Showing posts with label homelessness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homelessness. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2015

NOW they're worried about homelessness

The good news: American right-wingers are focused on homelessness now.

The bad news: I think the Republican Congress is about to eliminate welfare, food stamps and the rest of the "social safety net."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Still there, nowhere.

Spring is here, and the abandoned homeless camp in the middle of Omaha isn't.

Abandoned anymore, that is. When we visited the site in February, it appeared that the person or persons using the primitive flop had wisely flown the (ramshackle) coop for the winter.

Nestled in the treeline between a park and the Keystone Trail -- and across the Little Papillion Creek from an apartment complex and supermarket -- the rough lean-to shows signs of life. And liquor.

Bicyclists ride by and joggers plod past the wooded flop without noticing what, and who, might be yards away. Ditto for the skate-park skateboarders and the softball players.

Because you don't notice a shelter that isn't much of one, however, does not mean it's not there. And because we long ago stopped noticing those among us who are cash poor but -- oftentimes -- flush with addiction, mental illness or both, it doesn't mean they're not lurking among the trees and brush of the urban greenscape. 

Or perhaps a downtown bus shelter.

Or a park bench.

Maybe beneath an overpass.

Or a van down by the river, for all you know.

We want "something done" about the problem when the homeless start to annoy us. 

When they don't, it's all good -- we go back to worrying about the zombie apocalypse . . . which doesn't actually exist. 

The spiders, after all, aren't in our clothes.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

No shelter at all

This was the view Friday of the homeless camp just off Omaha's Keystone Trail.

Sometimes, a crude shelter is no shelter at all -- no good against the cold and worthless in the snow. It looks like whoever was camped here is long gone . . . thankfully.

THE HIGH on Friday was 13. That was a big improvement over Thursday, which started out at 10 below.

If this is all the shelter you have, there's a word to describe you. That would be "dead."

Still, consider there are folks out there . . . in the cold. In rough camps not much better than this. It's what they call "home."

Ours is a society of cracks, through which "the least of these" fall, much like the snow through the gaps in this lean-to.

Lord, have mercy.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Disappearing in plain sight

This is the Keystone Trail, right in the middle of the middle of Omaha.

You'll find yuppies and bobos and DINKs and hipsters and bikers and joggers and slackers and workers and old folks up and down its paved pathway beside the Little Papillion Creek whenever the weather isn't totally unfortunate.

Sometimes, you'll find idiots like me there even when the weather is unreasonably unfortunate. Not today, however. Too much snow, too damned windy and cold.

Some things . . . some folks whom you might find there, you'd probably rather pretend aren't there -- there right under our reasonably affluent noses. But evidence is evidence.

Like this. Right under our noses.

IT'S QUITE easy today to routinely ignore what's right under our noses. In our society, we all live in our own little worlds, and we all live by those whose worlds are a lot like our own.

No longer are we forced to exist cheek and jowl with the great unwashed, so we don't.

And they become invisible, even when they're in plain sight. Or, as the case may be, tucked just into the tree line.

Would that all our failures were as out of sight and out of mind as the homeless, some of whom -- beset by mental illness, addiction or whatever -- never come in out of the cold. Even when it's snowy and 10 below, like it is this harsh February night in Omaha.

I hope whomever this encampment belongs to gave in to the siren song of central heating at a local shelter. A lean-to this crude can't keep out the snow, much less the subzero cold.

MAYBE WE fail to notice what's right under our noses -- or pretend we don't notice what's right under our noses -- because we're just overwhelmed. We are so overwhelmed by our own problems and clutter and, yes, demons that we figure we can't afford the luxury of contemplating or acknowledging those whose problems and clutter and demons have left them wandering through the Nebraska deep freeze.

As opposed to merely being distracted and stressed out.

Me, I don't know. I'm just spitballing here.

Whatever is the case, the evidence is clear that none are so blind as those who will not see. "Those," of course, being you. And you. And you.

And, by God, me.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Beer may be hazardous to your manhood

I could be wrong (though I really doubt it), but I think there's a metaphor for contemporary American society squirming around somewhere in this Ohio story.

Also everywhere in this story is a sharp sympathy pain down the groin of every living man . . . and probably a few dead ones, too.

Brace yourselves and read on. Or not.
Lorain Police say a homeless man was Life Flighted to the hospital after cutting off his penis.

