So much of a photo is in the captions. Chris Arnade has done this amazing series called Faces Of Addiction. I think he’s a Forex trader by day, but he’s gone around and photographed and talked to people in tough neighborhoods, fallen on hard times. Hookers, alcoholics, people struggling. He’s taken some great, human portraits, and transmitted some great human stories. I’ve featured a few here. The whole gallery is worth a look.
This is the caption for the photo above:
Mr Bishop: Hunts Point, Bronx
Chris Bishop was drinking in front of a liquor store when we met. A resident in the local homeless shelter he told me the following.
At the age of thirteen, Chris killed his father, stabbing him with a knife after a childhood of abuse. He spent the next eighteen years in correctional facilities. ‘When he was drunk and mad he would hold me out the apartment window and threaten to drop me to the street, eight floors below. He beat me and my mother all the time. I have been drinking ever since. To forget.’
When I asked how he wanted to be described, his eyes teared up and he said “I am human, like everyone else.”
Michael “Shelley”: Hunts Point, Bronx
Michael, who also goes by Shelley, was disowned by his parents at 15 because he was gay. He turned to prostitution: “I was out on the streets, and that was the easy way to survive.” He has been working in Hunts Point or Newburg since then, needing the money to live, and for crack and heroine. He dresses as a woman when he walks the streets, with almost all of his clients not knowing he is male. He also has a steady client of gay married men, who are deep in the closet.
His father, a trucker in the Bronx, was “strung out on drugs, and abusive.” Michael was molested when young. When he told his parents “they blamed me. ‘If you weren’t gay it wouldn’t have happened.’”
When I asked him if I could post his story, he said yes, and his friend said: “This is nothing. This is everywhere. There is a lot more shit out here.”
Vanessa: Hunts Point, Bronx
Vanessa, thirty-five, had three children with an abusive husband. She “lost her mind, started doing heroin,” after losing the children, who were taken away and given to her mother. The drugs led to homelessness and prostitution. She grew up on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, but now spends her time in Hunts Point, “trying to survive everyday. Just doing whatever it takes.”
She was standing on the cold street corner looking for business, wearing only flip flops and smoking with her two friends. When I asked her how she wanted to be described, Mary Alice jumped in and said “She’s the sweetest woman I know. She will give you the shirt off her back, if she has one on.”
Really amazing storytelling. I read/viewed the the whole thing.