Sunday, April 5, 2009



I was completely exhausted. My tired eyes searched the terrain for a starting point down, as I struggled to readjust my thinking to fit the task before me. It wasn't that climbing down presented impossible problems, it was a crisis, I suppose, because of the condition of my body and mind. I'd expended a lot of energy getting up there and performing for the crowd, so the lack of sleep and being loaded presented me with new and challenging parts of the puzzle left to solve.

Above, the helicopters continued their endless circles, and the crowds had swollen to enormous sizes on 3 different sides of the Pacific Theater. I could see faces peering out of windows in adjacent buildings and from decks of houses scattered through the hills behind me. It had become a full fledged event, I thought, as I stood there scanning the surrounding area. Because of the shape of the steel beams that made up the tower's construction, there had not been any place to sit down really. The best I'd been able to do was to lean against anything vertical while standing on anything horizontal.

To make matters worse, I was now paying strict attention to electrical lines that ran from top to bottom on the tower. Far more visible than I'd noticed coming up, they were quite pronounce while continually looking down. They now loomed before me as a main consideration for my journey downward. I would later learn from a fireman that these lines carried 10,000 volts of electricity and had been live when I first began my ascent of the tower, he added, "You're lucky you weren't electrocuted," to which I responded, "I don't care."

I popped another chloral hydrate and took another drink in anticipation of the dizzying trip down through the non-stop wind. I surmised that the lower I went the less trouble I'd have fighting it. This in itself gave rise to the thought of "let's get going." Moving downward and sideways I began getting the different foot and hand angles as I crisscrossed the face of the tower. My mind was adjusting to the different pattern of beams I encountered, and a new system of how to approach these patterns quickly developed.

The acute angles, which are angels somewhere between vertical and horizontal, presented the greatest problem. On the way up, these angles were points of leverage; on the way down they were more like slides. Going up on them you would pull your weight, going down on them you were fighting to hold your weight back. Not so much at the smaller top of the tower, but becoming so as the tower widened at lower levels. I was getting the hang of it as I went but it still proved to be tough going.

As mentioned, the electrical lines were more of an issue going down than up. I was continually having to maneuver my way around them, being careful of where I put my hands and feet, which only added to my growing list of difficulties. Looking back now, it is somewhat amazing to me how careful I was climbing down and how completely reckless I was going up. The fact that the lines were far more visible looking down on them continuously, coupled with the level of my exhaustion then, would explain this to some extent.

Below me on the roof was an ever growing crowd of officials, firemen and police who were preparing for my anticipated arrival. Staring down at them, it occurred to me that they would probably arrest me if in fact I safely reached their location. I continued dwelling on this thought and decided that was not acceptable to me after enduring my over 3 hour stint on the tower. After all I went through, and the condition I was in, I didn't want it all to end like that. I slowed my descent to give due consideration to this unwelcome concern.

As I thought about this now very possible outcome, a rush of anger and adrenaline surged through me instantly clearing my mind and energizing my body. I began bouncing around again on the tower as the frigid weariness all but vanished. By switching the psychology of my thinking, I now felt in control again, having made the decision to refuse being arrested as the final outcome to this day.
Now I was alert and my tired limbs were once again my trusted friends. Gone was the fear and trepidation which perviously engulfed me. I'd been in jail too many times to accept without a fight going there now as the final reminder to me of my struggle to be heard. My decision was made and I would refuse to come down merely to face that form of final humiliation.

My anger, rising out of my fear of being arrested, was like speed and had the magical power to heal me in times of crisis such as this. On that particular day on the tower, it brought welcome relief in the form of new-found strength to my deteriorated condition. I continued my way down, but in a much more muted fashion. Somewhere around 60 feet or so, I'm guessing, above the rooftop I peered down into the pool of gawking faces looking up. I yelled down at them, but between the continued drone of helicopters, the wind and the considerable distance, it was impossible to hear clearly.

I moved even closer to them, having decided to pow wow with the authorities. Stopping my descent at around 40 feet, or 4 stories above the roof, I made the critical error of believing I was far closer to the ground than I actually was. Because I'd been up so high for so long it was easy to misjudge the distance to the roof at this point. Simply stated, it looked a lot closer than it was. This critical error would prove to be my undoing.

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