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No to Socialism Page 11

Vendor Profile Page 12

Artists as Activists Page 16

STREETVIBES

$1

Sept. 1-14, 2009 • Advocating Justice, Building Community • Issue 160

Slavery Exists in Cincinnati Today Ignorance about human trafficking leaves victims in bondage By Margo Pierce Contributing Writer A critical stop on the Underground Railroad during the time of plantation slavery, Cincinnati boasts a storied past as a gateway to freedom for thousands of Africans held in bondage. But today Cincinnati – the home of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, an institution designed to teach the lessons from the past about slavery and other violations of individual freedom – is “relatively unprepared to deal effectively with human trafficking in the Midwest.” This assessment comes from the center’s Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Report. “Based on the findings from this report, it is evident that human trafficking is an issue that needs to be further addressed in Greater Cincinnati through public awareness and technical training for first responders, through the organization and advancement of efforts to criminalize human trafficking in Ohio and by learning from the programs that other cities and states have effectively implemented to address human trafficking,” the report says. Volunteers interviewed 137 people from Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana between July 2007 and February 2008. Attorneys, government officials, health-care providers, interpreters, judges, law enforcement, pastors, reporters, social workers and victims’ advocates responded to a series of questions about slavery in Cincinnati, and 41 percent said they or their organizations have encountered victims of trafficking in the past five years. “Law enforcement officers, judges, attorneys and social-

See Slavery, p. 3

Media and law enforcement can miss human trafficking when they see prostitution. Photo by Kay Chernush.

Knocking Down Doors Literacy Center West helps dropouts find jobs By Ranjit Rege Contributing Writer The stone walls of Literacy Center West, tucked away in Price Hill, are somewhat deceiving, looking as though they keep people out. But in fact the agency’s mission is to

include people in “a community in which citizens improve their lives through education and economic opportunity.” The agency offers individualized preparation for highschool dropouts who want to take Ohio’s General Educational Development (G.E.D.)

test but also provides literacy and job-readiness training, all free of charge. Instead of large classes, Literacy Center West (LCW) uses one-on-one lessons tailored to students’ needs. To pass a G.E.D. test, a student must score higher than

Students at Literacy Center West are given the tools to complete their G.E.D and to find employment. Photo by Bill Haigh.

60 percent of graduating highschool seniors in five subject areas: science, mathematics, social studies, reading and writing. Most employers and colleges recognize the G.E.D. as an equivalent to a high school diploma. Next Level, an LCW program for people ages 19 to 21 who have acquired their G.E.D. certificates, offers jobreadiness training and job placement. The program has been successful in spite of the recession, according to Stephanie Dunlap, assistant director of Literacy Center West. “There has been no downturn in hiring for our students,” she says. But the recession has meant “a lot more people coming through,” including many “who didn’t need help in the past,” Dunlap says. Advancement opportunities have been affected by the recession, but the program’s goal is to get a student’s “foot in the door,” she says.

See Doors, p. 7


2

The Vibe

By The Numbers

17

How many years Eddie Joe Lloyd spent in prison before being exonerated (see page 4.)

43,000

The increase in persons in homeless families between 2007 and 2008 (see page 7.)

91

The percentage of professionals in Cincinnati who have heard of humantrafficking situations (see page 1.)

40

The percent who said they are familiar with federal laws on human trafficking (see page 1.)

138

The number of Cincinnati Police officers facing layoffs (see page 8.)

1,000

The amount per day, in euros, that Amazon. com pays because of its shipping policy in France (see page 10.)

144

How many days Sean Swain spent in “the hole” during a five-month period (see page 4.)

2

The number of copies a police officer buys from Streetvibes vendor Terry Ranson each week (see page 12.)

400

The number of students served annually by Literacy Center West (see page 1.)

381-1171 The phone number to call to get more information about Over-the-Rhine Community Housing’s annual fundraiser (see page 9.)

StreetSense

STREETVIBES September 1 - 14, 2009

By Larry Gross Contributing Writer

Roofied: Nothing funny about date rape Are you enjoying the new “Dear Maija” column in CityBeat? I don’t know if this is truly an advice column, satire or something tongue-in-cheek. In the July 1 column, a letter to Maija caught my attention. The letter was from “Rock and a Burny Place,” asking advice about living with herpes and how to get a date. Maija did a lot of joking about STDs and thought all of them were funny, except for AIDS. I’m glad she didn’t think that was funny, because my twin brother died from it. Toward the end of her advice, Maija had this to say: “Even if you don’t find the right guy with herpes, there’s a 50 percent chance you’ll get roofied. Either way you get laid.” Roofied: It’s been many years since I’ve heard this word. I’m going to tell you a story that happened over 20 years ago. Names, places and some facts have been changed to protect innocent people. This was back in my accounting-manager days for a Cincinnati manufacturing firm. One of those I was supervising was the receptionist, who had given her two-week notice. I asked the people in human resources to put an ad in the paper for the position, but it turned out someone inside the company was interested. Ellen was looking to leave the inventory department. When I interviewed her for the job, she said she liked greeting people and answering the phone and no longer wanted to deal with numbers, which was a big part of her job in working with her boss, Don. She came across friendly and likeable and I needed a receptionist. I hired her. A couple weeks after Ellen started the job, a female friend of mine, a co-worker, came into my office and closed the door. She told me a rumor she’d heard about Ellen. My friend talked to Ellen about it and confirmed it to be true. On a date with her then-boss Don, Ellen had gone to his place and had drinks. Don apparently put something in her drink – a sedative, a date-rape drug. After Don roofied Ellen and took her clothes off, he took advantage of her. Then, with a Polaroid camera, he took photos of her naked body. These photos, four in total, were copied then distributed to the men working in the inventory department. My female co-worker, telling me this nightmarish story, was outraged. She wanted me, as Ellen’s new boss, to do something about it. A day later, in a closed-door discussion, Ellen, in tears, said it was true. This was the real reason she wanted to leave the inventory job. She had been humiliated and embarrassed. I went to human resources with this story, but they could do nothing without proof. I went to Don, the cockroach in the inventory department. He denied everything. I went to the three guys who worked for him. They didn’t want to get involved, didn’t want to get in trouble or fired by Don. The only thing I knew to do was play on their decency and professionalism. I also wasn’t above making them feel guilty for their silence about such a repulsive act. Ellen was going through a divorce. She had two small children she was trying to raise by herself. How could they look at nude photos of a young mother and think it’s funny? How could they not see how wrong this was? Finally, after five weeks of badgering, one of the guys folded. We went to the human resources department. Don’s employee had copies of those Polaroid photos. Within one hour, the inventory manager was fired and escorted out of the building. Ellen could have prosecuted Don, but because of her children, didn’t want to press charges and have her name in the papers. She wanted to move on. Others at the company wouldn’t let that happen. Like Maija’s column, some treated this as a joke. Others thought of Ellen as “loose” or someone to look down on. One idiot told me she thought Ellen had wanted it to happen. Finally, in an effort to put it behind her, Ellen left the company and the city. Looking for a new beginning, she and her kids packed up everything and moved to Virginia. That’s where they still are. We talk a few times a year. Ellen and her family are doing fine. She lived through her nightmare – and that’s exactly what it was. That’s why the “flip” approach in Maija’s CityBeat column about being roofied leaves me a bit cold. I’m not trying to rip apart my colleague, Maija. You see, I write for CityBeat, too. It’s her column, and she can write whatever she wants. She’s young. I’m not. Maybe I’m being uptight on this subject, but I can’t forget. Being roofied happened to someone I know. 20 years ago this almost destroyed a friend’s life. I still can’t bring myself to think this is funny.

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, Dave Scharfenberger, Margo Pierce, Paul Kopp, Jeremy Flannery, Michael Henson, David Heitfield, Alecia Lott, Larry Gross, Stephanie Dunlap, Saad Ghosn, Will Kirschner, Ariana Shahandeh, Jennifer Blalock, Dan LaBotz, Ranjit Rege Photography/Artwork Aimie Willhoite, Lynne Ausman, George Ellis, Jeni Jenkins, Rev. Joe Folzenlogen, Jim Montgomery, Anthony Williams, Berta Lambert Proofreader Jennifer Blalock 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 September 1 - 14, 2009

Local News

3

Slavery Exists in Cincinnati Today (continued from page 1)

service providers all acknowledge that human trafficking exists, but there is little specific law they can draw upon to stop the crime locally, and even less public knowledge of the issue,” the report says.

