I just finished my run of performances of This Train. It was fun to be back on a stage again and also edifying to learn more about the hobo alphabet†and make more of these pieces. I learned that this alphabet also existed in Europe, especially Sweden and that the symbolism was not all that different from ours here in America.
It was interesting performing a show about this. A great percentage of the audience didn’t know much, or anything, about the hobo alphabet and the show wound up being about a lot more than just that. It, in the end, is about finding a home, or leaving one and trying to make another. The piece wound up being an emotional experience in that I used all that I’ve learned in the last two or three years about homelessness, poverty and hunger, and discovered none of us are as inoculated from this subject as we would like to think.
In my show I talked a lot about the homeless guys in my neighborhood here on Damen and what I’ve learned from and about them. These lessons have been in turn funny, heartbreaking, joyous and unfathomably sad. I’ve also learned that the common man is about as fragile as a nail. Some of these women and men have had to be tough sons-of-bitches to survive living on these streets. This city can be cruel beyond measure, and often is.
This last city election I couldn’t bring myself to vote for all of the Rotarian promises and catch phrases don’t mean a fucking thing to me anymore. We live in a city of dispossession and hunger. The Greater Chicago Food Depository feeds more and more people every day. I feel that food should be considered a human right.
The other day, the night before the election of the latest round of dipshits and moral cowards, nowhere was the issue of the hunger of our fellow citizens even discussed. Fuck. Are they blind? Do they not see the men and women panhandling at the bottom of the off-ramps? Walking the streets, hungry and filthy, and sleeping under the expressway? Why aren’t these citizens part of the conversation regarding what needs to change in our country?
I’m not voting for anyone who doesn’t include the poor in the bigger picture. I’ve got your vote, Fucko . . . swinging.
This piece is called The Red Rain. It means, “Food, but not money, can be found here.”