Sunday, December 24, 2006

Meet Strangers and Places Full of Holiday Cheer

Sharon Old Louisville, Kentucky
Sharon is getting into the Christmas spirit by decorating the outside of her home. She enjoys going way out with decorations and usually picks a new theme each year . This year's theme is snowman and white lights. Christmas is Sharon's favorite holiday of the year, " I love the decorations and it's a pretty time, happy and joyful". Christmas also happens to be her mother's birthday, a time for family celebration. Sharon works at Dillards, a department store in the mall, and really loves her job because it is in full swing during the Holiday season. People often stop their cars, or holler out their windows to compliment Sharon on her decorations. As I was leaving a car pulled up and two men and a young boy asked if I would take their picture in front of Sharon's candy canes.

Bruce New Albany, IN
Bruce lives in New Albany, Indiana, a place where people are not afraid to be unique and elaborate with their Christmas decorations. Dark on a Friday evening, I found Bruce outside tending to his burnt-out Christmas lights as a gardner might tend to a cherished garden. Bruce has a giant snow globe in his yard, homemade globe lights in his trees, reindeer and Santa on his roof and he even has turned his front window into a Christmas display for passerby's to come view.

Random House New Albany, Indiana
Looks like Rudolf took a wrong turn?

The Doll House New Albany, IN
I love this house. These people brought out the a variety of Santa's, stuffed animals, and even their doll collection to decorate for the holidays!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Meet JaquauncupepƩ

JaquauncupepƩ works at a Wendy's in Key West, Florida. He goes by the name of Justin, because most people have difficulty pronouncing his real name.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Meet Wayne

On a rainy December evening at a strip mall, Wayne stands outside a Toys 'R' Us playing Christmas carols with a tenor saxophone. Wayne makes his living as a street performer and has been playing at this location during the holiday season for the past seven years. He enjoys playing his sax outside the toy store, although quite often he is harassed by the police and property owners who think he is sleazy. He says, "Like everything else, when you have something good going, something bad always steps in."  Wayne has found that the store management and customers who shop there don't mind because he helps bring about the season. "When I started playing on the street, I looked for areas with a lot of foot traffic, and as it got colder, I had to find somewhere people often went, so I thought it’s Christmas time, toys, you know and put the two together."  Wayne says that Louisville is a pretty bad place for street performers.  He planned on moving to San Francisco, where his profession is more welcomed, but says he is stuck here because he takes care of his mother, who is ill and has no legs.  "On the one hand, I am glad to be with her, but on the other hand I miss out on a lot of opportunities." Wayne has met street performers from all over including New Orleans, New York, Europe, and says that they make a lot more money and are better received than in Louisville. 

Wayne did not grow up thinking that he would ever become a street performer or musician. In fact, he did not start playing music until his late twenties. When he was in high school, his dreams were set on becoming a professional football player, but things just did not work out in his favor. Back in 1998, when Wayne was unemployed and down on his luck, he was arrested for a DUI. It was summertime and he needed to make some fast cash in order to pay for alcohol classes and lawyer fees. He picked up his trombone, and started playing outside a coffee shop, hoping to make at least twenty dollars that day. He ended up making fifty and was amazed. Winn Dixie, a local grocery store at the time, became his "hot spot" until a jewelry store in the same strip mall kick him off the property. Now, years later Wayne says that he is a little disenchanted by street performing and would rather play on the inside with a band. He loves Jazz, Big Band, Broadway music and Tony Bennett -- all music that is not native or commonly played in Louisville or Kentucky. Although he is not looking forward to the day his mother passes, he does look forward to moving on elsewhere.