Cops were called to the area of East 21st Street and Access Road Tuesday around noon after an unauthorized man was seen on CSX Railroad property.

Officers found the man with his hands and gym shorts covered in blood. He told officers that he had just cut his penis off. According to the police report, he said he tried to use an old rusty saw, but he used a broke bottle when the saw didn't work.

The man told police that "Busch (beer) made me do it."
YOU KNOW WHAT? I'd love to hear a contemporary Don Draper's sponsor pitch to the Busch beer people with that one stuck in his mind. And close to his heart . . . which you know if you're a Mad Men aficionado.
"Gentlemen, I'll probably never see you again, so I have to tell you something.
"I didn't enjoy Busch beer on a sun-splashed sandy beach with a blonde on each arm. That's what every American man would like to think of whenever he pops the top on a cold Busch. Get it? (leer) No, the truth is, I grew up in a whorehouse in Pennsylvania, and I was raised by a stepmother who didn't want me. 

"After I'd go through the pockets of johns while the whore were otherwise, shall we say 'entertaining' them, the girls would pay me off with a cold Busch beer. And I savored every golden drop of that cheap-ass beer because, gentlemen, your beer was the only thing that could kill enough of my brain cells -- dull enough of the psychic pain -- so I could somehow cope with growing up in a whorehouse with a stepmomma who couldn't care less if you lived or died, which, let me tell you, is kind of like cutting your own tallywhacker off with a busted beer bottle. Probably an old Miller High Life bottle. 

"Frankly, if I had my way, I'd tell you not to advertise your beer at all. Because if Busch beer is good enough to kill the pain of growing up in a whorehouse . . . if it's good enough to anesthetize you while you cut off your own tallywhacker, it will sell itself with no help from Sterling Cooper and Partners. 

"Gentlemen, thank you for your time. I'm going around the corner to get loaded."

Monday, March 12, 2012

When Aspies do social activism

I'll take the Third World, please.

Once upon a time, before Hurricane Katrina washed away much of New Orleans, I'll bet this man was known to all as Mister Clarence. Mister Clarence probably didn't have much, but he had a home . . . and he had the dignity of being Mister Clarence.

Back before
le déluge, New Orleans was as Third World as it gets in what we fancy as the First, but at least it still had the dignity -- more or less -- of hearth, home and red beans and rice on Monday. Folks also had the dignity of being a someone instead of a something.

After Katrina, though, Mister Clarence ended up without a house, and he ended up in Austin, Texas. And he ended up homeless, just another nameless and unwelcome face.

AT THIS WEEK'S South by Southwest Interactive conference, though, Clarence is a hot commodity. To be precise, he's a hot-spot commodity -- desired not as a person but, instead, as Clarence the Homeless Hotspot.

Believe it or not, this is supposed to be pro-homeless activism of some sort. Many were not amused. Neither was I.

Well, I suppose it's a step up from being Clarence the Homeless Public Restroom and having to carry a urinal on your back all day. Praise God for small blessings -- like geeks not being much attracted to the plumbing-fixtures industry.

And praise God for our Third World enclaves. After we have forgotten, at long last, everything about what it was like to be human, we still will have these benighted places where we might rediscover --
as we dodge the gunshots in the ruins -- the things we used to know.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Orlando cracks down on 'terrorists'

Who knew that Orlando, Fla., was the front line in the War on Terror?

But it is. The city that Mickey Mouse built is waging a brutal, years-long battle against homegrown al-Qaida, ruthless enemies of society and the state pursuing a relentless course of . . . feeding the homeless.

The repeated attacks on public hunger, in blatant disregard of Orlando's ban on feeding the
animals homeless, have thrown central Florida into a state of panic and chaos, leading Mayor Buddy Dyer to use the phrase "food terrorists" to describe Food Not Bombs' vegetarian-chili ladlers.

ABC News outlines why Orlando is after Food Not Bombs -- part of the city's effort to create a nation of bombs, not food:
Members of the organization Food Not Bombs were in good spirits as they passed out corn on the cob, rice, beans and other vegetarian dishes to the homeless and hungry in an Orlando park. This cheer was interrupted when police officers on bicycles arrived and arrested five of the volunteers.

This is not the first time this scene has played out for members of Food Not Bombs.

