Monday, May 3, 2010

Talk Hard

I should have taken acting classes.

After accepting the job at SM, I did five things to prepare:
1. Listen to Michael Franti's All Rebel Rockers in its entirety. Repeatedly. Mostly screaming out the lyrics to "Hey World" at the top of my lungs every time it came on.
2. Checked out Never Tire of Protesting, by George Seldes from the library. Seldes is widely held as the grandfather of alternative media.
3. Reread the entire run of Transmetropolitan.
4. Rewatch Pump Up The Volume.
5. Reread every issue of Doktor Sleepless that had been published to that point.

Think of it as getting into character.


This one was created with the amazing help of Michelle Andujar whose exhaustive interviews helped us get a real bird's eye view of the issue in Salem.

When the temperature hits 40 degrees at night, Katherine Jhllenkenes starts shaking.

"You have to drink sugar and water or wine," said Jhellenkenes, 48.

She typically gets about an hour of sleep. On a good night, she might get two. She rests a lot during the day to make up for the lack of sleep. The evening before she was interviewed, Jhllenkenes was awoken by a police officer in the park where she'd bedded down for the night.

"The officer got really rude. It was very important to him that I wasn't sitting there," she said.

Last month, NASA shot a rocket at the moon to determine if there was any water present. The cost: $79 million. By some estimates, a quarter of that amount could have housed every homeless person in the state and wrapped them in assistance services paving the way to re-entering a stable life.

Meanwhile, Mattel, the maker of the American Girl line of dolls, released their first "homeless doll," Gwen Thompson. She retails for $95, none of which is donated to homeless charities. After members of the public raised a furor, the corporate parent issued statements from HomeAid America, Inc., a non-profit housing provider, thanking Mattel for their assistance in Project Playhouse. Project Playhouse builds extravagant miniature homes that are auctioned off to the affluent for their kids, the proceeds funding HomeAid.

Back in Salem, Jhellenkenes' most pressing concern is finding a sizable bush, or better yet, a bathroom.

"If you're watered down and you can't walk 5 blocks looking for [a bathroom], you have to think quick," she said.

Another day in the life of Salem homelessness.