Posts Tagged ‘homeless’

And then You Recognize that Homeless Person

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

Jogging around a neighborhood park, I realized the homeless woman sleeping under a tree is someone I’ve known most of my life. 

We were 15 once, and proud. She liked girls and I liked outcasts. Her Army buzzcut was black, blue, and brave, her sarcasm like a flamethrower. Pointed at you or not, it was dangerous to be near. She had an enviable wit I tried to emulate, and she could be as prickly and poker-faced as she was fast and funny. Being able to speak to her in ways others couldn’t was great.

All these years later and approaching the tree on my first lap, I saw only a female shape sleeping atop assorted backpacks and grocery bags. That particular bit of shade was usually occupied by sweethearts, fútbol hombres, or shadowboxing stroller-pushers, but I didn’t think much about it other than to mentally note the woman’s (relative) luck for claiming it first.

Staring straight ahead while I run helps me convey ultimate Kenyan focus, allowing me to mask the fact that I hate running and am actually dying inside. But the second time I passed the tree, I broke my gaze and glanced over. This woman was wearing Capri-style leggings, sunglasses, and a driver’s cap over her face. What I could see of it was weary.

Defensive Architecture

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Anti-loitering architecture forces the homeless out into the shame

Dinner time for De-waged Americans_Where Excuses Go to DieKristin Hohenadel’s piece on “managing” London’s homeless (“Are Anti-Homeless Sidewalk Spikes Immoral?”) points to a petition that insists we give a damn about vulnerable populations rather than ostracize them with defensive architecture. The “spikes” that sparked the outrage>petition>renewed UK debate>this blog entry were installed near the entrance of a luxury residential building in London on June 10, 2014.

The article’s example pictures of “anti-bum” devices, culled from artist Nils Norman’s international collection, show a callousness that is not, to me, the least bit surprising. For years, I’ve referred to nasty urban planning designs like these as “MAN-EATERS” since they frequently resemble shark teeth. Here in Los Angeles, in a world of caged trash bins and spatial confinement of the homeless, we have a disheartening array of them.

Pigeon Science on Human SubjectsWe’re not alone, though: across modern urban landscapes everywhere, commercial and residential developers are planning and designing “exclusionary” access ways and loading docks to discourage the poor from setting up shop in doorways and “gap sites,” those architectural nooks and crannies that most of us sinners have been grateful to find at one time or another – usually when drunk. But let’s face it: in every one of us lurks a little NIMBY contradiction, the sentiment otherwise known as, “not in my backyard.”

Partiers are grateful to find a place to pee, sure, but don’t want to work near or pass through one of these stink-holes on a daily basis. (By the way, if anyone is offended by the implication that you’d ever urinate in an alley or between two buildings, please discontinue reading now. I make no guarantee your head won’t explode when I start mocking those who feel a moral playing field has been leveled, now that anti-pigeon science is being used on humans.) (more…)

Shouldn’t Undercooked Homeless Man Cash In Too?

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Nicholas Carlesi captured what is thought to be the last last photo of Ronald Poppo before 75% of his face was chewed off.

Last week, nearly all the major media outlets and countless web destinations profited from leaked photos of Ronald Poppo’s eaten up face and the 9-1-1 calls reporting his attack. It’s bad enough that the rest of his miserable life is gonna be spent in pain and beef jerky jokes, there’s no excuse for Ronnie not gettin’ a slice…uh, a cut, a chunk – some money!

I mean, we don’t look homeless people in the eye or give ’em the time of day. We can’t stop to unfold a buck or two and we’ll cross the street if it means avoiding one. But let a bum get his face chewed off and we become wide-eyed pigeons, pecking at the ground — or in this case clicking though channels and websites — for salacious crumbs.

As quickly as the photos were leaked, only to go viral, is as quickly as I decided against lookin’ at ’em. I assure you it isn’t because I’m “mature” ‘n what not, and practically nothing grosses me out. What bothers me is the idea of celebrating sensationalism. Number one, I already knew the gruesome images would resemble a plate of chicken mole enchiladas, and number two, what’s the message? It sure as hell isn’t “homeless people deserve respect.” (more…)