May 17, 2010


I've been going down to the corner of Nagle and Dyckman, pulling a flattened cardboard box from a fruit vendor's trash and sitting on the street, mingling with the locals. I'm definitely a fish out of water. Most people are very nice to me but at the same time very suspicious of my motives. They see that camera hanging around my neck and wonder what I'm doing there. Yesterday I was hanging out with Al, Roy, Willy, John, Linda, Piggy and a few others, most of whom have been hanging out on that same corner every day for the past 30 years.
When I arrived, Willy extended his hand to shake mine but then didn't release it. He held on tighter than one would expect from an old man while saying quietly, "Come on man, buy me a half pint." Roy piped in, talking over Willy, telling me I shouldn't enable him. Then he scolded Willy and said, "Relax Willy, let go of the man's hand. You don't need no pint." A self-professed alcoholic, Willy asked me 3o times where I was from and if I was Irish, in between his badgering me to buy him a drink. I walked across the street to take some snaps and when I returned 5 minutes later Willy had obviously talked someone into getting him a bottle of Georgi vodka for $2.75. He was finally quiet and content. Like a baby with a bottle of milk.
Forty-five minutes later, the bottle was empty and Willy made his best attempt at a beeline to the street to relieve himself. After a few minutes a couple of us got up and helped him to his feet.

About an hour later, as his buzz was beginning to subside, he turned to me, extended his hand and said, "Hey Brother... get me a half pint."

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