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Homeless Hell/Ethos Of The Damned

I have clean shirts, a nice smile, and experience. No one will hire me though because I don’t have an address, can’t send the checks to the baseball field.

story by The Dime Store Casanova - images by Luca Babini
©luca babini

©luca babini

“I ain’t homeless, I got a home. It’s nowhere you would want to be though.” – Russell. It’s everywhere in our throbbing metropolis of self-serving, self-righteous pig people. The problem isn’t going away, no matter how many dollars or dirty looks you choose to give those who are less fortunate or just plain down on their luck. When I was tasked to write about homelessness I didn’t know where to begin. It’s a problem that has no sign of slowing down. The numbers have only increased under Bill de Blasio. No politician really gives a fuck about the homeless because the homeless don’t vote, they don’t pay taxes, they don’t necessarily matter to those who line our cities with budget proposals that go nowhere. Once upon a time, they might have cared about them before the seat of power got so hot with money and corruption, not now though.

©luca babini

©luca babini

I spent the majority of my early morning talking with Russell, who is a recovering heroin addict and transient who frequents McCarren Park just blocks from where I work. Russell is always in the mood for talking, so we shared some coffee, laughs and anger. Russell has two kids who he doesn’t see, the lady he married died years ago and the kids are living with their grandparents in NJ. “I have clean shirts, a nice smile, and experience. No one will hire me though because I don’t have an address, can’t send the checks to the baseball field.”

©luca babini

©luca babini

One of the questions I posed to a lot of trusted friends was: How do you feel NYC treats the homeless population/Could you survive if you were homeless? The responses varied from the educational view of, “The current situation is so dangerous that even those that have jobs and homes are at risk of being priced out… You will see an increase in the public education system suffering due to students who face daily issues with their parents economic situation”; to the general feeling of “It seems like NYC is pushing the homeless out, it seems like gentrification is infinitely expanding at this point and there is no means to really keep up with it.” We always view what’s happening around us in direct correlation to ourselves, never stopping to think about those who are actually from the streets.

©luca babini

©luca babini

“These developers fucked it all up, they fucked it. Yeah, man. Greed is a real disease.” – Russell. I’m not here to present you with cooked census facts or the idea that we can change homelessness by donation or helping out at soup kitchens. We can’t, we won’t and we haven’t. I’ve always told people whether through my poetry or conversation that the only two entities that are the real fabric, backbone and structure of our city are stray dogs and the homeless. They know the street; they have the all-important sixth sense that nearly all of us lack. That sense is compassion. If we were on top of that then maybe we wouldn’t have this problem. If rent wasn’t this exorbitant amount of dough, or the city didn’t charge us almost three dollars to ride a steel death trap across town, or if we didn’t overbuy at the Costco/Walmart/ fat store…

©luca babini

©luca babini

I don’t have the answers; I’m not going to pretend to… I will say this though, if you can look at a homeless person without any sympathy/understanding/belief in the human condition then maybe you need to take a long look at the pad you inhabit, the dinners you can afford to make and the people you have close to you. Thank who or whatever you believe in or just take stock of what you have. It can be gone in a flash… With the way this city is going, it will be. Oh, that question I asked all of my peers and cohort’s about being able to survive on the street. No one said yes. I couldn’t. Neither could you. “A hell exists on earth? Yes, but I won’t live in it. That’s me.” – Glengarry Glen Ross.

©luca babini

©luca babini

2 Responses to “Homeless Hell/Ethos Of The Damned”

  1. gaya says:

    Oh Dear… you 2 are a great photographer/writer pair. I want to see more of this. Creative, deep, and esthetically pleasing. Who the hell are you?????

    • The Dime Store Casanova says:

      Gaya,

      Much appreciated for taking the time to read the article. I’m the writer of said piece. Keep supporting small print and e-zine publications. Pass this off to people as well.

      Thanks
      Joe