Cops don’t know The report breaks down the penalties and elements of anti-trafficking laws in the Tri-State and summarizes the federal Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act (TVPA). The report then considers how only 40 percent of the professional respondents could be aware of anti-trafficking laws at the federal level and only 20 percent could identify the existence of state laws against modern day slavery, given that 91 percent said that they or their organizations have heard of human-trafficking cases. “The survey results showed a surprising lack of awareness and knowledge of the issue of human trafficking, even among those most likely to encounter it,” the report says. “The general population in Cincinnati, therefore, is very likely to be even less aware. Although many survey respondents stated that they did not know the level of public awareness, a vast majority (77 percent) said that the general public’s knowledge of trafficking is only poor or fair. This comports with other studies that have shown that the general public lacks awareness of the issue.” The ignorance of “first responders,” the people in professions most likely to respond to an incident involving a victim of human trafficking, underscores why, according to the U.S. government, less than 1 percent of trafficking cases are solved, compared to a 70 percent success rate in solving murder cases. “While training on the law is important for all groups, it is particularly important

when it comes to fighting community leaders to “sup- The Department of Justice human trafficking due to the port necessary training for has reported, however, that city’s geographic location,” law enforcement and medi- since 2000, ‘prosecutions unthe report says. “Cincinnati cal professionals” and urges der the TVPA have increased abuts Kentucky and Indiana, “state, city and community six-fold.’ ” What the report doesn’t allowing traffickers to eas- officials to enact comprehenily move across state and city sive laws so that local law en- include is the fact that the borders where the laws and forcement officials can pros- OPAA proposed the new law regulations on human traf- ecute, prevent and protect because it opposed the more victims of human trafficking.” comprehensive ficking differ.” legislation The report’s authors missed But the authors fail to make that the report says is needan opportunity to encourage the strong argument neces- ed. strong leadership on this is- sary to back up these recom“Due to its recent passage, sue and build collaborative mendations. A case in point is Ohio’s new anti-trafficking relationships that can lead their assessment of the Ohio law has yet to be applied,” to ending slavery in Ohio. human-trafficking legislation the report says. “However, its The report instead gives local enacted earlier this year. convoluted definition of huThe original legislation man trafficking, requirement cops an excuse for not doing more to utilize local and fed- proposed in Ohio was based of a pattern of corrupt activion the “model law” drafted ty and lack of labor trafficking eral resources. The authors go on to wring for states to use in support provisions suggest the Ohio their hands over law will be somefor those groups most likely the state of awarewhat more limited “It is evident that human to encounter trafficking vic- ness in the medithan the TVPA or trafficking is an issue that tims first,” the report says. “A cal community. laws passed by needs to be further addressed in majority of respondents (57 “The group just other states. Just Greater Cincinnati through public percent) said they believed behind law enas importantly, the awareness and technical training that law enforcement is most forcement considnew law does not for first responders, through the likely to be the first to en- ered to encounter provide for laworganization and advancement counter trafficking victims. trafficking first is enforcement trainof efforts to criminalize human If law enforcement is indeed medical profesing, agency reporttrafficking in Ohio and by learning a first-responder, they must sionals. … This is ing or services for from the programs that other be knowledgeable and well- troubling because victims.” cities and states have effectively trained on the issue. 77 percent of medGlossing over the implemented.” “Yet 48 percent of law-en- ical professionals fact that the pros- Greater Cincinnati Human forcement respondents said surveyed said they ecutors who claim Trafficking Report that local law enforcement in had only a poor to need effective the Greater Cincinnati area or fair knowledge legislation are the has only a poor or fair knowl- of trafficking,” the same people who edge of human trafficking. report says. “Clearly, train- of the TPVA – per the report’s effectively killed that same …In fact, 68 percent of law ing on human trafficking is recommendation – but the legislation is a disservice to enforcement survey partici- necessary for all groups sur- report fails to make the point the report’s own stated goals. pants rated their own knowl- veyed and acutely necessary that this would be a second The report includes a reedge of trafficking as poor or for potential first-responders attempt at passage because source list, a thoughtful fair.” such as law enforcement and “the executive director of the analysis of news reports on Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys incidents of human traffickDespite this data, the re- medical professionals.” Association (OPAA), when ing that aren’t identified as port appears to capitulate to Prosecutors get a pass asked about the previously modern day slavery and a the social norm of not critiproposed anti-trafficking rather comprehensive sumcizing cops. The study makes two rec- laws, commented that, ‘We mary of legislation at the “In Cincinnati, law enforcement has a unique difficulty ommendations encouraging have all the laws we need.’ national and state level. The report proves what many in the field have been saying for years: People don’t know To report a concern about a possible situation of trafficking, call the that slavery is alive and well Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. The in the United States. But this following are some red flags often exhibited by human trafficking victims: important data can’t be allowed to override the facts • Minors under 18 providing commercial sex that this is a complicated • Unable to speak English or the language of the host country issue that calls into ques• Having no personal identification or lacking control of one’s own tion the effectiveness of the documents institutions supposedly de• Having few or no personal possessions or financial records signed to help the most vul• Lack of pocket money or control of one’s own money nerable in our society. • Confusion about where they are (city, state, or country) Slavery – the buying, sell• Being unable to freely leave worksite or residence without fear of ing and owning of human reprisal beings – is a despicable act, • Living and/or sleeping in their working environment according to our history and • Isolation from family, friends or ethnic community our laws. Unfortunately, the • Minors not attending school Freedom Center’s report • Having excessively long working hours or odd tasks at odd hours lacks the fortitude required • Appearing to be fearful, submissive, anxious, tense, nervous or to acknowledge that hurestless manity has failed to eradi• Appearing anxious or nervous around “interpreter” or “family member” cate this practice and the • Reliance on one person to speak for all the individuals sense of urgency required to • Signs of physical abuse, neglect, torture and emotional abuse change that fact. The Great• Signs of poor health and hygiene er Cincinnati Human Traf• Signs of branding to show ownership by trafficker ficking Report is an impor• Signs of physical restraint, confinement and control tant step forward that can • Having an escort at all times when in public be seen as a springboard for • Inability to make decisions on own without fear or approval further action, or its mean• Rehearsed stories ing can be lost to the complacency of “better than Source: End Slavery Cincinnati Rescue & Restore Coalition nothing” before turning our attention elsewhere.


4

Community News

STREETVIBES September 1 - 14, 2009

Trapped: Solitary Confinement Instead of treatment, it’s torture By Eli Braun Contributing Writer During his 70 days of solitary confinement at Toledo Correctional Institution, Sean Swain spent 23 hours a day locked in his cell. He spent the 24th hour, his only opportunity for social interaction and “recreation,” being stripsearched, including a “visual body-cavity search.” By comparison, inmates in “general population” spend 11 hours a day locked in their cells. Solitary confinement cripples prisoners’ capacity for social interaction and can exacerbate or even cause mental-health crises. The rise of solitary-confinement units at U.S. prisons indicates a disturbing trend, especially for prisoners suffering from mental illness or drug abuse. Studies find that solitary confinement is not just ineffective at promoting good behavior, but is a full-fledged form of torture, breaking down the healthy and further enfeebling the ill. Since 1991, Swain, now 49, has been sent to solitary confinement “seven or eight times,” including a 144-day stint from May to October 2003. Most recently, he violated rules by “encourage(ing) prisoners to partake in a 30day work stoppage,” according to the official conduct report. During his 70 days in isolation, Swain didn’t know when he would be returned to general population. He remains in prison.

“Cage without a curtain” Swain details the conditions in solitary confinement, also known as “segregation.” “The tube lighting in segregation cells is never shut off,” Swain says. “Insects were breeding in the mops, which had not been exchanged for months. Those same insectinfested mops were provided to us for cell-cleaning.” As he cleaned, insects would swarm around the cell’s lighting fixture. Prisoners in solitary confinement had access to showers and recreation only Monday to Friday. Weekends were spent entirely locked in, though Swain believes that policy might have changed. At times he lacked

‘Captive’ by Todd (Hyung-Rae) Tarselli. Photo courtesy of American Journal of Public Health. soap and toothpaste. In his final week in segregation, the cellblock ran out of toilet paper, he says. Reports from Ohio’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) and correspondence with other prisoners confirm unsanitary conditions at some prisons.

“Their behavior is destined to deteriorate under those conditions. Then their poor behavior is used to justify why they should be there.” – Shirley Pope

The CIIC is authorized by the Ohio Legislature to regularly inspect prisons and provide oversight. For showers, “I was issued a single state towel upon en-

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C R O S S W O R

37

S U

tering segregation” and never had the opportunity “to exchange it for clean,” Swain says. But he considered himself fortunate to have been issued a towel at all, as some inmates in segregation never got one. “Or maybe I wasn’t so lucky, since I ended up with bacte-

D O K U

38

ria and fungus on my feet,” he says. Prisoners who didn’t receive towels instead used bed sheets. The shower stall was “a

D

P A G

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cage without a curtain,” Swain says. Even though prisoners tried to arrange their clothing across the shower bars for privacy, prisoners were subject to public view. Some mentally disturbed prisoners, informally labeled “serial jackers,” would watch through the bars of their cells “as if enjoying a personal peep-show.” The water would last approximately five to 10 minutes, then stop without warning for 10 minutes. “If someone has soap on his face or in her eyes, he must stand naked and wet for 10 minutes. … In some of the showers, hitting the button before the 10-minute waiting duration resets the timer and causes the 10-minute duration to start over,” Swain says. Isolation cells might no longer be strictly isolated. Due to overcrowding, some prisons now double-bunk their segregation cells. Some prisoners spend 23 hours

D

a day locked in with another person, in a cell designed for single occupancy. System-wide, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections operates at 134 percent of capacity, with 11 of the 32 institutions operating above 150 percent capacity. According to one CIIC report, “One had to stand sideways to walk through the rows of bunk beds.” Overcrowding might also result in long waits “for those in segregation who are being transferred to other prisons, all due to the need to wait for an open bed,” the CIIC reported. The result, it appears, is extended periods of isolation. Swain attributes the length of his 144-day-term in isolation in 2003 not to the severity of his infraction but to the wait for an open bed.

