Nathaniel Ayers - Wikipedia
When Steve Lopez saw Nathaniel Ayers playing his heart out on a two-string violin on Los Discuss how their relationship progressed from writer-subject to the. Steve Lopez, who works for theLA Times, forms a friendship with Nathaniel Ayers as he writes a series of stories about the homeless. Nathaniel Ayers tests a new trumpet at a rehab center in Long Beach. “I've got my problems, but I wanna be free,” he says. (Steve Lopez / Los.
By By Steve Lopez Oct 11, Severe mental illness has landed them at this Long Beach rehab center, and you can see the toll it has taken.
How Mr. Ayers And Mr. Lopez Became Friends
It's as if the patients are trying to escape a bad dream, make sense of what happened and convince themselves that there will be better days ahead. There, my friend Nathaniel Ayers can often be found playing one of his many instruments.
Recently, he called to tell me that his trumpet was falling apart. Yes, I said, and a few minutes later, as I walked to the lobby of the rehab center, I heard a banging and turned to see Ayers waving at me through a window. The man's been through a lot, but he's still got a great smile.
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We have known each other almost 10 years now. It's a friendship that isn't always easy but is never dull. I'm still learning how his mind works, and how "the system" can better help him and others. Ayers had a place to live, with supervision, it wasn't easy for mental health professionals to treat him. He would turn against his closest allies and supporters at times, and not only refuse help, but insist that he didn't need any. He adamantly resisted taking medication.
Last year, trapped in a dark web of delusional ideas, he became combative, and was committed after he threatened a neighbor. When I wrote about him six months ago, he was in court for a conservatorship hearing, fighting a doctor's recommendation that he take anti-psychotic medication. He argued that drugs had caused horrible side effects for him years earlier.
How Mr. Ayers And Mr. Lopez Became Friends - CBS News
Part of me wanted him to prevail; part of me wanted to see if meds might bring him relief, clarity and peace. Ayers lost his argument in court and reluctantly began taking meds. I began to notice changes a few weeks into it. He was softer around the edges, more focused and more lucid. Aside from occasional drowsiness, there was no sign of the zombie side effects he had feared.
Steve Lopez is a newspaper columnist for the Los Angeles Times; Nathaniel Ayers is a troubled man with a brilliant past.
Checking in with Nathaniel Ayers - Los Angeles Times
As 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer reported last March, they met by chance on the streets of downtown L. The story of their friendship is a tale about madness, redemption, and the mysterious power of music.
At the insistence of Mr. Ayers, who was taught good manners as a child, they call each other "Mister. Lopez were introduced, in a way, by Mr. Music himself, Ludwig van Beethoven. And I heard beautiful music," Mr. That day three years ago, Mr. Lopez, with a deadline approaching, was pounding the pavement, stumped for something to write about.
A few blocks from the office - by a small park where a statue of Beethoven had been erected - he found Mr.
Ayers, a homeless man, playing not as a panhandler, but for himself, music to chase away the demons that forever stalk him. Asked what first piqued his curiosity about this homeless man, Mr.
Lopez told Safer, "Desperation. Sweating out another column. Looked like it could work. I thought, 'Okay, where did this all begin? How does this guy end up on this street corner? Lopez would find that Mr. Ayers, now 58, was once a hugely gifted young musician accepted by Juilliard, the country's preeminent music school. His talent - and future - were crushed by the weight of a devastating, incurable mental illness: