It has been hot and steamy in New York City. At least my friends on the street aren't cold. I can't complain. Police and government forces are murdering people in Syria. There's nothing I can do. Ethiopia is jailing its bloggers under terrorism statutes. I can't complain for myself.
I've been busy all week working on my internet marketing projects, but I still find time to go out at night wonder, explore, snap pictures, and write. There is no end to the street people I see. I have to limit myself and try to snap only the best scenes, because everywhere I go there is pain.
There are always new places to explore in the city at night (and day), but New York City is a different bitch at night. That said, I have been after places where affluence and poverty meet.
Scene One -- Williamsburg
Williamsburg, a few Boricua, but mostly white people – hipsters and Ashkenazi. There are almost no homeless people. I have been exploring it, besides there is a book or store or two in Williamsburg that aren't a Barnes & Nobles. It's odd, but a place I like to explore.
I had to know how come the homeless are so few in Williamsburg? In their absence, I did as they do. I started camping out, grabbing sidewalk tables, working on programming or marketing projects from my netbook. Everything was good for a while, but like my experiment in Central Park, I expected to see the crackers in blue pretty soon.
Instead, I was visited by the crackers in yamaka. At first I thought my paranoia was getting the best of me, but these Jewish men kept coming around giving me dirty looks. They didn't say anything, but the way they looked at me said enough.
'Maybe it's my bald head and light complexion', I reasoned, but there are plenty of bald headed white boys in Williamsburg.
I let it foment. Next, they sent a woman over to me.
'They said you need to go over to the coffee shop and buy some coffee if you're going to do that,' she said, referring to my occupation on the sidewalk.
'What? Who?' I said.
'The Jews. They don't want you around here.'
I really couldn't believe it. I've never been scared of some white boys, so I ignored it and carried on. Sure enough, a couple of bigger specimens (and by big I mean fat) came back around. I didn't budge. Pretty soon they came back in a new Mercedes. I was by a fire hydrant. They parked in front of the hydrant and shown the light right on me
I didn't really care. I had gotten the answer to my question about the homeless in Williamsburg, however. Being a hard head, I had to finish what I was working on. The light shown still. I went back and checked my grammar. The lights still shown. I re-worked on it some more. The lights still shown.
This went on for 20 minutes. The German-made Mercedes have a great batteries.
Eventually they turned out the lights. I was nearly finished. To be honest with you, I was getting to feel like I might be getting mistaken for a twelve-year-old Palestinian with a few rocks in my pocket. I left them their public sidewalk with a little more knowledge.
Scene Two -- The Financial District
The McDonald's on Broadway and Maiden, in the Financial District, is a place I like to stop at night to get a cup of coffee, go through my pics, program, or write. I always buy the cheap coffee and park for an hour or two.
The homeless like to stay here at night. A few might buy food. All catch a nap. There is a old, frail blonde woman who like to sleep in the corner booth. I usually post up near here and do my work while she snores.
One of the workers, on a night not long ago, decided to tell her she had to go. I watched him long before he made his way over there. Broom in hand, he banged tables and chairs, barely sweeping. She awoke.
“You gotta go!” he demanded.
She began crying. “Where?”
“Well...I don't know.”
“Where?” she was bawling. “Where?”
I don't think he expected that response. He then saw me watching him and suddenly turned red. “I'm sorry, but we're gonna get in trouble.” he told her and left.
She is still sleeping near me tonight as I write this.
Nothing hurts like the present, unless you have the power or the affluence to drive it away from you. Nothing hurts like the present. It's not race, background, or ethnicity that can make you see it. Class seems to have a lot to do with it, but unless you've really been a part of an 'oppressed peoples', I don't think you can know. All I can hope is that if you don't know pain – real pain, the pain of these people – maybe I can make you feel it.