‘The hole’ by any other name Although he spent 23 hours a day alone in his cell, in another sense, Swain wasn’t

See Solitary, p. 5


STREETVIBES September 1 - 14, 2009

Community News

Trapped: Solitary Confinement

5

(continued from page 4)

alone. ter an alleged infraction, an Some 25,000 U.S. prisoners inmate might first be placed reside in solitary confinement in “security control” for one at “supermax prisons.” An ad- to 15 days while an investigaditional 50,000 to 80,000 pris- tion unfolds. If deemed guilty, oners reside in restrictive and the inmate might spend an isolated “segregation” or “spe- additional one to 15 days in cial housing” units at non-su- “disciplinary control,” which permax prisons, according to can be extended to 30 days a recent New Yorker article. for subsequent infractions. In Ohio at mid-year 2007, An inmate can be referred 1,869 men and 90 women to “local control” for up to lived in isolation, whether six months if his presence in through formal segregation general population is a seor security levels 4 or 5, ac- curity threat or if he’s “failed cording to the American Cor- to adjust to general popularectional Association. It’s not tion.” known how many prisoners “Those criteria are broad reside in soland subject itary conto wide interfinement at Cruelly, segregation p re t a t i o n ,” some point disproportionately says Shirley during their houses those Pope, execustay. prisoners least tive director Souther n able to endure of the CIIC. Ohio Corthe psychological If an inmate’s rectional Faimpact of isolation. own secucility in Lurity is threatcasville and ened, he Ohio State can be kept Penitentiary in solitary in Youngstown can hold pris- confinement in local control oners in lockdown for years even though he might not be at a time, including for their the cause of the potential disentire sentences. turbance. Prison administrators and After “local control,” an incorrectional officers refer to mate can be transferred to 4B, the various forms of these a long-term lockdown where 23-hour-a-day cells as “ad- some people spend years in ministrative segregation.” extreme isolation. These lockPrisoners prefer a less euphe- down units aren’t technically mistic name: “the hole” or “the considered “segregation,” as box.” Besides those names, prisoners in 4B aren’t being there are several others. Af- punished for particular in-

fractions. But it’s “segregation pounding; who yelled from caught with illegal substancunder a different name, the cell to cell or screamed inco- es. But solitary confinement same conditions, the same herently at all hours.” does nothing to mitigate or Prisoners suffered sleep heal their addiction. A report lockdown,” Pope says. Unlike segregation units, deprivation from the con- by Human Rights Watch held 4B units that New York don’t have State was inAfter 10 days, solitary regular menflicting cruel, confinement was seriously detrimental to tal-health inhuman prisoners’ well-being. rounds. Pope and degrad– Commission on Safety and Abuse in is concerned ing treatment America’s Prisons by isolating that mendrug offendtally ill prisers while also oners in 4B denying them treatment duraren’t properly cared for. The stant noise. Many suicide attempts ing lock-up. CIIC recently identified 218 “I’ve had 15, 16 drug tickmentally ill prisoners in 4B at happen in segregation units. Southern Ohio Correctional Inmates attempt to hang ets, no assaults or anything Facility in Lucasville, “in spite themselves with sheets, over- like that,” said Peter G., a of the known mental-health dose with stockpiled medica- prisoner quoted in the redeterioration stemming from tions or cut themselves with port. “I’ve never been in a blades from safety razors. treatment program. Now I’m long-term isolation.” Cruelly, segregation dis- in the box till 2012. I’m a drug proportionately houses those addict. If you know I’m a drug ‘Psychological prisoners least able to endure addict, why are you putting warfare’ the psychological impact of me in a box?” “It is widely accepted isolation. Advocates point Ohio offers some subamong mental-health profes- out that the mentally ill rarely stance-abuse treatment to sionals that long-term isola- belong in prison in the first those in isolation, with protion of the mentally ill results place, much less in solitary grams varying by institution, in deterioration, not recov- confinement. according to CIIC. The mentally ill might be ery,” the CIIC noted in a 2008 Advocates question the targeted under the “failure segregation of drug offenders report. Nevertheless, the mentally to adjust” criterion and then in the first place. To the extent ill seem propelled toward sent to punitive solitary units their infraction stems from solitary confinement, which for behavioral problems re- an underlying addiction, they Swain calls “psychological lated to their illness. Mentally should be treated instead of ill state prisoners are nearly punished. warfare.” Swain says he was sur- twice as likely to physically or Some administrators, say rounded by people “who verbally assault staff or other solitary confinement reduces attempted suicide, some prisoners, according to a 2006 violence and helps mainmultiple times; who threw study by the U.S. Department tain order. But the bipartisan feces and food; who engaged of Justice. Commission on Safety and The solution is not to stiff- Abuse in America’s Prisons in rattling their doors and en penalties. For mentally ill found the very opposite. “feces throwers” at Southern “The increasing use of Ohio Correctional Facility, the high-security segregation is CIIC reported that “prosecu- counter-productive, often tion for harassment does lit- causing violence inside fatle if anything in deterrence.” cilities and contributing to Instead, state prisons should recidivism after release,” the improve mental-health ser- commission said. vices. The bipartisan Council The commission called for of State Governments found ending long-term isolation in that inadequacies in mental- U.S. prisons. It determined health services “can lead to that after 10 days, solitary inmate-on-staff assaults, in- confinement was seriously mate-on-inmate assaults and detrimental to prisoners’ other use-of-force incidents.” well-being. Meanwhile, for the menSome administrators tally ill in solitary confine- maintain that they have no ment, their health deterio- alternative to locking danrates, their behavior worsens gerous prisoners in solitary and their security level rises. units. But correctional poliThey might be transferred to cies in other nations underhigher-security institutions. mine that claim. The British “If they had a mental health provide their most dangerous advocate, that might not hap- prisoners with opportunipen,” Pope says. “They re- ties for work, education and quire therapeutic interven- programming intended to intions before they’re bumped crease social skills, according up in security status and end to The New Yorker. up at Lucasville.” “The use of isolation not In a sense, the mentally ill only escalates the inmate’s are trapped. sense of alienation, but also “Their behavior is destined further serves to remove the to deteriorate under those individual from proper staff conditions,” Pope says. “Then supervision,” the CIIC found. their poor behavior is used to Experts and observers justify why they should be agree that long-term isolation there.” undermines safety. It drives Unsurprisingly, many drug even the healthy insane. In offenders continue to abuse Ohio’s prison, it’s past time to A solitary confinement cell in Alcatraz Prison. Photo by Laura Padgett. substances during their in- end this practice and choose carceration. They can be sent therapy over torture. to segregation after they’re


6

STREETVIBES September 1 - 14, 2009

Book Review

The Ego Tunnel and the Dumbass There's something about Mary that ain't quite right By David Heitfield Contributing Writer We live in an age of naive realism. Your brain lies to you, quite purposefully. You are a dumbass who willingly flaunts your dumbassedness from the moment you arise to the moment you go into the mini-death state we call “sleep.” Ignorance just isn't bliss – ignorance is life as we know it. Thomas Metzinger tells the story of Mary, a fictional character in a thesis known as the Knowledge Argument, which (crudely speaking) stands for the idea that you can't know something until you've walked a mile in its shoes. First-person knowledge (or phenomenal knowledge or subjective knowledge) is some thing that must be accounted for, a source of information that cannot be measured physically, i.e., scientifically. Mary, as the story credited to Australian philosopher Frank Jackson goes, is a brilliant brain scientist who learns everything there is to know about color – how we process color, how we see color, what color represents, all the physical properties involved in color. Mary learns all this while being deprived of color– she's in a cave or a room with a monochrome monitor on her computer and a black-and-white TV. So, the question is, once Mary learns everything about color, but then steps outside and experiences color for the first time, does she learn anything new? Jackson's original answer, which he has since recanted, was yes – she obviously has new information about reality now that she has subjectively experienced “color” for the first time, proving there is something to color besides the physical properties of color. Metzinger, a German phi-

Thomas Metzinger, author of ‘The Ego Tunnel.’ Photo courtesy of Johannes Gutenberg University. losopher, not only answers with an emphatic “no” – the subjective experience just makes Mary another self-deluded dumbass – but claims

self doesn't really exist. Duh! What makes The Ego Tunnel so fascinating, then, is for those of us who are not philosophers or brain scientists;

What makes ‘The Ego Tunnel’ so fascinating, then, is for those of us who are not philosophers or brain scientists; we get an understanding of just how far-reaching are the implications of the current science. that there is now almost universal support for his answer among brain scientists. In fact, the most famous review of Metzinger's new book, The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self, complains that Metzinger is simply rehashing old ideas that are now well-settled. Like, of course we know the

STREETVIBES Vendor

Mary

we get an understanding of just how far-reaching are the implications of the current science. Metzinger says he wrote The Ego Tunnel for a lay audience – it's the dumbass version of his 2003 work, Being No One. Although you should be warned, while misanthropists should find it delicious, others might have trouble

Only purchase Streetvibes from BADGED vendors. Vendors wear their WHITE badges while they sell the paper.

