Downwardly Mobile

As someone who has trouble putting together an overnight bag, I am always amazed by the packing and transportation skills of the homeless in New York. The burden of dragging around your possessions on a daily basis is something I can only wonder at. Not just something for the next couple of days, but everything you own! It is hard to put yourself in that position, hard to imagine how the contents of a few grimy plastic bags tied to a trolly can become so important to an existence. How many of us just fling open the wardrobe and throw ‘something’ on without a thought? We ponder, agonize and concern ourselves with how the ‘look’ we have chosen for the day will be perceived by the world around us, by our families, workmates and friends. We twist and preen in front of mirrors to check ourselves out (not me, obviously) before we leave the house, because it is so important to project the right image, to complement our dynamic and generate an air of confidence.

Some of us would never admit to caring that much. Below, are some who just can’t.

Downwardly Mobile

‘The Trials of Hercules’ West Side.

Downwardly Mobile

‘Exhausted’ Upper East Side

Downwardly Mobile

‘Watching’ Broadway

Downwardly Mobile

‘Bottle Bank’ West Side

Downwardly Mobile

“Park Life” Central Park

Downwardly Mobile

‘Walking Wardrobe’ Upper East Side

23 thoughts on “Downwardly Mobile

      • Ah – I was thinking about that too, and thought that in black and white they’d become ‘classic’ and lose the immediacy of ‘reportage’. I’ve just finished ‘downsizing’ my possessions for a big move back to Australia and still they’re an encumbrance. Just imagine if I’d whittled them down to a portable few, and had to drag these around with me everywhere I went. My immediate thought was I’d just jettison everything, but if i were to do that it would be like giving up, having no options or future – I may as well fling myself under a train. It’s terrifying to think of living like this.

    • I am sitting in NYC watching the rain pour down in bucket loads and just can’t imagine what it must be like for these people right now, not only on the streets 24/7 but soaked to the skin as well. Thanks for the comment.

  1. What surprised me on my latest travels across the country is the new breed panhandling at the rest stops along the highways and interstates. How do they live, how do they get there…? seemed to be at least a pair at every one I stopped at. Seems to be a growing shame on us. Beyond understanding how this could happen with the top tier displaying obscene wealth….

    • Without a safety net it is always surprising how far we can fall. I guess if we knew the true statistics it would horrify us just how fragile a society we live in. The terrifying thing is that it could be any one of us who are the next human being to be stepped over by the blinkered on the way to the opera.

      • Having worked in the welfare dept when Saint Reagan was gov, I got to watch as he began the dismantling of the safety nets and the mental hospitals and treatment. I count that as the origins of the rise of our invisible street folk population. Seems the trend goes on. I think the true statistics would put us to shame.
        There but for the ‘grace’ of some fat-assed politician go I?

        • You know, the same thing happened in England when (lower case) thatcher (it is hard for me to even write her name) was running the cartel over there, so many were cast aside to make way for the thoughtless and the arrogant. Gunta, we need to speak. I will email you.

    • It is a situation that needs to be highlighted but I doubt that a ‘poster campaign’ would help that much. If people can’t see what despair is around them then I don’t hold out much hope for a billboard. Thanks for your support and a great comment.

  2. I know you’re not “proud” of these moments but in exposing these realities for the world to see, I am shaking my head about the latest uproar here in Manila over a book by Dan Brown that apparently labels Manila as the “gates of hell”. And what the author is referring to, I think, is pretty much a similar situation to the society as we see it through your lens there in New York – different city, warmer climate, same circumstances…. Go figure… Just venting… Keep shooting.

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