Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"No Shoes.......Still News......2 Views....."

Good Evening;

So...just some shared thoughts between one of the other writers at the City Paper and myself from an e-mail I received and replied to,
that brought the follow-up to the "Shoeless Jeff" story to my attention:


Spotted this story on the NYT website this a.m.; thought of you.

We've passed each other one or twice in the City Paper vestibule. Regret I've not taken the time to speak & hear at length. Evan pointed me to your blog years ago. I read a few posts. They are impressive in their detail and honesty. It seems to me that the stigma of mental illness is one of the most debilitating parts of it, and I've begun to try to make sense of that lately in my professional life. You are helping me.

Anyway, I want to share with you my first thoughts about the above article, as a journalist, and ask for your thoughts, both about what the Times did and my reaction.

First thing I did was send the link to a friend at Columbia Journalism Review, opining that I doubt this article would have been done a decade ago. It hovers in the space just above hopelessness, and almost--almost!--makes clear what is happening. 

Then, reading into the situation depicted, I suggested that the next stories should answer these questions:

1. How much can a homeless, barefoot guy in Manhattan get for a pair of boots that retail for $100?

2. Who buys them, and why?

3. How much more $ can a barefoot guy collect pan handling than a dude wearing shoes?

4. What's Jeff's poison? Is it the usual (booze, etc.) or a mix of mental illness and the latter?

5. What is Jeff's income and source of same? He has a DD-214, so what vets benes is he getting (or missing out on?). Is he collecting SSDI? SS!? Who is his social worker and what do they say?

Finally I concluded with my reasoning about the social value of this story and, reading that back to myself just now, I'm ashamed of what I left out. Here is what I wrote:

"This guy would be a great test of the old right-wing saw that everyone in the USA on welfare is rich & cheating, and also a needed rebuke to the many who seem to think that a guy with no shoes in America is that way because of a general lack of sufficient shoes." 

Wish you well. Thanks again for your insight. Edward



Thank you for the kind words.  I write because I love the poetry of the written word and because it helps me figure out the conflicting thoughts and emotions within my heart, mind, and soul that flit and flicker way too fast to comprehend. Writing them down and dissecting them can be enlightening and cathartic, as well as painful, embarrassing, hilarious, pathetic, and/or ridiculous. Sometimes it leads to better methods of dealing with my demons or the rest of the world around me...other times I just find better ways to conceal them and show a more polished facade.

Thank you also for bringing the follow-up in the NYT to my attention, I had not seen it yet.
I too wanted some background, and now I want even more. 
I think the article may have been written a decade ago, but the tone would
have been much nastier and negatively slanted.
I also think that the original story may have been written, in a publication such as "Readers Digest",
but it owes it's 'viral' nature of course to today's access to cell phone cams and YouTube. 

As for the questions you posed, many of the same or similar thoughts went through my head.
As they do in most articles of this type I read, with the addition of one more;
--- the ever present "WHY?" ---, in all it's permutations.

I've seen and experienced acts of selflessness and selfishness while on the street, 
(and must honestly state I've been on both sides of that moral fence).
I tend to temper gullibility, (or maybe just a desire to believe), with cynicism,
to seek a balance and the truth.

As for the mental illness aspect, just like addiction, the gateway to dealing with it lies

 in each person's 'tipping point' between denial and acceptance.
Both their own and other's in their immediate 'circle of influence'.

Anyway, thanks again for your letter, reading my blog and the column, and your thoughts and comments.
Would you mind if I used you e-mail and portions of this one in my blog, 
(with your personal info subtracted, other than first na

Take care and I'll quite likely see you soon, maybe even today if I can get hold of Evan.

Sorry about the crazy font and background color mish-mosh. Cutting and pasting, then going back to make corrections and trying to get the 3 shades of green to show the divide in the sections of the text,(you can see I just said 'screw it' here and used the maroon...lol), left me with the above, or should I say, "left you" with it......I quit!...........lol!


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