Weekend Open Thread: Vern plays at Homeless Art Exhibit




Well, this is certainly an Orange Juice event – first of all it’s part of the regular Santa Ana ArtWalk, an event we’ve always supported – so you’ll want to be at downtown SA from 6-10 tomorrow (Saturday) and check out all the art, the events and the crowd.

This is ALSO part of the ongoing “Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day:  The Longest Night” which began on winter solstice.   A national event, organized locally by our friend (homeless activist, OJ blogger & Anaheim housing commissioner) Tim Houchen (left).  Tim has obtained a gallery at 201 N. Main Street – the Melisa Finds Gallery – where he has been exhibiting painting and other art work by and about homeless people (I’ll have more picture to show real soon.)

This will also be the last time that the 2017 Homeless Memorial Wall (below) can be viewed in public:  That features the names of each of the 210 men and women who died this past year while homeless.  As Tim told the Register, “These are people who paid the ultimate price for our collective failure to adequately address homelessness.”

So, there’s that.. and refreshments … and Orange Juice Publisher Vern Pat Nelson will be performing on piano for those whole four hours.  He’ll have time to play whatever you feel like hearing, and hopes to have some guest singers and musicians joining him.  But the centerpiece will be his composition in progress, “Songs of the OC Homeless.”  Okay, check it out.  This is ten songs, only a few of them are done so far, but half of them are supposed to be sung by a male singer, half by a female singer.  And the guy who had learned the male songs (Perry Van Dran) unfortunately died last spring, and Vern is still looking for a female singer – now male AND female.  But anyway, here’s the list of songs – only the first three are done:

  1. Cumbia for Vincent Valenzuela (male singer, premiered in late 2016 – see below)
  2. The Cold Song (female singer)
  3. The Cop in the Hat (words by Mike Robbins based on Dr. Seuss; duet)
  4. Over There (male)
  5. Queen of the Boulevard (female – in memory of Theresa Smith’s niece Alice)
  6. I Hear Voices (male)
  7. Demon Meth (female)
  8. Semper Fi (male)
  9. You’re One Pink Slip Away (female)
  10. Kelly’s Reggae (male – for Kelly Thomas of course)


Here’s Perry singing the first song, late 2015;  thanks to Vincent Valenzuela’s family for helping with the words…skip the first 30 seconds of Vern babbling

My name is Vincent Valenzuela from sunny Anaheim,
Where law enforcement acts like being homeless is a crime.
But I mind my own damn business, and I never hurt a fly,
At most just nod and smile at all the people passing by.

Wohhh… I walk the streets till the sun goes down.
Wohhh… and I sleep in Maxwell Park.
And I want to see my son, cuz I miss him every day,
But oh, you tased my life away.

They locked me in a closet when I was just a little boy,
So four walls make me nervous now but freedom gives me joy.
And I’d slay the Chupacabra just for Vincent Junior’s sake,
Cuz I love my little family like a fat kid loves his cake.

Wohhh… I walk the streets till the sun comes up.
Wohhh… and I sleep in Maxwell Park.
And I want to see my daughter, cuz I miss her every day,
But oh, you tased my life away.

2. The Cold Song (female singer)

You creep into my bones every winter night,
And stay until the morning sun,
My closest friend, The Cold.

It wasn’t so bad with my sleeping bag.
It wasn’t so bad with my tent.
But those are gone, now I must walk
To calm my shaking bones.

Last year I watched my partner pass.
I watched him shake and cough.
Pneumonia took my man away.
Now there’s just The Cold.

3. The Cop in The Hat (words by Mike Robbins from Dr. Seuss)

The sun did not shine, we had no room to play
So we sat in the mud all that cold cold wet day
And I sat there with Sam cuz we did not have rent,
And I said, “How I wish we had some kind of tent!”
Too wet to move and too cold to lie,
So we sat on the river bank and had a good cry,
And then all we could do was just sit sit sit sit,
And no we didn’t like it not one little bit!
Then something went “HEY!” And that “HEY” made us say “Who was that???”
And we looked, and we saw him – the Cop in the Hat!
…. (you get the idea, it goes on…)

See you all Saturday night!!

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.