wading through Metzinger's experiences you had when still waters. I have no doubt you were younger, causing an you'd be rewarded for the ef- epiphany, might have been fort, though. closer to the truth than you To wit: Metzinger is fond of think. Those times when you saying no one is feel lost or deever born, and pressed or need no one ever dies. to find yourself? This is because This is because Good instincts, the ‘self’ is not the “self” is not a all. You're a a thing, but a thing, but a produmbass, and process. cess: It is a selfyour attempts model that has to make yourevolved to make sense of the self feel better about being world around you. Whether a dumbass should feel prothe sense it makes is liter- foundly disappointing and ally true or not is beside the false. I now have hope that point. Because this self-mod- someday soon all people with el is necessarily transparent high self-esteem will be put to you, “you” are essentially to death. The meek will ina system that constantly con- herit the earth after all; and fuses itself with its own self- man! they're gonna be pissed model. off when they do. Metzinger proposes sevMetzinger is a leader in the eral ways of making his coun- emerging neuroethics field, terintuitive ideas more con- and the last part of his book crete, including just noticing might be the most urgent to that the process of “waking read, in which he sees a very up” in the morning is literally near future where our rapyour brain looking for its self- idly expanding knowledge of model mask, lucid dreaming neuroscience collides with and studies involving people capitalism, resulting in peowho “feel” limbs they have ple seeking altered states of lost. You can even do an ex- consciousness, be it through periment at home with the LSD-like drugs or simply help of another person and brain stimulation that results an artificial hand: Put your in spiritual or other-worldly arm on a table and cover it experiences. Ethics itself will up with a box, with the false evolve from concerning what arm sitting on the table next is “correct actions” to what is to it. Have someone stimu- “correct consciousness,” with late both your arm (under the powerful implications in all box, so you can't see it) and spheres of culture, and it's an the fake arm at the same time. issue we need to start thinkYou look at the fake arm being ing about now. stroked. After about a minWhile “dignity” is a loaded ute, while your weird friend term, Metzinger offers as keeps stroking the fake arm, good a definition as any: “the you will continue to “feel” the unconditional will to selfstimulation from your real knowledge, veracity, and facarm, even though it is no lon- ing the facts. Dignity is the reger being touched, making fusal to humiliate oneself by you feel like a dumbass. simply looking the other way Astronauts lose their sense or escaping to some metaof “up” and “down” in space, physical Disneyland.” Someand only get reoriented after what paradoxically, Metzinga fellow astronaut taps the er argues that, as our sense bottom of the foot so he re- of “self” transforms, our soorients to what is “down” – to cietal goal “should always be Metzinger, proving that the to maximize the autonomy of “self” is purely contextual, or the citizenry.” This includes virtual. the moral imperative that The implications of this we “should not increase the are profound when you think overall amount of conscious about it. For instance, how suffering in the universe unmuch of good mental health less we have compelling reatoday is associated with a sons to do so.” “strong sense of self”? MayLest some of this – “no self” be there is something to the and “do no harm” – sound idea that the crazy people are vaguely Buddhist, the book the sane ones. Losing your ends by predicting that our sense of self or having low greatest theoretical challenge self-esteem might be con- we will have to face is whether textually bad today, but that and how intellectual honesty all might change in 50 years, and spirituality can ever be so that (just as you long sus- reconciled. It is a question for pected, admit it) your SUV- the future, but one can't help driving, church-going, ca- but think Metzinger's answer reer-climbing neighbor is the would be the same answer he delusional one. Those drug gave to Mary.

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STREETVIBES September 1 - 14, 2009

7

Local News

Knocking Down Doors to Success (continued from page 1)

Dunlap says the students “teach me so much” and that the environment is “a lot of fun. We’re always laughing and joking around with each other.” That doesn’t mean the work is endlessly upbeat, however. “There are a lot of sad stories, some of which don’t end,” Dunlap says. “There’s only so much we can do. … We can provide a positive atmosphere for three hours a day, but then (some students) return to a negative atmosphere.” Two recurring issues the center’s students face are homelessness and child care. Some young adults are transients – sleeping on other people’s couches – and roughly 75 percent are parents. Others face more subtle but equally powerful hindrances. “What do you do when your own family is saying, ‘Why are you trying to be better than us?’ ” Dunlap says. Another issue the teachers face is convincing some students that the path offered

by the center is beneficial, “particularly drug offenders. There’s a lot of money to be made out there, but it’s illegal and very dangerous,” Dunlap says. Convincing disadvantaged students to take an entry-level job to work up to a higher paying one when it seems employers are turning them away isn’t easy. “We’re here to show them it isn’t difficult to find work – we’ll knock down the doors for them,” Dunlap says. Nor does failing the G.E.D. test the first time mean students can’t be helped. “The students will get worn out before we will,” Dunlap says. She cites a Camp Washington student who didn’t pass until his fifth try. “There isn’t really anyone LCW can’t help,” she says. “Well, they just can’t be rich.” The center serves people who live at or below the poverty level who read at the fourth-grade reading level or above. Those below that level

Students at Literacy Center West studying for the G.E.D. test. Photo by Bill Haigh. are referred to the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati. Literacy Center West serves over 400 people a year. The agency is funded by a mix of government contracts, grants, fundraisers and private donations.

Literacy Center West is at 3015 Phillips Ave. and also offers programs at Camp Washington Community School and downtown for people on probation and under court orders to attend. For more information, call 513-244-5062.

Homeless Families Finish First Report shows startling trend in growth of homelessness By Jeremy Flannery Contributing Writer

While suburban and rural areas are facing dramatic increases in homelessness among individuals and families, homeFamilies are the rising demographic falllessness continues to disproportionately ing into homelessness in the United States, impact metropolitan areas. One out of five according to the U.S. Department of Houshomeless persons in the United States were ing and Urban Development (HUD). in Los Angeles, New York City or Detroit The agency’s 2008 Annual Homelessduring the point-in-time count on Jan. 1, ness Assessment Report to Congress, re2008. The report shows that homelessness is leased in July, says that between 2007 and concentrated in major cities such as Las Ve2008 “the number of homeless individuals gas, where 91 percent of Nevada’s homeless was fairly stable,” with a decrease of about population live; Phoenix, with 60 percent of 7,500, “while homelessness among persons Arizona’s homeless population; and Philain families increased by about 43,000, or 9 delphia, with 50 percent of Pennsylvania’s percent.” homeless population. HUD defines families as consisting of at The most common demographic of shelleast one parent 18 years or older and one tered homeless people are individual male child under 18. Women under 30 years of members of racial minorities older than 31 age without male partners and with a child years, and two-fifths of them suffer from 5 years or younger make up the majority of a disability, the report says. About 124,135 homeless families, the report says. homeless persons were chronically homeThe assessment acknowledges that its reless, or homeless for at least one year, acporting period ended “just as the economic cording to the report’s January 2008 pointrecession was accelerating,” so estimates of in-time estimate. The number remained the number of homeless families might be relatively unchanged from the 2007 estimore dismal today. mate, the report says. Georgine Getty, the executive director of The 2008 assessment says more homeless the Interfaith Hospitality Network, which Georgine Getty with ‘Streetvibes’ vendor Mark Shears. Getty individuals now are people with relatively assists homeless families, says the recesis executive director of Interfaith Hospitality Network. high needs. The number of people entersion has created more first-time homeless Photo by Andy Freeze. ing homeless shelters in 2008 increasingly people. came from prisons or hospitals or reported “We are starting to notice more and more suffering disabilities, the report says. Such first-time homeless people because of the economy and people losing their people are either physically restricted from the type of labor they can perform jobs and having to foreclose on their homes,” she says. “I spoke to one guy, and or denied employment due to their criminal records. Also, about 13 percent he said at first his hours were cut and then he was laid off, and so he lost his of the sheltered homeless during the 2008 count were U.S. military veterans, home. We are experiencing greater lengths of stays in shelters because no one and their numbers are expected to increase during the 2009 count, the report is able to find work because of the economy.” says. The Interfaith Hospitality Network assists about 110 homeless families per HUD is adding new counts to assess chronic homelessness among former year, and two-thirds of the people assisted by the organization are children, prisoners and the disabled, along with the Iraq War and Afghanistan War vetGetty says. erans returning without a home. The 2009 Annual Homelessness Assessment HUD’s homelessness assessment says 1.6 million people nationwide, or 1 Report will also measure the success of the American Recovery and Reinvestout of 190 people, used homeless shelters or transitional housing programs ment Act of 2009, which allocated $1.5 billion for a Homelessness Prevention between October 2007 and September 2008. Twenty percent of them were chil- Fund. dren, the report says.


