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Author Topic: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.  (Read 11656 times)

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #45 on: July 21, 2014, 04:24:59 PM »
Just saw Louis, the charismatic young leader of the Alpha family holding court with two girls over in the Conference Room section of the park.

The Sorting Hat is particularly busy today, crowded out with people reconvening after the soggy weekend.

Big John, of the D&D family is alone in the park, no sign of his friend pink beard.

And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #46 on: July 21, 2014, 04:30:50 PM »
I went this weekend to a food bank giveaway with a couple of the Hemming Parkers over on Southside Boulevard.  It was a church sponsored type of a thing (there is also a clothing room available to the needy) which means there was a little bit of bureaucracy and doughnuts during the sign in and line up process.

I found it amazing how many older vietnam vets and pensioners were there.  Not homeless, but not making enough from pension or social security to be able to pay bills and buy food.

Most of these people (the elderly) were having to spend hundreds every month on meds in order to stay alive.  They live modestly in little homes over around Atlantic Boulevard, but they just don't have enough to also afford food.
And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #47 on: July 22, 2014, 06:13:00 PM »
So today is a lot more chummy and comfortable in the park.

The Alpha family seems to have largely taken the day off and the beta families have filled in the Conference Room.

TOday, there was a man going into seizures as a result of heat stroke, but it was a slow build up.  What I found interesting was the amount of collective concern for this guy, who I haven't met or seen before.

Beth, one of the beta girls called over to Mikey (an old employee and performer from Boomtown in Springfield) that he seemed to be having problems.

Mikey and I were in deep conversation about an upcoming D&D campaign  (Dungeons and Dragons)  with Big John, the D&D Family leader. (a few days ago, Sabina Moreno and I spoke at length about joining the rumored campaign) when Beth and John Ray (her current boyfriend) signaled the problem.  Apparently in the absence of the Alpha  Family, Mikey is one of the de facto leaders in the park.

Mikey checked his pupils, and felt his forehead for a temperature.

It seemed like he needed water, someone brought over a bottle of it.

And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #48 on: July 22, 2014, 06:35:55 PM »
One of the things our city does well is provides for the basic physical needs of the needy.

I have been very impressed with the frugal, well coordinated and generally compassionate treatment of the poorest people in the city core---at least from our very savvy not for profits.

There are some things that need to be changed, but by and large, the not for profits are doing really fine, admirably constructed work.

One thing that is a little validating is to see that the services have implemented one of the suggestions from our committee work about ten years ago.  We suggested that there should be a database and a voluntary id card so that needs and services could be easily tracked.

There were a couple of reasons for this:  Primarily to make sure that people couldn't really abuse the services offered by the not for profits.  But also so that if a person has been serially abused or has preexisting mental illness needs, that they can be helped without conflicting therapy or counterproductive services.

Voila, it turns out that this has happened, and it expedites services for the people in the system.  Rather than having to wait for paperwork to be processed or all the tedious forms and incorrect information, if you have an id card, (which is strictly internal) then you can pass right through and receive services.

Its a good system, to be so underfunded.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2014, 11:35:21 PM by stephendare »
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stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #49 on: July 23, 2014, 03:26:16 PM »
Ok, so it is hot enough to melt your nipples off today.  The official temperature is 93 degrees, but I suspect that the radiant heat from the asphalt and brick in Hemming Park, combined with the still, windless air makes this little acre somewhat hotter.

its the kind of heat which would make homicide completely understandable, and there is a little drama afoot.

I am old friends with a couple of librarians, one of who was also involved in the Denise Lee/ Tillie Fowler tragedy so many years ago.-----and in such a direct and visceral way.

The librarians have a dim view of the poor and griftery individuals and a tendency to lump them all together.

Apparently the buzz around the library this morning is the rumor that one of the women left a phone with child porn on it.

According to the story, she left her phone charging over at the Main Street Pocket Park unattended.  It was stolen (phone with minutes left on them being a commodity)  and the thief looked through the photos only to find the woman engaging in sexual congress with a young child.

Then, we are told, the thief apparently went to one of the "Mama's" of the Park, who has apparently contacted the department of Children and Families to have the child taken from her.  No police were called however, according to the story.

Now whether or not this story is true, it is making the rounds at the Library.  The retelling of the story seems to be accompanied with the validation of an already entrenched general opinion of the Park People.
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stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #50 on: July 23, 2014, 03:57:12 PM »
Everyone who can (meaning allowed to) has fled into the library, with the exception of the entire group of old guys playing chess.  They are apparently fireproof, although they have moved slightly. 

From the regular play tables (which are now in the direct light of the blazing thermonuclear ball of hellfire that gives life to the Earth) they have moved over to the shaded area of the Sorting Hat.

The Sorting Hat is otherwise deserted, the heat providing extra encouragement to get sorted quickly.

Into the seating vacancies have moved the old guys playing chess.  And they are attending with the same concentration and enthusiasm as always.  Its like a mixture of Russian Chess Champions being cheered on by a crowd of Dog Fight aficionados.  Every pawn taken from the board is accompanied by war whoops and derisive chuckling.

