Life on the Bloody Edge Page 12
School of the Americas Protest Page 9
Dec. 15-31, 2009 • Advocating Justice, Building Community • Issue 167
Knockin’ on the Food Pantry Door
Bob Dylan’s Christmas CD to benefit food pantries By Bill Flanagan Street News Service Exclusive to the International Network of Street Papers.
Bob Dylan plays the harmonica at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans. REUTERS/Lee Celano.
Laws and policies make necessities illegal By Vicky C. McDonald Contributing Writer
small group of Miami University students joined together Dec. 1 at Fountain Square to raise their voices against laws targeting homeless people. Legislation makes it illegal to sleep, sit or store personal belongings in public spaces in many cities where people are forced to live, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. In Ohio, an “open container” law prevents people from possessing an open container of beer or liquor on public property. Public-in-
decency laws prevent people let, a simple necessity that from urinating or defecating those who have homes take in public. for granted. Those without “(It’s) imhomes must portant for sometimes people to It costs $65 per bed per go in public, know homeday in the county jail in which violessness is comparison to an average lates the law. out there and of $30 a day for permanent After the first it’s not necsupportive housing. offense, the essarily their - Greater Cincinnati penalties infault,” said Coalition for the Homeless crease with Brent Eyseneach subbach, spokessequent ofman for the students. “People fense. are being locked up for doEysenbach said that, in ing everyday things we do at quasi-public places such as home.” fast-food restaurants, homeEysenbach was referring to things such as using a toiSee Crime, p. 8
ob Dylan has at variBF: Did you take him serious times revolu- ously? tionized folk, rock, BD: Well, sure I took him country and gospel music. seriously. However, any Dylan fan who BF: But it didn’t happen. says he was not surprised How come? that Bob has reBD: He wasn’t leased an album specific. Besides, of traditional Dylan has donated there was always Christmas songs all of his proceeds a glut of records is pulling your from the record, out around that leg. Christmas in perpetuity, to time of year, and in The Heart is organizations around I didn’t see how another surpristhe world to help one by me could ing move by an with hunger and make any differartist famous homelessness. ence. for surprises. Yet BF: What was when you hear Christmas like Dylan's direct and obviously around your town when you sincere readings of “O Come were growing up? All Ye Faithful,” “Little Town BD: Well, you know, plenty Of Bethlehem” and “The First of snow, jingle bells, ChristNoel,” this unlikely exercise mas carolers going from seems of a piece with the rest house to house, sleighs in the of Dylan's work. streets, town bells ringing, From the very first, this Nativity plays – that sort of was an artist who made us thing. look at the familiar with new BF: Your family was Jewish. eyes and ears. While some As a kid did you ever feel left critics tie themselves into out of the Christmas exciteknots analyzing Dylan's mo- ment? tives, it has usually turned BD: No, not at all. out that Bob Dylan means exBF: What’s your idea of a actly what he says. Featuring good Christmas dinner? members of his touring band BD: Mashed potatoes and along with Los Lobos' David gravy, roast turkey and colHidalgo and Chess Records lard greens, turnip greens, vet Phil Upchurch, Christmas biscuit dressing, corn bread in The Heart is Dylan's cel- and cranberry sauce. ebration of family, communiBF: Have you spent any ty, faith and shared memory. Christmases overseas and And a timely celebration it is. been struck by how the holiRecognizing the worldwide day is celebrated in other problem of hunger, Dylan has countries? donated all of his proceeds BD: I was in Mexico City from the record, in perpetu- once, and they do a lot of reity, to organizations around enactment scenes of Joseph the world to help with hunger and Mary looking for a place and homelessness. to stay. We sat down to talk in the BF: How do you like to spend Waterfront Plaza Hotel in the week between Christmas Oakland on a rainy, windy, and New Year’s? October day. BD: Doing nothing – mayBill Flanagan: Is recording be reflecting on things. a Christmas album something BF: Why do you think you’ve had on your mind for a Christmas has better songs while? than other holidays? Bob Dylan: Yeah, every so BD: I don’t know. That’s a often it has crossed my mind. good question. Maybe beThe idea was first brought to cause it’s so worldwide and me by Walter Yetnikoff, back everybody can relate to it in when he was President of Columbia Records. See Dylan, p. 4
Quite a Year for ‘Streetvibes’
By The Numbers
Growth, awards and occasional rejection
the age of a boy serving as a drug dealer’s lookout in the woodcut, The Sentinel (see page 16)
the edition of For a Better World 2010 set for publication in February 2010 (see page 7)
STREETVIBES December 15- 31, 2009
By Gregory Flannery Editor I was standing outside the office when a man in a U.S. flag shirt said he planned to kill himself on Christmas Eve unless his girlfriend got out of jail within two days. She was locked up on a charge of domestic violence. A few hours later a man told me he’d gotten a job, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society had given him a voucher for a pair of work boots. He offered to buy me a sweater, thanking me for giving him some small encouragement and bus fare before his fortunes improved. That is the kind of year Streetvibes had in 2009 – some heartaches, some victories.
the age at which Jacob started smoking (see page 11)
the number of times Bob Dylan has been to Christmas Island (see page 1)
the cost, in pennies, of a cup of coffee and two refills at a downtown café (see page 12)
the number of Streetvibes contributors who published books this year (see page 2)
the number, in millions, of people around the world who own slaves (see page 7)
the amount, in dollars, an abusive husband makes each week playing guitar at a club (see page 10)
the average number of workers for which a wage-theft investigator with the U.S. Labor Department is responsible (see page 6)
2…7…5 the highway St. Nick traversed while collecting bedbugs (see page 14)
• • •
• • • •
We were sad to see Andy Freeze leave at the start of the year. As education coordinator for the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, he managed the Streetvibes vendor program and laid out each edition of the paper. But that loss was also a gain for Streetvibes and for dozens of other street papers across the country. As the first-ever executive director of the North American Street Newspaper Association (NASNA), Freeze is working hard to help street papers grow and improve. When Freeze moved on, Lynne Ausman - administrative coordinator of the Homeless Coalition – began laying out each edition. She’s so good at it that I asked her to be our art director. This involved no extra pay and lots of extra work, especially after the Homeless Coalition decided to begin publishing Streetvibes bi-weekly. No extra pay – in fact, no pay at all – is what our writers, photographers and proofreaders got this year. All year long they have donated their work for free. They’re an amazing, diverse lot. Some are college students, some are homeless people, some are social workers, some are professional writers. Three of our regular contributors have published books this year: Michael Henson (They All Asked About You); Margo Pierce (Your Wills, Estates and Trusts Easily Explained); and Larry Gross (Living Out Loud). When Andy Freeze left, Jeni Jenkins took over as education coordinator and manager of the vendor program, bringing her own creativity and energy to the task. Josh Spring, executive director of the Homeless Coalition, has been very supportive. We’ve sold all copies of many editions of Streetvibes this year, thanks to the generosity of our readers and the hard work of our vendors. With the onset of cold weather, when sales usually decline, we’ve now adjusted our circulation to 3,500 every two weeks, which is about three times what we were selling in early 2008. The Street News Service has circulated worldwide several stories that first appeared in Streetvibes. We’ve introduced new columns (“Artists as Activists” and a sports column) and enjoyed continuing long-standing columns (“Hammered” and “Eight Minutes”). Twice this year Streetvibes has won awards for an article called, “We Are Their Slaves.” NASNA and the International Network of Street Papers named it the Best Feature Story of the Year. When the Denver Voice reprinted the story, its vendors were barred by a grocery chain affiliated with the issues covered in the story. Closer to home, a religious organization asked Streetvibes vendors to stay away from its annual festival because of an article it disapproved. Both articles were carried worldwide by the Street News Service, a prescient reminder that making a mark can help some people while upsetting others. Some of our vendors have been arrested for urinating in alleys at night. Wouldn’t it be nice if once – just once – a judge would tell a homeless person where she should go at night, when the public library is closed and restaurants don’t want homeless people coming in to take a piss. Public urination is a crime, all right, but the perpetrator is society at large, prosecuting poor people for doing what nature requires. One of our vendors was arrested for sleeping in an abandoned building. This, too, is a crime. Every night hundreds of people in Greater Cincinnati have to sleep in cars, on benches, on friends’ couches, on the Ohio River bank, under highway overpasses, in overcrowded shelters, in alcoves at the library, the courthouse, the cathedral, at City Hall. The crime is homelessness – not what homeless people do to stay alive. We have been fortunate to have students from Miami University, Northern Kentucky University, Xavier University, Ohio University and the College of Mount Saint Joseph contribute photography and articles to Streetvibes.
A student contributor recently expressed some reservation about an assignment in Over-theRhine. Like me, she was raised to believe that Over-the-Rhine is a dangerous place, an area to be avoided. This is not an uncommon view, but nor is it insuperable. I took the student on a brief walking tour of Over-the-Rhine and tried to share what I have seen: Over-the-Rhine is a neighborhood, a place where people look out for each other. It is under assault by city policies aimed at driving out the poor and those who help them. It is under assault by people who use guns at night – cowards, all of them! In the end, I don’t know if I changed the student’s view. But that kind of thing is what I believe an editor should do. That kind of thing goes to the heart of what Streetvibes and the Homeless Coalition are about: breaking down barriers, advocating on behalf of homeless people in a society that can be in turns compassionate and cruel. For this final edition of 2009, we’re offering fewer news stories and more poems and short stories. It’s in keeping with the season when we celebrate Hanukah, Christmas, Tsongkhapa Day and Eid ul-Fitr. You, our readers, have been very kind to us this year. Thank you. In 2010 may we see a world more just, more kind, more peaceful.