8

Local News

STREETVIBES September 1 - 14, 2009

City Layoffs Cause a Fury But maybe the cops won’t be missed By Paul Kopp Contributing Writer

5 meeting, Mayor Mark Mallory denied council members the opportunity to discuss Impending budget deficits the layoffs. Council members for the city of Cincinnati will Leslie Ghiz and Chris Monzel lead to the loss of hundreds then called a special council of city jobs this month. A plan meeting the following night proposed by City Manager at the Duke Energy Center. Milton Dohoney contains 319 The mood at the meeting layoffs, including 138 police was tense, and the large conofficers. ference hall was filled. Some The job cuts, prompted by people held protest signs; projected deficits of $28 mil- one said, “Mallory’s leaderlion this year and $40 million ship is as bad as is his pitchor more for 2010, are sched- ing” – a reference to his cerule to take effect Sept. 6. emonial first pitch at a Reds In an Aug. 5 memo to the game, which was mocked on mayor and city council, Do- national TV. honey called the layoffs “gutSharon Lewis of Westwood, wrenching” but necessary. wearing a large campaign With 80 percent of the city’s button supporting Counexpenses going to personnel cilwoman Leslie Ghiz, sugcosts, trying to close the defi- gested eliminating “duplicate cit gap leaves few options, he social services” jobs. She said said. to Mallory, “The only “You have to other op“It is very clear that have a bodytion would be the layoffs can be guard, so we new money prevented if the need police.” coming from bargaining units The comment somewhere to agree to six furlough p r o m p t e d cover the exdays, and in some loud applause penses,” Doinstances (waive) from the audihoney said. “At the cost-of-living ence. this point our increase, but those Police offiexpenses exdiscussions are still cers and supongoing.” ceed our revporters told - Councilwoman enue.” council that Roxanne Qualls The city laying off 138 hasn’t faced will make the this type of city less safe. budget crisis since the ear“Just wait until these cuts ly 1980s. While the budget are made,” said Kim Evans, a crunch reflects the national member of Citizens on Patrol. recession, Councilwoman "The drug dealers and prostiRoxanne Qualls says some tutes are saying they are gocouncil decisions exacerbat- ing to run this city.” ed the problem. For example, But Dohoney and Police police and fire budgets have Chief Tom Streicher Jr. have gone up 37.1 percent since said that the number of of2000, including 6 percent in- ficers assigned to neighborcreases in personnel costs, hood patrols won’t change. she says. Though council spent a Cincinnati’s financial prob- large part of the meeting lislems aren’t unique, according tening to comments from the to Meg Olberding, spokes- public, Chris Smitherman, woman for the city manager. president of the Cincinnati “ABC News reported that Chapter of the National Assoover 69 cities across the coun- ciation for the Advancement try are seeking concessions of Colored People and an outor furloughs for their employ- spoken critic of city policies, ees,” she says. “The city bud- says the meeting was only a get is based on the private- platform for council to prosector economy, and it is not mote their own agendas. going well. This is part of the “The selfishness in calleconomic process that hap- ing the emergency meeting pens with government.” is not to show that they care what the public thinks,” SmiProstitutes’ therman says. “It’s really to power grab? wash their hands of the city manager's layoff recommenDohoney’s plan sparked a dations because he is not an public outcry. Amid booing elected official, but it's an by a crowd at council’s Aug. election year for council.”

! ? t a h W y a

Council members Bortz and Crowley discuss the city’s budget with aides at an August 5 meeting. City Council held several special public hearings regarding the city’s budget. Photo by George Ellis. Vice Mayor David Crowley manager and said he has to city administration are negosays some of his colleagues keep these 138 officers. Some tiating with unions to try to see an opportunity for dema- people will say that there are save some jobs. “It is very clear that the other places in the police degoguery. layoffs can be pre“(The police ofvented if the barficers at the spe“The fact is that Streicher has not come gaining units agree cial meeting) were a ready-made au- forward to the manager and said he has to six furlough dience for a po- to keep these 138 officers. ... To the best days, and in some sition that says, of my knowledge he has not come forth instances (waive) the cost-of-living and said he is willing to cut anything ‘I’ll keep your job increase, but those else. I think (Streicher) is saying, ‘All no matter what.’ discussions are right, they’re going to take them away Well, the ‘no matstill ongoing,” she from me, we’ll lose them.’ ” ter what’ is comsays. - Vice Mayor David Crowley ing back to bite us The layoffs will in the ass,” Crowgo into effect Sept. ley says. “While it may be good political staging partment that (Streicher) can 6, so the decisions must be to make those type of com- cut from, and if he did make made by then, Qualls says. Olberding says she doesn’t ments, it’s not realistic, it’s those cuts, he would be able not right and it’s misleading.” to keep some of the officers. think the city manager’s ofTo the best of my knowledge fice will find a way to save he has not come forth and those jobs. The chief isn’t “The 138 police officers said he is willing to cut anycomplaining thing else. I think (Streicher) have received their notices, Crowley is referring to a is saying, ‘All right, they’re go- and barring any action, their faction on council who want ing to take them away from jobs will be eliminated on Sept. 6,” she says. to find a way to prevent any me, we’ll lose them.’ ” Berding and Councilman Streicher didn’t respond to police layoffs while also not Greg Harris agreed to phone increasing taxes. The group a request for an interview. includes Ghiz, Monzel, Jeff Streicher doesn’t seem to interviews but didn’t call, Berding and Christopher perceive the police layoffs as didn’t return messages and Bortz. Both Crowley and a threat to public safety, ac- didn’t answer e-mails from a reporter. Council members Qualls say they have yet to cording to Qualls. “The number of police of- Laketa Cole, Bortz, Ghiz, and hear any plan from the facficers that are scheduled to be Monzel didn’t respond to intion. “I think it is an absolutely laid off is the exact number terview requests via e-mail. ridiculous position,” Crow- that council has added since An assistant to Councilman ley says. “I don’t understand 2000, which Chief Streicher Cecil Thomas said Thomas it. There’s a lot of politics in has publicly said in the past was on vacation. this. The fact is that Streicher he did not need,” Qualls says. Qualls says Mallory and the has not come forward to the

“People are only mean when they are threatened... and that’s what our culture does. That’s what our economy does. Even people who have jobs in our economy are threatened, because they worry about losing them. And when you get threatened, you start looking out only for yourself. You start making money a god. It is all part of this culture.” - Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

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STREETVIBES September 1 - 14, 2009

9

Film Review

Bombs Without, Explosives Within ‘The Hurt Locker’ is about the volatility of character By William Kirschner Contributing Writer

Anthony Mackie) and Spec. Owen Elridge (Brian Geraghty), whose safety depends “War is a drug,” said for- on their ability to work tomer New York Times reporter gether. Chris Hedges. In The Hurt Their personal issues, howLocker, Staff ever, make it Sgt. William hard for them to James, played The most work together. by Jeremy Rensurprising thing The combinanar, is a fullabout the movie tion of an adrenblown addict. is that, rather than aline junkie, a The film fol- focus on the larger man who fears lows Bravo Co., political issues of death is around an explosive- the war, it focuses every corner ordnance dison the character and an overly posal squad in of the soldiers cautious soldier Baghdad, Iraq fighting it. with nothing to in 2004. Direcgo home to cretor Kathryn ates a volatile Bigelow (Point Break) shows squad dynamic. it’s not a job for the faint of The movie doesn’t disapheart. The squad has to get point when it comes to the acup close with improvised ex- tion sequences. A long sniper plosive devices (IEDS), which duel leaves fans on the edges have been the trademark of their seats for what feels weapon of the insurgency in like an hour. Whenever BraIraq. vo Co. is disarming a bomb, The most surprising thing you’ll find yourself holding about the movie is that, rath- your breath. er than focus on the larger What makes the action sepolitical issues of the war, it quences so good is the susfocuses on the character of pense created by the lulls in the soldiers fighting it. Bravo action. When Bravo Co. is disCo. is comprised of a three arming a bomb, they have to man team, including James, deal with the fact that anyone Sgt. J.T. Seaborn (played by around them could be trying

to kill them. A man in civilian clothes with a cell phone could detonate the bomb and kill them. The Hurt Locker doesn’t spared viewers any of the gore, and the end result of an IED is one of the goriest things you’ll ever see. Rennar's performance is superb. He goes through the full range of emotions from cocksure bomb disarmer to crying in the shower with his clothes on. Rennar’s character is the most believable and the most unique action movie character I’ve ever seen. His bravado seems so real, but the movie reveals his very human side when he leaves the compound to try and find the killer of a young Iraqi boy. This movie is testosteronepacked. A perfect example is the time the squad spends behind the wire in the compound. Drinking and wrestling in their time off quickly turns into a test to see who the “ultimate man” is. But like the rest of the movie, Bigelow turns the scene on its head. Hand-held camera shots create a shaky, gritty feel that works surprisingly well. The angles of the shots are in-

novative, often coming from the top or side to give you a different view of the action. Barry Ackroyd, director of photography, does an amazing job making the most of the Jordanian location, creating an interesting and believable set.

The movie is exhilarating at some points, depressing at others but doesn't have a boring moment. Don’t go to see the The Hurt Locker looking for lighthearted summer fun but rather an interesting character study.


