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White Living

By       Message Linh Dinh     Permalink
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Outside the Gallery, Philadelphia's low-class shopping mall, Jimbo sits in a wheelchair and begs behind a large sign, "I AM A CANCER VICTIM. I CANNOT WORK. CAN YOU HELP ME." Under a leather cowboy hat, his eyes are still alert, though a pinch of his lower lip has turned purple. A reader and thinker, Jimbo will talk your ears off about FDR's foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor, the FBI's infiltration of all protest movements and, especially, how the IMF has enslaved the world,

Seventy-seven-years-old, Jimbo had a vending business selling pretzels, among other stuff, and worked at a factory making vent windows for Ford trucks. Like me, he has also washed windows, making a few bucks per job. In winter, water would sometimes freeze nearly as soon as it's splashed on the pane, but thanks to global warming, this is becoming less of a problem.

A Chicago bus stop billboard: "I'm all for global warming if it will keep the city from being so damn cold." Across the street is the Greenway Self Park garage, with a green VW bug emitting green leaves instead of ozone-killing exhaust on its very cool, I guess, sign.

Born and raised in Kensington, Jimbo still lives there. He gets $780 a month in Social Security, but his rent eats up $760. So much for piece-of-sh*t Kensington?! What in the f*ckin' UN is this world coming to? If I want to be chased around by goons toting submachine guns, then body slammed onto the ground, I'll go to Chicago during the NATO summit.

With only 20 bucks a month to diddle with, Jimbo must beg, though he can also move to a cheaper neighborhood, such as the exburbs of Kabul or Baghdad, for example, but since he's already well into his post-Cialis years, I don't think Blackwater would hire him.

"Jimbo," I said, "I keep hearing that black women are the most generous at giving money on the streets. Is that true?"

"Absolutely!"

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"Why do you think that is?"

"I don't know, but I think it's because they're more used to taking care of people."

"Hummm. What about guys in suits? Do they give you money?"

"Those guys are the worst! Most of them won't come near me, because they think I might give them a disease or something."

"That's interesting."

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"The regular people, the working class people, are the ones who give me money. Black people give me money."

"All black people, or just black women?"

"All black people, but, like you said, black women are the best. When I grew up in Kensington, I was told that blacks are this and that, that they're no good, but now that I have to beg, I can tell you that black people treat me very nice."

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Linh Dinh is tracking our deteriorating social scape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America . He is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a just released novel, (more...)
 

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