Streetvibes is an activist newspaper, advocating justice and building community. Streetvibes reports on economic issues, civil rights, the environment, the peace movement, spirituality and the struggle against homelessness and poverty. Distributed by people who are or once were homeless, in exchange for a $1 donation, Streetvibes is published twice a month by the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Address: 117 East 12th Street Cincinnati, OH 45202 Phone: 513.421.7803 x 12 Fax: 513.421.7813 Email: streetvibes2@ yahoo.com Website: www. cincihomeless.org Blog: streetvibes. wordpress.com Streetvibes Staff Editor Gregory Flannery Art Director Lynne Ausman Vendor Coordinator Jeni Jenkins Contributing Writers Lew Moores, Samantha Groark, Margo Pierce, Paul Kopp, Jeremy Flannery, Michael Henson, David Heitfield, Kelissa Hieber, Dan Rozier, Stephanie Dunlap, Saad Ghosn, Keara Anita Mullen, Steven Paul Lansky, Larry Gross, Eli Braun Photography/Artwork Aimie Willhoite, Lynne Ausman, Jeni Jenkins, Anthony Williams, Bill Haigh, Clarissa Peppers Proofreaders Jennifer Blalock Lynn Baker Jeremy Flannery The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that works to eradicate homelessness in Cincinnati through coordination of services, public education, grassroots advocacy and Streetvibes. We are members of:
STREETVIBES December 15 - 31, 2009
Hamilton County Hidden Treasures Integration works when neighbors work at it By Jill Span Contributing Writer
West End became known as the first ghetto in Hamilton County, housing most of Cinor the past 30 years cinnati’s African Americans cities in Hamilton because they could not find County have been housing elsewhere, accordworking toward neighbor- ing to Leininger. hood integration. A Human As Cincinnati made an efResource event Nov. 21 cele- fort to replace slum housing brated those neighborhoods. in the 1930s and ’40s, a large The event began with a number of African Ameriwelcome and introduction by cans were displaced from Cheryl Meadows their homes. By of the Cincinnati the 1950s the Human Relations “A lot of this is about city was lookCommission, partnership and ing for ways to who identified bringing everyone build more pubthe successfully to the table. It’s not lic housing, but integrated comabout government neighborhoods munities as “hidchanging were still very den treasures.” communities, or segregated by “Whenever we politics; it’s about race, Leininger get an opportueveryone in the said. nity to celebrate community stepping With the Fair what’s been acup. Be the change Housing Act of complished, I you want to see.” 1968, discrimithink it’s won-Kathy Garrison nation based on derful,” Meadows race in the sale, said. rental and fiThere were 25 communi- nancing of housing was proties recognized at the pro- hibited, which became the gram, with the honor of “gold first real step toward change. medal” status awarded to After 1970 came a sharp Riverfront/Downtown, Cor- change in the racial stability ryville and Madisonville for of integrated neighborhoods, 30 years of integrated neigh- but “as late as the early ’90s, borhoods. there were still some landCharles F. Casey Leininger lords that were openly and of the Department of History explicitly discriminating on at the University of Cincin- the basis of race,” Leininger nati led a segment on the his- said. tory of segregation in HamilToday old fears of integratton County. ed neighborhoods are far less “It’s clear to me that over prevalent than in the past, at the last 30 to 40 years there’s least in some neighborhoods, been a shift in the way people he said. think about their communi“We found that not only are ties – a positive shift,” said those traditionally integrated Leininger, who attributed the neighborhoods stabilized, progress to a change in at- but others as well,” Leininger titudes among younger gen- said. erations. Success is about having a However, “the fact that we healthy mix of racial diversity live in a society that is large- as well as socio-economic ly segregated on the basis of diversity, according to Elizarace is no accident,” he said. beth Brown, executive direcIn the late 19th century the tor of Housing Opportunities
Charles F. Casey-Leininger (seated) and Elizabeth Brown speak about the success of integrated neighborhoods. Photo by Maria Campolongo.
Made Equal. “The fact is we are all welcome to live wherever we choose for whatever reason we choose,” she said. The second half of the “Hidden Treasures” program began with a short documentary on one Pennsylvania community’s quest toward a vibrant integrated neighborhood, followed by a panel on trend-setting with representatives from some of Hamilton County’s stabilized integrated neighborhoods. Tim Jeckering, president of the Northside Community Council, represented that neighborhood at the event. Northside earned a silver medal for being integrated since 1980. “If you can do pro-active things in your community that involve all people, you’ll have much more success with
integration,” he said. One way Northside does this is by having an annual Fourth of July parade, Jeckering said. Maria Kreppel, chair of District A Board of Directors, spoke on behalf of the Pleasant Ridge Heights and Kennedy Heights communities. Kreppel said she and her husband moved to the edge of Pleasant Ridge in the 1970s and found it to be a wonderful place to raise their family. “Today, looking over my shoulder, our wonderful family experience was because of human geography – not physical geography,” Kreppel said. District A includes neighborhoods that have committed themselves to working in the arts, including everything from architecture to welding, she said. District A is not an
ordinary arts district because artists not only work there, but also raise their families there, as well, Kreppel said. Kathy Garrison, another panel member, has lived in Madisonville for the past 48 years. She said the key to integrating neighborhoods is recognizing the importance of reaching out and latching on to those who want to get involved. “A lot of this is about partnership and bringing everyone to the table,” Garrison said. “It’s not about government changing communities, or politics; it’s about everyone in the community stepping up. Be the change you want to see.” Proclamations from Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and the Hamilton County Commissioners declared Nov. 21 “Hidden Treasures Day.”
Religious March for Health Care Faith leaders want Congress to act By Donald Washington Contributing Writer
ore than 50 “People of Faith United for Health Care Reform” gathered Nov. 24 on the steps of Christ Church Cathedral downtown to rally for health-care reform, now reaching a critical stage in Congress. The U.S. Senate began debate following its Thanksgiving break. The rally engaged people across many religious denominations. The Rev. Paula Jackson of Church of Our Saviour, Rabbi Sigma Coran of Rockdale Temple, the Rev. Elmer Martin of Brown Chapel A.M.E. and Canon Joanna
Leiserson of Christ Church denied that blessing because Cathedral provided testimo- of lack of health coverage.” ny of the need for An open letter health-care reform. from faith leaders The Rev. Damon “We have a to elected officials Lynch Jr. of New moral obligation was signed by perJerusalem Baptist to families who sons of faith from Church closed out are denied Greater Cincinthe rally with a fiery (health care).” nati and was made speech that chalavailable to the rally lenged the participarticipants to sign. pants to take action now to Participants marched with support health care reform. banners and placards to the “As families prepare to Cincinnati office of U.S. Sen. share a Thanksgiving meal George Voinovich to deliver this week, it is important to the letter. It was a remarkable recognize that our health is scene that generated many one of the most important on lookers from the lunchthings we say ‘thanks’ for,” time crowd downtown. said one faith leader in atThis was the first action tendance. “We have a moral taken by the People of Faith, obligation to families who are but more activity is to follow
Religious leaders spoke out in support of health care reform Nov. 24. to secure health-care reform for individuals, families and society as a whole during this critical month. These religious leaders are partner-
ing with Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage, a statewide organization building a consumer voice for health-care reform.
STREETVIBES December 15- 31, 2009
Bob Dylan has just completed his first Christmas CD. The profits will benefit the hungry. Photo courtesy of Columbia Records.
Knockin’ on the Food Pantry Door continued from page 1
ing through the window at the congregation, hear their version of “Hey Jude.” wishing he were in there. Did any of these BF: The way you do “Winter Wonderland” their own kind of way. songs surprise you when you heard them makes me think of Gene Autry and Roy RodBF: Very often when contemporary art- played back? gers, the singing cowboys in the old movies. ists do Christmas records, they look for a BD: No, they were pretty much the same Even in John Wayne films, there’d always be new angle. John Fahey did instrumental folk going in as going out. You can already hear a scene back at the fort where an Irish band variations on holiday songs, Billy Idol did a them in your head before was playing, or the Sons of rock and roll Christmas album, Phil Specter you begin. the Pioneers were singing. put the Wall of Sound around the Christmas BF: Any Christmas “I love rhyming for rhyming Did you have a favorite tree and the Roches did kind of a kooky left- songs you like but you did sake. I think that’s an cowboy singer as a kid? field collection. You played this right down not think you could do? incredible art form.” BD: Yeah, Tex Ritter. the middle, doing classic holiday songs in BD: Not really. There - Bob Dylan BF: What about Gene traditional arrangements. Did you know go- were ones I didn’t want and Roy? ing in you wanted to play it straight? to do, but not any that I BD: Yeah, they were BD: Oh sure, there wasn’t any other way didn’t think I could do. The idea was to re- OK, but Tex Ritter was my favorite. He was to play it. These songs are part of my life, cord the best known ones. way more heavy. There was more gravity to just like folk songs. You have to play them BF: “Christmas Blues” is an old Dean Mar- him. straight, too. tin song. What attracted you to that? BF: Have you heard “Christmas on Death BF: There’s something new that hapBD: It’s just a beautiful song. Row,” the rap Christmas record? pens when your voice goes up against the BF: Stan Lynch once told me about you BD: No, I don’t think so. very smooth background singers and old- and him slipping out of a rehearsal with the BF: Do you listen to rap music? fashioned arrangements. It adds a new fla- Heartbreakers to go see Dean, Sinatra and BD: I don’t listen to rap radio stations and vor to the mix. When you do “I’ll Be Home Sammy Davis. What appealed to you about I don’t play rap songs on the jukebox, and I for Christmas,” it sounds really forlorn, like those guys? don’t go to rap shows, so, no, I guess I don’t you’re singing the song in jail and this is BD: I don’t know, maybe the camarade- listen to rap music all that much. your one phone call. Do you ever approach rie. On the other hand, I wasn’t much into BF: What do you think of rap music? singing a song like an actor? that whole scene, actually. It left a lot of BD: I love rhyming for rhyming sake. I BD: Not any more then Willie or Nat King people out. think that’s an incredible art form. Cole would. The songs BF: “Must Be Santa” is BF: There’s a lonely quality in the way you don’t require much acting. a real jumping polka. Did do “Silver Bells.” You were a young man when They kind of play them“I don’t know what my you hear a lot of polka you moved from Minnesota to New York City. selves. grandchildren think of any of bands growing up? Was Christmas very different in New York? BF: Do you try to go for my records. I don’t know if BD: Yeah, I heard a few. BD: Christmas was pretty much the same different emotions on difthey’ve even heard them.” BF: I never heard that in New York, only more so. ferent takes? - Bob Dylan song before. Where did you BF: Did it make you homesick? BD: Not really. The emohear it? BD: Not really. I didn’t think about it that tions would pretty much BD: I first heard that much. I didn’t bring the past with me when be the same on any singular take. The in- song years ago on one of those “Sing Along I came to New York. Nothing back there flections would maybe differ if we changed with Mitch” records. But this version comes would play any part in where I was going. the key, and sometimes that might affect from a band called Brave Combo. SomeBF: Hearing you sing “Adeste Fidelis” rethe emotional resonance. body sent their record to us for our radio minds me of being an altar boy at Midnight BF: When I hear your version of “Hark! show. They’re a regional band out of Texas Mass. The priests all had to lead the singing, The Herald Angels Sing,” it makes me think that takes regular songs and changes the of a lonely fellow outside the church, look- way you think about them. You ought to See Dylan, p. 5