10

STREETVIBES September 1 - 14, 2009

Creative Writing Short Story

A Series of Photographs A story told in images By Michael Henson Contributing Writer A series of black-and-white photographs: set on the streets of a city. The streets are background, not in focus. But in each picture we discern a gray haze of old brick and old, cut stone. In some of the pictures, windows mirror the streets and the people who pass on them. In corners or in the distance, we see cars and buses. These are busy, daylight streets. They throb with poverty; they shimmer with human density. In the light around them, there is a hint of the sea. These photographs are all of the same person, a woman. In some, she appears to be almost a child. In others, she seems to be very old, very hard. She might be from these streets; she might have her home in some other place. Anything made clear in one picture is undone and redefined in the next. Her eyes in one look clear as water; in another, dark, swollen, evasive. Below each eye is a thin gray moon. Bruises? Worry? Days without sleep? Drugs? Could we give those dark places a name or a history? She wears a pea coat. So the weather was cool when the pictures were taken. But it was not winter. Some of the people walk by in light jackets. No one hunkers his shoulders against the hawk of a wind. No one blows into her hands for warmth. Something in the light says November. The light sandy grays in the walls and sidewalks contrast with her pea coat and the dark moons under her eyes. She stands at or near the center of each photograph, a clear darkness, painfully sharp against the background of streets, staircases, gangs of people, signboards. In one picture, she leans back against a blank, brick wall. Her eyes gaze off camera, her dark hair falls loose to her shoulders, her mouth is slightly open. Her tongue just touches her teeth as if she had just lost the word she would have spoken. Her hands at her sides are flattened against the wall. The pea coat is buttoned. Heavy, it makes her dark, breastless, a bell. Another: A torso shot. Still the same pea coat. Still the same streets surrounding. She stands against a wall covered with tattered bills and posters. Her face turns to her shoulder. Her eyes are cast to her left, and down. Her collar is open and we see the muscle and shadow in her neck. Her skin is smooth as stone, shadowed in the cheeks and eyes. Her long dark hair trails back, pulled perhaps by the wind; several strands and wisps go where they will. But for the coat with its dark, fraying collar and but for the dark and undisciplined wisp of hair that crosses her cheek, she could be taken for a museum marble. But the eyes are not the passive eyes of the museum woman. The brows cinch together in a knot. The eyes are sharp and determined; they brood and pierce. Another: she is wearing a wide, Kansas-girl straw hat. It frames her face like a ball of sun. Her face is open in a wide sunflower smile. The smile brings up the hollows under her eyes into wrinkles like an old woman or like a small child squinting into the light. The wall, her face, and her hands are full of light. Light dances under the hat. Light dances even against the darkness of her eyes. Her eager shoulders lean forward. Her hands are folded around a coffee mug. The picture carries a sound of laughter. Another: The hat is gone; she embraces a child. Her arms cross the little girl’s back. The girl’s face is half-buried in the pea coat. The woman’s hair is tousled, roped-up, thick. One hank has fallen across her face and partially obscures it. But we still see her worried eyes. The gray moons are gone. Her brows, very black, flex together. Her lashes, very black, hang low. Her hair stretches across the face of the child like a raven’s broken wing. The action is not clear: Has she embraced the child? Has she staggered and fallen against her? Another: Alone: Freeze-frame: in profile: hatless, head back, her hair strung back over her shoulders. She holds a bottle of cheap wine aimed like a pistol to her mouth.

Poetry

La Raza Park By Lea Drury Under the Potrero Bridge I sleep beside Benny, Sprout and Bakkus and the French Canadian girls from Quebec. We were. We were with the ants and rats, near rabid homebums and FTRA – their death camps guarding us like bulldogs. And End: Less: Ly: pez automotives spill past the Cesar Chavez off-ramp, all lit-up like a drive-in, a movie screen, lights dancing a hummingbird’s frenzy: our Tent City. Sometimes the men in rubber. Armor

the ones who found pleasure in salting slugs came. Like stealth black ooze over our Great wall – fondling their pistols in anticipation. They remember me that night. It was me penetrating them saying, “I Am a human. Being. I am your little Sister.” They were silent. A moment of silence. Cuba’s jaw was broken. Just. Like the Nortenos, I thought, no better were their own ways of demanding respect.

Gentrification - a.k.a. Get the Fuck Out! By Dana Divine Out with the tired, old, poor, we want something easy on the eyes. How about a nice café, Maybe some upscale clothing shops. The people need better living conditions, I’m for some new condos (market rate of course!) Why don’t these people get their shit together, Pull themselves up from their bootstraps? Turn that frown upside down, make those lemons into lemonade. Try getting a goddamn job, make a contribution to society. This community is growing, expanding, we’re trying to rebuild and reinvent. We don’t want to kick people to the curb, maybe they can just scoot out of the way. Let’s not allow anyone to slow us down, change must be painless and quick. This world is forever changing, Only the strongest can keep up, it’s a Darwinian thing, the survival of the richest. There is no progress without casualties, it’s the American way by God!

Nearly Lacerated by a Weed Whacker By D. H. Kerby Destitute, hungry, thirsty, With no bed to sleep in, Sleeping in streets Patrolled by soldiers Under martial law, Days after a coup d’état, Expecting money from my mother Through Western Union, Which refused to cooperate with me, Though Amy Goodman has reported That it cooperates with the CIA, I became, As I think anyone would under those circumstances, Obstreperous and even a little bellicose.

Finally deciding that the Western Union office would not Be persuaded that I was to be funded, I lay down in front of the building, Intending to sleep there as a form of protest. Here came the gardener with the weed whacker, Closer, closer and closer to my prostrate Body, clearly threatening to lacerate me; Ultimately, he drove me off.


STREETVIBES September 1 - 14, 2009

11

Vendor Voice

I Tell of Two Cities

More homeless in Atlanta, but more help in Cincinnati By Riccardo Taylor Streetvibes Vendor

nizations. Yet I am sure Atlanta’s city government is not as committed money-wise to their homeless population as Cincinnati. And as far as having voice in a political sense, there is only silence in the city of Atlanta. Homeless people in both cities depend greatly on individuals and organizations, i.e. churches, non-profit hu-

with a larger homeless population that can be understood. However, I find that I believe most are aware Atlanta's shelters are less of the national homeless accommodating and less problems in America. And of attractive. Most are highly course it would be easy to beunsanitary compared to lieve that the larger the city, Cincinnati even that leaves the more people there would a lot to be desired. Cincinbe in that situation. Therenati has one-up on Atlanta fore, one would assume that in that area. Still, there are the larger the city, the more some in Atlanta in which resources there minimal comfort are for the homecan be obtained. less right? Well, I Homeless people in both cities Generally, Atlandon't know what depend greatly on individuals and ta’s shelters are on the national sta- organizations, i.e. churches, non-profit a first-come firsttistics are, but I humanitarian groups, etc.; and in street served basis, with can tell you my terms, these types of organizations are closing time at 7 personal experia blessing for Atlanta’s misfortunate. pm. One is out beence in two cities Cincinnati has more places that have tween 4 and 6 a.m., that face homefull meal service than Atlanta. depending on the less problems. shelter, and in the This is not streets until admitmeant to be an in-depth re- manitarian groups, etc. and ting time, which is around port on the conditions or in street terms, these types of 4 p.m. There are no day a claim to know the exact organizations are a blessing centers in Atlanta. One has numbers of individuals who for Atlanta's misfortunate. to indulge in the universal are homeless. However, it is Cincinnati has more places ritual of street people – to meant to be an overview of that have full meal service keep on moving. the essential differences in than Atlanta. There are more Cincinnati has a public the way the homeless prob- shelters in Atlanta but many bath house where homelem is dealt with in the cities do not either feed or offer less people can take care of Atlanta and Cincinnati. even a simple bowl of soup. of their hygienic needs My experiences with street This is in contrast to Cincin- and change clothes. The life and homelessness in At- nati, where one can get two shelters in both cities ofRiccardo Taylor is a veteran vendor. Photo by Aimie Willhoite. lanta and Cincinnati are not full-course meals daily. Oth- fer bathing facilities, but so much in the difference in erwise, private food sources clothing is a bit harder to its adherents as it is the com- in Atlanta are churches and come by in Atlanta. The clos- people simply cannot, such For those of our community munity responses to the situ- individuals who pass out bag est thing to a public bath- as the mentally ill, drug and faced with homelessness, ations, particularly within the lunches from their vehicles. house is the Gateway, a 24- alcohol addicts, children and there are a few things we can local government. In Cincin- On weekends, one must hour resource center. the elderly. When a commu- be thankful for. I cannot give nati, I have seen few local stand in the many downstairs Many more of the home- nity is faced with such a real- a whole lot of praise for city demonstrations directed at parking lots where neighbors less in Atlanta sleep on the ity, then the government that government in enactments the local governments, such come to feed the people. streets than in Cincinnati. should be the first supporter, to ease the life of the homeas marches and protests over Of course there are a few Of course, there are more of the first voice, the first lead in less, yet I know that we have the treatment of the home- more feeding places in At- them, but percentage-wise, working for a solution – and fewer enactments against us less as compared to Atlanta. lanta, but for the most part there are more sleeping on if not for the homeless, then than those in Atlanta. The In the year I spent in Atlanta they are inaccessible to many the streets as well. I suppose, never against. churches in both cities defrom 2005-6, I witnessed three of the people who need them in part, it is the conditions, Cincinnati is blessed to serve praise, but what I bemajor events of protest by the or open only on particular rules and policies of Atlanta's have a homeless coalition lieve is the most distinguishhomeless that were directed days. I do have a lot of praise shelters that make them less that is active and resourceful ing and optimal difference at the city government. It is for the churches for their part appealing than those in Cin- in the fight to bring equality is our homeless coalition – a my opinion that the home- in feeding the people. It's cinnati. Whatever the reason amongst its citizenry. Atlan- group of concerned citizens less plight is one that Atlan- just my observation that in might be, Atlanta has more tans in the same predica- and organizations who care ta's city government tries to Cincinnati you have a better cardboard shantytowns than ment have no outside voice, and get involved to make a ignore for the most part. I can chance of obtaining a regu- Cincinnati. they have no coalition and difference. say that one particular entity, lar balanced diet if you are I believe that an individual find themselves often at the Gateway Resource Center, homeless. should be responsible for mercy of political whims or is backed somewhat by City Again, Atlanta has more his own welfare, yet many the graces of some church or Hall with several other orga- shelters than Cincinnati, and instances show that some other religious organization.

