Joe from Hampden
I met Joe walking around Hampden, Baltimore. I was there for this amazing film festival of curators of Emphemera films including some of my nerdy archive heroes. I was going there to live my "Pecker" John Waters film fantasy. In many ways I started using vintage cameras and doing street photography because of seeing that film. I walked around and went to an awesome vintage shop called Milk and Ice on 36th street, I talked to one of the owners, Angela, about the town and store and gentrification and so on. She was super helpful and gave me some authentic places to shoot and let me know about Honfest which I have to go next year http://honfest.net. After searching out high and wide for Hons and walking around Hampden I gave up. Apparently Hons don't go outside in 90 degree weather, As a rule I have never taken any street photographs of homeless people. It feels clique and exploitative, but honestly there was no one else to take photographs of and Joe seemed to have a softness to him as well as looking like Kris Kristiferson so I approached him. We talked for a bit. He lived in Hampden his whole life. Apparently the last person who took a picture of Joe won a contest. I promised if I won a contest with his pics I'd bring him the winnings. I'd like to tell you that I sat with Joe for hours and realized he was a former Pianist and we made a plan to make him famous again, but that was not the case. Joe was just a guy that got some shit luck in his life and had many medical problems. If you see him in Hampden buy him lunch or see if you can get him help. I tried to see if there were any places he could go for medical help but he assured me there were not. So I gave him the last of the money I had, which made him $3.96 cents richer then I was at that moment. All I could really do was offer him an ear and a handshake and some connection for a few minutes. It was somewhat sobering end of a day in which I figured I'd just have a few laughs. What I learned that day was when areas like Hampden get gentrified like the rest of the country, no one seems to give too many fucks about the people who don't benefit from new maker spaces, and art galleries. He also never asked me for anything which speaks a lot about the resilience of a man who has survived much more shit then I will ever have to deal with, With all the money that goes into these new gentrified areas, if even a small percentage went to helping people like this instead of greedy development fucks, people like Joe may at least of had some good medical care. Fuck the takers and fuck the makers, it's time we take our own towns and cities back, and tell the powerful and rich what we will let in our town or city, or community, not just benefit ourselves from the money coming in and the new taco place at the corner.
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