STREETVIBES December 15 - 31, 2009
Knockin’ on the Food Pantry Door continued from page 4
you sure deliver that song like a true believer. BD: Well, I am a true believer. and it didn’t matter if they were singers or not – they belted it out. Have you BF: You know, some people will think that Bob Dylan doing a Christmas ever sung in a foreign language before? album is meant to be ironic or a put-on. This sounds to me like one of the BD: I’ve sung in French, Italian and Spanish. Over the years Columbia most sincere records you’ve ever made. Did anybody at your record comhas asked me to do records in those languages, and I recorded stuff here pany or management resist the idea? and there. None of the tracks have been released, though. It’s hard decidBD: No, it was my record company who compelled me to do it. ing whether to do a translation of one of my own songs or an original BF: Why now? song in one of those languages, which I’m BD: Well, it just came my way now, at this time. Actually, I don’t think I actually more partial to. I’ve always wanted would have been experienced enough earlier anyway. “Isn’t there enough to do some Edith Piaf songs. BF: Some critics don’t seem to know what to make of this record. irreverence in the world? BF: “La Vie en Rose”? Bloomberg News said, “Some of the songs sound ironic. Does he really Who would need more? BD: Yeah. That one and a couple of oth- mean “have yourself a merry little Christmas?” Is there any ironic content Especially at Christmas time.” ers: “Sous Le Ciel de Paris, “Pour Moi Tout in these songs? - Bob Dylan Seule” and maybe one or two more. BD: No, not at all. Critics like that are on the outside looking in. They BF: What stopped you? are definitely not fans or the audience that I play to. They would have no BD: Well, I can hear myself doing them in gut level understanding of me and my work, what I can and can’t do – the my head, but I’d need written arrangements to pull it off, and I’m not sure scope of it all. Even at this point in time they still don’t know what to make who could do that. of me. BF: Which singers do you BF: Derek Barker in the associate with Christmas? Independent compared this BD: Johnny Mathis and record with the shock of you Nat King Cole. Doris Day. going electric. So many artBF: What about Bing ists have released Christmas Crosby? records, from Bing Crosby to BD: Sure, “White ChristHuey Piano Smith. Why is it mas” was always a big a shock if you do it? song. BD: You’ll have to ask BF: I always get choked them. up at the end of “Going My BF: The Chicago Tribune Way” when the old priest’s felt this record needed more mother comes walking toirreverence. Doesn’t that ward him on Christmas miss the point? Eve and Bing watches from BD: Well, sure it does. the door of the church, then That’s an irresponsible picks up his suitcase and statement anyway. Isn’t walks off into the snow – there enough irreverence in “Tura, Lura Lura” playing the world? Who would need in the background. You can’t more? Especially at Christget any more Christmassy mas time. than that. Did movies have BF: The profits from this a big effect on how you saw album are going to buy the world growing up? Christmas dinners for folks BD: I think so. I lived in who are having a hard time a small town, and movfinancially. When I heard ies were a window into the that, I thought of the Woody outside world. Guthrie song, “Pretty Boy BF: “Christmas Island” is Floyd”: “Here’s a Christmas a wacky song! Santa’s going dinner for the families on to sail in with your presents relief.” in a canoe. Where did that BD: Exactly, “Pretty Boy come from? You ever been to Bob Dylan’s Christmas CD. Photo courtesy of Columbia Records. Floyd.” “Pretty Boy grabbed Christmas Island? the log chain and the depBD: No, I’ve never been uty grabbed his gun.” Did there. I have no idea where you ever notice how Pretty the song comes from, who wrote or even if there is such a place. Boy Floyd looks exactly like babe Ruth? BF: Your song, “Three Angels,” always reminds me of the holidays. Did BF: Yeah, I have. you ever sit down to write a Christmas song? BD: Did you ever think it could be the same guy? BD: I have never done that. It’s something to think about, though. BF: Maybe they’re interchangeable? BF: You have grandchildren. What do you think they’ll make of this BD: Yeah, in the real world Pretty Boy would be batting clean up for the record? Did it occur to you making this record that years from now your Yankees and Babe Ruth would be robbing banks. grandchildren will play this album for their own kids? BF: Yeah, and they’re both legends. BD: I don’t know what my grandchildren think of any of my records. I BD: Right. don’t know if they’ve even heard them. Maybe the older ones. BF: Why did you pick Feeding America, Crisis UK and The World Food BF: You’re a lot more loyal to these melodies than you are to the melo- Programme to give the proceeds of this record to? dies of the songs you’ve written. Do you figure these tunes can’t be messed BD: Because they get food straight to the people – no military orgawith? nization, no bureaucracy, no governments to BD: If you want to get to the heart of them, they can’t be, no. deal with. BF: Your version of “The Christmas Song” is right in the pocket. You slide BF: Do you still send out Christmas cards? "I’ve sung in French, Italian into that song like you’ve been singing it all your life. You also sing the intro BD: I haven’t for a while. and Spanish. Over the (“All through the year we waited …”), which most people leave out. I don’t BF: Do you have a favorite Christmas al- years Columbia has asked think Nat King Cole used that intro. Why did you bring it back? bum? me to do records in those BD: Well, I figured the guy who wrote it put BD: Maybe the Louvin Brothers. I like all languages, and I recorded it in there deliberately. It definitely creates ten- the religious Christmas albums – the ones in stuff here and there. None “I didn’t bring the past with sion, predicts what you are about to hear. Latin, the songs I sang as a kid. of the tracks have been me when I came to New BF: I think you did drop the “goodies” on the BF: A lot of people like the secular ones. released, though." York. Nothing back there sleigh. Did something about that bother you? BD: Religion isn’t meant for everybody. - Bob Dylan would play any part in BD: No, not really. I don’t think I thought of BF: What sort of gifts do you like to give? where I was going.” it until you mentioned it. I try my best to be BD: I try to match the person with the gift. - Bob Dylan exact, but sometimes things just fall away. We BF: Are you a last-minute shopper? probably recorded the song, got the feel right BD: Always. and moved on. Most likely we didn’t even lisBF: Do you drop any hints about what you hope to get from your famten back, just moved on to something else. I don’t think that’s something ily? I would have noticed anyway. BD: Nope. Their well-being – that’s enough of a gift for me. BF: You really give a heroic performance of “O’ Little Town of BethleBF: I know we’re out of time but I have to ask: What’s the best Christmas hem.” The way you do it reminds me a little of an Irish rebel song. There’s gift you ever got? something almost defiant in the way you sing, “The hopes and fears of all BD: Let me think. Oh yeah, I think it was a sled. the years are met in thee tonight.” I don’t want to put you on the spot, but
STREETVIBES December 15- 31, 2009
Just as Bad as Highway Robbery Wage theft is a nationwide problem
Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center (CIWC). The nonprofit organization, formed in 2005, works to educate and advocate for workers’ rights. CIWC is affiliated with the By Kelissa Hieber national network, Interfaith Contributing Writer Worker Justice, which as a whole recovered over $2 milage theft is a lion dollars in unpaid wages crime that oc- in 2008. curs all across the CIWC addresses the probcountry and affects many dif- lem of wage theft by directly ferent individuals. Wage theft confronting businesses or is the illegal practice of not employers that have cheated paying workers or not paying workers out of the wages they their proper are due. The wages. organization The ways Undocumented workers are also works that wage often the targets of wage on lawsuits theft is cartheft, because employers against emried out in- believe they can easily avoid ployers or clude paypaying these workers. individuals ing less than who are parminimum ticipating in wage, no payment or im- these illegal practices. proper payment for overtime The U.S. Department of Laand incomplete paychecks or bor is supposed to make sure no paychecks at all. No one that all workers get their deis immune to the possibility served wages. Unfortunately of being a wage-theft victim, the Labor Department doesn’t but certain groups are affect- have the staffing to make sure ed far more than others. Im- that no workers fall through migrants, African-American the cracks. Wage and hour workers, temporary workers investigators are responsible and low-wage workers feel for ensuring workers receive the impact of this crime the their proper pay, but in 2008 most. there was only around one Many community groups investigator for every 173,000 across the nation have workers covered under the worked to educate and fight Fair Labor Standards Act. for the rights of these workThe CIWC press conferers. Nov. 19 was the National ence began with the stories Day of Action to Stop Wage of two workers who had been Theft (see “Wage Theft: The victims of wage theft. PeForgotten crime,” issue of dro Alverado had worked for Dec. 1-14). People in 40 cit- the same employer for three ies across the nation partici- years, but on his last job he pated in this day to educate ran into problems with his and discuss what has been boss. His employer wouldn’t done and what still needs to pay him for his last job and be done on this issue. claimed he wasn’t responIn Cincinnati, the obser- sible for Alverado’s problems. vation ended with a press Alverado went to CIWC for conference hosted by the help.
Activists gather in Walnut Hills to protest wage theft. Photo by Dan Moore. “I’m here today to get justice for so many others like me,” he said. One concern discussed at the press conference is how is that legislation alone isn’t enough; adequate personnel are needed to enforce these laws. Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune was unable to attend the press conference but an assistant spoke about Portune’s work on the issue. Last month Portune created the Hamilton County Wage Theft and Worker Misclassification Task Force. Its mission is to gather information about businesses and employers who are practicing wage theft. The task force will inform local governments and the Labor Department on their findings. Once they have this comprehensive data, they can work to bring these individuals and companies to justice and work to return the wages
to the workers. The next speaker at the press conference said this is not just a state-by-state issue but also a national one. Dave Solhultz, general counsel of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, discussed the steps that agency is taking to combat these illegal practices. Solhultz said his team is aggressively working to find employers that are committing these crimes, and then works to bring them to justice. The Kentucky Labor Cabinet recently retrieved $600,000 of unpaid wages for non-documented workers in Louisville. Undocumented workers are often the targets of wage theft, because employers believe they can easily avoid paying these workers. Immigrants often work in temporary jobs and contend with language barriers, making them easy targets for opportunistic employers.