No to Socialism, No to Right Wing But that’s not at stake in health-care reform By Jennifer Blalock Contributing Writer As the conversation about universal health coverage heats up, the word “socialism” is being tossed about like a contagious disease to be avoided. Do you believe that America could embrace socialism? Would greater government involvement to provide health insurance to all citizens lead us down a slippery slope into socialism? When I see protesters holding signs saying, “No to

Socialism,” I wonder what they’re saying “no” to. What do they mean by “socialism”? Men and women at town halls across the country are visibly shaking with emotion and anger, fearful that our country will succumb to it. The American Heritage Dictionary of Cultural Literacy defines socialism as “an economic system in which the production and distribution of goods are controlled substantially by the government rather than by private enterprise and in which coopera-

tion rather than competition guides economic activity.” There is a wide variety or continuum of socialist beliefs and practices ranging from tolerating capitalism to more strict “communist” versions that abolish private enterprise. The definition doesn’t clearly delineate the differences between socialism and free enterprise – it begs the question: How much government control, cooperation or competition should guide economic activity? What is

“substantial” or too much control? In America, we’re not a 100 percent laissez-faIre, free enterprise system – we’ve been debating the pros and cons of government control since the inception of our republic. For the protesters and conservative commentators, their underlying issue seems to be the standard “big government vs. small government” argument wrapped in a fear-laced package implying that, if we don’t get it right, down the slippery slope we’ll go, falling into

plague-infested waters with the implication that socialism will destroy the fabric of our nation. I lived in France for eight years, was married to a Frenchman and learned through experience and observation how socialism defines and influences a society. France isn’t officially a socialist country; it’s a republic with close ties to the birth of socialism and a strong socialist party (the Parti Socialiste).

See Socialism, p. 14


12

STREETVIBES September 1 - 14, 2009

Vendor Profile

Generous Patrons by the YMCA Some ‘Streetvibes’ customers buy more than one copy By Jeremy Flannery Contributing Writer Streetvibes vendor Tyrone “Terry” Ranson boasts about some of his generous customers. A Cincinnati Police officer from District One buys a copy from Ranson twice a week. A customer at the YMCA buys seven or eight copies of the same issue on different days. “He’ll say, ‘Hey Terry, let me get another copy of Streetvibes,’ Ranson says. “So I’ll say, ‘You already bought three,’ and he’ll say, ‘OK, I’ll just give it to someone else.’ ” Ranson sells Streetvibes to pay rent, bills and buy groceries, he says. “Sales are slowly picking up,” he says. “I’m making my way to paying rent on time along with getting groceries and other necessities.” Ranson also sells the newspaper to regain the commercial towing license he lost in 2005. He has been a vendor for almost a year and usually sells at the YMCA on Central Parkway to various regular customers. “You get to meet a lot of people through selling,” Ranson says. “That’s what I like most about it – meeting people and making friends. You’ll meet people that’ll talk to you for five or 10 minutes, and people that just don’t want to talk. Some people you just

Terry Ranson uses his ‘Streetvibes’ earnings to pay rent and buy groceries. Photo by Bill Haigh.

got to feel your way around them. There will be people that’ll give you $5 for one paper or people that’ll buy a bunch at once.” Ranson was homeless for three years and stayed at the Drop-Inn Center until Octo-

ber 2008, he says. He moved into his apartment in Overthe-Rhine in November. “Being at the Drop-Inn Center was tough because there were set times – when it was time to eat, when it was time to watch TV and

Crossword

when it was time to sleep,” he says. “You would have to go outside for certain activities like smoking a cigarette, of course, or to go to the Med Van. But, you know, it’s better than nothing.” Ranson, 54, has lived in

Cincinnati all his life and has been sober for 21 years, he says. He has two granddaughters whom he visits whenever possible. He also tries to help other vendors through emotional difficulties when he can, he says.

Sudoku

Across 1. Stays 4. Brand 8. Ottoman Empire (7,6) 13. Lots 14. Shut in 15. Minor role 16. Stay too long 18. Lascivious 19. Ruptured 21. Female name 23. As well 27. Thoroughfare 31. Swordsman 33. Resort lake 34. Tall palm tree 35. Piece of news 36. Security operative (5,8) 37. Cold-shoulder 38. Contraction of need not Fill in the blank squares so that each row, each column and each 3-by-3 block contain all of the digits 1 through 9. Down 2. Harsh 3. Installment 5. Lure 6. Sand and cement 7. To do with religious study 9. City in central New York 10. Recognized 11. Troublesome person 12. Knowledgeable about

17. Yeah 20. Owns 22. Thing 24. Spiking 25. Polluted air 26. Expression of discomfort 28. Curse 29. Mild warning 30. Website 32. Helicopter feature

The fundamental goal of a Sudoku puzzle is to use the provided numbers, or givens, to discover which numbers logically fill in the empty squares. The only rule of Sudoku is that each of the nine rows, each of the nine columns, and each of the nine 3x3 subsections must contain all of the numbers from one to nine, and each number consequently can occur in each row, column and subsection only once.

Solutions on Page 15


STREETVIBES September 1 - 14, 2009

13

Editorial

Stop Snitching, for Justice’s Sake How over incarceration contributed to the stop-snitching movement By Suhith Wickrema Contributing writer

Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor, in his book, Let’s Get Free, writes, “Sometimes Earlier this year my daugh- the most patriotic act is not ter, Angela and her boyfriend to help the police.” bought a house in Roselawn. Of course, there are people At a belated Fathers Day who support Angela’s phibrunch, Angela losophy, including shared that she had Hamilton Counwanted to call the In 1975 ty Coroner, Dr. police on the “dope the annual O’dell Owens. A boys” hanging incarceration few years ago Owaround the street rate in this ens arrived at the corner. Her boycountry scene of a drive-by friend protested. was about shooting in North He said that calling 110 people Fairmount. About the police would be for every 200 neighbors had snitching. 100,000 in the gathered. No witI was impressed population. nesses were stepwith him, a firstToday it is ping forward to year law student. 751. help the police. I was somewhat Owens stood in surprised at Anfront of the crowd gela. Was this evidence that and bellowed, “Who’s going her MBA had more influence to stand up?” on her than my parenting? I In a 60 Minutes interview mused that, even in the best about snitching, Geoffrey of circumstances stepfathers Canada, a social activist and have limited influence on CEO of the Harlem Children’s their step kids, and consoled Zone, lamented, “When I was myself. growing up, kids used to talk Angela’s boyfriend was in about snitching. It never exgood company. James Duane, tended as a cultural norm a law professor at Regent Law outside the gangsters. It was School, in a public lecture ti- not for regular citizens. It is tled, “Don’t Talk to the Police,” now a cultural norm that is states, “I will never talk to any being preached in poor compolice officer under any cir- munities.” cumstances.” Duane tells the How did not snitching go story of Eddie Joe Lloyd, who from being a code among had written to the police, criminals to a norm among suggesting how to solve sev- some law-abiding citizens? eral murders. Lloyd was con- What changed from the time victed of committing one of Canada was growing up in those murders. After spend- the 1960s and early 1970s to ing 17 years in prison, DNA now? evidence exonerated him. One reason might be the

Interested in volunteering with Streetvibes? Contact Greg Flannery at 513-421-7803 x 12 or by e-mail at streetvibes2@ yahoo.com

over-use of incarceration and its ineffectiveness. In 1975 the annual incarceration rate in this country was about 110 people for every 100,000 in the population. Today it is 751. The National Crime Victimization Survey reports stable rates of violent crimes since 1973. We have locked up more and more people over the past 30 years. However, we have not seen a reduction in the number of crime victims. This is ample evidence that our criminal justice system is broken. Prison enthusiasts argue that harsh prison sentences and mass incarceration act as deterrence to people committing crimes: “If we increase the cost of committing a crime, people will stop committing crimes.” This was New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s thinking in 1973 when he enacted the harsh mandatory laws against drug dealers and users. This was the same thinking by U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill in 1986 when he supported harsher

sentences for crack-cocaine dealers and users compared to sentences for users and dealers of powder cocaine. The problem with this theory is that criminals don’t do a cost-benefit analysis before committing a crime. Over-policing and excessive incarceration of drug dealers might even contribute to more young people getting involved in the drug trade. As long as there is a stable demand for drugs, there will be enterprising young people willing to meet this demand. When the police arrest a drug dealer, there will be another to take his place. Criminologists call this the “replacement effect.” Most inmates in state prisons tend to come from a handful of neighborhoods. This means that, in certain neighborhoods, almost all the residents might know someone who is in prison or has been in prison. At the same time people in these neighborhoods have not experienced a reduction in vic-

timization. Life experience has taught them that talking to the police does not help. Residents in high-crime areas do not need statistical data or criminological concepts to know that the current criminal justice policy is not working. So why cooperate with a broken system? Why talk to the police? Not talking to the police has become an act of passive resistance. “All men recognize the right of revolution – that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable.”- Henry David Thoreau “We got over two million motherfuckers locked up. Stop snitchin’”- Hip-hop artist Ice Cube With more than two million of my fellow citizens in prisons, I see the act of not cooperating with the police as an act of civil disobedience. I hope you join me.


