Don’t usually shoot people wearing hats. Got my friend McQuade to hold the reflector. Never shot Bernard. My shoot loosener fell flat. “Not a good day for the Yankees. Old. Injured. And they lost.” “I don’t follow baseball,” he said.
Tough to work alone. When one of my guys finds the light, it makes them smile. All my photos become a bigger collaboration with the people I shoot.
Chad sporting a Prince Valliant look.
Scotty has his pouch.
Amy received a certificate for attending a Peer Emotional Counselling Program.
New girl in town.
So, here is a crew that cares for cars. Most of us don’t know squat about our cars anymore. To care for the car, owners need to learn, understand and trust. Then you got to be responsible. Cannot just go from gas station to gas station, forgetting about the pipes, tubes and tires. I lost at least one much loved car to bad service. Never again.
Redemption. We seek redemption for different reasons. Larry promotes a clean environment, relying on the arrogance of those who cast their containers aside after binging on the beach. He lives to drink another day, clearing the beach and adjoining land of debris. We get to enjoy the view.
Excited about their prospects. Young. In love. Living in the wild. They have friends and community. Will it be enough? And for how long? Her bird tattoo honors dad who loved birds. Mom wears the broken heart.
Trying to build a portrait photography business in Burlington. People don’t spend money on such things unless they go to high school or get married. I don’t have money for a studio or advertising or professional quality lighting. Spent too much going to school and then the market dropped. So, I came up with a promotional idea. Donated a portrait shoot, a headshot and a digital image, at a screening of Tatoo Nation, a movie about how prison tatooing in California started the tatoo boom. Wouldn’t you know it, a kid who wanted a tatoo won the raffle. He doesn’t have ink. But he wants to become a musician. Right now he fights some demons, but he feels as though he is headed in the right direction.
Just one way out of the Courthouse. Always a good day when you can leave through a front door. The rest of life’s problems could be simple, but they are not.
Amanda’s carrying the burden of her father’s sickness and trying to stay clean and sober. She looks great and sounds positive.
Larkin has a place and a relationship. Both need furnishing and care. He’s got a good heart.
Molly has programs to attend and needs teeth. She is so happy to have her life back, too. Larkin protected her when they lived in the woods.
Brian says he spent time in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He’s out. Now, he needs a life. Hasn’t gotten help. He’s not sure he needs it. Who knows.
Karl would be lost without the street. “Hey Duck, take this photo.” Never saw the people before. Young woman is a poet. She recited a poem she made up. He cut her off. Ending his physical therapy for hip repair. Has to get around with a chair. Vision going. How long he stays in his apartment is up in the air. Asked me if I knew of a place to live. Me? Why would anyone ask me about a place to live? People all jive him, without knowing what goes on. They play him, not taking the time to look beneath the shell. He acts like he’s Donald Trump, firing people. From what job? Who knows? Lives in another world, one where poets live. He will be more lost without a place to live. I told him to go to the hearing, deal with the bullshit and keep his apartment. Always have to show up. And it may mean missing a day on the streets. He’s got a pad full of problems and poems.
Not seeing well, but clear headed, now, Scotty needed his stick. He doesn’t see, well. He has social skills, but limited physical ones. People take advantage of him; stealing his money, getting him drunk, not listening to his needs. He thought that someone had stolen his stick, because he gets special treatment.
So. when I attempted to shoot him, he resisted. “Haven’t you taken enough pictures of me?” No. “I have to find my stick. Where’s City Hall? I might have left it in the bathroom.” We walked. We talked. I had to hold him. He stumbled. Not a photo shoot.
He remembered, with help from Matt Young, that he may have left it in the bathroom at City Hall, but he wasn’t sure. Had to stop at the bathroom, where e inquired of a guy taking a shit, by peeking over the divider. Not shocked, the shitter said, “not here” We went to the Office of the City Attorney, a stop I needed to set up an appointment with Richard Haessler. He’s not there. Scotty is getting shakey. Well dressed people in the hall, black and briefcases, looked away from us, more interested in their pitch to whomever in City Government they needed to reach. Again, not pictures. Only Scotty, Not sure why?
But we found his stick.
So, his adult life has not been on easy street. Spent less time free, than not free. Cannot find work. Doesn’t have an education. Basically disabled because he can’t do whatever there is to do and no one would hire him anyway. He stands, asking for small bits of change. Cops kicked him off the ramp coming off I91, because of danger to himself and drivers. But what could they do to him? Put him in jail?
No easy answers.
Usually, when I walk down Church Street, elation fills my heart when a person who hasn’t been around for a while finds me. Jim is one of the guys whose smile always brightens my day.
During an early winter cold spell, I carried a sleeping bag around for days looking for him. Our schedules sometimes don’t coincide, me being an early morning person, while he sometimes roams until late at night and then sleeps in or out, depending on the weather. Jim said he’d been around, just not at the same time as me. I must have missed his decline.
Last time I shot him and his daughter Amanda was Christmas morning. They were on their way to a meal at Junior’s, an annual food event for street people. Both seemed a little beaten down. She’s away right now. People say she was doing OK for a while. I saw him again in mid-January. He was talking with a cop about something. I gave him a dollar, staring without talking, before moving along. Enough drama. Didn’t know if he was engaged in a social or investigative conversation.
But, on St. Patrick’s day, as he waited for the parade of Ireland Cement Mixers, we chatted. He looked awful. Even the days in the past when he had been carousing and not taking care of himself, he had a sense of life. He had helped people who had fallen or who couldn’t take care of themselves, like Paul O’Toole. Out early, he would pick up litter in City Hall Park. He told jokes and stories. Had a high sense of morals and etiquette. Got pissed if you didn’t greet him and upset if he missed you. Today, he answered the question, “how are you,” with “… not too good. Doctors say I don’t have a chance.” He wouldn’t tell me what was wrong, though I asked several times.
He refused my offer to buy him a new coat. “Not going to be needing a new coat where I am going.” Turned down my open offer to do anything which would make him more comfortable or happy. “No need. I have been all the places I needed to go and done all I wanted to do. Just waiting for the end.” Damn. I took a dollar out of my wallet and offered it to him. He refused and then reached into his pocket, took out a silver dollar. “Here Duck. You take this dollar. Its for all the dollars you have given me over the years.” “I don’t need your dollar,” I said. “Then give it to someone who does. When was the last time a homeless person gave you a dollar?’ I took it.
Hadassah of Burlington, VT, Sara Frank Chapter, celebrated Chai Tea at the home of Suzanne Brown in Shellburne. Kosher Katz, an A Capella group from the University of Vermont, sang three tunes, adding melody and nachas from the next generation of powerful Jewish women.
Tea was poured.
A Presidential message.
Honoring Chai Society, chapter benefactors.
Stella, 98 years old, heralds the past, present and future state of American Judaism and the satisfaction of contributing to Tikkun Olum.
A prayer from Rabbi Jan.
And too much cake and crustless sandwiches. So, what else is new?