Many immigrants work as day labors and answer to contractors or sub-contractors. Often these workers are paid minimum wage or less, in violation of the Davis-Bacon Act, which states these workers are entitled to the prevailing wage – a rate higher than the minimum wage, established by local government. “Our stated commitment is that your immigration status does not matter,” Solhultz said. “You are still a worker covered under out national labor laws and therefore entitled to proper pay.” Often the workers whose wages are stolen have to decide between being able to eat or having a place to sleep. About $51 is stolen from lowwage workers across the nation per week, according to some studies.
Green, Angry Works for Bengals
But being the Incredible Hulk might not be enough By B. Clifton Burke Contributing Writer The Bengals are steadfast in their identity. They've found a look and lifestyle that they’re comfortable with and now they can't imagine living any other way. The problem is they've made themselves into something that resembles the Incredible Hulk: a big and strong team that often appears simpleminded and predictable in its attack. Last season they were still just plain old Bruce Banner: a below-average entity unable to make a difference in the world. They got angry with all the losing and turned green. This year they came out of nowhere and slammed their way into first place and are now a near lock to make
the postseason. The physi- roll the other two at home, cal domination has worked; and the same mortar-andbut as the season extends, pestle style that turned them the foes come equipped with into winners now appears too cooler superpowers and fan- routine, too mundane for the cier weapcritics. They onry, and say that, if the BenAs frost mounts in the deep the Bengals gals will freeze of winter and each win are to suchave to becomes more paramount, ceed in the quickly Cincinnati will learn if simply playoffs, learn how being the more brawny team they must to counter is enough to end up on top. show the them. world now The conthat they can cern for Cincinnati's inability win in more dynamic ways. to score points and move the Losing wide receiver Chris ball more efficiently through Henry for the year with a brothe air was heightened dur- ken forearm has had more ing the struggles the team fallout than some expected. experienced against bottom- Expensive free-agent acquifeeders Oakland, Cleveland sition, Laveranues Coles, still and Detroit. doesn't appear to have an Cincinnati lost in Oakland established role on the team; and didn't necessarily steam- and second-year receiver,
Andre Caldwell, has seen his production slowed after a tremendous start of the season. The only legitimate threat in the passing game these days is Chad Ochocinco who has kept the aerial assault alive nearly single-handedly. But with Chad double-teamed so often, it's become imperative that someone else rise to the occasion and be a viable secondary option for Carson Palmer when he drops back to throw. As of late, that hasn't happened. Losing Henry hasn't been the only limitation to the offense brought on by injury. Rookie running back Bernard Scott has shown genuine flashes of becoming the quintessential change-ofpace back that the best running teams in the NFL em-
ploy. With his patient running style and field vision, Scott contrasts nicely with the bruising power-backs, Cedric Benson and Larry Johnson. Since his turf-toe injury, however, the Bengals without him have resorted almost exclusively to running more basic plays up the middle, even in the face of defensive schemes set out to stop exactly that kind of play. Sitting on opposing teams and waiting for them to yell “Uncle” will work against the dregs of the league, but against the premium heavy-hitters, the Bengals will eventually be forced to catch someone by surprise and have to win with some creativity. I expect to see a slight shift
See Green, p. 7
STREETVIBES December 15 - 31, 2009
Time to End Slavery; I Can Help
Chocolate bars and conversation can build a movement By Joanna Pogue Guest Columnist
bat slavery, we will never know what they could have done for the world, instead of making its clothes or chocolate perhaps. Of course, the most important reason for the combat of slavery all over the world is the feeling of empathy for our human neighbors. If we take a second and imagine the suffering of those in slavery, it is hard to not want to do something to stop it. If we put ourselves in their shoes, being beaten so much that the sores on your back cannot heal for they are being reopened everyday by a whip, we shudder at the thought. This should cause an uproar in our minds and
t’s everywhere. When we get dressed, when we make lunch, when we drive to the store. It is 27 million people being used, and 6.57 million people as the users. What is this incredible force? Slavery. In the words of a former slave, slavery is “a complete hell.” It is violent, abusive, exhausting, inhumane and degrading. For all of these reasons, and because we are all humans in the world tothey like. Slavery steals life gether, it is of utter imporaway from them and replaces tance that we combat slavery it with hopes of death. around the world and in the We must begin to combat United States of America. slavery all over the world, As a human, there are so for so many reasons about many opportunities in the its inhumane style. But also world for you, and slavery because slaves have an unabolishes all hope of those. quenchable desire for freeSlaves lose basic rights that dom. If they fight for it and get everyone in the world beaten for it, then we, too, is born with. They are should fight for their freestopped from having dom. It is so important that Everyone loves chocolate, but freedom of movement, nobody knows that the blood and no one in this world misses which everyone should sweat of many hardworking slaves out on the basic right to a have, freedom of educa- went into the bar they are eating. life. It is important that we tion and a real job, and send a message to all the freedom of curiosity, people in the world that are which is the basis of all hu- in our hearts to start doing involved with buying, using man thinking. something to stop the slavery. and selling slaves. This mesCuriosity allows progress If we cannot even imagine be- sage needs to say that slavery in the world. It creates new ing in their shoes, then why will not be accepted, that evinventions and new ways should they have to be there ery single slave will be found of thinking. Through it, the in reality? They shouldn’t. and freed. People deserve economy, the government If that description does not more than a life as a slave. and the people all experience move you to start fighting This message should be sent growth in some way. When against slavery, then perhaps from every country of the slavery suppresses the curi- the thought of young kids, world, from every member of osity of 27 million individual even younger than 5 years the world community. thinkers, it is damaging the old, being enslaved will. When These slaves are our people, growth of the people of the children grow up in slavery, they were parts of our country world. One of those slaves live in slavery and die in slav- and we need to return them could have the potential to ery, they have not lived a life. to the lives they once knew. be a great scientist or a great Everyone born into the world The number of slaves today musician. If we do not com- should be able to live any way is 27 million people, higher
A Call to Greater Cincinnati Poets Write for ‘For a Better World 2010’ It’s time to get your verse on. SOS Art, the annual exhibit of art on themes of peace and justice, publishes a collection of poetry each year. Saad Ghosn, who organizes SOS Art and writes the “Artists as Activists” column for Streetvibes, is now collecting submissions for For a Better World 2010, the seventh edition to date. Any poet from or connected to Greater Cincinnati may submit up to three poems related to themes of peace and justice. All submissions will be considered. The editors will be looking for quality, inclusiveness and appropriateness to the themes of peace and justice. If space becomes limited, priority will go to poets not published in previous books. The poems selected for publication will be illustrated in black and white by Greater Cincinnati artists. Poets included in the book will be invited to read their poems at SOS Art 2010. For a Better World 2010 will be released in May 2010. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 15, 2010. Send submissions as “Word” attachments or in full text By e-mail to email@example.com or On a CD to Saad Ghosn, 216 Erkenbrecher Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45229.
than the number of slaves during the transatlantic slave trade from Africa. As neighbors, as friends and as humans we need to take a stand against slavery before the number grows even higher. Even though I am a mere senior in high school, leaving me little authority in my local community, there are many things I can do. To start, I can do the easiest thing for me, talk with my friends and parents about the movie I just watched and ask them to watch it, too. This will build a following of the issue through chain reactions of telling my friends, who tell their friends and so on. By simply doing this I have built some awareness of the issue of slavery which has until now seemed to be forgotten. Besides doing that, as a student I can begin posting signs around the school just to raise more awareness. Also in school bringing in a speaker, possibly a former slave or active member of Free the People to the school would make a huge impression. Parents would be invited to hear the speaker, while students are required to go. To follow on the presentation a new club could be formed to raise awareness, and begin involvement in the Free the People campaign. Once the club has a solid group of members, we can begin drafting letters or setting up talks with important figures in our
community. For instance, the Cincinnati Art Museum or the Contemporary Art Museum could have a display of work done about slavery, which would promote awareness to a broader range of people than we could have reached through our school. Another simple and barely noticeable task that could promote much awareness of slavery is dealing with chocolate bars. Chocolate bars could be bought or made and little slips of paper with facts about slavery still in the world today could be sold at grocery stores, movie theatres, on the street, anywhere. Everyone loves chocolate, but nobody knows that the blood and sweat of many hardworking slaves went into the bar they are eating. If people knew how their chocolate was made, maybe they would make a big deal and start raising awareness of slavery themselves. The goal would be to start making a chain reaction, where I start informing people about slavery, who then inform others, who inform others, etc. This would cause so much uproar that a movement against slavery would be hard to ignore. Excerpted from the winning entry in a high-school essay contest sponsored by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. A student at Summit Country Day High School at the time of the contest, Pogue is now a student at Ohio State University.
Green and Angry Continued from page 6 in the team's offensive philosophy for the last quarter of the regular season. It's been known that in the past the Bengals have reevaluated their strategy every four games. From the outside, the changes are sometimes detectable; other times they're too subtle or simply don't materialize as they were planned. The theory makes sense: Occasionally install new plays and shift the paradigm to keep the opposition on their toes; but Marvin Lewis and his men have been a stubborn lot, especially this season, and he might not feel compelled to stray from what has clearly worked for him. Yet the next two games at Minnesota and at San Diego feature opponents that score plenty of points; and if the offense can't keep up, they may end up learning this lesson the hard way. Still, they might not have to score much after all. The defense remains the team's inner core and has been difficult to criticize all year. After Week 13, they
ranked first in scoring defense, second against the run and fourth in overall yards allowed. Coordinator Mike Zimmer collected discarded pieces from the flotsam and jetsam of the NFL this off-season, and has since composed a group that works diligently and efficiently but rarely ever looks good doing it. The strong play of the cornerback tandem of Johnathon Joseph and Leon Hall has allowed Zimmer to focus on stopping the run first, and has also resulted in a handful of timely coverage sacks. They truly are a group who are far more concerned with their numbers than their names. So as frost mounts in the deep freeze of winter and each win becomes more paramount, Cincinnati will learn if simply being the more brawny team is enough to end up on top. If the passing game can somehow spring to life, then most would agree that the Bengals could match up well against anyone. As it is now, they'll have to win by being green and angry.
