitants in the park is a lady who asked if I would convey a message to the outside world. They are in need of some supplies. The encampment they’ve been living on so far seems constructed out of cardboard and a lot of tape and crap. She asked if anyone can provide hot food, water, sleeping bags, wood, nails, hammers, spray paint and Christmas decorations it would be greatly appreciated and well received. Don’t kill the messenger folks, I just bring the word back from the nether regions. I make no evaluations or recommendations of the ramifications cities might possibly experience due to contributions (or lack of) to the Occupy crowds. They are living pretty bare bones from what I see and although it is a self inflicting martyrdom I can’t help feel a bit sorry for their struggle. All cities throughout the country where their own private protest villages lie, be it Seattle or Indianapolis or Oakland, hold similar settings and it’s up to everyone to decide if they want to throw a nickel and watch the dance, or turn a blind eye and see what happens. The one thing I wold urge any of you to consider, is at the very least, someone needs to put a leash on Billy.


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