Thursday, September 04, 2008

Return of the homeless!

In an unedited guest commentary in the Rocky, professor and self-conscious writer-guy Stephane Dunn evokes Denver after the convention:
The city street lights, horse drawn carriages, bicyclers, and outside patio diners still looked pretty picturesque but among all that, a part of Denver's real life became more visible too.
Uh-oh: "real life." He's going to show off his caring.
Here and there, a guy curled up in a doorway asleep, a hippie generation looking girl hawked papers for dollars, a youngish, dread-locked guy politely asked for leftovers [sic] from passing people, and a homeless woman trotted along with her dog. The dog had been homeless too, she said, and they adopted each other.

Uck. Dunn's free to sentimentalize the homeless all he likes, of course, but then he lies, sort of:

That Friday night [after the convention], the homeless folk seemed to come into sharper focus though I knew they'd never been gone; it was reminiscent of LA back in 1996 when the downtown area had been expertly purged of major signs of its homeless folk.
A clunky paragraph that tries to have it both ways, but what Dunn seems to be saying at the end is that Denver did indeed "purge" its homeless. In fact, while there may have been an early plan to do a bum roundup, it never came off amid the free zoo passes and movie tickets, the flat-screen TVs and hair-stylings.

In any case, The D-blog, who was all over town before, during and after the convention, saw tons of bums. Signholders. Bedroll carriers. Scraggly beardites. Change-cadgers of all shapes and sizes. They lined up for noon meal at churches while protests shouted past, shuffled along the Sixteenth Street Mall as CodePinkers acted out, and cut bemusedly through the Rage March to find a place to pass out along the river.

Actually, the only place I didn't see bums was at the community "feeds" put on by Recreate-68. Just white kids. And lots and lots of wasted food. Dunn:
After all the pomp and skin tingling moments at the convention-Michelle Obama's speech, Hilary's and Bill Clinton's grand slams, and the historic Thursday night that gave us Stevie Wonder, fireworks, and of course Barack Obama, I will remember something just as powerful that came in the quiet of a Saturday morning.
What could possibly be as powerful (not to mention skin tingling) as Stevie Wonder and fireworks (and of course Barack Obama)? Why, it could only be a noble bum:
She sat on the bench outside the hotel munching on a bag of chips. It was five thirty in the morning and the woman was barring the cool morning air with a thin blue blanket.

I was struck by the lively eyes looking directly across towards the shuttle where I sat. I saw a security guy being beckoned by a hotel attendant then trek towards the woman on the bench.

She sat on munching and looked up pleasantly when the guy approached and spoke. I couldn't hear, but I knew what he was saying. She got up quietly, almost leisurely, gathering the thin blanket around her like a sarong and walked off.

The shuttle began to pull off and I kept looking back. Sure enough, she appeared once more heading for the same spot but the guard came back too.

She smiled, pulled the blanket closer to her skinny body, and regally sauntered away I knew for the last time that morning. I knew too she'd probably return to that bench another night.

Of all the magnificent scenes in the mile high city, that's one I won't forget. That woman lives in cities all across America, including my own.
Magnificent. The Colorado Voices piece immediately above Dunn's is equally magnificent: "In celebration of colonoscopies."

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