STREETVIBES December 15- 31, 2009
Homeless Crimes continued from page 1
ing needs to be clean and safe and perceived that way.” less people are arrested for trespassHis remark merely perpetuated the ing and police are called when they idea that those without a home are just want to wash up. dangerous – even though the courtBeing caught with an open flask house provides a sense of safety for or urinating in an alley is a misde- the homeless. meanor. But homeless people with The Miami university students criminal records find distributed literature it difficult to obtain and stickers that said, employment or hous- “(It’s) important for people “I support people ing. to know homelessness without a home.” The The city should is out there and it’s not statement was crerecognize the fact necessarily their fault. ated so that people that social services People are being locked would not perceive are at maximum caup for doing everyday those without a home pacity, according to things we do at home.” as a label, which the Eysenbach. More ser- Brent Eysenbach term “homeless” repvices, along with afresents. fordable housing, are Tom Dutton – an needed, he said. architecture professor, director of The goal for the students was to go the Miami University Center for Civic to a public place, where the home- Engagement in Over-the-Rhine and less are not allowed to sell items such a longtime advocate for poor people as Streetvibes, and spread the word – said people must take a look at the about these laws. City ordinances nature of our economy. The homeless prohibit vendors from selling Street- are turned into criminals, largely due vibes on Fountain Square. to ignorance. The city’s punitive meaEysenbach said many see homeless sures come from a deep misunderpeople as “them” or “others.” They are standing of the nature of homelessnot seen as people and therefore are ness, he said. brushed aside. In May 2007 the Greater Cincinnati Last summer the Cincinnati En- Coalition for the Homeless produced quirer reported on homeless people a study of public records that revealed sleeping – and urinating – outside the that it would actually cost the city Hamilton County Courthouse. Coun- less to create permanent supportive ty Commissioner David Pepper told housing than it would to place homethe paper, “It’s clearly unacceptable less people in jail. It costs $65 per bed for it to be used this way. The build- per day in the county jail in com-
Miami University students passed out literature and spoke with the community about the criminalization of homelessness. Photo by Ryan Wellinghoff.
parison to an average of $30 a day for permanent supportive housing, the report said. “Because our system doesn’t make sure everybody has the human right of
housing, people are forced to do their living outside, in front of everyone else, and therefore they’re criminalized,” said GCCH Executive Director Josh Spring.
! ? t a h W
“If the lower classes are strong enough, or, in other words, if the lower classes can cause enough disruption in the society, the elites and more affluent may be wiling to give them concessions in order to remove this threat to the overall status quo.” - Harold R. Kerbo, Social Stratification and Inequality
Refurbished G3 Mac Computers for only $39 through December! (regular price $64) Proceeds benefit Media Bridges Your local nonprofit media center Visit www.mediabridges.org or call 513-651-4171 for details, or stop by 1100 Race St. to pick one up today.
STREETVIBES December 15 - 31, 2009
School of Assassins Tens of thousands want end to Torture U By Samantha Groark Contributing Writer
very third week in November, thousands of students, clergy, celebrities, politicians, human rights defenders, torture survivors, veterans and citizens gather outside the gates of Ft. Benning, Ga., to protest at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA). Renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2001, SOA is a 63-year-old combat-training school for soldiers in Latin America. Each year about 20,000 people gather at the gates to protest SOA’s history and its ongoing work, making it one of the longest-standing non-violent protest movements in American history. The School of the Americas has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. SOA graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own peoples, often resulting in massacres of entire villages, according to School of the Americas Watch, the organization that coordinates the annual protest. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders and others who work for the rights of the poor in Latin American countries. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, “disappeared,” massacred, and forced into refuge by SOA graduates, according to SOA Watch and other organizations. Initially established in Panama in 1946, the School of the Americas was kicked out of that country in 1984 by former Panamanian President Jorge Illueca, who said the School of the Americas was the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.” Since then graduates from SOA, dubbed by critics the “School of Assassins,” have been involved in political coups, massacres and assassinations in every country where they have returned after their training. The first protest in 1990 came after the Nov. 16, 1989, massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her teenage daughter in El Salvador. A U.S. Congressional Task Force reported that those responsible were trained at the SOA. In 1990, SOA Watch began in a tiny apartment outside the main gate of Ft. Benning with the help of the Rev. Roy Bourgeois. SOA Watch has
Protesters marched outside the gates of Ft. Benning, Georgia. Photo by Angela Gray.
Protesters carry crosses at a protest against the School of the Americas. Photo by John Rehak. two goals: first, to close the School of the Americas; second, by educating the public, lobbying Congress and participating in creative, nonviolent resistance, to change U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. Nearly 300 SOA Watch protesters have collectively spent over 100 years in prison as the result of illegally “crossing the line” onto the base at Ft. Benning. This year four people committed acts “It is up to us to hold those of civil disobedience by trespassing onto Ft. responsible accountable and Benning. to push for the closing of the “This is something I feel like I have to do School of the Americas and a to stand for human rights,” said the Rev. change in US foreign policy.” Louis Vitale the night before he crossed the - The Rev. Roy Bourgeois line. Five individuals were arrested for similar acts of civil disobedience at Ft. Huachuca, Ariz., where the torture manuals used at the SOA were created. Since 1995 the Ignatian Solidarity Network has presented the annual Ignatian Family Teach-In near the gates of Ft. Benning. Jesuits, former Jesuits and lay pastoral leaders have gathered to call for the closure of the School of the Americas and to commemorate the deaths of the Jesuit martyrs and other victims of civil war and bloodshed tied to the SOA. The Teach-In includes a variety of sessions focusing on issues ranging from nonviolent strategy, successful lobbying and workshops on other social-justice and environmental issues. “It’s really great to be able to connect with people from around the country who are concerned about the same issues as I am,” said a Cincinnati woman who attended this year’s teach-in. “It’s amazing how many of us are concerned about the same things, but often have felt isolated and alone in our convictions.” Protesters from Cincinnati included high-school and university students and the Sisters of Charity. Next year the Ignatian Family Teach-In will move to Washington, D.C. The move is a change in strategy that the Ignatian Solidarity Network hopes will increase awareness and political pressure. SOA Watch says the campaign to close the School of the Americas is in a crucial phase. Despite promising comments from President Obama during his 2008 election campaign, the institution is still in operation. SOA Watch says the United States is pouring millions into failing military solutions to combat the drug problems in Mexico, and the Pentagon is moving forward with plans to use seven Colombian military bases in Colombia for offensive U.S. military operations. “It is up to us to hold those responsible accountable and to push for the closing of the School of the Americas and a change in US foreign policy,” Bourgeois said. “Too many have died and continue to suffer at the hands of graduates of this notorious institute.”
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STREETVIBES December 15- 31, 2009
Postcards to America By Michael Henson America, I’m writing from a very far place called America, One of us is in the wrong place. America, I’m steering an eight-cylinder Conestoga down the Trail of Tears. There are no exits. America, It’s all very confusing. I’m blind and deaf and my heart is breaking but if I touch the hem of your garment, I might win the Lottery. America, The view from here is very strange. The eyes of the abandoned factories stare at me. The walls are slathered with graffiti. I can’t read a word of it, But I don’t think the news is good.
Photo by Maria Campolongo.
America, What’s up with these angry waves of grain? These toppled mountain majesties? These out-sourced fruited plains? America, I think the suburbs Are very close to hell. America, I can’t argue anymore. When I hear the blonde men bicker on the radio, I just want to go someplace and die. America, The rich get richer, the poor get AIDS. How does this happen? America, I don’t think I can bear the weight of your sins any longer. I’m letting Barabbas carry this cross.
America, It’s all mixed up. Have you seen the pythons in the Everglades?
America, You can tell the Sanhedrin Senate I’ve gone home to America.
America, Is it me? Each part of you looks the same. Your elbow looks exactly like your elbow.
America, You can tell the pin-stripe Goliaths I’m out in the yard with David, counting stones.
Prisons Within, Prisons Without Not all have bars on the windows By Mike Henson Contributing Writer
e had known all along she was leaving – Debbie, his cousin. Even before she packed her borrowed bag and stole like a deer out of the before-dawn house and walked the dark mile out to the highway, he could see her, heavy handbag in hand, waiting at the crossing where she knew the bus’s lights would catch her, with the dew-filled wind pressing her jacket against her. And she would wave “They train these guards to use her arm slowly to stop the bus when those judo chops, to guard the its lights wrapped around her. And she prisoners. And so he give her would climb the steps and mumble to one of those judo chops right the driver where she wanted to go. And to the neck. Knocked her clean she would count out her money to him. into the wall and she still can’t She would hold her face down in the turn her head without it hurtin.” hollow of her collar. Her bruises were not yet healed. For a week he had watched her try to hide from him her plum-colored eye and her thick lip baked open like the top of a biscuit. She only talked to Granny, but he saw how she spoke without moving her bread-thick lips and he heard, without hearing what she said, the whispered, half-lisped way she puffed out her words, as if talking straight would hurt her. He had tried once to ask, “Granny, why … ” But he got a look that told him that this was one thing he was yet too young to ask. And he never would know but that he heard Granny tell the story. “She’s back with her man now,” she was telling the neighbor woman. The women were sitting, each of them, in one of the lawn chairs of the sunspilt yard. “I don’t see how she stands it. He’ll buy a little for the two younguns, milk and juice and so on, but if it weren’t for what folks give her, she wouldn't have nothin. And he goes to Athens, Ohio three nights a week to play at these clubs – they’re not just a bar, they’re regular clubs. He can pick up any old instrument and play on it.” The boy remembered the reunion at the church on the ridge: How Debbie had a way of leaning forward to people, then pulling back, on smiling, then unsmiling. Her man picked up a guitar that was leaning against a tree, passed one expert lick down the neck of it, then put it down. “She says he makes a hundred and fifty a week just off of that. But what he does with his money she don’t know, for she never sees nary a penny of it. And he makes good money at his job besides. He’s a guard, you know, at the prison in Lucasville, and he makes good money
there.” Granny knew he had snuck up beside her chair, but she did not turn. She did not stop her story. “Well she tried to leave him, but he told her, if she ever did, he’d sue for takin his children from him. Well, her folks tried to get her to come home with them. They’d been givin her food and clothes for the kids, and she was studyin on comin home. But then he come home one night and accused her of havin a man in the house. “And you see, they train these guards to use those judo chops, to guard the prisoners. And so he give her one of those judo chops right to the neck. Knocked her clean into the wall and she still can’t turn her head without it hurtin. Well, after that, she was afraid to leave. Afraid he’d kill em all. “But she was afraid to stay. So she come here. Left them kids and come here. He’d beat her up and he’d run her out that night. And always before when he’d run her out, he’d let her back in. But she told herself, ‘I ain't goin back in. Not this time.’ And she run off to a friend, and they fixed her up some clothes in a bag and she come down here, where he wouldn’t think to look for her.” Granny was still face to face with the neighbor woman, but her eye had turned so that by now he knew For a week he had watched her try that she was really talking to him. to hide from him her plum-colored “He’s just the same way when he’s eye and her thick lip baked open like a guard. They give him a billy club the top of a biscuit. and even a gun and one of them electric cattle-loadin sticks – they’re illegal to use 'em on cattle but they do it – and he has to guard the big fence around the prison. And any one of them don’t like, he’ll stick ’em with that stick. Especially the colored ones.” She looked out to the line of hills where the wind was spinning a hawk. “And they all hate him. And they'll get him one day.” She shook her head and looked back to the neighbor woman. “I reckon it was bad to leave them children like that. But what could she do? She worried over ’em the whole time she was here. It was ever other word she spoke.” But he had known she would go back. In that last dark hour before daybreak, when he heard her footstep crack the warp in the floorboard outside his door, he knew it was Debbie, that she had packed her heavy bag, that she would soon be waiting with the highway wind and dew on her bruises.
