October 1, 2009

Scenes in the City: A Selection of Photographs

The Storyboard. He carried, for most of the day, a large wooden cross and stood near an entrance to Penn Station. Mute, his message read:

Police name is Cartwright and 2 other police rape sodomize my wife in the mid town south precint tues january 21 1986 . My daughter was torture and murder at bith in the hosp 5 more children missing nurse l miller use sciorggies and gut the child no operation no surgery my-leg-broken-police...
As far as I could tell, no one ever stopped to ask him about it. God knows I didn't.

Peace, Love, Sales. If John Lennon crawled out of the grave without a cent, this is the job he'd take. Maybe it was him. What did I know about instant karma? It was a profitable hustle for a bit because it was so, well, creative. On hot summer days, the rose colored granny glasses brought out the dollars for pot research because we were all glad someone was doing it while we were at work. When the basket filled up his "sidekick" would drift over and be flicked back. One day they were gone. I imagine they'd finally raised enough to continue the research elsewhere before the big bong hits of winter slapped them stiff on the heating grates.

The Shuffler. He never lifted his feet but just came along the sidewalk every day around three in a sidle. He never looked up and if he had what could he have seen beyond the smog he carried with him like a shawl? He never worried about hitting anyone since he'd long learned they just walked around him. They had somewhere to get to and, as always, they were late.

The Drifter. I saw him sleeping in a pipe once down by the seaport. It wasn't the best of pipes since someone else at the other end was relieving themselves into it. It didn't wake him. Nothing woke him before noon. Then he'd find his way over towards the sandboxes and swings and warm up in the sun. He was so still in the sun he was kind of hard to pick out from the background. Then, sooner or later, he'd be noticed and the mothers would close in around the sandboxes and swings like some wing of the Praetorian guard. After that, he'd get bored and wander away until night when it was time to go back to the pipe.

The Warrior. That's what we called him. He was always on time for his job at the Lighthouse for the Blind on the 6th floor. His cane would announce him by lashing at the sidewalk with a staccato series of raps. He swung it from side to side like a scythe. He was always in a fresh shirt, starched, and a well knotted tie. He was always cleanly shaved with an immaculate manicure. His shoes glistened. Somebody somewhere loved him. He was the tallest hunched man I ever saw.

Posted by Vanderleun at October 1, 2009 11:29 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I just found your site and am very impressed. I gotta' say, except for the backgrounds, these pictures look a lot like downtown D.C. when I lived there in the 80's and 90's. Good pictures and good writing.

Posted by: WolfDog at October 2, 2009 8:38 AM

I don't know why, but I find it interesting that there are Franciscan Friars in the heart of Seattle. If there are at least ten of them, the city should be safe...

Posted by: Julie at October 2, 2009 8:45 AM

This doesn't look like Seattle, but unfortunately,it could be any city in the U.S.
One clue: there is a woman carrying a Lord and Taylor shopping bag. There isn't a Lord and Taylor in Seattle.

Posted by: antonnia at October 2, 2009 10:34 AM

Wonderful pix! How did you get them? Stealth? Or ask? What camera?

Posted by: retriever at October 2, 2009 12:54 PM

I thought Seattle, because I've seen a picture of that guy's cross recently, I thought taken by someone else I know who had been in Seattle. Guess I was wrong.

Posted by: Julie at October 2, 2009 1:24 PM

I have never been able to figure out whether or not poor souls like these would be better off in the back wards of a state mental hospital.

Posted by: Weightman at October 4, 2009 10:15 PM

The church is in midtown Manhattan, a block or two south of Penn Station, between 7th and 8th.

Posted by: pandelume at October 6, 2009 7:39 PM

Make that 6th and 7th...

Posted by: pandelume at October 6, 2009 7:41 PM

Good call. Excellent. Spot on.

Posted by: vanderleun at October 6, 2009 10:42 PM

What is going to you fellas be showing at NTEA this 12 months? Any new products?

Posted by: Emory Godbolt at November 7, 2012 3:19 PM