A Journal of Life Pursued

Posts Tagged ‘The Gentlemen of Baltimore’

Gentlemen of Baltimore, Warren

In Life, Photography on July 11, 2012 at 6:00 am

Warren, Age: 45

Warren was the first man I interviewed when I began the project. I remember being apprehensive and cautious. Warren addressed me as Sir, was polite and considerate. His story was a hard one and I immediately knew that these stories had a human value I had not anticipated.

Warren could not remember how long he had been homeless. He thought it was twenty or maybe twenty-five years. “The druggies and drunks make it a problem for me, a clean straight guy.” He kept posing for my camera, stepping back and smiling. He apologized if I took a picture and he had not smiled. “I’m lucky if I make five dollars a day in winter.” He was panhandling on Conway Street. He told me that his mother was ill and that she lived with his adult son. “My ma got cancer real bad, real bad. My dad passed away years ago.” He said it was hard to talk about and stopped talking for some time, looking away. That is when I took this portrait.

The Gentlemen of Baltimore, Kevin

In Life, Photography, The Examined Life, Writing on July 5, 2012 at 6:00 am

Kevin

Another profile from The Gentlemen of Baltmore.

Kevin had a nice smile. He was a handsome man. He had been in prison for ten years and has been homeless since getting out, three years ago. He sometimes gets a bit of work in a restaurant and sleeps outside, alone. “Basically, I keep to myself. I just try to fit in amongst society.” We talked while standing in line to the free city Thanksgiving Day meal. He was anxious to get his dinner and wished me a happy holiday as he went inside.

What the Hell?

In Books, Reading, Travel on June 22, 2012 at 6:00 am

Another repost, as I’m traveling. This one from summer, 2006. (My god, I’ve been doing this a long time…)

Paris, Under the Tower, D. Bruns

When I die does this blog die with me? Or, rather, does a bit of it, like a clipped toe nail forgotten on the tile floor, remain indefinitely until someone comes along and cleans it up? “Yep, he’s good and gone. Better clean this mess.” I was in Paris only five days and am wading into such depths. Philosophy is in the water there–that is, at least, what they might have you think, as they might think stupid is in American water.
        By “What the hell?” I mean: what the hell have I been doing since February when I last posted to this sorry excuse for a blog. As I said, I’ve been to Paris, also Maine, where I fulfilled a life-long dream to get a little place on the coast, at least until the ice cap melts it gone under, which might be any damn hour. It was E.B. White that set me on this path years ago, writing: “Once in everyone’s life there is apt to be a period when he is fully awake, instead of half asleep. I think of those five years in Maine as the time when this happened to me.”
        Reading too, since I last posted–figuring first I am a reader, then everything else–and getting hooked on a Penguin Editor’s list of Modern Classics, being a big fan of lists and an advocate of self-improvement. [In 2006 I was naive enough to believe that literature could accomplish such a thing--ed.] Twenty books total, only four of which I’d read previously: Heart of Darkness (Conrad), Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez), A Portrait of…Young Man (Joyce), Women in Love (Lawrence)

        I’ve also knocked off Dellio’s White Noise, which though wonderful and brilliant, seems debatably great, but time will tell. And current?– to the west coast and back again: On the Road, with Jack Kerouac. Also filling the hours at Allie’s graduation with Roth’s new novel, Everyman. Thank god for college book stores open on graduation day.

Also, since February, grinding through 100 Gentlemen of Baltimore, the book project I have set upon, a collection of 100 portraits and interviews with men living on the streets of Baltimore–where it is estimated the homeless population is between 3000 and 5000–a project which keeps a camera at my side and sharpens the tools of this Bodhisattva wanna-be.

And next? Next is this afternoon, sitting quietly with books at my elbow and faithful Maggie snoring as her sun-ray shifts, and working hard to remember that next is now.

Gentlemen of Baltimore, Wayne

In Life, Photography on June 21, 2012 at 6:00 am

Wayne, Age: 45

From the Gentlemen of Baltimore project, Wayne, age: 45

Wayne noticed my camera, a Leica. “Good camera,” he said. “Expensive. German made. I used to have a Yashika.” He told me he had taken a photography course, had take some shots at the Inner Harbor and hoped to sell them to a magazine. “But I’ve got no mailing address.” He told me he had mild mental illness. “I’m trying to get on my feet.” He had been on the street eight years, since losing his job. “Some people had something against me and got me fired.” He continued, “When I was a teenager I did stuff to take care of myself. You get tired of going to jail. When you get old enough to do right you’ve already got a record.” He had not had a shower in two weeks. “I don’t feel good about myself. I’m dirty.”

Michael

In Life on June 6, 2012 at 6:00 am

Michael, age: 43

Another profile in my project, The Gentlemen of Baltmore. (The backstory can be found here.)

Michael sat on a bench, alone, in a park. It was the day before Thanksgiving. He has been homeless for two years, since he got divorced and “took up drinking and drugging.” He had been locked up and when he got out he discovered that his wife had thrown out everything of his and filed for divorce. His goal now is to get identification. “She threw out my social security card, my birth certificate, everything. I can’t get a job without identification.” He took responsibility, however, for the mess he was in. He confessed that he got into stuff he should not have, drugs specifically. “It is hard. Sometimes you just need something to take your mind away from all this. Trouble is, it’s still here when you wake up.”

Gentlemen of Baltimore: Ben

In Life, Photography, Writing on April 27, 2012 at 6:00 am

Ben, age: 27

“I am vietnamese.” To compound the challenge of homelessness, Ben hardly spoke English. He came to America to be with his aunt three years ago, to pursue a life in America. He worked in a restaurant until it closed nine months ago. His aunt left him. “She go with somebody. I don’t know where she went.”

It was his hope to get to Washington, to the Vietnamese Embassy. He hoped they might be able to help him. He kept wiping his tears. He was a picture of despair. “I want to go back to Vietnam. My mom and dad are still there.” When I left him he grabbed his bags and walked to the corner. I watched him. He stood there, staring into the street. I walked a block away and when I looked back he was sill there, motionless.