simple is beautiful
New York Daily Photo: Property Owner
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Friday, 5 September 2008

Property Owner

On April 5th, 2007, I posted Caravan of Dreams, showing a man wheeling a mattress and couch down a busy Village street. But I should have saved that title for today's posting, because this is what I was really searching for when I used the word caravan. I have seen these processions of trash before, but they are not an everyday occurrence and my last attempt to photograph one with a small point and shoot camera was met with an angry, hostile outburst by the homeless owner - essentially accusing me of exploitation. So I refrained at that time. The indignant attitude of those on the fringes of NYC may come as a surprise to some, but this is typical New York Style - pride can been seen at every strata of local society. Although homelessness is not a crime per se, many of the activities of the homeless are, frequently necessitated by the lifestyle. The rights of the homeless and the legality of their activities is the subject of endless debate.
Last night I witnessed the caravan in the photo on Washington Square North (the owner can be seen sleeping on the left near the milk crate). See closeup photo here. Early this morning he was on the move again.
There is an apparent element of lunacy here - acquiring and moving mountains of what appears to be trash. Plus, tending to this cache is a full time job. Belongings are affixed typically to shopping or hamper carts. These wagon trains of carts ala trash are then moved incrementally and sequentially - a tedious job. But then, work can be therapeutic. And much of the booty are bottles to be recycled for cash. Perhaps this monumental nomadic enterprise is exactly what keeps their owners sane - giving their life meaning and making them feel like members of New York society with real property ownership (frequently overnighting in the best of neighborhoods). On the other hand, I'm still just a renter ...


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