This is a photography in my series of homeless people photographed in Los Angeles where many of the most affluent people live in the world “pretending not to see.” I don’t look away and see a stark contrast of homeless people on the streets, some starving, struggling to deal with the intermittent cold and rainy climate, especially in the winter in New York. Most importantly I see people in failing health, both psychologically and physically. In Los Angeles and New York, the two most populated cities in the United States, people are dying on the streets living in cardboard structures and feeding themselves by begging and or scanning the city’s garbage. The counterpoint of the very rich and those that live on the streets struggling for their survival is alarming. I had a close up view of this tragic situation when I worked at the Veterans Administration during the Vietnam War treating war veterans who had been released from service to our country due to what we use to refer to as “shell shock” and now label post traumatic stress disorder. No matter what we label the phenomenon, the situation in our cities has grown out of control with many indifferent people who step over sleeping and very sick people. It is like these homeless and hopeless people are invisible and have become a part of the urban landscape. When Governor Reagan changed the law for mandatory care for veterans in the 70’s, he did not consider the tragic ramifications that these often abused people were not provided with housing and food and many could not care for themselves and rarely had family who cared to take an interest in their homeless parents. Ambulatory psychotics flooded the streets without the intellectual or mental resources to survive in a hostile and uncaring environment. Unless a hopeless person is obviously begging for money for drugs or alcohol, I don’t turn away and often contribute food or money to those who are seriously afflicted. They were safe with comfortable housing, food and medical treatment before Reagan passed a law in California to create a social and medical crisis in our city without any plan to help rehabilitate the very sick men and women who had served our country and others and not faced the travesty that they had noone to service or care about their basic needs or survival. I often engage the homeless population in conversation and observe the wide range of differing attitudes of these forgotten people. When I first heard, Michael Jackson’s song “Man in the Mirror”, I remember tears filled my eyes responding to the blatant truth of his lyrics. There is little I could do considering the massive problem that exists in every city in the world. This problem needs to be addressed on a global scale to protect these confused and mentally disturbed people. I replayed this song many times to reinforce my efforts to not look away in my self-absorbed world and try to do what I can to help many gracious and kind people who live by their wits on the streets of Los Angeles. The man in this photo is frequently in Beverly Hills and had 35 cents in his cup after a full day. When I express my concern and donate much more than they make in a day, they are very grateful and gracious in their response to my concern about their plight. Although we do have some shelters, there are not enough funds to help these people unless we “look in the mirror.”

“I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin’ My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer’s Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man’s Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya’ Know
‘Cause They Got Nowhere
To Go
That’s Why I Want You To
Know

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change)
(Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah)

I’ve Been A Victim Of A Selfish
Kind Of Love
It’s Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No
Home, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They’re Not
Alone?

A Willow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody’s Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
(Washed-Out Dream)
They Follow The Pattern Of
The Wind, Ya’ See
Cause They Got No Place
To Be
That’s Why I’m Starting With
Me
(Starting With Me!)

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
(Ooh!)
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Ooh!)
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change)

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
(Ooh!)
I’m Asking Him To Change His
Ways
(Change His Ways-Ooh!)
And No Message Could’ve
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make That . . .
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make That . . .)
Change!

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror,
(Man In The Mirror-Oh
Yeah!)
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Better Change!)
No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make The Change)
(You Gotta Get It Right, While
You Got The Time)
(‘Cause When You Close Your
Heart)
You Can’t Close Your . . .Your
Mind!
(Then You Close Your . . .
Mind!)
That Man, That Man, That
Man, That Man
With That Man In The Mirror
(Man In The Mirror, Oh Yeah!)
That Man, That Man, That Man
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
(Better Change!)
You Know . . .That Man
No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change)
Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah
(Oh Yeah!)
Gonna Feel Real Good Now!
Yeah Yeah! Yeah Yeah!
Yeah Yeah!
Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah
(Ooooh . . .)
Oh No, No No . . .
I’m Gonna Make A Change
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good!
Come On!
(Change . . .)
Just Lift Yourself
You Know
You’ve Got To Stop It.
Yourself!
(Yeah!-Make That Change!)
I’ve Got To Make That Change,
Today!
Hoo!
(Man In The Mirror)
You Got To
You Got To Not Let Yourself . . .
Brother . . .
Hoo!
(Yeah!-Make That Change!)
You Know-I’ve Got To Get
That Man, That Man . . .
(Man In The Mirror)
You’ve Got To
You’ve Got To Move! Come
On! Come On!
You Got To . . .
Stand Up! Stand Up!
Stand Up!
(Yeah-Make That Change)
Stand Up And Lift
Yourself, Now!
(Man In The Mirror)
Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
Aaow!
(Yeah-Make That Change)
Gonna Make That Change . . .
Come On!
(Man In The Mirror)
You Know It!
You Know It!
You Know It!
You Know . . .
(Change . . .)
Make That Change."

