Saturday, February 7, 2015

Let Them Eat Soup

Seattle, WA is a much bigger than Santa Cruz, CA but they recently counted around 2500 'unsheltered' people and decided to help them during the last months of winter. I can feel the generosity oozing from the citizens...
could these arrogant cunts be more condescending?


Seattle's population is 652,000 so 1 in 250 people are homeless. It's probably an underestimate but it's in the ballpark. In 1993 the population of Santa Cruz was about 50,000. Today it's around 62,000. It's a small city. Well, the estimates were 5,000 homeless people in Santa Cruz at that time and I think that's an accurate ballpark figure. Or you could say that 45,000 people had houses to live in and the remainder were homeless. So 1 in 10 people were homeless which is probably the highest concentration of homeless people anywhere in America. I'd be surprised if that ratio stands true today with an additional 1000 homeless people in Santa Cruz. It felt like 5000 was the maximum but I could be wrong.  During the three years I was living there I only knew a handful of people who had traditional housing. The rest were sleeping rough every night. The police force in Santa Cruz was less than 2 dozen officers and they were in the position of social services, emergency health care, law enforcement, etc. 


Santa Cruz is a complicated place, south of San Francisco, separated from the hell of Silicon Valley by a huge mountain that traps all the clouds and rain. In fact, the mountain is so high, forced up by a pre-historic subduction zone that has since moved north, that weather systems end up tumbling north to a lower pass near Half Moon Bay. Furthermore, the richly forested hills descend almost into the ocean so there on coastal California is a place that one would expect to find sun dappled beaches with tanned hippies playing Frisbee, but instead one finds the sun rarely shines, the redwood canopy shades everything but parking lots and the hippies have had their cars impounded and are pondering their next move, either to Big Sur or to the exciting city of San Francisco. San Jose, though much closer and almost always sunny, is not even a consideration as it's a known source of disease, the water is poisoned from unregulated silicon chip manufacturing, birth defects are far above normal in San Jose, some of the biggest Superfund sites are in San Jose, the streets are unsafe, hippies are widely loathed, the police are merciless, everything is concrete and artificial. San Jose is about the size of Austin, another city overrun with street people. San Jose should be evacuated but instead it's the 3rd largest city in California and about 1 million people live there, though millions more live nearby as the Bay Area has no clear city limits and could be considered one Megacity of 7 million, all breeding contaminated mutants for the future apocalypse. So, Santa Cruz is cut off from industrial California and resembles rainy Oregon more than it resembles any place associated with The Beach Boys. And when people arrive there, after passing through The Bay Area, they are either repulsed by how remote and cold and rainy it is and flee immediately, or else they see the potential of sustainability, Brussel sprout fields to the north, apple orchards, zen monasteries, drum circles, soup kitchens, farmers markets. The city attracts a certain kind of person and soon they are trapped between the mountain and the sea, they begin to recognize people on the street. The whole city is about as big as two neighborhoods in San Francisco. The famous UCSC college is actually way up on a hill, surrounded by a forest, isolated, most students chose it specifically so they wouldn't need a car and they soon find few reasons to visit the lowlands since it is no more sunny at the beach than in the forest. In fact, because it rains constantly and a thick fog obscures everything until noon every day, the higher forest often sees the sun more than the beach.

When a city has 50,000 people and 5000 of those people are homeless then the troubles are obvious. A whole hospital could be devoted to only taking care of the sick homeless. Four full-time soup kitchens could operate. A whole army of psychiatrists would be needed to prescribe anti-depressant drugs.
The City has a responsibility today to the 2,300 people sleeping outside on any given night in Seattle, so that they can at least stay together and stay safe.” - See more at: http://murray.seattle.gov/murray-expands-shelter-for-homeless-people-proposes-encampment-ordinance/#sthash.sCbS3Snj.qsJsZxar.dpuf

The article about Seattle's troubles dealing with the Homeless only confirms my suspicion that the topic of the urban destitute is one that is only growing in relevance. My objective with this project is partially to crucify idiots like those who comment and suggest 1) homelessness is an easy life 2) because it's easy then homeless people should shut up and eat the food we throw to them. 3) they are owed nothing 4) they are leeches 5) they are sub-human dirt. 6) they are just like me but they live in a tent. Their comments brought back a wave of disgust I had for the same kind of ignorance I saw in Santa Cruz. Arrogant people simplifying something they don't understand into the most basic terms that justify their arrogance. It's cyclical, self-justifying ignorance and I've seen it over and over. But the alternative is to learn enough to see how complicated it is, and that's where Oggy's story comes in. 

