On this last Thursday of Black History Month, we’re throwing it back, rewind, to last July. T’was a warm summer night and Times Square was Disneyland as usual. I was walking down Broadway towards Herald Square around midnight when I saw a homeless man sitting on his chair next to the N, R, W entrance/exit. His sign wasn’t the only thing that caught my attention. After some small talk, we decided to move over to the outdoor metal tables so we could converse more deeply about life on the streets, which for him was a new proposition. He had only been out there for 4 weeks and had, incidentally, just recently celebrated his 50th birthday.
Being on the streets, for Evan, was comical. He talked about Times Square and the crazy, asshole NYers he met or whom he was ignored by, as well as all the the generous tourists, namely the drunk Florida couple, the Australian who took him on a shopping spree in Duane Reade, and that crying lady who took him up to her hotel room, where they fucked their brains out all night.
Evan reminisced about living his early years, since birth, up in Harlem, moving out to and growing up in New Jersey, being a DJ, heading up to the University of Maine to play football, joining the military and serving his marine tour abroad in Okinawa, Japan and Madrid, Spain. He talked about settling back into civilian life, making mistakes, getting pussy whipped and marrying young, getting cheated on, and the butcher knife and Glock 21 that led not only to divorce but also bankruptcy and hard times.
He talks about the VA and sometimes regretting ever having joined the military. He tells the story of staying at the homeless shelter at Bedford and Atlantic in Brooklyn and all the crazy things he saw in his short time there: the crackheads, the K2/Spice junkies, the Bloods, the recently released prisoners, the homosexuality, the corrupt or simply apathetic police, the crowded floors and violence, and the constant fear and paranoia. After an incident, he decided to leave the shelter and vowed never to return. Living on the streets was an infinitely better option.
Some volunteers from an organization called Breaking Ground approached him on the streets one day and offered to help get him into some housing. At the time of our conversation, the application was being processed and he seemed hopeful. He knew that once he had housing, finding a job would be easy, since he was willing to do anything. And from there, anything was possible.
As the mass shooting in Dallas had just recently occurred, I asked him towards the end of our conversation what he thought about Black Lives Matter, police violence, race relations, and his general thoughts about the direction of the world.
Evan waxes philosophical and ends the episode on a cautiously optimistic note.
P.S. – After stopping the recording, we naturally continued our conversation, delving into his experiences as a DJ in the golden years of hip-hop in NYC. It was too interesting, so I started a second recording for the vaults and by the time we wrapped it all up, it was past 4am. I was pretty exhausted and had a long train ride ahead of me, but at least I had a shower, bed, and someone to go home to for the rest of the night.
Host: Sh∞tspitter Kane
Location: Times Square, Broadway & 40th Street