I tried to attend, thinking surely this was a contest of champions, and it probably is, but the heat relieved me of any desire or interest in the outcome of the match.  I would feel similarly even if it was a celebrity death match between Barbara Bush and Beyonce.  Meh.

« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 04:07:49 PM by stephendare »
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stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #51 on: July 23, 2014, 04:03:22 PM »
Otherwise the various families are scantly represented in their various areas in the park, although I do notice that the Alpha Family seems to have been largely absent for the past couple of days.  Several of them are there, underneath the shade of the Skyway Station, but no one look particular enthusiastic about the joys of living in Florida today.

Elsewhere there is a definite droop to anyone caught outside.  Even the City Employees traversing the limited vision escape path are visibly running out of steam about two thirds through the park.

These are the people that I pity today.  Trapped in those suits, with layers and layers of clothing, and the uncomfortable shoes.  When its hot like this, I suspect the wardrobe becomes a form of cruel and unusual punishment, and should most likely be deemed unconstitutional.

Its funny about politics.  Every other business generally relaxes the rules to accommodate weather, but not government.  Here they still wear the ties and cuffs even though their skin is clearly boiling, and in general look like they don't have a damn lick of sense.  At least take off your jacket so that you don't look like you are about to collapse from a heat stroke before you can get to the burger placeā€¦.

The D&D family looks particularly miserable, I have to say, although Dave (pink beard) is as pleasantly amused looking as always.

It is almost time for the waves of daily migration into one of the three dinner places, and a few minutes ago, a couple of the older groups took up their knapsacks and headed over to the City Rescue Mission (across from FSCJ)

Today is coffee day for the Jacksonville homeless community, and while this is certainly not in evidence on the outside, it seems to have brightened and enlivened the people inside.

One thing about the older homeless people.  They are certainly well read and abreast of current political events.

I am told that there are a couple of guys at the Library who read a book a day.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 04:13:00 PM by stephendare »
And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #52 on: July 23, 2014, 04:06:58 PM »
Something fairly amusing:  There is a consensus on the giant floating goldfish left over from the One Spark Festival.

The vast majority of the park customers don't exactly dislike it, but most feel that it is time for the damn thing to move on.  Apparently last years duck was more popular.

Its the advertising angle that seems to be most annoying.  If it weren't for the goldfish motto that accompanies it, there would probably be more enthusiasm.

And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #53 on: July 23, 2014, 04:16:47 PM »
What are your opinions of 'public sex'----Meaning sex with people in hidden alcoves or semi private places outside?

Is it gross?

Is it regrettable but understandable?

Is it daring, maybe even a little exciting?

Is it final proof that you've lost your mind?

Are you scandalized by the very idea?

What do you think should happen when two people really want to have sex, but don't have a convenient place to have it?

Does it make a difference if its downtown or at the Beach late night?
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 04:18:49 PM by stephendare »
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stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #54 on: July 23, 2014, 04:49:36 PM »
Just a refresher of the social topography of the Park.



Ok, I spent most of yesterday at the park, and did a little provisional scouting of the lay of the land.

The park has a lot of activity, and each little area has its own flavor and function.

For reference Ive mapped them out and here is my map key, (along with a few observations)

Its important to know that homeless people, especially the younger ones, form Street Families.  So often when you meet people, they will introduce you to their brothers/ sisters, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces etc..  This does not in any way reflect a blood or marriage relationship (although sometimes it does)  The relationship is one of friendship and grouping, and in Hemming Park, you basically choose which family relationship best describes your friendship with the other person in your 'family'.  So older guys will call younger guys 'nephews', or in cases where they are longtime companions they might be called stepsons, or sons.

Its actually pretty handy as the relationship descriptions are kind of like a social shorthand of what to expect from the various pairs and trios.

A family is a group of people who share information, cigarettes and food, and more often than not sleeping quarters, whether or not they are sleeping outside, in an abandoned structure, or the infrequent hotel room.

The different families have an ever changing set of alliances and makeups.  people will leave one family and join another, and families come and go in the park. They tend to be transitory things.  Some of them however have been associated with the park for a decade or more.

There are a bunch of people who don't fit into a family.  Either they don't really want companionship or they are a little anti social (and sometimes crazy) or are just passing through.  The area of the park for the unattached but still social people is what I call the Sorting Hat.

1.  The Sorting Hat.  This is where all kinds of various newcomers, passers through and unattached people hang out.  The tend mostly not to know the lay of the land very well, or are taking smoking breaks from the Library.

2.  The Hot Dog Stand.  This is the crime quadrant.  Not the hotdog stand people, because their part of the park is pretty cut and dried.  But traditionally the drug deals and various simmering situations happen over in this area.

3.  The Game Deck.  This is where the people who aren't homeless play epic games of chess and checkers.  While the games are watched by the travelers and hemming park people, this is some of the best entertainment drama to be found downtown.  Seriously professional chess playing old guys kicking the asses of younger acolytes.

