I took my rental bike this morning, very early and went to bayou river to do some jogging. For the first time since I came here: it is terribly hot here, above 30 degrees, and I did not exercise so regulary in the last two month. I ran about 7 km and it t was nice to sweat and see Houston from a total different perspective. But I met also a lot of these poor and homeless psychiatric patients who just woke up after sleeping on benches and under little bridges…..This horrible situation really gets under my skin: very sad…..
Ray Hill picks me up from my Hotel and we are going to eat gumbo in a Louisiana Church. They used to cook food for the poor here, but they made their dishes so tasty that business-people and others came to eat to. Today they earn a lot of money with it and use that to help homeless people! And I have to say: the gumbo was delicious and the ambiance in the church was great.
It is not easy to describe Ray and what he does and has done in a few words: he did so many things and as an independent thinker and activist he connects worlds in so many ways. He is the founder of the prison-show, the father of the gay community in Houston, the chairman of the board of a television and radiostation, he brought numerous vey famous cases to the High Court and changed laws, the present mayor of Houston is a protege of Ray and he is friends with the chief of police, numerous wardens, many (ex-) incarcerated persons and he initiated programs within prisons on “12 steps to stop being a gang member and get out of solitary confinement”, “train te trainer for incarcerated people who give information on aids and HIV”. “a very intensive three days training about to learn how to do time in a Texas Prison” etc. etc.
Ray called me an activist and concluded we are talking the same language. I could say a lot about this inspiring congenial but lets invite you to past and copy the links below in your browser and see the clips there. And I summarize one of the stories Ray told me about his time in prison.
“I was a burglar, steeling antique and jewelry. Antique is very heavy stuff, so I hired people to carry that for me. I was not afraid to go into the prison but very scared to get out of there, because I thought I would never get the chance to use my talents outside as an ex-con. The gave me 120 years sentence and I did a little bit more than four years. I had a great time in prison. I was openly gay but i was also administrator of the housekeeping and could deliver services for inmates, staff and warden. I was “the man” in there, because when somebody had a problem they called Ray Hill. I could move freely through the building and built up relationships and networks. When there was a hurricane approaching I told the warden that we would loose electricity for at least three weeks and as a consequence the capacity to pump up water. It was certain that we would be the last ones the community would care helping getting our electricity back. “So why are you telling me this?” the warden asked, and I told I knew how to use oil to pump water into the tower and gain enough pressure to make water available in the whole building. It worked out fine and then the director of the prisonsystem came and asked the warden: “In every prison in the state people stood in the shit up to their neck for weeks and you did not have any trouble. How come?” So they asks me to instruct selected inmates of all other prisons how to do that. I sayd: but then I have to get out and go through the whole state. I have 120 years sentence! But they really wanted me to do that. I realy laughed inside about this: a hurricane of this kind only occurs ones in 30 years. The inmates I instructed would be released, long before the next one came!”
http://youtu.be/glNOFoiJ33s : is the link to the interview that I had with Ray. Copy and paste it in your browser: it is worth doing!
https://vimeo.com/5503542 is the link to a beautiful documentary on Ray and the death penalty!