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Monday, 16 October 2006

Bloody Minded

Re: RDC @ Weekly Press

May 3, 2006

Mocking The Homeless In Print For Fun And Profit: A Guide

050306girardavetrolley.jpg The lead story in this week's edition of The Weekly Press, the Center City newsweekly, is about how SEPTA's service is poor, its stations aren't well-designed, it's messy and so forth. I know: Stop the presses and all that.

The author, Richard Carreño, has a Wikipedia entry about him -- "Holy shit!," I said, when I found it -- that notes he used to be from London. (Hence all the comparisons to the Tube.)

The article's a little weird, though, and not just for the mysterious "move over Inga Saffron?" line halfway through it. Let's take a look at some of the earlier paragraphs:
Everyone has a pet SEPTA horror story. How about the Hooverville-like encampments by bums in some Center City subway-surface (Green Line) stops? The malodorous wafting of urine stain that pervades the Broad Street (Orange Line) subway? The pimped-up, teenaged thugs who harass fellow passengers on the El (Blue Line) each school day? Police? Forgetaboutit.

A female Center City friend, who works at Penn, tells me that there isn’t a day that goes by that she doesn’t get the heebie jeebies when at Penn’s Green Line station. That’s the stop, as thousands of commuters know, inhabited by Penn’s version of Quasimodo, an unfortunate who has all the good looks of his doppelganger from Notre Dame, as well as being blessed with the laser-like visual acuity of Charlie Manson.

Ha ha! Isn't making fun of the homeless fun! I can't wait until his next article comparing wheelchair-bound people to characters from Beauty and the Beast.
SEPTA Fie! Semper infidelis [Weekly Press]
Richard Carreño [Wikipedia]
Photo by
Posted by D-Mac on May 3, 2006 02:06 PM
Posted to
Homeless , Knee-Slapping Jokes , Weekly Press


Dear God
Dear god, that was a lousy, lousy article.
Posted by: rjwhite at May 3, 2006 01:49 PM

Professional Writer?
It's hard to believe that this guy's a professional writer. I mean, he passed up the opportunity to point out that the service on SEPTA is actually poorer than the hunchback bum.
Posted by: Sub at May 3, 2006 02:59 PM

Home Sweet Homeless
But you must admit the author's words will conjure up the image of how the homeless look to the homed. Even the homeless don't like the homeless urinating where they sleep and eat. Cities really need to provide homes or a place they can pitch tents. The poor Quasimodo-looking guy, is probably so far gone, he'll never be able to return to normal society. Won't it be nice if he had a room with bath to sleep at night.
Posted by: mary at May 4, 2006 02:43 PM

Gets it
I read your comment, but I have to admit I don't agree with your criticism of the article.
Normal people will react to the homeless with a mixture of empathy, annoyance, displeasure or resignation. And, if you don't see them regularly, their appearance can also be shocking.

Perhaps most folks who live in the city simply ignore the homeless, as the panoply of emotions mentioned above is a bit more than the morning commute ought to bear, but it seems to me that noticing them, even in disgust, is probably more humane than becoming blind to them.

Regardless, if I understand the article's thesis correctly, he's pointing out that SEPTA, overseen by people who are wealthy enough to avoid public transportation, makes systematic errors in providing its services.

The article itself is premised on the notion that public transportation is important and worthy of doing well. Because it is an option for the better-off, and a necessity for the poor, SEPTA's public areas ought to be made more appealing in order to pull in money from people who can afford it
And finally, what he was getting at about about Inga Saffron is this: the subterranean complexes are as critical to the city as its soaring towers.
Posted by: Anonymous at May 6, 2006 11:49 AM

Author's Response
9 October 2006

Sorry for being a bit late to join this discussion -- just learned that there WAS, in fact, a discussion.

I'm afraid our editor friend has it a bit wrong. Like many many American journalists, he reads with a sense of a literalness devoid any irony or, worse, cheekiness. Bland and seriousness makes Jack a dull boy. Let's everyone take a deep breath. Now, we feel better, right?

I'm not annoyed by the homeless (in fact, John, has been my 'doorman' at the WaWa at 19th and Chestnut for years), nor do I mean to mock them. (OK, just a little). What DOES really annoy me is that this 'FUNNY' city -- your terminology -- has no progressive policy to correct the problem. Instead of venting at me, the editor should have been directing his ire at the clowns, including the dunces at SEPTA and in City Hall, who run this jovial city.

Hope to see you all at my blog: Junto.blogspot.com.