Left: 'Glass harp' virtuoso Jamey Turner
(Washington, DC) I tend to quickly become bored with tourist-related matters when I visit a new city, and instead find everyday life on the streets to be more interesting.
One of the most intriguing people I have met so far in and around DC is a musician named Jamey Turner, who plays a concoction called the "glass harp." Using glassware, common tools, and his own hands, Jamey creates evocative music; the evening I passed him on Alexandria's wharf he was playing calliope music.
Left: Street percussion
Another street musician, whose name I did not catch, is pictured at your left. He uses pots, pans, and 5-gallon plastic drums to create an incredible polyrhythmic percussion symphony. I would have much rather linked an mp3 sample than to merely photograph him as he played outside the Chinatown Metro station.
Left: "Ed," a paralyzed veteran
Those who have been to DC in the last 20-30 years know the city's propensity to attract the homeless, the insane, and those who fall somewhere in between the aforementioned categories. To your left is Ed, who is a paralyzed Vietnam veteran; he seemed almost reluctant to panhandle, but in reality, what other options does he have?
Ed offered me blessings for the buck I gave him, but he is the one who needs the blessings. Hell, I have all of my faculties and many things going in my favor, and this man wants ME to be favored in GFod's eyes?
Left: Unnamed man in wheelchair
Competition for spare change was heavy today, as Ed was joined a block further up H street by a man who did not want to give his name. This was a proud man who seemed ashamed at being reduced to looking for handouts, and our conversation was limited; his eyes, though, spoke of a life that once did things.
Left: Hand-painted sign in DC's Chinatown
For every "virtuous" panhandler, though, there are many more street people for whom it is harder to feel sympathy. The owner of a carryout painted this sign on the side of his building, ostensibly to remind passersby that his business is not a latrine.
Left: Incoherent drunk on 8th and H Streets
There are plenty of delusional and inebriated types wandering DC and surrounding environs at all hours. This particular individual was drunk beyond sensibility at 2:00 pm, and I suspect he maintains a rather deep level of intoxication most of the day.
This, then, is how I spent an afternoon in the District of Columbia. As the serious DC workers and the happy-go-lucky tourists elbowed for space on the Metro, I putzed around with a camera and talked to eclectic people.