Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Quality of Life Crime

I am addicted to opportunity. That sounds almost positive out of context, but the opportunity I'm talking about is cigarettes. I hardly ever buy a pack but, I'll bum a couple in the course of a week. Being attentive to the 'bumming market', I know that there is a geographical threshold downtown where free smokes end and 50 cent lucy vendors loiter. By the bus stop it seems almost impolite to ask a stranger for a free smoke. To pay a stranger, or at least offer payment, is a courtesy acknowledging that individual's financial obligation associated with paying for his own vice. But overall bumming a cig requires trust and sometimes a conversation while waiting for the bus. Responsible panhandlers rely on the social support of the groups around them and must be prepared to repay that social support at a later time. I spoke with a man (Mr. H; not pictured) who escaped being arrested for asking for a cigarette.

Mr. H told another story where he saw street preachers having their freedom of speech revoked. He continued by extrapolating his experience to a more extreme example. He seems to suggest that there is no limit to the absurdity of the law and violated freedoms.

The question remains whether quality of life laws stifle the natural social dynamic of the street or truly benefit the public. The bus stop in Rochester is a gathering place lower income urban population. Many of the folks who ride the bus do it because they have to and have no choice. I don't like my two hour commute but I can't afford a car. The presence of police at the bus stop who attempt to ensure our safety the quality of our commuting experience does little to dignify the bus as a commuting option. The degradation of quality of life and basic comfort is a result of a failing commuting system. A system which is losing customers who ride the bus by choice, rather than by consequence of their socioeconomic situation. These are the people asking you for some change or a smoke.


davidchow said...

thank you phil. i think this is a much more effective way of engaging your viewers. by incorporating imagery, audio, and your thoughts through text, it has grabbed more of my attention than just text alone.

please keep doing this.

davidchow said...

i think that there is a way to embed the audio/audio player onto your website so the viewer doesn't have to leave your blog to listen to the audio. look into that.

Philipp said...

I though it was impossible because Blogger doesn't host audio but I just embedded a player code which links to the file. I hosted the .mov files on our RIT SFTP.

Anonymous said...

How are you OK with converating with the web helper dude on your website? Really!?!?

Anonymous said...

hey, I finally made it to your blog. It looks and "sounds" quite fun. keep it up... Pavel