Since June 1, a dozen members of the group have been arrested for violating a new Orlando city ordinance that prohibits sharing food with large groups in downtown parks more than twice a year.

The mayor of Orlando even branded them "food terrorists."

Food Not Bombs is an international political organization that protests war, poverty and the destruction of the environment, according to their website. The group meets to distribute food twice a week in downtown Orlando's Lake Eola Park.

They won a district court case to prevent the enforcement of the new ordinance, but the decision was overturned in the appellate court.

A spokesperson for the city of Orlando said that the ordinance had its origins in complaints from residents and business owners about trash left after the food distribution, public urination and concerns about crime.
THIS IS BECAUSE it would be so much more difficult for a couple of cops to patrol the feedings, keep order and prevent public peeing than it is to bring in maybe a dozen or so cops to raid a soup line, arrest all the servers, call in the paddy wagon and haul everyone off to jail.

But you gotta do what you gotta do. Because it's terrorism, you know.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has been quoted calling the group "food terrorists." He told ABC's Orlando affiliate WTFV, "I think they are using food or the feeding of the homeless for different purposes."

Cathy Jackson, the executive director of the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida, agrees that motives may be more about self-promotion.

"The meal service that's being provided by Food Not Bombs is an unnecessary service," Jackson said. She says there are at least seven shelter operations within less than a mile and a half of Lake Eola Park that provide daily meal services for the hungry.
BUT ALL THOSE hungry people in Orlando -- the ones it's illegal to feed in public without a permit, and not more than twice in one spot in a year -- weren't at those shelters, now, were they?

The professionals weren't where the homeless were, either, and thus were not "connecting with those they are serving to channel them back into a direction of housing and self-sufficiency."
But the "terrorists" were, and at least those homeless folk got a little something to eat.

If this were about more effective means of helping the homeless, we'd see a public-private push to find the homeless where they congregate and bring them to where the food and the counselors are. But the Orlando law -- like laws all across America just like Orlando's -- isn't about addressing our "least of these" problem.

It's about addressing our "Why do we have to encounter the 'least of these' and be troubled?" problem. But what do you expect in a Mickey Mouse city run by a bunch of rats?

Basically, it's always 33 A.D. somewhere, and somebody is always getting what Jesus got for doing what Jesus did.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

America today

In case you had any doubt there's a class war going on, and that the middle class and below have giant targets on their backs, read on.

What the
Stamford (Conn.) Advocate doesn't mention is that you at least get fed regularly in prison, which also serves as a permanent address. Look for Norwalk officials to spin their arrest of a homeless woman for sending her kid to one of their schools as actually being a compassionate act:
A homeless woman from Bridgeport who enrolled her 6-year-old son at a Norwalk elementary school has become the first in the city to be charged with stealing more than $15,000 for the cost of her child's education.

Tonya McDowell, 33, whose last known address was 66 Priscilla St., Bridgeport, was charged Thursday with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny for allegedly stealing $15,686 from Norwalk schools. She was released after posting a $25,000 bond.

McDowell's babysitter, Ana Rebecca Marques, was also evicted from her Roodner Court public housing apartment for providing documents to enroll the child at Brookside Elementary School.

The police investigation into the residency began in January after Norwalk Housing Authority attorney Donna Lattarulo filed a complaint alleging McDowell registered her son at Brookside, but actually lived in an apartment on Priscilla Street in Bridgeport.

As part of the evidence presented in the complaint, police received an affidavit of residency signed by McDowell and dated last September attesting that she lived in the Roodner Court public housing complex on Ely Ave.

When she was interviewed by police in the case, McDowell admitted to living in Bridgeport at the time she registered her son in Norwalk schools.

She said she knew a man who owned a home on Priscilla Street and he allowed her to sleep at the home at night, but she had to leave the home during the day until he returned from work.

She also acknowledged that she stays from time to time at the Norwalk Emergency Shelter when she has nowhere else to stay.

McDowell also admitted that Marques was her son's babysitter from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. after the boy got out of school.

JUSTICE without mercy is no justice at all.

Maybe ol' Jeremiah Wright was right, after all. Maybe God will damn -- indeed, is damning
-- America.

Even God's mercy has its limits -- eventually -- and sooner or later the unrepentant sinner (or country) finds out exactly what dangerous a thing we do when we mindlessly pray "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."