Friday, September 11, 2009

15 Minutes of Fame

When a copy of A Chronic Problem finally hit the vil – it generated a whole lot of interest on the vil street.

Not so much for its content – people are so totally, completely and utterly used to the News Miner publishing articles that cast Natives in a bad light – that yet another isn’t even worth the effort it takes to roll one’s eyes and say – here we go again.

Nope, what captured interest was the photo spread that accompanied the first article.

“Yo – look man – it’s your shoes!”

“And those there, those are my knees, man!”

“Ohhh, look, look there, that’s M----, see right there on the end of the bench!”

Inquiring minds might want to know how anybody could peg pants and shoes as their own – don’t many boots look alike, and how can you tell one pair of carhartts from another, for instance?

Well, because despite what the article implied, quite a few of these so-called chronic inebriates were not so blotto as to a) not be able to tell the photographer not to take their picture, at least not from the knees up, and b) not remember when the reporter/photographer came through downtown last spring.

So there they were, jocularly identifying quite a number of people in the photos that certainly are not homeless – including themselves – from the comfort of, well, their homes.


Ishmael said...

When I was in college I befriended a group of homeless men near Pike Place Market in Seattle. And after a while asked if I could sit with them and take surreptitious photos of the people walking by them all day.

They agreed, and I showed up dressed in my Bristol Bay worst (threadbare jeans, beat up Red Wings, surplus army jacket) and sat with them all day outside the Seattle Club and took pictures. It was very enlightening; not just the images of those who walked by without a nod, but those who gave, and of those men....

I still recall their stories, which changed my opinion of who was homeless and why. I was shocked to find out that each and every one had family who knew they lived on the street and begged. The thought has made me cry many times in the years since.

And yes, I did do something for each of them for the privilege of sitting with them; I bought them all dinner and stayed their friend and helped them out when I could for all the years I lived there.

I don't know that I helped their cause - or even if they had a cause - but I know there were some nights they didn't go to bed hungry.

kodiakgriff said...

Ish, your depth continues to surprise me.
If you apply what Flic is saying here, then the photographer of the moment would have been considered homeless too.
I was having this discussion with a lovely lady from Seward just the other day.
The majority of the homeless do not choose to be so. I consider them lost for they have lost their way, lost their hope, lost their belief in the goodness of their neighbors, and some of them have lost the ability to think along rational lines.
However; these folks also prove that the rest of us are also lost. Hence the stare-off when we pass an unpleasant reminder that our society is ill. The folks who look away as they pass are actually looking out for something; themselves. Isn't ironic that the same ones who look away at our street citizens, are the same ones who will slow down to stare at a car wreck?
Just thinkin'

FlictheBic said...

Yes, well. As my blog mate knows well - I recently spent several days looking out for a close friend who was on a bad bender here in town. All I could do was drive downtown streets, and walk to all the hangouts and ask after him. When I did see him, sometimes I could talk to him - a mostly vain attempt to try and get him on the plane home. I did it daily - mostly for my own feelings - I knew he was too blacked out to know it was me - but at least each day I saw him I knew he was still alive and mobile. There was no help at all for him. None. Detox was closed, and no way to get him off the streets - except through the police - which would have been a disaster. Every one of those people downtown have people who are worrying and trying to help - just as Ish pointed out.