How long have you been panhandling around here?
Did you grow up here?
In Brooklyn, I was raised by my mother. We were influenced by Shirley Chisholm, Carl Butler, Calvin Williams, Muhammad Ali. Those were the main people. People wanted to look out for the major interest of children in those days. They owned the community, Bed Stuy. After they were gone the whole place went down to the dumps and everything became gangsta. You think Denzel Washington just came up with that? American Gangster? Brooklyn, you can't even live there anymore.
Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx... they're very violent like in the days of Al Capone. There's no way the homeless could survive out there.
What was your childhood like?
I had a nice childhood. In those days everyone was interested in children going to school. My mom wanted us to go to Catholic School, but none of those accepted us so we had to go to public school. ... Get the rest of the interview after the jump.
How old are you?
Do you have any brothers and sisters?
Two brothers and 2 sisters. I see them sometimes. You know how they are. They want to know who does better.
How are you surviving?
It's a miracle. There's no way the homeless can survive out here. Doctors specifically look for homeless people and tell them secrets about how to survive. They're saying they know the plight of the homeless people and want to help them during the day. There's plenty plans out here to help people but they can't get to them because of the gangsters who run ahead of the homeless.
Out here, say, for example, the trees, bushes, grass, survive at certain times of year, at a certain time of year they go away. Same thing with homeless people. You know, the entourage, they look out for homeless people. They're the haves and we're the have nots and it's a game we play with each other.
It's as if they designed New York to care for people--what they used to call bread-line people. These places still exist and you go in these places and they're so holy and you come out and you're blessed. You have bread, soup, coffee and tea, water, plus you can change your clothes, all at the same time. Plus you can change your coat.
That is a nice coat.
Oh, yeah, when they come down with the clothes from upstate and Canada, oh yeah, that's nice. They always take care of people.
The basis of homeless being helped is the responsibility of the priests and ministers and people like this make a lot of money so they begin their crime spree of black male extortion. They've been carrying on for 30 years with these thugs.
Since the war in Iraq they can't carry on with the thugs because the thugs got weapons from the war. So what was hard before to take over the church now is a breeze. The poor don't mean nothin' to the thugs. They only use their system to get into the larger systems. The priests are always different from the thugs. Like James Cagney used to say, âHe's still a Yankee Doodle dandy'.
I didn't finish school and that's the problem I've had in life. We came up in the era of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. None of them was credited with finishing school. I'm glad I didn't finish school and the violence that they had didn't affect me cause I was able to finish school even though I don't have a diploma to prove it. It's not what you know; it's who you know.
What type of work have you had?
I've had lots of work. I used to work in a cleaners, bakery, new and used furniture store, IBM security. I had a job in a paper mill on North 10th Street in Brooklyn. The last job I had was Wards Island in the shelter- the Church of the Later Day Saints. I was in charge of linens. That was exactly 1985â¦ Now is it's 2005? No, 2007. That was a good job. I could have advanced. I took a risk and left all that to go on to better things. I finished my education really, because I'm a metallurgist. I want to get my own shop.
What is metallurgy?
Knowing the difference between metals in the periodic table of elements and knowing how to make a livelihood out of that.
What would you do?
It's so many things. You'd have to be called to different locations to look at what someone else has done and they want that all removed, like the scrap, and the valuable materials you sell.
Where do you sleep?
There's so many places to sleep. Drop-in shelters, trains, connections like that. I never know where I am the next day, being poor and homeless. It used to be right down the block on 3rd street at the shelter. They would not allow anyone who was homeless to not have a bed. Anyone who was homeless had to have a bed and a meal.
You don't mind the shelters?
Old people can't stay in the shelters them kids will tear you up. There's this shelter in the mountains called Camp LaGuardia and that's where old homeless go. It's still there. It's owned by New York State.
Why don't you go there?
I'm gonna go there later. But I have to finish collecting things. It took me 10 years to collect these things. Here in this system, they take your bed and you have to stay up all night. The city that never sleeps. In the city, they have places with no place to sleep. You wanna go to your bed and there's a thug in your bed. Like they used to say in Bugs Bunny, âI may be crazy but I ain't stupid'.
This took me 10 years. I have the books that I need in my research and I have the certain measurements to measure the metals.
What's this? (there are plants hanging off the carriage)
Oh, that's nothing. It's part of a camouflage technique. You have a lot of veterans out here and they know immediately that's camouflage.
There's no need to be a failure out here. It's getting to know the veterans. You gotta know the veterans or you won't know anything. How to get ahead, they tell you everything. I'm so advanced; I can say I don't like the veterans, because I can move right along.
You know there are more homeless women now than men.
Why is that?
That's what I'm wondering. What can we do? All we can do is keep moving. I think it's because of the war. We used to use the armory for shelters. All that system was designed for women, WIC, WEPâ¦.
Actually, about 74% of homeless are black males. Why do you think that is?
Because of criminal activity in the black communities. Most blacks are criminals in the shelter system.
What created this?
There's no change in their mentality. They're all thugs. Now they got that money and they're all American gangsters. Homeless are affected too. I live a homeless life. I don't live a gangster life so it's easy for me to get to places so I can really see what's going on. Everyplace else in New York with all those skyscrapers coming up has changed and they got these new people who think everyone is stupid and you can't do anything about it. I'm sure that's what all these homeless girls are talking about. You know what they do? They come and tell me about it. No one can beat those Carpet Baggers. It's the thugs and the inner Al Capone. The inner Bonnie and Clyde.
It ain't gonna be "The Color Purple" no more, it's going to be "Gone With the Wind" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."