One of the reasons I’ve always loved cities (my first love was New Orleans in the 1960’s and 1970’s) is because within a small space it is very possible to see the best and the worst of the human condition. It is as if a summary of the beauty and the harsh realities are juxtaposed for our contemplation – and growth if we can understand the connections.
As noted in my previoius post, the mayor and other dignataries assembled on Market Square. I thought the interesting counterpart to the story would be found around the block on Gay Street at Prestige Cleaners. The most interesting story was likely in between – geogrpahically in between. Daniel is a homeless artist and master to his dog Bo. He found himself a doorway studio in which to live, paint and, when I found him, read the Bible.
Daniel is covered with the paint he uses and seems to care very little about his his appearance, with the exception of the of the purple velvet vest. His red hair and beard nearly match the fur of the dog he always has with him. He tells me he uses dollar paints from a discount store, which work well, but don’t last. He was reading from Chronicles and admitted it was tough going, but that the person who had given it to him had added helpful notes. He was hoping to connect with a friend who he was supposed to meet in Nashville, but he couldn’t get Internet access via the public library because he has no ID or address to use to get a library card. He wasn’t perfectly clear on why he landed in Knoxville as opposed to Nashville.
Two nights later at Sundown in the City, Daniel was cited for having an open container according to WATE because he was several feet outside the barricade inside which about ten thousand people had open containers. He says it isn’t true. When I saw him and Bo again on Friday night (First Friday), he insisted they told him to put away the beer, move from the doorway and leave town. When I mentioned that he didn’t seem to have gotten around to number three, he allowed that that was true, but that maybe they did him a favor: They pushed him to expand his horizons and now instead of a doorway, he had a whole park.
The painting on cardboard was about 2 1/2 feet by four feet and he said it was called the “People Zapper,” though he added that he wasn’t sure why it was zapping them. An hour later later as I watched from across the street at the French Market, a man sat beside Daniel and talked to him and then, I assume after purchasing it, loaded the People Zapper in a car, and drove away. Daniel pulled out his guitar and played a song I couldn’t hear.