Wednesday, September 16, 2009

America's Got Talent. And Homeless.

The problem of Homelessness used to be generally associated
with Third-World nations in Africa, Latin America and Asia,
where poverty has been a way of life for centuries.
Born and living in India for close to 26 years I 'grew up' with
the problem and dreamed, like others still do, of a better place
where there was no such problem....a place with beautiful lawns
and white picket America, the Beautiful.

A comedian once said, "They call it 42nd Street because you're
not safe if you spend more than forty seconds on it."
As a naive and ignorant immigrant at the age of 26, I remember
the sense of shock that gripped me during my first week in
America as I walked on 7th Ave. at Times Sq. in NYC.

It was like a Sodom and Gomorrah version of the Big Top right
there in the Big Apple, even as the music of The Bee Gees vied
against Boston, Donna Summer and Parliament for one's
attention. Strolling along, taking in all the neon lights, sights and
sounds one evening, I was stopped by an Army Veteran in a
wheelchair with a battered tin cup and a cardboard sign around
his neck that simply said, '
Dazed and confused, I gave the man $5 and rushed away, because
it was not only a rude awakening but also part of the Culture
Shock that followed as I slowly learned about the real America,
the Beautiful. And what better place than
42nd St. in NYC to be
Culture-shocked and awed by my first sighting of a Homeless
person in America ?
The notion of 'begging' in America was a
totally new one for me.....

Today, that Homeless Veteran still haunts me as I am faced
with the daily news of the huge numbers of Americans who are
or in peril of falling under that category due to loss
of employment and the lack of a system to support them in
their darkest hours.

I don't read much about the Blogging community, and so I
would have missed this unusual tale of an unemployed
Blogger. Technically, she is not Homeless and living nowhere
near the conditions that 'Slumdogs' face in India, since she
does have a roof over her head. That roof being a Mobile camper
that she inherited from her Father, who committed suicide !
Loss of employment followed by loss of a parent is enough
to demoralize any single young woman, but not this trooper.
Since I had CNN turned on in the background, the words
'Homeless Blogger' immediately got my attention.
As they reported, Brianna Karp
was Homeless and living
in her trailer, parked in a Walmart parking lot. And from
within that trailer, picking up free Wi-Fi signals for her Laptop,
which she used for Job Searches and Blogging about her plight.
Eventually her persistent posting paid off somewhat when
she found herself Blogging for the August 2009 issue of ELLE
magazine. She is still seeking permanent employment.

Her story is related in the video below by Ted Rowlands
and also at CNN online

Former CNN Editor and Photographer among other things,
Linda Schaefer has witnessed first-hand the plight of
Homeless Orphans in Kolkata, where the world's worst
slum conditions are as stagnant as its filthy, water-logged
streets. Recently on Facebook she shared a link she received
from Photojournalist John Spink about an American lady
named Crystal Buchans
who survives as a Homeless person
in downtown Atlanta, walking along the CSX railroad
and under the CNN parking decks.
Gallery | Homeless in Atlanta: Crystal's life near
the tracks|
"Although she formerly worked as a waitress and a grocery
store cashier,
Buchans says she is now a drug addict and
homeless. ..."

Speaking of Talent, you don't have to be a Country OR
Western Music fan
to appreciate this Clay Walker video
so creatively juxtaposed with images from the web....

For a thorough look at America's Homeless, check out the
Complete L.A. Times coverage on the issue of homelessness,
the current reality and possible solutions.


  1. While I appreciate the sentiment here and understand the differential you are trying to establish, the use of 'technically' not homeless is inaccurate in reference to Brianna.

    Of course, her conditions are nothing like those portrayed in Slumdog, nor would she wish to claim so. However, I think it is important to note that she meets the conditions to define homelessness as set out in US federal legislation and as such 'technically' she IS homeless.

    While living in a Walmart parking lot she had not access to electricity, air conditioning, gas, running water meaning no cooking facilities, no washing, showering, toilet facilities.

    It is these lack of facilities which mean that she qualifies as living in something regarded as unsuitable for long-term human habitation and meets the criteria for the federal definition of homelessness.

    Sure, there are those that have it much tougher but when addressing homelessness, I agree with the state that the definition needs to be inclusive and not exclusive.

    Sorry to nitpick, I really do appreciate what you're saying with this article but just wanted to note those couple of points for clarification.

  2. I was uncomfortable with using the word that is 'technically' as incorrect as 'basically' in my vocabulary. I have decided to leave it there now that you have taken the time to read, comment and appreciate. I only hope 'they' take the time to read your comment, since the comments themselves are non-existent here.

    Thanks for the clarification and all the best, Matt!