by Christopher Robin
Locally, someone helped an older, disabled person walk across a busy urban street. Someone else happened to film it anonymously, and posted it on YouTube. It got nine million hits. Ramona and I laughed at this.
“I do that kind of shit all the time. I hand out money. I help people. What’s the big deal? It’s normal. I assume everyone is doing this kind of shit all the time. What is the fascination with doing ‘good’ ?”
She responded, “Because it’s rare. It’s not actually true that people are always doing good shit.”
“Well, I’ve been doing good shit for most of my life. Fuck this fake social media world. I do it because it’s the right thing to do, not for praise or glory. I am interested in the power of words, and the power of daily kindness, not fifteen minutes of YouTube “fame.” I will stay ugly (I have no choice) and I’ll be bold and loud with my unpopular words. And I’ll walk old people across the street, as I always have, unnoticed.
After I went on and on to Ramona about doing good things without it having to be broadcast, I was loading steaming pots of spaghetti into the back of the hatchback, when a news crew that had been across the street came over, asking me, “What do you think of the police, and do
you think this neighborhood needs more cops?”
I said, “No way! I think the ATV’s up on the bike path are militaristic and disgusting. We definitely don’t need any more cops.”
“Well, what can be done about the homeless and all the crime in the neighborhood?”
“Well, we need social programs, and more rehab programs, and people should be
allowed to sleep in their cars, and maybe even given an RV space, like they have up in Seattle, where people can park without worrying about being towed. Why don’t they build more affordable housing instead of all these new high rises?”
They must have interviewed me for around ten minutes. It felt like a long time anyway. Ramona and I were just about to do a homeless feed up on the bike path. She’d cooked two giant pots of spaghetti with meat, onions, and tomato sauce, and I had organized the sandwiches, with extra treats inside each bag: chips, cookies, pretzels, candy. So after they were done, I told the news crew I was about to serve some illegal spaghetti and I didn’t care if the cops or neighbors didn’t like it. And they asked why, and I said, “I’m a human doing human things,” and turned to go back into the house, asking them not to film my address or my license plate—for fear of reprisal from the neighbors, as some other groups who have tried to feed (homeless people) nearby were harassed and filmed by angry, working class neighbors.
AN OPEN LETTER TO KOIN CHANNEL SIX NEWS AND THE PORTLAND TRIBUNE
4/10/2018 (NOT PUBLISHED!)
Dear Channel Six News, On Friday April 6th, I was approached by a camera
man and a news-woman from Channel Six in my Southeast neighborhood. They
asked me if I thought there should be more cops in the neighborhood. I
emphatically said, “No.” I also expressed the opinion that the ATVs
conducting homeless sweeps on the bike path along the I-205, were
militaristic and inhumane. I watched the evening news later, only to
find the opinions of the neighbors, in favor of more cops were aired,
but my dissenting opinion was not. The following day, the cops murdered
a homeless man, who was clearly in a state of crisis. And Ted Wheeler
says he wants to put 93 more untrained cops into our neighborhoods?!
This amounts to nothing short of a war on our neighbors. It is a recipe
for disaster and not all of us who live here want this. You chose not to
show a compassionate side of this issue. The prevailing sentiment of my
neighbors, the city, and the cops, led to the murder of John Elifritz.
In a compassionate society, we do not murder those who ask us for help.
— Christopher Robin/ Squeaky Nuisance zine