14

STREETVIBES September 1 - 14, 2009

Local News

No to Socialism (continued from page 11)

Reader Survey Dear Readers, Over the last year, we have worked hard to improve the content, design and overall program of Streetvibes. We would greatly appreciate you taking the time to fill out this brief reader survey. We value your feedback and opinions. Please return your survey to 117 E. 12th Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. You may also e-mail your responses to streetvibeslayout@gmail.com. If you have other information or comments please feel free to let us know when you return your survey. Thank you,

Gregory Flannery Editor People tape posters featuring altered photos of President Barack Obama to a table at a town hall in California. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok The French enjoy health care for ev- example, when I shared the idea that eryone, decent job security and state- in America the quality of a school is paid education but businesses also normally determined by the wealth endure a high degree of regulation, of a neighborhood or city, my French which I believe diminishes competi- friends were shocked and disgusted. tion and entrepreneurism. For them, money should never deterBased on my experience, I, too, say mine the opportunity to have a qual“no” to socialism but don’t feel the ity education. least bit threatened by it as we debate Thanks to our history, we’re all about health-care reform. First, it’s not a “manifest destiny” and the “American dreaded disease – it has merits for the dream” – an ideology that is our greatpeople it serves; it is congruent with est export. Have you ever heard of the their value system. Second, in Ameri- French dream? How about the Dutch ca, our culture would never embrace dream? The possibility of the Amerithe ideology or values that support can dream is deeply embedded in our socialist governments. collective consciousness, and I beSocialism is broadly defined as an lieve it vaccinates us from becoming “economic system” but from a prac- a socialist nation. tical perspective, I argue that socialFrance has an excellent health-care ist practices thrive in a country like system but also has significant conFrance because it’s a system of gov- trols over commerce. For example, the ernment that French governmakes sense ment decides the For socialism to work, to the people. hours of business there has to be a greater When viewed operation, who value placed on equality within their hiscan be open on and fraternity than on the torical and culSunday or when individualism that is so tural context, it’s a store can have prevalent in the States. no mystery that a sale. Amazon. the French culcom in France ture readily emwas sued by the braces their brand of socialism. French Booksellers Union for offering The modern French Republic free shipping to customers because emerged after the bloody French it created an “unfair” advantage and Revolution (1789-1799), which deci- Amazon chose to pay 1,000 euros a mated the longstanding monarchy. day rather than change its policy. The founding principles are “Liberty, Those who are not realizing the Equality and Fraternity.” In 19th- American dream, who are underemcentury Europe, socialist philosophy ployed, uninsured and falling through emerged in part in reaction to the the social safety net might yearn for a perceived ills of the Industrial Revo- more responsive, empathetic or solution – it threatened their primary cialist government but I don’t think values. we could ever emulate the European The founding principles of our re- models. One needs to appreciate the public are “Life, Liberty and the Pur- complex weave of inner values, histosuit of Happiness.” There is a huge ry and cultural context. For every perdifference between America’s history ceived advantage of the French brand – fighting off colonialism, creating of socialism, I could provide many a federation of 50 states, building a examples of how the system does not market system – and a country like work (for me, an American). France. We, too, reacted to industrialWould a public option that would ism by creating regulations and laws provide health insurance to everyone such as the Child Labor Act; but we lead us down the road to socialism? didn’t adopt socialism. I don’t think so. Debating the adBelieve me, we don’t think or oper- vantages and disadvantages of govate like French people. We might val- ernment control is productive and ue similar ideas (i.e., family is prima- essential but when the threat of sory, wine is good) but our cultural DNA cialism is used to incite fear, the abilcirculating is markedly different. For ity to substantively debate the issues socialism to work, there has to be a disappears. I say “no” to vitriolic fear greater value placed on equality and tactics. fraternity than on the individualism that is so prevalent in the States. For

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Resources

Need Help or Want to Help?

Shelter: Women and Children Central Access Point Cincinnati Union Bethel

381-SAFE 768-6907

Bethany House

557-2873

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

591-2246

Crossroad Health Center

381-2247

FreeStore/FoodBank

241-1064

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

558-8888 981-5800

NAMI of Hamilton County PATH Outreach

458-6670 977-4489

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

562-8841

762-5660

Treatment: Men

YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter

872-9259

Charlie’s 3/4 House

784-1853

DIC Live In Program Prospect House

721-0643 921-1613

Starting Over

961-2256

Shelter: Men City Gospel Mission

1419 Elm Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202

241-5525

Justice Watch 241-0490 St. Fran/St. Joe Catholic Work. House 381-4941 1437 Walnut Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202

Mt. Airy Shelter

661-4620

Shelter: Both Anthony House (Youth)

961-4080

Caracole (HIV/AIDS)

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

Salvation Army

131 E. 12th Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202

5 E. Liberty St. Cinti, Ohio 45202

Other Resources Center Independent Living Options Emmanuel Community Center

241-2600 241-2563

Peaslee Neighborhood Center

621-5514

Franciscan Haircuts from the Heart

381-0111

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

961-4663

Treatment: Both

1800 Logan St. Cinti, Ohio 45202

1223 Main St. Cinti, Ohio 45202

761-1480

AA Hotline CCAT

351-0422 381-6672

Drop Inn Center

721-0643

Joseph House (Veterans)

241-2965

Interfaith Hospitality Network Lighthouse Youth Center (Youth)

471-1100 221-3350

Hamilton County ADAS Board Recovery Health Access Center Sober Living Talbert House

946-4888 281-7422 681-0324 641-4300

Hamilton/Middletown

421-3131 569-1840 381-4242

Northern Kentucky

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

Tender Mercies

721-8666

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

621-5300 961-1983

OTR: 1620 Vine Street, Cinti, Ohio 45202 Walnut Hills: 2631 Gilbert, Cinti, Ohio 45206

Our Daily Bread

621-6364

St. Francis Soup Kitchen

535-2719

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

Health Center for Respite Care

3550 Washington Ave, Cinti, Ohio 45229

St. Raephaels Salvation Army Serenity House Day Center Open Door Pantry

Brighton Center

799 Ann St. Newport, KY

863-3184 863-1445 422-8555 868-3276

859-491-8303

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

621-1868

Puzzle Solutions


16

Column

STREETVIBES September 1 - 14, 2009

Using Art to Build Understanding Jeff Casto’s work documents and focuses on the spiritual dimension “I grew up in a small town in rural West Virginia,” says Jeff Casto. “Art was not part of my daily existence there, however, and as early as I can remember, I had a kind of exotic attraction to art; and whenever offered in grade or high school, I really absorbed it and wanted more and more of it.” Casto, who holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting from the Art Academy of Cincinnati and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Cincinnati, creates constructed 3-D paintings and sculptures with found objects – discarded material, scraps and recycled junk parts. His pieces are a metaphor for his general approach to art, recreating his own world in order to communicate his views and messages. Casto’s work addresses a variety of social, political, environmental and personal topics, often in a metaphoric, poetic and whimsical way. When addressing racism, sexism and homophobia, for instance, he constructed a six-foot-tall sculpture representing a giant skyscraper, a metaphor for an isolating tower, with slang, slurs and derogatory words on its walls and a large heart made of stone inside it. Some viewers reacted negatively to the words, prompting thinking and awareness of reality. His social interest started as a child seeing a lot of unfairness even in the most privileged places. When he first came to Cincinnati for college, Casto was shocked to see a man sleeping in a car for sevas eral days. He later realized that this wasn’t By Dr. Saad Ghosn an isolated inContributing Writer ‘Folly of the Fearful,’ by Jeff Casto. Photo by Saad Ghosn. stance and that many people in the city didn’t have homes. He encountered poverty in many places and became increasingly aware of the many social and political problems facing Casto based Folly of the Fearful on Aesop’s fable, “The Bald Man society. and the Flies,” in which a man attacked by flies hurts his head by Creating powerful images with a strong visual impact, Casto uses swatting at them. Casto saw an analogy between the moral of the his art to tell a story, to communicate and move the viewer. Art is an fable and the might-oriented, fear-based, military answer to the soessential and important part of his daily life, cathartic in its making, called threat of “terrorism.” Instead of intelligently analyzing and but also communicative of his concerns, hopes and fears. He wants addressing the root causes of the problem, Bush’s response was his art to make a statement and trigger change. based on fear and overuse of power –detrimental and self-injuri“I want my art to express messages with relevance today and to- ous, as proven in the Iraq war. morrow, a human relevance, things that keep resonating a hundred To convey his message, Casto conyears from now,” he says. “I want my art to bring about a greater structed his piece like a home interior. “My dream is to live understanding of our world and contribute to its betterment.” He used an inverted exterior window in a harmonious, Casto’s construction painting, Folly of the Fearful, was a response frame as an allegory for a world turned peaceful and just to the fear-mongering climate following the September 2001 ter- upside-down and put in its center, society where negative rorist attacks and what he thought was the short-sightedness and constructed from discarded objects, issues would not need self righteousness of the Bush administration’s reaction. the large figure of a frightened metallic to be addressed in cowboy surrounded and art.” - Jeff Casto attacked by mosquitoes and flies. The man stands tall, displaying his strength, much bigger than his opponents; but in reality, very vulnerable, not knowing how to deal with them; he ends up hurting himself more. In the background, Casto added a clock, a metaphor for fleeting time and a reminder of the need for a quick change in approach. “My dream is to live in a harmonious, peaceful and just society where negative issues would not need to be addressed in art,” he says. “Art then, instead of fighting the material, would address, document and focus on the spiritual, on what I consider is the real important dimension of humankind.” Casto’s art is an intricate component of his daily living, reflecting his views and his philosophy of life. To paraphrase Andre Maurois, the renowned French novelist, it is his “effort to create beside the real world a more human world.”

A

rtists ctivists

Jeff Casto. Photo by Bill Howes.

Artists as Activists is a regular column highlighting Greater Cincinnati artists whose work focuses on political and social issues. Dr. Saad Ghosn is the director of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center


Streetvibes September 1-15, 2009 Edition  

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