Tuesday, March 28, 2006

million-dollar murray

i was reading this article today. it is a fascinating piece by malcolm gladwell about the high costs incurred by city governments in relation to a "hard-core" fraction of the homeless population. i was reading it while thinking about some of the guys i know and have known in our city. guys (and a couple of women) who are always in hospital, jail, or recovery.

one particular man came to mind as a stand out character. he is so consistently drunk and under arrest for public intoxication that police, jail workers, and street people alike joke about him having his own cell at the county detention center (complete with his name engraved into a plaque above the door) . lo and behold, this gentleman walks up to me while i'm reading this article and in his inimitable style proceeds to bust a few dance moves and hit me up for some change. if you live in lexington and spend any time downtown you will know him as James Brown. he was made famous a couple of years ago - it is really sad to see his freak-show celebrity, but that's another post...(see this link for more information.) i like to call this gentleman by his real name as he always does a double take (i learned his real name 7 years ago on one of the handful of occasions i have actually seen him sober) . i guess he is so used to his james brown alter ego that the dignity of being called by his given name comes as a bit of a shock.

anyway, it was a little happy coincidence. if you are interested in issues of homelessness and have friends on the street, go ahead and read the article. most of the time i have no idea how to move beyond the awkward helplessness of loving people who are battered against the streets (taking their cues, of course, from a broader culture of nihilism around them...they just can't afford their own private space for self-destructive drinking and drugging). when i have properly digested gladwell's article i'll post a little more.

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