Michael Henson is author of Ransack, A Small Room with Trouble on My Mind, The Tao of Longing and Crow Call.
STREETVIBES December 15 - 31, 2009
Church Bells, a Pea Coat & a Light Jacob finds something different By Larry Gross Contributing Writer He woke up to the church bells. He counted them out loud: “One. . . two. . .three. . .four. . .five. . .six. . . seven. . . eight.” It was 8 o’clock in the morning. He didn’t know what day it was. Jacob was lying beside him on the church steps opposite Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine. He shook Jacob, shook him and shook him, but Jacob was out like a light. This was typical Jacob – always making things more difficult than they needed to be. Why couldn’t he simply wake up and get on things, behave like a normal person? Standing up, he told himself he would check on Jacob later. Looking across the street to Washington Park, he saw there was frost on the ground. It was a cold, cloudy winter morning. Suddenly, he took notice of what he was wearing. The ragged old coat that he found last month in a doorway had been replaced by a pea coat, almost exactly like the one he wore when he was a kid, back then he was 10 years old. It was navy-colored with broad lapels and a double-breasted front. The wool was heavy and it felt warm. He walked across the street to the park and sat down on one of the benches. He thought about how this could have happened. Why would someone give him a new coat? Along with Jacob, he had gotten pretty wasted the night before. They had a bottle they shared, trying to warm themselves up with alcohol before the night and its coldness set in. Maybe he had passed out. Maybe someone passing by saw he needed a better coat. Maybe someone was trying to be generous. Maybe some people are still nice. He doesn’t meet a lot of nice people anymore. Since losing everything almost 10 years ago, because of too much drinking or too many women or too much gambling or a combination of any of those three demons, people don’t respect him anymore. They ignore him when he asks for a little change. Passengers move to other seats when he rides on the bus. People look down on him because he doesn’t have a home to go to. Most don’t want to help a homeless person. Looking at the pea coat, he remembered back to his days as a kid – actually back to when he was 10. He remembered that pea coat he always wore in the winter months. Memories, distant memories filled his head. He remembered throwing snowballs with his friends at some girls while wearing his favorite winter coat. He almost laughed sitting there on that bench thinking about how those girls screamed. His hands were cold. He put them in the pockets of the pea coat. A smile came to his face when he realized gloves were inside. In the right pocket, he
Washington Park. Photo by Maria Campolongo. felt something else. He pulled out a pack of Winston cigarettes. He also found a book of matches. Grateful for the luck he was having, he opened the pack of cigarettes, pulled one out and lit it. He then put on his gloves. Sitting there smoking, he liked the idea of not having to beg for cigarettes. On this day, he had his own. The church bells were ringing again. He counted. “One. . . two. . .three. . .four. . .five. . .six. . .seven. . .eight. . .nine.” The library was now open. He could use one of their restrooms, throw some cold water in his face and start the day. Starting to make his way toward downtown, he looked over at Jacob again. He was still asleep on the church steps. He would have to make his trip to the library quick. While he didn’t like Jacob all that much anymore, he knew him too well and didn’t want a cop to pick him up for loitering. He took another cigarette out of his pack and lit it. Wintons. He hadn’t smoked them since he was a kid. He had wanted to grow up early and started smoking on his 10th birthday. Walking to the library, he couldn’t help but notice people were friendlier to him, making eye contact, some saying good morning. The world seemed like a better place on this morning and while not understanding it, he was thankful for it. When he got to the library, the first thing he did was look at himself in the restroom mirror to check out his left eye. A few nights earlier, while trying to find a place to sleep; a couple guys jumped him, hit him in the eye a couple times and took off with the few bucks he had managed to beg on the street.
Yesterday the eye was black and blue and badly swollen. But on this morning, the eye seemed fine. He looked to see if there were still any swelling. There wasn’t. It looked perfectly normal, as if nothing had happened. He splashed cold water in his face while remembering Jacob. Something inside told him he needed to get back to those church steps quickly. He looked at himself one last time in the mirror, mostly looking at the pea coat he was wearing. A feeling came over him, a feeling not of sadness, worry or despair but one of happiness. Walking back to Over-the-Rhine, he felt each step to be lighter than normal. People were smiling at him. One of the women who did looked almost like his mother. As he walked, he thought he could somehow put all the bad decisions and wrong turns behind him. Somehow he knew things were going to change. He heard those church bells again. “One. . . two. . .three. . .four. . .five. . .six. . .seven. . .eight. . . nine. . . ten.” As he approached Washington Park, the sun quickly came out from behind the clouds. He looked over to the church steps where Jacob had been sleeping. In front of the church, he saw an ambulance and two police cars. Two Hamilton County deputies were putting Jacob in a body bag. He again looked at the coat he was wearing, suddenly realizing the meaning of the church bells. The sun started shining brightly over the church. Picking up his pace, he was filled with excitement. He ran as quickly as he could to the light. He looked up to the heavens, knowing he was heading to a better place.
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STREETVIBES December 15- 31, 2009
Life on the Bloody Edge By Steven Paul Lansky Contributing Writer
‘Arjuna.’ Painting and photo by Steven Paul Lansky.
wandering buck stands on the shoulder of a two-lane highway in Texas. The sun is rising behind him. Along the road a grass field stretches as far as the horizon. A chest highbarbwire fence separates the road and the acreage. Holsteins are standing in the field. Some of the cows are lying down. They are getting up, though, one or two at a time, mooing and lowing. The young man extends his thumb to the road. A brown pack rests on his shoulder. A car passes with the rubber-onfreeway sound. The man can smell the dust. Across the road are railroad tracks. Redwing blackbirds chatter behind him along the fence wire. The young man looks back on the road, swings around walking east, shielding his face from the sun with the thumbing hand, listening for another car behind. He can smell the dew on the grass. As he walks he thinks about women. What else do lonely men think about while they walk highways.
1996 A pony-tailed man walks with a woman to a restaurant downtown. She wanted to sit and sip a cola. He suggested Mullane’s Café because he can get coffee and two refills for 50 cents. She walks slowly in small steps, stops to light a cigarette from a trembling hand holding a lighter. He feels his heavy wing tips on the concrete sidewalk; thinks of walking when he was leaner, poorer, more scared. The woman is older than he is. She would gravitate to fast-food restaurants with free refills on soda. She complains about the black teenagers at the bus stops and in the fast-food places. She has been knocked down. Her friends have had purses snatched. He wants her to improve her social standing by going to the café where there is a fortune teller in the late afternoon, where there is sidewalk seating, where the mayor sometimes comes for dinner. He believes she will be safer and more secure at Mullane’s than at the fast-food restaurants. He finds it difficult to explain this to the woman. She takes pride in her participation in the mayor’s campaign. The man is trying to covertly encourage her. They sit at an outdoor table. They order beverages. He pours cream in his coffee, enjoys it. She has a cola over ice and asks him if he remembers when they first met. He is worried that she might think this is a date. A thin black man with a little
facial hair approaches the table with a sketchpad. He asks if either of them would like to be sketched, a portrait, for a donation: “Say five dollars?” “Are you an artist, too?” asks the man. “My girlfriend is an artist,” he confesses, trying to hide his reserve. “Go ahead,” says the woman to the artist. “She won’t mind,” she says to her Social Worker. “I don’t know,” he says. “You don’t have to show it to her,” says the woman. There is an awkward silence. He observes that the artist is missing the temple on one side of his eyeglasses. He needs the money. “OK.” “Good,” she says and sips cola. The artist uses two different pencils. The Social Worker tries to watch him work, but knows this is distracting to the artist. When he is finished, the woman likes the sketch at once. The Social Worker observes that it is a good likeness except for the nose, which resembles the woman’s more than his own. He withholds comment, pays the fellow. After he has walked her back to the hotel, he hides the sketch in the trunk of his car. He is never able to find the sketch again.