Oggy has done the hard research, he's been in the trenches long enough to see all the angles and he's heard enough stories to tell the story behind the story, the story everyone wants to ignore because it will complicate their Barbie doll conception of a simplified world. I do want to crucify and humiliate these assholes, to expose them for the de-facto purveyors of human bondage that their twisted soul hides. It would be futile, but I could do it. At the same time I want to shine the light of truth into all the dark alleys these city council members overlooked during their "One Night Count" because the rhetoric reveals a world view as blighted and simplistic as anyone: "The City has a responsibility today to the 2,300 people sleeping outside on any given night in Seattle, so that they can at least stay together and stay safe.”

"Stay together and stay safe." This should touch the heart of everyone who has no idea about the scope of the problem. I actually laughed with bitter tears in my eyes when I read that because I know the ideas of "Family" or "Togetherness" or "Safety" to the average homeless person is completely different from what other people think it is. Basically, "Family" is synonymous with forced blow jobs, molestation, being undressed by your father's brother, raped and then threatened by your own father if you mention it to anyone. "Togetherness" is synonymous with your mother smoking meth in the corner near a baby crib. "Safety" is synonymous with your brother who robbed a store, drove off a cliff and killed the passenger in the car, is serving 20 years in jail. At least he's safe, you think. You were picked on so bad in school because of this that you finally left...and the average person will blame you for all of the above. Furthermore, the exact people you will now be forced to share a tent shelter with are the last people you would want to trust with anyone. Oh, but it's real magnanimous of these city council members to try to do some good. Sure. With friends like them who needs enemies? I heard all the speeches by these assholes and I didn't hear one that was authentically interested in addressing the problem.

Seattle's problem was bad two years ago but the city council did not pass an identical "temporary shelter" ordinance. Now, they claim it's a crisis. Isn't that big of them? Two years ago it was not a crisis because they were not directly affected by it. Now it's a crisis because they can't ignore it. What big hearts they must've grown in two years! They get the Tin Man Award of 2015. A whole field is bequeathed to the destitute of Seattle! Shit. The homeless are speechless from gratitude. You mean they get to sleep in a plastic tent in a muddy field where the police won't wake them up with batons? Really? And they even get a port-o-potty to shit in? They don't have to shit in newspaper anymore under a bridge? Awesome. What have they done to deserve these gracious gifts? Man, these city council folks must be related to Gandhi. They're just falling over themselves to help the homeless.

Well, the problem isn't going away and as much as I'd like to really crucify these ignorant rainy day philanthropists, bandwagon Baptist motherfuckers, I think I need to focus on the model I used with the conservative essay. The main problem is not the ignorant and self-serving city council members or the condescending citizens who discount all the destitute and consider them a pest like the pigeon, or even the homeless themselves and their intractable will-power. No, the main problem is an misinterpretation of the evidence, or simply a lack of evidence. People's concept of the homeless, probably yours included, is basically a mental projection of themselves without a house. That right there is 100% wrong, but it drives most of the mitigating approaches to homelessness. So, my goal is to correct this misinterpretation. The truth is much worse than what your life would be without a room to sleep in. The truth involves redefining all the sacred elements of your life into your worst nightmare and then erasing all concept of health or stability and replacing them with a society who villainizes you and criminalizes you and all your attempts at justification will be considered proof of your pathetic inability to adapt. You will be the cause of all your problems and you will be spoken of in the third person like you were an ape in a cage or at best an injured pet some neglectful neighbor abandoned and now people have to figure out your fate, since you're incapable of self-sufficiency. So, it's a contradiction of philosophies because a person will initially project their own personality and history into a homeless person, thus ignoring all the actual circumstances, and then immediately treat them like a stray cat, thus dehumanizing them. One's response to homelessness is a litmus test in one's ability to deny reality. Sort of like if you think continents are defined by the outline of the ocean, or if oceans are defined by the shape of continents.

But why listen to Oggy? Everything's going great.
The City has a responsibility today to the 2,300 people sleeping outside on any given night in Seattle, so that they can at least stay together and stay safe.” - See more at: http://murray.seattle.gov/murray-expands-shelter-for-homeless-people-proposes-encampment-ordinance/#sthash.sCbS3Snj.qsJsZxar.dpuf
The City has a responsibility today to the 2,300 people sleeping outside on any given night in Seattle, so that they can at least stay together and stay safe.” - See more at: http://murray.seattle.gov/murray-expands-shelter-for-homeless-people-proposes-encampment-ordinance/#sthash.sCbS3Snj.qsJsZxar.dpuf
The City has a responsibility today to the 2,300 people sleeping outside on any given night in Seattle, so that they can at least stay together and stay safe.” - See more at: http://murray.seattle.gov/murray-expands-shelter-for-homeless-people-proposes-encampment-ordinance/#sthash.sCbS3Snj.qsJsZxar.dpuf
The City has a responsibility today to the 2,300 people sleeping outside on any given night in Seattle, so that they can at least stay together and stay safe.” - See more at: http://murray.seattle.gov/murray-expands-shelter-for-homeless-people-proposes-encampment-ordinance/#sthash.sCbS3Snj.qsJsZxar.dpuf
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.