4. The Chairless City Employees.  Some thunderously stupid person cut all of the tables and chairs out of this area.  They used to be on the City Hall side of the retaining wall, and it was where most City employees took in a bit of fresh air, smoked cigarettes, or cooled down from all those drama queens back in their offices.  Now they have no where to sit, so they stand around underneath the Awning of City Hall like passengers waiting for a train that just isn't coming, or they hoof it across the street and shift from one heel to the next, standing uncomfortably where the chairs used to be.

5.  The Alpha Family Tree. This is the raised stage area of the park immediately next to the skyway station.  This is where the alpha families hang out.  This is where the surprisingly hot younger street people hang out, make plans, sit underneath the shade of the skyway station, (which also serves as the closest shelter from the rain in the park) and easily connect to the various places along the Daily Migration via the skyway.  There is an undercurrent of energy, community, frank sexuality and discussion here, and to my way of thinking the most fun area to hang out.

6.  The Beta Family Tree.  This is a family conference area that also doubles as overflow for the anti social and sometimes crazy.  The families are loosely hierarchal, and they will all be sitting in little groupings along the walls and seating areas.  When a person is sitting alone over here, there is generally a good reason.

7.  The Conference Room.  This is where the dungeons and dragons guys hang out when they aren't in the library.  It is also a place where people go to have private family conferences away from prying ears.


Also notice the Selective Vision City Exit.  This is the path that all employees of the city take in order to mix with the rest of the city.  Hogan Street is a covered walkway because of the Skyway track, and the street is shady, so when people leave City Hall for lunch or the Landing, they generally walk down Hogan.  In order to get from the front door of City Hall, this is the path that they take, and the scene of much selective eye contact.  Any City employee can recognize one of the political tribe from 500 feet away along the exit path.  But everyone else is literally invisible.  Serious lunch room at private school territory through here.
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stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #55 on: July 23, 2014, 05:26:58 PM »
And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love

stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #56 on: July 23, 2014, 05:48:07 PM »
Finally, the hateful ball of nuclear fire hanging in the sky has been obscured by a thick storm cloud cover, and its like someone turned the heat off in the lobster pot.  A breeze has swept through, restoring oxygen and the hope of survival to people caught all day outside.

The park is almost convivial again.  The chess playing oldsters have resumed their normal positions at the chess tables, and three lively games of Chess are now being played, although the crowd participation is somewhat more restrained. People are returning to the park before decided where to go for the final meal of the day, and the people who were just an hour ago drooping miserably over the tables and chairs have revived and are engaged in conversation.
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stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #57 on: July 23, 2014, 06:11:20 PM »
Amazing.  Its about 6:10 pm and the park had swelled to larger numbers about 45 minutes ago, but over the past 10 minutes more than 50% of the people have left the park.  10 minutes till dinner at the Salvation Army and 20 minutes until dinner at Sulzbacher.
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stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #58 on: July 23, 2014, 06:20:50 PM »
There are a group of guys who hang out in the park from Dunn Avenue, apparently they are collectively called the Dunn Avenue Boys, and its an interesting group of 20 to 30 something year olds.  They don't hang out with each other necessarily at the Park, they are in different groups, including one in the Alpha family, but they identify as such, presumably from old associations on Jacksonville's north side.

There has to be some other category than either 'homeless' or 'homeowner/leaseholder', as I have met a number of people who go back and forth.  They will have a lease or a rental situation for a while and then spend a month shifting around trying to get it back together and then find another place to stay.  But their social network is downtown, and they hang out whether or not they have a leased place somewhere near.

The Dunn Avenue Boys seem to largely fall into this category.

And it turns out that its freaking expensive to get a place when you are poor.  Two or three times more expensive than getting a lease for a studio apartment in Riverside or Murray Hill.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 06:42:52 PM by stephendare »
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stephendare

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Re: Stephen Dare's Hemming Park Liveblog: Bigger, Longer and Unredacted.
« Reply #59 on: July 23, 2014, 06:29:45 PM »
Also Ive discovered a real culture of outsider queer to go along with the pansexualism thats pretty standard in the downtown.

I always wondered what happened to the really countrified redneck kids who were gay and poor and Out.

I suppose I always assumed that they ended up dancing on poles at the Metro or something, or simply got a dose of gay culturation and transformed into a riverside resident, but I have learned this is no longer the case.  There is a real confederate style, low brow, redneck gay presence on the streets, and I find it simply fascinating.

These are guys and girls who simply do not go out to the nightclubs (as it is too expensive to pay cover and then also pay for drinks, and everyone is snarky anyways) and so they have formed their own support communities on the streets, and I suppose that is part of the equation down here---the search for community for placeless cultures.  I mean where do you go if you have an iron cross tattoo, speak backwoods, have hunted your own food, have pork chop side burns, are 23 years old and like to drink budweiser with your boyfriend?
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 06:31:41 PM by stephendare »
And now abide faith, hope and love; these three, but the greatest of these is love