***** Arjuna enters a downtown residential hotel across the street from the new arts center. He signs in at the desk. He goes to see one of his clients. He is a Social Worker at the same agency as his therapist. He thinks about his life. Once he needed the system to heal him. Now he needs the system for a job. He gives to others who need healing. He gets in the elevator. He walks the carpeted hallway. The day is warm and the man is dressed in khaki shorts, short sleeves and running shoes. He set the timer on his chronometer as he left the car to time the parking meter. His client is on the fifth floor. He stands in the narrow hall knocking on her door. He is impatient when she does not answer. Perhaps she is sleeping. Possibly she has gone out. He was expecting to help her straighten up for her room inspection next week. It is the last day of May, a Friday early afternoon. He does not give up easily. At the front desk he uses the telephone. Her line is busy. He returns to the elevator. He goes up to floor five. He walks the corridor with more urgency. Again he knocks. No
answer. He shouts her name. Now he knows something is wrong. She would respond if she were on the phone. He goes back to the desk in the lobby. He requests assistance in opening the door to her room. Fourteen years ago to the day he had returned to Cincinnati on his bicycle to restart his life. He does not think about that. He is fully occupied with getting the maintenance man to open her room. His patience is beginning to annoy him. The door is keyed and he can see that the carpet is dirty. The security chain is on the door. The maintenance man radios on the walkie-talkie for a bolt cutter. The other maintenance man is there. They both wear gray shirts with their names on them. The man with the sandy beard reaches through the gap in the door with a screwdriver and unscrews the chain. There were two screws. Time hung on the chain. The muscles in the man's neck stand out as he unscrews. She is on the bed bleeding. The man with the walkie-talkie has the desk clerk call 911. “She's alive,” he thinks, very relieved. He can see her breathing. She is alive. Fourteen years ago he was penniless. The bicycle tires were flat. He had ridden from Columbus to Cincinnati, over 100 miles. Overnight. Just after the hitch to Santa Fe. Fourteen years and a month ago he stood on that highway, watching cows. Listening. He hangs up the phone. It rings. The police and life squad are coming. He calls his supervisor. She is distressed. Blood red and blood brown. The footprints are everywhere. She’s a pacer. She had walked that room after she had cut the crook of her elbow with a 14-inch blade. Footprints. He had paced the edge of the road 14 years before. Looking for love. The cow-herding girl. The gopis. The bathroom tile blood-red strewn. The knife lay on the edge of the blood-filled tub. The empty pill bottles lined up on the top edge of the refrigerator like fence posts. On the table the emergency sheet with the therapist’s name and doctor’s name and parents’. Her face streaked with crusted black blood. The bedding red, soaked, red, deep gashed arm at elbow the blood of paint drip depression and the fear of fear of her luck in folding the arm up to breast in bloody night clothes, unconscious, breathing, rapidly, breathing but not wakeable with a shout. Life Squad comes in. Two men. At first they seem to think that someone had done this to her. “How old is she?”
See Edge, p. 13
STREETVIBES December 15 - 31, 2009
Life on the Bloody Edge continued from page 12
The young worker will never meet with the woman at Mullane’s Café. Fifty-one. She is fifty-one. Fourteen years ago she was 37. I am 38 now. Fourteen years ago I was 24. After the medics come the constabulary. Two mounted officers, one male, one female. Two officers from their high-tech cruisers, again both genders. Arjuna is interviewed as she is moved onto a stretcher, the gash wrapped tightly. A blond woman with blue pools for eyes that open into tomorrow; good clean fingers hold a tiny note pad and a yellow No. 2 pencil. Some questions … the pill bottles are examined for dosage, number, dates. Arjuna is lost in the eyes of this Miss and answers willingly, wantingly. The redhead from the mounted division has spurs on her boots and a sense of humor. Arjuna is impressed with his desire to keep his eyes in the pools. He reflects on how mystifying her presence is in the room where he had sat previously on the brown sofa, or at the tiny kitchen table, the lingering odor of cigarette smoke in his nostrils more pungent than the dust on the highway those 14 years ago. The uniforms are so blue, collars so white, pins of brass, and black shoes, boots with spurs; always back to the pools with the dilated black open pupils. The voice calm, reassuring, melodic. Arjuna wants to linger with these uniforms, feels comfort in their pacing, so much more secure than those of the missing client. His own pacing somewhere between the officious and the bloody unsteady footprints.
He walks the corridor with more urgency. Again he knocks. No answer. He shouts her name. Now he knows something is wrong.
Sunday morning at the hospital Arjuna went to her bedside. Machines with lights and numbers flanked her. The room was glass and curtains. She opened swollen eyelids, a tube on her tongue and several in each arm. Her head looked puffed, inflated then partially let down; one eye stared off and didn’t track, the other bloodshot and milky looked at him with a flicker of recognition. She reached for his hand with hers and squeezed weakly.
“Do you recognize me?” “Arjuna,” she slurred, nodded once, a small gesture. He stood at the steel bed rail and watched her breathe. Black dried blood streaked her enlarged head, matted dark hair. They hadn’t had a chance to clean her up in two days. He felt very bad and very relieved. His pulse ran in his ears. He talked to her a little, He wants her to improve her said her name, glad to see her and scared. social standing by going to the Then he stood waiting for a thought or the café where there is a fortune moment to end; listened to her gurgling teller in the late afternoon, breath. When he left, he thought about where there is sidewalk other things. seating, where the mayor Arjuna meets her at the crisis center in sometimes comes for dinner. the city, but not downtown, where she is staying after the hospital before moving back to her fifth-floor room. A chaotic place, there are many ill clients sitting, smoking, milling. The doorways are wide to admit wheelchairs. Arjuna speaks privately with a staff member about her, both before and after he meets with her. Arjuna wants her in group housing. Not likely to happen. “I’ll never pull a stunt like that again,” she says. They walk to a fast-food restaurant, less scary perhaps because they are not “downtown.” He orders orange juice at the counter and she follows. They sit to talk under the bright lights in the seats that don’t move because they are attached to the tables and the floor. She cries, readily, freely grieving her father, a loss of long standing. She thanks Arjuna for finding her. He is nervous, curious about how it felt to be “gone,” near death. He doesn’t dare ask her but he wants to know. The knife edge of life can be explored among the living when life is that miserable. She suggests they walk. They make their way slowly around a large block, nearly half-a-mile, taking small steps. She cries; misses her father. “He was told he was schizophrenic just before he died.” The Social Worker, Arjuna, is glad she is alive. He is finished visiting her.
Steven Paul Lansky teaches creative writing at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Lansky’s published works include ‘The Citizen,’ ‘Jack Acid’ and ‘Main St.’
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STREETVIBES December 15- 31, 2009
What Happens When We Die?
Pacifist Question By Spencer Ledyard
By Jeremy Flannery Let's come right out and say it, Dispense with all the ironies and say, “I have always been able to depend on the unkindness of strangers.” I don't need to blanch the truth. Their underpinnings of unpleasantness are lifebreath; Their cantilevers of demure distaste hang Cartoon pianos by frayed roping, And the smallest comment by an outsider can act as a knife.
I hear Mason Jennings crying in his song, “The Field.” It is written from the perspective of a parent Whose son died in the desert – at war for what, he asks. He sings, "”I don't want no victory/ I just want you back.” He chants this, his voice rising into the ethereal insanity of song. The leaves shake at the crescendo. I shiver at the wind.
Where is there no animosity for the unknown Besides in the fantasy world of the idealist? Where are the valleys and mountaintops Festooned with wreaths of people holding hands, Black to white to Indian to Pakistani, To every racial dissenter to every community deserter; Where are the speeches of the King? Where are the lovers of life, unabashed by its universality?
John imagined there were no countries; he asked if I could. About national boundaries, Vonnegut opined, “I can't believe that they mark the end Or the beginning of anything of real concern to the human soul. Virtues and vices, pleasures and pains Cross boundaries at will.” Is there somewhere the pacifist who, in the radiation of heart, melts The lead of bullets, emits enough heat to beat swords into plowshares?
The trees are black and red today. The ants are battling And the streetlight haloes the autumn maple leaves against the night.
For Greg Flannery
We see God as omnipotent, caritas plena, Yet abuse "His Word" to condemn whom we despise? How did religions become conventions for hate and self-righteousness to be justified? Is there a Heaven that's so exclusive? Whose mortal insinuations engaged us to start this fight? If faith is hope, why are spirits so broken? ...a belligerent concept that begs the question: why? Isn’t it a tragic waste of life to fight over what happens when we die? Believing out of fear of the afterlife is no faith I accept to live by. But with guidance under, yes I do wonder if there is judgment waiting for me when I die. But life is a gift and I'm focusing efforts upon Earth. Who truly knows if we live a second time? So much violence inflicted upon “infidels”: Crusades and Jihads preach blasphemy cries, claiming throughout history that faith is just cause to commit unjust acts upon Humankind! No perfect theism. No “holy glory.” A selfish, vengeful god is a fool's conjured lie. If God is Love, why fear She will destroy us? Is it a sin to stop and question why?
Happy Christmas to All By Adeline Rose 'Twas the night before Christmas, and St. Nick was pissed So Skyline came off of his long Christmas list St. Nick he wanted more soup for the poor A 3-way, a 5-way some chili, no more. For the hungry of 'Nati, the poor and the weak The homeless, the lonely who live on the streets So St. Nick made other plans this fine year And called on his reindeer to get up to gear. “Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen! On Comet! On Cupid! On Donner and Blitzen!" Sacks full of specials he put on his sleigh And hazmat containers a suit and Photo by Maria Campolongo. array To do this most specialist job of the year A job, Oh so special, he grinned ear-to-ear. The creepies he carried avenging the crime CEO sacks of the nastiest kind He made the loop round the 2..7..5 Piled to the ceiling, he lined up the sacks Dropping presents and candies and goodies inside Ready to go to attack, to attack. He ate the cookies and the milk that was left Collecting the creepies he everywhere met. He opened the sacks and they ran with a jitter Trillions and zillions of brown, creepy critters You know the creepies that crawl in your bed He thought the bags empty and then there were That wait till you sleep, then it's time to be fed more That munch on your skin and you never can find Bed bugs and bed bugs and bed bugs galore. Well, Nick found them now and it's Skyline time! From Cincy and Colerain and Blue Ash they're Kev's the last stop, St. Nick did he climb yours Up and down trips of the one thousand kind From Indy and Eastgate and Newport and more Through soot, dust and ashes, the awfulest trips From Norwood, Wyoming and too Lincoln Heights For someone as old and as mad as St. Nick. Communally we have been in one big fight.
The bugs filled the stockings and then ate the mouse Creatures now stirring, Oh filling the house They covered the children and buried their beds They ate off their feet and the locks on their heads. Then there's Ma in her 'kerchief and Kev in his cap,' Throw a bushel on them for a fine midnight snack Too sleepy to waken, too sleepy to find The creepiest critters, the awfulest kind. So Cincy be grateful, so Cincy be glad All of your bed bugs are now stored at Kev's You serve the hungry and you serve the poor In thanksgiving for St. Nick and bed bugs no more. You see, bed bugs and hunger are not unalike Both are sure a community's fight So Loveland, and Beechmont, Mt. Healthy it's yours Mt. Lookout, and Clifton and Reading and more. Nick laying his finger aside of his nose He flicked off a bed bug, up the chimney he rose He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a tug And thought about those that he once dearly loved. St. Nick did return to that cold, old North Pole He cooked up some Skyline, a lonely old soul But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight: “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good bite!”