This photograph was taken with my
Nikon DSLR D80

Tags

beverly, crisis, global, hills, homeless, in, man, mirror, neglected, sick

Comments

  • Wendy  Slee
    Wendy Sleeover 6 years ago

    God! I can’t believe this can happen in a “civilized” country…..yet have seen it myself as well, both in LA and many years ago in SFO. I was shocked in the lead up to christmas, to be outside the big name city department stores, with their glittering facades and lights and their beautiful window displays….. and seeing the people with nowhere to go sitting on the sidewalk begging, often with children in cardboard boxes, their only defense against the bitter cold…. and what topped it off….a twisted irony that still can bring tears to my eyes, was seeing the window displays behind them, showing kittens and puppies that were up for adoption, sitting in the warm, well lit, clean windows, with food and beds…. “Give us a home”
    I think Australia is headed the same way as far as a homeless crisis is concerned….. the gap between those who “have” and those who will never have, gets wider each day……

  • Irene  Burdell
    Irene Burdellover 6 years ago

    This is very hard hitting and sadly happening every where . it is appalling that people who have fought for their countries can be treated this way . Like you said the governments aren’t interested . So long as it isn’t happening in their back yard.
    Sorry I couldn’t finish reading this as it has disappeared off the page .

  • Julie Marks
    Julie Marksover 6 years ago

    reply | report | delete
    Julie Marks, less than a minute ago
    Irene, I noticed that part of the narrative was cut off so I put the text in the writing section. Thanks Irene and Wendy for your sensitive and compassionate comments. In one day when people were shopping with bags of designer shoes, purses, clothing etc., I took several pictures of the homeless, a dramatic contrast that seems to be getting worse, not better. Ironically the sign on the street says “Ahead” when goverment agencies have not progressed forward. Instead of pouring our money into war and other futile government projects, we need to take care of the people suffering on Earth. Working on the locked ward of the VA hospital was a jolting experience during my pre-doctoral internship. I could not imagine how these people could survive on the streets when the law passed to allow them to choose their destiny. They were not capable of making a rational choice and tragically suffered the brutal consequences.

  • Sally Omar
    Sally Omarover 6 years ago

    Julie, Homelessness is pravelent throughout the world..I have written a few poems on the
    bubble and have used photos from the U.S.A. and France..I have written to Gov’t officials
    trying to get aid for these people..unanswered..it seems no one cares…many years ago
    I met a woman named Josette..she would walk around my neighborhood with a shopping
    cart (I wrote a poem on RB about Josette)..afraid to even look at people…afraid to go to
    a shelter..her husband died .. her children moved away .. she had no where to live..it can
    happen to anyone..she had a good life prior to her husband’s passing..Every time I saw
    her we would chat and I would always give her money so she could eat..it is something
    that really gets to me….there is help that can be afforded to these people no one wants
    to help..the cost of living is outrageous and the job market tight..how sad to see this..
    in a country like ours…Sally xxoo

  • Ken Boxsell
    Ken Boxsellover 6 years ago

    Very very sad situation

  • H Maria Perry
    H Maria Perryover 6 years ago

    In city after city, in these United States, ordinances and laws are being passed which criminalize homelessness and punish those who would help them. In many cities, you can be fined and/or jailed for feeding a homeless person. Our government and our municipalities wish they would just disappear. These ordinances are designed to drive the homeless, and those who care about them, away from public areas and into the shadows of civilization. Are we such a cold and callous society that we consider people so much refuse to be hidden away, disposed of, discarded?

    Excellent work Julie. Awareness is the first step toward a solution.

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