The Disappearing Middle Class
The American middle class, once the envy of the world, has declined precipitously. In the wealthiest country in history, working families are struggling everyday to find the money to feed their kids, to pay their bills and to put gas in the car to get to work. Sometimes holding two or three jobs just to make ends meet and receive health care benefits. These are Americans in inner cities and rural areas. In regions that remain overlooked and undervalued. Communities that were once pillars of the American industrial economy, now left on the wayside. Confronting the uneasy prospect of anonymity.
The intent of this ongoing project is to shine a light on those who have been ignored. To show respect and attention to Americans who feel marginalized by the center of power and wealth in this country.
“Man has made unlimited progress in science and no progress at all emotionally, socially, or ethically." (Lyon, Danny)
Wedged between a Steel Mill and a BP oil refinery is the 100-year-old workers community known as Marktown, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, within the town of East Chicago, IN. Well within a disaster blast zone, the neighborhood is a liability for BP who has been encroaching on the residents of Marktown offering between $4,545 & $30,000 for properties which is not enough to buy an equivalent home, especially on a fixed income. There are visible signs of deterioration - boarded-up houses and vacant lots. BP has purchased 52 plus properties in Marktown with the intent of making the area a green space and parking lot. Many homeowners, including some families have lived in the neighborhood for four and five generations. They feel more and more vulnerable with each building that is demolished and are growing increasingly concerned with the future of their community.
Greetings from Los Angeles
Headdress trees with giraffe necks, hot lamp in the azure blue. Sunglass faces, followers of fashion, walking with a dog or a yoga mat underarm. Joggers bobbing, hikers trekking, Mexican gardener’s shearing hedges. My car parked a mile away on a street-sweeping day. Hollywood on the mountain.
Half-built still life along a lopped off hillside. Towering pillars. Concrete and rebar. Grass and ivy. Cinder-block walls tagged with graffiti. A condom wrapper and crumpled milk jug in the weeds. Ill-fate. Real estate. Seventeen live-work lofts. Remnants. Ambition. A pink bird roosting on top of a column. Iconoclasts, eccentrics and artists, day sleeping in the hills of Eagle Rock.
Street vendors under beach umbrellas selling wares from blankets and blue tarps in McArthur Park.
STAR MAPS on boulevards, in souvenir shops, at gas stations and mini-marts. Ubiquitous as the palm trees and the billboard signs.
Church bells chiming “Ode to Joy.” Crowds massing outside a Lucky Strike. Stargazing walkways, meandering in a forecourt of imprints, thinking of Marylyn Monroe and red carpet premiers.
Underground parking garage. Sky panel ceiling. Valet attendants. Brass elevator. Artifice. Elegant. Whitewashed brick. Columns of painted wood. A marble edifice. Boutiques, fashion houses, Bugatti Veyron. Leisure and luxury, keeping the best face on things.
Urban seam. Coffee shops, muffler shops, an old-fashioned hardware store. Galleries, artisans, eateries with vegan food and Malbec tastings. Colorado bridge. Pillarhedge. Pecan pie alamode. Warm coffee. Waitress apportioning tips. Reconciling cash drawer with order receipts.
Petal boats. Lotus flowers, California fan palms. A crawling tortoise, a growling dog, hands cupping a harmonica. Lady of the lake. Movie debates. Sitting on a skateboard, PBR’s in the park.
Downtown hobo jungle, broken lights on Broadway. Freeway hell-scape’s, fender-benders, slapping blades of helicopters. Detours around a film shoot.
A thin skin of smog on suburban sprawl, tall corral buildings rising out of the haze. Tower of the six astronomers, white terrace orbiting copper domes. Looking into a picture of vistas bathed in rusty light, sending greetings from L.A.