One of the most successful—if not the most successful—spin-offs in entertainment history is the television show known as Frasier. Spun off from Cheers eleven years later, Frasier had nothing to do with its parent show, beyond the existence in both settings of Dr. Frasier Crane, and it lasted another eleven. Similarly, Empty Nest and Nurses had very little to do with The Golden Girls; The Golden Palace had somewhat more to do with it, but tenuously. Spin-offs are usually done in this manner, departing from the parent's premise entirely (Maude, anyone?) but retaining a popular character or feature of the original (usually the impetus behind the spin-off) to boost initial popularity.
This brief television history disquisition is by way of announcing that this blog is getting a spin-off. I have been mulling over too many posts that have gone unposted lately, and they are all very clearly thematically linked. Therefore, I have now created (though not yet posted in) On The Street, Where You Live: encounters with homelessness in Los Angeles. I'll be using it mostly as a venue for sharing stories, stories either of my experiences with homeless people or of their experiences in their own words. This has little to do, really, with my personal/professional/political life that I regularly give an accounting of in this forum, and that's the point.
The lives of homeless people far too often have absolutely nothing to do with the lives of the homed; these people are invisible to me (us), except when they impinge on my (our) personal space—olfactory and visual, as well as physical. Part of Los Angeles' obsession with privacy/privatization consists in that determined invisibility, in the concealment of social/societal difficulties that are, in Douglas Adams' rather pointed phrase, Somebody Else's Problem. The nationwide demise of the public sphere results directly in this kind of everyday callousness, the insensitivity to human suffering that is absolutely necessary to live any kind of normal life in the big city.
Will this new blog do anything for these human beings I so blatantly ignore? Not really, not concretely. But their stories deserve to be shared as much as mine, and they probably don't have blogs. It will do something for me, the author, to pass the stories on and imagine that they get heard. It will do something to me as well, and I hope that that something happens to anyone else who chooses to read it. Maybe there will be a few extra volunteers at the 2011 Homeless Count. Maybe a shelter will get one extra donation.
Maybe a homed person will see a homeless person as person first, and homeless second. That's all I ask.