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STREETVIBES December 15 - 31, 2009
Need Help or Want to Help?
Shelter: Women and Children Central Access Point Cincinnati Union Bethel
300 Lytle Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202 1841 Fairmount Ave, Cinti, Ohio 45214
Grace Place Catholic Worker House 681-2365 6037 Cary Ave, Cinti, Ohio 45224
Churches Active in Northside
Crossroad Health Center
Health Resource Center Homeless Mobile Health Van McMicken Dental Clinic
357-4602 352-2902 352-6363
Mental Health Access Point Mercy Franciscan at St. John
NAMI of Hamilton County PATH Outreach
4230 Hamilton Ave, Cinti, Ohio 45223 112 E. Liberty Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202
Madisonville Ed & Assistance Center 271-5501 3600 Erie Ave, Cinti, Ohio 45227
St. Vincent de Paul
1125 Bank Street, Cinti, Ohio 45214
YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter
Charlie’s 3/4 House
DIC Live In Program Prospect House
Shelter: Men City Gospel Mission
1419 Elm Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202
Justice Watch 241-0490 St. Fran/St. Joe Catholic Work. House 381-4941 1437 Walnut Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202
Mt. Airy Shelter
Shelter: Both Anthony House (Youth)
2121 Vine Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202
682 Hawthorne Ave, Cinti, Ohio 45205
Treatment: Women First Step Home 2203 Fulton, Cinti, Ohio 45206
40 E. McMicken Ave, Cinti, Ohio 45202
1800 Logan St. Cinti, Ohio 45202
131 E. 12th Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202
5 E. Liberty St. Cinti, Ohio 45202
Other Resources Center Independent Living Options Emmanuel Community Center
Peaslee Neighborhood Center
Franciscan Haircuts from the Heart
Goodwill industries Healing Connections Mary Magdalen House
771-4800 751-0600 721-4811
People Working Cooperatively The Caring Place United Way Women Helping Women
351-7921 631-1114 211 977-5541
1308 Race St. Cinti, Ohio 45202
214 E. 14th St. Cinti, Ohio 45202
1800 Logan St. Cinti, Ohio 45202
1223 Main St. Cinti, Ohio 45202
AA Hotline CCAT
Drop Inn Center
Joseph House (Veterans)
Interfaith Hospitality Network Lighthouse Youth Center (Youth)
Hamilton County ADAS Board Recovery Health Access Center Sober Living Talbert House
946-4888 281-7422 681-0324 641-4300
421-3131 569-1840 381-4242
2728 Glendora Ave, Cinti, Ohio 45209 1821 Summit Road, Cinti, Ohio 45237 217 W. 12th Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202
3330 Jefferson, Cinti, Ohio 45220
Housing: CMHA Excel Development OTR Community Housing
721-4580 632-7149 381-1171
Tom Geiger House Dana Transitional Bridge Services Volunteers of America
961-4555 751-0643 381-1954
114 W. 14th Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202 27 W. 12th Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202
Food/Clothing Lord’s Pantry OTR/Walnut Hills Kitchen & Pantry
OTR: 1620 Vine Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202 Walnut Hills: 2631 Gilbert, Cinti, Ohio 45206
Our Daily Bread
St. Francis Soup Kitchen
1730 Race Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202
830 Ezzard Charles Dr. Cinti, Ohio 45214 1522 Republic Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202
Advocacy Catholic Social Action Community Action Agency Contact Center
1227 Vine Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202
Franciscan JPIC 721-4700 Gr. Cinti Coalition for the Homeless 421-7803 117 E. 12th Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202
Intercommunity Justice & Peace Cr. Legal Aid Society Ohio Justice & Policy Center Faces Without Places Stop AIDS
579-8547 241-9400 421-1108 363-3300 421-2437
799 Ann St. Newport, KY
863-3184 863-1445 422-8555 868-3276
ECHO/Hosea House Fairhaven Resuce Mission Homeward Bound Youth Mathews House Homeless & Housing Coalition Parish Kitchen Pike St. Clinic Transitions, Inc Welcome House of NKY
859-261-5857 859-491-1027 859-581-1111 859-261-8009 859-727-0926 859-581-7745 859-291-9321 859-491-4435 859-431-8717
Women’s Crisis Center VA Domiciliary VA Homeless
859-491-3335 859-559-5011 859-572-6226
205 West Pike Street, Covington, KY 41011
Center for Respite Care
3550 Washington Ave, Cinti, Ohio 45229
Poetry Corner Christmas, Inner City By Murray Bodo, OFM It’s the night before Christmas And police patrol cars are Keeping their slow watch by night. A teenage mother cradles Her baby against the cold. The streets are silent and dark When suddenly three angels Break through the dark, their voices High and sweet with “Silent Night,” Their parents hovering near. The young mother stops and listens, The small angels sing bravely. Suddenly light illumines Our inner city lot where All is still, patrol cars stop, And God’s a baby again.
St. Raephaels Salvation Army Serenity House Day Center Open Door Pantry
Photo by Maria Campolongo.
STREETVIBES December 15- 31, 2009
From Malcolm X to Mountain Dew Thom Shaw’s woodcuts depict urban life’s hopes and hazards
hom Shaw took interest in making art in second grade when he was 6 years old. He overheard conversations among his teachers about two of his classmates gifted at drawing and who were given tuition for art school. He wanted to emulate them and started drawing. He soon proved very good at it and was sent as well to art school – initially the art museum, then Walnut Hills High School’s summer program. In college, he attended the Art Academy of Cincinnati (AAC) and graduated, majoring in printmaking. The immediacy of woodcuts, close in many ways to drawing, and the boldness of black and white prints interested him from the start; this medium later became his artistic signature. As a child, Shaw’s drawings were innocent, based mainly on what he would watch on TV, heroes like Batman and Superman. At AAC he learned to draw from what he saw; his drawings were academic, often based on the human body. Social commentaries first appeared in his works during his senior year in college, triggered then by the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. Tom Shaw. Photo by Saad Ghosn. After graduating from AAC, Shaw worked for a while as a graphic designer for Cincinnati Bell. His work during that period was non-representational, corporate-like, abstract large-scale The prints he made then led to a series he titled the “Malcolm X collage assemblages and color paintings. Even though it sold well, it Paradox.” They were exhibited in 1991 downtown Cincinnati. To his was not filling the void in surprise, they were very well received, finding an immediate echo in his soul and did not feel Over-the-Rhine residents who strongly identified with them. Shaw honest. had carved a gang icon which, irrespective of ethnicity or color, repreIn 1986 he became sented the many ills of society, the broken down family, the loneliness acquainted with Ger- of youth, the addiction to drugs as an escape, the resort to violence to man Expressionism and prove oneself. as the works of Kathe KollHis images were quite graphic, showing killings, prostitution and witz, Leonard Baskin and drug dependence. In one, a pregnant woman with a baby stroller is on George Grosz. Influenced her knees performing fellatio on a wealthy man in order to get money By Saad Ghosn by their imagery and its and buy drugs. Many dealt with drive-by shootings, often resulting in Contributing Writer content, he started mak- accidental injuries such as children being killed, in the name of busiing large woodcuts with ness as usual. One depicted a man at a bus stop shot just for his gym social themes that incor- shoes to be used as a trophy and proof of gang loyalty. porated the ills of his community. At the same time he happened to The Sentinel, a woodcut from the series, portrays a 15-year-old boy witness a gang fight, the members of which were wearing T-shirts de- serving as a watchdog, looking out to make sure no intruder was appicting the late Malcolm X. He found the association intriguing, Mal- proaching the gang’s headquarters hideout. The boy, however, is encolm X in his mind being a promoter of unity and good relationship, tirely oblivious of the danger awaiting him, portrayed in the print by a and not of destructive fighting. pistol behind him, and that could terminate his life. His pride at being Shaw decided to learn more about gang life, its roots and how it assigned the responsibility overshadowed his concern for death; he reflected the problems of society. He embarked on interviewing gang would do anything for his new gang family, one that makes him feel members, inquiring about their life and thinking, collecting at the valuable and trusted. same time a visual repertory of their stories for his own work. Shaw’s work at the time was often criticized as being derogatory to the black man, confirming the media notion that he was a menace to society. Shaw disagrees. “If at any time my images had negroid features, it was specifically to depict the negative effects society imparted on African-American males with whom I identify,” he says. “I wanted to show the black man as a victim, a target of the many societal ills; I wanted to raise awareness about his condition.” In 1994 Shaw was asked to show his enlarging Malcolm X Paradox series at the studio museum of Harlem in New York City and a year later at the Cincinnati Art Museum. In 1995 he also had a show at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, titled, “Hegemony: the Hidden Fury.” It consisted of woodcuts, murals and videos, all dealing with domestic violence. Social commentaries kept abounding in his works. His series “Zombies,” for instance, dealt with the lack of education and the illiteracy of youth. It pointed to family challenges, to kids not being fed properly before going to school, to kids lacking parental guidance and supervision; it was meant as a call to action for a serious and threatening problem facing society. In the past few years Shaw’s works focused more on himself and his health problems. He had suffered for many years from diabetes that affected severely his heart and kidneys, resulting in various surgeries and hospitalizations. He incorporated his health issues with his other concerns, wanting to share them visually with those who might be experiencing the same. His woodcut Stress Test represents Shaw with testing wires connected to his skin and heart, also with a Mountain Dew can, a forbidden drink in view of his condition. It alludes metaphorically to the bad choices he had made and to their serious health ramifications. Art is life for Shaw. It keeps him young and challenges him; it allows him also to challenge and sometimes confront the viewer. “Artwork can be controversial,” he says, “but we artists are ambassadors of truth, ambassadors of the human experience. We try to ‘The Sentinel,’ woodcut print by Thom Shaw. make sense of a world gone astray, and thus have an impact on people Photo by Saad Ghosn. whether we intend it or not.”
Artists as Activists is a regular column highlighting Greater Cincinnati artists who use art as a vehicle for change. Saad Ghosn is the founder of SOS Art. Ghosn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published on Dec 15, 2009