For more than 20 years, BYRONIK.COM has been my website, my domain and the hub for all my projects, journalistic and cinematic. Type Byronik in a Google search and the first five or six pages will be links to my stuff.
Have I been milking the Lord Byron connection to death? I'm not sorry. Lineage from Byron's first bastard was never something my family boasted about. Possibly, growing up in his shadow led me to try writing verse. And the impulse to lose myself in the anti-apartheid struggle may have been inspired, in part, by Byron's activism for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire.
Second only to organizing the non-stop picket for the release of Nelson Mandela, the job I have most enjoyed was that of running a newsroom. I haven't been allowed to do that since 2004 and, for reasons I'd like to refer to as political, it's not likely to happen again.
With the passing years, I have been less able to secure those minimum-wage jobs that demand every waking hour be spent suffering humiliation at the hands of halfwits. I did, however, work several years in home healthcare, helping old people recover from infections contracted in the hospital and helping hospice cases transition to their deaths.
When, in 2011, I caught HIV, even that job became too much for me. I was fired and have not been employed since. In any event, if I were to earn as much as $20,000 per year, I would no longer qualify for free healthcare from MediCal. And that includes the HIV medication Genvoya, which would cost me $85 per day.
I'm no longer economically active. My wants are frugal. My needs are few. I use my neighbors' wifi for free. I have plenty to eat, thanks to EBT. I receive free phone service, thanks to the government Lifeline program. I can ride any bus or trolley in San Diego, because, since I turned 60, my monthly Compass Card refill only costs $18.
I occupy a room in a 1920s office building with all the clichés of a film-noir gumshoe. And, just like Philip Marlowe, in so many of Chandler's stories, I usually get to the end of a project to find I'm not even going to get paid. But I did have a reputation as a masochist.
I applied for disability benefits, mostly because of severe depression, for which I am now taking lithium. The attorneys Binder & Binder reckoned it was worth their while taking my case to further appeal in December 2016. In a letter dated Sept. 15, 2017, I was told our request for review has been denied. Now what?
When a man reaches 60, he can look at the future in two ways. Either he admits his best work is behind him and he gently extinguishes his own life by self strangulation or else he takes the massive leap forward into creative adventures with intelligent collaborators.
All over the world, I have talented friends whose work I promote every chance I get. In San Diego, I'm sometimes able to arrange for them to work with me as actors in the same movie. Despite my disability, I help writers who are developing scripts. But I'm in trouble.
I've fallen behind with the rent and I can't get up. Sometimes, somebody happens to read this far and, recognizing I'm living in San Diego with no money, they send me a small contribution towards my rent, using the PayPal button below. Some kind souls even pay for something on my Amazon wish list.
To all friends of Byronik, I send a very heart-felt thank you.