Blue was a gaunt, emaciated, crazed-looking, street person dressed in torn rags. Blue’s sense of humor was the tiny life-raft that he clung to all his life, amidst the raging seas of his stormy soul. Perhaps that’s why his sense of humor was so brilliantly honed: He needed it so badly.
This article first appeared in the October 1999 issue of Street Spirit.
People with low incomes are fairly likely to overdraw their bank account. The banks have learned to ruthlessly make a massive profit off this fact, and in the process, have ruined the lives of poor and disabled people. This cycle of economic need and mounting debt has jeopardized many people.
There is a serious lack of housing in Santa Cruz and a pressing need for shelter to provide safe, restful, overnight spaces for our 3,500 people experiencing homelessness. While the civic, business and governmental response has been virtually nonexistent, local faith communities are stepping up to meet the challenge.
Speakers at the forum held in Berkeley on police use of tasers expressed concern about the terms “excited delirium” and “sudden in-custody death syndrome,” which Jeremy Miller described as “invented medical conditions” still used to describe deaths of people in police custody which Miller estimated at approximately 1,000.
Today, homeless people are being targeted by attempts to literally banish their presence. But they weren’t the first targets of intolerance, and they won’t be the last. That realization makes it all the more crucial that we prevent political officials from ever again banishing or criminalizing any other unprotected minority, anywhere.
“Civilizations have exposited themselves in terms of power,” wrote Jack London. “No civilization has yet exposited itself in terms of love-of-man.” He called for a world built on “love and service and brotherhood,” all of which inspired his great-granddaughter and her friends and comrades in the Iron Heel Theater Collective.
The “Citizen’s United” case signaled the collusion of government and business. The dominance of large corporations, the militarization of the police, and governmental surveillance of ordinary people are chilling harbingers of fascism. This is why The Iron Heel remains relevant today and resonates with people around the world.
A powerful torrent of “justice blues,” as deep and wide as the Mississippi itself, flows in an unbroken stream from the Depression-era blues of Bessie Smith and Skip James all the way to the 21st century blues of Otis Taylor and Robert Cray.